Tuesday, January 19, 2010

LeapBackBlog 2009 Film Awards

Top Ten Films

Directed by Greg Mottola, the film is about a recent college graduate that has to trade a summer in Europe for a summer working at a crummy worn-down amusement park. The film succeeds on the awkwardness and thrill of young love, with a dose of 80s nostalgia thrown in for good measure. Stars Jesse Eisenberg and Kristin Stewart do fine work, and along with the rest of the cast bring the film to life and amplify it above the run-of-the-mill teen/early twenties dramas. Check out the trailer.

Directed by James Cameron, the film is about a soldier that inhabits an avatar made to look like one of the native people of Pandora in order for him and the military to learn about their culture and more deviously to find out where to exploit them for the precious resources of their home world. However, the tables are turned when the soldier begins to have feelings for one of the natives. In 3-D, the film is the most exciting and amazing theatre experience of the year. The world that Cameron has created to fit the new technology is wondrous and takes full advantage of its potential. Avatar is a must-see in 3-D. And while the story is nothing new, the film is none the less a masterpiece of its time. Check out the trailer.

Directed by Neill Blomkamp, the film is about a social worker in South Africa that is charged with heading up the relocation of alien inhabitants, the Prawns, of a slum in the city. Everything is going fine until the social worker is exposed to an extraterrestrial chemical that begins to change his biochemistry and he joins forces with the Prawns to help a few escape Earth. Blomkamp’s film is a fantastic mixture of buddy-action and sci-fi genres. The film is also a relevant social commentary on slum life, and the class prejudice that exists. Overall, District 9 is just a lot of fun. Check out the trailer.

Directed by Wes Anderson, the film is about a fox, having settled into family life, still craving adventure, only to act on his craving putting his family and community in danger. Now, it is up to him to right his wrongs and save the day. Artfully composed, the stop-motion animation in the film meshing with Anderson’s abundant style and cool elicits a fun atmosphere in the theatre. The characters feel warm, and, with an all-star cast voicing them, they are very likable. The film has a wry wit to it and if nothing else is magnificent purely on an aesthetic level. Check out the trailer.

Directed by David Yates, the film is the sixth adventure for Harry and friends. This time Harry must extract a memory from a new professor at Hogwarts as it is essential to defeating Voldemort. Meanwhile, Drako has a nefarious task of his own. Harry, Ron and Hermione must also battle a difficult new foe, young love. The film is really two films occupying the same space, one of a mystery with dark undertones and the other a romantic comedy with melodramatic tones. Yates’ ability to transition between the two is masterful – one minute the view is laughing, the next engrossed in dread and despair. Yates is also able to foster great performances from his young cast. The film is both bleak and hopeful and sets up the upcoming two-part conclusion nicely. Check out the trailer.

Directed by Quentin Tarantino, the film is about a fictional end to the Third Reich in Nazi occupied France. The film features wonderfully vibrant outrageous characters, if not completely theatrical. Structured into four stories all of which come to a head in the fifth and concluding chapter, the film is able to superbly incorporate violence, emotion, laughs, and gasps all in the same breath. Tarantino’s writing is at its best in the film as well, as it features a few of the best scenes of the year. Check out the trailer.

Directed by Michael Mann, the film is about the exploits of John Dillinger, from his escape from prison to his ultimate death at the hands of the law. The film features wonderful performances across its star cast. But what stands out most about the film is Mann’s direction. His use of the camera to show the way Dillinger felt, the police ever closing in on him – the viewer literally feels claustrophobic at times. Mann shot the film completely digital, which some reject as an appropriate medium, but in this case makes the film feel grittier and adds to the overall composition and experience that Mann wants the audience to feel. The film is probably the most underrated of the year. Check out the trailer.

Directed by the Coen Brothers, the film is about a man whose life begins to fall apart around him. The film is a fantastic character piece of a man who no matter what he does is completely inadequate. His life is seemingly in ruins and there is simple nothing to be done, no matter how hard he tries. The film is darkly funny and features typical top-notch Coen brothers’ style both in shot composition and writing. Check out the trailer.

Directed by J.J. Abrams, the film is about the origin of the crew of the Enterprise, specifically Spock and Kirk, and their first mission to defeat a Vulcan from the future with aspirations of destroying all that they hold dear. The film features a cast that works quite well together and is certainly one that viewers look forward to seeing in action together again. Abrams is able to reimaging Trek as a more action oriented film, but still with character and emotion, which made this film exciting and one of the best blockbuster film experiences of the summer. Check out the trailer.

Directed by Pete Docter, the film is about an old man about to lose his house that decides to finally take the adventure of a lifetime, and one that he had been planning for a lifetime. The film is charming, surprisingly sad, yet sweet, and full of wonder and great characters. Pixar continues to make the best animated films year after year and this is one of their best of the decade. Docter’s opening sequence is one of the most beautiful and heart-wrenching in cinema history. How can Pixar top this? Check out the trailer.

Top Directorial Efforts

James Cameron – Avatar
Neill Blomkamp – District 9
David Yates – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Quentin Tarantino – Inglourious Basterds
Michael Mann – Public Enemies
Joel & Ethan Coen – A Serious Man

Top Leading Performances

Sharlto Copley – District 9
Michael Stuhlbarg – A Serious Man
Colin Firth – A Single Man

Top Supporting Performances

Zoe Saldana – Avatar
Alfred Molina – An Education
Jim Broadbent – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Michael Gambon – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds
Melanie Laurent – Inglourious Basterds
Diane Kruger – Inglourious Basterds
Stanley Tucci – The Lovely Bones
Christian Bale – Public Enemies

Top Technical Achievements

Mauro Fiore – Cinematography – Avatar
Arcade Fire – Score – The Box
Mark Gustafson – Animation – Fantastic Mr. Fox
Bruno Delbonnel – Cinematography – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Nicholas Hooper – Score – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Robert Richardson – Cinematography – Inglourious Basterds
David Wasco – Production Design – Inglourious Basterds
Dante Spinotti – Cinematography – Public Enemies
Roger Deakins – Cinematography – A Serious Man
Michael Giacchino – Score – Up
Lance Acord – Cinematography – Where the Wild Things Are

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