O Canada Blogathon 2018 – Atanarjuat: Continuing Oral Traditions

Introduction

When I watched the documentary Reel Injun – which is a fascinating attempt at an all-inclusive retrospective of the history of Native American characters and narratives on North American, mainly Hollywood, screens – I was somewhat surprised to see the inclusion of Atarnarjuat: The Fast Runner in it. However, it made sense for two reasons: it’s a tale of  the First Nations (Canadian vernacular for indigenous tribes) and because of its universal appeal. This appeal is perhaps most brilliantly demonstrated by the reactions of Native Americans to this film. It was a consensus: the movie is something special and “an inside job.” This term is left vague but you can tell what it means it’s a story born in a tribe, that’s lived with it, and now found a home on film shaped my Inuit filmmakers. However, this thought echoed through my mind even more when I thought to write about Atanarjuat. I had seen it the third film a loose trilogy (The Fast Runner Trilogy concluding in Before Tomorrow) and knew it was a thematic rather than chronological, but when I discovered there was an illustrated screenplay and started reading it, and its additional materials, I knew that the term “inside job” was not only fitting (which I assumed), not only a great compliment (which I knew), but also a testament to the level of work taken on by all involved, in this film and in Isuma Productions’ ongoing mission.

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The Wonders the Pages Contain

On the equivalent of a blurb page the significance of the Atanarjuat in film history is made apparent: “the first film written, directed, and acted by Inuit in the ancient oral language of Inukitut…” then the accolades like the Camera d’Or at Cannes, Genie Awards and the like. But the review by A.O. Scott really gets you going if you don’t know what you’re in for:

The Fast Runner is not merely an interesting document from a far-off place; it is a masterpiece. It is, by any standard, an extraordinary film a work of narrative sweep and visual beauty that honors the history of the art form even as it extends its perspective.”

Then came the first awe-inspiring, chill-inducing moment that came only in this book, which is a timeline of the Igloolik area, where the story is set and shot, starting at 7,500 years ago with the emergence of the island to the period between 1995 to 2002 when writing the film began and after the festival runs and worldwide release.

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With education being one of Isuma’s goals aside from preserving oral traditions (Isuma is the Inuit word for ‘to think’), there are quite a few enthnographic supplements to the screenplay the first being a letter from Claude Lévi-Strauss of the Académie Française to Bernard Saladin D’Anglure, professor at Laval University and Head of the Institute for Traditional Inuit Life, reacting to the film but also hoping for added information, and intimating that a deep link between the cinematic construct and cultural traditions, which do seem to permeate the film.

Yet this is only dipping your toes in the water. Then you get Zacharias Kunuk, one of the writers and director of the film, telling the story of how he first heard the legend of Atanarjuat as a child. And reading that brief missive just made me appreciate the weight not just of the story decisions he had to make within the given narrative but also the project selection. This was to be the first project of its kind and this was the story and he was the one not only trying to keep this legend alive for future generations but also dealing with modern filmmaking headaches like raising capital.

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This hurdle, and the added difficulties of it are underscored in the interview with Paul Apak Angilirq, a co-screenwriter, not only did they confer with a group of elders on behavioral differences, and cultural differences in pre-colonial times, and the old oral version of Inukitut, and pick between the minor variations that exist in any legend passed down by oral tradition, but also they had to translate the script into English as it was being written in hopes to try to secure grants and other funding.

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These two versions of the script are put to full use in the illustrated screenplay, aside from behind the scenes photos, production stills, inset boxes with more pertinent cultural information as appropriate; and most notably and poetically parallel text syllabic Old Inukitut on the left, English on the right.

Since two screenplays are crammed in the pages the spacing is condensed to accommodate the photos. Despite this the movement of the story is evident, and even some details in the script that aren’t strictly speaking visual details, are conveyed in the film.

