As the end of another spectacular year in the world of film approaches, the Cinephiles here at The Indiependent wanted to get in on Awards Season and celebrate the best of 2014 with our own little ceremonious feature. So we asked for your help in crowning the winners, and now, with all of your votes gathered and verified, we can announce the results! Drumrolls please!
BEST FILM: Guardians of the Galaxy (29.55%)
When Marvel Studios announced Guardians of the Galaxy as part of the Phase 2 line up, the whole world thought 1 of 2 things. ‘Who are the hell are they?’ or ‘Seriously?’. Things got even more interesting when the world found out indie director James Gunn was on board. However Guardians of the Galaxy has proved to be Marvel Studios’ biggest triumph, critically acclaimed, adored worldwide and a box office mega hit. No one saw it coming, records where broken. Guardians is one of the highest grossing films of the year and despite sporting B/C grade Marvel characters is Marvel’s 3rd highest grossing film ever. Guardians graced us with visually stunning effects that helped articulate the depth of Marvel’s cosmic universe. James Gunn seasoned the film with his distinctive chewy adult humour while still catering to families of young children with typically hilarious dialogue. Making conversations between characters truly enthralling and genuine. Guardians was a fun time for anyone watching, it seems Gunn really abused the idea of lovable characters with Groot and Rocket voiced by both Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper respectively, who gave excellent voice over performances, you would never know it was them unless someone told you.
Chris Pratt dabbles in a ocean of personality and charisma as Star-Lord, bringing his own personality to the role similar to RDJ as Tony Stark. Made with the hearts and souls of the filmmakers associated, Guardians portrayed this exciting passion on the big screen with fast paced action, laugh out loud moments and tear jerking scenes. We. Are. Groot.
Nominees also included in this category: Gone Girl (20.45%), The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (20.45%), Interstellar (19.32%) and Nightcrawler (10.23%) | Words: EM
BEST ACTOR: Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game (37.50%)
The aim of Morten Tydlum’s biopic, The Imitation Game, was to bring into focus the life achievements of a brilliant, but shamefully underrated man. This man was Alan Turing, the mathematics professor who with a team of chess-players and crossword enthusiasts, managed to crack the Nazi’s ‘unbreakable’ Enigma code and shorten the Second World War by years. You’d think, given such an immense achievement as this, that his story is one you would be instantly aware of – as you surely are of Churchill and other war heroes. But sadly, because of the secretive nature of his task, and the despicable condemnation he suffered for being gay, Turing’s contributions have been ignorantly overlooked for many years. However, in this film, and in large thanks due to the beautifully tuned performance of Benedict Cumberbatch, Turing has been given a spotlight in which to shine under, for us all to contemplate. Despite the fact that he didn’t have much to go on in terms of physical evidence of the real Turing’s manner, Cumberbatch’s portrayal seems faithfully honest to his multi-faceted character.
As is arguably his specialty, Cumberbatch professes the garb of a genius with precision – his Turing, also undoubtedly sharing flickers of similarity with the actor’s most infamous characterisation of Sherlock Holmes. Like Holmes, Turing also suffers the woes of genius; He is an outsider who rubs people up the wrong way with his limited patience, arrogance and intellectual superiority. He is also motivated by the importance of logic over feeling – which leads Rory Kinnear’s police officer to pose the question: What makes a machine different to a man? But of course, Cumberbatch’s performance answers that succinctly throughout much of the film’s second half. The emotions Turing is put through showcase the actor’s incredible range – from his sweetly confused relationship with Joan Clarke to the hysterical stress he goes through in trying to protect his work. And of course, as is detailed in a category further down, Turing’s Chemical Castration is also tackled with subtle aplomb. Cumberbatch certainly deserves all the awards he’s been nominated for, as this might just be his best performance to date.
Nominees also included in this category: Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler (20.45%), Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar (15.81%), Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy (14.77%) and Ben Affleck in Gone Girl (11.36%) | Words: AH
BEST ACTRESS: Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1(29.21%)
If you watch the first Hunger Games film and then read the book, you realise how much more they could have gave Jennifer Lawrence to work with. She was suitable for the role as Katniss Everdeen, but she didn’t set the world alight (pun intended). However, they really turned up the emotion in the second film, Catching Fire and carried it through to the first part of the third installment in the franchise; Mockingjay. Mockingjay Pt 1 was released this year and although Catching Fire was arguably better, she was just as demanding in her lead role as the Mockingjay. She started off as a deceitful character in The Hunger Games, close to being an anti-hero. By the time she gets to Mockingjay, she is a strong leading role who managed to carry the film without much help. As Katniss, she has become the character like Daniel Radcliffe became Harry Potter, except she can leave her Katniss persona to one side and not be asked about it every two minutes. This is mainly down to the variety of roles that she has played in her short career. Her minor role in American Hustle as Rosalyn Rosenfeld was hysterically memorable, as was her Oscar-winning portrayal as Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook. And let’s not forget her portrayal of Mystique in the more recent X-Men films, First Class and Days of Future Past. So all in all, 2014 has been a fine year for Jennifer Lawrence – even if 2013 was arguably better for her personally – as she has continued to show off as Katniss Everdeen and Mystique. I mean she did star alongside Bradley Cooper in Serena, which was critically and commercially awful, but we all make mistakes right? In terms of performance however, I think it’s safe to say she didn’t put a foot wrong in 2014.
