Thursday, December 23, 2010

More Critics: Oklahoma, Austin, Women Film Critics...

If you'd like to discuss the latest round of critics awards, have at it.

Three more groups have announced and so the usual suspects play the game of musical chairs. The most interesting note right off the bat is that the Women Film Critics Circle have bestowed an award on Black Swan that isn't a flattering one. They've given it "Worst Female Images in a Movie".

I understand the impulse behind this sort of "tsk-tsk"ing  having been burned over the years with the often problematic depiction of gay characters but I think it's wrong-headed to a degree.

Black Swan is about a very specific drumtight world and a very specific tightly strung character completely encased in that world. In other words, this is not a portrait of Woman in the broader sense. What's more one can even argue that just about every person in the film is presented in an unreliable way, the whole picture being influenced by Nina's own psyche.  Furthermore, the film screws around with genres (horror and psychological thrillers) which could easily be undone by positive portrayals. Nina is no positive role model (for ballerinas, for artists, for bisexual or gay women, for anyone); she has a lot of issues. But this "award" seems to miss the point of what the movie is.

Identity politics isn't always the best way to judge art. I've made the same mistake myself but if you're too focused on it the dark side is that you're in danger of promoting vanilla-flavored art or pedantic work that's better suited to generic uplift or sermonizing than deeper artistic merit.  Even so I'm always interested in what they have to say and some different films get prizes here. Yes!

Mother Bening (and random Child)

Women Film Critics Circle
Best Movie About Women Mother & Child
Best Movie By A Woman Debra Granik's Winter's Bone
Best Woman Storyteller [Screenplay] Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right
Best Actor  Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Best Actress Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right
Best Young Actress Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone
Best Comedic Actress  Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right
Best Foreign Film by or About Women (tie) Mother (South Korea) and Women Without Men (Iran)
Best Female Images in a Movie  Conviction
Worst Female Images in a Movie Black Swan
Best Male Images in a Movie  (tie) Another Year and The King's Speech
Worst Male Images in a Movie Jackass 3D
Best Theatrically Undistributed Movie Temple Grandin
Best Equality of the Sexes  (tie) Another Year and Fair Game
Best Animated Females Despicable Me
Best Family Film Toy Story 3
Lifetime Achievement  Helen Mirren
Acting & Activism Award Lena Horne
Adrienne Shelley Award (Films Opposing Violence Against Women) Winter's Bone
Josephine Baker Award (Women of Color Experience Award) For Colored Girls
Karen Morley Award (Women's History) Fair Game
Courage in Acting  Helen Mirren in The Tempest
Invisible Woman Award (Ignored Performance) Q'Orianka Kilcher in The Princess Kaluhani
Best Documentary by a Woman A Film Unfinished
Best Ensemble Mother & Child
Best Screen Couple Tom & Gerri (Jim Broadbent & Ruth Sheen)

  • It's nice to see Another Year (to which that does not apply) get some kudos... and though I have a couple of very minor concerns about the movie I do love the central portrait of Tom & Gerri quite a whole lot. They're a wonderful happily married screen couple and you sure don't see many portraits of that on screen.
  • A lot of love for Winter's Bone here. It seems safe for a Best Picture nod given how well it's done in the precursors... but we've still got the problem of 11 or 12 films doing well and only 10 slots.
  • Can someone explain to me how Helen Mirren is being courageous by starring in The Tempest? Is this because Julie Taymor is so dangerous to actors. (Sorry, couldn't help it.)
Oklahoma Film Critics
Best Picture The Social Network
Top Ten The Social Network, Inception, Black Swan, The Fighter, Winter's Bone, True Grit, The King's Speech, Toy Story 3, The Kids Are All Right and 127 Hours
Best Director David Fincher, The Social Network
First Feature Chris Morris, Four Lions

Obviously Worst Movie Sex & the City 2
Not-So-Obviously Worst Movie Alice in Wonderland
Best Actress
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Actor  Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Best Supporting Actress Mila Kunis, Black Swan
Best Supporting Actor Christian Bale, The Fighter
Best Adapted Screenplay Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Best Original Screenplay  Chris Nolan, Inception
Best Documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop
Best Animated Film Toy Story 3
Best Foreign Film A Prophet
  • I have nothing to say.
Austin Film Critics Association
Best Picture Black Swan
Top Ten Black Swan, The Social Network, Inception, Toy Story 3, The King's Speech, True Grit, The Fighter, A Prophet, Winter's Bone and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Best Director Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
First Film Gareth Edwards, Monsters

Best Actress
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Actor  Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Best Supporting Actress Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Best Supporting Actor Christian Bale, The Fighter
Best Adapted Screenplay Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Best Original Screenplay  Black Swan
Best Original Score Daft Punk, Tron: Legacy
Best Cinematography Matthew Libatique, Black Swan
Breakthrough Chloe Moretz, Kick-Ass/Let Me In
Austin Film Award  Ben Steinbauer's Winnebago Man
Best Documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop
Best Animated Film Toy Story 3
Best Foreign Film A Prophet
Special Honorary Award Friday Night Lights (for producing excellent, locally made television and contributing to the film community in Austin for the past five years)
  • You'd think Oklahoma and Austin were Twin Cities proximate given how closely their opinions align. In fact, looking over top ten lists from numerous critics groups and looking at pundit predictions for Oscar's Best Picture's it seems like we're heading for an exact consensus match (or close enough). It's like nobody loves anything other than about 12 movies. Either that or the decimation of critical jobs has resulted in critics organizations full of people who maybe don't have as diverse or adventurous of taste as they used to...? Or are critical taste shifting ever more toward Oscar's middlebrow tastes... Or are Oscar's middlebrow tastes shifting towards critical consensus? ...Or are both moving inexorably towards the center where we'll share one brain. I'm asking this in a silly way but it is a little disturbing. I guess this is why Armond White seems more famous than he used to be. Being a contrarian is no longer a common critical position ;)
  • I can't resist pushing this button since we'd just had a theme week "Older Actresses get no respect" and I was called "Reverse Ageist". But Austin likes 'em even younger than Chicago. They've never awarded Best Actress to anyone over 29 in their entire existence. And this year's average age (3 girls awarded) is 18 years of age! Hee. Why do I like to push buttons? I do not know.
  • Super happy to see Friday Night Lights honored. Aren't you?

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