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6th Annual Varaces Awards

  • Created on Saturday, 30 August 2008 12:47
  • Written by Super User
VaRaces: 6th Annual VaRaces Awards

The Annual VaRaces Awards returns again to celebrate the best car chase and racing achievements for 2007. This year continues on with the tradition of the People's Chase Award with a record number of users participating. Like last year, this year's awards have Special Guest Presenters providing commentary on the nominees or winners. And through popular demand we have introduced the new category - the Worst Chase of the Year Award - that acknowledges the lesser achievements. Thanks goes to all forum users for their nominations with an extra thanks to Derrick Hopkins for helping out with the selections. 

People's Chase Award

chase

In the tightest round of voting since its introduction two years ago, the People Chase Award saw the nominees go head to head with website users getting the chance to vote upon their favorite car chase or car racing film. The Nominees were:

The Bourne Ultimatum
The last entry in the Bourne trilogy proved the most successful of them all by taking over $227 million in rentals at the domestic US box office. It also did not disappoint automotive fans through its trademark car chase sequence.

Death Proof
Tarantino's homage to 1970s car chase films did not prove a hit wih audiences but it was the most anticipated car chase film of 2007. Car chase fans ignored the lenghty dialogue scenes and focused upon the film's concluding extended car chase.

The Invasion
The surprise car chase hit amongst varaces forum members, this sci-fi thriller brought new meaning to the term 'cover up'.  And it has Nicole Kidman at the wheel to boot.

Live Free or Die Hard
The fourth installment of the Die Hard series argably was the most action packed film of 2007. Not only did it feature a helicopter pursuing after a police car but also had John McClane escape in a semi truck from a fully armed jet. 

Redline
Despite the fact that many film critics took issue with the film's lack of plot, automotive fans were able to see an array of exotic vehicles in action. The film's producer Daniel Sadek provided his car collection for the film including a Phantom Rolls Royce, a Lamborghini Murcielago, an Enzo Ferrari, a Mercedes SLR McLaren, and most notable of all, a Porsche Carrera GT. 

Winner:

Death Proof
Special Guest Presenter: Star Wars Fanatic
Quentin Tarantino set out to deliver the best movie car chase ever - he may not have succeeded, but the result is still a glorious spectacle. The chase traces back to the roots of iconic car chases, which means the 20 minute scene is a gritty affair without the usage of infernal CGI. Even the chosen cars reflect this, by utilising the Dodge Charger from The Dukes of Hazzard and the Dodge Challenger from Vanishing Point. Whilst more impressive car stuntwork has been seen elsewhere, the chase succeeds for this very reason, and never strays to coming across as too absurd. Some may say the standout scene is the perilous stuntwork performed by the protagonist dangerously lingering across the bonnet of the speeding car, but for me it is the climactic highway scene. The imagery of the dueling old muscle cars merging, and smashing, with opposing modern day traffic cars is just sublime. Death Proof may not have been the greatest chase scene of all time, but it manages to be the greatest chase of this decade so far - which makes it the best chase since Ronin.  

Most Inventive Car Chase:

Filmmakers are constantly trying to reinvent the car chase by giving it a different spin. The nominees for this award are sequences that redefined audience's expectations about what a car chase is. The Nominees Are:

car chaseThe Invasion
Not often does one come across a chase in which the pursued vehicle is additionally impeded by having alien infected humans hanging off the car. It is also unusual that the pursuers not only come in the form of police cars but also an entire city of infected beings!

Live Free or Die Hard
Having a semi truck appear in a chase sequence usually brings something special, but it is quite another thing when its attempting to allude a jet fighter firing missiles at it. Enough said.

Shoot Em' Up
The car chase in Shoot Em' Up might have the bog standard vehicles chasing after each other but what makes this chase different is what Clive Owen's character does during the chase. He enters a vehicle below by jumping off a bridge, disarms a pursuing assailant by knocking him out by opening his car door, and flies through two windshields into the pursuing vehicle during a head on collision. 

Winner:

The Invasion 
Sci-fi thrillers are usually not the place where you would expect a car chase but when they do appear they usually stand out from the rest of the crowd. The pursuit sequence in The Invasion shows that all you need do to make a chase innovative is to have an imaginative premiss behind it.

Best DVD Release:

DVD Cover Art

2007 was not a good year for car chase film DVD releases. Few distributors went through their back catalogue to release car chase classics from the past that have yet to make it on DVD. However, there were a few notable releases that bucked the trend. The Nominees Are:

Death Proof
Most DVD extras are not worth watching but the 20 minute documentary Stunts On Wheels: The Legendary Drivers Of Death Proof definitely is. Not only do you get to observe the behind-the-scenes work that goes into making hair-raising stunts, you also get to hear Tarantino talk about his favorite car chase scenes from White Lightning to Vanishing Point.

Hot Rods to Hell
The release of this 1960s speedsploitation classic, long out of print, gave a chance for people to see the kind of grindhouse fare that inspired Tarantino to make Death Proof. Who can ask for more than watching fast cars and motor-psychos terrorizing an innocent family. 