Nominees also included in this category: Angelina Jolie in Maleficent (28.09%), Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl (22.47%), Anne Hathaway in Interstellar (15.73%) and Shailene Woodley in The Fault in Our Stars (4.49%) | Words: MH
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BEST VILLAIN: Donald Sutherland as President Coriolanus Snow in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (30.68%)
In a time dominated by Young Adult adaptations, a really good villain is hard to find. I mean, Harry Potter’s nemesis, Lord Voldemort is obviously the benchmark that they all strive to be like, but rarely have the most recent adaptations come close to that level of evil-ness. The Twilight Saga‘s Volturi were pathetically droll and un-threatening (despite being vampires), Kate Winslet’s Janine in The Divergent Series is only vaguely menacing, and The Mortal Instruments isn’t even worth talking about. But in The Hunger Games, we are offered a proper contender in these badass stakes of villainy. Enter Donald Sutherland as the ruthless and tyrannical President Coriolanus Snow. President Snow is certainly not one of the good guys, despite his Santa-like appearance. He dictates over Panem with an iron fist, allowing for no-one to show him up or defy his order. He revels in the horrors of The Hunger Games – a tradition which he sees as rightful penance for the Districts’ disloyalty to the Capitol in the first rebellion. Of course, ever since Katniss defiantly foiled the ending of her Games with the poison berries, Snow has had it in for her – and his means of punishing ‘The Girl on Fire’ have only escalated as the franchise has developed. Despite his prim, polite demeanour, what the films have captured so wonderfully is the snake-like quality to his character that Suzanne Collins described in her trilogy. He purrs through conversation like a pussycat, but remains to be despicably untrustworthy and menacing. His obsession with roses, to cover the smell of blood that seeps from his mouth (because of sores caused by drinking poison, FYI) is also undeniably creepy. Though his downfall is still yet to be determined cinematically, Snow has certainly proved himself a worthy adversary.
Nominees also included in this category: The Necromancer/Sauron in The Hobbit Trilogy (21.59%), Jopling in The Grand Budapest Hotel (19.32%), Koba in The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (13.64%) and HYDRA in Captain America: The WInter Soldier (14.77%) | Words: AH
BEST VOICE OVER PERFORMANCE: Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug and the Necromancer in The Hobbit trilogy (39.33%)
Splitting J.R.R Tolkien’s much-loved novel into three films meant that Peter Jackson owed us a few things. In order to make the close to 12 hours spent on the adaptation worth our while, we expected an engaging and loveable actor to play our titular Hobbit – which we got in Martin Freeman. We wanted to see more of the beautiful vistas of New Zealand that made Middle-Earth seem so real in the Lord of The Rings trilogy – Which we got and then some. And then, of course for each individual film we wanted that BIG moment. In An Unexpected Journey, it was ‘The Game of Riddles’ that Bilbo plays with Gollum. But in The Desolation of Smaug, – as the title suggests – we wanted to see the big guy. Except not only did we want to see Smaug the Terrible in all his golden glory, we also wanted to hear him. Benedict Cumberbatch’s thunderous, yet honey-like voice, attached to such a magnificent and fearsome beast, did not disappoint. For Sherlock fans, there is of course some giddiness to be had at the two actors interacting with each other on such a different scale. But generally speaking, the snide conversation between Bilbo and the dragon is just titillatingly brilliant. Cumberbatch’s voice booms through the mountain, reverberating amongst every golden coin embedded beneath Smaug’s gigantic hide. He fully embraced the character – even going so far as to perform with motion-capture (as Andy Serkis had for Gollum) in order to manifest within the body of his dragon. And you can certainly see elements of the actor’s distinctive looking face in Smaug – there is an air of intellectual superiority to his scaly snout. Cumberbatch also whispered some gobble-de-gook in order to voice the Necromancer (Sauron) as well – and while I know I don’t paint it out as an impressive feat, it certainly adds a chilling atmosphere to the scenes in Dol Guldur. Cumberbatch’s dulcet tones end the second film by menacingly breathing the words, “I am fire, I am death“. And if that doesn’t send a chill down your spine, then I don’t know what to say to you.
