Thursday, 29 December 2016

The 2016 Fuzzies Film Awards

You're following the Oscars and you've pretended to care about the Golden Globes - now, discover the film awards that really matter with the Fuzzies Film Awards!

Now into their fourth year, the Fuzzies have slowly grown from inauspicious beginnings to a worldwide audience of dozens! Who will take home prestigious awards such as Best Actor, Best Director and Best Onscreen Butt? Find out all the winners right here...

Note: Winners and nominees are pooled from films that were released in Australia during 2016 - this includes a crop of films (Spotlight, The Hateful Eight, Room, Steve Jobs) that didn't arrive here until late January or early February. By the same token, films like Manchester By The Sea, Moonlight and Jackie (which are tipped to be frontrunners during the current awards season) don't open here until January or February 2017 and will consequently have to wait until next time to be considered. Got it? Good!

Best Actress

Emma Stone in La La Land - Damien Chazelle's La La Land is pure high-octane fuel for anyone who love movies and dreams of a better tomorrow. In what is probably her strongest career performance to date, Stone's doe-eyed visage perfectly captures this overarching idea of wonderment and escapism - but it's not just her striking good looks that makes her performance in the film such a winner.

Stone's embattled actress is the focal point of the film, her uphill struggle a powerful and resonant tale for the audience latch onto. Without Stone's ability to convey natural exuberance, wry humour and crushing emotional moments, La La Land would be nowhere - just try listening back to 'The Fools Who Dream' without getting a little choked up. Could an lesser actress carry that scene off with such aplomb? It's a credit to Stone that she totally owns the role and elevates this already excellent film to the next level.

Runners-up: Amy Adams (Arrival), Brie Larson (Room), Elle Fanning (The Neon Demon), Kate Beckinsale (Love & Friendship)

Best Actor

Ryan Gosling in La La Land - Gosling has enjoyed a seriously fantastic year. After starting out strong in a supporting role in The Big Short, Gosling made us laugh in Shane Black's The Nice Guys. But it's his soulful turn as a downtrodden jazz pianist in La La Land that gets the nod from me; even though he's faced with the prospect of starring alongside Emma Stone in what is essentially her film, Gosling does a fantastic job without being outshone. The film doesn't play favourites and Gosling shines when handed a blend of drama and comedy as rounded and entertaining as La La Land. It certainly helps that the duo share insatiable chemistry too.

Gosling showcases immense range in all his 2016 films, but most prominently in La La Land - and that's something to make a song and dance about!

A quick fun fact to finish with - Gosling actually spent two hours a day, six days a week learning the piano prior to filming so that a hand double or CGI wasn't needed.  

Runners-up: Chris Pine (Hell or High Water), Tom Hanks (Sully), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant), Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)

Best Supporting Actress

Rachel McAdams in Spotlight - Spotlight is a restrained film that would have lived or died by the performances of its ensemble cast. The compelling narrative that gradually unfurls the central mystery is what gets the audience hooked, but without a talented bunch of actors to tie it all together, the film wouldn't be half as engaging and emotional as it is.

McAdams stands out of the talented bunch in her role as Sasha Pfeiffer. Warm, driven and at times paralysed in sheer speechless shock, Spotlight was the kind of film that allowed it's talented ensemble to disappear into their role and totally convince us. McAdams is often lumbered with material well below her grade (ahem, Doctor Strange), but her performance in Spotlight showed that she can do so much more with a script with meat on its bones, even if it's aiming for subtlety over melodrama.

Runners-up: Rachel Weisz (The Light Between Oceans), Zoey Deutch (Everybody Wants Some), Dakota Johnson (A Bigger Splash), Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

Best Supporting Actor

Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight - Ruffalo, like McAdams, was nominated by the Academy for his performance in Spotlight.

Up there with his performance in Zodiac, Ruffalo's turn in Spotlight is subtle and restrained at first. Like the rest of the cast, Ruffalo is holding back and keeping things level as the film methodically unravels its central mystery through investigation and inquiry.

When Ruffalo's character explodes with emotion, you know it's because the case has shaken him to his core; you know that this shit is messed up when his character gets angry. This Oscar reel moment is one of the most dramatic bursts of emotion in the entire film and that sparing use of anger, frustration and sadness is felt a hell of a lot more thanks in part to Ruffalo's exceptional, compelling performance.

Runners-up: Ben Foster (Hell or High Water), Jeremy Renner (Arrival), Jack Reynor (Sing Street), Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)

Best Director

Denis Villeneuve with Arrival - Talk about having buzz. After a string of successful independent or mid-budget studio films (Incendies, Prisoners, Enemy and Sicario), French Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve is getting talked about more than ever after his work behind the camera on the incredible and intricate sci-fi Arrival.

