Browse Category

by Robert Horton

Contributor

Review: Quadrophenia

[Originally published in Movietone News 64-65, March 1980]

The movie starts out with a pretty good indication of what it’s going to be made of: A young man stares out over the golden ocean towards the sun, then turns and walks toward the camera, his silhouette remaining in the streak of sun on the waves. The camera tilts slightly so the sun is in the middle of the frame, and we cut suddenly to the front headlight of a motor scooter, charging forward at the reeling camera and driven by the same young man. Energy: that’s what Quadrophenia is about and what it is made up of. The characters in the story, British kids in the early-to-mid-Sixties, pour their energies into pills, violence, and sex, and into the collective search for self that found its expression in being part of a group—in this case, either of two extremist music factions: the rockers (getting behind Gene Vincent and traditional rock’n’roll) or the mods (The Who and the Kinks). We focus on one denizen of this world, a boy, Jimmy Cooper (Phil Daniels), who finds a more important family within the mods than he does at home, and who is happiest when popping blues and starting fights. Director Franc Roddam manages to make Jimmy a sympathetic character as we examine his isolation amid the spurious togetherness of the mods, and his search for identity. Yet unlike the James Dean character in Rebel without a Cause (which this film echoes occasionally), Jimmy doesn’t always seem to be aware of his own pathetic state. If he were a little more detached from his situation, we would at least have the feeling that there was a chance he’d break out of it. A shot of Jimmy sitting on his scooter, as we see his face reflected from four different angles in the rearview mirrors surrounding him, sums up his fragmentation: different sides, no center. His parents, who cannot understand (his father asks him “Who do yer think y’are, anyway?”—and Jimmy honestly does not know); the advertising agency for which he works, which manufactures images of phony-pretty reality; and his group, with their desperate/exultant dance after a riot, chanting “We are the mods!” repeatedly—they are all, as Rebel’s Jim had it, “tearing him apart.”

Keep Reading

Review: The Wanderers

[Originally published in Movietone News 64-65, March 1980]

One of the most affecting moments in Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers was the swamping of the soundtrack with an amplified-bagpipe version of “Amazing Grace” as the remaining human searched the night world for a means of escape. The cargo ship whose radio is the source of the music turns out to be loading up with pods, and as the hero sees this and the door is shut on his hopes of a getaway, the radio dial is turned from “Grace” to a newscaster’s flat voice. This scene is dramatically different from the counterpart sequence in Don Siegel’s original Body Snatchers: there the hero heard some Spanish singing, had his hopes raised that he was among feeling humans again, excitedly climbed over a hill to meet them—and discovered simultaneously that these are pod people and that that’s only a radio, not a woman singing, as the station is abruptly changed. The difference between the two versions is that Kaufman does not pretend that the music is anything but artificial, while Siegel surehandedly goes after the shock we feel when the station is switched; Kaufman seems interested in the mythic proportions of the music itself (the lyrics of the hymn, not sung but surely known by 75 percent of the audience, comment suggestively on the organized, sheeplike groups of pods: “I once was lost, but now I’m found—was blind, but now I see”), especially as they are set against the tiny visual representation of the hero. All of which finally comes around to the observation that this guy Kaufman can put music and images together real well, and that his latest film, The Wanderers, displays this talent for much of its running time.

Keep Reading

Review: The Changeling

[Originally published in Movietone News 66-67, March 1981]

Perhaps it’s looking back from the vantage point of a cinematically uninspiring summer that makes The Changeling seem such inoffensive fun. The qualities that The Changeling can boast—a clean, controlled look, a handful of chills, the feeling that the filmmakers are not about to shortchange us even if they’re not going to be particularly inventive—are exactly the qualities missing from the disappointing slew of first runs that turned up during June. I’ll disclose, too, a reason I was predisposed toward liking The Changeling: I’m in it. When music prof George C. Scott, having relocated in the Great Northwest after his wife and child were killed in an accident, begins his first day as lecturer, well, I’m one of his students. (Dead center, middle aisle, red flannel shirt—can’t miss me.) Anyway, if I were to write a negative review, I had the perfect lead-in: I happened to find myself in the men’s room at the same time as the director, Peter Medak, and—OK, the world may as well know—after he went to the bathroom he didn’t wash his hands. Writing this dump job I could glide into the observation that yeah, that’s the way he makes movies, too, and is The Changeling ever untidy…. Then Medak had to go and ruin my opening by making a slick, effective movie.

