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Last updated: February 25, 2008
Copyright 2006 Michael R. Colford.
All rights reserved

current nominations ceremonyarchives
special awards • ballot

2005, 11th Annual Awards, March 20, 2005

 
 

Best Movie

It's a Tie!

Winner!Lucas Belvaux Trilogie Lucas Belvaux's The Trilogy - Individually, the three films that comprise THE TRILOGY by Belgian writer/director/actor Lucas Belvaux are certainly praiseworthy. The political thriller ON THE RUN explores the devestating alienation we experience the world passing us by. The sex farce AN AMAZING COUPLE highlights our desire to hear only what is already in our minds -- even if it arouses our deepest insecurities and fears. And the intense melodrama AFTER THE LIFE shows how our intimate secrets cause us not only loneliness and suffering, but can be the primary glue holding our relationships together. However, taken as a complete work, these three films of disparate genres form a masterpiece. By engaging different points of view in the same scenes of the interconnected stories, THE TRILOGY is a truly unique work brilliantly illustrating the notion that no one may ever walk in another person's shoes. --sc
 
Winner!Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bomSpring, Summer, Winter Fall... and Spring - The journey to enlightenment. Redemption through suffering. The cyclical nature of existence. Korean director Ki-duk Kim explores these themes in his Buddhist allegory SPRING, SUMMER, FALL, WINTER... AND SPRING. In spring, a monk teaches a boy difficult lessons about life. In summer, the boy, now a youth, learns that desire brings pleasure and pain. In the fall, the young man flees the world's corruption for the temple's refuge, only to be turned back by the monk to face justice. In the winter, the chastened man learns the lessons that suffering can teach him. In the spring again, he takes on the burden of teaching a new generation, and begins his own journey toward enlightenment. Set in a jewel-like, ever changing wilderness, and filled with rich characters, both human and animal, the story moves those who surrender to its languid pace to ponder timeless truths. --jp
 

La mala educaciónBad Education -

 
Bu SanGood Bye Dragon Inn - Tsai Ming-Liang's love letter to the endangered art-house theatre resonated deeply with Chlotrudis members. Told with gorgeous imagery during the final screening of the 1966 film DRAGON INN, also the final screening of this grand dame of single screen theatres. Ming-Liang composes beautiful shots with a stationery camera as the few character, the solitary ticket taker, a visiting Japanese tourist, and a small assortment of random film viewers, move through the theatre. The sense of isolation, so often featured in the Taiwanese director's films, permeates GOOD BYE DRAGON INN, as the viewers mourn the passing of an age. --mrc
 
Ruang rak noi nid mahasanLast Life in the Universe - Kenji, a Japanese ex-pat relocated in Thailand, continuously daydreams. Unfortunately, it seems a number of his daydreams circle around suicide. The difference between his first fantasy and his last fantasy in LAST LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE occurs after his encounter with a pair of sisters whom give him a hope towards his future. Many parts of the movie are so unreal, you wonder if any of the events take place outside of Kenji's mind. Is he the "last life in the universe?" The book he finds bears the movie's title, but later disappears, and possibly never existed at all, and if Kenji is indeed the "last life," does anything outside of his mind exist? Every part of this movie deserves recognition, from Asano Tadanobu & Sinitta "Noon" Boonyasak's strong performances, the cinematography of Christopher Doyle, and the adept handling by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang. --tg
 
MoolaadéMoolaadé - Osmane Sembene’s newest feature, MOOLADÉ, weaves tribal mythology and history into a modern tale of women finding, and fighting for, their power – in this case by refusing to continue the tradition of genital mutilation. The film was shot on location in an African village that has been in existence for over 2,000 years, an appropriate location for a film addressing the battle between modernism and tradition. The film’s direction (of both actors and filmmaking), screenplay, and cinematography are excellent, not only exemplifying Sembene’s talent and experience (he is the grandfather of African film after all) but also proves that a simple film with a smaller budget can be just as powerful as those with big budgets and grand visions. --im
 
VozvrashcheniyeThe Return is the story of a father who has returned to his two sons after an unexplained absence of many years. The older son who remembers his father is happy to see him; the younger son is not. The three embark on a three day journey which will alter their lives. The languid pace, sparse dialogue, foreboding atmosphere, and non-traditional camera angles transform the most mundane moments into visual poems and essays. -- bk
 

Buried Treasure

Winner!Nosey ParkerNosey Parker - John O'Brien's NOSEY PARKER sneaks up on you. It's a sly charmer about a married couple from Connecticut who buy their dream house (or rather, buy a house and remodel it into their dreamhouse) in small-town Vermont. NOSEY PARKER humorously, and insightfully tracks the feelings of the locals at this sudden intrusion. At the core of the film is a beautifully drawn friendship that develops between Natalie, the young wife whose older husband has trouble understanding, and George, a much older man who becomes Natalie's first and best friend. The gentle banter was developed through improvisation, and professional actress Natalie Pico seamlessly blends her style to the natrualism of the non-professionals. Gentle, warm, and funny, NOSEY PARKER is a treasure worth digging up. --mrc
 

Wu jian daoInfernal Affairs - Lots of fun to watch: a cop show with philosophy behind it, some clever comedy, and a number of real surprises in the story. I particularly appreciated the three man-woman relationships, each of which, although given very little screen time, had depth and its own character. Tony Leung and Andy Lau shine in their opposing roles, but the real standout here is Anthony Wong who brings real humanity and warmth as the chief detective. Directors Wai Keung Lau and Siu Fai Mak construct a taut thriller with a crisp visual edge to match the story. --dy & mrc

