As you read this I am quite possibly thousands of miles above you in a huge aluminum alloy vessel, travelling back to NYC. Nashville was a treat and I hope I get invited back to NaFF in some capacity. Here's a quick run down of the cinematic highlights for me. I was on the short film jury and didn't have a chance to see some of the narrative features so this is from a limited pool.
Best Overall Prodigal Sons Filmmaker Kimberly Reed tells me she'll be ineligible for the Oscar for Best Documentary because of something to do with BBC screening or funding (?) which is a real shame because I could see it getting nominated. Other goodies: (500) Days of Summer and That Evening Sun, pictured left. [more on Prodigal / more on Summer]
Best Actress Zooey Deschanel in (500) Days of Summer
Best Actor Hal Holbrook as "Abner Meecham" in That Evening Sun. It's based on the short story by William Gay about a farmer who escapes the old folks home and returns to his beloved farm only to find it occupied by new tenants. The film is well directed by Scott Teems, graduating from short films to his first feature, and an Oscar campaign could materialize for Holbrook if this movie gets a solid enough release. Holbrook plays a stubborn old ornery codger... one could say it's an Eastwood'ish role with less of Clint's squinty menace and more of Hal's weary sensitivity. Honorable mention: Joseph Gordon-Levitt in (500) Days of Summer
Best Supporting Actress Three standouts for me. Don't make me choose. It's actresses.
Kaitlin Olsen in Weather Girl pictured right. At first I thought she was doing just an amusing but generic perky blonde sendup. Then she took a late film monologue much farther than I believed it could go. Laugh out loud funny. 4realz. I actually LOLed. Shellie Marie Shartzer in Make-Out with Violence. She has no lines to speak of as dead girl "Wendy" but man does she sell the conceit and work her physicality [more on Make-Out]. Remember that woman that Clive Owen comically seduced over martinis in Duplicity? That's Carrie Preston who is moving in That Evening Sun as a woman who is trying to stand by her man. Mia Wasikowska is also good as her restless friendly daughter. [You'll be seeing the In Treatment regular a lot onscreen soon. She's in Amelia later this year and then Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland]. She wants to get away from Daddy as soon as possible.
...speak of the devil.
Best Supporting Actor Ray McKinnon as Lonzo Choat in That Evening Sun. He plays the tenant of Meecham's old farm. They both want each other off the land. They both intend to stay. McKinnon never once lets his white trash role teeter towards dimensionless bad guy, even though he does despicable things and is pitted against the ultra sympathetic Holbrook. That's quite a feat and this treatment of the character really girds up the central conflict. You might remember McKinnon as Revered HW Smith on Deadwood.
I didn't see the performance that won a special prize for acting from the main jury here (Vincent D'Onofrio in The Narrows) but since the character is disabled I don't know how much to trust that prize. You know how disabled equals kudos as acting goes.
I don't know if I'll have time to talk about the dozens upon dozens of short films I screened but Nick has done a frankly awesome job of relating what our jury decisions were about and reviewing many of the best shorts along his way.
Here's his take on the animated shorts (my favorite was Western Spaghetti) documentary shorts (The Witness was tops and I wanted Steel Homes for our honorable mention but I couldn't convince my fellow jurors to go with it for the prize. grrrr) and several posts on the plethora of live action shorts. We watched for hours upon hours.
Oh, look here's Western Spaghetti. It fills me with delight.