It’s been a tradition that I love to do year after year, my personal awards for the best films of 2012 (original release), and now it’s the first time that I will do them in english, so that’s nice. As always we shall divide these awards in two parts released in two different days, of course having the most exciting stuff at the end. Don’t misunderstand, these awards have nothing to do with my top 20 lists as there could be surprises here and there about what makes a nomination and what doesn’t. As I’ve stated since last couple of years, I start each category by giving a quick roundup of the winner or winners from the past year and what did they do in 2012. Then, we write up a bit about the nominees for each category and then we name a winner. Sounds like fun? Well, let’s get to it.
Best Art Direction
Last year the winner of this award was the film ‘Hugo’ (2011) with a team of 10 art directors and assistants. Alastair Bullock, Stuart Rose and David Warren worked on the hit film ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ this year, that I didn’t see. Stéphane Cressend meanwhile worked for the french television with works in ‘Rommel’ and ‘Dame de carreau’, which were unavailable or uninteresting for me. Christian Huband was on the run for this year’s category for his work on the 2012 movies ‘John Carter’ and ‘Dark Shadows’, but better contenders appeared along the way, but nevertheless these were astounding works inches from being nominated in this category. Luca Tranchino was working for Woody Allen during this year in the forgettable ‘To Rome with Love’ (2012). On the other hand, Dimitri Capuani, Steve Carter and Ashley Winter didn’t have any work during 2012, but I’m sure they’ll reappear in 2013 with great strength.
Now, this year the category changed to include Production Designers among the nominated, as to award just once regarding the whole visual style of the film, including the art direction, so I’m obliged to mention that the winner of the best production design award last year was Maria Djurkovic for ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ (2011), and during 2012 she just worked as a production designer in the 2012 short film ‘I Missed My Mother’s Funeral’.
The nominees this year represent the most impressive visual works of the year in regards of how well they look and how careful the recreation or just pure creation was done regarding the props and the sets (another category that went down the drain this year, set decoration was always difficult to choose).
‘Cloud Atlas’ managed to juggle between different time periods, different genres and different visual styles, and at the same time maintain a purity and magnificent visual style all through the movie, and that is a feat that we should thank to Hugh Bateup, Daniel Chour, Sabine Engelberg, Uli Hanisch, Kai Koch, Nicki McCallum, Charlie Reval, Thorsten Sabel, Stephan O. Gessler, David Scheunemann and Steve Summersgil (the last three, previously nominated for a Frank Award in 2009 for ‘Inglourious Basterds’ (2009) ). ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ was a welcome reunion with not only the landscape of the Middle Earth, but also the visuals and the props that have always excelled by the makers of these films, in this particular case, Dan Hannah, Ben Milsom, Simon Bright and Andy McLaren (the last two are already Frank Award winners from 2009 for the film ‘Avatar’ (2009) ). ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ had an art direction that managed to give us new costumes and visual places to visit, incredible props and a new way to look at an enclosed city, the way it looked was natural and frightening, and we value the work of Toby Britton, Nathan Crowley, Kate Grimbie, Zack Grobler, James Hambidge, Kevin Kavanaugh, Naaman Marshall, Jonathan Kevin Ong, Tom Still, Gerald Sullivan, Su Whitaker, Robert Woodruff and Dean Wolcott (this last fellow won a Frank Award for art direction in 2010 for his work with the other Christopher Nolan film that was nominated in this years of history, ‘Inception’ (2010) ). ‘Prometheus’ had the promise of building a new planet, a new world, a new mithology, and it managed to do it with fully original and inspired by Giger sets and props, it was the future, and it was scary thanks to Alex Cameron, Anthony Caron-Delion, Peter Dorme, Marc Homes, Paul Inglis, John King, Arthur Max, Adam O’Neill and Karen Wakefield. The last nominee surprised many of us with its delicate style and adecuate art direction, it may not be bombastic, but the visual style of ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ may be the most adecuate for its subject, and it is as well the smallest team of visual direction, with Adam Stockhausen and Gerald Sullivan being the only nominees for this particular film.
