Take it away readers, your time has come . . .
So you, the readers, have once again decided that The Ticket’s film corner has got ghastly taste and may need some sort of brain operation. An unbowed DONALD CLARKEtakes stock of how you voted
STOP complaining. The Ticket poll is a near-perfect simulacrum of the democratic process as it functions in most western societies. Everybody is free to vote as they choose, but only for the candidates that we party bosses put their way. It is not, perhaps, surprising that the most commercially successful film on the ballot paper, Looper, ended up taking the prize for best film. Neither is that a cause for any gnashing of teeth. Rian Johnson’s time-travel flick confirmed that original thinking is still welcome in mainstream cinema. Let’s hope Johnson and his team come up with another equally fresh idea, rather than immediately making for Sequel Gulch. Silver and gold medal finishes by, respectively, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master and Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild reassured us that readers of this publication are at home to oddity.
The situation was similar when the unofficial consolation prize of best director was tabulated. Everybody loves Ben Affleck’s Argo and the square-headed actor confirmed his rehabilitation with a comfortable victory. PT Anderson and Michael Haneke, director of Amour, also dragged up a significant number of votes.
Despite tearing up our screens in The Hunt, Mads Mikkelsen was walloped in the best actor race by Joaquin Phoenix. He may have to settle for The Ticket prize. Daniel Day Lewis, star of the upcoming Lincoln, is, by all accounts, streets ahead in the battle for the best-actor Oscar.
There are, in fact, few enormous surprises in the winning films and personalities. The Dark Knight Rises closed Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy in some style and, as expected, grabbed the prize for best franchise picture. Searching for Sugar Man won a lot of friends and – though sleeper hit Bill Cunningham New York ran it close – the film was probably always the favourite for best documentary.
What Richard Did was the closest thing we had to a breakout Irish hit this year and it ended up polling well over twice as many votes as runner-up Grabbers.
Inside sources at the count centre give us interesting news about Michael Fassbender’s victory in best Irish performance. True, he is by far the most famous name on the list. But it is still worth marvelling that the Kerryman received more votes than any candidate in any of the music or cinema categories. He’ll be with us for some time.
The worst film also scarred up some psephological aberrations. Rock of Ages looked like a film that wanted to be so bad it was good. In the end, Ticket voters decided that – by a colossal margin – it was just plain awful. The makers of the useless The Watch can console themselves with the knowledge that they came last in this particular poll. That’s some sort of achievement.
What is, however, most interesting is how badly some films figured. It might reasonably have been assumed that the race for best franchise was a battle between Marvel Avengers Assemble and The Dark Knight Rises. In the event, the Marvel superheroes finished way back in fourth place behind Batman, The Muppets and The Hunger Games. Hooray for The Muppets. We felt the inclusion of that film might trigger some weary groans. Not a bit of it. Our sensible readers recognised it as a felt-covered classic.
More depressing for your film team was – in the wider world and in this poll – the poor performance of three films we regard as contemporary classics: Leos Carax’s Holy Motors, Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio and Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers. The Carax and the Strickland film, despite ecstatic reviews in most places, stumbled into the bottom three of our best film poll. Béla Tarr’s forbidding (and brilliant) The Turin Horse garnered over twice as many votes as Strickland’s picture. Ben Wheatley – director of a very funny, very accessible film – failed to make it into the top five in the director’s race.
None of those films broke through at the box office either. Now, it is, of course, possible that all three are ghastly and we need some sort of brain operation. But the positive receptions they received at festival screenings suggested there is a willing audience for pictures that blend surreal high-jinx with something a little like populist entertainment. Is there still time for them to become cults? Does the cult movie still exist as a concept? Worrying times.
Clocks was ticking, The xx marked the top spot, Little Green Cars sped ahead and a Scottish neuroscientist opened your minds – the Ticket Awards were (mostly) a triumph of good judgment, writes JIM CARROLL