The 1st Annual Craggus Movie Awards

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I resisted the temptation to do a “Best Of 2013” list at the turn of the year, but I’ve gotten swept up in awards fever so as a (barely adequate) prelude to the 86th Academy Awards, here are The CRAGGUS MOVIE AWARDS (featuring The Merties®).

The rules: only movies released in 2013 are eligible. Only films I or The Mertmas have personally seen can be nominated and if a film we’ve seen has an Oscar nomination, it automatically gets a Craggus nomination. Our winners were chosen on the basis of personal preference and may bear no similarity to technical or artistic achievement, real or imagined!

Now, on with the show!

Best Actor

  • Christian Bale (“American Hustle”)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Wolf of Wall Street”)
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”)
  • Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club”)
  • Tom Hanks (“Captain Phillips”)

mccaunaghey

I’ve added in a nomination for Tom Hanks here, as his performance in “Captain Phillips”, especially at the end of the movie is superb. Bale’s nomination for “American Hustle” owes more to hair and make-up, I think, than the quality of his performance and although DiCaprio was at his magnetic best in “Wolf Of Wall Street”, it’s a tough field this year. Chiwtel Ejiofor is an incredible actor and his work in “12 Years A Slave” was very, very good but The Craggus Award goes to Matthew McConaughey for “Dallas Buyers Club”.

Winner: Matthew McConaughey

Best Actress

  • Amy Adams (American Hustle)
  • Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
  • Emma Thompson (Saving Mr Banks)

emma thomsponApparently, if you haven’t seen “Blue Jasmine”, “August: Osage County” or “Philomena”, you haven’t seen many good female performances this year. Emma Thompson gets a Craggus nomination for her turn as ‘Mary Poppins’ author P J Travers and, in fact, takes the award as well! Bullock’s performance in “Gravity” is superb given the highly effects-driven production and Amy Adams is great in “American Hustle”, Thompson’s prickly yet vulnerable performance wins it for me.

Winner: Emma Thompson

Best Supporting Actor

  • Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
  • Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
  • Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
  • Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
  • Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

barkhadOne of the toughest of all the categories, with perhaps Bradley Cooper and Jonah Hill fading in the final furlong. As good as Fasbender always is, and as amazing as Leto’s transformation and performance was I’m going to agree with BAFTA on this one.

Winner: Barkhad Abdi

Best Supporting Actress

  • Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
  • Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
  • Oprah Winfrey (The Butler)
  • Scarlett Johansson (Her)

ScarlettGoing with just the Oscar noms, this was a two horse race between Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong’o. I’ve added in a nomination for Oprah Winfrey as her performance in “The Butler” was tremendous even if it went unnoticed or underappreciated due to Forrest Whitaker’s dominant role. But for me, there can only be one winner here: to be able to create an utterly convincing, fully realised and three dimensional character using only her voice, it absolutely baffles me that Scarlett Johansson was overlooked in this category.

Winner: Scarlett Johansson

Best Animated Feature

  • frozen“The Croods”
  • “Despicable Me 2”
  • “Frozen”

In a year dominated by animated sequels, there can be only onewinner here: the sparkling return to form for Disney Animation Studios: “Frozen”.

Winner: “Frozen”

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • “Dallas Buyers Club”
  • “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa”
  • “The Lone Ranger”
  • “American Hustle”

grandpaHow on Earth did “American Hustle” not get an Oscar nomination in this category? Let’s remedy that right now! “The Lone Ranger” seems oddly out of place and as good as the styling was in “Dallas Buyers Club”, I’m going to give this one to “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” on the basis that it managed to fool real members of the public while the film was being made.

Winner: “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa”

Visual Effects

  • “Gravity”
  • “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
  • “Iron Man 3”
  • “The Lone Ranger”
  • “Star Trek Into Darkness”
  • “Pacific Rim”

gravityI’ve added in an extra nomination for “Pacific Rim” here as I think it’s effects were definitely up there with the best of the year’s efforts and it deserves the recognition. Again “The Lone Ranger” pops up in a category it seems incongruous in against it fellow nominees, but there’s little doubt that this category belongs to “Gravity” (although I was very tempted to give it to “The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug” for the gorgeous work on Smaug himself).