 
The Rage in Placid LakeThe Rage in Placid Lake - Tony McNamara's witty yet fierce directorial debut follows Placid Lake's struggle to fit in, only to discover that perhaps he's better off not fitting in. It's a story that has been done to death, yet McNamara's film triumphs due to the effective mix of irreverent, dark comedy and real heart. Pop musician Ben Lee seems tailor-made for the title role, while his foil, young Rose Byrne, combines innocence and genius with a sharp tongue and a look that embraces both movie star beauty and awkward geekiness. The ever-reliable Miranda Richardson almost steals the show as Placid's flighty, new-age, mother, shimmying ever further out on the branch of wackiness while grounding her character with real emotion and love for her son. --mrc
 
ReconstructionReconstruction - Christoffer Boe's fascinating feature directorial debut is a complex tale of men, women, love and writing. On the surface, RECONSTRUCTION tells the tale of August, a writer who is having trouble with the characters in his novel. Spurred by thoughts of his beautiful wife Aimee possibly having an affair with the ruggedly handsome Alex, August constructs a tale of two couples and cruelly manipulates his characters as his whim changes. But is all that's going on in this multi-layered story? Using gorgeous digital photography, rapid cuts, stunning yet simple visual effects, and strong performances, especially from actress Maria Bonnevie who tackles two roles, Boe has a hidden winner with RECONSTRUCTION. --mrc
 
StanderStander - STANDER is an entertaining cops and robbers film that adeptly tackles political outrage with a deft touch. Based on the life of Andres Stander, one of South Africa's top police officers in the 1970's, STANDER chronicles his disillusionment with South African law after his participation in quelling a riot, and his subsequent, allegedly politically motivated descent into crime. Screenwriter Bima Stagg crafts a powerful story suggesting a noble motivation that guides Stander throughout his criminal career. Director Bronwen Houghes shows her directing chops for edgy, crime fare after pleasing the masses with HARRIET THE SPY and FORCES OF NATURE. But the true revelation here is Thomas Jane, who embodies Andres Stander with his physicality and his intelligence at the forefront. Jane brings Stander fully to life, capturing his ego, his outrage and subsequent guilt, and his love for his wife beautifully. Here's a movie the deserves to be viewed by a much wider audience. --mrc
 

Best Director

Winner!Lucas BelvauxLucas Belvaux for Lucas Belvaux's The Trilogy - If there is one strength to Lucas Belvaux's trio of films, ON THE RUN, AN AMAZING COUPLE, and AFTER THE LIFE (and there are, in fact, many of them) Belvaux's assured director's touch is certainly it. After directing only two feature films, neither of which was released in America, Belvaux hits a grand slam with three intricate films telling the same larger story in three very different genres. ON THE RUN's thriller hits an ironic existential note, AN AMAZING COUPLE examines the resistance of changing perceptions in the guise of a screwball comedy, and AFTER THE LIFE brings real feeling and honesty to its melodramatic tone. Each film uses all the traditional elements of their respective genres while twisting the viewers perceptions of the characters by what is revealed. Truly a masterful work with much promise on what is still to come. --mrc
 

Ming-Liang TsaiMing-Liang Tsai for Good Bye Dragon Inn -

 
Pen-Ek RatanaruangPen-Ek Ratanaruang for Last Life in the Universe - Ratanaruang’s first three films never were released in this country although they did get some festival activity. His fourth film, THE LAST LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE, is a dazzling mixture of style (Christopher Doyle’s photography is exquisite) and playful, mysterious narrative. Kenji and Noi meet by chance as her sister’s violent death interrupts his suicide attempt. Kenji is obsessive-compulsive; Noi is a slob. In spite of their differences, they connect in the way strangers often do. The story seems simple, but Ratanaruang quietly takes the viewer by surprise. What seems like a chance encounter may be more than it appears. Ratanaruang is a director we will be hearing more about in the future. -- bk
 
Andrei ZvyagintsevAndrei Zvyagintsev for The Return - Zvyagintsev's debut is a thriller with a mythic elements: a father, after twelve years of absence, returns to take his two adolescent sons on a three-day fishing trip. The director is totally in command: pace, dialogue, remarkable performances, atmosphere, camera angles, ambient noise. The desolate land- and seascapes of Russia, the downpours and brillant sun play with the tension and foreboding to give us a slow burn.--djy
 
Guy MaddinGuy Maddin for The Saddest Music in the World -
 
Jonathan CaouetteJonathan Caouette for Tarnation - In his astonishing first feature film, Jonathan Caouette deftly uses the classic cinematic technique of montage to turn twenty years of home movies into not only a fascinating family history, but also an eloquent film essay on the influences that made him the man he is today. Partially a moving portrait of his emotionally fragile mother and partially a love letter to 70's and 80's pop culture, Tarnation lays the director figuratively naked before his audience, exposing his deeper fears, regrets, and desires in a sincere, personal, and self-effacing way. Challenging most preconceived notions regarding documentary filmmaking, Tarnation points toward a bold new future in visual creative nonfiction. --sc
 
David Gordon GreenDavid Gordon Green for Undertow -
 

Best Actress

Winner!Imelda StauntonImelda Staunton for the role of Vera Drake in Vera Drake - A role such as VERA DRAKE is every actor's dream. Imelda Staunton plays Vera to perfection. From the beginning of the film where Vera cheerfully tends to the well being of everyone around her to the grim moments when the police arrive at her house and she says 'I know why you’ve come,' Imelda Staunton is amazingly convincing. Hers is one of the best performances of any year. --bk
 
Toni ColletteToni Colette for the role of Sandy Edwards in Japanese Story - This must be the type of multi-dimensional role that Toni Colette lives for. On the surface, Sandy Edwards is a tough, smart, capable woman, an Australian scientist who bristles at the idea of acting as a driver for a visiting Japanese businessman. She is affronted by his dismissive attitude toward her (and presumably women in general) but comes to a better understanding when the two become stranded in the Australian outback overnight. After experiencing sudden tragedy, Colette must bring to life a fully realized, sudden grief and horror, after already switching emotional gears from annoyance and frustration to joy and discovery. Colette is clearly up for the task. This is a role worthy of a fine young actress. --mrc
 