Two-Lane Blacktop: Criterion Edition 
To be sure, Two-Lane Blacktop has come out before on limited DVD edition, most notably Anchor Bay's release that included a replica 1955 Chevy on a key chain. Yet nothing can top Criterion's release of the film which comes with Rudy Wurlitzer's screenplay, interviews with Monte Hellman and Kris Kristofferson, and an extra on the restoration of the '55 Chevy for the movie.

Winner:

Two-Lane Blacktop: Criterion Edition 
Some would argue that Two-Lane Blacktop is the greatest road movie ever. It is particularly appropriate then that it's available through Criterion, a distributor dedicated to releasing some of the best films ever made.

Most Destructive Chase Scene:

SemiOne of the main pleasures that pursuit sequences offer is the destruction that goes with the chase. Each year filmmakers try to outdo each other in the auto carnage department. 2007 was no different. The Nominees Are:
The Bourne Ultimatum
Although the car chase in The Bourne Ultimatum did not quite compare to its predecessor The Bourne Supremacy, winner of the 2004 VaRaces Chase of the Year, it made up for it in the sheer number of vehicles destroyed throughout the sequence. And the destruction starts right from the beginning of the sequence as Bourne drives an Audi off the top of a car park.

Live Free or Die Hard
A jet fighter firing missiles at a semi truck is bound to be destructive. But viewers did not expect to witness the wholesale demolition of a freeway in the process.

Redline
This film gained infamy for the destruction of exotic vehicles both behind and on screen. Auto enthusiasts around the world winced at the news of a Ferrari Enzo and a Porsche Carrera GT being trashed.

Winner:

Live Free or Die Hard
Special Guest Presenter: AndreTeh
Mr Willis is back and badder than ever! This chase easily kicks Bourne Ulimatum's butt for the simple reason that it has the greatest collateral damage in each of its chases than all of Ultimatum's chases combined! Seriously, let's do the math: We've got two knocked-over fire hydrants, several panes of glass and broken wire fences, one damaged toll booth (which served as a handy launch ramp for one of the most jaw-dropping stunts of the year), one wrecked helicopter, one crumpled cop car, one broken lift-shaft (with Maggie Q and SUV included), one obliterated fighter jet plane, one semi with its roof sheared off by bullets, a couple of destroyed overpasses, and a hundred zillion bajillion totaled civilian vehicles (from the gridlock, tunnel and fighter jet scenes), all wasted and blown to smithereens because of one man! Even if we weren't to count the secondary car action like the alley run and lift-shaft sequence, we would still have enough carnage in the two main chases to fill several summer blockbusters!

Best Driving:

car chase

Nothing elevates a good car chase more than the demonstration of expert driving skills. All of the major car chase releases of 2007 had great driving on show. The Nominees Are:

The Bourne Ultimatum
Car chases set in the busy congested streets of New York City, like The French Connection and The Seven Ups, tend to demand superior maneuvering skills while dodging traffic. The chase in The Bourne Ultimatum required equal skill.

Live Free or Die Hard
John McClane demonstrated his driving ability once again but this time in a semi truck. It's hard to avoid missiles being shot at when you are in a confined urban space along a freeway.

War
It is always difficult to navigate down busy city streets but even more so at night. The drivers in the car chase in War make it look easy.

The Winner:

War
Special Guest Presenter: AndreTeh
The point of being a good driver is not crashing, and the characters (and by extension, the stuntmen) in this San Francisco chase definitely fulfilled that requirement (at least till the end). Two of the best action movie stars from the East and West battle in two of the best cars from the muscle and exotic category (which makes for great contrast!). Not only do the cars swerve in and out of traffic like pugilistic butterflies (weird analogy), but at night with limited visibility too! The awesome soundtrack of pounding music and the roar of the engines are just the icing on this already intense pursuit. 

Best Game:

screenshot

With the gaming industry as big, if not bigger than the Hollywood film industry, the latest driving simulation game is met with the same anticipation as the release of a major car chase film. The competition between driving games in 2007 became even more intense. The Nominees Are:


Motorstorm
Special Guest Presenter: Star Wars Fanatic
Motorstorm was one of the best selling PS3 titles at launch - and what a launch title. The game is comprised of consistently intense off road racing action in an assortment of vehicles that doesn't only apply to cars. Bikes, trucks, ATVs and buggies also join in the action, which provides an endless variety of races - no race will ever be identical. Motorstorm would be an impressive title in its own right, but as a launch title it really shined in showcasing Sony's new console and is an experience that cannot be matched elsewhere.
Forza Motorsport 2 
The earlier version of Forza Motorsport, perviously reviewed in Varaces, set the standard for driving games when it came out. Forza Motorsport 2 sought to improve upon its predecessor through additional features, such as eBay-like car auctions. But the real attractions was the increased vehicle modeling and the superior handling.

Need For Speed Most: Pro Street
EA sought to revive its flagging Need For Speed franchise through its latest incarnation Pro Street. In this version, players compete in Race Days, which are set on abandoned airstrips, disused docks and stretches of barren desert, chase and racing settings that one would expect to see in a Hollywood film.