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After the screenplay there is an extended ethnographic commentary from the aforementioned Bernard Saladin d’Anglure that covers the Legend of Atanarjuat, the Inuit people in general, and shamanism. In discussing the Inuit he goes from pre-colonial times, and mentions Knud Rasmussen whose Thule expeditions and journals form the basis of the hard-to-find second film in the series up to and including the end of the last holdouts against radio, television, and formalized permanent settlements, creation of the syllabic alphabet and contextualization of the formation of Nunavut. It’s a testament to the non-fiction writing and insights offered that I gladly read the front and back matter without much hesitation.

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This was not the first book indigenous legends with parallel text I read but it much more readable in part because while the goals are similar (imparting knowledge and preserving traditions) the audience for all parts of this book is fairly wide, and there isn’t a section that reads like it’s mostly for specialists (e.g. linguists or anthropologists).

Even if you never heard of the term ethnography before, if you know and like the film I’d recommend you seek out the illustrated screenplay. If you want to look this screenplay up, I’d say find the film first and all of the book will have that much more impact on you.

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31 Days of Oscar: Boomerang! (1947)

Boomerang! (1947)

It’s funny how similar in conclusion and resolution this is to the other Kazan film I saw (Panic in the Streets above). Another thing that struck me is that it handles a lot of similar elements much better than the later The Town That Dreaded Sundown.

Oscar Nominations/Wins: 1/0
Score: 7/10

31 Days of Oscar: Victor Victoria (1982)

Victor Victoria (1982)

There are givens in this film: Julie Andrews is great, the intelligence of the dialogue that ensues regarding gender and sexuality is sparkling, the music is toe-tapping. The film is highly entertaining. I’m not sure if its part of the slapstick that the illusion of Victoria being Victor isn’t sold more say with more fitted clothes, shooting in black & white or any number of methods, but that does allow for some distraction in frequent buffering of your suspension of disbelief, wherein you have to convince yourself that most of the unseen masses in this fictional land buy the illusion. It’s a small thing that snowballs into a bigger one, but it’s still a good film that should be seen and discussed more than it is.

Score: 7/10
Oscar Nominations/Wins: 7/1

31 Days of Oscar: Scrooge (1970)

Scrooge (1970)

I, like many, have seen many a version of Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol it’s one of the Great Stories that we all become accustomed to and can analyze individual adaptations based on interpretation and choices more so than for the narrative itself. This version is a musical that is penned by the renowned Leslie Bricusse and for as closely as it sticks to the structure of the story for the most part offers as change of pace with songs, many of which were new. The songs are well-spaced allowing the drama to unfold adequately between numbers and also many are half-sung which lessens the theatricality of it. When watching 31 Days of Oscar I like to try and guess the nominations, if I don’t know them already and I guessed right on Art Direction and Song and was not surprised by the costuming being included. This is a very enjoyable rendition of the tale that ought not be overlooked.

Oscar Nominations/Wins: 4/0
Score: 8/10

Shameless Self-Promotion – Teenage Death Songs: Volume 2 is now available on ebook!

My latest ebook Teenage Death Songs: Volume 2, which features three short stories (description below) is available on Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, and Nook today.

For more information on my fiction please go to my Author page.

Teenage Death Songs: Volume 2

Rhiannon of Russet

A woman’s journey from moderate conservative to political zealotry sees her run afoul of the hidden powers that govern her adopted hometown and threatens those closest to her.

Sea of Blood

Mahtantu is named after the the Lenape god of death. As Thanksgiving 2016 approaches he plots to upstage his hometown’s fictitious holiday pageant.

Rimmon

Rimmon was born half-human and half-demon, a self-proclaimed demidemon, he struggles with the duality of his nature, his birth, distance from his biological parents and finding acceptance in the demonic hierarchy. The only friends he’s known in the short span of his life challenge his loyalties when they ask for a dangerous favor.

Neutron Star Award: Carrie Fisher

A neutron star is one that glows more brightly after it “death,” similarly these filmmakers and actors do. It’s a counterpart to the Lifetime Achievement Award which is intended for filmmakers and actors who are very much alive and kicking.

2017 Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher’s death in late 2016 was a cruel shock. The tragedy was of course compounded by the fact that her mother Debbie Reynolds died the very next day.

