In recent weeks, voices have been clamouring to know the outcome of 2011 New Statesman Cultural Capital film awards. Admittedly, these voices have been located exclusively inside my own head but, hey, what can you do except keep taking the medication? So here it is at last without further delay: an awards ceremony with no envelopes, tearful speeches, goodie bags or Ricky Gervais — guaranteed!
Film of the year
Le quattro volte, Meek’s Cutoff, The Portuguese Nun, Bridesmaids, Ballast, Weekend, Neds, Love Like Poison, The Fighter, Sleeping Beauty, Snowtown, Dreams of a Life, Treacle Jr, The Guard, Rango.
Worst Film of the Year
Rowan Joffe’s 1960s-set adaptation of Brighton Rock, which rendered unintelligible Graham Greene’s fierce, lean novel and subjected it to the kind of wanton assault that Pinkie himself might have performed with a switchblade. Runner-up: Roland Emmerich’s laughably dumb Anonymous, a would-be mystery asking whether Shakespeare was the true author of the canon attributed to him. The bigger mystery was how such a dazzling cast (Vanessa Redgrave, Mark Rylance, David Thewlis, Rafe Spall, Derek Jacobi) got mixed up in this tosh.
The “Good Film, Shame about the Ending” Award
The Tree of Life. The reunion of departed souls on a beach wasn’t clever when it was used 20 years ago in Longtime Companion, and it hasn’t gained poignancy or profundity in the interim. Runner-up: Kill List.
The “Good Sequel, Shame about (most of) the preceding instalments” Award
The stirring and surprising Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
Most Inexplicably Praised Film of the Year
A tie: Midnight in Paris and Drive.
Best Use of the Tomatina festival in a motion picture
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. Runner-up: We Need to Talk About Kevin.
The Clockwork Orange/”Singin’ in the Rain” Award for Previously Innocuous Song Corrupted For All Time By Its Use in a Disturbing Film
Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips”, as used in the 80% terrifying ghost story Insidious. I didn’t like that song before and I don’t like it now — but for entirely different reasons.
The Jackie Brown/”Across 110th St” Award for Reappropriating a Well-Known Song to Inventive Effect.
The Salt of Life, Gianni Di Gregorio’s life-affirming comedy, for the inspired use of the Pixies’ “Here Comes the Man” in its final montage. Runner-up: “Greensleeves” in Love Like Poison.
Best Use of an Interval
Jihne Mera Dil Luteya. I’m continually astonished by the inventive ways in which Indian cinema exploits the convention of the interval; why don’t western filmmakers take advantage of the opportunities it presents for cranking up tension and reinvigorating film structure? The identity of the main candidate for paternity in this fun if overlong “who’s the daddy?” comedy-drama appeared to be revealed on the cusp of the interval — only for that supposed revelation to be turned on its head when the audience returned 10 minutes later clutching tubs of Double Chocolate Chip.
Acting: Tom Cullen (Weekend), Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Conor McCarron (Neds), Alex Shaffer (Win Win).
Directing: Lance Hammer (Ballast), Justin Kurzel (Snowtown), Julia Leigh (Sleeping Beauty), Will Sharpe & Tom Kingsley (Black Pond).
Most Heartening Comeback
The writer-director Jamie Thraves, whose inquisitive, bittersweet comedy Treacle Jr arrived a full decade after his debut The Low Down (with only the neglected, straight-to-DVD Patricia Highsmith adaptation The Cry of the Owl in between). Runner-up: the actor Chris Langham, returning from disgrace with an unhinged performance in the disquieting comedy Black Pond.
The Kristen Wiig Award For Imminent Superstardom
So named because last December on this site I expressed a wish to see Kristen Wiig receive the role and acclaim she deserved — only for that wish to be granted tenfold when she co-wrote and starred in the gleeful Bridesmaids. Feeling as giddy as Aladdin after his first encounter with the genie, I’m now going to put forward the British actress Juno Temple, who followed small parts in films including Atonement and Greenberg with a dazzling turn this year in Gregg Araki’s apocalyptic horror-comedy Kaboom; as a perky partygoer with confidence and coolness to burn, she stole the show and invited comparison with Judy Holliday (well, from this writer at least). Expect to see her next year in William Friedkin’s screen version of Tracy Letts’s play Killer Joe.
Most Touching Screen Romance
Make that bromance: Seth Rogen and Jay Chou, in the much-reviled The Green Hornet, were positively twinkle-eyed together. Runner-up: Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the “cancer comedy” 50/50.
Best Aspect Ratio
4:3 aka Academy ratio aka the square frame aka “Hey! Where’s the rest of the screen gone? Somebody fetch the projectionist!” As seen in Wuthering Heights, Meek’s Cutoff and The Artist. It’s what all the coolest cinema screens are wearing this year.
Last year it was Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s score for David Fincher’s The Social Network. This year it’s Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s score for David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Most Unlikely Showdown
Tom Hollander vs Eric Bana in Hanna. That’s right: it’s Rev opening a can of whup-ass on the Hulk!
The Skin I Live In. You mean he was… so she is… and that’s why… wooaahh!