Freitag, 9. Februar 2018


 Hello there puny humans,
and welcome to the second annual "Cinemartian Movie Awards". Since readers seemed to enjoy last year's awards, I thought that I would keep the tradition. Additionally, it gives me the chance to honor movies that didn't quite make it onto my top ten list. And this year those were quite a few! Because 2017 was a fantastic year for cinema. After having some fun with categories last time, I tried to run equally wild this time around. So now, I present to you the winners of my prestigious awards:

Winner: My Life as a Courgette
I've talked about this movie multiple times, when I reviewed last year's Academy Awards and when I put up my Top 10 Films of the year. So maybe I should start to shut up about this Swiss-French stop motion animated kids movie. But seriously, this was the most unexpected gem of 2017. It was the weekend of the Oscars and me and my two best movie buddies set out to see as many nominated films as we could. Jokingly I said: "Well on Sunday they play 'My Life as a Courgette', we could catch that one as well. Haha." Surprisingly, I got an uber-enthusiastic 'Yes' from my companions. When we stood in line to buy the tickets my motivation was incredibly low. "Thank God I only have to sit through this thing for 70 minutes." Then the film started and I was completely captivated after only five minutes!

Winner: Baby Driver
I mean, there really is no competition. The way that music was used in this film was out of this world. Multiple different elements of the soundtrack were utilized to perfectly suck us into the main characters mood and perspective. The action lined up with the rhythm of the songs. The lyrics described the situation our character was in ("Nowhere to run to, Baby, nowhere to hide!"). The music stopped coming out of the left speaker, when Baby wasn't wearing his left earphone. The flow of the music represented how smooth things go (remember when the heist goes wrong and Baby has to restart a song?). And above all, it was just god damn cool music. In an interview director Edgar Wright said that he had a playlist called "Baby Maybes" with over a thousand potential songs for the film. I really want that playlist.

Winner: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
When I saw the trailer for this movie for the first time, I could see Guy Ritchie's fingerprints all over it. Personally, I really enjoy the director's style. I think his movies have a vigorous energy to them that just gets you excited. The same goes for his soundtracks. The score of "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" gets you pumped. Whenever I need a motivational push, I just blast "Run Londinium", "Seasoned Oak" or "Jackseye's Tale" through my headphones. As a Hip-Hop fan I can especially appreciate the head-nodding qualities of the latter. These tracks get your heart pounding and your muscles moving. Furthermore, I also just wanted to give this movie an award because I do not think it deserved the negative backlash it got. Yes, there are a few structural problems, but there is certainly fun to be had with this film.

Winner: War for the Planet of the Apes
Technology has come incredibly far in the last few decades and often we only notice how good special effects are today, when we see cringy CGI in older films. But this Planet of the Apes reboot trilogy has put me in absolute awe every time watched one of its films for the first time. I am still not 100% convinced that 20th Century Fox didn't train actual apes for this. This is pure movie magic. And the best thing about these films is that they have even more to offer than just outstanding VFX. Andy Serkis is fantastic as Caeser, the cinematography is beautiful and the movie perfectly manages to be a captivating action film and a humanistic drama at the same time.

Winner: Transformers: The Last Knight
Every time I see a new Transformers movie I ask myself this question. Why? Why? Whyyyy? The first film was an okay Popcorn flick that had more than a few flaws, but was enjoyable for what it was. The more movies came however, the worse it got. This series is one of the laziest, inconsistent and dumbest franchises ever created. There is just so little effort put in these movies that it is an insult for every serious film maker. And yet, the Transformers franchise keeps making money. It's frustrating to see so many people buying movie tickets for crap like that while absolutely amazing films like "Blade Runner 2049" struggle at the box office. For a long time, another one of the worst parts about this for me was that people started throwing these films in the same pot with "Pacific Rim", a movie I love very dearly. But since I have written an article about this I can just refer people to it.

Winner: Beauty and the Beast
Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that this movie sucks. But... well... it is the same movie as the 1991 classic. Almost exactly the same. Why do we need this? I mean the film sure has the Disney magic and all, but I could just watch the original for that. The few changes that they made had no additional value for me and in some ways made the movie even worse. So the Beast can now teleport? Why is he moping around in his castle then, when he could be sipping Piña Coladas on the beaches of southern France? And the partially autotuned voices of Emma Watson and Dan Stevens didn't really elevate the material either. The only new thing I actually found cool was introducing LeFou as a homosexual. But that is not what I need these live-action remakes for.