Nominees also included in this category: Bradley Cooper in Guardians of the Galaxy (33.71%), Vin Diesel in Guardians of the Galaxy (11.24%), Morgan Freeman in The Lego Movie (8.99%) and Liam Neeson in The Lego Movie (5.62%) | Words: AH
BEST ANIMATED FILM: Frozen (38.89%)
Though technically released in late 2013, Frozen has still, undoubtedly been a dominant force in film this year. So it’s hardly a surprise that Disney’s latest fairytale has won so emphatically in our awards. A now firm family-favourite, the tale of the two Princesses of Arendelle has taken the world by (icy) storm with it’s loveable characters, it’s infectious soundtrack and it’s crisp animation quality. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, the film explores the strenuous relationship between two sisters, Elsa and Anna, as the former tries to keep her magical abilities to manipulate ice and snow hidden from the world. Refreshingly, this latest ‘Disney Princess’ story also passes the Bechdel test – a means of determining gender equality in film by acknowledging conversations between female characters that do not relate in any way to men – which makes the sight of all the little girls dressed as Elsa and Anna, just that little bit more inspiring. The characters of Kristoff, Sven and Snowman-in-denial Olaf are also incredibly likeable, while the dapper appearance of Hans offered a surprising antithesis to his true villainous character. And of course, one cannot discuss this film without mentioning it’s soundtrack; the most infamous track of which, is the Oscar-winning ballad ‘Let it Go‘, sung by Idina Menzel. Catchy, inspiring, and the origin of many parodies, this song about ‘letting go’ of your stresses and embracing your passions without care for what “they” will say, is arguably, what has made this film so special.
Nominees also included in this category: The Lego Movie (33.33%), How to Train Your Dragon 2 (24.44%), The Boxtrolls (2.22%) and Rio 2 (1.11%) | Words: AH
FUNNIEST MOMENT: Captain Dickson’s reaction to Schmidt dating his daughter in 22 Jump Street (32.95%)
22 Jump Street in many ways trounces 21 Jump Street – something that you rarely see from a sequel. However, 22 Jump Street will have you laughing so much from its scenes, it hurts. And the best scene has to be when Jenko finds out that Schmidt slept with the Captain’s daughter. Jenko (Channing Tatum) is a former jock who used to bully a geek called Schmidt (Jonah Hill) in school. Both end up working together on the police force and they become best friends. Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) is the hard-talking cop who rules over the duo with his charmingly aggressive nature and is known for his anger issues. In the film, Schmidt sleeps with an art student called Maya (Amber Stevens) after pretending to have an interest in slam poetry. In an ‘oh shit‘ moment, he later finds out that she is Captain Dickson’s daughter – which is all the more awkward given that he had previously bragged to him about sleeping with a college student – and the Captain high-fived him! The Captain therefore flips out at the college buffet with hilarious consequence. Jenko then finds out what happened and runs around the room in hysterics. Why is this funny? Due to the tension in the room between Schmidt and Captain Dickson. The Captain wants to kill Schmidt at this moment and Schmidt is awkwardly trying to avoid eye contact and conversation – he’s even wearing a stab vest. Then when Jenko finds out he changes the whole mood of the room from what’s awkwardly funny to straight up hilarity. He switches his mood so quickly that it’s so unexpected and when threatened with a gun by the Captain, he goes back to a serious state which is just as amusing.This is one of those “you have to see it to find it funny” moments. So go ahead and watch it. In fact, watch the whole film!
Nominees also included in this category: Starlord’s dance off with Ronan in Guardians of the Galaxy (21.95%), Will’s Water Park Mishap in The Inbetweeners 2 (19.32%), Quicksilver’s Running Man Sequence in X-Men: Days of Future Past (15.91%) and Space Guy finally builds a Spaceship in The Lego Movie (10.23%) | Words: MH
MOST TEAR-JERKING MOMENT: Alan Turing’s Chemical Castration in The Imitation Game (23.33%)
In the midst of his hard-sought success in cracking the Enigma code and helping Britain to win the war, Alan Turing faced some devastating lows – namely in his persecution by the British Government for being a homosexual. At the end of The Imitation Game, after the story of his war efforts are concluded and his scenes of interrogation with an intrigued police officer (Rory Kinnear) are over – Turing is given a choice; He can either go to prison or submit himself to a painful and emasculating process called Chemical Castration. Being the dedicated intellectual he was – unwilling to be parted from his work – Turing opted for the latter, with devastating consequence. As we see in his scene with Keira Knightley’s Joan Clarke, Turing is becoming emaciated by the drugs – growing weaker and more fragile by the day, as his body is subjected to the harsh effects of his ‘treatment’. He is so frail, that he can barely hold a pen to do a crossword with Joan. It is a truly heartbreaking moment – for many reasons. Firstly, it is acted beautifully by Benedict Cumberbatch, who strikes the perfect balance between Turing’s determination to carry on with his work and the painful breakdown he suffers as the effects of the process hit him. It is also incredibly upsetting to be reminded that this happened to a real person. Turing was a man of brilliance, whose contributions were paramount to the country’s victory against the Nazis – and yet, this is what the country gave him in return. To most contemporary audiences, it certainly strikes a chord. And of course, the realisation that there was no happy ending to this tale is also sadly poignant – Turing committed suicide, two years after this, with no-one really knowing his phenomenal offering to both the war and technology, until very recently. While The Imitation Game does wonderfully celebrate Turing’s achievements, this solemn glimpse into his cruelly undeserved demise is truly tear-jerking.
