Jeff McMahon 2008

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Jeff McMahon is the owner/operator of When the Dead Walk the Earth, a dumping ground for his thoughts on movies, TV, current events and popular culture. He is a graduate of the USC School of Cinema-Television and has a special fondness for’50s sci-fi and ‘70s horror.

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Best Feature-Length Film

1. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

2. Man on Wire

3. Synecdoche, New York

4. Happy-Go-Lucky

5. The Wrestler

6. The Dark Knight

7. Standard Operating Procedure

8. Let the Right One In

9. Waltz with Bashir

10. Tropic Thunder

 

Best Lead Performance, Male

1. Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

2. Sean Penn, Milk

3. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Synecdoche, New York

4. Benicio Del Toro, Che

5. Sam Rockwell, Snow Angels

 

Best Lead Performance, Female

1. Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky

2. Michelle Williams, Wendy and Lucy

3. Anamaria Marinca, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

4. Meryl Streep, Doubt

5. Tarra Riggs, Ballast

 

Best Supporting Performance, Male

1. Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

2. Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder

3. Josh Brolin, Milk

4. Eddie Marsan, Happy-Go-Lucky

5. James Franco, Pineapple Express

 

Best Supporting Performance, Female

1. Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

2. Samantha Morton, Synecdoche, New York

3. Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler

4. Viola Davis, Doubt

5. Dianne Wiest, Synecdoche, New York

 

Best Direction

1. Cristian Mungiu, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

2. James Marsh, Man on Wire

3. Charlie Kaufman, Synecdoche, New York

4. Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky

5. Darren Aronofsky, The Wrestler

 

Best Screenplay

(original or adapted)

1. Charlie Kaufman, Synechdoche, New York

2. Cristian Mungiu, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

3. Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, Burn After Reading

4. Woody Allen, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

5. Martin McDonagh, In Bruges

 

Best Cinematography

(film or video)

1. Darius Khondji, My Blueberry Nights

2. Christopher Doyle & Rain Kathy Li, Paranoid Park

3. Robert Richardson, Standard Operating Procedure

4. Wally Pfister, The Dark Knight

5. Hoyte Van Hoytema, Let the Right One In

 

Best Music

(original, adapted, or compiled)

1. Alexandre Desplat, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

2. Danny Elfman, Standard Operating Procedure

3. Max Richter, Waltz with Bashir

4. Alberto Iglesias, Che

5. A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire

 

Best Cinematic Moment

1. Late night disposal, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

2. Hardcore match, The Wrestler

3. Sweding montage, Be Kind Rewind

4. Penguin going the wrong way, Encounters at the End of the World

5. Sleepwalking, Step Brothers

6. Actors playing actors, Synecdoche, New York

7. Waltzing, Waltz with Bashir

8. Open-heart surgery, Iron Man

9. Nuclear test, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

10. Gynecologist office, Teeth

 

Best Cinematic Breakthrough

1. Lance Hammer, Ballast

2. James Franco, Pineapple Express, Milk

3. Darren Aronofsky, The Wrestler

4. Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married

5. Shea Whigham, Splinter

 

Best Body of Work

1. Gus Van Sant (Paranoid Park, Milk)

2. Kate Winslet (The Reader, Revolutionary Road)

3. Robert Downey Jr. (Charlie Bartlett, Iron Man, Tropic Thunder)

4. Roger Deakins (Doubt, The Reader, Revolutionary Road)

5. Philip Seymour Hoffman (Synecdoche, New York, Doubt)

 

Best Ensemble Performance

1. Synecdoche, New York

2. Milk

3. Burn After Reading

4. Rachel Getting Married

5. Doubt

 

Best Movie-Related Web Site

1. The House Next Door

2. The Criterion Contraption

3. Roger Ebert’s Journal

4. Final Girl

5. Awardsdaily

 

10th Anniversary Award, Best Feature Film 1998

1. The Thin Red Line

2. Saving Private Ryan

3. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

4. Rushmore

5. The Big Lebowski

 

25th Anniversary Award, Best Feature Film 1983

1. Videodrome

2. Koyaanisqatsi

3. The King of Comedy 

4. A Christmas Story 

5. Scarface

 

50th Anniversary Award, Best Feature Film 1958

1. Vertigo

2. Touch of Evil 

3. Mon Oncle 

4. I Bury the Living 

5. Elevator to the Gallows 

Miscellaneous commentary:
 
On 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days: To be truly great, a film should do a lot of things very well, and so here we have a film that’s not just a tough depiction of life under totalitarian tyranny and the way it warps and twists every aspect of life, and not just a brutal drama of people making bad choices that get progressively worse, but also the best edge-of-your-seat thriller of the year with some deeply nightmarish imagery (and even a joke or two).

 

On Man on Wire: The year’s most deeply pleasureable movie, about the joy of creation and defying the odds, tinged with a touch of post-9/11 sadness.

 

On Synecdoche: Who knew that beneath Charlie Kaufman’s neurotic self-flagellations was a director capable of pulling together one of the greatest casts in years – and that he would have such comfort with great actresses?

 

On Mickey Rourke: The movie around him suffers from the occasional cliché, but Rourke’s (literally) full-bodied performance makes you forgive and forget, just as his pure, seething humanity makes us understand and forgive the slow, steady decline of Randy the Ram.

 

On Sally Hawkins: Possibly the year’s most difficult performance – how to present a bubbly character without lapsing into irritation or treacle, and also demonstrate a rich inner life and set of motivations to depict a complete, honest well-rounded human being.

 

On Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder: Some critics called this performance a mere stunt, but there are levels within levels to Downey’s performance, making it the best character-within-a-character comic performance since Peter Sellers.

 

On Videodrome: My favorite David Cronenberg film of all time, a nutso black-comic fantasia that imagines what it might look like if TV could really and truly rot your brain.

 

On Vertigo: Fifty years after being shrugged off by the critics, Hitchcock's film stands as an almost embarrasingly personal vision of the interplay between men, women, fantasy, and harsh reality, with some of the most lustrous imagery of his career and Jimmy Stewart's anguished, sadist/masochistic performance.

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