Winner: Fate of the Furious
I have sneered at this franchise for the longest part of my life. It wasn't until last spring, when I marathoned the entire series in one day (the full experience documented here), that the Fast & Furious movies found their way to my heart. Yes, these films are ridiculous and totally bonkers, but that doesn't stop them from being inventive, caring about their character's history and actually leaving their continuity in tact. They do not take themselves seriously, but they do take their audience seriously. This is also the way in which their are different to the Transformers franchise despite falling in the same broader category of mindless blockbusters. When I finally sat down to watch "Fate of the Furious" I had a blast. I was happy to see outrageous action, cheesy one-liners and a ton of references to past films. If you'd asked me a few years back, I probably wouldn't have believed it. And if you still don't believe it, I recommend Patrick H. Willems' video on why these movies are great.

Winner: Anything worn by Ben from IT (portrayed by Jeremy Ray Taylor)
"IT" had a lot to offer. The eighties setting gave it nostalgia points, the child actors had really good chemistry, the camera work was great and it was a classic horror story. The one thing that amazed me the most, however, was how cool Ben's t-shirts were. I love tees with creative, colorful and ironically cheesy designs. Almost every time Jeremy Ray Taylor walked on screen with a new outfit I thought to myself: "Man, I want a shirt with that motif!". An Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design would have been nice, but I guess the Academy values elaborate dressmaking over a good eye during shirt shopping.... pff...

Winner: Blade Runner 2049
The 1995 original "Ghost in the Shell" is not only an amazing anime, but also a great cerebral science fiction film. Through its futuristic setting it explored philosophical themes like the connection between body and soul, the definition of identity, and whether there is such a thing as an objective reality. The 2017 remake starring Scarlett Johansson was an enjoyable film, but failed to be as thought-provoking as its source material - or as visually stunning for that matter. The channel Nerdwriter1 actually mad a great video on how the remake lost the meaningful color pallets and didn't take enough time to let its moments and images sink in. "Blade Runner 2049" on the other hand had all that. It played with colors, touched on the themes of the original "Ghost in the Shell" and had almost meditative sequences that let the audience reflect on what they were witnessing. It was a masterclass sci-fi film cast in the same mold of the beloved Japanese classic.
Of course I also have to address the white-washing concerning the casting of the new "Ghost in the Shell" film, which didn't help the movie either. Their solution to the problem of having cast a white actress for an Asian role actually turned out to be counterproductive as it left room for some bad interpretations. If you get a superior body, they make you white? Urgh, let's not go down that road...

Winner: Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman
The most wonderful thing about "Wonder Woman" was that it gave us an amazing portrayal of a female heroine. No compromises were made when creating this amazing amazon. Diana Prince was as bad-ass as she was beautiful, as warm-hearted as she was brave and as much of a team-player as she was independent. She simply was the whole package. Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot depicted the character with respect and grace. Her strength came from within and not from other people around her being incompetent. The film might have had a few flaws, but the portrayal of Wonder Woman was inspiring to men and women alike. 

Winner: Wonder Woman in Justice League
Only five month after we got a progressive portrayal of a female super-hero, a stick-in-the-mud called "Justice League" came along. Suddenly, Gal Gadot was filmed from suspiciously low angles with her butt right in the foreground of the shot. While the humor between her and Chris Pine had been clever and cute in her solo film, her big comedic moment here was when flash accidentally fell face first into her cleavage. And I could swear that the skirt of her costume has gotten shorter. Yes, she still kicked ass most of the time, but seeing her so obviously sexualized was just a crying shame...

Winner: Hercule Poirot (as performed by Kenneth Branagh in Murder on the Orient Express)
"Murder on the Orient Express" was not a perfect film, but it did have a whole lot of style. In his performance you could see that Kenneth Branagh had a lot of fun with his character, but it also showed in the look he chose for him. While Poirot has always been described as flamboyant, concerned with his looks and proud of his beard, no visual incarnation of the character took it as far as Branagh’s. This mustache is of such magnificent size and style that hardly any movie character can compete. And even though I was watching an intriguing and skillfully acted murder mystery on screen, my mind couldn’t help but wander off and speculate about what effort it would take to grow and groom such (literally) outstanding facial hair. I was impressed and envious at the same time.

