Hedwig Van Driel 2008

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On Hedwig: "What do you get when you cross a physicist and a teacher of Dutch and Dutch literature? Apparently, you can get a girl who keeps struggling between her scientific and her artsy side. Someone who studies physics and enjoys it, but who occasionally skips classes to attend press screenings and writes reviews while waiting for simulations to finish running. A girl who'll probably/hopefully have a MSc come September, but who has no idea whether she wants to continue as a scientist or a film critic after that. She's happy that she's been able to combine the two so far, both in print and on her blog As Cool As a Fruitstand."

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Best Feature-Length Film

1. Synecdoche, New York

2. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
3. In Bruges

4. Paranoid Park

5. Burn After Reading

6. Be Kind Rewind

7. Entre Les Murs (The Class)

8. The Fall

9. Man on Wire

10. Milk

 

Best Lead Performance, Male

1. Sean Penn (Milk)

2. Richard Jenkins (The Visitor)

3. Brad Pitt (Burn After Reading)

4. Colin Farrell (In Bruges)

5. Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon)

 

Best Lead Performance, Female

1. Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky)

2. Catherine Deneuve (Un Conte de NoŽl (A Christmas Tale))

3. Michelle Williams (Wendy and Lucy)

4. Juliette Binoche (Flight of the Red Balloon)

 

Best Supporting Performance, Male

1. Josh Brolin (Milk)

2. J.K. Simmons (Burn After Reading)

3. Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)

4. Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges)

5. Robert Downey, Jr. (Tropic Thunder)

 

Best Supporting Performance, Female

1. Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)

2. Samantha Morton (Synecdoche, New York)

3. Catinca Untaru (The Fall)

4. Hiam Abbass (The Visitor)

5. Rachel Weisz (My Blueberry Nights)

 

Best Direction

1. Woody Allen (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)

2. Gus van Sant (Paranoid Park)

3. Tarsem (The Fall)

4. Guy Maddin (My Winnipeg)

5. Charlie Kaufman (Synecdoche, New York)

 

Best Screenplay

(original or adapted)

1. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman)

2. In Bruges (Martin McDonaugh)

3. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen)

4. Married Life (Ira Sachs, Oren Moverman)

 

Best Cinematography

(film or video)

1. Milk - Harris Savides

2. Paranoid Park - Christopher Doyle and Rain Kathy Li

3. My Blueberry Nights - Darius Khondji

4. The Dark Knight - Wally Pfister

5. Changeling - Tom Stern

 

Best Cinematic Moment

1. The final scene of Burn After Reading

2. WALL*E and EVE dancing in space: a moment of pure beauty

3. The underwater sequences in Encounters at the End of the World

4. The montage of filmmaking scenes in Be Kind Rewind

5.  The dinner scene in In Bruges, with possibly the most offensive Belgian joke ever.

6. The scene with the frozen horses in My Winnipeg

7. The swimming elephants, seen from below, in The Fall

8. The lorry flipping over in The Dark Knight. Also: the Joker with his head out of the car window.

9. The opening scene of Synecdoche: everything just slightly out of whack

10. Steve Coogan’s head in Tropic Thunder

 

Best Cinematic Breakthrough

1. James Marsh

2. Martin McDonagh

3. James Franco

4. Tarsem

5. Michelle Williams

 

Best Body of Work

1. Robert Downey, Jr. (the suave Iron Man and the brilliant layers of Kirk Lazarus)

2. Gus van Sant (great year with Paranoid Park and the less exciting but very well-made Milk)

3. James Franco (the adorable pot dealer in Pineapple Express, and the quiet partner of Harvey Milk)

4. Richard Jenkins (great in The Visitor and in a small part in Burn After Reading)

5. Daniel Craig (Quantum of Solace was highly flawed, but he’s still an effective, tighly coiled Bond, and Flashbacks of a Fool deserved more attention)

 

Best Ensemble Performance

1. Synecdoche, New York

2. Burn After Reading

3. Vicky Cristina Barcelona

4. The Dark Knight

5. Tropic Thunder

Miscellaneous commentary
 
On Synecdoche: I have no idea why this movie didn’t get more attention than it did and why it ended up on so few end-of-year lists (and not even an original screenplay nod at the Oscars!) Synecdoche’s a difficult film, true, a confused one at times, and though it’s darkly funny, it’s also quite depressing. But as claustrophobic and tortured it must be to live in Kaufman’s head, I’d love to spend some time there, and barring magical trap doors, Synecdoche is the closest we’re able to come.
 
On Vicky Cristina: Allen went to London and came back with two movies about fate and luck. He went to Barcelona and came back with this light, smart film. Is it deep? Not really. Is it a blatant advertisement for Barcelona’s touristic sights? Absolutely. But it’s also a neat, funny, and well-observed diversion that brought a smile to my face.
 
On In Bruges: The script of this film amazes me: it’s tight, amazingly well constructed, but it feels loose and even improvisational at times. Colin Farrell reminds us that he can, in fact, act, Brendan Gleeson is as warm and paternal as a killer can be, and Ralph Fiennes is a riot as their boss – and believably working class.
 
On Paranoid Park: Gus van Sant’s most interesting film of the year; it’s one of the few films in which the fragmented, non-linear structure (which apparently did NOT appear in the book it was based on) fits perfectly and in fact gives you insight into the main character. Hypnotic, fascinating; I cannot wait to see this film again.
 
On James Marsh: He took a simple story, made it into a documentary shaped like a heist movie, and just as exciting.
 
On Martin McDonaugh: I’d never heard about him, and knew nothing of his theatre work… but I’ll be looking out for him from now on.
 
On James Franco: Analogous to James Marsden last year, he showed that beneath the pretty surface lies a comic genius who was also the heart of Milk.
 
On Tarsem: I didn’t like The Cell at all, but while The Fall is quite a mess, it’s also mesmerizing.
 
On Michelle Williams: With her supporting part in Synecdoche and her leading part in Wendy and Lucy, she’s shown that she’s a real actress now.

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