PGCMAs: Breakthrough Performance, Biggest Surprise, and Most Underrated (2013)

Posted: February 3, 2014 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PGCMAs

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” SimpsonPGCMA 2013*The above image represents 2012’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master.

Best Breakthrough Performance

This award is dedicated to the performers who are having their first prominent role, or are breaking away from their usual shtick.

Barkhad Abdi, Captain PhillipsIt’s you’re first film. You need to play a villain who is menacing and scary despite your small size and you also need to be very human. On top of that you need to go toe-to-toe with Tom Hanks. That’s hard, but Barkhad Abdi comes off like an old pro.

Andrew Dice Clay, Blue JasmineIt may seem weird to nominate a 56 year old man for an award which caters to young people, but Clay really showed a new side of himself in Blue Jasmine. Famous for his vulgar nursery rhymes, Clay actually plays a very sad character who feels really genuine to the point that there was a time he had some Oscar buzz.

Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale StationLast year, Dane DeHaan won for his work in Chronicle. This year his co-star is making his bid with his great work in Fruitvale Station. There’s a lot people have criticised Fruitvale for, but Jordan’s performance has received praise and rightfully so.

Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave12 Years a Slave has a cast made up of both rising stars as well as veterans of the industry. And yet, perhaps the most thoroughly praised performer has been newcomer Lupita Nyong’o. I’d never heard of her before, but she blew me away in this and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall StreetAnd yet again, we have a complete unknown having to go toe-to-toe with an all-star cast. That’s no easy task, and with so much hype and praise going to DiCaprio , it’s amazing Robbie was still able to leave such an impression.

And The Winner Is…

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Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

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Everyone probably saw this coming given I awarded Nyong’o Best Supporting Actress. Well, I hate to be predictable but this really is the breakthrough performance that impressed me the most. I hope Nyong’o has a promising future because she’s something else.

Biggest Surprise

Being the best film isn’t the most important factor, but how I surprised I was by the work is key.

Dead Man DownThis is a film that got torn apart by critics and was produced by WWE films. Sure, the film was directed by the same dude who did the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but I wasn’t too impressed by the direction in that film. And yet when I saw Dead Man  Down, I liked it. It’s not great, but it’s a solid action thriller which entertains just fine.

The Great GatsbyI’ve wrote about my disdain for Baz Luhrmann before, and every indicator said his Gatsby would be loaded with all the things I usually don’t like about his work.  But I really like the film. The cast is strong, the story interesting, and Luhrmann’s tendencies actually elevate the work for the most part. I see why people don’t like it, but this was a big improvement over Luhrmann’s other films and a sign that he can use his skills for good.

Insidious Chapter Two At the beginning of the year, it seemed clear that The Conjuring was the project James Wan was passionate about and Insidious was just being forced by the studio. While that may still be true, I found the latter much more enjoyable. It may not be nuanced, but Insidious Chapter Two is a fun ride of a horror movie with a genuinely interesting story.

Spring Breakers This movie surprises me for two reasons. One, I really didn’t know what to expect so what I did get was in itself surprising. More importantly, I’m surprised by how passionately I’ll defend this movie. I don’t love Spring Breakers, but when it’s dismissed I find myself passionately sticking up for it, something I never expected.

World War ZNever mind me, this film surprised the world. Pretty much everyone had seemingly dismissed this film as a failure and yet it became a massive box-office success and even got some solid reviews. The film itself is by no means great, but given the disaster we all expected, the results are a solid alternative.

And The Winner Is…

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The Great Gatsby

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I expected The Great Gatsby to be a nightmare, one I was only going to endure for Leonardo DiCaprio. If it were tolerable I would have nominated it, so imagine my shock when I ended up really liking it. Good performances, production values, interesting themes, and a fast pace make Gatsby a worthwhile watch. There’s a lot to criticise, but to like a movie when you think you’ll hate it is a wonderful thing.

Most Underrated/Underappreciated Film

Many people like to call out what films in a given year we’re overrated, but I prefer to bring attention to the films which were unfairly shafted. Here are five films which were swept under the rug when they really shouldn’t have been.

The EastThough people I saw The East seemed to like it, the problem is almost nobody saw it. I wouldn’t call The East a must-see or an event film, but it is a really well-crafted thriller made for adults. It also had an independent film vibe, but not so much that mainstream audiences would be alienated. I would have expected the film to be more of a success.

ElysiumEvery year, people (especially the film community) complain about the major blockbusters lacking substance and ambition. You’d think these people would have embraced Elysium, a sci-fi action film which deals with the healthcare system, immigration, and inequality. Instead, the film was more or less dismissed. Elysium definitely has problems, but it deserved better than to be so casually forgotten.

Insidious Chapter TwoWhile most people seemed to enjoy the first Insidious, Chapter Two was met with far more harsh reviews. I personally really enjoyed it. The film delivered the scares and horror set-pieces I wanted, expanded the story, and Patrick Wilson gives a fun turn. It’s a solid film and I don’t really get where the hate come from.

Man of SteelI don’t know if any 2013 film has been as divisive as Man of Steel. While the film does have a strong fan base, there is a large group of detractors who have come out again recently with the controversial casting of the sequel. I understand why purists dislike the film, but I found Man of Steel to be ambitious, engaging, and very well-crafted. Of all the big budget comic book films of 2013, Man of Steel is the best by far.

The Place Beyond the PinesThe Place Beyond the Pines didn’t really receive negative reviews, but critics did seem to just give it a pass and move on. It’s a shame because the film is a highly engaging drama which is very well made and has some great performances in it. It’s a humble film, but one that has really struck with me.

And The Winner Is…

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The Place Beyond the Pines

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I considered Man of Steel strongly, but at the end of the day, Man of Steel inspired passion whether it be love or hate. The Place Beyond the Pines on the other hand was just so casually and unfairly dismissed that I had to stick up for it. This isn’t a film which will blow your mind, but it’s a very well-made movie with an ambitious plot structure. This is a film which has gotten better and better as time has gone on and I hope more people come to embrace it.

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