BEST WRITING: PORTAL 2
Portal 2 would have been a great game even if it didn't utter a single word. Not only is Portal 2 a brilliant, mind-bending puzzler, it's
probably the funniest game ever made. Whether it's the ramblings of Stephen Merchant's Wheatley, the disclaimers of J.K. Simmons' Cave
Johnson or the insults of the one and only GLaDOS, Portal 2 is consistently witty.
The story is seamlessly integrated into the game; never distracting or delaying the core gameplay. I'm of the mind that too many games rely
on lengthy cutscenes to tell their story. Portal 2 is a shining example of how story and gameplay can go hand-in-hand.
BEST PERFORMANCE: NOLAN NORTH - UNCHARTED 3: DRAKE'S DECEPTION
While I didn't find Drake's Deception's story to be the best in the Uncharted series, Nolan North was brilliant once again as adventurer
Nathan Drake. Along with his magnetic comedic delivery, North gets a chance to stretch his chops with some strong dramatic moments. He
hits all the right notes and justifies being the most popular voice actor in gaming.
BEST SCORE: THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM - JEREMY SOULE
Alternately epic and intimate, Jeremy Soule's brilliant score to Skyrim is a perfect compliment to both thrilling dragon battles and the cold
isolation of the game's vast landscapes.
Although the stunning main theme gets the most attention, the textural beauty of the more subtle pieces is just as impressive.
Skyrim is one of the finest orchestral and choral scores to ever be heard in a game.
BEST ART DIRECTION: THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM
To say the world of Skyrim is incredible to look at is doesn't do justice to the game's true beauty. From the icy peaks to the rolling mists to
the crumbling city stonework, Skyrim's environments are as evocative and memorable as any ever created in a game. The game is
consistently stunning in every corner of its massive map. The combination of scale and attention to detail (along with pure artistic
brilliance) combine to form the most visually stunning world we have ever explored in a game. And those dragons just couldn't look cooler.
BEST GRAPHICS: UNCHARTED 3: DRAKE'S DECEPTION
Lighting, textures, animation; Drake's Deception is superb in just about every graphical category. The iconic sequences in the Rub' al Khali
desert feature some of the most stunningly detailed visuals I have ever seen.
BEST SOUND: THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM
As if Skyrim wasn't immersive enough in its visual majesty, it also receives stunning sound design. The sound field is incredibly natural,
with audio elements from every direction panning with incredible fluidity.
Effects editing is brilliant whether it's the thunderous roar of a dragon or the rumbling echoes of the subterranean caverns.
Score, effects and dialog are all mixed with excellent balance and precision.
BEST GAME: THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM
As you've seen, Skyrim is both artistically and technically brilliant. And its gameplay is just as impressive. This game is so jam-packed with
content that it really is hard to imagine anyone could ever experience everything there is to do here.
The land of Skyrim is the most compelling virtual world ever created. The depth of its incredible myriad of gameplay options is stunning.
No matter which direction you choose to wander, you will always find something incredible. One can easily be sidetracked for hours on end
simply because there is so much to do around every corner.
Many open-world titles sacrifice mastery of a set gameplay style in order to be a jack of all trades. Skyrim is one of the very few games that
succeeds at being a master of all of them.
There are simply not enough superlatives for Skyrim. It is one of the most enthralling games I have ever experienced.
BEST SOUND MIXING: WAR HORSE
Whether it's the sweeping melodies of John Williams' majestic score or the foundation-rattling artillery of World War I, this is a great
BEST SOUND EDITING: SUPER 8
There is good effects work abound in Super 8, but the train derailment sequence is one of the most ridiculously awesome examples of
sonic chaos you will ever hear. It's the new demo reel to prove your sound system's worth.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
From Lord of the RIngs to King Kong to Avatar, WETA Digital has consistently excelled at CG character work. The rebellious ape Caeser may
be their most impressive creation yet.
BEST MAKEUP: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2
Goblins, the reptilian dark lord Voldemort, aging it's characters by 20 years; it can be hard to tell just what is CG and what is practical. It all
BEST SCORE: WAR HORSE - JOHN WILLIAMS
John Williams returns from a three-year absence to put many of the current 'top' composers to shame. War Horse is a beautiful and
emotional score that is as responsible for the film's success as any other element. The compositional excellence and emotional power of
War Horse was unmatched this year.
BEST FILM EDITING: HUGO
Some could say Hugo is too deliberate in its pacing. That's garbage. Hugo's editing perfectly matches the film's personality and draws us
into this fantastic and charming world all the more.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2
I really admire how the Harry Potter series combined it's more fantastical designs with real world ones. From billowing robes to our
corduroy-jacketed hero, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is no exception.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: HUGO
The best 3D cinematography in film history- The vibrant, sharp photography is gorgeous in any dimension, but seeing the depth and
curvature in Ben Kingsley's facial features while particles of dust float in and out of focus was truly astounding to witness.
BEST ART DIRECTION: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2
Stuart Craig's design work on this franchise is second to none. His work brought Hogwarts and the magical world to life; capturing the
sense of wonder so many readers experienced in their minds. Like every single entry in this fantastic series, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is a
visual wonder from beginning to end.
BEST SCREENPLAY: HUGO - JOHN LOGAN
John Logan's screenplay for Hugo is charming, funny and poignant. This is a film written for an intelligent audience; something we don't
often see in non-Pixar, non-Harry Potter 'children's productions.' Logan's adaptation is completely natural and filled with heart.
BEST PERFORMANCE: GARY OLDMAN - TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY
We tend to only acknowledge performances that showcase outlandish behavior and outward emotion. What Gary Oldman accomplishes as
John Smiley is far more impressive. Oldman's emotions roil under the surface, never erupting. This is a veteran, professional performance
from an actor not trying to steal the scene, but give subtle depth with every line and pensive expression.
BEST DIRECTOR: MARTIN SCORSESE - HUGO
A technical marvel, but also a dramatic one, Hugo may be Scorsese's most heartfelt and personal film. The legendary director has simply
never made a film this emotionally engaging. This is a film crafted with such love and personality that one can't help but feel it's personal
significance to its auteur. Themes of loss, regret and redemption along with a genuine love of cinema make for an incredible production
that feels like far more than a simple adaptation.
BEST PICTURE: HUGO
Hugo has the same sense of wonder, imagination and emotion of the cinematic history it celebrates. Immaculate and stunningly-crafted,
this is a film that is as emotionally striking as it is visually spectacular. A true tribute to (and representative of) just why we love going to
For final thoughts (Runnings-up/close calls) and discussion: click here...
Author Stieg Larsson was reportedly furious with director David Fincher's decision to re-dub the film
adaptation 'The Girl With The Greg Tattoo.' The tattoo was subsequently altered (via CG) in post and the
original title restored.