I hate that I’m doing this in February, but it took me some time to catch up on 2013’s necessary films. Admittedly, I struggled to park my ass into darkened movie theaters. There were certainly a handful of life changes that hindered my film watching opportunities. Namely, receiving a promotion, getting married, and planting baby seeds, but these weren’t massive roadblocks. What deterred me from punctual viewings was my growing laziness, an issue I vow to rectify over the next year. In spite of my tardiness, I’m finally ready to deliver my collection of pointless awards, none which will provide the recipient with any form of monetary value or pride. It’s merely a tool for me to babble about the movies I’ve loved over the course of 2013. And the Reel Award goes to…
Best Score: Her. Written by Will Butler and Owen Pallett. Performed by Arcade Fire
There are plenty of scores that bludgeoned my eardrums and burrowed deep into my heart, but Her’s intimate, melancholic, and reserved score hums loudly in my mind. Performed by the band Arcade Fire, the score perfectly taps into our central character’s romantic distress signals with simple piano cues. The notes are depressingly distanced from one another, masterfully encapsulating the anguish of a dying love. Eventually, progressive distortions and rising strings ignite a gratifying romantic crescendo, eliciting a great deal of intimacy from a relationship built between human flesh and thin air. When the newfound love inevitably crumbles, we’re sonically reminded of its many gifts despite its pain.
Best Song: “The Moon Song” from Her. Music and lyrics by Karen O and Spike Jonze.
When it came to selecting the best song, I placed more emphasis on the song’s placement within the film versus technical prowess, poignancy in place of production. A lot of songs considered for such a distinction, at least when it comes to Oscar nominations, play only during the closing credits. So, basically they’re footnotes within the film. In the case of “The Moon Song”, it comes into play at a pivotal point in Her, when the luminous pedals of love begin to turn. The song isn’t catchy by any stretch of the imagination, nor is it a triumph in production. It’s a minimalistic song that perfectly captures an unrequited love defying the physical plane.
Best Special Effects: Gravity
Was there any doubt where this award was going? For those who have seen Gravity, or for those who have merely seen a 30 second TV spot for it, there’s no denying the film’s jaw dropping visuals. From colliding space stations to a horizon swallowed up in darkness, the level of painstaking detail applied to each frame of film is absolutely stunning. The vacuous depth of space, as well as the film’s dedication to zero-g, easily leaves us disoriented and distraught. Gravity undoubtedly leaves an impression on the viewer, as it provides most of us with our greatest opportunity to explore the seemingly boundless stars above us.
Best Cinematography: Gravity
I nearly chose Inside Llewyn Davis for this particular category, largely in part because it felt like the image of a vintage record come to life, but the sheer power of Emmanuel Lubezki’s lens won me over. Whether the camera was freely rotating or being bombarded with debris, Lubezki magically captured the frightening, yet peaceful allure of space. Even shots of our characters peering down onto the Earth have a haunting beauty to them, raising fear without sacrificing the grandeur of such a view.
Honorable Mentions: Bruno Delbonnel for Inside Llewyn Davis, Sean Bobbitt for 12 Years a Slave, and Hoyte van Hoytema for Her.