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Shortly after their deaths HBO released a doc about them that they were producing anyway. I saw Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds shortly after it became available. It was an insightful, touching and bittersweet look at their life together. It underscored the fact that too much about her career didn’t get attention until after the fact. I remember maybe vaguely hearing about her script doctoring once but by the time the fact came up again I couldn’t recall if that was something I ever knew or if it was new information.

And that list of titles is quite good.

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And, of course, after the fact I would find things that either I forgot she was in (Austin Powers International Man of Mystery) or never knew realized was in (When Harry Met Sally…, Hannah and Her Sisters).

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Then, of course, there was The Last Jedi. Of course, when I went to see it I knew it would be one of the last new films I’d see her in (Wonderwell is slated for release this year) but I didn’t expect Leia’s role to be that much larger than it was previously and that much more epic. In the nominating process I asked myself the hard question: was she included in the nominees only because it was a posthumous honor? Absolutely not.

For those reasons and so many more Carrie Fisher gets the honor this year.

Robert Downey, Jr. Entertainer of the Year Award: Stephen King

If you’ve been to my site over the years it’s not secret that I am a huge fan of Stephen King, and I have sought almost any opportunity I could find to write about him.

Here are some notable instances:

A review of It (1990)
A series on his as-of-yet unadapted works
A series on adaptations of his work focusing mostly on Maximum Overdrive

However, in the BAM Awards as entertainer of the year was not something I foresaw.

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Throughout the year I made mental notes of actors and directors who had multiple credits to their name who made their mark through a large swath of the calendar year. I usually like these awards to be like revelations rather than conscious decisions. Once I tried resisting choosing King, I knew he was the only choice.

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And I only resisted because picking the creator of source material would be a new frontier, but it is worthy of inclusion. I always cite the author of source material in my nominations on equal footing with the screenwriters.

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With it seeming, based on early looks, that King was going to have a very good year, many retrospectives came but the new work showed there are people working now who want to work with his material, and know how to mold it for film.

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And it was a very good year for Stephen King, and the BAM Awards were no exception. Films based on his works garnered 30 nominations; including three of five Best Adapted Screenplay nominations.

He also saw two more of his works turned into TV shows Mr. Mercedes and The Mist.

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He and his son Owen released the timely novel Sleeping Beauties, and he has a new novel due out this spring; so it’s clear he’s still kicking but his impact on me and many has been long-lasting and will continue, but 2017 cinematically was a standout for highlighting his work, and it’s why he’s the recipient of this prize.

2017 Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Awards (2 of 2): Jessica Lange

The delay in posting any and all of these honorary awards has been due in large part to wrapping a long first draft of a piece of fiction and the fact that a record keeping mistake almost led me to pick the same Lifetime Achievement recipient as last year. Not that John Williams hasn’t done enough for multiple lifetimes but let’s spread the wealth.

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As such I will post at least one honoree a day to balance this blog with my other works. 

As I deliberated picking people who aren’t exceptionally old as other awards do, I wasn’t inspired by many of my options until I looked at the history of my own awards and how in recent years I had seen the reemergence of some of my favorites into the nominated list. So, that seemed like the perfect reason to celebrate all of their works as I also like to select people who are still making an impact.

Without further adieu the honoree…

Jessica Lange

First some stats…

6 total nominations; 3 wins
Won as Lead Actress and Supporting Actress (One of three)
Nominated four straight years (19972000)

Best Actress nominee in 1997 (A Thousand Acres)
Best Actress nominee in 1998 (Hush)
Best Actress winner in 1999 (Cousin Bette)
Best Actress winner in 2000 (Titus)
Best Cast nominee in 2000 (Titus)
Best Supporting Actress winner in 2014 (In Secret)

In the early days of these awards when I was prone to revisionism and trying to create credible nominees from 1981. I was compelled to go back and watch as many things as I could by my favorite directors and actors. Jessica Lange was among these actresses.

Titus (1999, Fox Searchlight)

Even scrapping those provisional, untrue awards she made more than enough of a mark. Her nominations as Best Actress in four consecutive years was a feat I didn’t notice until I started composing this piece (I like to compose these award without being conscious of things like how many nominations a film is racking up or if so-and-so made it in the year before).