Keep Reading

Review: Coal Miner’s Daughter

[Originally published in Movietone News 66-67, March 1981]

The very title of this film, and of the Loretta Lynn autobiography on which it is based—in turn, from a song of hers—underlines some of the tensions within the movie: Coal Miner’s Daughter rather than, say, The Loretta Lynn Story implies a reliance on another for purposes of self-identification. It also suggests a nostalgia for one’s roots: a longing for a home is very important in Coal Miner’s Daughter.

Keep Reading

Review: The Big Red One

[Originally published in Movietone News 66-67, March 1981]

Trying to flag down a notion of just how “pure cinema”—Hitchcock’s term—works is tricky. The implication is that there is a level on which film operates which is undetectable by those who are unwilling or untrained. Sounds kinda elitist, I’m sure, but this is probably why many people miss the glories of Halloween and The American Friend to settle for the satisfying conventionality of Brubaker‘s good intentions. All that’s really necessary for appreciating “pure cinema” is a pair of open eyes: when a filmmaker is fluent enough with the language of the cinema, then the bodies, images, sounds will accumulate, interweave, and a lasting impression will be registered through those open, willing eyes. To watch Robert Bresson’s Lancelot du Lac or Alfred Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain is to feel utterly in the hands of a master: every color, aperture, strand of dialogue, camera movement can be apprehended to be part of the bigger fabric of the movie, each cinematic event reflecting on another. Bresson’s Pickpocket is an example of pure cinema which employs a series of dispassionate images that, piled on top of each other as they have been by the end of the film, produce a startlingly moving fadeout.

Keep Reading

Review: Can’t Stop the Music

[Originally published in Movietone News 66-67, March 1981]

Disbelief. Right in the middle of the “Y.M.C.A.” number, which is right in the middle of Can’t Stop the Music, one feels one’s mouth actually hanging open. Good grief! Is this really happening? Members of a musical group called the Village People (who play streetwise dudes recruited to form an impromptu ensemble of singers/dancers) and Valerie Perrine (their manager) and Bruce Jenner (a tax lawyer with the hots for Perrine) sweep into a real Y.M.C.A. and begin performing all manner of athletic endeavor, all to a disco beat. And its all just awful. I don’t mean just the shots that you might be visualizing now—slowmotion splitscreen guys twirling through the air, a line of men diving sideways into a swimming pool à la Busby Berkeley. Those are there, all right, but we’re also treated to wildly awkward shots, like a group of nude guys horsing around in the showers (yup, you see everything down to their knees), or a whirlpool bath shot of Perrine’s breasts bobbing out of the water. These shots are even repeated during this montage—to Dolby music, mind. What makes them so jarringly out of place (uh—the shots, that is) is the uncertainty and the weirdness in the shifts from candy-flavored lightheartedness to an uncomfortable kind of wishful frankness. The problem with this sequence is the problem with the movie: Are we to view this pursuit of high spirits as sincere, or is the whole thing supposed to be a joke?

Keep Reading

Review: Best Boy

[Originally published in Movietone News 66-67, March 1981]

The line between cool observation and active participation in a documentary film is a flimsy and untenable one. How can anything remain truly documentary with a camera whirring away as an extra guest keeping its unblinking eye focused on the people it considers? If the project is of the “Loud Family” sort, the people cannot even ask the camera to leave the room for a moment, because everything must be captured “as it actually occurred.” What is irritating about some documentaries is the pretension that whatever is observed really would have happened just as it appears before the camera—even if that camera hadn’t been there. I don’t believe that, having probably seen too many nervous smiles and stiff movements (and many an overacted moment) in everything from documentary features to National Geographic specials. But when a filmmaker recognizes and acknowledges the degree of responsibility he takes on when he plunks a camera down in the middle of people’s lives—well, some very intriguing things can happen.

Keep Reading

On Staring Into the Camera: Aguirre and Bears

(This piece was presented as lecture to a general audience at the Seattle Art Museum following a screening of Aguirre, the Wrath of God. I left it as is, so it might feel more spoken than written, which was the original idea.)

