Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The FB Awards Begin: BEST ENSEMBLE 2009

It's the tenth anniversary of this site's awardage. For new readers, a little history, Nathaniel (c'est moi) started a Zine in the 1990s (a Julianne Moore centric issue to your left) called "FiLM BiTCH" which became a website and then was renamed The Film Experience in 2000 because "bitch" is soooo 90s... unless it's pronounced "bsssh, please". Also: bitch misses the point since the awards are not snarky takedowns of movies but a celebration of the year's best. But I've never changed the name of the awards for nostalgia's sake. Enough with the history lesson...

[insert drumroll here]

BEST ENSEMBLE ! SAG went for An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Nine and Precious which are respectable or understandable choices -- SAG goes crazy for big casts and star-heavy films. The BFCA chucked a couple of those titles for casts both big (Star Trek) and small (Up in the Air). Oscar doesn't have this category -- and I've always been okay with that though I have wondered why there's never been a prize for casting directors.

What I look for in an ensemble is multiple actors acting as a cohesive unit as opposed to a lot of people acting within the same movie. Which is why, for example, I'd never vote for Nine even though I like the movie more than most people. That musical has a large cast but they're basically performing solo and then the scenes are tied together. If only Guido's women had put on roller skates and body-slammed each other.

Whip It a FiLM BiTCH Best Ensemble nominee

Give me several people in a frame and I'm as happy as a clam. Long live the wide shot! God I miss Robert Altman whenever this topic comes up.

Obviously, I'd love to hear yours, too.


kent said...

seeing nicole kidman, penelope cruz, marion cotillard, sophia loren, and daniel day-lewis all in the opening sequence in NINE made me almost want to vote the film for best ensemble ;)

great, individualistic choices!

i'd say INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS has had the best ensemble all year long. the actors are all superb, well, mainly the europeans anyway.

are more fb award nominees on the way?

Robert Hamer said...

I'm going to have to lobby for Whip It to take the gold. They all just seemed to work great together to form the funnest, sexiest, and most exuberant ensemble of 2009.

I know there are plenty here who will argue for Inglorious Basterds, and I might have supported them, except Pitt and Roth sucked so much, and Waltz stole the spotlight from all of them every time he was on screen.

I'd award the silver to In the Loop and the bronze to The Hurt Locker. But that's just me.

Ángel Ramos said...

Mine are:

Up in the Air
Inlogrious Basterds
Summer Hours
The White Ribbon
In the Loop
and Where the Wild Things Are.

Anonymous said...

My nominees are....

Inglorious Basterds
Up in the Air
Where the Wild Things Are
Whip It

Andrew K. said...

Of your five, Duplicity takes the cake with Whip It as a somewhat distant second.

I understand what you say about Nine, but strange that Public Enemies topples that since the cast never works together for me.

Travis N said...

Oh, god. I LOVE the Film Bitch Awards. Hoorah!

And I think this is really the EXACT right award for something like Duplicity. Good call.

Ashley said...

Thank you Nathaniel for your awards!! I couldn't agree with you more. Whip It definitely had one of the best ensemble casts of 2009!!

Travis said...

First off, loving all the Altman shout-outs!

My nominees (and I have sadly yet to see a lot so these will definitely change) are:

Inglourious Basterds - If we take the Americans out, the cast would be absolutely flawless. Each performance is pitch-perfect. But even with the Basterds, it's still one of the best ensembles of the year by far.

Summer Hours - Juliette Binoche, Charles Berling, and Edith Scob are wonderful, and the entire cast works perfectly together as a family with highly-developed relationships and past stories.

Sin Nombre - Edgar Flores and Paulina Gaitan were spectacular, and the rest of the cast does good work too (especially since most were amateurs)

Where the Wild Things Are - Max Records gives one of my favorite child performances of the decade, and the Wild Things (particularly James Gandolfini and Catherine O'Hara) are great fun. And we haven't even gotten to Catherine Keener, who's wonderful in a short amount of screen time.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - I unashamedly love the Harry Potter series (books and films), and the young cast is really coming into their own. Emma Watson is both heart-breaking and hilarious, and Daniel Radcliffe is fast becoming a captivating leading man. And of course they have a stellar group of British adults supporting them, with particularly fun work from Jim Broadbent and Helena Bonham Carter.

Amir said...

YAAYYY finally the film bitch begins.

in this category i really have to go with IB.
i don't understand how some people think brad pitt was bad in this film.
i mean, yes, the basterds are kinda the most boring part of the film, and yes, brad pitt has been far better than this before. but i still wouldn't call this performance anything near bad.

