The Bob Awards
Now you shall find out who will be mailed Red Robin gift certificates. You lucky, lucky people.
Art Direction and Visual Effects: Inception - I've never tied two categories together like this before but it seems appropriate here. Both teams made this story set in "the architecture of the mind" come to breathtaking, mind-blowing life. Also, extra points always go to visual effects that don't look like an XBox game.
Cinematography: TRON: Legacy - With so many movies using 3D as a gimmick, created as an afterthought in post-production, Claudio Miranda demonstrates the proper use of the format to bring us into the world of the Grid.
Costume Design: TRON: Legacy - Michael Wilkinson's imaginative work went a long way toward establishing not only the look but the spirit of this sequel to a movie that came out the year I was born.
Film Editing: Blue Valentine - Non-linear storytelling has rarely felt this seamless. Jim Helton and Ron Patane have a light touch that allows the shifts in timeline to feel surprising without being jarring. Had the editing called greater attention to itself this story of a disintegrating marriage would not have been as powerful.
Makeup: True Grit - Evocative yet understated, the makeup work immerses us into the world of rugged individualists surviving day to day in the old west and a Coen Brothers movie, neither of which is an easy task.
Original Score: The Social Network - Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross give us a score that is not only perfectly in tune with the film's emotional highs and lows, it does what the very best scores do. It helps establish those highs and lows. All the while they gave us something unlike any other movie score we've ever heard before.
Original Song: Tangled, "I See the Light" - Like every other song written by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater for this new Disney classic, it feels natural and a part of the world we're in, not a jarring detour from the story. Even amongst the rest it stands out because of its emotional power at the exact moment in the film where it needs to be.
Sound: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - We all knew that sound could enhance an action sequence or build atmosphere but it's rarely used to enhance comedy. I'm hard pressed to think of a movie that used sound so effectively virtually every moment of its run time in the service of making people laugh.
Supporting Actor: Christian Bale - "The Fighter" - The film is the story of a boxer (Mark Wahlberg) stepping out from under the shadow of his larger than life half-brother (Bale). But Bale's powerful performance as Dicky Eklund couldn't possibly be outshined. Footage of the real Eklund reveals that Bale was even better than you'd thought and that's saying something.
Supporting Actress: Marion Cotillard - "Inception" - So the character you're playing is already dead before the film starts. You exist only in the dreams and memories of the protagonist. Oh yeah, your character also must provide a very heady story its heart. This was what Christopher Nolan tasked Cotillard with and she is absolutely superb. If her performance or her character don't work then the spectacle of this film would have had little soul to drive it.
Actor: Colin Firth - "The King's Speech" - He's swept every other lead acting award this year and with good reason. It actually seems that all of the accolades are distracting people from how great a performance it really is. The temptation could have been to play the surface of King George VI's stammer but Firth captures the heart and soul of a man who happens to have a speech impediment and also happens to be King. He also allows us to see the man's faults as well as his surprising sense of humor in the face of adversity.
Actress: Emma Stone - "Easy A" - Unquestionably my favorite performance by anyone in a movie in 2010 has gone largely ignored because the actress in question committed the crime of being funny. In a movie that could have easily just been enjoyable but disposable teen fluff, Stone makes her character perfectly believable and every single acting instinct she has is not only spot on, it's brilliantly funny. It's a shame she couldn't have played a meth addict who microwaves her own baby and cries a lot. She'd have won the Oscar.
Monty Python Award for Ensemble Cast: True Grit - Yes, Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon are fantastic but what really makes this the best ensemble of 2010 are the all too brief appearances of Josh Brolin, a man wearing a bear head, and Barry Pepper channeling Robert Duvall. What makes it one of the best ensembles in recent memory beyond this year is the lead performance (yes LEAD, Oscar) of 14 year old Hailee Steinfeld who unlike Kim Darby in 1969, shows that the title refers not to Rooster Cogburn but to Mattie Ross.
Animated Film: Tangled - Yes, "Tangled." In a year with four wonderful animated films ("How to Train Your Dragon," "Despicable Me," and of course, "Toy Story 3"), this was my favorite. Somehow it manages to have a modern sensibility and Looney Tunes style comedy while still having all of the class and yes, magic, you want from Disney animation. No movie in 2010 was more purely enjoyable.