Near the end of Grizzly Man, Werner Herzog’s amazing documentary about a man who lived and died among bears, Herzog finds a close-up shot of a grizzly bear’s face. The shot was part of the vast amount of footage shot by Timothy Treadwell, the naïve and self-dramatizing manchild who spent 13 summers communing with Alaska’s grizzlies and ended up being eaten by them. Treadwell was someone who saw a variety of emotions and personalities in animals. Herzog, as he makes clear in his narration, sees only the absolutely blank, completely amoral cruelty of nature. Herzog’s films will do that, simply hold a shot and stare at something (or the absence of something) until any kind of sentimental or romantic effect between camera and subject is completely erased.

aguirre2
Aguirre, the Wrath of God

And yet this device can have mysterious results. One of the greatest moments in any Herzog film comes in Aguirre, the Wrath of God, after the soldiers aboard the raft have thrown their horse into the river. After the horse scurries onto land, the camera finds him on shore, looking out of the choking jungle. The horse simply stares into the lens as the receding camera on the raft curls downriver away from it, its motion serving to slowly wipe the animal from view as the vines overtake him, abandoning him from the expedition and from the remainder of the film. But the horse, like any good actor, maintains the moment, and his blank stare, following the camera, following us, looks forward to that grizzly bear, stubbornly giving his insensate glare to the viewer.

That look into the camera is unsettling – there’s a reason that in classical filmmaking the actors are instructed not to look into the lens. It breaks the fourth wall, it implicates the viewer in the onscreen action, it’s almost naked. Of course these are the reasons Werner Herzog uses the effect in his films. He is too much of a modern filmmaker to present the world as a piece of polished storytelling. In Aguirre, he has made a film that does not merely depict the collapse of an expedition of conquistadors in 1561, but one that seems to embody that collapse, with a sense of danger threatening to break apart its frames, a grasp of storytelling that founders at times, and a lead actor who appears almost as deranged as the character he is portraying.

Keep Reading

Last Year at Graceland

Last Year at Graceland: The Story Behind Elvis Presley’s Lost Film

TCMElvis3Actual listing from the Turner Classic Movies website, August 16, 2002:

“3:00 PM – TICKLE ME/1965

A wealthy man tries to convince a bored socialite that they had an affair years earlier. Delphine Seyrig, Giorgio Albertazzi, Sacha Pitoeff. D: Alain Resnais. C-91m.”

In the ill-starred filmography of Elvis Presley, Tickle Me has long been considered the lone instance of the King reaching out beyond a simplistic movie formula, and thus presents a fascinating case study for Elvis fan and serious film scholar alike. (To be sure, Girls! Girls! Girls! has its champions, but save that for another day.) Tickle Me was originally assigned to director Hal “First Take” Beauregard, who, despite his advanced age and unfamiliarity with post-World War I music, had already guided four Elvis vehicles to box-office success. Just before shooting began, Beauregard was taken off Tickle Me when it was discovered that he had been legally deaf and partly blind for the previous decade, a condition known only to himself and Presley’s manager, the legendary Colonel Tom Parker.

tickleme2
Une affiche d'Elvis

Desperate to proceed, and with a brief window available before a locked-in start date for Paradise, Hawaiian Style, Col. Parker sought advice from the only person in Hollywood older than himself: Sam Spiegel, the producer of Lawrence of Arabia. The Colonel hoped to hire that Oscar-winning film’s director, David Lean, and indeed Lean worked on a story treatment for a week or so – but by the time he finished, Tickle Me no longer resembled its original concept. The Lean script would have necessitated re-casting, to say nothing of a three-hour running time, so Lean moved on. (Traces of his ideas can be found in the Presley vehicle Harum Scarum, its Arabian Nights atmosphere clearly influenced by Lawrence.)

This is where the saga truly becomes interesting. With only days until principal photography was scheduled to begin, Colonel Parker asked Lean for an inspiration. And Lean found one: Alain Resnais, the French director of Hiroshima, Mon Amour, which had exploded onto international movie screens a few years before. Resnais was in Hollywood hoping to jump-start his American career with an MGM horse-racing picture, but immediately leapt at the chance to work with the singer known in France as Le Roi du Pelvis. It was Resnais’ inspiration to enlist writer Alain Robbe-Grillet to punch up the Tickle Me script, which was originally penned by Ellwood Ullmann and Edward Bernds, a long-established writing team whose previous film was The Three Stooges in Orbit. One might expect Robbe-Grillet, widely celebrated for the 1950s Nouveau Roman movement as well as his superbly manicured fingernails, to look down on the assignment. Yet he relished the prospect of exploring U.S. culture from the inside. Later he was to recall the experience as a welcome break from the “excess of thinking” that marked his work in French literature.

Keep Reading

The Night of the Hunter

[originally published on Robert Horton’s blog The Crop Duster on March 1, 2009]

“I’ll be back,” the man calls out, “when it’s dark.” Those words are the warning, and the credo, of every monster that ever slouched through fairy tale or film. Toward the end of The Night of the Hunter, they are uttered by Harry Powell, the evil preacher who burns through the movie like something out of an American folklore nightmare. Few monsters have embodied the shadow side of existence more absolutely than the murderous Reverend Powell. Where Harry Powell goes, it is dark.

Night of the Hunter
Night of the Hunter

Let’s be clear straight away: The Night of the Hunter is one of the greatest films in the American cinema. Although its web of influences can be identified (German Expressionism, the brothers Grimm, the films of D.W. Griffith and James Whale, Mark Twain), it is a singular movie; it resembles nothing else. It is also singular as the only film directed by the celebrated actor Charles Laughton, who suffered from one of the most tortured actor’s psyches ever—and that’s a crowded field—beset as he was by his keen intellect, fragile emotions, and closeted homosexuality. Laughton’s achievement is magnificent: there isn’t a single shot without visual interest, and the narrative tone is an amazing balancing act.

Laughton had distinguished collaborators. The film is based on a novel by Davis Grubb, whose gothic story is closely followed. To write the script, Laughton and producer Paul Gregory chose James Agee, the film critic and author of the Depression-era classic Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (Night of the Hunter is also set during the Thirties). According to Laughton’s wife, the actress Elsa Lanchester, Agee wrote an unwieldy document that Laughton himself had to re-write.

Aside from an excellent cast, the other major collaborator was cinematographer Stanley Cortez, an unusual figure who also shot the glorious Magnificent Ambersons for Orson Welles and the gloriously pulpy Shock Corridor for Samuel Fuller. Cortez was a master of black and white contrast, and The Night of the Hunter afforded rich opportunities for the play of light and shadow; but Cortez also had his hands full with the film’s complex blend of naturalism (no Hollywood version of Mark Twain ever had a small town look as authentic) and stark stylization. Cortez later counted Welles and Laughton as the two most formidable directors he worked with.

You know something is odd from the first moments of the film, when the disembodied heads of Lillian Gish and a group of children fill the screen, hanging amongst the stars of night. Gish’s opening remarks are shaped as a parable to the children, invoking the bible and explicitly making what follows a “tale” intended as a moral fable. “Beware of false prophets,” she warns, and the film jumps to a fantastically strange sequence introducing preacher Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum). First the camera swoops down, from a great height, to see children playing in a field (hide and seek, apparently, which also describes the movie’s plot). A child looks in the cellar, only to stop short: a pair of legs sticks awkwardly, almost obscenely, from the door. The cinematic memory can’t help but flick to another great fable, The Wizard of Oz, and the legs of a dead witch curling out from beneath a similar midwestern home.

Keep Reading

The last list of Lists for 2008 – The Year in Cinema

The reading of the Oscar nominations marks the unofficial (and long overdue) end to the season of Top Ten lists and year-in-review pieces and various awards bestowed by every group who wants to add their stamp to the passports of Oscar hopefuls. So as a postscript, I gather a few lists and remarks from Parallax View contributors and friends, along with those published by Seattle top critics, as a snapshot of the way see 2008.

