Friday, February 24, 2017

Awards-Nazi Award Winners for 2016!

Here they be. Feel fee to share your own picks in the comments.

Best Picture: MOONLIGHT,
(Barry Jenkins, Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner)
Runner-up: LA LA LAND,
(Damien Chazelle, Fred Berger, Gary Gilbert, Jordan Horowitz, Marc Platt)






Best Ensemble: 20TH CENTURY WOMEN
Runner-up: MOONLIGHT

Best Original Screenplay: HELL OR HIGH WATER, (Taylor Sheridan)
Runner-up: 20TH CENTURY WOMEN, (Mike Mills)

Best Adapted Screenplay: ARRIVAL, (Eric Heisserer)
Runner-up: LOVE & FRIENDSHIP, (Whit Stillman)

Best Animated Feature: KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS,
(Travis Knight, Arianne Sutner)
Runner-up: ZOOTOPIA, (Rich Moore, Byron Howard, Clark Spencer)

Best Foreign Film: THE HANDMAIDEN, (Park Chan-wook, Lim Syd)
Runner-up: ELLE, (Paul Verhoeven, Saïd Ben Saïd, Michel Merkt)

Best Documentary: 13TH, (Ava DuVernay, Spencer Averick, Howard Barish)
Runner-up: WEINER, (Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg)

Best Cinematography: LA LA LAND, (Linus Sandgren)
Runner-up: SILENCE, (Rodrigo Prieto)

Best Editing: ARRIVAL, (Joe Walker)
Runner-up: LA LA LAND, (Tom Cross)

Best Production Design: THE HANDMAIDEN, (Ryu Seong-hee)
Runner-up: HAIL, CAESAR!, (Joss Gonchor, Nancy Haigh, Dawn Swiderski)

Best Costume Design: ALLIED, (Joanna Johnston)
Runner-up: LIVE BY NIGHT, (Jacqueline West)

Best Original Score: LION, (Dustin O'Halloran, Hauschka)
Runner-up: JACKIE, (Mica Levi)

Best Adapted Score: LOVE & FRIENDSHIP, (Mark Suozzo)
Runner-up: TROLLS, (Justin Timberlake)

Best Original Song: "Audition" from LA LA LAND,
(Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul)
Runner-up: "Drive It Like You Stole It" from SING STREET, (Gary Clark)

(Christopher Scarabosio, David Parker, Stuart Wilson)
Runner-up: LION,
(Robert Mackenzie, Steve Burgess, Nakul Kamte, Andrew Ramage)

Best Sound Editing: ARRIVAL,
(Sylvain Bellemare, David Whitehead, Michelle Child)
Runner-up: DEEPWATER HORIZON, (Wylie Stateman, Renée Tondelli)

Best Visual Effects: KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS,
(Steve Emerson, Brad Schiff, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean)
(Rob Legatto, Adam Valdez, Dan Lemmon, Andrew R. Jones)

Best Makeup and Hair Styling: STAR TREK BEYOND,
(Joel Harlow, Khanh Trance, Richard Alonzo)
Runner-up: HACKSAW RIDGE, (Shane Thomas, Larry Van Duynhoven)

That makes three wins each for Moonlight, La La Land and Arrival, plus a pair apiece for Kubo and The Handmaiden.

One Category at a Time: Best Picture

In just over two days from now the 89th Academy Awards will be underway and everyone will be tuned in to see just how many Oscars La La Land can win on its triumphant march to Best Picture. Anyone predicting an upset in the top category at this point is just looking for attention. This is a done deal. Sure, you could point to its lack of a SAG Ensemble nod, a stamp which every Best Picture winner since Braveheart managed to attain en route to Oscar immortality, but why split hairs? We know why it didn't get that nod (it's far from an ensemble piece), and we know it doesn't matter. A happy ending is coming for the marvelous musical that hit the ground running this season and never looked back.

One Category at a Time: Best Original Screenplay

Just like in Best Adapted Screenplay, this race feels like a tight one, except that it comes down to two scripts instead of all five nominees. I gotta tell ya, as much fun as true suspense on Oscar night can be, I'm having a rough go of predicting Best Original Screenplay lately, batting less than 0.500 over the last seven years.

