Best Film: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. One of the three films I’ve seen so far in this project that I’d qualify as a masterpiece (along with A Separation and Lore). And this might be the best of the three — it’s a perfect film that’s affected me deeply.
Best Director: Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly). Genius technique that’s always true to the moment and never showy. From the opening moment to the last, Schnabel walks a stylistic high-wire with no false steps. More significant, he never shouts when a whisper will do — poignant moments presented with grace, not embellishment.
Best Script: Ronald Harwood, from a book by Jean-Dominique Bauby (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly). The story here is inseparable from the subject, and Schnabel’s direction, as good as it is, needs to be seen more as an act of realization than creation.
Best Performances: The ensemble cast of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Particular credit to Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josée Croze, and Max von Sydow, but there’s not a false or unsatisfying note in any performance.
For a single standout, though, the choice is Vincent Cassel, who owns Mesrine: Killer Instinct. The character often seems overly familiar (at least in this first installment of the two-part film), but Cassel himself is magnetic.
Best Moment: The opening of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. And the conclusion of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. And all the scenes in between.
Honorable mention to the riveting opening sequence in Mesrine: Killer Instinct, which sets a new standard for the use of split screens.
Best Use of Visuals or Technique: The use of extreme point of view in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is courageous and astonishingly effective. It’s an attention-getting effect that shows not a trace of gimmickry. Never has subjective reality been better captured.
Honorable mention to that split-screen opening in Mesrine: Killer instinct. And the wonderful sand imagery and use of intense close-up in Woman in the Dunes.