Per cent

It was close, but in the end took the back seat (lit­er­ally) and best film went to – which al­ways looked like a can­di­date for cult im­mor­tal­ity, writes Don­ald Clarke

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Ticket Awards 2011 -

IT WAS A CLOSE-RUN thing for best film. But, as the check­ered flag beck­oned, Ni­co­las Wind­ing Refn’s off­beat Drive just man­aged to pull ahead of Dar­ren Aronof­sky’s de­light­fully over­heated Black Swan. The ap­pear­ance of these two odd films at the top of the poll – and the strong show­ing for Tinker, Tai­lor, Sol­dier, Spy and We Need to Talk About Kevin a few places be­hind – con­firms that, in other­wise grim times, good news buzzed about the cinema this year.

Each of these pic­tures did very re­spectable busi­ness in com­mer­cial cine­mas. None fea­tured gi­ant ro­bots or comic pi­rates. All in­vited a de­gree of con­cen­tra­tion. In­deed, one in­di­vid­ual in the US tried to sue the mak­ers of Drive for fail­ing to in­clude enough ex­plo­sions and car chases.

The wise read­ers of The Ticket proved that they don’t mind their get­away movies in­dulging in a bit of ex­is­ten­tial angst. Turbo-charged with 1980s an­ti­style and tuned-up to 1970s sub-ver­ité rhythms (enough mo­tor­ing me­taphors?), Drive al­ways looked like a can­di­date for cult im­mor­tal­ity.

Given the cere­bral na­ture of the elec­torate, it was, per­haps, a lit­tle sur­pris­ing that The Tree of Life fin­ished so far be­hind the lead­ing pack. Both that Ter­rence Mal­ick film and Lars Von Trier’s Me­lan­cho­lia – so sim­i­lar in theme – seem to have an­noyed as many peo­ple as they de­lighted.

How would True Grit have fared if we had not dropped it from the fi­nal 10 at the last minute? Very well in­deed, one must as­sume. Joel and Ethan Coen ran away with the con­so­la­tion prize for Best Di­rec­tor. Von Trier, run­ner-up in that race, man­aged less than a third as many votes. Hailee Ste­in­feld, young star of the Coens’ pic­ture, came sec­ond to Natalie Port­man (al­ways a cer­tain win­ner) in the poll for Best Ac­tress.

Once again, proof is of­fered that dis­cern­ing view­ers will sit qui­etly for a good film even if it moves at a stub­bornly un­hur­ried pace. We would not, how­ever, ex­pect a re­vival of the western any time soon. Hol­ly­wood has, over the last few decades, placed that bet at least once too of­ten.

The com­pe­ti­tion for best com­edy and best fea­ture an­i­ma­tion was some­what dead­ened by the fact that 2011 proved to be a very dis­ap­point­ing year in those ar­eas.

Of course Brides­maids won the com­edy sec­tion. It’s prop­erly funny and it seems to have had par­tic­u­lar ap­peal for Ir­ish view­ers. The film per­formed rel­a­tively poorly out­side the US but, bust­ing the trend to a spec­tac­u­lar de­gree, passed out Harry Pot­ter and the Deathly Hal­lows Part 2 to be­come the big­gest film of the year in the Repub­lic of Ire­land. We have yet to find an­other sov­er­eign na­tion where Brides­maids achieved that re­sult. Even in its home ter­ri­to­ries, the pic­ture failed to crack the top 10. Now granted a pres­ti­gious Ticket Award, the pro­duc­ers had bet­ter send the be­trothed to Ire­land for the hon­ey­moon.

Tan­gled, a de­light­ful slice of old-school Dis­ney, de­servedly won Best An­i­ma­tion. But the vic­tory is some­what tainted. Rango looked lovely, but was too pleased with it­self. Arthur Christ­mas was feath­er­weight. Stu­dio Ghi­bli’s Ar­ri­etty was su­perb, but no­body saw the blasted thing. What the hell were Pixar up to with the largely fright­ful Cars 2? The most con­sis­tent stu­dio of the cen­tury is now of­fi­cially on pro­ba­tion. Sort it out, Las­seter You hardly need to be told that The Guard romped home with the gong for Best Ir­ish Film. The peo­ple be­hind Sen­sa­tion will be happy to hear that their film man­aged sec­ond place, but will shiver at the news that the Brendan Gleeson com­edy polled over nine times as many votes as the clever mid­lands sex drama. For once, an Ir­ish film ac­tu­ally se­cured a spot in the main­stream. Lessons should be learned.

Ev­ery­one liked Senna. The halfwits who failed to put it on the long list for the best doc­u­men­tary Os­car should note its com­fort­able vic­tory in the rel­e­vant cat­e­gory.

Gleeson is our favourite Ir­ish ac­tor. Fair enough.

With Sub­ma­rine, that nice boy Richard Ayoade di­rected the most ad­mired de­but. Good for him.

We must, how­ever, reg­is­ter our con­cern at the re­sults in the worst pic­ture cat­e­gory. Green Lan­tern was dire, but it wasn’t nearly as aw­ful as Swing­ing With the Finkels. “As what?” you say. It seems that only crit­ics and the film-mak­ers’ fam­ily get to see the re­ally, re­ally atro­cious films. It’s a hard life.

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