Tired of the politically driven, elitist, back slapping affair that are the Oscars and Baftas? Would you rather see Geek favourites like Liam Neeson and Steve Carrell recognised for performances that we all actually saw? Then welcome…
After screaming at the TV for two hours with a couple of friends at the injustice of Slumdog Millionaire winning every award available, from ‘Best Film that stars Batman’ to ‘The Award given to Robert Downey Jr. that only Robert Downey Jr. can win’, we felt it was time to redress the balance.
Now don’t get me wrong, we’re not knocking Slumdog Millionaire as a film and we’re pleased at the success it’s achieved, but as the Baftas become more and more akin to their Hollywood equivalent, so does any chance of objectivity or recognition of anything considered populist at these award ceremonies (just think back to the Academy finally bowing under the critical and commercial success of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and try to imagine the amount of gritted teeth in the room).
For further proof, just read James Clayton’s recent column to understand how many of us feel about elitist attitudes towards cinema, and then use this as a chance to vote for some of the films you actually got excited about, got drunk and in the pub and argued about and (certainly in our case) took the time out of your life to write about.
The films below are selected from a personal geek choice, so dispute is inevitable, but then again this is supposed to be a chance for us to show our support and passion for the films we love and if you haven’t seen some of the more underappreciated film on the list, then we can thoroughly recommend them. Vote away!
And just remember one thing: don’t kidnap Liam Neeson’s daughter.
Best FilmThe Dark Knight Iron ManIn Bruges Red Cloverfield
Best DirectorChristopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) Martin McDonagh (In Bruges) Jon Favreau (Iron Man) Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) Frank Darabont (The Mist)
Best ActorRobert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) Liam Neeson (Taken) Brian Cox (Red) Colin Farrell/Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges) Will Smith (Hancock)
Best ActressCarrie-Ann Moss (Fido) Anne Hathaway (Get Smart) Elizabeth Banks (Every Other Film Made Last Year)* Liv Tyler (The Incredible Hulk) Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace)
* In 2008 the woman has quite simply been stalking us. I am still a little unsure as to whether we should be honouring her in this list or her agent who, I assume, never sleeps. It seems that every time we put on a DVD or went to the cinema, Elizabeth Banks was there – grinning back at us with that warm, understanding smile. I did have half a mind to redress this nomination as ‘person most likely to be your sympathetic girlfriend’ as the woman is unshakeable in her resolve to be the worlds’ best girlfriend, whether it’s live action role-play, adultery, manic depression, criminal records, divorce, and or even being George Dubya’s better half – nothing will stop this woman’s understanding. RT
Best Supporting ActorAaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight) Jeff Bridges (Iron Man) Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (Get Smart) Ralph Fiennes (In Bruges) Michael Caine (The Dark Knight)
Best Supporting ActressMaggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight) Juliette Binoche (Dan in Real Life) Jessica Hynes (Son of Rambow) Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man) Dame Judi Dench (Quantum of Solace)
Best Cameo Tom Cruise (Tropic Thunder) Robert Downey Jr. (The Incredible Hulk) Samuel L. Jackson (Iron Man) Mitch Pileggi (The X Files: I Want to Believe) Eric Sykes (Son of Rambow)
Best Action Film (Not to go too far down the MTV route, but there needed to be a category that will always embrace and welcome The Statham!)TakenTransporter 3RamboNever Back DownWanted
Best Horror FilmRedThe Mutant ChroniclesThe ChildrenThe MistPathology
RT: 2008 was a great year for film; I was blown away by The Dark Knight and taken aback by a few surprise greats such as Son of Rambow and In Bruge. However, my choice from 2008 was without a doubt IronMan. Robert Downey Jr. was on comedic form with a performance rivalling his role in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. As a true leading man should, Downey Jr. certainly stole the show, his comic timing and slick delivery throughout was superb. The clinch for me though was his shift from portraying Tony Stark the bored, genius, billionaire playboy, to the man who actually does care, showcasing RDJ as a credible comedic performer, action hero and emotive leading man.
The direction from Jon Favreau not only brought out the best in the already slick and witty writing but also managed to create a passable and understated performance from Gwyneth Paltrow, which could perhaps be perceived as a feat in itself. With jaw-dropping special effects, a fantastic rock soundtrack and stellar performances, the end result was a superhero film to rival The Dark Knight.
Also worth mention was Colin Farrell’s performance in In Bruges. Like a lot of people I am not a big Farrell fan. To my mind he has played the same character in near every role with quite questionable accents, so I was not expecting much from his stint in In Bruges. I will hold my hands up and say I was too quick to judge. He gave a moving and innocent portrayal of a man who can’t understand why he can’t just go home, with his disturbed manner and lack of social graces making his spontaneous, violent outbursts all the more brutal and adding a real sense of credibility to what so easily could have been ‘mindless’ sequences.
DB: By far the film that wins for me on all fronts is The Dark Knight. Christopher Nolan delivered a film that actually managed to defy my extremely high expectations; it changed my entire view of what a cinematic experience should be with its IMAX scenes, had a uniformly strong set of performances (of which Eckhart’s overlooked turn deserves so much more recognition), used silence to deafening effect on its soundtrack and still left me shaken and tense even after several viewings.
By contrast, while I was counting down the days until The Dark Knight’s release, along came Red, which saw Brian Cox deliver one of the strongest performances I’ve ever seen, in a much more subtle film than I expected and ranked as one of the best of last year.
Similarly I was impressed by the satirical zombie comedy Fido, which somehow managed to make American 50s suburbia as frighteningly relevant in its attitudes (both personal and political) as today’s.
Lastly, I have to give mention to all the films in the action movie category for being such incredible, violent (and in some cases home-erotic) fun, that it’s hard for me to choose among them. Rambo will always have a special place in my heart, but I think I have to hand my vote to Taken for quietly appearing before exploding into a shower of Liam Neeson-committed killing (it was also the film that so many friends of mine saw based on my review and loved, so a personal triumph).