Tag: rise of the planet of the apes

2011 Film Awards: Part 1

It’s the beginning of the new year which means it’s the end of the film year. With the Oscar nominations soon to be announced I figured it was time to give out my own awards. These are kind of my top five in each category along with some other fun categories. I’ll write a little bit after each section just for fun. Enjoy.

Best Picture

  1. War Horse
  2. The Adventures of Tintin
  3. Hanna
  4. Drive
  5. The Tree of Life
War Horse

That’s two Spielberg films at the top. I wouldn’t consider him one of my favorite directors but I guess he’s pretty ok. Hanna is just a lot of fun. Drive is stylistic as hell and a great time. And The Tree of Life is beautiful and meaningful. A good year.

Best Director

  1. War Horse – Steven Spielberg
  2. Hugo – Martin Scorsese
  3. I Saw the Devil – Kim Jee-woon
  4. Drive – Nicolas Winding Refn
  5. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Tomas Alfredson

War Horse perfectly captures the classic Hollywood style of John Ford and Frank Borzage and feels perfect throughout. Scorsese’s film is old and new at the same time, with wonderful 3D. I Saw the Devil is a film I don’t wholly love, but it moves like a rocket and works so well. Drive, like I said before, is super stylized, but the mood is perfect. And Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is the most packed movie I’ve seen this year, both visually and thematically. It’s subtle and intense without any action.

Best Original Screenplay

  1. Attack the Block – Joe Cornish
  2. The Guard – John Michael McDonagh
  3. The Tree of Life – Terrence Malick
  4. Rango – John Logan
  5. Submarine – Richard Ayoade
Attack the Block

Four of these guys also directed their films (Rango’s John Logan is the only outlier) and three of them are debut films (only The Tree of Life and Rango, again). Each of these films are the very definition of original, whether it be the plot or the style of the writing or both.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. The Adventures of Tintin – Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, and Joe Cornish
  2. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan
  3. Drive – Hossein Amini
  4. Winnie the Pooh – Stephen J. Anderson and company
  5. War Horse – Lee Hall and Richard Curtis
The Adventures of Tintin

Are you starting to see a trend here? War Horse just keeps showing up. It is that good, though. For real. Also, Tintin has three of the best screenwriters going and Winnie the Pooh captured the feel of the original stories perfectly. It doesn’t shy away from the meta aspects and the songs are great.

Best Actor

  1. Brendan Gleeson – The Guard
  2. Andy Serkis – Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  3. Michael Fassbender – X-Men: First Class
  4. Gary Oldman – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  5. Hunter McCracken – The Tree of Life
Brendan Gleeson in The Guard

I’ve always liked Gleeson and his role in The Guard is genius. Andy Serkis (and the animation crew) somehow made a chimp an effective and emotional character. Fassbender is Fassbender (and might get replaced by the Shame version of himself if it ever shows up around me). Oldman is quiet and very real. Hunter McCracken is a talented young actor with a big role that he played very well.

Best Actress

  1. Saoirse Ronan – Hanna
  2. Viola Davis – The Help
  3. Elena Anaya – The Skin I Live In
  4. Brit Marling – Another Earth
  5. Sally Hawkins – Made in Dagenham
Viola Davis in The Help

Hanna continues Ronan’s work with Joe Wright and she’s just as good as she was in Atonement, if not better. Viola Davis first broke my heart in Doubt and she continued to do so in The Help, a surprisingly ok movie. Elena Anaya does very well for herself playing a complicated and difficult role. Sally Hawkins makes her character real and powerful.

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Alan Rickman – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
  2. Michael Fassbender – Jane Eyre
  3. Benedict Cumberbatch – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  4. David Tennant – Fright Night
  5. Brad Pitt – The Tree of Life
Benedict Cumberbatch in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Alan Rickman started his movie career with one of the best villains of all time (Hans Gruber) and has now brought to life one of the best conflicted characters in modern cinema. Fassbender is, again, Fassbender. Both Cumberbatch and Tennant proved that they can play roles other than the ones that they played on BBC shows. And Brad Pitt fully embodies his stern father role. I lost him in the performance, which is a pretty great feat for such a movie star.

