Popcorn Addict’s 2012: Best On-screen Chemistry

Best On Screen Chemistry 2012

As the British Independent Film Awards and Los Angeles Film Critics Awards this week demonstrated, award season is already underway, a whole three months before it will reach its sparkly zenith in the 85th Academy Awards on February 25th, 2013.

While the likes of Berberian Sound Studio, The Master, Armour and Zero Dark Thirty are already being honoured for their perceived achievements in direction, cinematography and sound design, however, other films are again being left out by categories that seem to skim over other, equally worthy accomplishments in feature filmmaking.

After all, what was the most fun you had at the cinema this year? Was it appreciating excellent feats of editing? Perhaps you enjoyed a particular use of lighting? Or was the highlight of your year to do with a cinematographer’s frisson for framing? I’m not saying these are not important contributing factors, but there are other things I remember more than a well-designed costume.

As such, this month I will be running my own categories, featuring five nominees and one winner of my own choosing. First up is Best On-Screen Chemistry, because how are you supposed to care about a particular friendship, familial bond or relationship if the actors on-screen do not care about it themselves.

Kelly MacDonald and Emma Thompson – Brave

I had a number of problems with this year’s Pixar release — be it the frankly wasted supporting cast, the horribly jarring Julie Fowlis soundtrack or the sudden, slightly anticlimactic resolution — but there’s no denying that Brave delivered where it really mattered: a touching and untraditional (for Hollywood at least) central relationship between a mother and daughter. While both vocal performances are worthy of individual acclaim, together they resulted in one of the most moving maternal bonds this (or any other) year has had to offer. Not bad for a kid’s cartoon, even if we are talking about the same animation studio that brought us Toy Story 2 and Wall.E.

Alex Russell and Dane DaHaan Chronicle

With so many superhero movies slated for release in 2012, writer Max Landis and director Josh Trank were always going to have to deliver something pretty special if they were going to stand up to the likes of Marvel’s Avengers Assemble and DC’s The Dark Knight Rises. While the found footage gave it some novelty and the low-budget special effects gave it its edge, it was really the relationship (and relationship breakdown) shared between its three leads that made it such a blockbuster breakthrough. In particular, the turbulent kinship of Russell’s confident Matt and DeHaan’s insecure Matthew was one of the most engaging, well observed and ultimately tragic of this year.

Daniel Craig and Judi Dench Skyfall

For fifty years now James Bond has been painted as a suited, suave, slightly simple secret agent, who is by and largely as woefully undeveloped as he was when he first hit the screen in Dr. No. While each actor has brought his own air to the character, only Daniel Craig has really bothered to breathe some back-story into 007. With Quantum Of Solace well and truly sullying the memory of Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd, Sam Mendes was going to struggle to find a Bond girl worthy of such a momentous outing. In pairing Craig not with some leggy starlet but with the wonderful Judi Dench, Skyfall was finally able to explore some new — and actually interesting — facets of Bond’s psyche.

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill 21 Jump Street

Good comedy is hard to pull off, as Adam Sandler and Kevin James have spent the entirety of their careers trying to demonstrate. In order to make the jokes work, they have to be grounded in something approaching a recognisable scenario, otherwise they can’t succeed in subverting  audience expectations. That last sentence makes it all the more surprising for me to admit that this relatively short list of successful examples now includes a situation in which Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops at a local high school, in a reboot of a 1987 TV series no less. The truth is, however, that both Hill and Tatum display some hitherto unforeseen comedy-chops in what turned out to be one of the funniest films of the year.

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone  The Amazing Spider-man

There have been few cinematic pleasures this year quite as delightful as the blossoming romance between Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy. While The Avengers went for goofy humour and The Dark Knight Rises opted once again for Nolan’s now trademark monotone seriousness, Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-man did something relatively novel for a superhero movie: it charmed the pants off of almost everybody who saw it. While Webb delivered on the stunts and turned in a story that was at the very least comprehensible, the relationship he directed between Garfield and Stone elevated the film to something much more than the cynical reboot of a decade-old superhero movie it was always presumed to be. Considering that one of the most iconic moments from Sam Raimi’s original was an upside-down kiss in the rain, it is all the more impressive that Garfield and Webb’s incarnation of the titular-webslinger now feels so utterly definitive.

And the award goes to: The Amazing Spider-man

The Worst of 2012: Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Savages

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

2 Responses to Popcorn Addict’s 2012: Best On-screen Chemistry

  1. Nostra says:

    The first one I thought of was Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña in End of Watch, it really felt like they had been working together for years…

  2. Pingback: Popcorn Addict’s 2012: Most Memorable Line « popcornaddict

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