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Old 01-24-2013, 07:35 PM   #1
Dracula
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Default Dracula Presents: The Sixth Annual Golden Stake Awards

Yep it's back. For those who weren't hear when I did this in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011, this is an part of a tradition of year end rituals I put together each year and after a pretty solid year for cinema I'm ready to do it all over again.

Basically what I want to do here is post one category a day for four weeks. The First week will be scene based categories (best fight etc.), The second week will be technical awards (best editing etc.), The third week will be acting awards, and the last week will be genre awards and will culminate in Best picture which will be announced in a top ten format.

These awards will be entirely based on my opinions, but I don't plan to have this being an entirely self indulgent pursuit. I hope that each category will lead to discussion and that people will find themselves playing along and giving their opinions about these various categories.

So, without further ado I'll give out the first of the scene based awards:

Fight of the Year
The first of my “scene based awards” will be the category for the year’s best fight scene. Pretty much any scene that focuses on melee combat between a limited number of individuals is eligible. The fights can involve knives, swords, or other weaponry, but this year the nominated scenes all seem to revolve around fights that only involve people’s hands and feet. The scenes will be judged not only for their fight choreography but for their overall impact.

Batman Vs. Bane - The Dark Knight Rises: Hans Zimmer’s score is omnipresent in The Dark Knight Rises, but the music goes quiet for this scene in which batman finally meets his match. In this scene bane robs Batman of all his usual tricks and forces him into a straightforward fists fight. Needless to say it doesn’t go well for Mr. Wayne. Bane outmatches and humiliates batman and clears the way for his evil scheme.

Jack Vs. Rakes – Lawless: Have you ever wanted to see Shia LaBeouf get the crap beaten out of him? If the answer is “yes” then I’ve got the perfect scene for you. In this scene the hilariously evil federal agent played by Guy Pierce shows a couple of hillbilly moonshiners who’s boss by savagely punching and stomping the youngest brother of the Bondurant clan. It’s not the most exciting scene here, but it’s certainly the most brutal.

Freddie Vs. Guy in Department Store – The Master: Proving that this category is not just the domain of large scale action films, this early scene in The Master is both hilarious and expertly shot even if it isn’t exactly what you’d traditionally think of as a fight scene. Further establishing Freddie’s unpredictable volatility this scene shows him snap on a slightly rude guy at a department store. What really makes the scene memorable is the way Anderson films it in a long shot and seems to have the camera at just the right level from the ground.

Rama and Andi vs. Mad Dog – The Raid: Picking a single fight scene from The Raid is hard because the whole film is almost a long series of mini-fights, but this climactic showdown seems like the logical choices. Judged strictly on fight choreography, this is clearly the best of these five fights. It’s an elaborate martial arts showdown between our two heroes and a vicious bastard who holds his own despite being outnumbered. It also ends with gloriously gory death.

Silhouette Fight – Skyfall: Most of Skyfall’s derivative elements are stolen from The Dark Knight, but for this memorable moment Sam Mendes has looked toward the king of re-appropriation: Quentin Tarentino. Shot almost entirely in silhouette, this scene shows James Bond take down a rifle toting assassin in front of a window high up in a skyscraper. It’s a short scene which lasts less than a single minute, but it is a memorable moment that shows off Roger Deakin’s cinematography well.

And the Golden Stake goes to…
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
The Dark Knight Rises

As soon as it was announced that Bane would be the villain in Christopher Nolan’s final Batman film, fans immediately began to wonder if the film would incorporate the iconic moment from the Knightfall storyline in which Batman was finally “broken.” This scene mostly did justice to that moment and of the nominees here it had the best balance of choreography, length, originality, and weight. It’s a turning point in the film and one of the highlights of this incredible film series.
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Old 01-24-2013, 07:43 PM   #2
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This wasn't so much a fight as an ass-kicking.
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Old 01-24-2013, 08:42 PM   #3
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Oh I just love these.

Solid choices, I especially like the inclusion of The Master. One of the reasons I am not a fan of The Raid is that while they have terrific performers on hand to do great stunt work, the scenes are so chopped up in the film you can't even appreciate it. I don't know if it was a matter of most moves not being able to be strung together in longer takes or just an itchy editor, but it really cheapened the film for me.

