I kinda like the Best Dram Pres Long Form ballot this year. It’s a varied one, has one fairly good-sized surprise, features some obvious choices, and has a two-horse race as I see it. That said, there is a ballot that I see in my head that is much different, a certain grouping that goes a bit deeper into SF film and the like, but it sorta falls into a pattern that is represented by the existing ballot.
Let’s look at the nominees and the Alternates, shall we?
LOOPER by Rian Johnson
Looper is basically a Philip K. Dick story. Well, it’s a story written under the influence of Dick, for sure. It’s a good one, incredibly smart, time-travel and paradoxes and fun. Bruce Willis is great in genre films, and Joseph Gordon Levitt is coming up along those lines, especially with his roles in films like Inception and The Dark Knight Rises. It’s a good film, I like to see it on the ballot, but…
SHUFFLE by Kurt Kuenne
So, if you’re looking for a time-travel movie that is emotionally impacting, as well as being intelligent and brilliantly made, there is no better 2012 film that Kurt Kuenne’s Shuffle. It’s a film about a guy who is living his life out of order. It doesn’t play with Time Travel as blatantly as Looper, it’s more of a Capra film than a PKD film. It’s beautifully made, gorgeous, shot in color, but processed for Black and White. It’s shot incredibly well, and it’s amazing. You should look into it at http://www.shufflethemovie.com/. This film is so exactly the kind of thing that I’d like to see more of on the ballot.
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS by Joss Whedon
A strong horror film. That’s something I don’t say too often these days. It’s highly intelligent, a theme this year, but this one also cracks many of those themes that are a lot of fun. There are Ancient Ones, werewolves, monsters or all sorts, not to mention that it’s ultimately a critique of American media and genre filmmaking, but…
PORTRAIT OF A ZOMBIE by Bing Bailey
A film that’s played around the world, it’s a classic and beautifully thought-out zombie flick. It’s a family drama set in a world that is just about as dark as you can get. There’s a lot to it, it’s a layered film, but you can also just find it as a brilliantly fun zombie flick. In many ways, it does what The Cabin in The Woods does, it presents an idea that is far deeper than the genre tends to give us. You can find more about it at http://portraitofazombie.com/
THE HUNGER GAMES by Gary Ross
One of my favorite films of 2012. I enjoyed the hell out of it, perhaps because I never read the books, and it was a crime it wasn’t nominated for Best Hair/Make-up Design in the Oscars. The problem with it is that it’s incredibly well-acted, nicely shot, and a decent script, but the director went into too many directions that never seemed to pan out emotionally. It is a story shot towards the younger crowd, with a message. Instead of a GIANT film that deals with younger folks dealing with the government…
The GHASTLY LOVE OF JOHNNY X by Paul Bunnell
OK, I’ll admit it, it’s a stretch. This is a brilliant film, a musical SF film about an Angry Young Man who is sent to Earth after designing a SuperSuit and going against the will of the planet he’s from. There’s a bunch of love stories, it’s a chase film, it’s a Gotta Save the Orphanage film (metaphorically), it’s a TON of fun. It’s got fun musical performances, it’s also Kevin McCarthy’s final film appearance. It’s also shot in Black and White, has great songs, but most importantly, it’s a loving homage to SciFi films from the 50s, to Expressionist films of the 20s, and most importantly, to Marlon Brando. You can read more about it at http://johnnyxmovie.com/.
THE AVENGERS by Joss Whedon
This is one of the best comic book movies ever made. It tells a story about what happens when our world is so different from what makes sense, and how we can attach to one another in the face of great evil, even when out own troubles keep us apart. It’s a story about how a team that barely has their own issues in hand having to come together. Joss does a great job with it, though it’s the script that really pulls everything together. And it deserves to be on the ballot, but…
IRON SKY by Timo Vuorensola
This the greatest Nazis on the Moon film ever made. It tells the story of our ideals, how sometimes we have to overcome our upbringing and own problems to face down real villains, who are often ourselves. It’s a beautifully funny movie, an absolutely gorgeous film. Dollar-for-Dollar, it must be the most beautifully done effects spectacle ever made. Based on a Johanna Sinisalo script, it’s smart and silly and perfect. Also, UDO KIER!!!!! You can read more about Iron Sky at http://www.ironsky.net/site/
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY by Peter Jackson
A gorgeous movie. One of the most beautiful films ever made. The use of the 48fps technology is controversial, and the 3D was well-done, but even without that, it’s a visual feast. What’s funny is that the story it tells is somewhat stretched, but never felt overly long, which was something that did happen to me in the Lord of the Rings movies, and especially in Jackson’s King Kong. In a regualr year, one without The Avengers, I’d say it takes it in a walk. A good choice but…
THE 25TH REICH by Stephen Amis
A film about a group of US Soldiers called on by the OSS to combat Hitler’s 25th Reich. It’s a brilliant concept, it showed at various film festivals, has played very well, and is one of the most fun movies you’ll ever see. And it also used a relatively low budget but achieved amazing visual results. OK, maybe amazing is the wrong word. It’s not Iron Sky, the effects are a bit clunky, but they don’t take away from the amazing level of Midnight Movie entertainment. More info? http://www.the25threich.com/