I believe I first knew of Jessica Lange when in a high school cinema class we screened the 1976 King Kong. That allowed me then to seek out and watch many of her films in approximate chronological order. Eventually she became an actress I made a point of going out to the movies to see.

In Secret (2014, Roadside Attractions)

Like many other admirers, I was thrilled when American Horror Story acted as a renaissance for her career. When In Secret was released I rushed out to see it, and I thought for a Zola novel I did not know much about it portrayed a story of that vintage in as modern a way as possible without reinventing it, and Lange stole the entire film, and she was not only nominated again but won her third BAM Award.

In 2015 it was time for her to move on from AHS, but recently she made another tour-de-force appearance on a television series Feud: Bette and Joan, which bears mentioning here as she played Joan Crawford and was dealing with the struggle of being a woman of a certain age in Hollywood, and contrary to her trajectory playing an actress whose talents were never fully appreciated. That role showed that she by no means is done, as I prefer these honorees to be.

2017 Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Awards (1 of 2): Melanie Griffith

When I posted my BAM Award honorees, it was another long day and I claimed I’d post special awards the following day. The delay in posting any and all of these honorary awards has been due in large part to wrapping a long first draft of a piece of fiction and the fact that a record keeping mistake almost led me to pick the same Lifetime Achievement recipient as last year. Not that John Williams hasn’t done enough for multiple lifetimes, but let’s spread the wealth.

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As such I will instead post at least one honoree a day to balance this blog with my other works.

As I deliberated picking people who aren’t exceptionally old as other awards do, I wasn’t inspired by many of my options until I looked at the history of my own awards and how in recent years I had seen the reemergence of some of my favorites into the nominated list. So, that seemed like the perfect reason to celebrate all of their works as I also like to select people who are still making an impact.

Without further adieu the first honoree…

Melanie Griffith

First, some stats…

6 total nominations; 2 wins
Won as Lead Actress and Supporting Actress (One of three)
Nominated four times in six years (19962001)

Best Supporting Actress winner in 1996 (Mulholland Falls)
Best Supporting Actress nominee 1997 (Lolita)
Best Actress nominee in 1999 (Shadow of Doubt)
Best Actress winner in 2001 (Cecil B. Demented)
Best Cast nominee in 2001 (Cecil B. Demented)
Best Cast Nominee in 2017 (The Disaster Artist).

Even before the era wherein the BAM Awards were a part of my life Melanie Griffith had already made an impression on me, and in retrospect I went on to view many of her films.

#WorkingGirl #MelanieGriffith #CarlySimon #meme

A post shared by Bernardo Miller-Villela (@bernardodeassisvillela) on

Prior to her most well-known work (Working Girl) she had already made a splash with two films that would end up standing the test of time (Body Double and Something Wild).

While the string of films she was in following Working Girl had varying degrees of success commercially, critically, I enjoy most and like her work in them even more (Pacific Heights, Bonfire of the Vanities, Paradise, Shining Through, Born Yesterday, Milk Money, Nobody’s Fool, Buffalo Girls, Celebrity, Another Day in Paradise, Crazy in Alabama and RKO 281 among those not yet mentioned).

Paradise (1991, Touchstone Pictures)

Smaller independent works intervened between her last BAM nomination and The Disaster Artist, but I’d not happened to come across them or gone out of my way to see them, though I should have. The Disaster Artist was a tremendous jolt, a reminder that I’ve not tracked down enough of her works as she was one of the first actors or directors I made a point of seeing.

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“Do you even want to be an actor?” her character, an acting instructor, says to Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) in The Disaster Artist. He responds in the affirmative. “Well, you hide it well,” she retorts, and in a film about the making of a cult film, and in many ways the cruelty of Hollywood and entertainment in general; Melanie’s part, and Sharon Stone, as an objectifying talent agent, seems a very conscious and shrewd commentary: these are talented, professional women deserving of respect and recognition.

Melanie’s honor from my awards is overdue.

