Best Family Film
I considered not including this category at all, because if Laika’s smart and scary ParaNorman had not come along, there would have been no winner. With Hollywood serving garbage like Ice Age 4 and Madagascar 3 to children, and Pixar failing to impress for a second year in a row with Brave, there were very, very few options for families these past four months.
But ParaNorman was different. ParaNorman respected its audience. It does not speak down to kids, but assumes they are intelligent enough to respond to profound emotional insight and sympathize with distressing issues like loneliness and isolation. The film, I believe, is correct. If we give kids the best, they shall appreciate it; quality really does matter, especially when dealing with children. ParaNorman isn’t perfect, but it’s so heartfelt and uncompromising that I cannot help but love it, and recommend it wholeheartedly to any families feeling underwhelming by this summer’s offerings.
Lorene Scafaria, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World
What a spectacular, underrated piece of writing this is. An apocalyptic character study framed through the philosophical lens of absurdism, Seeking A Friend succeeds on every possible level. Scafaria’s characters are well drawn and three-dimensional; her dialogue is layered, snappy, and addictively rhythmic; her allegorical observations about modern society are insightful and poignant; and her understanding of romance is mature, nuanced, and honest. No film this summer had a better written foundation than this one.
Runner-Up: Joss Whedon’s script for The Avengers could not possibly be any sharper, funnier, perceptive, or well paced. It is the best example to date of gifting superheroes with spectacular writing, and is what makes me overjoyed that Whedon will stick with this franchise for at least one more installment. No one else could possibly pen this world so well.
Joss Whedon, The Avengers
If you have ever watched a Whedon-helmed episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, or Angel, or Firefly, or any other production he’s ever been involved with, you know Whedon is a tremendously gifted, economic visual stylist, one who can stage action on a shoestring budget better than most directors can with blockbuster resources.
With The Avengers, a major studio finally gave Whedon those insane resources, and he ran with them as far as he possibly could, crafting the single greatest action climax in modern blockbuster filmmaking. And the New York finale is only the tip of the iceberg. Every single action beat sizzles with genuine, undeniable energy, but it’s Whedon’s handling of a large, seemingly unwieldy cast that proves most impressive. Throw in some gorgeous, colorful cinematography and an absolutely perfect sense of pace and you have the best-directed film of the summer.
Runners-Up: The work Christopher Nolan did on The Dark Knight Rises cannot, of course, be overlooked. During his tenure with Batman, he truly pushed the cinematic medium forward, and Rises took several more increasingly large steps in that revolutionary direction. Wes Anderson, another celebrated auteur, arguably turned in his best work to date on Moonrise Kingdom, exhibiting complete, compelling control over his craft from start to finish. And Marc Webb achieved underrated wonders on The Amazing Spider-Man, deftly prioritizing the nuanced human drama while proving his action bonafides.
Read about the final award on the next page…PreviousNext