Villeneuve's ability to craft a sense of towering perspectives, brooding atmosphere and unsettling eeriness is nowhere more evident than in Arrival, a film that blends global hysteria concerning an impending alien attack with intimate human emotion on both a macro and a micro scale.

It's a complex film that abandons reality in its third act for a high-wire trapeze act of heavy sci-fi concepts usually reserved for films that don't cost $50million. That Villeneuve is able to make it work and release one of the best science-fiction films of the decade is proof of his ability as an adept filmmaker. His next project, Blade Runner 2049, looks promising also.

Runners-up: Damien Chazelle (La La Land), David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water), Tom Ford (Nocturnal Animals), Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople)

Best Cinematography

Linus Sandgren for La La Land - Sandgren infuses La La Land with a distinctive visual palette and language to match Hurwitz's score and Chazelle's direction with fluid, nimble camerawork that feels like a character in itself. Weightless and sweeping tracking that is invisible and expressive allows the viewer to lose themselves in the film whilst striking colours and compositions (I keep thinking back to that planetarium sequence) positively burst from the screen.

Runners-up: Bradford Young (Arrival), Seamus McGarvey (Nocturnal Animals), Natasha Braier (The Neon Demon), Greig Fraser (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Best Soundtrack/Score

Justin Hurwitz on La La Land - Falling in love deserves a soundtrack to fall in love to and that is exactly what Justin Hurwitz delivered with La La Land. The whole OST is impeccable work that fuses jazz and classic piano with modern influences all whilst paying homage to the crop of classic movie musicals that Chazelle is lovingly reviving through La La Land.

My personal favourite instrumental track of Hurwitz's in the sweeping 'Planetarium' whilst the opening number 'Another Day in the Sun' and 'City of Stars' ignite riffs that swim gently throughout the whole album. It's exquisite stuff that only builds and gets better each time I listen to it.

Runners-up: Johnann Johannsson (Arrival), Abel Korzeniowski (Nocturnal Animals), Dario Marianelli (Kubo and the Two Strings), Howard Shore (Spotlight)

Best Australian Feature

Hacksaw Ridge - It cleaned up at the AACTA Awards recently and with good reason - no other Australian film has been talked about as much as Hacksaw Ridge in 2016 and (fingers crossed) it could be en route to a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards. 

Filmed over in New South Wales and featuring the likes of Hugo Weaving, Teresa Palmer and Sam Worthington, Hacksaw Ridge proved that director Mel Gibson (personal issues aside) still has got what it takes to shoot compelling, brutal action with heart-wrenching human stories amongst it. 

Runners-up: Goldstone, Sherpa, Girl Asleep, The Daughter

Best Animated Feature

Kubo and the Two Strings - Unlike 2015, this year has been brilliant for animated films; Disney delivered a knock-out one-two punch with Zootopia and Finding Dory whilst Dreamworks served up the excellent Kung Fu Panda threequel.

However, the pick of the bunch is Laika's excellent fusion of stop-motion and CGI, Kubo and the Two Strings. An achingly beautiful fairytale inspired by Japanese folktales, Kubo didn't get the attention or applause it deserved during its limited cinema stint.

Runners-up: Finding Dory, Zootopia, Kung Fu Panda 3, Your Name

Breakout Star of the Year

Julian Dennison from Hunt for the Wilderpeople - When you're only 14 years old and already the adorable lead character in the highest grossing Kiwi film of all time, you know you've had a pretty brilliant year. Props to the young Julian Dennison for taking it all in his stride and proving himself to be one of the most exciting young actors working today.

Runners-up: Auli'i Cravalho (Moana), Tom Holland (Captain America: Civil War), Haley Bennett (The Magnificent Seven, The Girl on the Train), Ruby Barnhill (The BFG)

Damn, I can't quite put my finger on what I loved so much
about The Shallows. Hmmmm.

The Fast and Furious Award for Biggest Guilty Pleasure

The Shallows - 90 minutes of a hot chick vs a shark. What's not to love? In all seriousness though, The Shallows was pure, unbridled B-movie fun through and through and I love it for it. It certainly helped that Blake Lively gave a surprisingly good performance and director Jaume Collet-Serra understands the importance of not throwing everything at the screen in the first act. Effective tension and well choreographed action make The Shallows a competent guilty pleasure.

The Crystal Skull Award for Most Unnecessary Sequel

Zoolander 2 - 2016 was filled to the brim with unnecessary sequels, but one stayed with me as being particularly egregious: Zoolander 2. When Ben Stiller's not at all anticipated follow-up to Zoolander arrived back in February, the world collectively groaned and moved on in the space of about 60 minutes. Alice Through the Looking Glass, Now You See Me 2, London Has Fallen, Ride Along 2 and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 were all close runner-ups.