Nominees also included in this category: Gus’s Pre-Funeral in The Fault In Our Stars (22.22%), Gwen Stacy’s Death in The Amazing Spiderman 2 (22.22%), ‘We Are Groot’ in Guardians of the Galaxy (17.78%) and Cooper’s failure in Interstellar (14.44%) | Words: AH
BEST VISUALS: Interstellar (37.08%)
Many films this year have employed a vast variety of effects and techniques to further enhance the realism or character of their aesthetics. Peter Jackson’s conclusion to The Hobbit trilogy with The Battle Of The Five Armies, comedic-minded action auteur James Gunn’s Guardians Of The Galaxy, Disney’s Maleficent, and Gareth Edwards remake of Godzilla all more than warrant their inclusion in this category, but none more so than Christopher & Jonah Nolan’s mind-bending epic Interstellar. From a layman’s point of view, a vast majority of the credit for achieving such accurate visual representations of the objects and beings that otherwise would only appear as such in our imaginations, may well be handed to the incumbent director of the project in question due to the salience of his or her role. However, for them most part, especially with a production on the scale of Interstellar with a large chunk of the film taking place in space, the buck must start with the science advisor: Kip Thorne.
It is this man to whom we owe thanks for the incredible scientific accuracy of both the script and visuals as without the in-depth knowledge of a world-renowned astrophysicist such as Kip, the mesmerising extravagance of sequences involving the both the wormhole and the black hole; Gargantua, may never have come to life quite as spectacularly as they have. Then we must acknowledge the incredible skillsets of both Cinematographer: Hoyte van Hoytema and Production Designer: Nathan Cowley coupled with their collaboration with FX studios; Double Negative and New Deal. Even those who’ve yet to see the film may have caught wind of the fabled ‘docking sequence’, a combination of inherent design expertise and pure photographic genius birthed from the mind of Hoytema. It was achieved by placing Crowley’s miniature effects models of both the Endurance space station & one of the Lander ships on a 6-axis gimbal, which is effectively a giant gyroscope. Now the proof is in the pudding, after all the aforesaid hard work, intellectual prowess and strategic guidance from Christopher Nolan, what we get is a thing of absolute iridescent glory.
Nominees also included in this category: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (20.22%), Guardians of the Galaxy (20.22%), Maleficent (15.73%) and Godzilla (6.74%) | Words: AG
BEST SOUNDTRACK: Guardians of the Galaxy (35.96%)
Guys, it’s called ‘Awesome Mix Vol.1’ for a reason. The awesome mix wholly defines everything about the film, it’s full of soul, fun and heart. The soundtrack is list of Peter Quill’s/Star-Lord’s mother favourite songs and because she grew up in the 70s, the tracks as you might guess are from the 70s even though Quill was born in 1980. The soundtrack keeps the audience grounded in an outer space adventure while setting the tone of happy go lucky excitement the film offers. The soundtrack was number 1 on iTunes for 2 weeks when it was released as is probably in the top 5 most influential soundtracks of the last decade. In fact you can you can buy an actual Awesome Mix Vol 1. mix tape, fans have already been speculating what soundtracks they are likely to hear in the Awesome Mix Vol. 2 Peter unwrapped at the end of the film when Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is released in 2017. Now how often do you get people speculating about a film soundtrack?
Nominees also included in this category: Frozen (35.96%), Interstellar (20.22%), The Fault in Our Stars (11.24%) and The Lego Movie (6.74%)| Words: EM
Words by Annie Honeyball, Alex Graham, Eddie Michael and Michael Houston
What do you think of our winners? Have we unwittingly snubbed a great performance/film? Let us know! @indie_pendent_