Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Glamor: Best Above-the-Line Work of 2009

Tuesday, I took the time to look at what I thought to be the Best Craftswork of 2009, today I'm looking at everything else, from Original Score, all the way to Best Director, and then tomorrow I am going to be posting my list of the Ten Best Movies of the Year, but that is not today. Today, is all about the glamor that we tend to associate with moviemaking, the visible heroes so to speak. I'm speaking of the directors, the writers, the actors, and the composers. To be honest, I've been looking forward to this post for a few months now, and my excitement has nearly gotten the best of me, so I wont wait any longer, here we go:

Best Song - Joe Hisaishi, "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea," from Ponyo
While Overtone's song, "9,000 Days," from Invictus is one of my more favorite songs written for a movie of this year, I've gotta give credit where it's due. Japanese master composer, Joe Hisaishi, did it again, composing the most wonderfully cute and fun theme song to Hayao Miyazaki's latest film, Ponyo. Every Miyazaki film has a Hisaishi-penned song played in the credits or something, and I think that this one is one of his more memorable tunes.
(Runners-up: Karen O & The Kids, "All is Love," from Where the Wild Things Are; Leona Lewis & James Horner, "I See You," from Avatar; Overtone, "9,000 Days," from Invictus; and Sad Brad Smith, "Help Yourself," from Up in the Air)

Best Score - Joe Hisaishi, Departures
Hisaishi-San finds himself on here again, but this time for the Academy Award-winning Foreign Film, Departures. This was a great year for film scores, whether it was from Hans Zimmer's original work on Sherlock Holmes or Michael Giacchino's awesome music for the new Star Trek. While Joe Hisaishi nearly got on here for his score for Ponyo, the music he composed for Departures is just so integral to the film, not to mention beautiful and breathtaking, that it is safe to say the film wouldn't have been the same without it.
(Runners-up: Michael Giacchino, Star Trek; Joe Hisaishi, Ponyo; Hans Zimmer, Sherlock Holmes; and James Horner, Avatar)

Best Screenplay - Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air
Endlessly filled with satire and authentic emotion, Reitman & Turner's script for Up in the Air sells the movie, from its snarky dialogue, to not allowing the film to traipse into melodrama when it reaches its big twists and turns. The script is authentic, and definitely worthy of this honor, even though I think Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman came close for their marvelously intense script for Star Trek.
(Runners-up: Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman, Star Trek; Nick Hornby, An Education; Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, (500) Days of Summer; Kundo Koyama, Departures)

Best Supporting Actress - Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
No other supporting role from a woman this year was as affecting as Anna Kendrick in Up in the Air. Kendrick was the atypical know-it-all, fresh out of college, thought she understood everything about the world, had it all figured out, and realizes she's just a stupid kid. I think her performance rings true to me since her character was only four years older than me.
(Runners-up: Lauren Ambrose, Where the Wild Things Are; Zoe Saldana, Star Trek; Emma Thompson, An Education; Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air)

Best Supporting Actor - Karl Urban, Star Trek
There were many great male supporting performances from this year alone, but it was Karl Urban's wonderful performance as Dr. "Bones" McCoy in Star Trek that takes the top prize. He took the character created by DeForest Kelly, and was respectful while making it his own. Not to mention he was probably the funniest part of the whole movie.
(Runners-up: J.K. Simmons, Up in the Air; James Gandolfini, Where the Wild Things Are; Jim Broadbent, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; and Takashi Sasano, Departures)

Best Actress - Zoe Saldana, Avatar
It really came down between Ms. Saldana for Avatar and Ms. Mulligan for An Education, but at the end of the day I decided to give it to the actress who did the greatest transformation to assume her role. Zoe Saldana was marvelous as Neytiri, she is what brought the Nav'i to life in Avatar, as well she mastered a whole different way of speaking, a new language, and had to completely reinterpret her body language, and even after all of that she still gave a very emotional performance. It's kind of funny, you never really she her face, but her performance is one of the best things about the film.
(Runners-up: Carey Mulligan, An Education; Emma Watson, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; Zooey Deschanel, (500) Days of Summer; and Ryoko Hirosue, Departures)

Best Actor - George Clooney, Up in the Air
For the latter part of this entire year, I had only been thinking of one guy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but after seeing Up in the Air, I had to give it to the most deserving male performance of the year. George Clooney essentially plays himself in Up in the Air, as a downsizing expert who fires people for a living, but in playing a character that goes through so much, in order for Clooney to of played the emotion he would have had to do some serious soul searching, and for that reason alone I think he is highly deserving, not to mention it is a marvelous performance, probably the best of his career.
(Runners-up: Morgan Freeman, Invictus; Joseph Gordon-Levitt, (500) Days of Summer; Chris Pine, Star Trek; Masahiro Motoki, Departures)

Best Ensemble - The Cast of Star Trek
In terms of ensemble work, there really was no contest, the new cast of Star Trek just meshed perfectly, possibly even better than the original cast. J.J. Abrams was spot on in the casting of Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, there is some obvious chemistry between the two, and as a matter of fact, between the entire cast, and it excites me to see them possibly put this chemistry to good use in future sequels. The only one that came close to beating Trek was the cast of Harry Potter, but seriously, Star Trek is an ensemble film if I've ever seen one.
(Runners-up: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Up in the Air, Departures, Where the Wild Things Are)

Best Director - J.J. Abrams, Star Trek
This was one of the more solid categories in this year of filmmaking, but at the end of the day, the director I was most impressed by was J.J. Abrams for his work on Star Trek. Abrams managed to infuse this re-invisioning of Trek with excitement and energy. The action sequences were thrilling and suspenseful, and not to mention there was an emotional resonance inherent in the film due to its wonderfully drawn characters and beautifully realized sequences, such as the death of George Kirk or the destruction of Vulcan. Abrams didn't waste anytime, not only did he manage to bring Star Trek back, but he also managed to do something that Star Trek never did for me till now, he made it cool to say that you're a fan.
(Runners-up: Marc Webb, (500) Days of Summer; Yojiro Takita, Departures; Hayao Miyazaki, Ponyo; Jason Reitman, Up in the Air)

Tune in tomorrow as I post my list of the ten best films of 2009!

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