Sinitta BoonyasakSinitta Boonyasak for the role of Noi in Last Life in the Universe - Prior to starring in Pen-Ek Ratenaruang's LAST LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE, Sinitta "Noon" Boonyasak had only appeared in about 20 Thai soap operas. Planning to quit acting, she was approached by Pen-Ek about Last Life. Drawn in by the script, she agreed. She plays Noi, a young woman whose sister dies in a car crash, but just before she's about to leave Thailand for Tokyo, she meets with Genji, whose compulsive behavior plays well off of Noi's complete lack of organization. Despite acting beside her more famous sister Laila, Sinitta shines as she plays the role of Noi with an independent charm essential to the character. Whether she's awkwardly communicating to the Japanese Genji in broken English, or confidently striding through her own familiar world, Noi's character is made whole by Sinitta.--tg
 
Catalina Sandino MorenoCatalina Sandino Moreno for the role of Maria in Maria Full of Grace -
 
Fatoumata CoulibalyFatoumata Coulibaly for the role of Collé Gallo Ardo Sy in Moolaadé - Collé, played by Fatoumata Coulibaly, is the rebel in her village. She has given sanctuary -moolaadé - to four girls who seek her help to avoid being taken to the circumcision ceremony where they would be cut according to Muslim ritual. Single handily taking on the village elders and the women who perform the circumcisions, Coulibaly creates a character that is sassy, insightful, strident, caring and –above all – courageous. -- bk
 
Anne ReidAnne Reid for the role of May in The Mother - Anne Reid tackles the difficult titular role in this portrait of a grieving family. When May's husband dies unexpectedly, she realizes that her entire life has been consumed by the responsibilities of wife and mother. Suddenly widowed and alone, May struggles to feel needed and wanted again; faced with the reality of the distant relationship she has with her two adult children. May falls into a secret relationship with a younger man who is also involved with her unstable daughter. This entanglement exposes May emotionally, mentally, and sexually, but her strong resolve enables her to accept the mistakes of her past and move on. --hn
 

Isabella RosselliniIsabella Rossellini for the role of Lady Port-Huntly in The Saddest Music in the World - There are few actress as talented and beautiful as Isbella Rossellini, who are also so willing to dive headfirst into the bizarre realms of such films as David Lynch's BLUE VELVET, Mary Lambert's SIESTA, Robert Zemeckis' DEATH BECOMES HER, and Guy Maddin's quirkily delightful THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD, for which she receives this Best Actress nod, and emerge so brilliantly? Indy film audiences adored her for her work with David Lynch, but she really showed her acting mettle in a severely underrated turn as a wife struggling to understand her husband's transformation after a horrific tragedy in Peter Weir's masterful FEARLESS. As Lady Port-Huntly, Rossellini shines as the fabulous star she is, while carrying a years-old tragedy of her own. The barely contained rage over the outcome of that long past tragedy is no less surprising than the sudden, girlish giddiness with which she wraps herself in after a sudden turn in her life. It is long past time for Isabella to claim her Chlotrudis nomination. --mrc

 

Best Actor

Winner!Gael García Bernal Gael García Bernal for the role of Ángel/Juan/Zahara in Bad Education - In Pedro Almodovar's intricate, subversive take on film noir, Bernal displays his range by playing two stunningly distinct characters (both of them as far away from his angelic Che Guevara in THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES as possible). He first appears onscreen as shaggy wannabe actor/former drag performer Ignacio, presenting a screenplay to his childhood friend/first love, Enrique, who is now a filmmaker. However, minutes later Bernal unexpectedly dons drag as Zahara, a transvestite central to Ignacio's presumably autobiographical script. Bernal is fine in both roles, but his Zahara is a revelatory creation: compelling and voluptuous but still dignified, he nearly makes you forget the well-known actor behind the glamorous frocks, wigs and makeup--always the measure of a great performance, drag or otherwise. --ck
 
Tony LeungTony Leung for the role of Chan Wing Yan in Infernal Affairs - In INFERNAL AFFAIRS, Leung (IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, HERO, HAPPY TOGETHER) plays Chan Wing Yan who is a mole: an undercover policeman working for the triad, the renowned Hong Kong mobsters. Amid double crosses, false starts, and quick turns of events Leung brings an underlying intelligence and emotional complexity to INFERNAL AFFAIRS that elevate the film way above the typical good cop/bad cop crime drama. Leung is a marvel to watch as he infuses the simplest of gestures with several layers of context. -- bk
 
Tadanobu AsanoTadanobu Asano for the role of Kenji in Last Life in the Universe -
 
Paul GiamattiPaul Giamatti for the role of Miles Raymond in Sideways -
 
Jamie SivesJamie Sives for the role of Wilbur in Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself -
 
Kevin BaconKevin Bacon in the role of Walter in The Woodsman - Somewhere along the line, this skilled actor became a bit of a joke. Maybe it was that trivia game, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Maybe it was because he started a rock band. Whatever it was, may all doubts be laid to rest that Bacon is one of the finest film actors working today. With Nicole Kassell's challenging and controversial debut THE WOODSMAN, Bacon inhabits a complex character that few audiences would be compelled to sympathize with. As Walter, a quiet, anti-social man who works at a lumber yard, Bacon is nearly unrecognizable, with his stiff-gaited walk replacing his customary swagger and his normally spiky hair pulled into a bland buzz cut. Bacon's physicality is the key to his performance and is thrilling to watch. One minute his nostrils flare with barely-repressed rage, the next he literally doesn't seem to know where to put his hands. When Walter befriends a young girl and nearly backslides into his previous ways, Bacon's struggle is portrayed with subtlety and restraint. It was a fluke that Bacon ended up playing the lead in this first-time director's film; he was handed a script by a potential backer. He meant to skim it but could not put it down and eventually insisted on playing the lead role. Such opportunities are rare in the industry and Bacon makes the most of this one. --pa
 