So, the nominees are:
· Hugh Bateup, Daniel Chour, Sabine Engelberg, Stephan O. Gessler, Uli Hanisch, Kai Koch, Nicki McCallum, Charlie Reval, Thorsten Sabel, David Scheunemann and Steve Summersgil for ‘Cloud Atlas’
· Simon Bright, Dan Hannah, Andy McLaren and Ben Milsom for ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’
· Toby Britton, Nathan Crowley, Kate Grimbie, Zack Grobler, James Hambidge, Kevin Kavanaugh, Naaman Marshall, Jonathan Kevin Ong, Tom Still, Gerald Sullivan, Su Whitaker, Dean Wolcott and Robert Woodruff for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’
· Alex Cameron, Anthony Caron-Delion, Peter Dorme, Marc Homes, Paul Inglis, John King, Arthur Max, Adam O’Neill and Karen Wakefield for ‘Prometheus’
· Adam Stockhausen and Gerald Sullivan for ‘Moonrise Kingdom’
And the winners are:
‘Prometheus’ was a visual treat above anything else, and we have to thank to this previously un-nominated team of Alex Cameron, Anthony Caron-Delion, Peter Dorme, Marc Homes, Paul Inglis, John King, Arthur Max, Adam O’Neill and Karen Wakefield.
Best Choreography, Action
‘Gokudô heiki’ (2011) was the winning film last year, and always asian movies have won in this category, will this be the year where everything changes?
The nominees have action filled movies above all, and of all kinds, like the superhero camp battles like the ones in ‘The Avengers’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’; the gun spectacles like the kind seen in ‘Django Unchained’ and ‘The Expendables 2’; or finally the only (kinda) asian film competing with martial arts ‘The Man with the Iron Fists’.
The nominees, then, are:
· The Avengers
· The Dark Knight Rises
· Django Unchained
· The Expendables 2
· The Man with the Iron Fists
And the film with the best action coreography:
‘The Avengers’ was an spectacle of action fights and special effects, having fights not only between the superheroes and the monsters/aliens, but also between the superheroes themselves. An amazing action sci-fi movie to be enjoyed by all.
Best Choreography, Dance
Last year, the documentary ‘Pina’ (2011) managed to win this award quite easily by having spectacular choreographies by Pina Bauch herself, how well and prestigious the choreographies will be this year?
Well, seems like we don’t have as prestigious contenders, but they are impressive on their own, for example ‘Liu Rushi’ had a famous chinese poet dancing the most beautiful rythms; ‘Naran Ja (One Act Orange Dance)’ had experimental dancing by a group from the New York dance majors in a VHS filled landscape; the videoclips always have a place here, this time with two great examples of the best ones of the year with ‘Sigur Rós: Fjögur píanó’ and ‘Time to Dance’; while the final dancing scene of ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ was easily the best one of the film.
So, the nominated choreographies are:
· Liu Rushi
· Naran Ja (One Act Orange Dance)
· Sigur Rós: Fjögur píanó
· Silver Linings Playbook
· Time to Dance
And the winning choreography is:
‘Silver Linings Playbook’ surprised me with its focus and delicate ambition at having well coordinated dance sequences, and not only the ones that featured Bradley Cooper, but you could also tell that the other contest participants are professionals and have really good dancing choreographies.
Best Performance, Dance, Female
Bérénice Bejo was charming in her dance and performance in the silent film ‘The Artist’ (2011), and that was the winner of the Frank Award in this category.
This year we have a nice group of women giving their best in solo dancing scenes, like the sexy streap-tease dance present in the korean horror film ‘Don’t Click’ and made possible through Byeol Kang; the norwegian beauty Ragni Orsal Skogsrod shows her skills at different latinamerican dances in the chilean film ‘Las Cosas Como Son’; while, as told in the previous category, Wan Quian plays the famous poet who was also a great dancer in ‘Liu Rushi’; Alicia Silverstone has a lot of fun in the underrated ‘Vamps’ by dancing a few tunes by herself; and to end it all, Denna Thompson has a enigmatic dance sequence in the enigmatic videoclip ‘Sigur Rós: Fjögur píanó’.
