Boonmee Says "Uncle" as The Social Network Snags Toronto Film Critics' Top Prize
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Boonmee Says “Uncle” as The Social Network Snags Toronto Film Critics’ Top Prize

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Fifty million friends, and a room full of local critics, can’t be wrong. The Social Network and star Jesse Eisenberg snag top honours at Toronto Film Critics Association awards. Still courtesy of Sony Pictures.

This morning at 12:01 a.m., the Toronto Film Critics Association released the results of their 2010 awards (disclosure: author is a card-carrying TFCA member). Echoing the sentiments of critics’ guilds in Los Angeles, New York, Boston, and elsewhere, the TFCA’s favours fell with David Fincher’s The Social Network, a film aptly described by one critic as a staging of a typically American “lover’s quarrel with capitalism,” recalling everything from Citizen Kane to The Godfather and Wall Street.
Fincher’s Facebook movie took Best Picture honours, edging past Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s dreamy festival hit Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives and Darren Aronofsky’s nightmarish ballet psychodrama Black Swan. The Social Network had strong support across the board, from star Jesse Eisenberg snagging Best Actor (barely beating out Colin Firth for The King’s Speech) to an even closer nod to Armie Hammer in the Best Supporting Actor category, his star-making turn as the twin Winklevii thumping Christian Bale’s crack-addled brawler in The Fighter and Geoffrey Rush’s eccentric speech pathologist in The King’s Speech. Aaron Sorkin’s award for Best Screenplay (Adapted or Original), along with Fincher’s for Best Director, resulted from near-unanimous approval.


But while The Social Network all but swept this year’s TFCA awards, there was a good deal of support for Thai filmmaker Weerasethakul’s quirky but no less serious film. Uncle Boonmee received Best Foreign Film honours, and its bid for Best Picture was championed by a handful of critics in the room, many of whom fiercely campaigned for the film while still deferring to the unquestionable quality and maturity of Fincher’s picture. The house may have been almost split between a mainstream Hollywood studio drama and a boundlessly charming foreign curio, but this divide itself spoke in a powerful and most remarkably positive way about the possible future(s) of cinema.

Say what you will about The Social Network—that it’s a contrived “movie of the moment,” a sombre rehash of Revenge of the Nerds, a movie about Facebook, for heaven’s sake—but there’s no doubt that the film stands apart from the bulk of Hollywood cinema we saw this year. As TFCA President Brian Johnson noted, “We appreciate what [The Social Network] represents in popular American film culture—an intelligent moral drama told from multiple viewpoints with a complex protagonist who is neither hero nor villain.”
More than this, the TFCA’s backing of Boonmee (another disclaimer: author is also a big-time Boonmee-backer) shows support for another strain of cinema—a thoughtful, meditative, exquisitely shot type of tonal filmmaking that, as evinced by its steady tour through Toronto’s rep houses, is reaching an audience beyond art house congregations and TIFF Cinematheque members. Distributed in Canada via Toronto’s filmswelike (frizzy-haired documentarian Ron Mann’s distribution agency), Boonmee’s success proves that despite snaking lines at the multiplex to procure tickets for Saw 3-D or The Back-Up Plan or whatever, oblique, artful, weird films can still find an audience. And that seems especially true here in Toronto.

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Jenjira Pongpas in Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Still courtesy of filmswelike.

Also on the Toronto-tip, local boy Bruce McDonald made good with a Special Citation regarding the four (count ’em, four) features he churned out in 2010, including Broken Social Scene concert flick/bungled generation-defining epic This Movie Is Broken. Toronto filmmaker Daniel Cockburn, who garnered rave reviews for his debut feature You Are Here, was honoured with the Jay Scott Award For Emerging Talent. And Banksy (whom we tracked doggedly when he made an unannounced stop-over here this past summer), also got his due from TFCA, snagging Best First Feature and Best Documentary Feature honours for his prank-umentary Exit Through the Gift Shop.
And speaking of kind of local stuff, Canadian hunk Ryan Reynolds failed to qualify for the TFCA’s Best Actor award for the one-man show he put on in Buried, despite plenty of pre-vote electioneering. Considering that it’s likely to be the only time Ryan Reynolds is ever going to be recognized for his acting, it’s a bit of a shame. There’s always the chance he’ll win next year for Green Lantern. But, you know, probably not.
Check out the TFCA’s 2010 Awards results here.

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