Best Supporting Actress

Winner!Virginia MadsenVirginia Madsen for the role of Maya in Sideways - Virginia Madsen had not built a career based on stellar acting work in films such as ELECTRIC DREAMS, DUNE, and CANDYMAN, so it's doubly delightful that her powerful and rooted performance as Maya in SIDEWAYS comes years after the ingenue phase of her life. SIDEWAYS is all about men in the throes of mid-life crises, but what about women? How do they react to the middle years of their lives? If they're like Maya, they go back to school for another Masters Degree. Madsen captures the blend of caution and hopefulness with which older woman often approach relationships perfectly. And anyone who has seen SIDEWAYS will never forget her moving monologue equating her life to a fine wine. --mrc
 
Fenella WoolgarFenella Woolgar for the role of Agatha in Bright Young Things - The odd-looking English actress with the funny name; that is how many of us remember Fenella Woolgar. Her straw-colored hair, aquiline nose and strong jawline make her a natural for films of the Masterpiece Theatre ilk, which might explain why she is mainly known for her roles in period films. She's an arch society type in Mike Leigh's VERA DRAKE. But in writer/director Stephen Fry's BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS (adapted from Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies) she is the adventurous, outrageous Agatha, constantly at the heart of the latest scandal. Since most of the main characters are fast-living socialites circa 1930s London, it is saying a lot that Agatha is the most reckless and feckless of all of them. Wealthy and, in her own mind, beyond reproach, she drinks more, drives faster, and laughs louder than anyone else in the room. As The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw puts it, Woolgar is the "only person in the cast who really does look and sound like someone from the 1930s, presenting a face to the camera that is somehow very clever and very stupid simultaneously." --pa
 
Cate BlanchettCate Blanchett for the role of Cate/Shelly in Coffee and Cigarettes -
 
Rie MiyazawaRie Miyazawa for the role of Tomoe Iinuma in Twilight Samurai - Miyazawa plays a difficult role, an outspoken, intelligent young woman trapped in an age where women are submissive housewives. Tomoe escapes an abusive marriage and explores the love she feels for a common samurai beneath her station. Their warm playful banter feel relaxed and real without seeming anachronistic. The strength of Miyazawa's character complements the gentleness of her leading man without overpowering it. Miyazawa brings a relaxed, natural grace to the role, sidestepping both the victim and the manipulator to play something much more difficult: a real woman. --mrc
 
Shirley HendersonShirley Henderson for the role of Alice in Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself - Indie audiences have had a few opportunities to fall in love with gamine, hummingbird-voiced Shirley Henderson. She's shown her range and presence in Mike Leigh's TOPSY TURVY, as a young actress in The Mikado, in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE MIDLANDS, a quirky romantic comedy opposite Ryhs Ifans, and as the crying ghost who haunts the girls' lavatory in the HARRY POTTER films. In Lone Scherfig's sad, funny love story, she plays Alice, a shy but compassionate woman who marries the stable, sweet Harbour (Adrian Rawlins) but quickly falls in love with his suicidal, laconic brother Wilbur (Jamie Sives). Henderson is physically and vocally always recognizable–with a vulnerable, fey quality and that high-pitched, drawling voice that sounds like a sugar-plum fairy on opium. But what comes through is not her oddness or her limitations; instead, she captivates with her dark and ivory beauty, the perfection of her comic timing, and an emotional intensity as clear and sharp as spun glass. --pa
 

Best Supporting Actor

Winner!Peter SarsgaardPeter Sarsgaard for the role of Clyde Martin in Kinsey - Fast making a name for himself as one of the best of his generation, Peter Sarsgaard infuses his portrayal of Clyde Martin with fearless curiosity and guileless honesty. The first trait drives Martin’s attraction to Kinsey’s ideas and vision, such that he becomes a vital member of the research team. But it is the second emotion that drives home Sarsgaard’s most vivid moments, when he gently seduces his hero, and when he confronts (and recognized) the flawed human behind the visionary. --bc
 
Alfred MolinaAlfred Molina for the role of Alfred in Coffee and Cigarettes - In the best-written segment of Jarmusch's collection of vignettes, Molina (as himself), tries to ingratiate himself with the condescending Steven Coogan. Hoping that a common genealogy will yield a personal and professional relationship, Molina puts himself on the line. Ultimately, in a counterpoint to Coogan's Hollywood powerplays, Molina one-ups him in a charming way. He delivers his lines in the most apt manner, ever polite. A small and very satisfying performance. --djy
 
Mark WahlbergMark Wahlberg for the role of Tommy Corn in I [Heart] Huckabees - As Tommy Corn, a firefighter amid existential crisis, Wahlberg shows that his best roles are as earnest, somewhat misguided, but well-intentioned, guys guys. In our post-9/11 society, it's easy to rely on one-dimensional stereotypes of the heroic public servant, but Wahlberg portrays a real, flawed and conflicted man in search of a greater meaning. The essence of this character is most evident in the triumphant expression on Tommy's face as he rides his bike, while clad in full gear, past his petroleum-consuming colleagues whose firetruck is stuck in traffic on the way to respond to a call. --hn
 
Anthony WongAnthony Wong Chau-Sang for the role of SP Wong in Infernal Affairs - Anthony Wong Chau-Sang first caught the eye of the Hong Kong audience with his brilliant performance in THE UNTOLD STORY back in 1992. Since then, he's appeared in over 100 movies! But his best role since then has to be as Inspector Wong in the thriller INFERNAL AFFAIRS. As one of the film's clear-cut good guys, he plays the part with a calm demeanor perfect for both the role and the movie as a whole. While his performance could have been buried under the flawless performances by Tony Leung and Andy Lau, it's nice to see him get a nomination for his work. The hardest working man in Hong Kong cinema! --tg
 
