The Alternative BAFTAS

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Ah, the BAFTAs! Weren’t they great!  Jonathan Ross redeemed himself with a string of actually funny gags.  I especially liked his claim that the doors had been locked to keep out Ricky Gervais.  The blessed Helena Bonham Carter gave an adorable and far too long speech – and was without doubt the deserved winner of the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress.  The King’s Speech, as everyone predicted, triumphed in almost every category except for best director, which went to Davd Fincher for The Social Network.  The cameraman, cruelly, kept a lens permanently focused on tufty-haired Danny Boyle,  strangely overlooked for his bravura direction of 127 Hours.  But Danny, who I like because he was very nice to me when I was a young lad starting out in the business, kept smiling with genuine pleasure.  Here’s a man who loves cinema, and doesn’t waste energy on envying others. 

Oh and Christopher Lee, awarded a BAFTA fellowship, delivered a wonderful speech, his voice croaky but his eyes alert.  He’s one of the legendary figures of cinema – and apparently has more movie credits than any other actor in the world.  All in all, a splendid evening, in which only very good films won stuff.

But it’s also puzzling to see which films get missed out.  Kick Ass for instance – where is it?  Surely a stand-out movie of the year.  And A Prophet doesn’t get a mention in the Best Non-English Language Film category. I saw it in 2010; surely it qualifies?

Mulling about this,  I read a fun blog on the Guardian site in which reader voted for their best and worst films.     And, in the same spirit, I would offer my own nominations for best films of the year, in assorted categories:

Best Kick-Ass Blockbuster Movie


Best Science Fiction Black Comedy

Repo Men – much under-rated.   Jude Law is great. It’s really funny, if you’re as sick and black-hearted as I am. And the twists are genuinely clever. I preferred this to Inception to be Honest.  (Which ISN’T a comedy, but made me laugh at times with its narrative absurdity.)

Best Crime  Drama with Comedy Moments Starring Bruce Willis

Now that has to be RED, based on the Warren Ellis comic, starring Bruce and Helen Mirren and Brian Cox.  Great actors all; loving every moment of it.

Best Gangster Movie Set in Prison

The winner here is A Prophet, the French film directed by Jacques Audiard and written by Thomas Bidegain and Jacques Audiard.   I’ve seen it twice – it’s an out and out masterpiece, a hauntingly poetic work of art; but it’s also suspenseful and compelling and the action scenes are fantastic. 

Best Gangster Movie In Which the Protagonist Breaks out of Prison, Goes on the Run, Goes BACK To Prison to Kill the Bastard Prison Officers Who Tortured Him Then Goes Back on The Run Again and Embarks Upon a Crime Spree That Lasts Two Entire Movies

A tricky one – spoiled for choice here! – but in the end I went for Mesrine: Killer Instinct and Mesrine: Public Enemy Number 1, both directed by Jean-Francois Richet and starring Vincent Cassel as the true-life gangster Jacques Mesrine who, um, goes to prison, breaks out, goes back – etc etc etc. 

 Best Dumb Comedy

The Hangover, the hilarious Las Vegas nightmare-scenario farce (‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!”). Drected by Todd Phillips, and written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore.  This was made in 2009 but I didn’t see it till 2010 on DVD, so it counts.

Best Smart Comedy

The Kids Are All Right,  written by Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blomberg, and directed by Lisa Cholodenko.  This is the one with Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as the lesbian couple with kids who are reunited with their sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo). It’s one of those fantastic American “indie” movies which ignores all the cliches and hits the truth button every time.  I found it enchanting; and the dinner scene rekindled my love for Joni Mitchell.

Director with the Coolest Name

Lisa Cholodenko.

Best Movie Directed by a Bloke Called Tom

Oddly enough, this was a fiercely contested category.  The two options were:

The King’s Speech, directed by Tom Hooper, winner of umpteen BAFTAs and bound to clean up at the Oscars, and;

Scouting Book For Boys, a little British film directed by Tom HARPER, who no doubt gets fed up being confused with the more famous Tom Hooper.  But though I thoroughly enjoyed The King’s Speech, I’d have to say that The Scouting Book for Boys is a much better film. It’s written by Jack Thorne (who’s written for Skins) and tells a subtle tell of a girl who gets lots in her own fantasies. The performances are note perfect, the dialogue is full of wit and truth, and the direction is exemplary.  Harper has a mastery of pace and sound and image that is unshowy, but magnificent.  His DOP Robbie Ryan excels himself.  I’m astonished this film wasn’t nominated for a BAFTA in fact.  Hardly anyone saw it – but far more people WOULD see it if they knew how fab it is.

Best Crime Thriller With Astonishingly Sexy Argentinian Accents

No competition here! It’s The Secret In Their Eyes directed by Juan Jose Campanella, and written by Campanella and Eduardo Sacheri (who also wrote the original novel.)  It’s a complex but utterly engrossing film which tells through flashback the story of a murder investigation. Ricardo Darin plays a former federal justice agent who is writing a book about his most famous, unsolved case.   And his boss, played by Solledad Villami, is the one with the MOST astonishingly sexy of the sexy Argentinian accents.  This won the Best Foreign Film Oscar last year, and was nominated this year for Best Film Not in the English Language at the BAFTAs. It lost out to The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo, which I haven’t seen yet.

Best Science Fiction Film with Monsters

Last year that was District 9; this year it goes to the wonderful though narrative-light Monsters, written and directed by Gareth Edwards. It’s an anecdote not a fully fledged yarn – guy and girl have to get past monsters to freedom, and that’s about all there is to it.  But it’s sumptuously beautiful to watch, the actors are in my view (though I know others disagree) unaffected and highly watchable.  And the travelogue of Mexico (with monsters!) is to die for.

Best Actress Who Truly Deserves to Get Roles That Show How Briliiant She Is

That would be Gemma Arterton in Tamara Drewe.  It’s a lovely film, and she’s fab in it.  But in my view, she has a charisma and an energy she is barely using in her roles to date; and was mesmerising in the low budget Manx thriller The Disappearance of Alice Creed

Best Heist Movie That Critics Ignored Because They Were Too Busy Raving over The Town

That would be Takers, directed by John Luessenhop, written by Peter Alan and Gabriel Casseus, and starring Chris Brown, Matt Dillon and Idris Elba as members of a stylish American bank robber or ‘takers’.  Like The Town, this has electrifying action sequences.  But it’s a cleverer film, with cleverer gangsters; and it isn’t marred by dreadful sentimentality and boring “character” scenes. Instead, it’s cool, fast and furious; and yet slowly we are drawn into caring about the characters.  Especially Idris – who along with his junkie sister becomes the centre of our attention and loyalty as the movie proceeds.  A totally neglected gem.  The best heist movie I’ve seen since 2007, when Sidney Lumet’s hilariously tragic Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead won my heart. 

Anyway, those are my choices for films that were better and more interesting than the BAFTA winners.  Any other suggestions?

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