So, the nominated girls are:
· Byeol Kang in “Don’t Click”
· Ragni Orsal Skogsrod in “Las Cosas Como Son”
· Wan Qian in “Liu Rushi”
· Alicia Silverstone in “Vamps”
· Denna Thomsen in “Sigur Rós: Fjögur píanó”
And the winner dancing performance is:
Sadly, I haven’t found the link to a video of her dance, but I’d say that if there was one reason to watch ‘Don’t Click’, it’s to see Byeol Kang’s dance scenes.
The winner of last year’s award for best cinematography couldn’t be another one other than Emmanuel Lubezki for his spectacular work in the semi-coherent critically lauded ‘The Tree of Life’ (2011) directed by Terrence Malick, and in 2012 he worked with him again in the festival favorite ‘To the Wonder’ that wasn’t made available during this year, so it won’t have a chance of having the award. That’s a shame.
The bunch we have here is a mixture of people we know and some excellent newcomers to the Frank Awards circle of awards, and shall we start with one of them? Robert D. Yeoman was the excellent cinematographer of that surprise that was ‘Moonrise Kingdom’, and here he accomplished marvels with the 16mm filmmaking as well as the whole orangey look of the frames and the ambient. Here we have a nominee that comes back with a vengeance, Roger Deakins with the help of the latest entry of the Bond series, ‘Skyfall’, gives it a serious look as well as impressive use of light of different sources, he was previously nominated in 2009 for his work on ‘A Serious Man’. Here we have two true newcomers to the industry and to the job of cinematography but they did a superb job, not only directing and editing the film, but also shooting it, and of course I’m talking about Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky for the documentary ‘Indie Game: The Movie’, I don’t know, but they just really knew how to take advantage of the light and settings of the camera. Another guy that comes back is Wally Pfister, after being nominated in 2010 for his stupendous work in ‘Inception’ (2010), and this time he continued his amazing work in the conclusion of the Batman trilogy with the same director, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, using amazing light sources and shooting style, movement and scope. Finally, here we have an amazing case, Robert Richardson has been nominated every year that the Frank Awards has been made, and that is just because his work is distinguishable and always great, he won in 2009 for ‘Inglourious Basterds’ (2009) , nominated in 2010 for ‘Shutter Island’ (2010) and in 2011 for ‘Hugo’ (2011), and this time he returns to Quentin Tarantino to do the great cinematography of ‘Django Unchained’, where he manages to imitate and sometimes impress the spaguetti and american westerns of old times, an amazing work here.
So, the nominees are:
· Robert D. Yeoman for ‘Moonrise Kingdom’
· Roger Deakins for ‘Skyfall’
· Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky for ‘Indie Game: The Movie’
· Wally Pfister for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’
· Robert Richardson for ‘Django Unchained’
And the winner is:
Roger Deakins did an amazing job in a good movie like ‘Skyfall’ to make it memorable and enthusiastic enough for someone who isn’t a fan of Bond just because I just grew up with the horrible Pierce Brosnan movies (don’t blind yourselves, Goldeneye is really bad and silly).
Best Costume Design
‘Suspension of Disbelief’ was the film in which Sandy Powell worked as a costume designer in 2012, a film that has not made available just yet, as the work of the Frank Award winner for ‘Hugo’ (2011) is always interesting to watch.