Phil DavisPhil Davis for the role of Stan in Vera Drake - Mike Leigh fans will recognize Davis from his funny, acerbic portrayal of Cyril, the working-class ex-radical in Leigh's first cinematic feature HIGH HOPES. In VERA DRAKE, set in London in 1950, Davis is Vera's husband Stan, a working man whose devotion to his family wavers when his wife is accused of being a back-alley abortionist. Leigh's film works so well because he so effectively captures an era with a number of brilliant set-pieces. Davis is the perfect actor for such a film because his characterization is so subtle and subdued. Stan works in the "motor trade" and his son is a tailor; both are sanguine and prone to raucous laughter. When Vera and Stan invite Reg (Eddie Marsdan), a lonely neighbor, to eat dinner with them, it is a casual event to them but it becomes clear to them that, to Reg, it means the world. Stan talks quietly with him about the war and, almost imperceptibly, he becomes a part of their family, even before he decides to court their mousy daughter. Stan also has a brother who has done well for himself financially, but who envies Stan's domestic happiness. But when Vera is arrested, Stan is struck silent. He has to briefly confront the fact that he is appalled by what his wife is accused of doing; but when his son (Daniel Mays) passionately decries Vera's actions, Stan insists she is a good woman, and in that brief moment we see him struggling to believe it himself. --pa
 

Best Original Screenplay

Winner!Lucas BelvauxLucas Belvaux's The Trilogy, screenplay by Lucas Belvaux - Lucas Belvaux wrote three screenplays at one time using the same characters, sharing many of the same scenes and covering the same period of time. The first film, AN AMAZING COUPLE, is a madcap farce, an extraordinary accomplishment one can only appreciate upon viewing the remaining two films in the Trilogy. The second film, ON THE RUN, is a film-noir thriller. The third film, AFTER THE LIFE, is a melodrama. What an amazing feat in screenwriting. Lucas Belvaux’s TRILOGY is a unique experience. --bk
 
Lars von TrierDogville, screenplay by Lars von Trier - Acclaimed director Lars von Trier astounds us once again with his screenplay for his epic fable DOGVILLE– sort of a hellish version of “Our Town” where the Gibbs’ are sadists and Emily can only wish she were dead. Though von Trier’s film uses theatrical conventions to expose the inner life of this wretched town, the screenplay is subtly cinematic as it takes viewers one step closer to the jaw-dropping climax as each chapter begins. Incorporating themes as diverse as religion, politics, gender, and conformity, Dogville dares to say what no one wants to hear: redemption bears a steep price and mercy can be the cruelest act of all. --sc
 
Joshua MarstonMaria Full of Grace, screenplay by Joshua Marston - Joshua Marston’s debut as a screenwriter is an auspicious one. While the story of Maria and other mules (those who swallow cocaine pellets to smuggle the drug into the USA) is interesting, suspenseful and horrifying it also has many pedestrian aspects. What makes the film so vital is how the tedium and claustrophobia of Maria’s physical and emotional environment in Colombia set the stage for her actions. The opening scene defines Maria’s character so expertly that everything which follows seems realistic and believable. The scenes on the plane and in the airport are riveting. Marston cleverly turns his unpretentious, straightforward screenplay into a chilling thriller. -- bk
 
Simon PeggEdgar WrightShaun of the Dead, screenplay by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright - This writing duo somehow manages the insanely tricky if not near-impossible feat of crafting a script that is equal parts romantic comedy, Gen X-ers turning 30 buddy story, satire on this modern world, commentary on life in today’s London, and oh yeah - classic zombie flick! What’s more, each does double-duty, with Pegg playing the titular hero and Wright in charge of directing this amiably madcap chaos. You’d have to be brain-dead not to enjoy this one! --bc
 

David Gordon GreenUndertow, screenplay by Lindgard Jervey, Joe Conway and David Gordon Green - David Gordon Green and Joe Conway successfully convert a true crime story into an elaborate Southern gothic in UNDERTOW. The film is about a family of brothers being slowly rent apart by the family’s “black sheep” maddened by jealousy and greed. This is the first genre film that Gordon Greeen has made and the co-writers effectively use storytelling devices from a number of genres to twist this true tale. But the film also contains the naturalism that Gordon Green is known for, creating an oddly effective genre film that is unexpected and unsettling. --im

 
Mike LeighVera Drake, screenplay by Mike Leigh - Mike Leigh has frequently danced around the subject of abortion in his films for years. Audiences might have at least guessed Leigh had ambivalent feelings about this issue, as opposed to coming down firmly on one side or the other. But in VERA DRAKE, set in London in 1950, Leigh finally seems to offer a more definitive view. The titular character (played brilliantly by Imelda Staunton) is portrayed as a "do gooder" who helps out "girls in trouble." She charges no money, although the friend who arranges the meetings with pregnant woman collects a fee. When one of her clients suffers an infection and nearly dies, Vera is arrested and tried for what is, at that time, an offense punishable by incarceration. Vera's family are shocked and humiliated by what has happened. Leigh's parents were a doctor and nurse respectively, so one suspects he developed views on this issue early on. Known for the strong roles he writes for women, more than one critic has complained that Vera, capable and confident throughout most of the film, becomes weak-willed and inarticulate once she is arrested. Family and friends turn against her and those who support her are ostracized. This demonization of Vera is a perplexing choice, hinting that Leigh indeed thinks an abortionist deserves to be punished; but perhaps it is not about morality as much as it is about the very English sense of shame and embarrassment surrounding sexuality in the public forum. Mike Leigh's stories continue to be grounded fully in the lives of their characters, and we cannot judge VERA DRAKE's politics without wondering what is behind the wife-mother-abortionist's quivering lips and silent tears. --pa
 