One I'd throw into the ring - the Mandingo fight in Django Unchained. I'd argue it is the most visceral violence QT has ever put on the screen, and works well to shift the tone of the film towards Candieland.
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Old 01-24-2013, 08:45 PM   #4
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Good choice.

I look forward to more Skyfall bashing.
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack View Post
One I'd throw into the ring - the Mandingo fight in Django Unchained. I'd argue it is the most visceral violence QT has ever put on the screen, and works well to shift the tone of the film towards Candieland.
Hmmm... I didn't even think of that, but I wish I had.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JBond View Post

I look forward to more Skyfall bashing.
There won't be much Skyfall bashing, but lots and lots of Skyfall directed passive aggression and backhanded compliments. Also expect a lot of angry comments from Neverending about how I "snubbed" the film in every category from Best Fight to Best Documentary.
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:06 PM   #6
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Ooooo, this is going to be fun!
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Old 01-24-2013, 10:58 PM   #7
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Indeed. Good start, Drac.
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Old 01-25-2013, 03:34 AM   #8
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Agree with the winner. This was the one that got the biggest response from me. I was on the edge of my seat through the whole fight!
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Old 01-25-2013, 01:25 PM   #9
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Excellent choice. A fight that left a big impression on the audience, and as you said, was a critical turning point for the story and character.
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Old 01-25-2013, 02:08 PM   #10
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If ask me Hulk gave Loki the more dominating rear kicking. But I liked fight 2 between bane and batman for some reason more.
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Old 01-25-2013, 02:14 PM   #11
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Would have gone with The Raid myself, but excellent choice none the less.
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Old 01-25-2013, 02:15 PM   #12
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Solid choice but I would have went with The Raid personally. That fight was brilliant!
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Old 01-25-2013, 06:55 PM   #13
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Best Musical Performance
This is and always has been a strange category for me, one which looks at scenes which involve the life performance of a song by a character onscreen. The actual performance isn’t what I’m judging, in fact the music itself can be quite bad if that’s the intention, it’s the overall scene that I’m judging. The performance can take the form of anything from a song in a musical to a impromptu sing-along at a party, what matters is that the song contributes to an overall scene that makes for an important moment in a film.

Bernie Sings – Bernie: I’m cheating a little bit here because I don’t really have a specific scene in mind here, but there were a number of scenes in Bernie where the titular character would begin singing in churches, at funerals, and as a part of community theater productions and they contribute greatly to the film. The guy looks like an absolute dork while he’s doing this and you begin to realize just how un-self-conscious the guys is. On top of that you do get a good idea of how his personality, strange as it may seem to us blue-state urbanites, would be completely charming to the older set in his East Texas small town. It’s a great twist on Jack Black’s usual comedic singing act.

National Anthem – The Dark Knight Rises: If you saw the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises you probably heard this musical performance by a young child singing the national anthem at a football game. The song’s performance in this part of the film acts as a sort of symbol for how unprepared Gotham is for the “storm” that’s about to hit them. More importantly it sets up a neat little moment where Bane, evil person though he may be, is able to stop and recognize that the child has a beautiful voice.

Accordion entr’acte – Holy Motors: In a film full of weird, random, and glorious moments, this was the weirdest, the most random, and the most glorious. Midway through the film the character we’re following enters a seemingly abandoned building and suddenly begins leading a small mostly accordion based band in a rendition of R.L. Burnside’s “Let My Baby Ride.” It comes out of nowhere, but it’s a joyous moment in a joyous film.

I Dreamed a Dream - Les Misérables: There was only so much I could take of the music in Les Misérables, but there were definitely moments where I got sucked in. Anne Hathaway’s performance of the song “I Dreamed a Dream” is clearly a highlight in the film both musically and dramatically. Sung by a character while she is at her lowest point, this song ruthlessly tugs at the heartstrings and Hathaway does everything in her power to make stick the landing.