And the 2017 BAM Award Goes To…

This year I switched up a few things. First, as opposed to live-blogging the nominees I’m live-blogging the announcements category-by-category. I will also be brief in any writing I add to the categories (except maybe special categories) as I feel most may just skim anyway. Plus, I feel a sparsity of words may underscore the fact that when it comes to the BAM Awards, which reflect my year in film alone, as arduous as the decision-making process is it is the nomination that means the most.

The selected nominee is in BOLD  and pictured.

UPDATE: The 2017 specific categories are done. The special awards will get their own post tomorrow, the 10th, just as they did last year. 

Best Picture

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The Big Sick
Blade Runner 2049
Coco
Get Out
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
It
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Split
Wind River
Wonderstruck

My blurb on It, the other Best Picture nominees, and about ten more films will be coming in my best of 2017 list.

Most Overlooked Picture

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1922
All Saints
Columbus
The Dark Tower
The Glass Castle
The Space Between Us
Rico, Oskar und der Diebstahlstein
Wind River
Wonderstruck
XX

Between the time I saw this film and started thinking about awards I did not think about it that often. When considering each category it kept coming up. There’s a reason why. Here’s my original Letterboxd review.

A deftly handled meticulously-framed and lit film that within its subtle introduction to its characters finds their hearts and souls at times of quiet, introspective crisis and allows the characters to find each other and voice their concerns. The movements are small but meaningful and underscored by a score that folds itself into the visual, aiding the overall impact. Haley Lu Richardson is a revelation.

Best Director

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Andy Muschietti It
Jordan Peele Get Out
Michael Showalter The Big Sick
M. Night Shyamalan Split
Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina Coco

All I said about how It came together below is thanks to Muschietti’s vision. His previous film was Mama which I thought had a brilliant and protracted climactic sequence. He brought that to this film as well and it was needed.

Best Actress

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Carla Gugino Gerald’s Game
Sally Hawkins The Shape of Water
Haley Lu Richardson Columbus
Aubrey Plaza Ingrid Goes West
Frances McDormand Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Saoirse Ronan Lady Bird

To emote so effectively without words is quite literally the essence of film acting. It’s unfortunate for the film that there’s that fanciful musical number but that isn’t held against Hawkins.

Best Actor

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James Franco The Disaster Artist
Ryan Gosling Blade Runner 2049
Daniel Kaluuya Get Out
James McAvoy Split
Kumail Nanjiani The Big Sick
Denzel Washington Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Getting this category down to five was one of the things that made me expand acting categories. It just wasn’t going to happen. These performances are varied, and arresting in their own way. It’d be an oversimplification to say James McAvoy was selected for playing a character with multiple personalities. What really does it how he becomes the characters entirely. It’s a work of genius on his part.

Best Supporting Actress

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Betty Buckley Split
Carrie Fisher Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Holly Hunter The Big Sick
Catherine Keener Get Out
Laurie Metcalf Lady Bird
Carla Juri Blade Runner 2049

This was another tough one and all these ladies deserve their due. Carla Juri doesn’t have much time on screen but all her scenes are replete with pathos, Katherine Keener is appropriately hypnotic in Get Out; in a sort of reverse side of the coin Betty Buckley’s captivating, sensitive portrayal of a psychiatrist who is willing to see past the commonplace in Split. Carrie Fisher brought a sagacity and played much bigger scenes in this Star Wars as opposed to the one prior and buoyed an even better film. But as much was follow Lady Bird’s travails in the eponymous film it is Laurie Metcalf that ends up dominating it.

Best Supporting Actor

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Sterling K. Brown Marshall
Dave Franco The Disaster Artist
Richard Jenkins The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Bill Skarsgård It

Ultimately, what decided this one was arc and the execution of it. Sam Rockwell is stellar at all stages of his character’s progression.