The Winner:

Forza Motorsport 2
The designers of Forza Motorsport 2 understand that the cars are the stars. Racing vehicles have increased detail, down to sponsor logos, with different vehicles exhibiting different handling traits. When it comes to driving games, Xbox still leads the way.

Best Racing Scene:racing scene

 2007 did not see the release of many racing films, be they about illegal street racing or out on the track. Two films though stood out in this category. The Nominees Are:

Redline
Returning to the now familiar terrain of illegal racing made popular with Fast and Furious franchise, but instead of portraying street racing culture amongst ethnic groups, the film focuses upon the exploits of bored billionaires. 

Ta Ra Rum Pum
A Bollywood film featuring NASCAR racing? Sounds unusual but such is the current trend in Bollywood in setting films in North America. At any rate, the racing scenes in Ta Ra Rum Pum have obvious influences from Days of Thunder.

The Winner:

Redline
Despite its dodgy story-line and the poor reception from film critics, Redline offered automotive enthusiasts a chance to see exotic sports cars racing each other at full speed.

Chase of the Year:

car chaseThis award goes to the best car chase sequence put to film in terms of execution, stuntwork, integration with story, innovation, and sheer destructiveness. Few car chases are strong in all areas. The best car chases are. The Nominees for the Chase of the Year Award for 2007:

The Bourne Ultimatum
Another classic pursuit sequence in the Bourne franchise and another major car chase set in NYC.

Death Proof
Tarantino's recreates the 1970s car chase film for contemporary audiences and offers one of the longest chase sequences in recent memory. 

The Invasion
One of the more innovative pursuits in a long time provides one of the most the unforgettable images in a car chase that of a vehicle completely covered by people.

Winner:

Death Proof
Some have disagreed with Tarantino's claim that the final pursuit sequence in Death Proof ranks amongst the top five of all time. But few would dispute that Tarantino has gone on to create a car chase especially designed for the appreciation of car chase fans. Be it the knowing references to the automotive classics of the past and the thought behind the selection of vehicles in the film, there can be no doubt that Death Proof was made by someone with a complete passion for car chase films. Ignoring the recent trend of using CGI for staging what would be dangerous stunts, Tarantino has shown that one can still make an engaging car chase using the tried and tested techniques of the past.

Worst Chase of the Year: Crash

New to the VaRaces Awards is the category for either the most disappointing chase or one that is the most poorly executed and ineptly staged. This award goes to the absolute car chase stinker. The Nominees Are:

Just Follow Law
Although one can forgive Singapore as not really being a country known for its pursuit sequences, the car chase in Just Follow Law is just downright laughable in a scene not intended to produce laughs.

Transformers
Transformers was one of the most anticipated films of 2007 amongst automotive fans given director Michael Bay's car chase pedigree. But apart from two very brief car chase scenes the film was a complete disappointment on the car chase front with Bay clearly having other things on his mind when staging the action sequences.

Winner:

Just Follow Law
What's with that shot of the car flying off the bridge? If one doesn't know how to integrate CGI shots with live action seamlessly, then just don't use them.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Person

DirectingBuddy Joe Hooker

Buddy Joe Hooker is arguably one of the most respected stuntmen working in the business who became famous by his expertise in staging automotive stunts for television and film. One look at his impressive stunting credits, often as stunt coordinator, explains why. These include: White Lightning (1973), White Line Fever (1975), King of the Mountain (1981), To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), The Wraith (1986), Days of Thunder (1990), The Chase (1990), Jade (1995), Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000), and most recently doubling as Stuntman Mike in Death Proof (2007). In the film Hooper (1978), the ultimate tribute to Hollywood stuntmen, Jan-Michael Vincent plays a stuntman whose character was loosely based on Hooker's real life exploits. In a scenario of life imitating art, Hooker was asked to act as stunt double for Vincent.

One could endlessly list Hooker's contributions to the car chase film as either stunt driver or stunt coordinator. His name is associated with some of the finest crash scenes brought to film - think of the final collision in Death Proof - and for that reason deserves this year's Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

Lifetime Acheivement Award: Vehicle

Dodge Charger
Dodge Charger

Few cars are as iconic as the Dodge Charger and perhaps no other vehicle best represents what a muscle car is all about. It first rolled out of the production line in 1966 and with its striking appearance and performance specifications, was soon being used in films, most famously in the car chase in Bullitt. Many experts have argued that there was no way in reality that the Ford Mustang in the chase could have kept up with a 1968 Charger R/T. Mustang enthusiasts debated such claims but the Charger would go one to make further notable appearances in car chase films such as Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, The Fast and the Furious, and as one of Stuntman Mike's ‘death proof' vehicles in Death Proof. Yet what catapulted the Dodge Charger to international fame was its incarnation as the General Lee in The Dukes of Hazzard television series and movie spin-offs, a franchise dedicated to the showcasing of car chases. As a result, the General Lee became one of the most recognizable cars in the world and that is why this year's Lifetime Achievement Award goes to the Charger.

 

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