Screw the Oscars and welcome to the 3rd annual Emilio Awards, acknowledging the best in movies for 2013. As I’ve stated in past years, all of the voting was done by me, at my house. So without further ado, the following are the winners for the selected 22 categories. So let’s begin with the most controversial one:
Most Overrated Movie: As much as some openly hate the term “overrated” (you know who you are) every year there seems to be a handful of my reviews which proclaim that a particular film is just that, as those who find me forever a contrarian will attest to. This year’s Emilio Award for Most Overrated Movie goes to…”Captain Phillips”!
*Captain Phillips – This choice may come as quite the shock to those who know my outspoken stance against “The Way Way Back”. But due to the extremely high praise “Captain Phillips” has garnered by critics, other award shows and British people alike, “Captain Phillips” had to take home this award, especially for how exceptionally “blah” the film actually was. Based on the true story of Captain Richard Phillips, who in 2009 was the Captain of an American cargo ship which was hijacked by Somali pirates, “Captain Phillips” is a clear example of one of those movies where meaningful things happen onscreen and you understand that you should be feeling something, but, due to the director’s inability to form an emotional connection with his audience, feel nothing but disconnection from the action. This criticism originates from suspect direction that takes a “can’t miss” premise about a hostage situation and injects very little suspense or peril.
Best Actor: The winner of this year’s Emilio Award for Best Actor is in fact last year’s winner of the coveted Emilio Award for Best Supporting Actor…Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Wolf of Wall Street”!
*Leonardo DiCaprio – I know Matthew McConaughey lost a million pounds or whatever, but DiCaprio gave the best performance of his career in “The Wolf of Wall Street” playing the brash, philandering, “corrupt” is my middle name, drug motivated stockbroker Jordan Belfort. And since DiCaprio is twice the actor McConaughey is, then it should stand that his was the better performance. It’s basic math.
Best Supporting Actor: Again, I know Jared Leto wore a dress, but the Emilio Award for Best Supporting Actor goes to…James Franco in “Spring Breakers”!
*James Franco - As flawed and needlessly repetitive as I thought Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers” was, Franco’s performance is so unapologetic, so off-the-wall bananas in its satirical nature and still technically believable as he played a white thug drug dealer (with cornrows) who becomes mesmerized with four teenage girls. I will come right out and say it: This is basically the strongest performance of Franco’s career. James Franco may be the most interesting actor/filmmaker working today.
Best Actress: The winner is Cate Blanchett for “Blue Jasmine”…but you already knew that.
*Cate Blanchett - As much of a slam dunk as this may be for the ten’s of people in Vegas right now placing their Oscar bets, Blanchett’s performance in “Blue Jasmine” should not be undersold. She single handedly makes this average Woody Allen movie a must watch with her spot on portrayal of a sociopathic American socialite, who can’t possibly leave the house without her Xanax. This is another instance of an actor (actress) doing the best work of their career.
Best Supporting Actress: Who knew that you didn’t actually have to be on set to win in the best supporting actress category? And the Emilio goes to…Scarlett Johansson for “Her”.
*Scarlett Johansson - Lending her voice to this production totally during post production is a huge feat in and of itself, but more impressive is Johansson’s ability to win this award without even being visible on screen. Johansson, who plays Samantha , convincingly captures the essence of a tangible love interest using solely her voice, more so than most other actresses who are actually visible in their movies.
Best Director: The winner for this category has to be Alfonso Cuaron for “Gravity”.
*Alfonso Cuaron – Visually changing the way large scale CGI films will be made from this point forward, I don’t think I need to explain why Cuaron is taking home the coveted Emilio. If you haven’t experienced “Gravity” by this point, then go see for yourself and see what I mean.
Best Comedy: Sinkhole de Mayo. Need I say more? The winner of the Emilio Award for Best Comedy is…”This is the End”!
*This is the End - A comedy centering around Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel going to a party at James Franco’s house when the apocalypse happens, admittedly is a plot which sounds like a natural disaster in its own right. But, after seeing this multiple times and quoting it nonstop, I still stand by my original statement that “This Is the End” is the funniest movie since “40 Year Old Virgin”.
Best Ensemble Cast: I know how much people want this Emilio to go to “American Hustle” but if I cared what anybody else thought, what kind of critic would I be? The Emilio for Best Ensemble Cast goes to…”The Wolf of Wall Street”!
*The Wolf of Wall Street - From Hollywood heavy hitters Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and a small but electric scene from Matthew McConaughey, to the supporting cast of Kyle Chandler and Rob Reiner, both doing their best work (in front of the camera) the spectacular performances and chemistry these vets have is like watching an acting master class.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Since their already up on stage, I might as well give this award out now. The winner of the Emilio Award for Best Original Screenplay and the best Scorsese film to come out of 2013 is…Terence Winter for “The Wolf of Wall Street”.
*The Wolf of Wall Street – Some may make the argument that it may have been the jarringly entertaining performances or Scorsese doing his thang-thang that pulled the blinds over my eyes, but for me Terence Winter’s script stood out as containing the most furiously dynamic story arc with more than a slathering of sharply engaging dialogue throughout. And that’s good enough for me.
Best Original Screenplay: Sorry Spike Jonze-ers, the Emilio Award for Best Original Screenplay goes to Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio and Darius Marder for “The Place Beyond the Pines”!