 

Best Cast

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Benicio Del Toro, Frank Oz, Warwick Davis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gareth Edwards

The Big Sick

Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff, Adeel Akhtar, Kurt Braunohler, Vella Lovell, David Alan Grier, Ed Herbstman, Shenaz Treasury, Kuhoo Verma, Mitra Jouhari, Myra Lucretia Taylor

Get Out

Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel, Lakeith Stanfield, Stephen Root, LilRel Howert, Erika Alexander

The Disaster Artist

James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Melanie Griffith, Sharon Stone, Josh Hutcherson, Zac Efron, Paul Scheer, Ari Graynor, Jacki WeaverMegan Mullally, Jason Mantzoukas, Nathan Fielder, Hannibal Buress, Bob Odenkirk, Ike Batinholtz, Kevin Smith, Keegan-Michael Key, Adam Scott, Danny McBride, Kristen Bell, J.J. Abrams, Lizzy Caplan, Judd Apatow, Zach Braff, Bryan Cranston, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

It

Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jackson Robert Scott, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Wyatt Oleff, Jack Dylan Grazer, Bill Skarsgård, Nicholas Hamilton, Jake Sim, Logan Thompson, Owen Teague, Stephen Bogaert, Stuart Hughes, Geoffrey Pounsett, Molly Jane Atkinson

Wind River

Kelsey Asbille, Jeremy Renner, Julia Jones, Teo Briones, Apesanahkwat, Graham Greene, Elizabeth Olsen, Tantoo Cardinal, Eric Lange, Gil Birmingham, Althea Sam, Tokala Clifford, Jon Bernthal

When selecting a collective award it can be difficult to parse it out. The truism “You’re only as strong as your weakest link” can be used. But That couldn’t break this down. What ultimately made all the difference was moments of deep emotional impact that hit me from as many players in parts large and small. The kids of It have most of their movies moments, many people get their fair share in The Big SickStar Wars, and Get OutThe Disaster Artist works so well because there are so many actors I like in it having a ball. But the cast of Wind River hit me almost to a man with moments of emotional resonance but also unadulterated humanity and portraying the human condition is what acting is and this was the best example of it in all of its shades.

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

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Ella Anderson The Glass Castle
Sophia Lillis It
Millicent Simmonds Wonderstruck
Izabela Vidovic Wonder
Lulu Wilson Annabelle: Creation
Maddie Ziegler The Book of Henry

As the category below this one also got rather difficult to choose, but eventually I did. All these nominees are very noteworthy. If you only know Ella Anderson from her role on Henry Danger you owe it to yourself to see The Glass Castle if you couldn’t tell the talent that was there its on full display in this part. Millicent Simmonds also does some silent work and breaks out carrying her own half of Wonderstruck easily. Izabela Vidovic is a marvel in Wonder and breathes such life into Thornton Wilder’s Our Town it was a joy to behold. Lulu Wilson is here again and she may be nominated quite a few more times the way she;s going. But the burst-on-to-the-scene dominant performance imbuing Beverly Marsh will all the attributes she needed to have is Sophia Lillis, she’s cool, she’s misunderstood, funny, genuinely kind to all her Losers’ Club friends even the ones who are hangin’ tough, and is fighting her own villain at home; and she pulls it off with the ease of a veteran, which is why she gets the award.

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Bear with me the format will be a little different here. First came these realizations.

One thing that’s curious is that as you proceed through a process over and over you start noticing things about it you never considered before. The first split in the youth categories was to allow young actors in smaller roles to get recognition too. And then why not give kids equal footing (in terms of categories) with their adult counterparts? With so many more opportunities now with cable, premium cable, streaming services offering not just series but films it seems odd to try and cite statistics about young performers transitioning to adult roles. It’s an unfair comparison. But what I can tell through this change in focus at my awards that the opportunities may still be unequal (skewed against women and girls) but the talent not just abounds but it is canny. But the newest observation is that having a category that actors could age out of may make it seem like destiny that a multiple nominee will get it “next year” or that the field just opened up because a a multiple-winner is now in the adult bracket (recent examples being Elle Fanning and Kodi Smit-McPhee). But the award has to be merit-based and given with the realization that literally any of these actors could have been chosen.

The above was all well and good and leading to an actual decision among these nominees.

