With the Golden Globes coming up tomorrow night my son and I had a long conversation yesterday about the likely winners in these and the Oscars. Marion and I managed to see around 35 films at the cinema in 2010 and we caught a few more 2010 releases on Sky but my judgement is bound to be limited as I missed Made In Dagenham and The Kid's Are Alright and we haven't seen Black Swan, The Fighter and True Grit yet. However, from our personal viewing experience, here are my gongs for the pick of last year's movies.
Most underrated film.
It got pretty poor reviews on the whole but Marion and I really enjoyed Cemetery Junction. Perhaps it's our age but the film resonated with us (and a fair few others that we talked to about it). It's a fairly gentle comedy with a great soundtrack and some excellent performances from the three leads as well as co director Ricky Gervais playing it straight as a loving dad in a dead end engineering job. It's a bit like a Curtis film which is saying it's like Marmite to a film fan but I found it far better than The Boat That Rocked if not quite hitting the feel good highs of Love Actually. And don't tell anybody but I actually enjoyed Salt in a wham bang thank you maam sort of way and Youth In Revolt passed with little comment.
I was tempted to put her in the best female actor category as her performances in Let Me In and Kick Ass showed versatility and screen presence in a child actor that hasn't been seen since Jodie Foster blew us all away in Bugsy Mallone. Her ghoulish vampire in Let Me In was beautifully understated and allowed us to empathise with and root for a violent monster whilst in Kick Ass she did just that and kicked everyone (including Nick Cage) into the sidelines. I wouldn't be surprised to see her nominated for an Oscar but I'll leave her with my gong for now.
Best female actor
As I said earlier I haven't seem some films with strong female roles but the stand out performance in the films that we did see was Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone. Playing a poverty stricken teenager searching for her delinquent father in the bleak Ozark mountains Lawrence is outstanding and so utterly convincing that it felt that we were watching reality.
Best female actor in a supporting role
Again with the provisos above, my choice here is Lesley Manville in Another Year. I'm not sure if it should be classed as a supporting role as her Mary is on screen almost as much as Ruth Sheen's Gerri. In the film Manville manages to portray loneliness in a way that is both sad and funny. Verging on parody at times, she manages not to cross the line and brought a tear to my eye.
Best male actor in a supporting role.
Although it was a very strong year with Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue in The King's Speech coming up strongly on the rails, for me, Andrew Garfield in The Social Network won this hands down. Never before have I sided so much with a character in a film and by the end I would have willingly booked a flight and gone over to the States to personally throttle Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg- a wonderful performance.
Best male actor in a leading role.
This is an extremely difficult one to choose. There have been many notable performances including Leonardo in Inception, George Clooney in The American, Ryan Reynolds in Buried, Colin Firth in The King's Speech but in the end I think that James Franco in 127 Hours just edges it. Like Reynolds, he is alone on screen for most of the film but where he beats Reynolds in my opinion is by showing a far more rounded character. It is perhaps the skill of Danny Boyle that allowed him to do this but, whilst I never really felt that I was in that coffin somewhere in the Middle East, I was with Franco in that crevasse and feeling every cut as the knife went in.
So much to choose from here and with the same proviso as at the start. I think that, but for the tedious snow scenes, Inception would have been a strong runner. The King's Speech was excellent but would be just as good as a TV drama and I like to think of movies as having that little bit extra that comes with the big screen. Another Year, Toy Story 3 and 127 Hours have all been highly praised but for me the film that made a lasting impression was Winter's Bone. I know that it won't win the Oscar but it had everything, great script, outstanding performances, haunting cinematography and a magnificent setting.
My final gong goes to the film that pulled the most heartstrings. After Up left us sobbing for days in 2009, PIXAR almost did it again with Toy Story 3D but the film that made both me and Marion well up the most in 2010 was Chomet's L'Illusionist the heartbreaking animated story of a washed up French magician trying to earn a crust in Edinburgh before Music Hall goes into its final death throes. It's poignant and beautiful to watch.
Before I finish I must comment on something I noticed when watching Avatar on the new 3D TV the other day. I thought that charlatan Derek Acorah was finished in show business after his chat with Michael Jackson in that notorious "seance". But there he was as the evil Corporal Miles Quaritch. Fortunately he came to a very sticky end and the corporal copped it with a couple of giant 3D arrows.
I know that everyone will have their own views so comments welcome.