Lone ScherfigAnders Thomas JensenWilbur Wants to Kill Himself, screenplay by Lone Scherfig and Anders Thomas Jensen - Screenwriters Scherfig (ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS) and Jensen (OPEN HEARTS) superimpose a cool Danish sensibility on the life-and-death troubles of some drily funny Scottish misfits. Wilbur's repeated attempts at suicide are foiled by his more responsible brother Harbour, with whom he runs the family bookstore. Harbour and Wilbur both fall in love with a quirky customer, Alice. As in Scherfig's ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS, relationships are subtle and tentatively pursued, and offbeat, fragile people find hidden strength through love. --djy
 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Winner!Guy MaddinThe Saddest Music in the World, screenplay by Guy Maddin and George Toles, based on the original screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro - One can only wonder what Kazuo Ishiguro’s original, unproduced screenplay is like. But the adaptation of THE SADDEST George TolesMUSIC IN THE WORLD by Guy Maddin and George Toles certainly has the mark of distinction, even amongst Maddin’s peculiar catalog of films. This may well be the director’s finest work in terms of plot, story, and character. While it borrows stylistic and thematic elements from classic films and genres (melodrama, Frankenstein, Busby Berkely-esque musical spectacular), the screenplay is surprisingly deep and multi-layered, incorporating clever satirical views of entertainment, commerce, and international politics. Who else but Maddin would think to make his femme fatale require glass-and-ale gams? --sc
 
Krzysztof KieslowskiBig Animal, screenplay by Krzysztof Kieslowski, based on the short story by Kazimierz Orlos - Childless, middle-aged couple Zygmunt (director Jerzy Stuhr) and Marysia (Anna Dymna) awaken one morning to find, of all things, a camel in their yard, unwittingly left behind by a circus passing through their provincial village. They slowly warm up to the misplaced mammal and adopt it like it was a lost puppy. At first, the townspeople react with admiration and delight, but soon, the novelty wears off and their envy and contempt towards the couple's new possession surfaces. Based on a script written by legendary filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski in the 1970s, BIG ANIMAL is both a charming, kindhearted fairy tale (shot in luminous black-and-white) and a sharp, veiled critique of Communism and conformity. --ck
 
Michael CunninghamA Home at the End of the World, screenply by Michael Cunningham, based on his novel -
 
Motorcycle DiariesThe Motorcycle Diaries, screenply by Jose Rivera, based on books by Ché Guevara and Alberto Granada -
 
Alexander Payne & Jim TaylorSideways, screenplay by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, based on the novel by Rex Pickett -
 
Yoji YamadaTwilight Samurai, screenplay by Yoji Yamada and Yoshitaka Asama, based on the novels of Shuuhei Fujisawa - The beauty of TWILIGHT SAMURAI comes from the gentle story of a man who struggles between the difficulty of maintaining his standing as a samurai, sometimes forced to participate in practices he disagrees with, and the fulfillment he finds from his home and family life, tending his farm and caring for his two daughters and aging mother now that his wife has died. Yamada and Asama’s gentle adaptation of Fujisawa’s novels create a character who might be a carpenter, or plumber rather than a samurai, and the story would remain intact. Our hero, Seibei, is thoroughly believable and fully rendered whether being scolded for wearing a tattered uniform, or shyly turning down a proffered engagement to a lovely young woman because he feels he is not worthy. Perhaps most refreshing of all, it is a strong screenplay that lets so much unfold with out extraneous dialogue when a glance or look will do just as well.--mrc
 

Untold ScandalUntold Scandal, screenplay by Dae-woo Kim, Hyeon-jeong Kim, Choderlos de Laclos, and Je-yong Lee, based on the novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses - The screenwriters' source for this adaptation is Stephen Frears's 1988 DANGEROUS LIAISONS, itself an adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos's eighteenth-century French novel about hedonistic aristocrats who use sexual pawns for their Machiavellian entertainment. Here the setting is moved to late nineteenth-century Korea, under whose Victorian mores and sumptuous trappings seethes a cauldron of sexual desire. In this tenth iteration of Les liaisons dangereuses to hit the screen, and possibly the most erotic, writers Dae-woo Kim and Hyeon-jeong Kim and director Je-yong Lee use a subplot of underground Catholics to add to the flavor of risk and repressed sensuality. A beautiful overlay of Korean culture on a French story. --djy

 

Best Cinematography

It's a Tie!

Winner!The ReturnMikhail Krichman for The Return - Opening with an overhead shot of nothing but voluminous, undulating water, THE RETURN constantly revisits this motif in other forms: the occasional, relentlessly drenching rains, the splotchy puddles left behind, the sea that leads its characters to a deserted island that could very well be the absolute edge of the world. Krichman may cloak much of the film in a muted palette of blues, grays and greens, but he also often backlights the actors and their environments until they take on an eerie, nearly iridescent glow. Assured, sinuous camera movements also add to the film's elegiac splendor and dark beauty. --ck
 
Winner!Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and SpringDong-hyeon Baek for Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring - Dong-hyeon Baek's work in FALL, SUMMER, PIE AND CREAM FILING is essential to this moral play. When you consider that every item in the film, from tree to boat to cat to knife to island, has a meaning to the story being unfurled, his contribution may be slightly more than usual to a movie. When a shot of a large door, attached to no wall, partially submerged in water, tells more of the story than any section of dialogue, that shot is going to have to be done just right. Dong-hyeon Baek's patience, artistry and sense of dignity compliments the tone of SPRING, SUMMER, PANTS AND SHIRT perfectly. The color, stillness, darkness and movement needed to get the movie right are supplied in abundance. --tg
 
Girl with a Pearl EarringEduardo Serra for Girl with a Pearl Earring - Serra’s trademarks of saturated colors and diffuse light in his work (see WHAT DREAMS MAY COME and UNBREAKABLE) made him the ideal candidate to bring to life the imagined creation story behind Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting. Serra takes on the challenge and succeeds brilliantly, so much so that when the moment comes in the film for life to imitate art, it takes a beat for it to register, so utterly does Serra capture the mood of this Dutch Master’s work. --bc
 
