The 2009 Golden Teddy Awards for Most Excellence in Movies

Most Excellence in Being Excellent

[youtube:]An Education. I enjoyed this movie more than any other this year. It was a coming of age tale, but it was unlike any I’d ever seen before. It was about sex and literature, lies and honor, family and love. Carey Mulligan encapsulated all of that and more as the smitten 17-year-old, and Peter Saargard has never been better or sexier as her lothario. I didn’t want the movie to end (and I would have rewritten it). It’s nearly a perfect film.

[youtube:]District 9. Stellar sci-fi like “District 9” is rare. It’s a parable about our world — in this case, a weird mixture of Guantanamo, anti-immigration strife, and identity politics — that is not masked and undone by cynical Hollywood ploys, like stunt-casting, 3-D glasses, or loud and nonsensical special effects. The script is funny and profound and disturbing and perfectly structured, and the lead actor, Sharlto Copley was funny, cruel, desperate, pathetic, and heroic. And I bought it all.

[youtube:]The Fantastic Mr. Fox. What a weird, hilarious, prickly piece of art. It’s the only Raold Dahl adaptation that really does his bizarre and creepy writing justice. It’s certainly made a little more family friendly than Dahl’s writing is, but it’s still a true artistic vision. I think it’s Wes Anderson’s best movie, as much as I love Rushmore.

[youtube:]The Hurt Locker. You’ve never seen a war movie like this one. Intense, upsetting, unpredictable, horrifying, moving. As David Denby, who I normally loathe, wrote, it is a “classic of tension, fear, and bravery that will be studied twenty years from now.” Yep.

Most Excellence in Morally Challenged Filmmaking

[youtube:]Inglourious Basterds. Yeah, so Tarentino shredded and then collaged together the World War II film narrative, making a post-modern masterpiece. But in doing so, he shredded the morality of the World War II film narrative and collaged together an ultra-violent revenge tale that ends with Jews being just as cruel as the Nazis. And for some reason, people think this is the best movie of year. It is the best made, with the best dialogue, some of the best directed scenes, and it made people talk about it, if not always in a good way. But it themes are abhorrent to me. And immoral.

Most Excellence in Ignoring 30 Years of Discussions on Race and Representation

[youtube:][youtube:]Avatar. Oh, James Cameron. He made a very pretty, very loud, technically interesting movie with a plot so banal as to be almost offensive: Dance With Wolves meets Fern Gully. But no, it actually was offensive. The blue noble savages were Lakota/Aborigines/Masai/Papuans-wannabes created from racist tropes older than them thar hills that have been critiqued by activists and academics for 40 years. Cameron uses pyschosocial research to create his plots — to make sure they stick like Titanic or Star Wars did — and must have known that he was doing something very, very problematic, but he also knew that tropes, particularly racist ones, work. And he just had to make a billion dollars, so racism be damned when money and Oscars are involved. One of the best things written on this is “When Will White People Stop Making Movies like ‘Avatar.’” And then there is the review to the left, which is hilarious.

Most Excellence in Twee

[youtube:]Up. It was adorable, moving, wildly imaginative, funny-in-a-cute-inoffensive-way, and the best Pixar film since Finding Nemo. I laughed, I cried, but it wasn’t better than The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Most Excellence in Emotional Manipulation

[youtube:]Invictus. How did Clint Eastwood make me feel patriotic? For a country I’ve never been to? Named South Africa? But somehow he did it with his classical perfection, Morgan Freeman’s genius imitation, and working with a historical revisionist script. Mandela was not a saint, but his filmic doppelganger certainly made me cheer for South African rugby players. It helped that they were hot. Matt Damn with muscles — yay!

Most Excellence in Freaking the Hell Out of Me

[youtube:]Where the Wild Things Are. What a disturbing film. Dave Eggers and Spike Jonze took a sweet picture book about little boys and cutesy monsters and created a morality tale about savage desire. As a friend of mine said, “It’s about how your best friend could kill you at any moment.” No wonder parents were outraged that first weekend it came out. It’s a work of genius, but it is not fun and not a children’s movie. At all.

Most Excellence in Anti-Capitalism Propaganda

[youtube:]Up in the Air. I loved the The Informant! — especially Matt Damon’s brilliantly absurd performance — but it wasn’t really about anything, even though it is a story about a multinational corporate crime. Up in Air is about the moral failure of big business, MBA culture, and excellence for excellence’s sake. And its done through two amazing characters studies — George Clooney’s Ryan Bingham and Anna Kendrick’s Natalie Keener. It’s funny and moving and perfectly made, but it is also a bit obvious. Yeah, American capitalism sucks and it makes people sad. Dur.

