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The Golden Damo Awards 2008
Posted on Friday December 26, 2008, 22:06 by Damon Wise

As 2008 draws to a close, I felt duty-bound to jot down a few of the things I've enjoyed this year. Everyone else is wanking on about best films and best actors and such, so I thought I'd do something a bit different. So without any more ado, here come the nominations for the first, and possibly only, Golden Damo awards. I don't know what they look like yet, so bear with me. The results will be announced next week...

I thought I'd find a film that needed a helping hand...

1) The Brothers Bloom
Having seen this four times now, it's safe to say I like it. Rian Johnson's charming conman love story has a fabulous sense of style and mood.

2) Hurt Locker
I can't believe nobody has picked this up. A tense bomb-defusal movie set in Iraq, it's most tense experience I've had in a cinema this year.

3) Louise-Michel
From the makers of Aaltra, this anarchist comedy is another hilarious, dark satire, in which sacked factory workers hire a useless hitman to kill the boss.

4) Frozen River
It's a bit melodramatic at times, but this story of desperate woman smuggling immigrants across the New York border features a brilliant performance by Melissa Leo.

5) Fear Me Not
A dark Danish thriller, Kristian Levring's story of a man who becomes addicted to experimental drugs is both simple and chillingly effective. Twist of the year!

*So far...

I've had some good ones this year. I've had 90 very funny minutes on the phone to Tom Hardy, an audience with Man On Wire's bonkers Philippe Petit, a spooky on-set encounter with Sam Raimi and a very funny two-on-one with Outlander's Sofia Myles and Jack Huston at the Locarno film festival. Mel Brooks was a good one too. And Ralph Steadman. And Sir Rrrrroger Mmmmoore.. But I thought I'd be hard on myself. The nominations are...

1) Mike Leigh, in his office
He's a curmudgeon but he doesn't suffer fools, and a conversation with Leigh is a two-way deal that actually feels like an interview.

2) Quentin Tarantino, in Berlin
You'd think he'd have his hands full with a WW2 period piece, but QT had time to answer all my questions and much, much more.

3) Coffin Joe, in Venice
I don't speak Portuguese but Coffin Joe's son Crounel did a fine job translating a fascinating conversation I had with the Brazilian horror legend in a cafe in Venice.

4) Tarsem, in Edinburgh
Until June, I had no concept of Tarsem Singh. Now I know he's one of the funniest, smartest and friendliest directors you could ever meet. A legend.

5) Jennifer Lynch, in Cannes
I admit that I'm not so wild about her film Surveillance but, in person, David's daughter is a force of nature, frank and hilarious, who's suffered a lot of undeserved hardship in her life.

Was it seeing the hideous drunken state some of the Empire crew got into in Cannes this year? Or seeing Man On Wire for the first time in Sundance? Or meeting Mickey Rourke in Venice? Or introducing Jonathan Demme to Nicolas Winding Refn in London? Or joining the official Brothers Bloom delegation in San Sebastian and being mortified as I walked up the red carpet? There are so many to choose from, but in the end I went for...

1) Jane Fonda in MEIFF
Why? Barbarella accepted a lifetime achievement award with a rousing eight-minute speech and the best Hollywood hair since Michael Douglas.

2) A round table with Christopher Lee in Karlovy Vary
Why? In front of three Eastern European journalists and me, Lee sang a song in Russian, told us his dreams, explained why he'd be a great Don Quixote and forged Josef Stalin's signature.

3) The Tarantino masterclass in Cannes
Why? Great clips and some new insights, even if the fascist French security put the 'complet' sign up a full 10 minutes before it was due to start and turned away ticket-holders.

4) Dinner with Michael Fassbender and Liam Cunningham in San Sebastian
Why? Great company, even if it seemed a bit weird to go for dinner with these two straight after a screening of Hunger.

5) The British Film Council party in Sundance
Why? I think this might have actually been one of the defining events of the year; a big British contingent descended on Park City with a slew of films that more than matched the local produce.

Well, this part is quite self-explanatory. The nominees are:

1) Will Casey (Drag Me To Hell/Inglourious Basterds)

2) Gloria Davies (The Day The Earth Stood Still)

3) Moira Houlihan (Sherlock Holmes)

4) Stacy Mann (Kick-Ass)

5) Katherine McCormack (Dead Man Running)

Without wishing to offend the many obviously fabulous people I've encountered this year, I thought I'd invent a special category for people I've never met before...

1) Pikky Fearon (Producer, Dead Man Running)
Pikky by name and picky by nature, a very capable and motivated man with a bit of a backstory to say the least...

2) Lawrence Bender (Producer, Inglourious Basterds)
A very gracious host and excellent conversationalist. Give that man an Oscar! Properly!

3) Norma Hill-Patton (Hair and make-up, The Day The Earth Stood Still)
She does The Vicar Of Dibley as well, you know.

4) Greg Nicotera (FX, Drag Me To Hell)
His impromptu summary of the new Piranha script (Girls Gone Wild meets The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) still makes me laugh.

5) Seth Shostak (Technical advisor, The Day The Earth Stood Still)
I still don't know the difference between dark matter and dark energy but it was fun talking about wormholes and parallel universes.

This is a tough one. I've only seen two of these filmmakers' films all the way through and clips or fragments of the others (which obviously impressed me), so how will I resolve this? Will my judgement be arbitrary and unfair? Who knows??? I don't! Check back next week when I'll pick one and come up with a really good reason!

1) Giles Borg (1234)

2) Robert Cannan, Corinna Villari-McFarlane (Three Miles North Of Molkom)

3) Pryas Gupta (The Prisoner, aka Siddharta)

4) Stuart Hazeldine (Exam)

5) Duncan Jones (Moon)

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1 Acho
Posted on Friday January 2, 2009, 00:39
Hmm, potential punditry for these particular awards is a bit limited for us dear readers!

Re the favourite film without UK distribution. Based on your blogs throughout the year, The Brothers Bloom has definitely received the most love and column inches. Although I reckon it's the one in least need of a "helping hand". Except that Summit have pushed back its release cos they're too busy with their shiny new Twilight toy. Boo to that. I can't complain too much, I've seen the film (The Brothers Bloom, that is), it's great, but it would be nice to see it again and have others see it too.

I can't wait to see Hurt Locker, it's received feck-all coverage so far though. It sounds great and it's nice to see a female director kicking it with the big boys. My spidey sense tells me it might be shown in the Dublin International Film Festival in February (fingers crossed).

Are Melissa Leo's chances for an Oscar nomination gone now? If so, there goes a big opportunity for Frozen River to break out from the festival circuit.

I have no major thoughts on the other two, so maybe they should win, by your own definition!

Tarsem and the Hunger boys for the win too!

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