15TH ANNUAL ONLINE FILM CRITICS SOCIETY AWARDS (WITH OUR VOTES AND COMMENTS)

Courtesy of the Online Film Critics Society.  Our votes and comments appear at the bottom of the post.

“The Tree of Life, which led the Online Film Critics Society nominations with seven, was the big winner at the 15th Annual Online Film Critics Society Awards. The film took home the prize for Best Picture as well as trophies for Best Director (Terrence Malick), Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Chastain), Best Editing and Best Cinematography. No other film won more than one award.

The other three acting winners were Michael Fassbender winning Best Actor for his performance in Shame; Tilda Swinton’s work in We Need to Talk About Kevin won the award for Best Actress; and Christopher Plummer received the Best Supporting Actor prize for his work in Beginners.

The full list of winners of the 15th Annual Online Film Critics Society Awards:

Best Picture:
The Tree of Life
Best Animated Feature:
Rango
Best Director:
Terrence Malick – The Tree of Life
Best Lead Actor:
Michael Fassbender – Shame
Best Lead Actress:
Tilda Swinton – We Need to Talk About Kevin
Best Supporting Actor:
Christopher Plummer – Beginners
Best Supporting Actress:
Jessica Chastain – The Tree of Life
Best Original Screenplay:
Midnight in Paris
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Tinker Tailor Solider Spy

Best Editing:
The Tree of Life
Best Cinematography:
The Tree of Life
Best Film Not in the English Language:
A Separation
Best Documentary:
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Special Awards (previously announced):
To Jessica Chastain, the breakout performer of the year

To Martin Scorsese in honor of his work and dedication to the pursuit of film preservation

Founded in 1997, the Online Film Critics Society has been the key force in establishing and raising the standards for Internet-based film journalism. The OFCS membership consists of film reviewers, journalists and scholars based in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Latin America and the Asia/Pacific Rim region. For more information, visit the Online Film Critics Society at ofcs.org.”

Here’s our comments on the winners along with an explanation of how we voted.

Best Picture:
Winner: The Tree of Life.
Our Vote: The Tree of Life.
Comments: A slam dunk.

Best Animated Feature:
Winner: Rango
Our Vote: The Adventures of Tintin
Comments:  Rango actually had our vote all year until we saw Tintin on December 30.

Best Director:
Winner: The Tree of Life
Our Vote: Terrence Malick – The Tree of Life
Comments: The year’s second slam dunk.

Best Lead Actor:
Winner:  Michael Fassbender – Shame
Our vote:  Brendan Gleeson – The Guard (not among final nominees)/Michael Shannon – Take Shelter
Comments: The fact that Gleeson’s performance as a brilliantly sly, deliberately obnoxious Irish cop (“I’m Irish—racism is part of me culture”) didn’t make the final five goes down as our biggest disappointment of the year.  Of the rest of the nominees, the winning Michael may have showed off his little Fassbender, but we though Shannon’s performance was even more emotionally naked.

Best Lead Actress:
Winner: Tilda Swinton – We Need to Talk About Kevin
Our Vote: Elizabeth Olsen – Martha Marcy May Marlene
Comments: We preferred Olsen’s remarkable debut performance, but have no complaints about Swinton winning.

Best Supporting Actor:
Winner: Christopher Plummer – Beginners
Our Vote: Brad Pitt – The Tree of Life
Comments: Here’s where our cynicism shows itself.  Plummer was good, but the combination of aging, historically under-recognized veteran actor + politically correct gay-positive portrayal—in a pleasant, critic-friendly indie dramedy that’s not a threat to win any other major awards—means that he didn’t have to be superlative to be the favorite.  Pitt’s performance was a crucial factor to The Tree of Life achieving its massive ambitions, but no one likes to see the rich get richer.

Best Supporting Actress:
Winner: Jessica Chastain – The Tree of Life
Our Vote: Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids
Comments: This is a bad decision.  We love Chastain but she was merely a cypher and a symbol in The Tree of Life.  Little acting was required, or given (it would have been more appropriate to nominate her for Take Shelter instead).  McCarthy is an amazing actress who impressed us with her three roles in The Nines and is totally different here as the vulgar bridesmaid who believes she was once saved from drowning by a telepathic dolphin but who turns out to have the best head on her shoulders.  Janet McTeer’s suave performance in male drag would have been an understandable winner and was our second choice.

Best Original Screenplay:
Winner: Midnight in Paris
Our Vote: Margin Call (not among final nominees)/Midnight in Paris
Comments: Had it been a finalist, Margin Call would have gotten our vote for making a script about investment bankers overleveraged in mortgage derivatives dramatic.  ‘s charming and witty script for Midnight in Paris is a worthy alternative.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Winner: Tinker Tailor Solider Spy
Our Vote: Moneyball
Comments:  Using the same dry subject/interesting movie theory that motivated our vote for Margin Call above, we’d stump for Moneyball as best adaptation, for turning a non-fiction book about baseball statistics into a gripping and very funny narrative film.  Tinker Tailor isn’t a terrible choice, but you could argue that the script needed to streamline some of the subplots, because the movie can be difficult to follow if you’re not familiar with the source novel.

Best Editing:
Winner: The Tree of Life
Our Vote: The Tree of Life
Comments:  Other than technical specialists, who understands what makes for great editing?  Life gets our vote because Malick apparently shot 300 miles of footage (!) and distilled it to a lyrically jumbled 2+ hours.

Best Cinematography:
Winner: The Tree of Life
Our Vote: Melancholia
Comments: It’s undeniably beautiful and we have no real complaint about Life winning another major award.  The slow-mo surrealism of Melancholia‘s brilliant opening montage—with its image of Kirsten Dunst fatalistically trudging forward in her wedding gown dragging massive vines behind her—marked our favorite onscreen visuals of 2012, however.  We voted for the movie that showed the world being destroyed over the one that showed the universe being born.

Best Film Not in the English Language:
Winner: A Separation
Our Vote: 13 Assassins
Comment:  Had we been allowed we would have abstained from this category as we didn’t actually get a chance to view A Separation, which didn’t start its very limited stateside release until December 30.  Takashi Miike‘s magnificent manly epic 13 Assassins, which evokes Sergio Leone as well as Akira Kurosawa, was definitely worth a vote, however.

Best Documentary:
Winner: Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Our Vote: Project Nim
Comments:  The triumph of ‘s important chronicle of humanity’s oldest artwork, the cave paintings of Chauvet, which had previously been unseen except in still photos by the general public, is not something we’re going to argue about.  Still, we slightly preferred the emotional immediacy of Project Nim, the story of a poorly-treated chimpanzee which tackled an equally important topic (what it means to be human, and our ethical obligations to those who are less than human).

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