Sean Axmaker

A Christmas Tale
A Christmas Tale

1. A Christmas Tale (France) (dir: Arnaud Desplechin)
2. The Edge Of Heaven (Germany) (dir: Fatih Akin)
3. WALL•E (dir: Andrew Stanton)
4. Let The Right One In (Sweden) (dir: Tomas Alfredson)
5. Wendy And Lucy (dir: Kelly Reichardt)
6. The Fall (dir: Tarsem Singh)
7. The Dark Knight (dir: Christopher Nolan)
8. The Class (France) (dir: Laurent Cantet)
9. The Secret Of The Grain (France) dir: Abdellatif Kechiche
10. My Blueberry Nights (dir: Wong Kar Wai)

I also saw six films at various film festivals that could easily have made the list, were they eligible under most Top Ten guidelines (i.e.: a theatrical release). Some of them have been set for a 2009 release, a couple still await distribution.

Four Nights With Anna (Poland/France) dir: Jerzy Skowlimowski
The Hurt Locker dir: Kathryn Bigelow
L’heure d’ete (Summer Hours) (France) dir/scr: Olivier Assayas
Of Time And The City dir/scr: Terence Davies
Still Walking (Japan) dir/scr: Hirozaku Kore-Eda
Ain’t Scared (France) dir/scr: Audrey Estrougo

Robert Cumbow

(in lieu of a list, Mr. Cumbow put together his Observations, Reflections, and Ruminations from 2008 for Parallax View here)

Jim Emerson

(Ten Best Favorite Movies, from his Scanners blog) Click on the link for the video experience.

1. In Bruges (comedy, gangster; on DVD)
2. The Edge of Heaven (multi-narrative drama; on DVD)
3. A Christmas Tale (comedy, family)
4. Pineapple Express (comedy, stoner/bromantic, crime, action, Ninja; on DVD/Blu-ray)
5. Wendy and Lucy (heartbreaker)
6. Let the Right One In (comedy, tweener love story, horror)
7. Still Life (comedy, romantic/industrial; on DVD)
8. Chop Shop (docudrama; on DVD)
9. Shotgun Stories (Southern Gothic; on DVD)
10. The Fall (comedy, Western/Eastern fantasy adventure; on DVD/Blu-ray)
11. Che (instructional documentary, with re-enactments)

John Hartl

The Edge of Heaven
The Edge of Heaven

(more or less in order)

The Edge of Heaven
Man on Wire
WALL•E
Waltz With Bashir
The Pool
Milk
Taxi to the Dark Side
Boy A
Frozen River
and the most interesting SIFF film I saw that hasn’t been released: Tony Barbieri’s Em

Robert Horton

(from his blog)

1. The Edge of Heaven
2. The Duchess of Langeais
3. The Romance of Astrea and Celadon
4. The Dark Knight
5. Wendy and Lucy
6. Married Life
7. Priceless
8. In Bruges
9. Forever
10. Let the Right One In

Richard T. Jameson

2008 was one weird film year for a variety of reasons, and trying to throw a Ten Best list around it has seemed a fool’s-errand. This fool’s latest version of one, for the editor of Germany’s brave Steadycam magazine to post online, should be the last I hazard … though it, like its predecessors, ignores some half-dozen first-rate films seen at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival and unreleased as yet Stateside.

In Bruges
In Bruges

1) The Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin)
2) A Christmas Tale (Arnaud Desplechin)
3) The Secret of the Grain (Abdellatif Kechiche)
4) I’ve Loved You So Long (Philippe Claudel)
5) Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt)
6) Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson)
7) In Bruges (Martin McDonagh) … hands-down favorite!
8 ) WALL•E (Andrew Stanton)
9) A Girl Cut in Two (Claude Chabrol)
10) Tell No One (Guillaume Canet)

Kathleen Murphy

1.  The Edge of Heaven
2.  In Bruges
3.  A Christmas Tale
4.  I’ve Loved You So Long
5.  Wendy and Lucy
6.  Let the Right One In
7.  WALL•E
8.  The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
9.  Vicky Christina Barcelona
10. Man on Wire

Andrew Wright

Let the Right One In
Let the Right One In

1. The Dark Knight
2. The Edge of Heaven
3. Let the Right One In
4. Burn After Reading
5. OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies
6. WALL•E
7. Redbelt
8. Encounters at the End of the World
9. Fear(s) of the Dark
10. JCVD

Select Seattle-area Critics

William Arnold, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

(in no particular order)

U2 3D
Milk, W., Frost/Nixon
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
The Reader
The Visitor
Cassandra’s Dream/Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Iron Man, The Dark Knight
Valkyrie
Slumdog Millionaire
WALL•E

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times

(in alphabetical order)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Frozen River
Man on Wire
Milk
Priceless
Revolutionary Road
Shine a Light
Tell No One
WALL•E

Tom Tangney, KIRO

1. The Edge of Heaven
2. Synecdoche, N.Y.
3. Boy A
4. I’ve Loved You So Long
5. Man on Wire
6. Funny Games
7. Towelhead
8. Wall•E
9. Rachel Getting Married
10. (tie) Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight.