Casey said...

basterds takes this in a cake walk, pick any performance at random and your almost asured to have one of the best performances of the year

Carl Joseph Papa said...

this announcement, made my day.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Yes, yes, yes, and my vote is for Hurt Locker in this category. The vibe between the three boys is as essential to making that movie work as anything else. (as opposed to a few of the scenes in Up in the Air, where I think Kendrick and Clooney might as well have been teleconferencing.)

So Hurt Locker definitely gets the Marsha in this category. (Obviously, FiLM BiTCH > Marsha > Oscar)

Glenn Dunks said...

Quentin Tarantino pretty much owns this category now that Robert Altman is no longer with us. His casts are always so connected and wonderful and Inglourious Basterds is no different.

Great call on Duplicity as well. If you'd seen the Aussie film Three Blind Mice, however, I don't see how it could lose. Even with Basterds in the race.

Dean said...

Although I don't like the movie all that much, this is a category I would definitely nominate The Mesenger in. I thought Foster had great chemistry with both Woody and Samantha, but more importantly all the actors who played the families were excellent. The magnitude of all those grief scenes was probably over the top, but that's the script and director's fault I would say. All the actors were heartbreakingly effective.
I'd also nominate Precious, Basterds, The Hurt Locker, and maybe Humpday.

Sam Brooks said...

I was worrying that you hadn't seen In the Loop, but it's placement here clearly indicates against that! I'm so happy because it's by far the funniest thing I've seen all year.

Narnia684 said...

My nominees for this year are:

The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek
Up in the Air

I know the list is a little more semi-mainstream than I usually pick, but I had many others that were in the running, including...

The Brothers Bloom
Easy Virtue
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Hangover
Harry Potter and...Prince
I Love You, Man
Public Enemies
A Serious Man
State of Play

Richter Scale said...

Nat, please give this award to Whip It! I love that ensemble, I loved watching these women roller skate together and Marcia Gay Harden, Daniel Stern and Alia Shawkat are all amazing in the scenes outside the derby. I also loved that car scene with Kristen Wiig. I'm glad someone is acknowledging this film (which I believe to be one of the most underrated of the year).

I will, however, say that Inglorious Basterds would deserve this award as well, and I actually love seeing Brad Pitt in these over-the-top, silly roles where he's having a blast. Yes, I prefer the European performances (namely Waltz and Laurent) but he's a blast. Also, Daniel Bruhl gives a pretty amazing performance.

Another ensemble I'd like to mention is Zombieland. A small, but hilarious ensemble, and the chemistry amongst the four leads is really worth watching. As much as I like The Messenger, I think I enjoyed Woody Harrelson way more when he was hunting for Twinkies.

adam k. said...

These seem like great calls even if I haven't seen most of them.

I too must lobby for Whip It to take the gold, or some medal at the very least. I hope SAG goes to Inglorious Basterds (and I think it will), but I love the actors of Whip It more. They form such a cohesive unit and are so diverse, and their relationships are so interesting and believable. And even though I LOVE the performances and think several of them are award worthy in different ways, it's REALLY REALLY HARD to single anyone out. Which is why I think they need to take the ensemble prize. That, and that I feel sorry for the film and particularly loyal to it.

My nominees, from what I've seen now, would probably be Whip It, Star Trek, Precious, Basterds and Up in the Air, with An Education, Nine and Zombieland close behind... but I haven't seen a lot of the best stuff apparently: The Hurt Locker, In the Loop, and Duplicity, among others.

I'm a bit torn on whether Up in the Air really deserves an ensemble mention. The individual performances are top-notch and that one 3-person convo in the airport is bliss. And is 3 actors that different from, say, the 4 actors in Sideways? I don't think so. Plus there's Jason Bateman, JK Simmons, Ryan's family, and all those non-actors who got fired to round things out. I think it's a legit ensemble, in which case its one of the best of the year.

I agree that Zombieland has a great little cast (including Bill Murray in a hilarious cameo) and is worth checking out.

Nat, if you have a Best Male Cameo category, you really have to see Zombieland so you can give Bill Murray a slot.

Runs Like A Gay said...

Good call on Duplicity - everyone in the cast working together to service the plot from the major stars to the humblest bit players.

I'd probably consider A Serious Man, as well. Admittedly it is more episodic than most of your choices, but there's a real lived in feel to the family which I liked.

Fernando Moss said...

love the Duplicity nod

Sean said...

My nominees for Best Ensemble would be:

'The Hurt Locker'
'In The Loop'
'Inglourious Basterds'
'A Serious Man'
'The White Ribbon'

Lara said...

I've finally seen THE HURT LOCKER and for the same reasons Ms. Marsha mentioned above my vote goes to the guys. These three are in so many scenes together and it's a real "ensemble" acting where it seems the single performances wouldn't be as great if the other two weren't around to reflect upon.
I haven't seen Whip it yet, but IB while some great performances doesn't feel as "ensemble-y" as THL.