Winner: Superman (as performed by Henry Cavill in Justice League)
This is one of the funniest stories in Hollywood history. Shortly after "Justice League" had stopped filming, Henry Cavill started shooting "Mission: Impossible - Fallout". But then, Warner Brothers Studios needed to do some extensive reshoots for "Justice League". The problem was that Henry Cavill had already grown a full mustache for his role in "M:I 6" and was contractually prohibited from shaving it off. WB Studios begged Paramount Pictures to let Cavill shave anyways, but Paramount refused, because they didn't want to go through the trouble of digitally adding the mustache in post-production (even though WB offered to cover for the expenses). As a result, Warner Brothers had to do it the other way round. They shot the additional Superman footage with a bearded Cavill and had to later remove his stache through the power of visual effects. It was actually rumored that this cost the studio as much as 25 million dollars! Which is insane! This makes Henry Cavill's whiskers the most expensive facial hair of all time, and if you look close enough you can actually notice his fake CGI lip in "Justice League".

Winner: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
I know that this award sounds a little contrived, but you'd be surprised how many movies this applies to. In 2017 "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" fit that bill the most. It had a lot going for it in the beginning. First of all, Luc Besson had reached out to design schools world-wide to get diverse creative input for the look of his different alien races. The result was a world filled with a huge variety of interesting and exciting creatures. Secondly, the cold open on the unidentified planet made for an intriguing mystery. And lastly, the market place scene in the first act was an incredibly cool way to use sci-fi concepts for an exciting action sequence. So for the first half an hour or so I was totally on board. But then the film quickly lost me. The character of Laureline (whose name was already cut from the title compared to the comic) could have been a strong female character, but was degraded to an only slightly empowered damsel in distress after the first act. Then Valerian goes on a weird side quest to save her, which only makes the movie lose its momentum and could have easily been cut. Additionally, the secret villain of the story was revealed to the audience very early on, but not to our main characters. When Valerian and Laureline see through his game in the very end and confront him, the viewer already has been knowing almost everything they unveil for about an hour. It simply makes the finale much less meaningful. Seeing "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" start so well but then decrease in quality so quickly was kind of frustrating.

Winner: Domhnall Gleeson
Whenever I get to talk about Domhnall Gleeson I praise him to the skies. Finally, I can make it "official" by awarding him this prize. Consider this an early Lifetime Achievement Award, because Gleeson has already played vastly different characters in films like "The Revenant", "Ex Machina", "Harry Potter" and "Brooklyn". In 2017 he proved his versatility once more by playing an ultimate dork in "Crash Pad", reprising his role as a sleazy fascist in "Star Wars",  chilling me to the bone with his brief appearance in "mother!", giving us a gentle portrayal of a writer suffering from PTSD in the biopic "Goodbye Christopher Robin", and almost overshadowing Tom Cruise with his charismatic performance in "American Made". This guy can do anything! If I were to wake up in a parallel universe where he was cast in every single male role of every film ever made, I probably wouldn't mind.

Winner: Frank Adler (as performed by Chris Evans in Gifted)
Next to having portrayed seven different characters in over 10 comic-book based movies, Chris Evans has also always had a sweet spot for smaller indie films. In his latest outing, "Gifted", he plays Frank, the legal guardian of a young girl that turns out to be... well... gifted. And even though Frank is technically her uncle, he is the perfect dad. Through the entire film you really believe that he has her best interest at heart and that he puts her needs before his every time. He is kind, intelligent and, you know, played by Chris Evans, so also incredibly handsome and charming. This is one of these main characters you constantly root for, because he is such a good dude.

Winner: Him (as performed by Javier Bardem in mother!)
I don't think I have to explain my reasoning for this award to anyone who has actually seen "mother!". For those who haven't, I don't really want to spoil the movie. Let's just say Javier Bardem's nameless poet is like a reverse Liam Neeson in the sense that if his child were to be kidnapped, he wouldn't go "I will find you, and I will kill you!", but rather "I will forgive you, and I will love you!"