Goodbye Dragon InnBen-Bong Liao for Good Bye Dragon Inn - With only a few words of dialogue and infinitesimal action, the visuals must carry the show--the last show at a decaying, neglected movie palace in Taiwan. Tsai Ming-Liang is a master with the camera, setting up stationary shots through which the few characters move. With only one shot that involves moving the camera (a slow, short pan to the right), Tsai's cinematography makes clear the film's intent: what is important is not what happens in a movie but how we internalize it. Fanatic movie-goers like Chlotrudis members cherish the stretched-out takes of the entire auditorium, the confined spaces of hallways and toilets, the crippled ticketseller standing to the side of the shining screen. Not many directors go out of their way to capture the aesthetic of a deserted hallway or the echo of footsteps long after they are out of visual range. Such moments set Tsai’s films apart from most contemporary cinema.--djy
 
House of Flying DaggersXiaoding Zhao for House of Flying Daggers -
 
Last Life in the UniverseChristopher Doyle for Last Life in the Universe -
 

Best Cast

Winner!Lucas Belvaux's The TrilogyLucas Belvaux's The Trilogy - Lucas Belvaux’s Trilogy, ON THE RUN, AN AMAZING COUPLE, and AFTER THE LIFE, boasts interweaving storylines, genre-bending themes and direction, and a group of actors, taken collectively, that make up one of the most exciting ensemble casts of the year! Each main actor in THE TRILOGY is allowed to show a different side of their character depending on the film they appear in. This, in essence, is the theme of the film: at any given moment, we are only presenting one aspect of ourselves to the world, and there are many, many external forces that may be causing us to behave in such a way. Gilbert Melki shows the most thorough metamorphosis, starting out as a driven, corrupt cop in ON THE RUN, spending time as a bullying, aggressive lout in AN AMAZING COUPLE, and finally settling in as a lost husband, desperately in love with his troubled wife in AFTER THE LIFE. Ornella Muti, Dominique Blanc, Lucas Belvaux, François Morel, Catherine Frot, and Valérie Mairesse are just some of the terrific actors adding to this tour de force.--mrc
 
Coffee & CigarettesCoffee and Cigarettes -
 
DogvilleDogville - You can usually count on Lars von Trier to assemble a rich, quirky cast for one his controversial, polarizing societal parables, and DOGVILLE, the first film in his "USA - Land of Opportunities" trilogy has one his best. Headed by a rarely-more-riveting and sympathetic Nicole Kidman, the film's massive ensemble features fine work from Hollywood legends (Lauren Bacall, Ben Gazarra, James Caan), rising stars (Paul Bettany, Chloe Sevigny), indie fixtures (Patricia Clarkson, Jeremy Davies) and international icons (Harriett Andersson, Udo Kier). All of them work together to make von Trier's conceptually daring, chalk-outlined stage of a town come alive, and John Hurt's succinct, dry voice-over narration is just the cherry on top. --ck
 
Saved!Saved! - Newcomers Jenna Malone, Mandy Moore, Patrick Fugit, and Eva Amurri join Chlotruidis favorites Martin Donovan, Mary-Louise Parker, and Heather Matarazzo to form a form a tight ensemble in Brian Dannelly’s first feature SAVED! Even Hollywood veteran Macaulay Culkin subtly blends into the mix, displaying (perhaps for the first time) the ability to direct his attention to his collaborators rather than straight to the camera. Each actor is required to use his or her best skills to flesh out the individual they portray (Moore sings, Parker worries, and Culkin cracks wise), but the respect they show the people they portray is evident. And since the characters’ views on morality and religion vary so greatly, this respect effectively drives home Dannelly’s message that no one’s path through life can be prescribed." --sc
 
SidewaysSideways -
 

Vera DrakeVera Drake -

 

Best Documentary

Winner!TarnationTarnation -
 
The AgronomistThe Agronomist -
 
Bright LeavesBright Leaves - Like all Ross McElwee films, this one revolves around a subject (smoking and the tobacco industry) that's merely a jumping off point for a mostly free-form, frequently enlightening cinematic memoir. This one begins when McElwee discovers the film BRIGHT LEAF, a long-lost 1950 melodrama that may have been about his great-grandfather, a failed 1800s tobacco baron. From there, he visits his North Carolina hometown, interviewing everyone from old friends (like Charlene, a feisty presence in all of his work) to eccentric film theorist Vlada Petric. Full of McElwee's trademark wry humor and incessant narration, this lovingly surveys the past and present of a region generally unknown to anyone outside its borders. To those familiar with McElwee's previous work, it's like a cherished visit from an old friend. --ck
 
Control RoomControl Room - Of the plethora of political documentaries of 2004, CONTROL ROOM stands out as having a director who was open to where the film would lead her, not with a preordained conclusion. The original footage tells its own story: no voiceovers or background or charts. It's sober, not cutesy. Noujaim covers Al Jazeera, the controversial and powerful Arab news outlet, over five weeks at the start of the Iraq War. She explores objectivity and bias by thoughtfully juxtaposing her coverage of Al Jazeera with interviews and news footage of the war from Western media outlets like FoxNews and the US military public relations officer. CONTROL ROOM provides a view into the surprising solidarity among journalists of all nationalities. --djy
 
DiG!DiG! - Director Ondi Timoner spent seven years documenting the ups and downs of two bands, the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre, and the friendship and rivalry that developed between the two frontmen. Granted extraordinary access, Timoner has crafted arguably the quintessential rock ‘n’ roll epic. After watching this film, you’ll understand better both the irresistible appeal and the unavoidable pitfalls of the musician cum rockstar lifestyle. --Director Ondi Timoner spent seven years documenting the ups and downs of two bands, the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre, and the friendship and rivalry that developed between the two frontmen. Granted extraordinary access, Timoner has crafted arguably the quintessential rock ‘n’ roll epic. After watching this film, you’ll understand better both the irresistible appeal and the unavoidable pitfalls of the musician cum rockstar lifestyle.--bc
 
The Fog of WarThe Fog of War -
 
Screaming MenScreaming Men -
 

Best Short Film

Winner! Chlotrudis Award & Audience Award!

