2011 Calvin Awards: Best Cast
February 15, 2011
This year, the Calvin Award for Best Cast goes to Aaron Sorkin’s The Social Network. The Facebook drama has a good sampling of young Hollywood at or near the tops of their games. Were Mark Zuckerberg about 97% less elusive, we here at Box Office Prophets may have met the tech prodigy by now. Alas, we have just Jesse Eisenberg’s performance to work from, but our gut says his portrayal was remarkably spot-on. Andrew Garfield plays Zuckerberg’s “best friend,” Eduardo Saverin, and firmly cemented himself (Andrew, not Eduardo) as an actor H’wood fat cats should open their wallets to. And Justin Timberlake! Wow, the dude is more than a part-time SNL player. His turn as Napster co-founder Sean Parker should have garnered more critical attention.
One of the summer’s biggest blockbusters, Inception, hit number two on our Best Cast list. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a troubled and unreliable character whose ticket home to the States rests on his and his team’s ability to incept a radical idea inside the head of the heir (Cillian Murphy) to a business empire. On his side is the frisky Ellen Page, mindful Dileep Rao and the playful chemistry between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy. Marion Cotillard plays Leo’s former lover, and Michael Caine his professor-y father.
In third is Oscar’s most nominated movie, The King’s Speech, which stars Colin Firth as an Englishman (a stretch, we know). No, he’s not just English, but a king with a severe case of the stutters who’s expected to make a great wartime speech after assuming the throne over his irresponsible older brother (Guy Pearce). His wife is Helena Bonham Carter and his therapist is portrayed by Geoffrey Rush. Firth and and Rush are magic together.
A movie that has Jeff Bridges adorn an eye patch and fire at quite literally everything in his path - be it baddies, horses or snow, even - earned fourth place on our list. In True Grit, Bridges is hired by a young girl (newb Hailee Steinfeld) to hunt down the man (Josh Brolin) she presumes murdered her father. By his side is Matt Damon, who goes all cowboy in bandanna and chaps, and absolutely owns his ridiculous name, LaBoeuf (pronounced as, yes, LaBeef).
In fifth is The Fighter, a movie with so many stars that even Christian Bale, while accepting his award for Best Supporting Actor at the Globes, felt moved to comment on the odd situation of a lead character (Mark Wahlberg) getting overshadowed by support. But it’s true - Bale’s turn as Wahlberg’s drug-dependent half-brother, Dicky Eklund, is great, as is the performance by Melissa Leo, who plays Wahlberg’s conservative and protective mother, Alice. Amy Adams is Wahlberg’s hard-nosed girlfriend, Charlene Fleming.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has arguably the largest ensemble we’re honoring here on the Best Cast list. The movie, comfy in the sixth position, has Michael Cera going toe-to-toe with seven evil teens and 20-somethings to prove he’s got the stuff required to date a wannabe hipster who dyes her hair ridiculous colors from time to time. The girl would be Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and her evil exes are, among others, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Mae Whitman and Jason Schwartzman. Anna Kendrick is his bossy 18-year-old sister, and Ellen Wong is delightful as Pilgrim’s girlfriend prior to Pilgrim learning he has a thing for blue hair dye. Not to be forgotten are Aubrey Plaza, in a small role as a Pilgrim hater, and Kieran Culkin, who’s hilarious as Pilgrim’s gayyy roommate.
Adapted from the Chuck Hogan novel, Prince of Thieves, The Town slides in at number seven. The film stars Ben Affleck (who wrote and directed, too) as a bandit who falls for the ho-hum girl he keeps hostage. Jeremy Renner owns about every scene he appears in, and Chris Cooper cameos as Affleck’s imprisoned father. Cooper’s only on screen for a minute or two, yet whatever the runtime, it’s fantastic. Mad Men’s Jon Hamm is more caricature than character, but is nevertheless winning as an FBI agent. Bake Lively rounds out the cast Renner’s sister, Krista.
Easy A is our eighth place finisher. It stars Emma Stone as an innocent young teen whose teensy white lie about a made-up guy she bedded snowballs into an out-of-control mess of bad idea. Though she’s quite good at playing the part - as is Amanda Bynes, who puts on her best Mean Girls impression - most of the movie’s funny rests of the performances by adults more than twice their ages. Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci are the total wacky kooks you’d expect them to be as Stone’s mom and dad, and Thomas Haden Church and Lisa Kudrow are a teacher and counselor, respectively, at the school.
Proving the Aaliyah adage that age ain't nothing but a number is the cast of Red, our ninth selection. The stars of this surprise hit are some of the most accredited in the history of our industry. To wit, the combination of Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and Brian Cox has a combined resume of five Golden Globe victories in a whopping 23 Golden Globe nominations, eight Emmys victories among 16 nominations, and a pair of Academy Awards from 11 individual nominations. And the numbers go up even further if you want to factor in Richard Dreyfuss and Ernest Borgnine, both of whom have won an Oscar and a Golden Globe. Another adage that operates in Hollywood is that younger is better, but a quick glance at the above demonstrates that sometimes putting a film in the hands of established masters of the acting craft is a lot more fun. Red is impeccably acted and a standing argument that thespians should not be put out to pasture the instant they turn 60.
Rounding out the list is The Kids Are All Right, a movie that proves Mark Ruffalo can even seduce a lesbian mom through boyish charm and, um, general sexiness. He, Julianne Moore and Annette Bening are a dynamite trifecta of thespians, though Mia Wasikowska’s turn as a curious and strong willed 18-year-old is worthy of praise, too. Mia Wasikowska as Mia the Rebel is good stuff.
Very nearly making the cut this year is Black Swan. Following it are Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Winter’s Bone, The Expendables and Shutter Island. (Eric Hughes/BOP)
The Calvins Introduction
Best Overlooked Film
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
||The Social Network
||The King's Speech
||Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
||The Kids Are All Right