Thursday, January 26, 2012

The 2012 Dundees: Our Alternative Oscars

Minus the divisive Tree of Life and the critically panned Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, this year's Oscar's Best Picture nominations seem even more safe and boring than last year's, when we at least had The Social Network to root for.  Worst of all, they totally snubbed my beloved Michael Fassbender.  And what's up with not nominating Drive for anything besides sound editing?  Does the Academy want to deny us Ryan Gosling dressed up in suit?  Albert Brooks and Cliff Martinez deserved nominations at least.  Oh well, at least Michelle Williams got a nomination for My Week with Marilyn (though it would have been cooler if it was for Meek's Cutoff). 

Anyway, below are my highlights of the year in Film and TV.  Think of it like the Oscars with 100 % more dreaminess (and 600% more Gosling)! 
Best Funny Movie of the YearThe TripBridesmaids is probably the most laugh-out loud funny movie, but The Trip is more profound.  The movie follows British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon on a culinary tour of England, while both men deal with disappointments in their lives and career.  It's an interesting exploration of male friendship, but lest you think it's too serious it features some pretty funny sequences like Coogan and Brydon's dueling Michael Caine impressions.

Best Romantic ComedyFriends With Benefits.  I really liked the first part of this movie, which seemed like romantic comedy satire.  But it eventually turns into a regular rom-com at the end.  Sort of like a friend who is all cynical about love until they get a girlfriend or boyfriend and then you have tolerate their lovey-doveyness with a straight face.  However, I enjoyed the performances by Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson as Kunis's hippy mom, and Woody Harrelson as Justin Timberlake's coworker (who puts a whole new spin on the "gay best friend" role) enough to recommend it.

Runner-UpCrazy Stupid Love.  If this movie had just been about Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone's character, it probably would have been my favorite.  Their romance seemed sweet and naturally evolving and Emma Stone is super funny.  However, the Steve Carrell and Julianne Moore storyline, which is the bulk of the movie, seemed a little bit too contrived and treacly. 

Most Enviable Wardrobe, Male Performance:  Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love.  Speaking of Crazy Stupid Love, Gosling's Lothario character Jacob Palmer has a pretty sweet wardrobe.  Not quite as sweet as his abs though!

Most Enviable Wardrobe, Female Performance:  Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) from Parks and Recreation.  This was a close call category.  I was tempted to go with Zooey Deschanel's Jess from New Girl, because I love Zooey's quirky vintage style.  But let's face it, she's dressed that way forever.  On the more-realistic end, I pretty much wished I owned everything Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper) wears on The Office.  She has a cute and modest business wardrobe that doesn't looked picked out by a stylist.  However, I had to give it to Leslie, who went from a boxy, Hilary Clinton-esque wardrobe to more a more structured and feminine look. Several times this season, I have thought to myself "I want that shirt," so well played Leslie! 

Best Supporting Canine:  Cosmo as Arthur in Beginners.  Sorry Uggie, but I haven't seen The Artist yet.  It's hard not to fall for shaggy Arthur, especially when he's proposing marriage to Ewan MacGregor in subtitles.

Most  Daring Hair:  Graham T. Purvis's (Paddy Considine) new age mullet in Richard Ayoade's darkly funny Submarine

Hardest working woman in show businessJessica Chastain, who appeared in six movies  this year; almost as many as Gosling and Fassbender combined! 

Hunkiest period performance:  Michael Fassbender as Rochester in Jane Eyre.  It's hard not to have a thing for Rochester.  He's dark, brooding and rebellious.  But not in a shiny vampire way, more in a smart and anachronistically enlightened about class and gender equality.
Dreamiest Performance as a Historical Figure:  Corey Stroll as Ernest Hemingway in Midnight in Paris.  He is almost cute enough to convince me to read The Sun Also Rises.

Don't Try This At Home Fashion:  Ryan Gosling as Driver in Drive.  Think you can pull off a silk Scorpion jacket?  Look in the mirror, do you see Ryan Gosling's face and body staring back at you?  No? You look like a dork.  But maybe you can still get your money back?

Most Uncomfortable Date MovieShame.

Most Improved Performance:  Brad Pitt. I don't think Brad Pitt was a bad actor before.  In fact, he has given really good comedic performances in movies like Inglorious Basterds and Burn After Reading.  But I'm usually less impressed with his dramatic work like the Curious Case of Benjamin Button or Meet Joe Black.  Maybe I just don't like those movies. However, this year he gave impressive performances in both the Tree of Life and Moneyball.

Best Soundtrack Drive.  There is really only one right answer here.  Awesome score.  Cool new wave-y synth pop songs.  I'm obsessed with "Under Your Spell" by Desire.

Most Famous People in One MovieIdes of March.  In order of their dramatic gravitas:  Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Jeffrey Wright, George Clooney, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, and Max Minghella.

Cutest Movie:  Our Idiot Brother. A family comedy about a down-on-luck former organic farmer (Paul Rudd) and his three sisters (Emily Mortimer, Zooey Deschanel, and Elizabeth Banks).  Best of all, Adam Scott is in it! 

Movie I Enjoyed Most:   Drive. What can I say about this movie other than it's just cool?  Director Nicholas Winding Refn does a great job of creating atmosphere. The soundtrack is awesome (as noted above).  There are lots of really good performances and memorable scenes in it.  If you haven't seen Drive yet, I should also point out it's pretty violent.