Whose Year Was It Anyway? – Part II

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Latest posts by Michael Prescott (see all)

Earlier this week, part I of quite possibly* the greatest faux film awards going were revealed (*possibly not). As the roman numerals might indicate, that was the bit that came before this bit. In actual fact, it was the more jokey, playful section: things are about to get serious… ish. It’s now time to leave Burton behind and turn all Nolan’s Batman for a moment, as we celebrate four more worthy winners in three different categories (go with it, honestly…).

We’ve got the Rising Star, the Best Writer/Director and the Top 10 of the Year in the Best Actor stakes as we find just whose year 2013 was. I can’t wait! Best get on with it then…

Rising Star Award

Unlike the Best Latecomer award, not everyone waits until their 40s to play up for the cameras. Aubrey Plaza, Offerman’s co-star in Parks and Rec for the past few years, has added voiceover work in the form of Monsters University and Ghibli’s From Up on Poppy Hill, as well as feature-length comedies (e.g. The To-Do List) and much more to her repertoire.

Daniel Bruhl, on the other hand, made just two films (although he tends to pick pretty wisely considering his previous form of Inglorious Basterds, The Bourne Ultimatum and Good Bye Lenin!). Not quite so much last year, given that one of them was publicity nightmare The Fifth Estate, but he deserves his nomination for upstaging Chris Hemsworth in Ron Howard’s F1 biopic, Rush.

But the winner has been chosen for, if nothing else, his excellent sense of timing. Sometimes that’s exactly what you need to make it, and so George Mackay – the man who was in three films all released on the same day (4th October) – gets the nod. They were musical charmer Sunshine on Leith, the Warp-produced For Those in Peril, and the apocalyptic How I Live Now.

Best Writer/Director Award

James Wan has had a year to remember. The Saw director released both The Conjuring and Insidious: Chapter 2, and was also the surprise announcement to helm (the now delayed) Fast & Furious 7.

Alex Gibney had a productive year – as ever – with documentaries looking at child abuse in the Catholic Church (Mea Maxima Culpa), the American dream (Park Avenue) and the story of Wikileaks (We Steal Secrets).

Steven Soderbergh retired, but not before giving us two leaving presents. Side Effects was a Hitchcock-like wrong man thriller with deeper things to say about big pharmaceutical comanies. Behind the Candelabra, released in the UK and Europe at cinemas (but limited to a HBO TV Movie in America), was fabulous. It had brilliant performances all-round and was a fully-fulfilled, glittery, glamorous journey into a Liberace biopic. A truly fine way to bow out.

But the joint-winners – because I don’t know how to separate them – convey two very different types of films indeed. The first is Disney for returning to dazzling form with both Wreck-it Ralph and Frozen (particularly Jennifer Lee who worked on both, as co-director and writer of the latter, and co-writer of Ralph).

Secondly, it’s Tobias Lindholm who has had a crazy amount of success recently. Fresh from gaining writing credits at Borgen, he turned to film this year. Lindholm wrote and directed A Hijacking (aka the Danish answer to Captain Phillips) as well as co-writing The Hunt (which was devastating) along with Thomas Vinterberg.

‘Whose Year Was It Anyway?’ Award

And now finally, we come to the main course. Following on from last year’s accolades, here are my top ten ‘whose year was it anyway?’ awardees from 2013. Starting with…

#10 – Martin Freeman

Returning as reliable Bilbo Baggins at the end of the year, alongside a Sherlock short, just about squeezes him into the top ten. There was also The World’s End where he reunited with frequent collaborators for the final part of the Cornetto Trilogy.

#9 – Sandra Bullock

She’s long been thought of as excellent by many and criminally overrated by many more, but 2013 will likely be a defining year for her career (perhaps retrospectively). First of all for going outside her comfort zone alongside Melissa McCarthy in comedy caper The Heat, before demonstrating just why it was that Alfonso Cuaron picked her for Gravity (and surprising many in the process).

#8 – Chris Hemsworth

Not a great actor – particularly when his one-tone/one-dimension characters such as Thor or James Hunt are on offer like last year – though not a bad one either. But whatever you think of Hemsworth, you can’t deny that the films – Thor 2 and Rush – did exceedingly well, as did Star Trek Into Darkness with which he had another cameo.

#7 – Tom Hanks

Cloud Atlas might just sum up his acting career – the good, the eccentric and the downright crazy. Hanks loves the theatrics of getting all dressed up and into character as Saving Mr. Banks would showcase later in the year, but it was the meat in the calendar sandwich that was Captain Phillips – plus serious director Paul Greengrass – that would remind us of his abilities. Still not the best thing about the film, mind…

#6 – James McAvoy

I can’t comment on Welcome to the Punch, but he does a very good job at leading Danny Boyle’s Trance. He did an even better job within Filth though – obnoxious, hilarious, despicable and tragic. It’s probably the performance of his career, and that’s why he’s high on the list.

#5 – Mads Mikkelsen

The next three that follow are very difficult to separate indeed. I’ve previously talked about it being a good decision for Mikkelsen to take on a more fragile character in The Hunt (as well as the film itself). He moves up one place from last year due to this and his stunning turn as the eponymous Hannibal in the television adaptation, in which he steals every scene.

#4 – Jennifer Lawrence

Down three from top spot in 2012, but it’s essentially a repeat performance from The Girl on Fire. She waited until the final two months of the year, but then appeared in another Hunger Games film and her second consecutive David O. Russell (American Hustle) picture in which she sparkles even in the background, demonstrating her capability (just like Silver Linings) to be hilarious. She also shows no signs of slowing down with more Hunger Games, more X-Men and more collaborations with Bradley Cooper (Serena) on the way.

#3 – Leonardo Di Caprio

Another who looks to begin 2014 with a bang despite a very successful previous year is Leo, the boy wonder turned De Niro-the-second (at least in Scorsese’s eyes). His extraordinary run of directors continued in 2013 as he worked with Quentin Tarantino and Baz Luhrmann on Django Unchained and The Great Gatsby respectively. And these days, after playing so many charismatic greats on-screen, he can really hold a room…

#2 – Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman was perhaps the standout box-office success of last year, with all three of his big films (Les Miserables, The Wolverine and Prisoners) staying at top spot for a number of weeks and raking in the big bucks. 2013 for Jackman saw three very good performances, particularly in Les Mis and Prisoners considering the tricky roles, and a demonstration of diversity with a musical, comic-book adaptation and serious, tragic drama.

#1 – Dane deHaan

And hey, perhaps Jackman deserves it on the balance of consistency, but it’s nice to spot a bit of potential in performances too – and this guy has an abundance of it. Though Metallica Through the Never seemed to slip under the radar, two films that most certainly did not were The Place Beyond the Pines and Kill Your Darlings.

Beyond the Pines, Derek Cianfrance’s sprawling and character-centred epic follow-up to Blue Valentine, was a wonderful film. However, Ryan Gosling’s introduction to the piece appeared to overshadow the impressive work by both Cooper and DeHaan later on (for many). Hopefully, on re-watch, this will be rectified.

But after Chronicle and The Place Beyond the Pines, if any further proof were needed of his talents we surely got it in the form of Kill Your Darlings. What’s so impressive about it is that DeHaan completely owns every scene, and has a startling presence that dominates the film, just as the character should. It shows a remarkable improvement in a short space of time (and let’s face it, he was pretty good to begin with), as he overshadows peers such as Daniel Radcliffe and Ben Foster.

Perhaps those Di Caprio-esque looks are a sign of things to come…