The 2014 Boamies

The Boamies

by Jeff Boam

 

The acting community has their SAGs. The Brits have their BAFTAs. The H’Wood Foreign Press has their Golden Globes. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have their Oscars. And I have my PFA … no wait, er, the Boamies! Yes, that’s what I’m here to present!
Every year, these collectible figurines hard-crafted by a hundred screaming chimpanzees are given to honor the very best in film … from the previous year, mind you. It’s no accident that these malleable statues made from a mysterious alloy that fell to earth in the ‘60s get presented THISclose to the annual Academy Awards telecast (this year, the 86th annual event bows on ABC this Sunday at 7 p.m.). After all, the Boamies ceremony not only includes scarily dead-on guesses as to who and what will win the Oscar, they also shoehorn in the important categories that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences seemingly forgot to include.
At an informal, business casual affair catered by the pizza shop below a certain “Screens” reporter’s condo and attended by the prestigious Boamie Committee (which, not for lack of trying, numbers one person), the following glowing conversation pieces that smell like a landfill fire were given:

THE BOAMIE WINNERS

EC27BOAMIES_1_WEBBEST COMEDY:
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
This is the End   WINNER
We’re the Millers
The World’s End

If Wolf of Wall Street wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, this award would’ve been wrapped up with a cocaine-dipped bow made out of $100 dollar bills. By default, the prize goes to This is the End. Hilariously insane and insanely hilarious, the star-studded potty-mouthed directorial debut from the screenwriting duo behind Superbad made moviegoers want Apocalypse RIGHT Now. If the Who’s Who of comedy legends in the comedy classic It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World worked blue, were being invaded by otherworldly forces and found a stash of weapons-grade marijuana beneath the giant X, it would turn out a lot like this uproariously funny and brave comedy.

BEST COMIC BOOK FLICK:
2 Guns
Iron Man 3  WINNER
Kick Ass 2
Thor: The Dark World
The Wolverine

Mostly Marvel-ous, this nearly Iron-clad sequel answers the questions “Has he lost his mind?” and “Can he see or is he blind?” with results that are often quite entertaining. Much of this sequel’s success is owed to Lethal Weapon scribe-turned writer/director Shane Black, who took the character out of the suit and into a downward spiral only redeemed by a blockbusting ending.
Worst Comic Book Flick actually proved to be a much more heated competition, mostly because Man of Steel made that particular list. RED 2 and Kick Ass 2 (it only made the list above because I needed 5 contenders and refused to grant Man of Steel a spot) would’ve been duking it out were it not for the painfully bad — but appropriately titled — R.I.P.D.

BEST SEQUEL:
Before Midnight  WINNER
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Monsters University
Star Trek Into Darkness

Best Sequel (AKA Continuation of a Franchise) mostly boasts popcorn blockbusters but it’s the Hemlock-laced, romance-on-the-rocks maelstrom and Indie Dark Horse Before Midnight, following in the footsteps of Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004) before it, that easily takes the prize. In fact, this ridiculously engrossing gem, one of 2013’s best, should’ve taken the 10th Best Picture nomination.
A Good Day to Die Hard had Worst Continuation of a Franchise sewn up (Fast and Furious 6 and Grown Ups 2 were never great franchises to begin with) until A Madea Christmas almost singlehandedly ruined the holidays. And yes, the Madea movies were never good either, but this chapter hit a new groan-inducing low in filmmaking that falls somewhere close to the 6th circle of Dante’s levels of Hell.

BEST HORROR FLICK:
Carrie
The Conjuring  WINNER
Evil Dead
World War Z
You’re Next

Though the docket goes on and on for Worst Horror Flick (AKA: Scariest for the Wrong Reasons) — The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia, Insidious: Chapter 2, Mama, The Purge, Texas Chainsaw 3D — moviegoers were also lucky to amass a short list of strong spine-tingling contenders. Barely edging out the frightfully good You’re Next and decent crowd-pleaser World War Z is a flicks that conjures up some ridiculously heart-stopping scares with a fudged true story that ends up to be one of the best bets for horror fans who like to be so hair-raisingly frightened that they wet themselves. OK, so the real events portrayed here get thrown against a wall and scraped off as something different — not completely, just heightened. Regardless of credulity, however, the flick proves to be a veritable blood curling scream machine cranked up to 11.