Wendy and Lucy
Wendy and Lucy

Winners Announced in 2004 Seattle Film Critics Awards

Press release

Winners Announced in 2004 Seattle Film Critics Awards

Forget about a recount! There will be no manual tally, no divining of intent, no lost ballots “discovered” behind the polling booth. The Seattle Film Critics have determined in no uncertain terms (okay, there is one tie) their choices for the best films of 2004.

The Puget Sound area’s fourteen most prominent print critics have fallen for the gym-rat nobility of MILLION DOLLAR BABY, naming it their best picture and giving the director nod to Clint Eastwood. We are pleased to encourage this fresh young face in his filmmaking endeavors.

Acting honors went to Jamie Foxx, for his dazzling diddy-bop through the life of Ray Charles, and Imelda Staunton, for her finely-tuned VERA DRAKE portrait of a housewife whose homely ministrations include back-room abortions. Supporting awards went to the lovingly re-discovered SIDEWAYS duo of Thomas Haden Church and Virginia Madsen.

The Seattle Critics Awards are unique in bestowing a “Living Treasure” award, given to a long-cherished movie notable deserving of career recognition. This year’s winner is Henry Bumstead (born 1915), one of Hollywood’s greatest art director/production designers, whose astonishing catalog of films includes VERTIGO, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, TOPAZ, THE STING, HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER, THE FRONT PAGE (74), THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, CAPE FEAR (91), MYSTIC RIVER, and MILLION DOLLAR BABY.

(Previous “Living Treasure” winners: Maureen O’Hara, Christopher Lee.)

A “Special Citation” for restoration work went to Richard Schickel and Brian Jamieson, for their efforts in restoring 50 previously-unseen minutes to Samuel Fuller’s splendid 1980 film THE BIG RED ONE.

With that, the winners and runners-up in the Seattle Film Critics Awards. See below for voting members.

BEST PICTURE

Million Dollar Baby
Runner-up: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

BEST DIRECTOR

Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby
Runner-up: Martin Scorsese, The Aviator

BEST ACTOR

Jamie Foxx, Ray
Runner-up: Jeff Bridges, The Door in the Floor

BEST ACTRESS

Imelda Staunton, Vera Drake
Runner-up: Catalina Sandino Moreno, Maria Full of Grace

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Thomas Haden Church, Sideways
Runner-up: Clive Owen, Closer

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Virginia Madsen, Sideways
Runner-up: Laura Dern, We Don’t Live Here Anymore

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Charlie Kaufman)
Runner-up: Vera Drake (Mike Leigh)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Sideways (Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor)
Runner-up: Million Dollar Baby (Jim Haggis)

BEST DOCUMENTARY

(tie) Control Room and Touching the Void

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Maria Full of Grace
Runners-up: Blind Shaft, Hero

BEST ANIMATED FILM

The Incredibles
Runner-up: Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Hero (Christopher Doyle)
Runner-up: Collateral (Dion Beebe, Paul Cameron)

BEST MUSIC

The Aviator (Howard Shore)
Runner-up: Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood)

LIVING TREASURE

Henry Bumstead

SPECIAL CITATION

Richard Schickel and Brian Jamieson, THE BIG RED ONE

The voters in the 2004 Seattle Film Critics Awards:

Soren Andersen – Tacoma News Tribune
Tim Appelo – Seattle Weekly
William Arnold – Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Sean Axmaker – Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Sheila Benson – Seattle Weekly
John Hartl – Seattle Times
Robert Horton – The Herald
Richard T. Jameson – Queen Anne News
Moira Macdonald – Seattle Times
Derich Mantonela (Mike Anderton) – Seattle Gay News
Brian Miller – Seattle Weekly
Paula Nechak – Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Mark Rahner – Seattle Times
Bradley Steinbacher – The Stranger

Winners Announced in Second Annual Seattle Film Critics Awards

Press release

Winners Announced in Second Annual Seattle Film Critics Awards

December 18, 2003

Jack Valenti be damned! The second annual Seattle Film Critics Awards are here, despite Hollywood’s notorious ban on screeners. Fourteen of the most prominent print critics from the Puget Sound area have voted on the best in the film year, perhaps naively believing that movies should be seen on the big screen anyway.

