2006 Muriel Awards

Martin McClellan


Martin's blog:

No Matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better.

Martin's ballot:

Best Feature-Length Film
1. The Descent (Neil Marshall)
2. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Larry Charles)
3. The Last King of Scotland (Kevin Macdonald)
4. The Queen (Stephen Frears)
5. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón)
6. The Departed (Martin Scorsese)
7. Inside Man (Spike Lee)
8. Notes on a Scandal (Richard Eyre)
9. Marie Antoinette (Sofia Coppola)
10. Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro)

Best Lead Performance, Male
1. Sascha Baron Cohen, Borat
2. Forrest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
3. Sergi Lopez, Pan's Labyrinth
4. Clive Owen, Inside Man
5. Jason Schwartzman, Marie Antoinette

Best Lead Performance, Female
1. Helen Mirren, The Queen
2. Ivana Baquero, Pan's Labyrinth
3. Beyoncé Knowles, Dreamgirls
4. Catherine O'Hara , For Your Consideration
5. Adriana Barraza, Babel

Best Supporting Performance, Male
1. Bill Nighy, Notes on a Scandal
2. Mark Wahlberg, The Departed
3. James Cromwell, The Queen
4. Alec Baldwin, The Departed
5. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Children of Men

Best Supporting Performance, Female
1. Natalie Jackson Mendoza, The Descent
2. Pam Ferris, Children of Men
3. Meribel Verdu, Pan's Labyrinth
4. Mia Kirshner, Black Dahlia
5. Francis McDormand, Friends With Money

Best Direction
1. Neil Marshall, The Descent
2. Sofia Coppola, Marie Antoinette
3. Inside Man, Spike Lee
4. Alfonso Cuarón, Children of Men
5. Guillermo Del Toro, Pan's Labyrinth

Best Cinematic Moment
1. The soldiers falling silent when faced with the pregnant woman, Children of Men
2. Crawling toward the light over the bones, The Descent
3. Superman stopping the falling airplane in the ballfield, Superman Returns
4. The Queen encountering the steer, The Queen
5. Awaking the eyeless monster, Pan's Labyrinth

Best Ensemble Performance
1. Little Miss Sunshine
2. Jackass Number Two
3. A Prairie Home Companion

Best Cinematography
1. Pan's Labyrinth
2. Children of Men
3. The Last King of Scotland

Best new DVD Release
1. Apocalypse Now, The Complete Dossier -- finally, the original and Redux together in one built-from-simulacra package.

1. The Descent

Miscellaneous commentary:

(On Sacha Baron Cohen in BORAT)- Both an acting job and a con job, flawlessly executed on both sides -- especially great was the DVD fodder talk show appearances and bellowing at the White House Gates in character. Method acting is dead. The Cohen technique is born!

(On Forest Whitaker, THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND)- Perfectly captured Idi Amin's charisma and charm, without downplaying his incredible narcissism. You couldn't help but both love and fear him.

(On Helen Mirren, THE QUEEN)- Hard to believe the fearless woman of Calligula and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover could transform so completely.

(On Beyoncé Knowles, DREAMGIRLS)- A ridiculous movie in many ways, and one in which Jennifer Hudson stood out, just like her over-pushed arpeggiating voice does, but Beyonce played a much more subtle role and did it well. It wasn't that her performance wowed as much as it was appropriate. She easily segued from relatively plain to a nervous step forward, to playing a very good, very believable Donna Summerite (or, for fans of Mission of Burma, Donna Summerian). The trick was how she played down herself and let the role be the role.

(On Catherine O'Hara, For Your Consideration)- She always rides the edge between parody and sadness best, and this is no different. You could still read her emotions when her face was botoxed into a clown mask.

(On Adriana Barraza, BABEL)- a very sympathetic character and great performance, the desert and interrogation scenes were very moving.

(On Nathalie Jackson Mendoza, THE DESCENT)- A great performance in a role, that played differently and looked at objectively, is the "hero" role. She does bad thing, freaks out, but attempts to redeem herself in the end to no avail, in the eyes of the wronged.

(On Neil Marshall's directiong of THE DESCENT)- The darkest, most Dantesque, most allegorical film in my memory. The influences he drew, recasting Durer engravings, other movies, disturbing artworks, all culled and reassembled into a horrible collage that I found terrifically unsettling.

(On Sofia Coppola, MARIE ANTOINETTE)- She made a film that wasn't perfect, but it didn't need to be to humanize and de-historicize the young infamous queen. Her handling of Versailles, the costumes and characters without pretension or pretense recast the lot into a contemporary fable for today's audiences, like mega-churches mixing their christ with heavy metal to appeal to the young of today, she gave us a New Wave Versailles filled with desire and disappointment. Not as much a sympathetic recreation as curious re-enactment that I found very well handled.

(On Spike Lee, INSIDE MAN)- I heard a story through a friend who places products in movies that the studio heavily handled Spike Lee on this one. The story is curious, because every director is handled but you don't hear it proclaimed often. This is probably because of Lee's indie past mixed with his hit-and-miss history (Lesbian inseminator anybody?). Because Lee has so strongly spoken to the black experience in America, and covered racism in so many angles, the whole thing about his handling can have racist overtones, real or not, that are a bit odd to reconcile. In any case, the movie was fantastic (although, granted, I always overrate con movies), and if it is because he was well handled, then I can only point to the truth that most artists perform their best within the walls of some constraints. Whatever the case here, this is the Lee that shows he deserves his reputation.

(On Alfonso Cuaron, CHILDREN OF MEN)- A lot of lip service was given to his cool long, technically difficult shots, but very little lip was given to how well they were integrated into the narrative. During the scenes I was aware of the shot, but like the opening of Touch of Evil, that awareness never broke my suspension of disbelief. Beyond that, his offhanded jokes, serious shocks, and narrative action left me very satisfied.

(On Guillermo Del Toro, PAN'S LABYRINTH)- Although the movie barely made my top ten, Del Toro's adept ability to put an adult in the same mindframe as when they were children listening to fairy tales was very well handled. It was a pure and original film that, like the Descent, paid homage to its influences (Irreversible, for one).