Part of it is that the two main industry precursors are doing just as poorly when it comes to prefacing the Academy (which isn't their job, of course, and thank God for that). The WGA and the BAFTA have each anticipated the eventual winner only half the time in this decade, so maybe I'm looking at the wrong precursors.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

One Category at a Time: Best Production Design

This feels like one of those tight categories in which literally any of the five nominees could win. The usual period dressings are conspicuously absent, precursors have been split every which way, and said precursors have not been all that informative in recent years anyway; Three Best Production Design winners of that last ten didn't have any of the ADG, BAFTA or Critics Choice Awards in hand before taking the Oscar.

Top Twenty Movies of 2016, Part 2 (#10-1)

And then there were ten. I've tried my best not to squawk about it too much over the course of the year, but I stand by the opinion that 2016 was not a vintage year for film. I do, however, think it may be the year wherein the importance of film (and our cultural sphere, in general) was clearer than ever.
Many might dismiss the pageantry of awards seasons and the minutia of 'Top Ten' lists as utterly frivolous in a year with so much noisy social and political unrest, with much larger (and disheartening) things happening outside the cinema bubble. But such tumultuous times are when we should cherish the movies even more.

The right movie at the right time can have tremendous power; It can soothe the vexed mind with magical escapism, it can educate by giving exposure to unseen people or issues, and it can provide connection to worlds we may never have known we could connect with. These ten movies do all that and then some. Congratulations to them, especially the top five, which represent my personal nominations for Best Picture of 2016.

One Category at a Time: Best Actor

Dammit, SAG. Y'know if it weren't for you, this would be one of the easiest calls of Oscar night. So utterly dominant was one contender for so much of the season, it seemed unthinkable that we'd have this tight a race for Best Actor, but so it is. It's a true two horse sprint to the finish in one of those rare categories that we know La La Land can't win.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

One Category at a Time: Best Foreign Language Film

When the Academy changed its rules to allow the entire membership to vote on Best Foreign Language Film a few years ago, the process of predicting the winner has become somewhat streamlined. No more did pundits have to carefully assess each nominee for factors like subject matter and age appeal. All that needed to be rated was the film's critical hype and level of exposure, with reputation playing more than a trifling part. It's a bit of a shame, actually, because even though the winners from recent years have been a mostly respectable crop, nothing can top the now extinct satisfaction of pegging a surprise Best Foreign Language Film winner under the old system.

But this year we find ourselves in untested territory. How will the Academy respond to a roster from which the most critically revered imports of the year are missing? The Handmaiden wasn't even submitted by Korea and France's Elle failed to be saved by the branch's executive committee when deciding upon the nine semifinalists. These two subtitled phenoms were easily the most buzzed about in December, taking the bulk of regional critics prizes plus the Critics Choice and the Golden Globe respectively. Their absence creates a vacuum here.

So who wins?

Top Twenty Movies of 2016, Part 1 (#20-11)

It's always interesting for me to see how the overall quality of the year in film affects my selection process for annual "Best of" lists. Strong years can make it easy to decide on a top twenty, but makes ranking them a chore. Years such as this, on the other hand, feel pretty settled in terms of what's the best (don't expect me to deviate too much from the median when it comes to my top two), but then fleshing out the rest of the list is more taxing.
For me, my #14-9 slots were constantly shifting as the year progressed, and will likely continue to do so long after this publication. #20-15 feel almost arbitrary, as all of them are largely flawed efforts that wouldn't even figure into my consideration during a stronger year, but boast specific assets and memorable hooks that help them to stand out.

I don't mean to cast shade here. The point of articles like this are to celebrate, not to denigrate. And anyone who claims that there aren't at least 20 movies worth celebrating any given year clearly doesn't watch enough movies.

First, a few shout-outs to titles that just missed the cut:
-To The Lobster for the originality of its deadpan dystopia
-To Moana for its grand musicality and gorgeous Pacific scenery
-To Queen of Katwe for its earthy slice of life wrapped in a sports movie
-To The Red Turtle for its painterly magic realism
-To The Salesman for its gripping moral complexity
-To Tanna for its vibrant cultural snapshot of native Melanesia
-To Toni Erdmann for its droll father-daughter absurdism
-To Tower for its powerful alchemy of testimonial, reenactment and animated abstraction

A now, the back half of my Top Twenty Movies of 2016: