Thursday, December 31, 2009

LiE Awards 2009: Directing and Writing

This is by far the most difficult of any section for my Life in Equinox Awards I had to do this year. With a handful of standouts, and lots of solid second tier entries I spent much time debating who would make my list and who wouldn't. Some films had great writing mediocre directing, and vice versa, and when it's really good it becomes almost impossible to separate the two! Though have no fear I managed to widdle it down in the end, and come up with my top directors and writers of 2009, see you after the jump!

Best Directors:
5. Jean-Marc Vallee - The Young Victoria. Period films can at times become so weighed down by their own love of costumes that they fail to capture the strength of the performances being presented. Wonderfully combining politics, costumes, and romance, Vallee captured each move of the early life of Queen Victoria with a sense of passion, and we're all the better for it.

4. James Cameron - Avatar. While the story in Avatar may be lacking, it lacked nothing in the visuals end. Few people know how to tell a story as well as Cameron, while creating an amazing and beautiful new world for us to be immersed in. Not only that but Avatar comes riddled with striking images, and fluid direction, allowing us to follow each move, through the same eyes as our main character.

3. Neill Blomkamp - District 9. How do you make a film that comes out of nowhere, surprises, everyone, and brings a nice sense of freshness to a tore down genre? You go with a little bit of everything. Combing mockumentary style with first person perspective, and Michael Bay/Stephen Spielberg quality action (x10 on the intensity scale) Blomkamp nailed one of the most memorable films of 2009, with a sort of power reserved only for the most creative of directors.

2. Duncan Jones - Moon. If Duncan Jones did one thing better than any other director this year, it is create a film that is both an homage to old school while breathing in a new school vibe. Combining a sense of 2001 with modern narrative speed, Jones created a visually intriguing tale, bringing out the best of every second he could find. With every scene you can sense Jones' passion, and visual strength, grabbing ahold of the viewer, never letting go until the final shot.

1. Katheryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker. After years of making films nobody saw, nor wanted to see, this Point Break director, skyrocketed by onto the scene with an amazing directorial effort in The Hurt Locker. Perfectly capturing each scene, the intensity, and real life references, Bigelow made a film that could easily be a staple of the modern war genre for many years to come.

Honorable Mentions:
Spike Jonze (Where the Wild Things Are)
Pete Docter and Bob Peterson (Up)

Best Writing

5. Geoffrey Fletcher - Precious. While I felt Lee Daniels held the film back, Fletcher's unwavering, hard hitting, script based on the novel by Sapphire, holds Precious together through a rough first hour, and into a masterful finale. Handled perfectly by its cast, the story here is by no means an easy one to swallow, and by all accounts, is a powerful one to absorb.

4. Quentin Tarantino - Inglourious Basterds. When Inglourious Basterds worked best for me it was when Tarantino's directing took a back seat to his writing, allowing his colorful dialogue, insane characters, and off the cuff situations breath new life into each character. Of course with Tarantino it's always hard to separate the directing from the writing, but here I feel this one stood out far more.

3. Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner - Up in the Air. Witty, smooth, riddled with modern troubles, Reitman and Turner wrote the right film at the right time. Reitman's dry wit, and knack for creating colorful characters, adds new levity to our current economic situation while giving the audience a captivating film to feast on throughout.

2. Mark Boal - The Hurt Locker. An on site journalist, Mark Boal's intimate knowledge of the physical and psychological effects of war on people gives amazing depth to his 2009 breakout film The Hurt Locker. Amazingly detailed, and riddled with thrills, Boal cpatures every scene, every moment of dialogue, with great strength, and sense of purpose.

1. Nick Hornby - An Education. When it comes to writing, I love few modern writers as much as I love Nick Hornby, especially his novels. With great desire to create something new, Hornby's first screenplay effort is intelligent, well paced, full of character development, and vivid conversations. I fell in love with much of the dialogue (while lots of it went miles over my head), and found myself absolutely blown away with his detail to the world he creates on paper.

Honorable Mentions:
Nathan Parker (Moon) - it killed me not putting him on the list!
Spike Jonze & Dave Eggers (Where the Wild Things Are)
Pete Docter and Bob Peterson (Up)

Alrighty, guys and gals, you know what's next: My Top 10 Films of 2009!

1 better thoughts:

filmgeek said...

I get rather excited when I see other people celebrating The Young Victoria :) I think when it was originally released in the UK it wasn't as well received as it should have been

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