Saturday 1 January 2011

The First Annual CAST Awards

My good friend and fellow Toronto blogger James McNally has spearheaded and compiled a list of the most highly regarded films of the year from a rough conglomerate of Toronto film bloggers and other movie buffs. James introduces the idea here and describes how the Cinema Appreciation Society of Toronto (of which I'm a member) came to be.

Over 40 initial ballots were tallied to trim the list of eligible films to 100. A new vote was done on those 100 to result in the final Top 25. It's a companion list of sorts to the Toronto Film Critics Best of the Year list to hopefully give a wider idea of what caught Toronto's fancy on the screens this past year.

The top 25 follows along with a few of my own comments (the link breaks the list down further into points and number of votes received):

1. Inception
2. Toy Story 3
3. Black Swan
4. Shutter Island
5. The Social Network
6. Scott Pilgrim
7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
8. Winter’s Bone
9. I Am Love
10.The King’s Speech
11. Rubber
12. Never Let Me Go
13. Trigger
14. Fish Tank
15. Buried
16. The White Ribbon
17. True Grit
18. Chloe
19. Easy A
20. Marwencol
21. 127 Hours
22. A Prophet
23. Rabbit Hole
24. Blue Valentine
25. Heartbeats

Like any compiled list across more than about 5-6 people, the final results tend to filter out the smaller unique picks. With the weighting system James assigned, there was hope a few of the festival films that were favourites of members from the group would surface and indeed it was nice to see a few of those picks sneak in ("Rubber", "Trigger", "Marwencol"). The list is based around any film that received a theatrical release in Toronto during the calendar year - even if it was a one shot deal.

A short funny story to go along with the list...One of the films that made the Top 100 (due to one member's very high ranking of it) was a Mexican film that screened at TIFF called "Leap Year". I've read some good reviews of it and am interested in tracking it down when it (hopefully) comes to DVD, but at the time I assumed it was a different movie from 2010 also called "Leap Year" - the rom-com starring Amy Adams. Being a dilligent vote caster, I figured I'd give it a shot, rented the DVD and hoped it was one of those sleeper films that is much better than its trailer. Well, it wasn't - the film is much much worse than its trailer. It's completely terrible in fact and probably the most soul-crushing experience of the year for me. I was aghast that this had made the final list and when James told me that someone had ranked it as their number 2 film of the year, I was frankly bowled over. And then I realized I had watched the wrong movie...I tried blaming James, but in the end it's all my own fault.

James was actually one of the first fellow bloggers I met after I got into this racket about 4 years ago and it's people like him that have made it all worthwhile. I can't say enough about the virtual friends I've made, but the cast of CAST (we have monthly pub get-togethers and invites go out to an ever increasing bunch of characters) are truly special folks and just knowing them has far surpassed any goal I ever had when I started scribbling down my little posts.

I'm hoping to have my "year in review" post up soon, but until then, bring on another year of great film and discussion!


Anonymous said...

Haha I saw Leap Year on some list as well and was baffled until I realized different film, I didn't see it though haha

James Yates said...

I get the nagging feeling that I'm one of six people who didn't like Shutter Island. The direction was terrific, the acting was compelling, and the cinematography/set-up looked absolutely beautiful.

However, the "twist" didn't do anything for me. It wasn't a shark-jump, it was handled very cautiously, but I just felt that it didn't work, and therefore, cast a slightly negative shadow over a film that was 95% terrific.

Anonymous said...

Bob, thanks for your kind words, and the sort-of apology for Leap Year. Meeting you and the other film bloggers has been one of the unforeseen highlights of all my movie scribbling.

Thanks too for supporting the CAST awards in their first incarnation. I'm hoping we'll have lots of conversations about how to make them better next year!

Fletch said...

You mention how smaller films tend to get weeded out of things like this, but either that's not really the case or y'all get a whole different set of films up there in the Great White North (of course, TIFF helps). I haven't even heard of those three you call out (and Heartbeats, too), and I can scarcely recall what Fish Tank is about. On top of that, I Am Love, which I thought was long forgotten, made the top 10.

Shocked to see Shutter so high and 127 Hours so low. Did Hatter's vote for it as #1 not count? ;)

So jealous of you and all the other CAST members. Far as I know, there are 0 LAMBs besides me from Arizona, much less Phoenix. What are the odds on that??? Hell, there's a conglomerate of Minneapolis film bloggers, and Phoenix is probably 5x bigger. *grumble grumble*

Bob Turnbull said...

5plitreel, do stay away from the Amy Adams film - I'd be concerned for your well being otherwise...

Jamie, "Shutter Island" made my Top 25, but at the low end. I enjoyed it greatly, but I already knew the twist, so I guess it didn't really bother me because I liked everything else about the film. I'm actually expecting I might like it better when I watch it a second time just because I'll pay more attention to the little bits of atmosphere Scorsese creates. But I do understand non-love.

James, it was great fun submitting the list to CAST - it encouraged me to "catch up" on a number of 2010 films earlier than I normally would have and now I feel more "informed" as I go through other top 10s. You've done a great job with it and I hope (and expect) it continues.

Fletch, that's why I mentioned that I was happy to see some of the lesser known films sneak in - because usually they don't. TIFF certainly helps as does living in Toronto where we are lucky to have such great choice. I think James' two stage approach probably helped a bit - it allowed small films ranked really high on initial ballots to make it to the shortened list for the second round and therefore garner a few more votes. Trigger, Chloe and Heartbeats are all Canadian films. Rubber was a big hit at the After Dark film festival (and many CAST voters attend that festival) and the crowd response to it was tremendous, so that certainly can affect one's feeling to a film.