BEST SCI-FI:
Elysium
Ender’s Game
Oblivion
Pacific Rim
Riddick

Again, like Wolf of Wall Street and Best Comedy, if Gravity wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, this award would’ve been a done deal. Honestly, not one of these Boamie nominees is an out-and-out great movie … so let me suggest instead a romantic comedy with a sci-fi gimmick! The hands come together for writer/director Richard Curtis’s latest, About Time, a time-travel romantic dramedy worth a Notting Hill of beans in a cineplex flush with superheroes and Oscar bait. Granted, you can wind your watch to writer/director Curtis’ formula. His oeuvre often and rightly gets criticized for putting forth sentimental hogwash perpetrated by British archetypes. The lynchpin in this flick, however, proves to be a clever, touching, and unapologetically wonky timey wimey premise that bears a lot of fruit for moviegoers who like, well, sentimental hogwash.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT:
Jack the Giant Slayer
The Lone Ranger
Man of Steel  WINNER
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Oz the Great and Powerful

Expectations often skew moviegoing … unless you’re a paid reviewer. Then, you learn to expect very little to the occasional reward of pleasant surprise. Still, it must be argued, when so much money gets spent on and talent touted around a popcorn blockbuster, audiences begin to get their get their Super-sized hopes up. In stepping away from the cinema, some wannabe tentpoles grew more distasteful (Oz the Great and Powerful) while others moderately improved with a second look (The Lone Ranger). Still, far up, up and away, the clear winner of this Boamie is Man of Steel. Taking a divisive leap away from the funny books in a single genre-shaking bound, the latest reboot of Superman soured more than soared. Indeed, this gritty, dark, and decidedly sci-fi revisionist take on Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel’s famous red-caped superhero wasn’t so much a comic book adventure as reboot of Starman. Ultimately, the movie wants for levity and more superhero than spaceman in the Superman equation.

EC27BOAMIES_4_WEBBEST REASON TO STAY HOME:
Breaking Bad — Season 5  WINNER
Game of Thrones — Season 3
Homeland — Season 2
House of Cards — Season 1
Orange is the New Black — Season 1

Episodic television has embraced so many cinematic qualities (H’Wood stars, Oscar worthy writing, marquee production value), but 12 -13 chapter seasons allow for something that the big screen doesn’t: room to breathe.  A TV program that never jumped the shark and was just starting to peak, the brilliantly scripted, acted and directed Breaking Bad went out on top with a bang in 2013. Even if the disagreeable premise turns you off at first, one screening — like the drug featured on the show itself — gets you permanently addicted to what amounts to being one of the greatest programs in television history — as cinematic as anything on the big screen.

AND, OF COURSE, THIS YEAR’S REQUISIITE JOKE CATEGORY:
WORST SHOWING BY A MEMBER OF THE EXPENDABLES:
Bullet to the Head
Escape Plan
Grudge Match
Homefront  WINNER
The Last Stand

Oh, but I wish it were a joke. Stand Up Guys and Last Vegas also made this list until I realized that no action star pensioners who could qualify as ‘able’ (read: they ain’t no Expendables) Eking out a slim albeit dubious victory over The Last Stand, however, is Homefront. The laugh hit of the season, this unintentionally hilarious Home-spun tough guy tale is an affront to any high-octane thriller set in a backwater town. This flick puts a swivel-arm battle-gripped action figure with one setting through a one-pump firefight in a one horse town with a one-note villain. As a Bostonian trying to fit into Podunk Louisiana, Jason Statham plays Jason Statham, squinting and kicking people in the head while delivering a snarl that’s not so much an attempted American accent as a horribly misplaced British accent.  Plus, for those movie fans who thought he might look better with hair, the once and future Expendable elicits huge laughs while wearing a long mane as a cop working undercover in the Sons of Anarchy. Worst, the action plays out as a series of B-Movie fisticuff cliches that the audience can see coming from a country mile away.

 

ACADEMY AWARD PICKS

Now, without further foot-dragging or back-peddling, here are my predictions for how this year’s Academy Awards race will break down. It’s been a stellar year for film so far as quality. As always, these aren’t my personal picks for these categories—just educated guesses as to how the consensus of Academy members will vote.

