Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

December 14, 2009

2009 NYFCO awards

Filed under: Film — louisproyect @ 6:11 pm

Yesterday I attended the New York Film Critics Online 2009 awards meeting at the Walter Reade Theater in New York along with over 30 other members. Here are the results along with my generally distaff observations. Like the curmudgeonly Armond White who did not attend the meeting, I tend not to believe the hype. My problem, I suppose, is that I insist on judging current movies against the touchstone movies of my youth when there was a debut each month from a Kubrick, Hitchcock, Fellini, Kurosawa or Bergman.

I should add that I come at movies from a somewhat different angle than other NYFCO members. My interest is mainly in addressing a leftwing audience who would not be properly served by the mainstream media that tends to neglect the documentaries or foreign movies that interest me. For example, I will go out of my way to review movies made in North Korea that were part of a film festival at the Korea House in New York City even if they will never be considered for an award by NYFCO. I will also review DVD’s of vintage films with historic interest such as G. W. Pabst’s 1955 “Jackboot Mutiny”, a fictionalized account of the Generals Revolt against Hitler, along with Tarentino’s “Inglourious Basterds”.

NYFCO 2009 Awards Announcement

12/13/09

Inglourious Basterds took the lion’s share of awards while Avatar was named best picture by the prestigious New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) at its tenth annual meeting. Jeff Bridges was named Best Actor for his role in Crazy Heart while Meryl Streep received Best Actress honors for her performance in Julie & Julia. Best Director honors went to Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker. Christoph Waltz was named Best Supporting Actor for Inglourious Basterds and Mo’Nique was selected as Best Supporting Actress for Precious. The White Ribbon was NYFCO’s choice for Best Foreign film, while Best Documentary honors went to The Cove.

The Complete List

******************************

BEST PICTURE

Avatar (20th Century Fox)

[Apparently this is some kind of anti-imperialist parable. I wonder what would have made James Cameron develop such a movie–leaving aside the question whether he has the ability to hit the target. More later.]

DIRECTOR

Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)

[This is my capsule description of the movie on Rotten Tomatoes: “Don’t believe the hype. This is a cliché-ridden mess which treats Iraqis like zombies or creatures from outer space. Peace activist Chris Hedges should have sued the director for allowing his words to serve as an epigraph for this sorry flick.” My review has generated a ton of hostile comments on Rotten Tomatoes, although not quite on the megaton level of an average Armond White review. Here’s one of them: “Peace activist? You mean an anti-freedom, anti-liberty, anti-American far left wing fanatical nut job?” My review is here: https://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/in-the-loop-hurt-locker/

ACTOR

Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)

[I plan to post a review of this mediocre movie along with a bunch of others as part of my 2009 movie wrap-up. As is generally the case with me, I have trouble separating an actor’s performance from the movie so my nominations for best actor and actress will always be in conjunction with movies I favor. That being said, Bridges did a convincing job of portraying a 60 year old alcoholic country and western singer down on his luck, for what that’s worth.]

ACTRESS

Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)

[I have this movie at home and plan to see it. I will have more to say about Streep’s performance as Julia Child. Although I don’t think anything can top Danny Ackroyd’s at http://www.hulu.com/watch/3523/saturday-night-live-the-french-chef]

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

[I am in total agreement with this. Waltz is terrific and so is the movie. My review: https://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/inglourious-basterds-jackboot-mutiny/]

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Mo’Nique (Precious)

[I have a screener at home that I will most certainly get to before long since this movie has generated so much controversy. I would be remiss if I did not mention Ishmael Reed’s scathing Counterpunch piece at http://www.counterpunch.org/reed12042009.html]

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Inglourious Basterds – Robert Richardson

[I didn’t think the cinematography was that special but can’t quibble with this vote.]

SCREENPLAY

Inglourious Basterds – Quentin Tarantino

[Yeah!]

FOREIGN LANGUAGE PICTURE

The White Ribbon (Sony Classics)

[This is a particularly interesting movie about how rural semifeudal social relations gave rise to Nazism. I plan to review this movie separately at some length, particularly as it relates to the thesis of Arno Mayer’s “The Persistence of the Old Regime.”]

DOCUMENTARY

The Cove (Roadside Attractions)

[My choice as well. https://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2009/08/30/the-cove-crude/]

ANIMATED FEATURE

Up (Disney/Pixar)

[I voted for “The Fantastic Mr. Fox”, which I will review along with a batch of other movies very soon.]

FILM MUSIC OR SCORE

Crazy Heart – Steve Bruton & T. Bone Burnett, music supervisor, Jeffrey Pollack

[My pick as well.]

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMER

Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

[Same here.]

DEBUT AS DIRECTOR

Marc Webb [(500) Days of Summer]

[I found the screenplay for this movie particularly annoying so I would not consider giving the director an award. My capsule review is here: https://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/2009-movies-wrap-up-part-one/]

ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE

In the Loop (IFC Films)

[A most dreadful movie. I suppose the ensemble performance award made sense if you appreciated the movie. My review: https://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/in-the-loop-hurt-locker/]

3 Comments »

  1. here’s a nice rebuttal of that Ishmael Reed article: http://thisislikesogay.blogspot.com/2009/07/playing-queer-card.html

    Comment by Jenny — December 14, 2009 @ 8:50 pm

  2. I went and read some of the comments on Rotten Tomatoes to your review. This one really sums them all up:

    “the fact that you call this a sorry flick means you really have lost your passion for what a movie is supposed to do. This was an amazing film, you cant see that because you are so unbelievably politically correct…get past your fake passion for a society of people thousands of miles from you and just route for the home team for Christ’s sake. this is an original, well though out, and well acted piece of film that deserves every credit it has been given. Now this is coming from a liberal so don’t pull the “i don’t care about Iraqi’s” bull****. You just want to go against the grain so that you stand out. **** that, this is a great movie!”

    The fact that not a single word of that surprised me makes me want to cry.

    Comment by Jeffrey Thomas Piercy — December 16, 2009 @ 7:17 pm

  3. You actually loved Inglorious Basterds?! Wait a minute, weren’t you the one complaining about Werner Herzog not being “progressive” enough, not taking the “correct” political stances in Rescue Dawn and various documentaries, and bemoaning that Cormac McCarthy’s novels are reactionary, evil, and gratuitously violent? At least Cormac doesn’t think violence is all a big, fun barrel of laughs. He may be Hobbesian (a worldview I’m not in sync with any more than you are), but at least he’s TRAGICALLY Hobbesian, at least he offers up his Hobbesian perspective more in sorrow than in glee; Tarantino by contrast is a GLEEFUL, JOYFUL Hobbesian. He revels in the same things McCarthy feels unhappy about. There is NOTHING more progressive or humanistic about Tarantino than about Herzog or McCarthy, whereas they have a good number of virtues and an aesthetic richness that counterbalance their questionable politics.

    Now you’re rapturously endorsing QUENTIN TARANTINO?? Give me a fucking break, Louis. What a preposterous analysis. Tarantino is an unrepentant sadist, and his movies are only ever “about” three things: his love of graphic violence and torture, his love of other movies (mostly B-movies), and his foot fetish (he’s obsessed with beautiful women’s feet – probably because they could potentially kick him with them).

    You are, to put it bluntly, deluded and wrong about Tarantino. He’s the same old sadomasochistic schlockmeister he always was.

    Comment by Chris — December 17, 2009 @ 10:36 pm


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