Dwaine's Big GameDwaine's Big Game by Justin Fielding (US - 5 min.) Dwaine's Big Game is a short documentary about a bowler's quest for perfection. Dwaine Daye, a Boston firefighter, joined the B.I.B. (Black is Beautiful) bowling league to answer a colleague's challenge - Could he bowl a perfect game?

Justin Fielding is co-founder of Castparty Productions. His latest movie is the satirical short Bush Focus Group.

 

Runner-Up Chlotrudis Award

Beat Box PhillyHighway Amazon by Ronnie Cramer (USA - 10 minutes) The strange saga of Christine Fetzer, a female bodybuilder who travels the country wrestling men on beds in hotel rooms. Betwee 'sessions,' she discusses her unique method of earning a living and talks about her former career as an exotic dancer. After pulling down a couple of beers, she even spills the beans about bodybuilders and drugs..

Ronnie CramerColorado-based Artist/Musician/Filmmaker Ronnie Cramer has been active in the arts community for over twenty-five years. His paintings have been exhibited in galleries and other venues across the country (including two dozen shows in 2003 alone), his music has achieved airplay on over 200 radio stations nationwide and his critically-acclaimed films have been screened at festivals from coast to coast and sold thousands of copies on videocassette and DVD.

 

Runner-Up Audience Award

Once Upon a Time There Was a KingOnce Upon a Time There Was a King by Massimiliano Mauceri (Italy - 10 minutes) - Anyone who's right is wrong and who's wrong is right

Massimiliano MauceriMassimiliano Mauceri was born in Florence and got his upper school certificate in 1993. In 1994 he wrote and directed his first short movie, that won 6 official awards. Beginning from 1995, he has worked on over 20 films, videos and advertisements in various capacities including director and editor. He has written and directed 8 short films and has won 42 official awards among national and international festivals.

 

Other Nominees

The CryThe Cry by Kirill Davidoff (USA - 13 minutes) The Cry is an experimental documentary that explores the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of April 26, 1986 in Ukraine when a tremendous explosion ocurred in the nuclear power plant. Seventeen years later The Cry returns to Chernobyl to capture images never seen before.

Kirill DavidoffKirill Davidoff currently resides in Los Angeles but was born in Russia. He has a Master's Degree in Cinematography and has worked on numerous films and commercial projects that have been awarded at festivals. In 1999 he founded Fire Horse Films, an independent media production company. The Cry is Kirill's first project as a director. It was shot entirely in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Kirill worked as producer and cinematographer on the feature-length thriller, The Gun, which won the honor of being the only American selection for World Competition at the 2003 Montreal Film Festival.

 
FaultFault by Justin Swibel (US - 15 min.) A poignant, disturbing, ad darkly funny short film about a rich American boy who attacks his tennis instructor. Shot in Los Angeles breath taking Griffith Park, Fault captures rage seething under a surface of content. When nothing 12-year-old David can do is good enough for his coach, frustration gives way to rage.

Fault is Justin Swibel's second short film. In 2002, after founding Starmaker Productions NFP, he wrote, directed, and co-produced Sunset Town, a 25-mnute farce about a small-town police chief s descent into madness. It premiered at the Lake Placid Film Forum in May 2003. This summer in Hollywood, Justin produced and assistant directed Athol Fugard s Blood Knot, directed by Harold Becker. He is currently working on several feature scripts with Jane Renaud and is in pre-production for his third short film. Justin will graduate from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in May 2005.

 

Career SuicideJane Doe by Kramer O'Neil (US - 5 minutes) A young woman returns home after a hard day at work...

Kramer O'Neill lives in Brooklyn. He works as an editor, designer, director, and anything else that pays (or not). Most of all, he likes making short films. This particular one was made as part of an unsuccessful (but overall terribly interesting) application to a Berlin film school.

 

Out & AboutOut and About by John Jameson (US - 13 minutes) - It is the story of a young couple examining their romantic relationship told through the eyes of a cynical sales clerk. Josh and Beth have enough problems without the help of Byron the video store clerk who seems intent on telling their story for them, filtered through his biased point of view.

Graduate of Cal State Long Beach film production department, this is John's senior film. He is an avid film fan and screenwriter/director currently beating down Hollywood's door.

 

NineStray Heart by Jason Di Rosso (Australia - 12 min.) After his local priest dies, a lonely church caretaker starts visiting a nearby shopping mall to relieve the pain. He loves the bright lights and happy people but soon finds himself in a vicious cycle of shoplifting, lies and self-hate.Jason Di Rosso

Jason Di Rosso was born in Perth, Western Australia in 1972. He completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Film and Television and Italian. He has worked in the film industry as an assistant director and assistant editor. He is currently working on a six month contract as a producer for Australian Public Radio, as well as developing longer format film scripts. Stray Heart is his second short.

 

Tico TicoTico Tico by Nisa Rauschenberg (US - 5 min.) An animated film score to Tico Tico performed by Shooby 'The Human Horn' Taylor who claimed to play the 'air saxophone'. His quirky rendition of Tico Tico is matched by the quirky animation.

A New York artist, Nisa Rauschenberg holds a BFA from Parsons School of Design and an MS from College of New Rochelle in art therapy. She has exhibited her paintings and collages across the country and was awarded the 2001 Emerging Artist fellowship by the Aljira Center for Contemporary Arts in 2001. Tico Tico is her first animated film.

 

A Troublesome DesireA Troublesome Desire by Anna Sikorski (Canada - 12 min.) A young girl develops a crush on her older sisters boyfriend, and becomes increasingly disturbed by her desires.

Anna Sikorski has just graduated from the Mel Hoppenhiem School of cinema in Montreal Quebec. Her last short, a troublesome desire has been awarded a 35mm blow up by the school.