It’s been one of the two hardest categories to pick all year. This year in the interest of symmetry and due to decision fatigue in part I gave all the Youth Categories six nominees rather than having the occasional category balloon as I had for a while. But I didn’t regret it at all and all the nominees are great!

Alas, when it came time to post who I was going to award on my 5,897th mind-change I accidentally thought of the wrong name when going to do an image search. Then I realized going back to my roots that I created this award as a reaction to the Oscars. They’ve had six ties in 89 years, on every 14.833. This is the 22nd edition of my awards. I’m owed a tie, it was hard enough getting down to two. The BAMs go to…

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Oakes Fegley Wonderstruck
Noah Jupe Suburbicon
Judah Lewis The Babysitter
Jaeden Lieberher It
Tom Taylor The Dark Tower
Jacob Tremblay Wonder

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

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Lilly Aspell Wonder Woman
Chiara Aurelia Gerald’s Game
Lola Flanery Home Again
Peyton Kennedy XX
Amiah Miller War for the Planet of the Apes
Olivia Kate Rice The Glass Castle

Playing the younger version of an adult protagonist can be at times thankless and also a narrative afterthought. Lilly Aspell does quite well in the prologue of Wonder Woman but then Gal shows up and is Wonder Woman and you have to take a view of the whole film to keep her in mind. Amiah Miller’s silent presence in War for the Planet of the Apes is great but doesn’t transcend scenes. Lola Flanery is the standout of the young girls in Home Again and The Glass Castle has a tremendous young group but also parallel timeframes that divide time. Chiara Aurelia, however, features in flashbacks that are crucial to Gerald’s Game and her performance is breathtaking and resonates deeply.

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

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Jack Dylan Grazer It
Wyatt Oleff It
Chosen Jacobs It
Noah Jupe Wonder
Jeremy Ray Taylor It
Finn Wolfhard It

Again like Best Song a vast majority of the choices here were from the same film. Noah Jupe is also included in Best Performance by a Young Actor in Suburbicon, so he clearly had a breakout year. How to choose among the Losers’ Club basically came down to two factors: who feeling out of place would have adversely affected the film and if all things were equal who added the most to the film. Finn actually had the disadvantage of my knowing his work from Stranger Things, however, Mike Wheeler and Richie Tozier are but superficially similar. Richie’s truer feelings are held closer to the vest than Mike’s are. Richie jokes and curses about everything whether it’s appropriate or not, many times its a defense mechanism against his fears and any other insecurity he may feel, he has to do these things elicit laughs, shrugs, eye-rolls, be relatable but also be that kid who you’d say ‘Yeah, he gets on our nerves but he’s my friend,’ that and his being the biggest foil to Bill’s single-minded mission make Finn the choice.

Best Youth Ensemble

The_Losers_Club

The Glass Castle 

Ella Anderson, Chandler Head, Charlie Shotwell, Iain Armitage, Sadie Sink, Olivia Kate Rice, Shree Grace Crooks, and Ellen Grace Redfield
It

Jaeden Lieberher, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jackson Robert Scott and Nicholas Hamilton

Wonder 

Jacob Tremblay, Izabela Vidovic, Noah Jupe, Bryce Gheisar, Ty Consiglio, Kyle Breitkopf, James Hughes, Elle McKinnon, Millie Davis, et al.

Wonderstruck 

Millicent Simmonds, Oakes Fegley, Jaden Michael, Sawyer Niehaus, et al.

Rico, Oskar und der Diebstahlstein 

Anton Petzold, Juri Winkler, and  Tristan Göbel
The Beguiled

Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke, and Emma Howard

If you saw the nominations you probably saw this selection coming, however, not to be lost in that is the fact that all these ensembles are great, and the films worth very much worth viewing especially the under seen The Glass Castle. As for the ensemble in It they rival any of the groups that have won this award thus far.

Best Original Screenplay

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Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani The Big Sick
Jordan Peele Get Out
Lee Unkrich & Jason Katz & Matthew Aldrich & Adrian Morris Coco
M. Night Shyamalan Split
Martin McDonagh Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Original screenplays are where, above all, I want to have my mind blown. One of the most mind-blowing moments I saw on film in 2017 was the introduction of the The Sunken Place. That and the concepts, the very weird, real, and only slightly off-kilter world of Get Out garner it this award.