The Award for Most Shameless Product Placement, Sponsored by Bud Light

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows - Michael Bay has a knack for slipping as many branded products into each Platinum Dunes film as possible and 2016's TMNT sequel was no different. Aside from the frequent references to Pizza Hut (naturally), Out of the Shadows also found space to squeeze in references to multiple Apple products, Dodge and Nike amongst many others.

Bonus shoutout to Independence Day: Resurgence of its clumsy integration of Chinese products (QQ, MengNiu Moon Milk) in order to pander to Chinese audiences. If they thought we didn't notice, they were mistaken.

The Michael Bay Award for Most Unnecessary Collateral Damage

Suicide Squad - The second and third acts of Suicide Squad are a complete mess; just scene after scene of dark, ugly CGI monsters being mown down by unlikeable pillocks who don't want to be there (and funnily enough, neither do we). After destroying somewhere in the region of a dozen helicopters, the carnage culminates in the whole squad working together to defeat Cara Delevingne's gyrating hips and the giant blue sky beam that they are conjuring.

Batman v Superman also contained untold destruction in its finale but at least the action was semi-coherent and edited together with a shred of intelligence. Suicide Squad is just filled to the brim with wave after wave of untold mayhem that just washes over the audience without causing any substantial impact or emotion. So messy and so unnecessary.

The Total Recall Award for Most Unnecessary Remake

Ben-Hur. 1959's iconic Ben-Hur was already a remake, but that doesn't give 2016's Ben-Hur a get out of jail free card. Just because it's been done before, doesn't mean it needs to be done again.

The Dr Dolittle Award for Best Movie Animal

Black Phillip from The Witch - Okay so maybe the reasoning here for best movie animal is a little vague. I mean, Black Phillip is literally the devil incarnate (oops, spoilers). Does that make him the 'best'? Maybe not, he's no hero. He turns a family against one another until they butcher one each other (crap, spoiler alert again). But he is definitely the most memorable and the most evil animal in cinema this year. Congrats Black Phillip, you sick and twisted bastard.

Runners-up: Steven Seagull (The Shallows), Baloo (The Jungle Book), Monkey (Kubo and the Two Strings), Judi Hopps (Zootopia)

The Lucius Malfoy Award for Worst Wig

A lot of really great contenders this year - it's been a banner year for bad wigs! So it's a three-way tie! This year our winners are Woody Harrelson in Now You See Me 2, Morgan Freeman in Ben-Hur and Anna Kendrick in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. Congratulations on your terrible hairdos being immortalised in cinema forever.

It must be something about that warpaint.

The Liara T'Soni Award for Sexiest Alien

Jaylah in Star Trek Beyond - Fearsome face paint? Check. Kickass attitude? Check. Badass bo staff? Check. Sofia Boutella's extraterrestrial warrior Jaylah was a delightful surprise in Star Trek Beyond and something about the combination of the above checklist awakened something in me. Hmm, curious...

The Sir Isaac Newton Memorial Award for Most Complete and Utter Disregard for the Laws of Physics

Independence Day: Resurgence - Now, I'm no scientist but I'm 90% certain a spaceship the size of the alien mothership in Independence Day: Resurgence is pretty fucking stupid. I've given it some thought (and some sleepless nights) and concluded that the aliens are really dumb - why don't they just plough the mothership into the Earth? It'd wipe us all out like what happened to those pathetic dinosaurs a few years back. No, instead they're content just hovering a few miles above the Earth and using a gravitational field to pull skyscrapers into the atmosphere (only to somehow reverse the gravity later so it all comes crashing down - I mean, what?)

Don't get me wrong, I'm in that group of 15 people on the planet that liked Independence Day: Resurgence - but the physics doesn't make a lick of sense and I don't think the film tries to justify it at all.

The Mark Lewis Award for Creepiest Borderline Sexual Predator/Stalker

John Goodman in 10 Cloverfield Lane - Goddamn you JJ Abrams, you couldn't just leave cuddly John Goodman alone could you? You had to come along and turn him into a sick apocalypse nutjob who wants to keep Mary Elizabeth Winstead locked up in his bunker. Damn you JJ!

The Kleenex Award for Biggest Tear Jerker

Room - I pride myself on my inability to cry during movies. I think I can count on one hand the number of instances a film has 'got me' over the last five years and Room accounts for at least two of those instances.

Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay deserved all the plaudits they received for their performances in this film because I was a wreck after Room. Really ugly man tears. It wasn't a pretty sight. I tip my hat to you Room, you thawed this cold heart.