The Seattle critics, all from print-only publications, handed major awards to small movies–yet found room for hobbits, too. AMERICAN SPLENDOR, the pixillated tale of Cleveland comic-book creator Harvey Pekar, won Seattle’s best picture award. The film’s screenplay, and leading lady Hope Davis, also got the nods in their categories. Meanwhile, Bill Murray won the best actor prize for LOST IN TRANSLATION, which makes us wonder how you say, “Now get outta here, ya knuckleheads” in Japanese.

In a category unique to the Seattle critics, a “Living Treasure” was also named, an award that honors some long-cherished movie notable deserving of career recognition. This year’s award went to Christopher Lee, the magnificently suave and sinister English actor whose work is gloriously associated with Hammer horror films, notably as perhaps the finest screen Dracula. No stranger to straight roles (THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, THE THREE MUSKETEERS), Lee has lately found acclaim in both the newest STAR WARS trilogy and THE LORD OF THE RINGS…even if he was unceremoniously cut from THE RETURN OF THE KING. (Last year’s “Living Treasure” was Maureen O’Hara.)

A Special Citation was awarded to Rialto Pictures, for their stirring restorations and/or re-releases of a series of French classics in the past year, including LE CERCLE ROUGE, QUAI DES ORFEVRES, and TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI.

Without further ado, the winners of the Seattle Film Critics Awards:

BEST PICTURE

American Splendor
Runners-up: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; Lost in Translation

BEST DIRECTOR

Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation
Runner-up: Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

BEST ACTOR

Bill Murray, Lost in Translation
Runner-up: Paul Giamatti, American Splendor

BEST ACTRESS

Hope Davis, American Splendor
Runners-up: Charlotte Rampling, Swimming Pool, Charlize Theron, Monster

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Sean Astin, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Runner-up: Peter Sarsgaard, Shattered Glass

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Marcia Gay Harden, Mystic River
Runner-up: Patricia Clarkson, Pieces of April

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)
Runners-up: Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, David Reynolds); A Mighty Wind (Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

American Splendor (Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini)
Runner-up: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson)

DOCUMENTARY

Capturing the Friedmans
Runner-up: Spellbound

ANIMATED FEATURE

The Triplets of Belleville
Runner-up: Finding Nemo

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Man on the Train (France)
Runner-up: The Man Without a Past (Finland)

CINEMATOGRAPHY

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Andrew Lesnie)
Runner-up: Girl With a Pearl Earring (Eduardo Serra)

MUSIC

A Mighty Wind (songs by Christopher Guest, John Michael Higgins, Eugene Levy, Michael McKean, Catherine O’Hara, Annette O’Toole, Harry Shearer, Jeffrey C.J. Vanston)
Runner-up: Lost in Translation (Brian Reitzell, Kevin Shields, William Storkson)

LIVING TREASURE

Christopher Lee

SPECIAL CITATION FOR FILM RESTORATION

Rialto Pictures

There is no Seattle film critics “group,” but a poll of the area’s top print film critics. The poll is organized by Parallax View: A Film Society, a group of film enthusiasts, professionals, and critics. The members of Parallax View are NOT the voters in the awards.

Critics voting in the 2003 awards:

Soren Andersen – Tacoma News Tribune
Tim Appelo – Seattle Weekly
William Arnold – Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Sean Axmaker – Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Sheila Benson – Seattle Weekly
John Hartl – Seattle Times
Robert Horton – The Herald
Richard T. Jameson – Queen Anne News
Moira Macdonald – Seattle Times
Derich Mantonela (Mike Anderton) – Seattle Gay News
Brian Miller – Seattle Weekly
Paula Nechak – Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Mark Rahner – Seattle Times
Bradley Steinbacher – The Stranger

Winners Announced in First Annual Seattle Film Critics Awards

Press release

Winners Announced in First Annual Seattle Film Critics Awards

December 19, 2002

Alarmed by the dearth of year-end movie awards, the film critics of the Puget Sound area have raised their voices in unison for the first time. Twenty-four of the area’s top critics have been polled for the first annual Seattle Film Critics Awards, and the results are in.