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Cate Blanchett – Hanna
  2. Elle Fanning – Super 8
  3. Jessica Chastain – The Help
  4. Sally Hawkins – Submarine
  5. Emily Blunt – The Adjustment Bureau
Cate Blanchett in Hanna

I know a lot of people hated Blanchett in Hanna but I loved how arch she was. She played a great fairy tale evil queen. Elle Fanning is a new talent, just watch the acting scene in this film for definitive proof. I know most will probably go with Chastain in The Tree of Life for this category but I really liked what she did with her role in The Help. Sally Hawkins was basically the opposite of her role in Made in Dagenham and wonderfully weird. Emily Blunt’s chemistry with Matt Damon was the best part of The Adjustment Bureau, outside of the hats.

Best Ensemble Cast

  1. War Horse
  2. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  3. Super 8
  4. The Tree of Life
  5. Midnight in Paris
Super 8

I love everybody in War Horse, especially Hiddleston and Cumberbatch and Emily Watson. All of those sad men in TTSS were great (again, Cumberbatch). Super 8’s kids were wonderful, along with a few key adult roles. The Tree of Life, too, mixed great kid and adult roles. Midnight in Paris magically combines modern day elites and old-timey artists, all played to perfection (if exaggeratedly).

Best Non-English Language Film

  1. The Skin I Live In
  2. I Saw the Devil
  3. Trollhunter
The Skin I Live In

These are the only foreign language films I’ve seen. I am ashamed. They’re all good, though. The Skin I Live In is melodrama and horror mashed up into one glorious concoction. I Saw the Devil is a violent revenge tale, superbly directed. And Trollhunter takes the found footage horror film and amps it up a bit. Also, trolls.

Best Animated Film

  1. The Adventures of Tintin
  2. Winnie the Pooh
  3. Rango
  4. Batman: Year One
Winnie the Pooh

This was not a great year for animated films. Tintin is a whole lot of fun. Winnie the Pooh felt like an instant classic. Rango is a spaghetti western pastiche that works as a kids movie. Batman: Year One is basically Batman: The Animated Series, so it is great.

Best Documentary

  1. Bill Cunningham, New York
  2. Tabloid
  3. African Cats
  4. Cropsey
  5. The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
African Cats

Bill Cunningham, New York is a pretty straightforward doc about a fascinating person (a fashion page photographer for the New York Times) but there’s a scene at the end that is truly amazing. Tabloid looks at an interesting case through the lens of the British tabloid system. African Cats is a movie about baby lions and cheetahs, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, so it is awesome. Cropsey examines an urban legend and takes a bit of time to talk about the horrible way the mentally ill were treated at one time in our recent history. The Greatest Movie Ever Sold takes a Super Size Me-esque look at the product placement industry. It’s fun and informative, even if I don’t think that product placement is the most evil thing in the world.

Sometime next week I’ll make the next post in this two part series. Exciting categories like Best Editing and boring ones like Best Comedic Scene and Best Line. Join me! Tell me what I missed!

Movie Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I have a confession. I love movies where animals attack humans. I’ve seen Anaconda and several of its sequels. Deep Blue Sea has become one of my most viewed movies through its seemingly constant play on the SyFy channel. There’s just something about seeing dumb people get eaten by an animal, scientifically screwed-around-with or not, that appeals to me. It’s like the animals are getting back at the humans for having such better resources and doing absolutely nothing with them. And the cool death scenes help, too. When the trailers for Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the prequel to the 1968 classic combo of cheesy acting and cheesier makeup, came out I got a bit excited. There’s a cool story to tell detailing how the apes went from our science test subject to ruling the world. Unlike some prequels and origin stories, this one had the potential to give us some new ideas within the universe. Whether director Rupert Wyatt was up to telling it, though, remained to be seen.