Most Excellence in Anti-War Propaganda

[youtube:]The Messenger. This is probably the best possible movie that could be made about two men who inform next of kin that a relative has been killed in the line of duty. It’s gut-wrenching and naturalistic, and it’s excellent, and if you want to join the Army after seeing it, you should be locked up. (The Hurt Locker is too complex to be simply an anti-war movie.) Woody Harrelson is fantastic, as always, but so is the amazingly intense Ben Foster, who has been snubbed by the Oscars two years in a row now.

Most Excellence in Poverty Porn

[youtube:]Precious. I twittered “relentless” while watching this Dickensian nightmare. If any movie makes you thank your lucky stars, this is the one. After anything remotely good happens to Precious, something appallingly awful happens immediately. It’s the cruelest narrative I’ve encountered in a long time. Playing the most evil mother since Mommie Dearest, Mo’Nique is amazing — particularly in the second-to-last scene of the film — and Lee Daniels did some wonderful direction, but it is truly pornographic.

My Most Excellent Oscar Pics

Best Picture

  • Will win: The Hurt Locker
  • Should win: The Hurt Locker
  • Snubbed: Invictus and The Messenger. How The Blind Side got nominated…

Best Actress

  • Will win: Sandra Bullock
  • Should win: Carey Mulligan
  • Snubbed: I can’t think of anyone.

Best Actor

  • Will win: Jeff Bridges
  • Should win: Jeff Bridges, though I haven’t seen Crazy Heart. (Doh.)
  • Snubbed: Sharlto Copley for District 9 and Matt Damon for The Informant!

Best Supporting Actress

  • Will win: Mo’Nique
  • Should win: Mo’Nique
  • Snubbed: Julianne Moore. I mean, really.

Best Supporting Actor

  • Will win: Christoph Waltz
  • Should win: Woody Harrelson
  • Snubbed: Stanley Tucci for Julie & Julia. He was nominated for the wrong movie.

Best Director

  • Will win: Katherine Bigelow
  • Should win: Katherine Bigelow
  • Snubbed: Neill Blomkamp

Best Original Screenplay

  • Will win: The Hurt Locker
  • Should win: The Hurt Locker
  • Snubbed: I dunno.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Will win: Up in the Air
  • Should win: District 9
  • Snubbed: The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Best Animated Film

  • Will win: Up
  • Should win: The Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • Snubbed: Some people will say Ponyo, I’m sure.

Best Documentary

  • Will win: The Cove
  • Should win: I don’t know. I’d have to see them. (Doh)
  • Snubbed: Capitalism: A Love Story

Best Foreign Language Film

  • Will win: The White Ribbon
  • Should win: Again: I don’t know. I’d have to see them. (Doh)
  • Snubbed: Broken Embraces

Best Editing

  • Will win: The Hurt Locker
  • Should win: The Hurt Locker

Best Cinematography

  • Will win: Avatar
  • Should win: The Hurt Locker or The White Ribbon (based only on the trailer).

Best Art Direction

  • Will win: Avatar
  • Should win: Avatar
  • Snubbed: A Single Man. I mean, really. It’s was about art direction.

Best Costume Design

  • Will win: Coco Before Chanel
  • Should win: Coco Before Chanel. It’s a movie about a fashion designer, after all.
  • Snubbed: A Single Man. Bizarre. However, I did hate that angora sweater…

Best Makeup

  • Will win: The Young Victoria
  • Should win: Star Trek

Best Visual Effects

  • Will win: Avatar
  • Should win: Avatar

Best Sound Editing

  • Will win: The Hurt Locker
  • Should win: The Hurt Locker

Best Sound Mixing

  • Will win: Avatar
  • Should win: Avatar

Best Music, Original Song

  • Will win: “The Weary Kind,” Crazy Heart
  • Should win: “The Weary Kind,” Crazy Heart
  • Snubbed: “9000 Days,” Invictus

Best Music, Original Score

  • Will win: Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders, The Hurt Locker
  • Should win: Alexandre Desplat, The Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • Snubbed: Marvin Hamlisch, The Informant!. Genius. As opposed to James Horner’s Hackery.

Really, do you care about the short films?

2 responses to this post.

  1. Arturo says:

    I do care about the short films 😉 Honestly.

    • ted says:

      They matter, of course. But since there is no way of seeing any of them except on the festival circuit or randomly on HBO in the middle of the night 10 years after they’re made. They’re less accessible to the masses than poetry.

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