*The Place Beyond the Pines – A perfect film, but I’ll talk about that more so later on in this ceremony. For now I will focus on the script itself and how structurally perfect it is, while simultaneously standing as an example of a script written with technical girth. There are essentially three intertwining dramatic stories dissecting the evolution of the father and son relationship, which the writers juggle with ease from minute one to the two hour plus mark. The highest praise I could give this script is that Cianfrance and friends have basically written the kind of script that I have always aspired to write.
Best Documentary Feature: Can you believe that the recipient of the Emilio Award for Best Documentary Feature was neither nominated for a Golden Globe or an Academy Award?! And the Emilio goes to…”Stories We Tell”!
Reminiscent of a Werner Herzog doc, with a seemingly simplistic premise which slowly transforms into an examination of life, directed by Sarah Polley (one of the best story tellers of this generation) “Stories We Tell” is an immensely interesting look into Polley’s life, as she attempts to investigate some of the lies she was told about her mother and father, leading to startlingly uncomfortable family revelations that, much like a train wreck, is impossible to look away from. That’s right, this movie is fun for the whole family.
Best Animated Feature: The winner is “Monsters University”!
*Monsters University – Standing as the second funniest film I saw all year, it’s not that common that animated sequels are better than their predecessors, but...OK, I’ll stop here to address the elephant in the room. The fact that the animated darling of the year, “Frozen”, didn’t win an Emilio. Here’s the deal, for those who claim “Frozen” is better than “Monsters University” here’s my retort: Make your own award show!
Best Foreign Film: Not the most impressive foreign film in recent years, but it was the best one I’d seen this year, so the Emilio goes to…”The Hunt”.
Writer/director Thomas Vinterberg (a man obsessed with child molestation) comes forth with a film, about a male elementary school teacher who is accused of sexual abuse by a little girl, which is a haunting while at the same time shameful watch. The brilliance of this narrative is no matter how depressing, it seeks the most logical conclusion.
Most Underappreciated Film: Truthfully, the winner of this category would have been “Prisoners” since even though it did garner fairly good reviewers, wasn’t fully appreciated for how sloppy with subtext it actually was, or “The Place Beyond the Pines” since it is one of the best movies in years and was basically put on the backburner and all together forgotten about when awards season came around. But the Emilio Award for Most Underappreciated Film is a movie that would have made a better novel than a film and a movie that was absolutely prison raped by critics, appearing on many ten worst film lists and currently holds a 34% on Rotten Tomatoes. The winner is…”The Counselor”.
*The Counselor - Surprisingly uneventful by today’s standards, “The Counselor” is an ingeniously crafted cautionary tale of what happens when you mess with the Mexican cartel and is so poetic at times it demands multiple viewings. OK, so full discloser, I initially gave this film only a 3 ½ star rating, but the more and more I thought about it, the more I pretty much fell in love with writer Cormac McCarthy’s cryptic dialogue and brilliant character development.
Best Picture: The Place Beyond the Pines
*The Place Beyond the Pines – As I alluded to earlier, is a perfect film. Structurally, emotionally and otherwise, this is a movie one experiences rather than simply watches. Basically, there is really no more praise I can heap onto perfection, so I’ll leave it at that.
Now for the boring stuff (I’ll try to make this quick):
Best Score: The is winner “The Place Beyond the Pines” because I bought the entire album. Enough said.
Art Direction: - OK, so hear me out first. The Emilio for best Art Direction goes to…”12 Years a Slave”...on a technicality.
*12 Years a Slave - This is not the Academy Awards. I try not give awards to bad movies. Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” should really get this, but aside from the visuals, it was such a nothing movie. And since mine is the only ballot which matters, and the simple fact is that “12 Years a Slave” does contain beautiful (although less flashy) art direction in its own right, I have justified my position and can now look myself in the mirror once again.
Best Cinematography: Gravity is the shoe in for this category, even though “12 Year’s a Slave” held some downright spectacular long takes and…You know what, screw it! The winner of the Emilio for Best Cinematography is…”12 Year’s a Slave”.
Best Editing: Using my omnipotent powers, I will tweak this category a little bit and retitle this as “The Most Interesting Editing” award. And it goes to…”Upstream Color”!
*Upstream Color - At the end of the day I still don’t fully understand this film, nor could I tell you what it was about. BUT, that doesn’t change the fact that in no other film this past year did the editing have such a profound impact that it made me find favor in a film I didn’t really comprehend.
Best Villain: Jim Caviezel gets this Emilio for his outlandishly over-the-top role as the “bad guy” in “Escape Plan”. He plays it with the flamboyance of an 80’s action movie villain and I loved every minute of it. In short, in an action movie which starred two of the best action movie stars of all time, the most entertaining character is the guy who played Jesus Christ that one time.
Best Song: “Please Mr. Kennedy”, a song from “Inside Llewyn Davis” which has been stupidly offered up time and time again as the award worthy representative for the film WILL NOT be winning tonight (or whenever you are reading this). The award goes to…“Fare Thee Well” from “Inside Llewyn Davis”, performed hypnotically by Oscar Isaac.
Best Visual Effects: The winner is “Gravity” (PERIOD!).
There you have it, the winners of all 22 categories and the lucky recipients that went home with the 3rd annual Emilio Award! While some may find fault with the Emilio Award winners for 2013, all of those people can play in traffic! What my awards work to prove is, that once again the Academy Awards are as narrow minded as ever when it comes to nominating the best in films. Thank you for reading…if you’ve gotten this far.
Follow me on Twitter @moviesmarkus