…and the 2019 BAM Awards go to…

Without further ado, here are my honorees for 2019. The honored film and/or performer is in Bold.

Best Picture

Avengers: Endgame

The Goldfinch

It: Chapter 2

Midsommar

Us

No film I saw this year was as layered and as worthy of revisiting.

Most Overlooked Picture

Not awarded.

Is not being awarded this year because the category had morphed into being about films that didn’t have a distributor or were under distributed. I saw no films that qualified in that sense this past year. 

Best Director

Ari Aster Midsommar

John Crowley The Goldfinch

Andy Muschietti It: Chapter 2

Jordan Peele Us

Anthony Russo and Joe Russo Avengers: Endgame

Peele’s vision for this film oozes off this film from the opening frame.

Best Actress 

Jessica Chastain It: Chapter 2

Lupita Nyong’o Us

Aubrey Plaza Child’s Play

Florence Pugh Midsommar

Octavia Spencer Ma

Lupita Nyong’o delivers the two best performances of the year in this film.

Best Actor

Robert Downey, Jr. Avengers: Endgame

Winston Duke Us

Taron Egerton Rocketman

Joaquin Phoenix Joker

James Ransone It: Chapter 2

Phoenix is a one-man show and a rather spectacular one at that.

Best Supporting Actress 

Awkwafina Jumanji: The Next Level

Carrie Fisher Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Isabelle Huppert Greta

Nicole Kidman The Goldfinch

Juliette Lewis Ma

Best Supporting Actor

Danny Devito Jumanji: The Next Level

Angus Imrie The Kid Who Would Be King

Samuel L. Jackson Captain Marvel

Will Poulter Midsommar

Bill Skarsgård It: Chapter 2

It’s really not about the de-aging, Sam Jackson steals a lot of this movie.

Best Cast

Robert Downey, Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evan, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Brie Larson, Tom Holland, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldana, Evangeline Lilly, et al. Avengers: Endgame

Oakes Fegley, Ansel Elgort, Nicole Kidman, Jeffrey Wright, Luke Wilson, Sarah Paulson, Willa Fitzgerald, Finn Wolfhard, Aimee Laurence, Carly Connors, Ryan Foust, Jack DiFalco, Collin Shea Shirrmacher, Nicky Torchia, et al. The Goldfinch

Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Bill Skarsgård, Jack Dylan Grazer, Jaeden Martell, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Luke Roesseler, Jackson Robert Scott, Sladen Peltier, Sophia Lillis, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, et al. It: Chapter 2

Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Vilhelm Blomgren, William Jackson Harper, Will Poulter, Ellora Torchia, Archie Medekwe, Henrik Norlén, et al. Midsommar

Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright-Joseph, Evan Alex, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker Us

What happened with It: Chapter 2 was near-impossible: they found a cast capable of believably being grown-up versions of the Losers and were equally in synch, making it an even more impressive ensemble piece.

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Akira Akbar Captain Marvel

Beatrice Kitsos Child’s Play

Sophia Lillis It: Chapter 2

Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen The Curse of La Llorona

Shahadi Wright Joseph Us

As opposed to It: Chapter 2, Us is a much smaller ensemble piece as such much more of the load is shouldered by each cast member. Shahadi Wright Joseph and her counterpart interact quite a bit carrying much of that load.

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Evan Alex Us

Gabriel Bateman, Child’s Play

Oakes Fegley The Goldfinch

Jackson Robert Scott The Prodigy

Louis Ashbourne Serkis The Kid Who Would Be King

To give a film called The Prodigy a chance to work requires a prodigious performance. Jackson Robert Scott here fully displays the abilities that the It films only hinted at.

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Rhianna Dorris The Kid Who Would Be King

McKenna Grace Captain Marvel

Faithe Herman Shazam!

Aimee Laurence The Goldfinch

Finley Rose Slater Playing with Fire

Rhianna Dorris’s character is one half of a tandem of reluctant heroes and plays the most nuanced of the young characters beautifully.

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role 

Dean Chaumoo The Kid Who Would Be King

Jack Dylan Grazer Shazam!

Marcel Ruiz Breakthrough

Jackson Robert Scott It: Chapter 2

Tom Taylor The Kid Who Would Be King

Considering the synopsis Ruiz had more screen time than I anticipated, his performance is powerful, truthful, and indelible.

Best Youth Ensemble

Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon, Izaac Wang, Millie Davis, Christian Darrel Scott, Macie Juiles Good Boys

Oakes Fegley, Finn Wolfhard, Aimee Laurence, Carly Connors, Ryan Foust, Jack DiFalco, Collin Shea Shirrmacher, Nicky Torchia, The Goldfinch

Jack Dylan Grazer, Jaeden Martell, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Luke Roesseler, Jackson Robert Scott, Sladen Peltier, Sophia Lillis, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, It: Chapter 2

Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Tom Taylor, Dean Chaumoo, Rhianna Dorris, The Kid Who Would Be King

Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Faithe Herman, Ian Chen, Jovan Armand, Ethan Pugiotto, Landon Doak, David Kohlsmith Shazam!