Bill_the_Bear said...

I liked your choice of "Summer Hours," and seeing "Duplicity" on the list made me realize that I have to see that one again.

My top two ensemble cast, though, would be "Two Lovers" (which you really MUST see, Nat!) and "An Education."


Bill... I did see TWO LOVERS. Good movies but I'm not obsessed like many readers seem to be. But I'm glad I finally saw it and I thank all of you for pushing it all year.

Michael W. said...

First of all, happy 10th film bitch awards anniversary! And thank you Nat for giving us one of the best and most wonderful places on the internet. Hopefully there will be many more anniversaries :D

My noms for best ensemble would be:

Away We Go
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Up in the Air
The White Ribbon

And my award would go the The White Ribbon. There isn't a single flaw in the cast. Simply amazing.

And I have also always wondered why there isn't an Oscar category for casting directors!? They really should add that.

Sawyer said...

Finally! My favorite time of year! Best Awards of the Season!


Fantastic Mr. Fox
Inglourious Basterds
The Hangover
The Hurt Locker
A Serious Man

Anonymous said...


BrianZ said...

Yes!!! Whip It!!

Robert said...

I think the only reason I look forward to the Oscars more than the Film Bitch awards is the accompanying party. But based on awards alone, yours are superior.

Sebastian Gutierrez said...

Ensemble Noms: I agree with you on Inglourious Basterds and Duplicity. I would put Star Trek, (500) Days of Summer, and Up In The Air.

Rob said...

I know "Julie and Julia" doesn't get much respect, but I don't think there's a dud in either cast for this movie. And they work together brilliantly. I'd go with this movie just to be able to honor Jane Lynch.

Michael C. said...

I'd say In the Loop for the gold. Good call including it. For the Bronze definitely Inglourious Basterds. But I think you missed the Silver entirely: A Serious Man.

I know you were not as enamored with this film as most but you gotta admit every time Michael Stuhlbarg staggered into a new incident there were a handful pitch-perfect character actors there backing him up. The series of rabbis, his family, his son's high school, the prologue, the neighbors, his University. All told about two dozen actors orbiting Larry Gopnik hitting one bulls-eye after another.


Robert -- so what you're saying is i should make mine a televised event with a ton of celebrities ?

i wish. ha ha

it'd be like the actressexual event of the year every year ;)

Michael C -- i love hearing the reasons why people would have voted for certain things... and don't you always wanna grill Oscar voters on their choices? I mean seriously.

i hope to give A Serious Man another look at some point but I just feel like it was so mean spirited in a way that I couldn't quite dig the performances. That said I did love whathisname... ? who played the widower who was going to marry Michael Stuhlbarg's wife? He was great.

Richter Scale said...

His name is Fred Melamed, and yes, he was amazing. I've never seen someone be so menacing with a hug, and be so friendly it's creepy. The character's name is Sy Abelman by the way. Still, you should consider Michael Stuhlbarg as well, because he carries the film beautifully as Larry Gopnick, and Aaron Wolff (who plays Danny, Larry's son) is also really good. Also, I don't know if you watch The Big Bang Theory by any chance, but the younger rabbi is Howard Wollowitz from that show (the actor's name is Simon Helberg).

Tony said...

YEA!!! I am so excited about the FB Awards!! I have been checking the site religiously to see when they would start!! SO EXCITED!!!

KEVIN M. said...

Broken Embraces
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Hurt Locker
Inglorious Basterds

adri said...

Re: "Duplicity" - the fight scene between Giamatti and Wilkinson made me laugh more than any scene this year.

My choice would also be "Inglourious Basterds". I like that for the SAG ensemble nom, they included so many of the cast. That's what it felt like- that every member of the cast was specifically chosen and valued. None was picked by a casting director that the film's director just said uh-huh to.

And I also like Brad Pitt's comedy roles of late. Since he's had kids, he's become a lot funnier, with a core of implacable innocence. All of the IB roles are Tarantino himself, I think. Pitt the unknown guy from the sticks, Waltz the talky enthusiast, Laurent the romantic cinema owner with her secret love, etc. That's one thing that makes the women's parts strong - that they are every bit as much of Taratino's psyche as the men.

May I suggest for the later Limited Role category, Jane Lynch in "Julie and Julia" (as another poster has already mentioned, an excellent cast all round) and also, Joseph Gordon Levitt's blind date in "500 Days of Summer" (Rachel Boston).

Rahm said...

Fantastic picks. I think Inglourious Basterds has the best ensemble cast. Whip It and The Hurt Locker are my 2nd and 3rd choices.