The nominees this year mix the period with the fantasy, and in an interesting twist, sometimes both things at the same time. Of course I’m talking about the costume design work of the magnum opus that is ‘Cloud Atlas’, mixing sci fi elements with period clothing and above all a sense of beauty and delicacy in every piece, it makes the designers Kym Barrett and Pierre-Yves Gayraud masters of all trades. On the other hand, we have another team of costume designers for the most amazing dwarvish costumes and armours seen in a Lord of the Rings film yet, in ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ we have Bob Buck, Ann Maskrey and Richard Taylor working for all the movies, and I’m sure we will see more amazing costumes as the series progresses. Tarantino has an interest in crazy costume design, and he is accompanied by Sharen Davis for this amazing adventure of ‘Django Unchained’, mixing the extravagance with the period classicism, it’s one to admire. Masae Miyamoto gives the film ’11·25 jiketsu no hi: Mishima Yukio to wakamono-tachi’ an artistic and historical side that makes it an even greater experience than what it what would seem to be at the beginning, with army outfits and kimonos, this is a beautiful experiment on civil and warlife in peace clothing, an obsession turned into crazyness. It’s impressive to see the work of Kasia Walicka-Maimone in the movie ‘Moonrise Kingdom’, as every character has a distinct and colorful costume that seems to never change, as if they were characters from a fairy tale, an each one of them is appropiate and incredible to watch.
So, the nominees are:
· Kym Barrett and Pierre-Yves Gayraud for ‘Cloud Atlas’
· Bob Buck, Ann Maskrey and Richard Taylor for ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’
· Sharen Davis for ‘Django Unchained’
· Masae Miyamoto for ’11·25 jiketsu no hi: Mishima Yukio to wakamono-tachi’
· Kasia Walicka-Maimone for ‘Moonrise Kingdom’
And the best costume designer/s is/are:
Sharen Davis work for ‘Django Unchained’ is one of the most impressive of the year just because of the flamboyance and at the same time historical affinity, as well as how well the costumes mix with the characters. Amazing work here.
Sally Menke Award for Best Editing
Last year, the best feat of editing was given to the documentary editor Joe Walker for his splendid compilation work in ‘Life in a Day’ (2011), featuring videos from all over the world, and in 2012 he edited two episodes from two different TV variety shows, so that’s been that.
This year I have for you an impressive array of editing skills and structures for you to behold and admire. First we have the first film from Argentina to garner a nomination in a Frank Awards, that is ‘La chica del sur’, a documentary that is brilliantly constructed in its different parts and surprises thanks to the wonderful editing by Alejandra Almirón, Alejandro Carrillo Penovi and José Luis García. Juggling between multiple storylines and diverting from the source novel in every way, Alexander Berner brilliantlyedits the wonderful ‘Cloud Atlas’ making it wonderful with 5-10 minute parts that each time turn more and more frenetic as the plot needs it. William Goldenberg does a class on tight and superb editing in ‘Argo’, one that specially shows how well it can work in its last half hour with the whole scene at the airport, how the tension builds and all. The two newcomers Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky edit their documentary ‘Indie Game: The Movie’, besides directing and shooting it, in this particular job they exceed at mixing interview material with the beautiful imagery they had. Finally, we have the succesor of Sally Menke, whose this award is named after, and Fred Raskin did an amazing work in ‘Django Unchained’ by owning every scene with its visual references and knowing where to condense the story and how to convert it into an amazing tale.
So, the nominees are:
· Alejandra Almirón, Alejandro Carrillo Penovi and José Luis García for ‘La chica del sur’
· Alexander Berner for ‘Cloud Atlas’
· William Goldenberg for ‘Argo’
· Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky for ‘Indie Game: The Movie’
· Fred Raskin for ‘Django Unchained’
And the winner/s is/are:
Alexander Berner does an impressive job at maintaining every storyline in ‘Cloud Atlas’ relevant and memorable in every way through the ways of editing, and that might be the most surprising element of this impressive movie. Great job in this one!
Last year the only award that was given to the conclusion of the Harry Potter saga, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2’ (2011), was this one in the Frank Awards 2011, and deservingly so.
