The Second Annual Reject Awards

By  · Published on January 3rd, 2013

It’s funny. We spend so much time honoring the triumphs of 2012, and the big game won’t even roll around until February. The Academy Awards aren’t a paragon of perfection for some, and they aren’t the final word, but they are (like it or not) the closest thing we have to a standard for celebrating creative film talent.

There job is to hand out the general cheers for performances, make-up, songs and the like, and since they’ve got those covered, it falls to us to hoist filmmakers and films on high for unique reasons. Reasons that might make the average Academy voter spit out their tea.

From the far corners, here are the 2nd Annual Reject Awards.

Best Bilbo of the Year (tie)

Martin Freeman probably thought he had this highly coveted award in the bag, but he’ll have to share the honors this year with James Spader. While Bilbo Baggins went on a reluctant journey and had to solve riddles, W.N. Bilbo had to face the sheer terror of solving slavery while fuzzknuckled. That’s to say nothing of the hangovers.

Still, even though Spader got to give a Fuck in a Spielberg movie about Abraham Lincoln, Freeman was a glowing blue light in Peter Jackson’s massive fantasy return. We hate ties, but unless we can get the two Bilbos together for a fight to the death, this one will have to stand. Fortunately for Freeman, he’s running unopposed in 2013.

Best Reverse Product Placement

Skyfall came inches away from winning this award. Considering the project earned some scorn from fans by having James Bond sip a lowbrow beer (as he’d never, ever, ever had before!), it was on the fast track to hurting the very product it was hired to promote.

But there’s no denying the catastrophic power that Flight had on Budweiser.

The film showed Denzel Washington using their lightly flavored water in some inappropriate ways, including while he was driving. The link between his beer and drunk driving (one that no one had previously made), made Budweiser Vice President Robert McCarthy write a strongly worded letter to Image Movers and Paramount. A strongly worded letter! That’ll show ‘em.

Congratulations to Robert Zemeckis and his team for proving that not all product placement is good for the manufacturer. Of course it could have been worse. They could have shown Washington sipping Budweiser before spitting it out violently and reaching for a better beer.

Best Achievement of the Impossible

Did you know that “Cloud Atlas” is an unfilmable book? Did you know that you can’t get a budget in the hundreds of millions for a bizarre book that’s difficult to understand? Were you aware that it’s impossible to get a bunch of famous movie actors together for an experimental project with three directors? It’s true.

Yet somehow The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer pulled it off. This is a movie that exists despite reality’s strong objection to the contrary. Never mind the financial repercussions. Cloud Atlas was never supposed to even go to camera, let alone become a finished film, so let’s enjoy that feat for the intrinsic fist it shakes against everything we think we know about how moving pictures are created.

Best Actor Playing Another Actor Playing a Role

With honorable mentions going to Scarlett Johansson for playing Janet Leigh playing Marion Crane in Psycho in Hitchcock, and James D’Arcy for playing Anthony Perkins playing Norman Bates in Psycho in Hitchcock, we’re giving this one to Josh Brolin for playing Tommy Lee Jones playing Agent K in Men in Black III. After playing Tommy Lee Jones in No Country For Old Men, it wasn’t surprising that he turned in another great Jonesian performance here. (That joke lovingly stolen from Adam Charles).

Best Trick Involving a Viral Video, One Girl and One Cup

Pitch. Perfect.

The Matt Damon Award For Bravery in a Bourne Film

Breaking a shutout streak, Jeremy Renner has swiped the Matt Damon Award for Bravery in a Bourne Movie out of the clutches of three-time winner Matt Damon. It wasn’t just that his Aaron Cross was a courageous agent learning about the cruelty of the government he pledged to serve, it was that taking the role after Damon was a gutsy move in and of itself. It was never going to be a guaranteed fix, and there was definitely some pushback, but congratulations are due for even attempting to fit into Damon’s shoes.

Best/Worst Online Angst Generator

Kevin suggested we give this one to The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus because both had an undeniable affect on the online community. From disconcerting set photos to bad buzz about script changes, hands were constantly wringing with the terrified hope that these movies would be the life-changers that people wanted them to be.

However, after the dust settles, we’ve gotta give the edge to Prometheus here because it’s continued to cause angst amongst the internet world long after its release. People are still asking Damon Lindelof questions about the screenplay, the original un-Lindeloffed version got published, and people are combing through old concept art and other materials to try to find where it all went wrong. Where high expectations and bad buzz meet, the Alien prequel that no one would call an Alien prequel managed to maintain high levels of tension all the way through its Blu-ray release.

And people really had problems with how Batman got back to Gotham after getting out of the pit/prison? Do they not think he has a Bruce Wayne Visa Black Card in his utility belt?

Best Feminism Disguised as a Shower Scene

Talk about taking a fun exploitative trope and turning it on its head. Director Sarah Polley pulled a Porky’s with Take This Waltz, but instead of placing us with the teenage boys behind a peep hole, she placed us inside the group shower long enough to completely normalize it. We were no longer sneaking a sleazy peek at sexy girls; we were witnessing the mature, meaningful conversation between sexy women. Mr. Skin was probably incredibly pleased to get more nude work from Michelle Williams as well as the first naked showing from Sarah Silverman, but the power of the scene was in their discussion about their needs as wives – capped off by three geriatric ladies joining the bathing session (as if to completely subvert the group shower concept) and offering up some wisdom about young things getting old.

Best Dominance of Movie Culture By a Minor Olympic Sport

Was there any doubt? Archery reigned supreme this year. From The Hunger Games to The Avengers to Brave, bows and arrows were big deals. Hell, there’s even a television show called Archer. How much more exposure can you get?

Best Movie Directed By a Member of the Wu-Tang Clan

Caitlin suggested this award and that The Man with the Iron Fists should win it which means she must not have seen Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s recently released home movies (or doesn’t think they qualify for the title). And there’s a thought. Wouldn’t it have been awesome if ODB had lived to appear in RZA’s crazed martial arts explosion? Yes, yes it would.

Oddly enough, Kevin also nominated this movie for the Best Use of Anal Beads award, mentioning something horrific about Russel Crowe’s “Flavor-Savor Beard.” I guess he didn’t see ODB’s home movies either.

Special thanks to Kevin Carr, Caitlin Hughes, Adam Charles, Jorge Sosa, Robert Fure and Robin Ruinsky for submitting Award ideas. Now, onto 2013!

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.