Party Singalong – The Master: The one scene involving a musical performance this year which is sure to be loved by both The New York Times and Mrskin.com is this sequence in The Master where Lancaster Dodd starts singing some weird old song at a party and everyone starts singing along with him. Freddie Quell is not amused and uses the opportunity to start picturing all the women at the party naked. The scene manages to convey both the unself-aware dorkiness of Dodd and the hopeless perviness of Quell all at once.

And the Golden Stake goes to…
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
Les Misérables

The category always gets a little thrown off when an actual musical comes out; it’s kind of hard for scenes inserted into regular films to compete. I didn’t even like Les Misérables but nothing short of sheer haterdom could allow me to deny the power of this scene, one which may well single handedly earn Anne Hathaway an Oscar. There’s always a tension in musicals between people who can sing but can’t act (*cough* Eddie Redmayne) and people who can act but can’t sing (*cough* Russell Crowe). Hathaway found the perfect solution: just be able to do both.
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Old 01-25-2013, 08:29 PM   #14
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Completely in agreement.
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Old 01-25-2013, 09:20 PM   #15
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Good choice. I do love that scene from The Master as well.
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Old 01-25-2013, 11:56 PM   #16
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Awesome choice using Bane vs Batman. Absolutely brutal scene, executed brilliantly.
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Old 01-26-2013, 01:53 AM   #17
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I would've went with the fight scene from The Master. That was pretty funny.
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Old 01-26-2013, 02:53 AM   #18
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The Dark Knight Rises fight was a pretty powerful scene. The Raid would be my second choice if only for choreography and sheer brutality. I haven't seen Les Misérables yet, but I hear that "I Deamed A Dream" is the musical scene stealer of the year.
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Old 01-26-2013, 01:01 PM   #19
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Shootout of the Year
They say real men fight with their hands. **** that! In modern action films the weapon of choice is the firearm and the five films nominated for the shootout of the year all show that scenes can be just as exciting when bullets fly as when blows are thrown.

Plantation House Shootout – Django Unchained: Quentin Tarentino builds a certain degree of tension through the second half of Django Unchained until it finally turns into a full-on Tarentino Mexican standoff. Finally everything explodes in an orgy of bloody violence as Django tries to shoot his way out of the Candieland plantation. Though he’s eventually cornered and captured, he certainly doesn’t go out without a hell of a fight.

Ending – End of Watch: The fact that End of Watch ends with a shootout is a big part of why it’s a stupid movie, but I’m not going to hold that against it because in a vacuum this is a pretty interesting scene. The scene involves two cops trying to escape an ambush even though they’re outnumbered and out gunned. David Ayers does a pretty good job of conveying the cops desperation and uses a couple of interesting visual tricks throughout.

The June Rebellion – Les Misérables: Les Misérables starts to get kind of boring in its second half, but there’s a jolt of excitement when a little bit of revolution finally pops off. Using old-school firearms like muskets and cannons, this streetfight between the French military and a group of rebellious students manages to be a pretty exciting battle scene that lives up to the production values of the film it’s in.

Shot Car/Trench Drug War – Miss Bala: This short but effective scene from the little seen Mexican thriller Miss Bala makes the phrase “drug war” seem frighteningly literal. The scene begins with our protagonists in a car that gets shot up and as she escapes the film begins a single long shot in which we see cartel members using a bunch of cars as cover while the shoot at some unseen enemy in the distance. It looks more like something out of a WWI trench than something out of a street fight.

Abbottabad Raid – Zero Dark Thirty: There isn’t really all that much shooting in this shootout, in fact I strongly considered classifying it as a set-piece rather than an actual shootout, but in the end it just felt a little more natural here. The reason there aren’t a ton of bullets flying is that the people with the guns are incredibly effective at their jobs, the enemy hardly gets a shot off because they’re quickly neutralized by SEAL team six pretty much the second they show up.