There were additional young cast members this time who also had their moments, so yes, they win an encore prize because they’re spectacular.

Best Original Screenplay

Ari Aster Midsommar

Joe Cornish The Kid Who Would Be King

Lee Hall Rocketman

Jennifer Lee Frozen II

Jordan Peele Us

Once again Peele’s singular vision is allowed shine as he brings his own concept to the screen, this time with a greater degree of success that in his previous endeavor.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely Avengers: Endgame

Tyler Burton Smith, Don Mancini, John Lafia and Tom Holland Child’s Play

Peter Straughan and Donna Tartt The Goldfinch

Gary Dauberman and Stephen King It: Chapter 2

Christ McKenna & Erik Sommers Spider-Man: Far from Home

Dauberman’s task this time around is no less enviable than it was the first time around. The characters, so well-created before, must now be presented in two versions and are executed equally well.

Best Score

Michael Abels Us

Joseph Bishara The Prodigy

Trevor Gureckis The Goldfinch

Bobby Krlic Midsommar

John Williams Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

To create an economy of words I’ve avoided citing all nominees in my explications. Here I cannot do that. Joseph Bishara is vastly underrated and I watched the credits to see what that Hungarian tune was and was stunned he wrote it. Gureckis’s work is lyrical. Krlic’s score is haunting and Williams’ work is his best in the series in the new trilogy. However, Abels’ work is ominous, pervasive, and has lingered with me.

Best Editing

Jason Ballantine It: Chapter 2

Kelley Dixon The Goldfinch

Jeffrey Ford and Matthew Schmidt Avengers: Endgame

Lucian Johnstone Midsommar

Nicholas Monsour Us

The pas de deux sequence is what sealed it for me.

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

Avengers: Endgame

It: Chapter 2

Midsommar

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Us

The sound mix is a large part of what makes this film so unsettling.

Best Cinematography

Roger Deakins The Goldfinch

Mike Gioulakis Us

Pavel Pogorzelski Midsommar

Lawrence Sher Joker

Checco Varese It: Chapter 2

There aren’t many flashy vistas and the setpieces alternate between opulent New York society, Amsterdam, and quasi-abandoned sections of Las Vegas but with Deakins light and shadow are the stars always.

Best Costume Design

Julian Day Rocketman

Andrea Flesch Midsommar

Sanja Milkovic Hays Captain Marvel

Luis Sequeira It: Chapter 2

Jany Tamime The Kid Who Would Be King

Taking on Elton John as a costumer is no easy task, even less so when you have represent him on stage and off as well as varying time periods with other characters.

Best Art Direction

Avengers: Endgame

The Goldfinch

It: Chapter 2

Midsommar

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

The key to suspension of disbelief in this film is selling the location and how the characters hand themselves freely to it, a large part of that is accomplished through the intricate and beautiful art design.

Best Makeup

It: Chapter 2

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Us

Zombieland: Double Tap

Joker

Best Visual Effects

Avengers: Endgame

Midsommar

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu

The Lion King

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

What this film did so impressively is that it put cartoon characters in a real world and made them look as real, like cartoon characters would if they could walk off screen.

Best Soundtrack

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Happy Death Day 2U

Jumanji: The Next Level

Playing with Fire

Rocketman

Sure, it’s easy to say the music of Elton John is the soundtrack of the year. But the songs are re-recorded and rearranged, sung by his character at three ages, and at the end Taron Egerton’s version of a song blends almost seamlessly into Elton’s.

Robert Downey, Jr. Entertainer(s) of the Year Award(s)

Tom Holland

Tom Holland (/GQ)

Holland’s appearances as Spider-Man continue to be stellar. One of the litmus tests of my Entertainer of the Year Award are appearances through the year. Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home took care of the spring and summer appearances. At Christmas he leant his impressive voice talent to Spies in Disguise. What about the fall? Well, when it appeared Spider-Man was doomed to cinematic limbo outside the MCU after Disney and Sony couldn’t come to an agreement, he stepped in behind the scenes and helped remedy that situation. It was the kind of movie news needed this year.

Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Award(s)

George Lucas

George Lucas’s credentials need hardly be listed here. He was the architect of the Star Wars franchise and one the architects of the Indiana Jones franchise. And, of course, there are his tech innovations with THX, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound. Normally, I want my honoree of this award to have a credit in the year of his/her honoring. Lucas does and his contribution is unconventional: of course, he’s credited with “Based on characters created by” but he also helped shape the ending which I loved.

Neutron Star Award(s)

Gunnar Björnstrand

In my viewing and re-viewing of Bergman films this past year I came to appreciate more fully the actors the he frequently worked with, none more so than Björnstrand who appeared in his works from 1944 to 1983

Special Jury Award(s)

None.