We have an impressive range of movies in the makeup category, and it’s great to see some different contenders for once in a while, it was a truly impressive year for this little brand of my awards. ‘Cloud Atlas’ impresses with makeup transforming the faces of its actors all across the generations, time periods and film/literary genres from every place out there. ‘Hitchcock’ visibly transformed Anthony Hopkins into the almost perfect rendition of Alfred Hitchcock, at times there was no hint of the personal traits or characteristics of Hopkins in his face, and that is impressive. In ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ many actors are transformed into bearded and fat dwarves, as well as the hobbits and the orcs plague the place with its stunning characterization. In ‘Holy Motors’ we see the continuous transformation of Denis Levant in different genres and mini-films, with different characters and impersonations, the makeup supports the impressive performance. Finally, the first chilean film to make it in this category is the most succesful film in all chilean history, ‘Stefan v/s Kramer’, where Stefan Kramer plays over 15 different characters with impressive makeup and prostheses.
The nominated movies for best makeup are:
· Cloud Atlas
· The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
· Holy Motors
· Stefan v/s Kramer
And the best make up can be found in the movie:
Seeing those dwarves with extravagant beards, moustaches, faces, as well as the goblins, orcs and other creatures make this movie an amazing experience just to see the impressive artistic nature of the makeup in ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’.
Best Music, Score
Last year the winner for this spectacular category were the two composers and members of the band Chemical Brothers, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, for the movie ‘Hanna’ (2011), an entertaining score for a movie that was kinda meh for me.
So, the nominees this year are:
· Mychael Danna for ‘Life of Pi’
· Alexandre Desplat for ‘Moonrise Kingdom’
· Jim Guthrie for ‘Indie Game: The Movie’
· Howard Shore for ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’
· Hans Zimmer for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’
And the winning composer is:
Alexandre Desplat has been nominated in every edition of the Frank Awards and this is his first time winning the prize. He was nominated before for ‘The Tree of Life’ (2011), ‘The Ghost Writer’ (2010) and the other Anderson feature that has been nominated, ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ (2009). With a magical and sweet score this manages to go over any bombastic or over beautiful songs, this is a winner.
Best Music, Song
Last year the winning song was the entertaining and completely bombastic ‘Rango’ for the movie ‘Rango’ (2011), sung by the group Los Lobos, it was fun and exciting as the movie was.
The nominated songs are:
· ‘Ancora Qui’ sung by Elisa Toffoli for ‘Django Unchained’
· ‘Freedom’ sung by Anthony Hamilton and Elayna Boyton for ‘Django Unchained’
· ‘Misty Mountains Cold’ sung by the dwarves for ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’
· ‘Skyfall’ sung by Adele for ‘Skyfall’
· ‘Who Were We’ sung by Kylie Minogue for ‘Holy Motors’
And the winning song is:
Simple and emotive, as well as a part of the story in terms of plot, the sadness and overall greatness of the song elevates this above anything than we could expect from a film like ‘Holy Motors’ and Kylie Minogue in particular.
Best Special Effects
The best special effects in 2011 were the poetical and minimal ones present in the wonderful ‘Melancholia’ (2011) directed by Lars von Trier. What do we have in storage for this year?
‘The Avengers’ wins this nomination because of how perfect the special effects make the final fight epic, as well as the Hulk, you can’t forget the Hulk. ‘Cloud Atlas’ uses many special effects of different kinds, and in the science fiction/future story they were impressive and beautiful. Creatures and rocky giants are what can be found in ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ thanks to the work of special effects. In ‘Life of Pi’ we are in an environment that its completely CGI in almost every rendition, how does it feel so real? ‘Prometheus’ brands its creatures as well as landscapes in an interesting and completely superb manner.
So, the nominees are:
· The Avengers
· Cloud Atlas
· The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
· Life of Pi
And the winning film is:
Gollum is still the best reason to award these movies with the prize of best special effects, ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ manages to make a bigger bet with more creatures and a cleaner, more real, Gollum.
Watch out for part 2, coming soon!