It doesn’t take a genetically modified ape to tell you that Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a good movie. It’s fun, exciting, and even surprisingly moving. As the title implies, this is a movie about the genesis of the new world order where apes are the ruling species, not humans. The movie begins by focusing on James Franco‘s scientist character as he tries to develop a cure to Alzheimer’s (a well worn trope in the animals-killing-people genre; see: Deep Blue Sea) by testing his cure on chimps in a lab. He grows attached to one baby chimp whom he takes home and begins to raise as if he were a human child. The home life stuff sets up an interesting father-son relationship triangle as Franco’s dad – admirably played by John Lithgow – suffers from the very disease his son is trying to find a cure for and Franco must take care of him along with his adopted son, Caesar the chimp. The first section of the movie is a kind of coming of age story for Caesar and it is done quite well as he struggles to reconcile his super-powered chimp mind with the animal instincts he possesses. Of course, none of this emotional storytelling would be possible were it not for the performance capture technology and Andy Serkis‘ fantastic ability to be physically expressive. This is a movie that relies upon a wordless performance by an actor who is replaced digitally by a chimpanzee. If the effects didn’t work it would be laughable. But the technology is there and Serkis gives one hell of a show. If there is any justice in the world he will be recognized come award season for the nuance with which he plays Caesar. There’s a shot at the end of the first act as we see Caesar rising through the Redwoods at Muir Woods and as he does so time moves on, season to season, as Caesar ages and grows up. It’s an astounding shot, fluid and beautiful, one that would feel right at home in The Tree of Life if The Tree of Life were about an ape uprising.

Of course, everything is not fine and dandy at home for Caesar and company. After an incident with a neighbor Caesar is sent to an ape preserve on the outskirts of San Francisco and is tortured by the people running it. There’s a small problem with the movie here because these people, lead by Brian Cox and Tom Felton, are purely evil. There’s no effort to make them anything other than a glorified plot device, the thing which provokes Caesar to begin the revolution which gives the film its title. Felton, particularly, just gives his constant Malfoy sneer and when he is called to give perhaps the defining line of the franchise it is powerful only because of the baggage the audience carries into the movie, not the performance itself. This section, however, also gives us more time with Caesar. It’s here where we realize he is the true main character of the film and his journey from abandoned kid to leader of the ape rebellion is fun to see. The two non-chimp apes trapped in the preserve are fun, too. The orangutan and gorilla give the film a bit of diversity and the gorilla in particular is kind of horrifying. The apes soon escape and begin a pilgrimage to Muir Woods. This leads to the only real big action scene in the film. There are a lot of fun little details in this section, from Caesar riding a police horse to the too-often-spoiled-in-commercials shot of a gorilla jumping towards a helicopter. This is the kind of destruction I wanted to see and it mostly delivers. My only problem is that the apes are generally pacifists. The film comes up with other ways to get all the humans to die but the apes do very little killing of their own. Only the truly evil people meet their ends at the hands of the apes. I guess this has something to do with the fact that the movie is rated PG-13 and that we’re supposed to be identifying with the apes as heroes at this point but I was still a little disappointed. That said, what happens in the big fight scene is really cool to see. The CGI is, once again, stunning.

The script has a few key shoutouts to the original film and most of them are done well and integrated well enough to not distract from the film too much. There is one element of the original films which is shown here and executed very well. It’s satisfying on both the plot and emotional levels of the movie but I won’t spoil it for you as most of the delight is in the telling. The original film makes some political allegories, as science fiction stories are wont to do, and this one follows suit, to some degree. The idea of being cautious with animal testing is not wholly original or even all that compelling in the course of this movie. What is compelling, though, is the story of Caesar. It’s more of a character piece, really, than a wide ranging metaphor and it is better for it. The rise of Caesar is well told and the real heart of the film. It’s not going to be one of my favorite movies of all time but it is really good. It’s a well-directed, smart, fun sci-fi movie and that’s all you can ask for.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes – Directed by Rupert Wyatt, written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver