PGCMAs: Best Comedy, Horror Film, and Action Film (2014)

Posted: February 10, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PGCMAs

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson PGCMA 2014*The image represents 2013’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave.

Best Comedy

Birdman: Birdman may not be quite as comedic as the trailer would suggest, but the film certainly walks the fine line between comedy and drama. Much of the humour comes from Keaton’s performance, but the script is also full of witty lines and Alejandro González Iñárritu proves to be surprisingly playful with the material.

The Grand Budapest Hotel: This has got all of the classic Wes Anderson humour. The visual style, the child-like innocence, quirky characters, and clever dialogue. However the film adds a new element for Anderson; profanity. There’s a surprising amount of cursing and Anderson weaves it into the rest of his dialogue seamlessly. It makes for an often hilarious mix.

Inherent Vice: Like Birdman, Inherent Vice was advertised as being more of a comedy than it actually is, but the film still has a lot of memorable comedic moments. Josh Brolin in particular is a scene stealer and the film’s best laughs are among 2014’s funniest.

The Interview: This slot came down to a close battle between this film and 22 Jump Street. The latter is probably a more well-rounded and consistent movie, but The Interview is certainly the bolder and more original film, and that warrants consideration. The film also gave me a lot of laughs, especially from Randall Park.

The Lego Movie: The trailers for The Lego Movie didn’t do much for me, but the film ended up having a much better sense of humour than I expected. A lot of these gags just really amuse me and the satirical moments can be pretty hilarious. Not every joke hits, but this is still the funniest animated film in a while.

And the winner is…

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The Grand Budapest Hotelo-GRAND-BUDAPEST-HOTEL-POSTER-570

I may have liked some of the other nominees as better overall films, but The Grand Budapest Hotel hit the best balance between humour and telling a story. This movie is full of hilarious set-pieces, characters, and lines, as well as smaller amusing details. Anderson’s craft is also quite sharp and on the whole. It’s the funniest film of the year, and a finely made one too.

Best Horror Film

The obvious question looking at my nominees is, “Where’s The Babadook?” That film was easily the most praised horror film of the year and I really wanted to see it. Unfortunately its limited release window made that difficult. In fact it never got a proper release in Canada. So, it became ineligible this year, which is a shame. Still, I’m pretty happy with the interesting batch of films I have here.

Oculus: The story of a haunted mirror could have been really dumb, but writer/director Mike Flanagan builds an interesting mythos and his craftsmanship is solid too. Add to that some creepy moments and a strong performance from Karen Gillan and you’ve got yourself a nice horror gem.

Only Lovers Left Alive: This Jim Jarmusch film follows a pair of vampires living in the 21st century. It’s a minimalist film and in truth calling it a horror movie is a bit of a stretch, but its take on vampires is quite fresh and the ending is pretty poignant in its darkness.

The Sacrament: Many have been quick to label this VOD trash and that isn’t fair. Despite the film’s questionable use of “found footage”, The Sacrament is still a very effective horror film. Gene Jones makes for a compelling villain and Ti West slowly builds to a very dark and intense final act.

Under the Skin: Certainly the most abstract of the nominees, Under the Skin can be a difficult film to understand, but a few things are certain, mainly Scarlett Johansson plays an alien woman luring young men to some very bizarre deaths. These “death scenes” are especially horrifying and the film’s sinister music really works. The third act also changes up the horror by making the victimizer the victim.

Witching and Bitching: If I have any film in this category that acts as a placeholder, it’s this one, as it goes way off the rails in the third act. However getting to that point, this is indeed a fun little movie. The horror/comedy is mixed pretty well, there are some cool moments involving the witches, and just a general sense of spooky fun.

And the winner is…

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Under the SkinUNDER-THE-SKIN-poster-610x903

All of these films had good scares in the moment, but only Under the Skin has really stuck with me as time has gone by. Truth be told I’m not quite sure what to make of the film, but there’s something very unnerving about the film. From the creepy visuals, to the detached storytelling to the haunting score, this movie knows how to conjure up dread.

Best Action Film

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: There are a lot of reasons why The Winter Soldier stands among the MCU’s best films, with perhaps the simplest one being the execution. While all of these movies have a lot of action, The Winter Soldier really excelled in crafting a number of well-done action scenes and connecting them with a pretty compelling storyline. The fact that most of the action is (relatively) grounded is also a nice touch.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: This might actually have the least amount of action of all the nominees, but one things go down, god damn is it impressive. I’ve already highlighted the big shootout, which is one of the most exciting cinematic moments of the year, but the film also has lots of other weighty action sprinkled throughout.

Edge of Tomorrow: Edge of Tomorrow has a lot of elements which are pretty much kryptonite to a guy like me. It’s heavy in science-fiction, it’s got mech suits, lots of shootouts, aliens, giant swords, and explosions. The fact that it’s able to take all of these elements and not only execute them well, but also places it within the context of an actually clever script makes it all the better.

The Raid 2: This may be an inferior to sequel, but god damn did it deliver in regards to the action sequences. Not only is this thing packed with awesome fights (and it is) but it also has some strong shootouts and a jaw dropping chase sequence. If you want some adrenaline pumping badassery, this will give you what you want.

X-Men: Days of Future Past: Unlike Captain America, which features mostly down to earth action scenes, X-Men’s action scenes are almost all very comic booky. These sequences often make use of multiple powers, robots in both the past and future, and even simplistic shootouts and fights are augmented by mutant abilities. And while the film is loaded with action scenes, they never feel gratuitous but stem naturally from the plot.

And the winner is…

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X-Men: Days of Future Pastrs_634x939-140324091106-634.jennifer-lawrence-x-men.ls.32414

Even if I discount how well-written and acted this film is, the sheer quality of the set-pieces would have probably won this for Days of Future Past. From the opening battle, to the prison break, to “Time in a Bottle”, to the lifting of the baseball stadium, to an amazing climax involving both timelines, and everything in between, this is a masterclass in action filmmaking.

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