Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Encore Awards (2013 in Review): Openings

Are you ready for this?

Familiar readers will know that more often than not I'm wont to buck the trend and reveal my favourites of the previous movie year after the Oscars. This is, of course, a great flaw in the plan since when the idea is to publicly shame the Academy for the inadequacy of their picks, you must reveal your picks before them. So much for public shaming when you're as slow in deciding who you love most as I am.

So, onward.

What did I think of 2013 in film? Even as I'm beginning this year in review (going all through March) I'm not completely enchanted which is unfair because, all movie-years can't be 2007. Still, there are enough films that I love without reservations (many of them, unfortunately, underappreciated) for me to allow that another year has passed and movies have not disappointed me.
still weirdly indecisive on what I think of the year generally. It feels fairly curmudgeonly to say I was underwhelmed when the better adjective (well, phrasal adjective) might be

As usual I begin with the openings, and although no film opening made me as overexcited as my favourite opening from 2012 (image above and to the right), they intrigued me in different but just as good ways.

(Last year's ballot HERE)

Winners in Gold
Runners-Up in Silver

(Images take you to reviews where available.)

Inside Llewyn Davis directed by Ethan and Joel Coen, written by Ethan and Joel Coen
Who doesn't love a good musical number? How wise of the Coen brothers to know that the only way for us to get Inside Llewyn Davis is to have him sing for us. Llewyn is not very nice, even as someone who is moved by his character a great deal I can admit that. Getting to know Llewyn, the person, removed from his music is a trying experience. But when he sings, all the more problematic aspects of his personality are stripped away to reveal something sincere, and true. Even with just the opening number the beginning would be ace, that it ends up being a part of the cyclical nature of the film's narrative - the depth of with is truly realised when the film is over turns it from mere goodness into excellence.

The Lone Ranger directed by Gore Verbinski, written by Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
The unreliable narrator hook becomes an essential aspect of The Lone Ranger and the way it plays games with the scope of larger epic pictures in a way that's both humorous and serious. Even before getting to the way older Tonto at the beginning is an essential subversion of the Tonto represented in the past, our exposure to The Lone Ranger occurring per a visit to the San Francisco fair presents such an interesting idea of what accounts for entertainment, and what it means that Tonto already not quite the only hero of his story is literally relegated to a sideshow attraction at a large city fair.

The Past directed by Asghar Farhadi, written by Asghar Farhadi
from my review: "The Past opens at an airport We watch a reunion between two people. After a few minutes of the meeting we cut to black and the “le passé” appears on screen, as the black fades away we realise the word is superimposed on the back of a vehicle window and a windshield wiper is furiously wiping away water but it appears to be wiping “le passé” away. Or trying to, at least. It’s direct and deliberate but way effective in how immediately it suggests the films main thesis/theses. The misdirection found between appearance and reality, but more perceptibly the inclination everyone in the film has to wipe away the past. Which is, of course, not very simple."

Short Term 12: directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, written by Destin Daniel Cretton
Mason and his stories. It's such an effective opening hook for Short Term 12 which deliberately does not want to draw too much attention to itself but needs us to understand this facility and the people who work there as soon as possible. So audience surrogate-Nate becomes the listener as Mason tells us his story, and we meet Grace (and Jessica) through their interactions in the story and just when we think Mason's jokes are lulling us into a sense of peace Sammy shoots through the door threatening to run away and we're immediately thrust into the chaotic mess that Short Term 12 is on a regular day.

The Wolf of Wall Street directed by Martin Scorsese, written by Terence Winter
I love a good sight-gag and those first few moments when the lion on screen seems to be a part of the film's logo still makes me smile. It's an easy-joke having the firm's sanguine ad be immediately cut off by the depravity of Jordan and his staff at play but it's the sort of garish, unsubtle dealings which mark the character of this man who is so headily confident. Jordan's opening narration tells us enough about how driven and cocky he is, doing a good job of intriguing us. The images which accompany the narration are not just intriguing but shocking to the degree that even before we're certain we're ready to take this journey, Scorsese has already shocked us into wondering who this man could possibly be.

FINALISTS: American Hustle where everything in the beginning doesn't quite work as well as it ought, but does an ace job of hooking you into this bizarre, intriguing world ; The Bling Ring opens with a robbery but it's the great music and snazzy editing along with those great opening credits that really set the mood for the experience; Frances Ha for immediately pitching the gentle, winsome, idiosyncratic mood of Frances and her subjects

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: 12 Years a Slave; Blue Jasmine; Frozen; The Grandmaster; Man of Steel


Anonymous said...

YAY! So glad your awards are starting. I've only seen one of these(Short Term 12)but I enjoy reading your thoughts regardless!

Andrew K. said...

fisti well, if that's not essential incentive to finish this series then i don't know what is. thanks for reading!

Alex Withrow said...

GREAT call on The Past. That was a perfectly subtle intro to a ferocious little film.