And the Golden Stake goes to…
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
Zero Dark Thirty

When you think about it, the real life raid on Abbottabad isn’t that exciting. The American forces completely outmatch their opposition and the ultimate goal of the mission is to shoot and kill an unarmed fifty year old man. And yet, Kathryn Bigelow manages to turn this into a really tense and exciting recreation that somehow has you on edge even though you well know that the mission more or less went off without a hitch. The appeal here is that we get a glimpse at authentic looking military tactics being employed in interesting ways.
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Old 01-26-2013, 01:24 PM   #20
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Out of the ones listed I'd have gone with Django or Miss Bala. As for Zero Dark Thirty, I found the ambush on Maya to be more effective than the raid.
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Old 01-26-2013, 01:33 PM   #21
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I'm surprised you didn't end up going with Django. That would've been my choice.
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Old 01-26-2013, 02:01 PM   #22
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I'm with you on Zero Dark Thirty.
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Old 01-26-2013, 02:15 PM   #23
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I see why you picked ZDT, but me personally, I would've gone with Django in a heartbeat.
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Old 01-26-2013, 03:40 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iv3rdawG View Post
As for Zero Dark Thirty, I found the ambush on Maya to be more effective than the raid.
I agree.
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:22 PM   #25
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Best Use of Source Music
While the “musical performance” category looks at sequences that involve live onscreen performances, this award is about how well a film can use a pre-existing song within a scene. Emphasis there needs to be on “pre-existing,” the song generally has to have been made separately from the film in order to be eligible for this (so no, the opening credits for Skyfall are not eligible). Bear in mind that this isn’t an award for “best song that happened to be used in a movie this year,” it’s an award for the best synergy between song and imagery.

“Top of the World” by The Carpenters – Dark Shadows: This montage scene from the needlessly over-bashed Tim Burton film Dark Shadows shows Johnny Depp’s character adjusting to being a vampire in the 70s to the dulcet tones of a Carpenters song and ends with that “reveal yourself tiny songstress” joke you’ve probably seen in the trailer. The scene perfectly encapsulates the juxtaposition of 18th century gothic and 1970s kitch which is at the center of that movie’s humor.

“The Payback/Untouchable” by Tupac and James Brown – Django Unchained: What better soundtrack could you find for a former slave’s moment of true resistance than a mash-up of songs by two icons of 20th century black empowerment: James Brown and Tupac Shakur. I’m bending the rules slightly on this one since it’s a mash-up that was made for the film by Tupac engineer Claudio Cueni, but given that the song (which incorporates traditional western musical elements) perfectly embodies the film’s mix of 19th century settings and 20th century attitudes.

“Feelin’ Alright” by Joe Crocker – Flight: There are definitely some corny soundtrack selections in Flight, and even this song is something of a clichéd piece of movie music as of late, but I still like the way it’s employed on two occasions in the film. One could call this song “the cocaine theme from Flight” because it’s played immediately every time that Denzel Washington snorts a line. The tone and lyrics of the song clearly match the character’s state of mind when he’s lit and it makes for a good callback the second time.

“Firework” by Katy Perry – Rust and Bone: I hate Katy Perry and I hate this song, but this category isn’t about song quality, it’s about the art of crafting a scene. This song is used twice in Rust and Bone, once while the main character is acting as an orca trainer and again when she’s coming to terms with a tragic accident and trying to remember the job that she can no longer participate in. The first use is diagetic, the second is non-diagetic and in that second use has some pretty strong symbolic value.

“What is and What Should Never Be” by Led Zeppelin – The Silver Linings Playbook: This song is used in a long and tricky scene where the Bradley Cooper character in The Silver Linings Playbook is having a bad Bi-Polar episode which walks the line between comedy and domestic violence. The song choice is oddly brilliant because it’s a tune that very quickly goes from being down tempo to being aggressive, not unlike the psyche of a manic depressive.

And the Golden Stake Goes to…
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
The Silver Linings Playbook

David O. Russell is quickly becoming one of the great soundtrack assemblers of our times. He won in this category for his last film, The Fighter, for its use of The Heavy’s How You Like Me Now but there’s a good chance it could have also won for a Led Zeppelin song: Good Times Bad Times. There were multiple songs in consideration for TSLP as well. It easily could have won here for its use of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash’s “The Girl from the North Country” or its use of Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour” as well.
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