Adapted Screenplay: "The Social Network" - Aaron Sorkin - Filled with smart, rapid fire dialogue that sounds like it could have actually been spoken (these are very smart people we're dealing with after all), this script explores what happens when business, imagination, and friendship collide. Also, it's the only movie I can think of that gets the audience to sympathize with the money man over the creator. It takes seriously smart writing to make that work.
Original Screenplay: "Blue Valentine" - Derek Cianfrance & Cami Delavigne and Joey Curtis - Talky screenplays, particularly ones about relationships can fall into the trap of sounding pretentious and false. This one never does. Every conversation, every argument sounds real and they're absolutely absorbing.
Director: Christopher Nolan - "Inception" - Few filmmakers are blessed with the ability to create satisfying art that you can also munch popcorn to. As it stands now I'd say that Nolan is the best of that small collection. Who else could have created such a highly intelligent movie that is just so much fun to watch?
Best Picture: Blue Valentine - "What?" you ask. You thought I was going to pick "Inception," didn't you? The truth is I struggled between the two for quite awhile but in the end this remarkably written tale of an imploding marriage was one I just could not shake. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are both excellent as the troubled couple in question, showing us their characters at their absolute best and worst. I don't know how the Academy missed the boat on this one but this really was the best movie of 2010.
And now the fun stuff...
Funniest Movie: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Funniest Performance: Emma Stone - "Easy A"
"Unforgiven" Award for Most Badass Movie: True Grit
Clint Eastwood Award for Most Badass Performance: (tie) Chloe Moretz - "Kick-Ass," Hailee Steinfeld - "True Grit"
"Withnail and I" Award for Best Friendship: Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush - "The King's Speech"
"Hoosiers" Award for Inspirational Movie That's Actually Inspirational: (3 way tie) "127 Hours," "The King's Speech," "The Fighter"
Funniest Moment: Evil Ex Number 3 (Brandon Routh) loses his vegan powers - "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World"
Best Dramatic Moment: Accepting their fate - "Toy Story 3" (Be honest. For a second there you actually thought they were all going to burn to death.)
Best Fight: The Hallway Scene - "Inception"
"Sky Captain" Award for the Movie That Lets You Feel Like You're 10 Years Old Again: TRON: Legacy
"XXX" Award for Best Ludicrous Action Movie: The A-Team
Best Remake: True Grit
Best Cameo: Barry Pepper as Robert Duvall as Ned Pepper - "True Grit"
Worst Cameo: Arnie - "The Expendables"
Best Sequel: Toy Story 3
Worst Male Performance: P. Diddy - "Get Him to the Greek"
Worst Female Performance: Jessica Alba - "Machete"
Worst Movie I Actually Subjected Myself To: MacGruber
Performer of the Year: Andrew Garfield - "The Social Network" and "Never Let Me Go"
Most Entertaining Movie: Inception
Best Villain: Lots'o'Huggin Bear (Ned Beatty) - "Toy Story 3"
Most Pleasant Surprise: Despicable Me
Best Quote: "Like every serial killer already knew: eventually fantasizing just doesn't do it for you anymore." - Kick-Ass
Best Action Sequence: Light bikes - "TRON: Legacy"
Best Vocal Performance: Zachary Levi - "Tangled"
Best Ending: 127 Hours (You can't not get tears in your eyes.)
Finally, special recognition for the most important new name in film. Mike Stoklasa didn't make a movie that played at your local theater and even if you've seen his work online you may not know his name. Better known as the voice of murderous old crank Harry Plinkett, Stoklasa has shown that film criticism can not only be insightful but exciting and first class filmmaking. With his bilious, hilarious, yet astoundingly intelligent (and lengthy) reviews of the "Star Wars" prequels Stoklasa's Plinkett turned out to be a more interesting character than everyone in "Episode's I" through "III" combined.
Perhaps what's most impressive about his work is that in spite of spending more than four hours eviscerating George Lucas's prequel trilogy, he never once trots out any of the complaints that people have long made about those movies and he never descends into fanboy whining. Very soon I plan to see Stoklasa's direct to DVD feature "Feeding Frenzy" and Plinkett or no Plinkett I very much look forward to what he has up his sleeve next. Especially if it's that "Cop Dog" review he promised long ago.