2009 Everything Is Nice Film Awards
Film Of The Year: Waltz With Bashir
A simply amazing blend of documentary, autobiography and fiction. That Ari Folman has attempted to examine his experiences of the 1982 Lebanon War in this way and succeeded with such surety is impressive enough but Waltz With Bashir is also an extremely stylish film. I hate the word “brave” as applied to artists but the fact that Folman has brought such a strong aesthetic sensibility to such an uncompromising subject matter (the Sabra and Shatila massacre is at the heart of the film) speaks of a great deal of confidence. This confidence was entirely justified.
I subscribed to LoveFilm in 2009 and as a consequence I saw a ton of dire films. However, I also saw a handful of quite brilliant ones so instead of the runners up here is the rest of a top five:
2) Synecdoche, New York
4) I’m Not There
SF Film Of The Year: Let The Right One In
A pretty bad year for SF cinema but everyone agreed this was a clear standout. This is doubly impressive since it came at a time when vampires had become as deadeningly overexposed as zombies. I did actually watch Twilight this year and thought it was an enjoyable enough slice of teen wangst but my God, enough is enough. Unlike most contemporary vampire stories, Let The Right One In managed to convey the weight and the trauma inherent in the condition and produce a proper tragedy or, more specifically, a poisoned love story:
Leaving the cinema I felt much the same way as after Eternal Sunshine For The Spotless Mind. Both films offer a final image of hope and fragile happiness but in both cases the audience knows that such hope is entirely illusory as we have already been exposed to the cyclical outcome.
Runner up: Moon
Children’s Animation Of The Year: Kung Fu Panda
I rented this and then went straight out and bought it. It is a pretty much pitch perfect take on a familiar story which rises above this by being genuinely funny (with nicely understated surreal moments) and having surprisingly beautiful animation and sophisticated direction for an American production. And Jack Black is much more personable when you can’t actually see him.
Runners up: Shrek 2, Aliens Versus Monsters
Hexadecimal Award For Worst Reboot Of The Year: Terminator Salvation
Despite having been burnt many times in the past, when I first heard about this I was relatively optimistic. Christian Bale as John Conner? That sounds pretty good, right? Oh, McG is directing? Hmm, well, er, Charlie’s Angels was actually quite fun. What’s that? The film has come mired in production hell? Oh. Even if you were completely unaware of all the script and personnel problems that had dogged it, they are all there to be seen on the screen. It is a total camel of a film; a testament to the danger of star power and the weakness of the Hollywood machine. Remarkably it even ends up making T3: Rise Of The Machines seem slightly less shit.
Runners up: Star Trek, Wolverine
Non-Franchise Turd Of The Year: Mutant Chronicles
A pile of shit.
Runners up: Black Sheep Drag Me To Hell
Pleasant Surprise Of The Year: 300
I saw this after Zack Synder’s heavy-handed assault on Watchmen so it was nice to find that everything that was so crass about that film worked surprisingly well in the context of Spartans beating the shit out of everyone. This high-end tosh actually makes me want to see what he does next.
Runners up: Die Hard 4.0, Babylon AD
Best Jason Statham Film Of The Year – Crank
I’ve got a soft spot for The Statham and somehow I ended up watching most of his back catalogue this year. By and large, it is unremarkable but mildly diverting stuff. Then I got to Crank. Fuck me. Statham is Chev Chelios, an English gangster in LA, who is poisoned and then has to artificially keep up his adrenaline levels to stop himself from dying. You can sort of see where the film is going from that brief synopsis but nothing prepares you for the awesome insanity of what follows.
Runner up: Crank 2
WTF!? Award: Inglourious Basterds
Obviously Crank was the dead cert for this slot but I thought it deserved a category of its own. So instead the WTF!? Award goes to a film which I think it is safe to say took everyone by surprise. My expectations were progressively lowered as its release date drew closer so it was a pleasant (but confusing) surprise to sit down in the cinema and be faced with such a startling mix of the audacious, the clever and the plain bonkers. I hope Tarantino isn’t stuck in this mad, recursive loop though because much as I enjoyed Inglourious Basterds I would hate it to become the only sort of film he makes.
Runners up: Zombie Strippers, Shadowboxer