2012 Calvin Awards: Best Director

By Kim Hollis

February 17, 2012

That's my wife about to make out with that guy.

For the first time in Calvins history, we have awarded Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress all to the same film. We came close once, when we gave Lost in Translation Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress, but Peter Jackson came in the crash the party and take Best Director for The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

Fortunately for Michel Hazanavicius, Jackson doesn’t have another hobbit movie until later this year. In fact, Hazanavicius won in convincing fashion, beating the second place honoree by 14 points. Our entire group was rightfully impressed with Hazanavicius’s ability to bring The Artist to life, working elegantly within both black and white filmmaking and a complete lack of dialogue. He elicited marvelous performances from his entire group, having them be emotive but not over-the-top, and the diametrically opposed journey of the two lead characters is well crafted. The Artist is a beautiful film and strikes a true chord with movie lovers, so it’s only natural that our staff would feel so strongly about its strengths.

Second place, but only by a hair, goes to Bennett Miller for his work on Moneyball. Miller had the extremely difficult challenge of taking an adaptation of a book that was basically about sports math and making it engaging enough that it worked on the big screen. Working from Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian’s impressive screenplay, Miller took viewers inside the inner workings of a baseball team, and the result was simultaneously fascinating, exciting and touching. “It’s hard not to be romantic about baseball,” says Billy Beane in the movie. With movies like Moneyball, this is certainly true.

Brad Bird takes third place for his direction of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Here at BOP, we’re longtime fans of Bird’s work – going all the way back to his days as director and executive consultant for The Simpsons, but more especially his animation filmography, which includes The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille. In 2011, he made his move to live action, and his taut sensibilities about what audiences are looking for in a film made the latest in the Mission: Impossible series a movie that is truly worth celebrating. Were there crazy action scenes? Boy, were there ever – the climb up the Burj Khalifa building alone is simply jaw dropping. At the same time, though, he builds an emotional connection to the characters. Perhaps most impressively, he made Tom Cruise bankable again.


Fourth goes to Nicholas Winding Refn for his brilliant work on the highly stylized Drive. A throwback to the days of Miami Vice and other ‘80s action shows/films, he takes the brave approach to let the story reveal itself slowly and subtly rather than being in your face and over-the-top. Rather than match modern action flicks with a breakneck pace, Refn’s film is more deliberate. The result is one of the most unique movies in recent history, and we just can’t stop thinking about it.

Our final spot in the top five belongs to Alexander Payne, who is about as consistent as it gets with regards to directing great films. The man who brought us Election, About Schmidt and Sideways now helms The Descendants. What is particularly striking about this film is that despite being set in an absolutely beautiful place (Hawaii), the lives of the characters are messy and heartbreaking, and as viewers, we’re just flies on the wall as we watch their eloquent story play out. Over time, this is a film that is going to resonate.

Sixth and seventh place belong to two men who seem to find themselves on “best of” lists whenever they have a new film released. Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life certainly isn’t for everyone, but its proponents are extremely vocal and usually completely dedicated to promoting the awesomeness of the film. A treatise on creation and family, this is a dense piece of work that requires dedication from the viewer – but the rewards are many. Seventh place finisher David Fincher, who won in this category one year ago. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a brooding, dark film set in a cold, unpleasant world, and Fincher has made it both atmospheric and compulsively watchable.

Rounding out the top ten are Woody Allen for the wonderful Midnight in Paris, Hugo’s Martin Scorsese and John Madden for The Debt. Allen’s best movie in years, Midnight in Paris shifts between modern-day Paris and he 1920s with ease, and the film is a dream for both fans of movies and literature. Hugo is similarly a movie made with cinema lovers in mind, and its magical spectacle captures all the innocence and wonder of youth. Finally, Madden creates a thriller that is gripping, compelling and full of suspense. He ably shifts from one era to another, keeping the story lines intact as he does so.

Directors who got some love but didn’t quite make the top ten include Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Duncan Jones (Source Code), Steve McQueen (Shame), Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class) and David Yates (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2).

The Calvins: An Introduction
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Album
Best Cast
Best Character
Best Director
Best Overlooked Film
Best Picture
Best Scene
Best Screenplay
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
Best Videogame
Breakthrough Performance
Worst Performance
Worst Picture

Top 10
Position Director(s) Film Total Points
1 Michel Hazanavicius The Artist 72
2 Bennett Miller Moneyball 58
3 Brad Bird Mission Impossible - Ghost 56
4 Nicolas Winding Refn Drive 53
5 Alexander Payne The Descendants 52
6 Terrance Malick The Tree of Life 50
7 David Fincher The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo 39
8 Woody Allen Midnight in Paris 32
9 Martin Scorsese Hugo 28
10 Rupert Wyatt Rise of the Planet of the Apes 25



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