Best Adapted Screenplay

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Zak Hilditch and Stephen King 1922
Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, and Philip K. Dick Blade Runner 2049
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber; Greg Sestero and Tom Bisse The Disaster Artist
Mike Flanagan & Jeff Howard, and Stephen King Gerald’s Game
Chase Palmer & Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman, and Stephen King It

Here, and only here, is where source material matters. 2017 saw the taming of three Stephen King beasts; two that are quite a challenge to handle; as impressive as the choices that were made in Gerald’s Game were the 21st century tack of halving It and moving it from the 1950s to the 1980s are master strokes that reinvent the story keep its spirit and make it a work wholly in and of itself simultaneously.

Best Score

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Carter Burwell Wonderstruck
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis Wind River
John Williams Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Benjamin Walfisch It
Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch Blade Runner 2049

This one was tough. Through the years many musicians accumulate great scores (John Williams, Hans Zimmer), and some recent stars emerge and had multiple possibilities this year (Carter Burwell), but I couldn’t shake Benjamin Wallfisch out of two nominations, and his work on It combined all the techniques and styles that helped the other nominees get in: variety (Burwell), vocals (Cave & Ellis), Electronic music (Wallfisch/Zimmer) and classical orchestration (Williams), that and the score for It amped its effectiveness greatly.

Best Editing

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Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss Baby Driver
Jason Ballantine It
Jon Gregory Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Gregory Plotkin Get Out
Joe Walker Blade Runner 2049

Editing, among many other things, is the art of making a movie flow. Everyone can feel it if they’re attuned. In simplest terms its an anti-running time award. It clocks in at 135 minutes and is a blur; a whirlwind of emotional isolation that is what these kids are experiencing and as they join one another they strengthen. Its horror at its most relentless and the edit has much to do with it.

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

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Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
It
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Again Dunkirk created some division among those who saw it, but when looking at categories I don’t look at the film overall but how it performs in its discipline. The sound of this film pounded me in my chest throughout which is the point: immersion. And in that way the film is immaculate.

Best Cinematography

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Roger A. Deakins Blade Runner 2049
Hoyte Van Hoytema Dunkirk
Ben Richardson Wind River
Edward Lachman Wonderstruck
Chung-hoon Chung It

Basically, I can get if you don’t like Blade Runner 2049, if it’s too plodding for you or what have you, but how can you not love looking at it?

Best Costume Design

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The Dark Tower
The Greatest Show
It
Wonderstruck
Victoria & Abdul

Typically what I want to see for costume design is not merely period but blending times, cultures or “worlds.” Wonderstruck did this most seamlessly.

Best Makeup

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1922
Gerald’s Game
It
The Shape of Water
Wonder

As much as I look for different techniques and touches and aesthetics it’s hard to go against a film whose work is a constant presence.

Best Visual Effects

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Bladerunner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

It’s often difficult to make this decision because of the myriad techniques and uses for effects work. Many times it just comes down to world-building and Blade Runner 2049 created quite a mesmerizing one.

Best Soundtrack

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Baby Driver
Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2
Ingrid Goes West
The Disaster Artist
The Shape of Water

Last year marked the return of this category as in 2015 I started noting great use of source music anew. Last year with even more focus on it I easily fielded a category. This year again it was easy to find films where there were great songs and they mattered. None more so than in Baby Driver. 

Best Song

“This Is Me” Keala Settle and The Greatest Show Ensemble The Greatest Showman
“Remember Me” (Reunion) Anthony Gonzalez, Ana Ofelia Murguía Coco
“Un Poco Loco” Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal Coco
“La Llorona” Alanna Ubach, Antonio Sol Coco
“Proud Corazón” Anthony Gonzalez Coco

It was Coco pulling off a four-nomination feat in this category that pushed out cover songs from consideration. Having said that Greyson Chance’s “Hungry Eyes” for ABC’s Dirty Dancing remake is remarkable and deserves a listen if you have yet to hear it.