Winner: “Gravity”

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • “Captain Phillips” (Billy Ray)
  • “12 Years a Slave” (John Ridley)
  • “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Terence Winter)

Another tough category, as all three had tremendous scripts  but for sheer enjoyment (not to mention unfettered profanity), my winner is “The Wolf Of Wall Street”.

Winner: Terence Winter, “The Wolf Of Wall Street”

Best Original Screenplay

  • “American Hustle” (Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell)
  • “Dallas Buyers Club” (Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack)
  • “Her” (Spike Jonze)

A high quality field of competitors but it’s an easy choice for me. The clever, innovative and deeply original script for “Her” gets my nod.

Winner: Spike Jonze, “Her”

Best Director

  • David O. Russell – “American Hustle”
  • Alfonso Cuarón – “Gravity”
  • Steve McQueen – “12 Years a Slave”
  • Martin Scorsese – “The Wolf of Wall Street”

steve-mcqueenAll four would be worthy winners but in terms of uncompromising vision, for me it comes down to a straight choice between “Gravity” and “12 Years A Slave” and The Craggus Award goes to Steve McQueen for “12 Years A Slave”. I may not have agreed with or even been comfortable with some of the directorial choice he made, but I can’t help but respect and admire the conviction and vision he brought to the film.

Winner: Steve McQueen – “12 Years A Slave”

Best Picture

  • “American Hustle”
  • “Captain Phillips”
  • “Dallas Buyers Club”
  • “Gravity”
  • “Her”
  • “12 Years a Slave”
  • “The Wolf of Wall Street”

imagesI think I’ve seen more of the Oscar-nominated best pictures this year than any other year and I can’t remember a year where there have been so many worthy and worthwhile pictures nominated. I just can’t get past “The Wolf of Wall Street” for this one though, it’s the only 2013 film I gave a perfect 10 score to, so for me it’s unquestionably The Craggus Award winner for Best Picture 2013.

Winner: “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Mertmas AwardAnd now onto The Merties – picked exclusively by and for the younger cinema goer.

Best Movie

  • “Oz The Great And Powerful”
  • “Frozen”
  • “Thor: The Dark World”
  • “Despicable Me 2”

oz the great

These are The Mertmas’ top four films of the year, and his final choice – and the winner of the prestigious Mertie Award for Best Movie – is “Oz The Great And Powerful”. An early 2013 film, it never lost its lustre in The Mertmas’ eyes (although I thought it was merely ‘okay’) and even a late challenge from the beguiling “Frozen” couldn’t topple it off the top spot.

Winner: “Oz The Great And Powerful”

Best Original Song

  • ‘Happy’ from “Despicable Me 2”
  • ‘Let It Go’ from “Frozen”
  • ‘Almost Home’ from “Oz The Great & Powerful”

Let it GoAll three are happily into high play counts on The Mertmas’ iTunes playlist but which one gets the final Mertie of the night? Possibly the most debated award of the night – all of the nominees were in with a shout and they were all on the verge of winning at one point. But in the end, after much listening and rumination, “Let It Go” emerged triumphant. Thank goodness ‘Everything Is Awesome’ from “The Lego Movie” isn’t eligible this year.

Winner: ‘Let It Go’ – “Frozen”

So there we have it, a bunch of fictitious and arbitrary awards have been handed out to a bunch of movies The Mertmas and I liked. What do you think? Did we get it wrong? Are we guilty of outrageous miscarriages of artistic justice?

Let us know who you’d have nominated and who you’d have picked as winners. In the meantime, best of luck to all tonight’s Oscar nominees and especially the host, Ellen DeGeneres!

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