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong-o, 12 Years a Slave  WINNER
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska

Jennifer Lawrence is totally deserving and presents Nyong-o’s biggest challenge, but the fact that she just won the same prize last year for The Silver Linings Playbook diminishes her chances. As indelible a screen debut as I can remember, Nyong-o’s harrowing turn as Patsey, the tragic subject of continual brutal rape and an unforgettable lashing caught in one long uninterrupted take, is the performance that leaves your heart lodged — perhaps permanently — in your throat. With such turns that burn white hot, writing that pops and crackles with truth, and direction from Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) that captures this entire house on fire, the film earns a vaulted place as one of the best historical dramas of the last 12 Years, let alone one.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:
Barkhad Adbi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club  WINNER

A drama about the AIDS crisis might seem to be a bit, well, well dated. Given the film’s pharmaceutical bent — pitting terminally ill Americans against for-profit pill-pushing corporations in a broken-down health care system — it’s actually a very modern parable. As the business partner of Matthew McConaughey’s pharma-hustler, a drug-addled cross-dresser with a tough veneer named Rayon, Jared Leto definitely sets the bar untouchably high for the supporting category. Director Jean-Marc Valee colors their pestilent world with a winning mix of period detail and immersion into the sadness, sickness and silliness, but it’s the performances that sear — burning indelibly into your memory after the credits role.

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE:
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine  WINNER
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

If Woody Allen’s latest happens to leave filmgoers a little Blue, it’s only because this auteur paints such a ridiculously engrossing portrait of a woman well past the verge of a nervous breakdown. A timely tale of financial malfeasance and a brilliant bi-polar character study, this cross-cutting story is as every bit as gut-punchingly brutal as Match Point with moments as gut-bustingly funny as Mighty Aphrodite. With a performance that proves both beautiful and withering in the same scene, Cate Blanchett pulls ahead as the Best Actress winner with her turn as the widow of a Bernie Madoff-type investor. Thanks to pitch perfect support from Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Andrew Dice Clay, Louis CK, Allen can technically call this dramedy an ensemble, but Jasmine only blooms because Blanchett says so.

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE:
Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonaredo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers
Club  WINNER
Buying up awards votes with an emotional Texas-sized tale brimming with emotional Texas-sized performances, membership in the Dallas Buyers Club offers a lot of truth, tears, and timeliness. Oh, it’s not exactly perfect (some of the antagonists come off as caricatures), but some Oscar-worthy turns make up the dividend. Capping off a string of amazing performances (Magic Mike, Mud), Matthew McConaughey delivers his best performance ever and the best male performance of the year as a homophobic hustler who travels over the border to help AIDS patients get the medication they need after he is himself diagnosed with the disease.

ANIMTED FEATURE FILM:
The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
Frozen  WINNER
The Wind Rises

Like an invigorating wintry blast of coolness, Disney finally surpasses its subsidiary Pixar in terms of heart and humor with this beautifully sung, drawn, and written loose adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Snow Queen.” Of course, the Mouse House’s animation unit has been riding high again as of late, following up the impressive The Princess and the Frog with the superior Tangled. But this is something beguilingly more. Their best feature since Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, Frozen challenges Pixar (Disney bought the Toy Story studio in 2006) when it comes to combining smart alecky wit and whipsmart writing with letter-perfect voices — all with Uncle Walt’s signature princess and tunesmith hook.

DIRECTING:
12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen
American Hustle, David O. Russell
Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron  WINNER
Nebraska, Alexander Payne
The Wolf of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese

Career-wise, director Alfonso Cuaron jumped from indie success (Y Tu Mama Tambien) to blockbuster hit (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) to critical darling (Children of Men). Gravity, however, is one giant leap for filmmaking. Consider the uninterrupted naturalism-aping takes. Consider how he filmed the actors underwater to capture the feel of listlessly floating. Consider how he invented a spinning rig to make you feel every pulse-pounding tic of their perilous space walks amid showering space debris. Just like the opening moments of Saving Private Ryan proved all-too-too real for WWII veterans, however, this film must surely do the same for astronauts. Unfortunately, you also feel that they’re wasting valuable oxygen when encouraging each other to talk and laying on the survival message a little too thick with a 2nd act pep talk, which is why Gravity won’t win Best Picture. Still, it’s Cuaron’s masterwork thus far and he’s a shoe-in for Best Director.

BEST PICTURE:
12 Years a Slave   WINNER
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Nebraska
Philomena
The Wolf of Wall Street

A Slave to no film before it, this amazingly rich but brutal true story sets an almost unreachable high standard for H’Wood awards season films to follow. You’ve seen such scenes before, harrowing historic events depicted on screen with wince-inducing near-realism. In fact, you’ve probably seen them so many times before that you wonder what a 2013 slave drama could possibly bring to the screen. And then you bear witness to 12 Years a Slave, a blistering gut punch of authenticity that hits so hard that you might have a legal claim towards, pardon the expression, whiplash. It is the greatest cinematic achievement that captures America’s darkest hour. Period.