The Dick Van Dyke Award for Worst Movie Accent

Matthew McConaughey in Sing. If you're playing a koala, you'd be expected to put on an Australian accent - right? McConaughey, who actually spent some time living in Australia in his youth, decided that it wasn't for him and just did whatever accent felt right in the moment. Whatever he was going for, it sure as hell was Australian.

The Inception Award for Biggest Mindfuck

Warcraft - Imagine having literally zero prior knowledge of a complex MMORPG and then watching the movie adaption without an expert or Wikipedia to help guide you through. That was my experience with Duncan Jones' Warcraft. I'm told that the film is passable (or even enjoyable) for fans - but for someone whose understanding of Warcraft literally begins and ends with Leeeeeroy Jenkins, the deep mythos and plethora of characters and factions made literally no sense whatsoever.

The Wolf of Wall Street Award for Film You Most Don't Want to Watch With Your Nan

The Neon Demon - Nicolas Winding Refn's The Neon Demon certainly earns that R18 rating. Everything is ticking over nicely and then he goes and throws THAT scene in your face. You know the one I'm talking about. Yeah, you really don't want to find yourself sharing a sofa with your family when that comes on the telly, trust me. I felt uncomfortable and I was in a darkened theatre.

The Mister Freeze Award for Worst Movie Villain

It's a tie! In the red corner we have Cara Delevingne as the hip-swaying Enchantress in Suicide Squad and in the blue corner we have Oscar Isaac buried under six inches of makeup as Apocalypse in X-Men: Apocalypse. Both are truly awful villains that need to be consigned to the pages of comicbook movie terribleness as soon as physically possible.

The Neill Blomkamp Award for Most Wasted Potential

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. This movie should've been an open and shut slam-dunk. Batman and Superman, united on the big screen for the first time. Wonder Woman in her first live action appearance on film. Secretive teasers that lay the groundwork for the upcoming Justice League movie.

Alas, it wasn't to be. Don't get be wrong, Dawn of Justice is nowhere near as terrible as Suicide Squad but it sure as hell isn't the bullseye we were hoping for. After a marketing campaign that lasted an eternity, I was ready to accept Dawn of Justice as the next Dark Knight. Instead it's merely an expensive footnote in DC's increasingly disappointing cinematic universe.

The Mr Pringle Award for Best Movie Moustache of the Year

It's a tie! The winners in this category this year are Aaron Eckhart and Tom Hanks in Sully for their wonderful walrus lip warmers. What I wouldn't give to be able to grow facial hair like those two. Actually, scratch that - what I wouldn't give to be able to grow any form of facial hair, period...

The Michael B. Jordan Award for Most Unexpected Same Gender Crush of the Year

Henry Cavill in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - Look, all I'm saying is, I wouldn't mind sharing a bath with Henry Cavill (even though he apparently doesn't take off his shoes before getting in). Amy Adams is one lucky woman.

The Primrose Everdeen Memorial Award for Poorest Excuse for a Hunger Games Film

Allegiant - Congratulations to the Divergent Series! They've now received this prestigious award three years in a row! Allegiant is particularly deserving of this award because it was a steep decline in quality from the first and second movies; needlessly long and accomplishing very little, this threequel steered the series into rockier territory than ever before, almost entirely squashing any anticipation anyone has for the final instalment, Ascendent - which has been dumped from the 2017 schedule and is destined to crawl onto TV at some point. Who even cares anymore? According to the box office number for Allegiant, literally no-one.

Best Onscreen Butt

Tom Hiddleston in High-Rise - There have been a lot of really great movie butts this year. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Blake Lively in The Shallows - so many tushies to choose from. But none of them come close to Hiddlestone's tight Hiddlesbutt in High-Rise. I'm not saying

Take a bow Mr Hiddleston (but maybe put some jocks on first, eh?)

The Last Airbender Award for Biggest Letdown

Suicide Squad. Oh boy, where do even start in this category? Summer 2016 dropped a major clunker into our laps pretty much every month, from Batman v Superman getting things off to a poor start in March followed by X-Men: Apocalypse in May and Suicide Squad bringing up the rear in August. While all three were pretty disappointing, I'm going to give it to Suicide Squad. I was so pumped to see DC's rogues gallery done justice and the final product was just a mess. It was like watching a film that had been edited by a food blender.

Thanks for reading the 2016 edition of the Fuzzies! I always enjoy writing something tongue-in-cheek to go with the best actor/director waffle which usually rounds off the year. Let me know what you think in the comments section below!

Plus, keep your eyes peeled for my Top 10 Films of 2016 post in the next few days! (Bonus points for anyone who can correctly guess the top 3 in the comments of this post)

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