Todd Haynes’ FAR FROM HEAVEN proved close to critics’ hearts, winning in six categories, including best picture. The homage to the 1950s melodramas of director Douglas Sirk also won for Julianne Moore as best actress and two awards for Haynes, for best director and best original screenplay.

The Seattle critics also created a special annual category, the “Living Legend” award, which honors some long-cherished movie notable deserving of career recognition. This year’s award went to Maureen O’Hara, the Irish-born, flame-haired Hollywood star whose long career included her many collaborations with both John Wayne (THE QUIET MAN) and John Ford (HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY).

The awards were organized by a new Seattle organization, Parallax View: A Film Society, a group of film enthusiasts, professionals, and critics. The members of Parallax View are NOT the voters in the awards. A committee formed by Parallax View polled the area’s leading critics.

Herewith, the results of the 2002 Seattle Film Critics Awards:

2002 Seattle Film Critics Awards – Winners

Best Picture

Far From Heaven
Runner-up: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Best Director

Todd Haynes, Far From Heaven
Runner-up: Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Best Actress

Julianne Moore, Far From Heaven
Runner-up: Nicole Kidman, The Hours

Best Actor

Daniel Day-Lewis, Gangs of New York
Runner-up: Michael Caine, The Quiet American

Best Supporting Actress

Bebe Neuwirth, Tadpole
Runner-up: Toni Collette, About a Boy

Best Supporting Actor

Chris Cooper, Adaptation
Runner-up: Dennis Quaid, Far From Heaven

Original Screenplay

Far From Heaven, Todd Haynes
Runner-up: Y Tu Mama Tambien; Alfonso Curaon, Carlos Curaon

Adapted Screenplay

The Hours, David Hare
Runner-up: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers; Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair

Documentary

The Kid Stays in the Picture
Runner-up: Standing in the Shadows of Motown

Foreign-Language Film

Y Tu Mama Tambien
Runner-up: The Fast Runner (Atanarjuat)

Cinematography

Far From Heaven, Edward Lachman
Runner-up: Gangs of New York, Michael Ballhaus

Music

Far From Heaven, Elmer Bernstein
Runner-up: Punch-Drunk Love, Jon Brion

Editing

Femme Fatale, Bill Pankow
Runner-up: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, D. Michael Horton

Production Design

Gangs of New York, Dante Ferretti
Runner-up: Far From Heaven, Mark Friedberg

Living Treasure

Maureen O’Hara

PARALLAX VIEW: A FILM SOCIETY is a newly-formed group of Seattle film professionals, enthusiasts, teachers, and critics. Our goal is to champion the cause of film literacy, foster public discussion of the place of movies in society, and promote the serious, sometimes delirious cause of film as art. To that end, we sponsor public events featuring filmmakers and critics, publish provocative writing about film, and present the annual Seattle Film Critics Awards, voted on each December.

Critics polled in the 2002 Seattle Film Critics Awards:

Soren Andersen – Tacoma News Tribune
William Arnold – Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Sean Axmaker – freelance/Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Sheila Benson – freelance/Seattle Weekly
Jim Emerson – freelance/cinepad.com
Gillian Gaar – freelance/Tablet
Shannon Gee – freelance/Seattle Weekly
John Hartl – freelance/Seattle Times
Robert Horton – Everett Herald/KUOW-FM
Richard T. Jameson – freelance/Pacific Press Newspapers
Moira Macdonald – Seattle Times
Derich Mantonela (Mike Anderton) – Seattle Gay News
Michael Medved – freelance/syndicated
Brian Miller – Seattle Weekly
Kathleen Murphy – freelance/SteadyCam
Paula Nechak – freelance/Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Sean Nelson – The Stranger
Mark Rahner – Seattle Times
Bruce Reid – freelance
Jeff Shannon – freelance/Amazon.com
Steven Shaviro – freelance/shaviro.com
Keith Simanton – Internet Movie Database
Andy Spletzer – freelance
Tom Tangney – KIRO-AM