Winner: The "Stairway Fight" in Atomic Blonde
This movie has often been referred to as "Female John Wick". While I see the parallels, it is much more of a spy movie, whereas "John Wick" is a straight up action flick. This is also why I think it is inferior to both "John Wick" movies, because "Atomic Blonde" loses a lot of momentum through a convoluted plot and many dialogue scenes during which the audience isn't really invested in what happens. However, when the action did kick in, it was a roundhouse-kick straight to the face. Damn, these fights were amazing - merciless, brutal and unpolished. Especially, the 7-minute long-take in which Charlize Theron fights herself through a building was absolutely insane! Nobody is pulling their punches, and in the end the characters are so beaten down that they actually need a couple of seconds to pick themselves up again. It's wild! Read my full review of the film here.

Winner: Dev Patel & His unexpected Sexiness in Lion
Unsuspectingly, I walked into "Lion" ready to simply check one more Oscar nominated movie of my list. What I got was not only one of my favorite films of last year but also a surprising feeling of physical attraction to the films lead actor. I couldn't explain it. Dev Patel used to look like one of the dorkiest Indian kids with his lanky physique and jug ears. But when he stepped on screen during the second half of the film, with his hunky beard, his broad smile and perfect hair I was like "Damn! Dev got hot!". In one scene, I even found myself leaning over to my female friend whispering: "Man, check out that nice butt!" If I ever were to enter a homosexual relationship, Dev Patel would be the one to make me do it.

Winner: Sharknado 5: Global Swarming
It thought about going serious with this one and actually go with "War for the Planet of the Apes". Even when I decided not to, "Fate of the Furious" was a hot contender. But man, I just had to give this one to "Sharknado 5: Global Swarming". This franchise is so ingeniously dumb and trashy. In a marathon, you can witness the already outlandish premise escalate from film to film. And just when you think this series became too self-aware and contrived with its fourth movie, "Global Swarming" comes along, rights the wrongs from its predecessor and actually has some genuinely surprising moments to offer. This movie takes the franchise in a whole new and even crazier direction and the cliffhanger at the end makes you actually excited for the next installment.

Winner: John Wick: Chapter 2
Despite the twist ending of "Sharknado 5", the award for Best Cliffhanger has to go to "John Wick: Chapter 2". Firstly, the film makers managed to resolve their main plot before putting in that cliffhanger, and so managed to make this a self-contained story despite the open ending. This is incredibly cool, because it gives this franchise an overarching through-line, while simultaneously telling separate stories in each film. Secondly, the implications of said open ending guarantee an even bigger, even more intense third film. The first movie was a surprise hit that left me wanting to know more about the stylistic and intriguing world it built. The second chapter broadened this world and showed us that the system in which our main-character was operating is bigger than we might have expected. And the way it looks now, the next film will be letting that system collapse over his head and turn into chaos. Personally, I can't wait! I mean, an epic finale to a graphic-novel-esque movie series revolving around Keanu Reeves in gun-fu-mode... what's not to love?

Winner: Get Out
Per Definition, I can't really say a lot about this. But of all the films I missed, this movie was the one that popped up in most conversations about 2017's best releases. "Get Out" took the world by storm. Not only did people think that this was a very skillfully crafted horror film, but the social commentary of its story seemed to have transcended that genre. Suddenly writer-director Jordan Peele's name was everywhere. The former sketch comedian got suggested for multiple potential directing gigs by film buffs and movie magazines. Even the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was listening and nominated "Get Out" for four of the Big Five Oscars. Needless to say, I really really need to catch up on this film. Everything I heard about it so far sounds like I would have a lot of fun with it.

Winner: Jungle
Nobody talked about this film. And I think the reason is that nobody saw it. I, however, was lucky enough to catch this Australian survival drama at the Nürnberg Fantasy Film Festival. While it might not be an entirely perfect film, I believe it deserved more recognition than it got. The soundtrack is vibrant, the characters are well-written and the story is captivating. Also Daniel Radcliffe (who has continued to impress me with his bold and diverse choice of projects) gives one of his best performances. This is a film for fans of backpacking and survival movies, but it is also an interesting study of our main characters mind. On top of that the setting of the Bolivian Jungle makes for some absolutely gorgeous shots. If you go into the movie knowing nothing about its story it will take you on a great ride of wonder, suspicion and tragedy. Check it out when you have the chance!

And now we are done! All the Awards are handed out, and all I have to do is to thank you all for reading this long and silly article. I hope you had fun with my made up categories. I certainly had fun writing them. What other Awards would you have given out? Which ones did you think I gave to the wrong person or movie? Feel free to comment below and be sure to check out  "TOP 10 FILMS OF 2017"-List where I honored my personal best of the best.

Your Cinemartian

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