Best Films of 2016

Typically I post the best films of the year as a series of posts where I write about each individually. Since I didn’t see enough films in 2016 to make more than a top 10, and that list is reflected and discussed in the BAM Awards. I post merely a screencap of my Letterboxd list, in case anyone is curious as to the order the films appear in.

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2016 BAM Awards: Honorary Awards

Robert Downey, Jr. Entertainer of the Year Awards

Dwayne Johnson

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To say that I never expected when he was making a name for himself in the WWE that I’d one day award Dwayne Johnson anything would be an understatement.

However, with the second season of the HBO show BallersCentral Intelligence, and one of the bigger Gray Area films of the year, Moana.

Johnson has come a long way, but has always seemed a parallel on a higher plain than another honoree on this page.

It was a great year for him, he has three big 2017 films and has become one of the more enjoyable personalities onscreen and one of the few movie stars.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Paris Agreement For Climate Change Signing

In an indicator of my 2016, both the men I chose as entertainers of the year, have additions to the Gray Area. With DiCaprio it is The Ivory Game that is in that category. His award is more a behind the scenes one, specifically in the link between The Revenant and Before the Flood which created a personal narrative in a macrocosmic view that enlightened and enlivened both.

DiCaprio is also one of a notable few (recently Emma Watson also has) speakers at the UN who are using their celebrity for some good.

Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Awards

If there was one thing that 2016 showed the world, it’s that there should not be a limitation on appreciation. While my lifetime awards want to try to award those “not on their deathbed” it’s become even clearer to all that there are not guarantees and being too premature awarding in a category like this is not the end of the world.

In that spirit I picked two this year, and may find a way to squeeze in three for 2017. Here they are:

John Williams

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50 Academy Award Nominations.

5 Oscars.

Nearly all of Spielberg’s credits.

The basis upon which the scoring of Star Wars and Harry Potter scores are built by others.

3 BAM Awards (1997, 2001, and 2002).

7 BAM Award Nominations.

Countless other memorable moments. Clearly deserving and frankly overdue.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Movie stardom is a rare commodity now it seems, and Schwarzenegger definitely has always had that kind of magnetism.

However, after serving two terms as the governor of California, in 2011, as Arnold Schwarzenegger started to appear on the big screen again, I realized something: I’d missed him on-screen. 2016 was an off-year in as much as most of what he’s worked on lately will be out in 2017 and beyond, which is part of the tradition I like to follow (to have things forthcoming of note like (TripletsThe Legend of ConanJourney to China: Mystery of the Iron MaskAftermathWhy We’re Killing Gunther and more) but he still managed to make people take notice:

But while that brought entertainment value to his now-too-rare, sane conservatism this is not a political trophy. Since 2011 he has returned to the Terminator franchise (in which he was far superior to the narrative of the most recent film), delivered perhaps his best performance in Maggie, not only cemented his action legacy but muscled his way into Liam Neeson’s action niche, and, of course, we all know what he was to action in the ’80s.

Neutron Star Awards

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Walter Lantz

One series of viewings I was able to achieve was to watch my Woody Woodpecker box set this year. I always was a fan of that cast of characters, from my childhood, but I had gotten to such a removed perspective from having seen them that I thought it might’ve been mythologized nostalgia.

In finding things about Lantz, those characters (especially the secondary ones), I see that was not the case. There are more out there to find, they should not be overlooked, and I’ll be glad to see them. This man on a smaller scale made a world of characters to take note of. Not just Woody but Andy Panda, Chilly Willy, Wally Walrus, Buzz Buzzard, and others.

Qusai Abtini

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In a better world I never would’ve learned who Qusai Abtini was, in a better world the show he was one wouldn’t have needed to exist. However, it also shows the power of the arts as escapism, even when the comedy is very close-to-home.

Abtini starred in Um Abdou Aleppan, a sitcom started in 2014 in Aleppo’s rebel section, the first production to start as so:

A Syrian sitcom which takes place in one of the historic stone houses in the old city of Aleppo and in which all the roles are played by children has lost one of its stars this month: a tragic reality that has intruded on the innocence of the show. A 14-year-old boy Qusai Abtini, was killed when a missile struck the car he was in as he tried to escape Aleppo. Fresh-faced with a toothy grin and thick black hair, Abtini had become a local celebrity. His life and death underscored the suffering of Aleppans. Their city was once the commercial center of Syria with a thriving, unique culture. It has now been torn to pieces by fighting, with whole neighborhoods left in ruin. since the summer of 2012, when Aleppo split into rebel- and government-held districts and the two sides turned on each other, tens of thousands in the city have been killed. 14 year-old Qusai Abtini is now one of the killed.

Special Jury Awards

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

When I was young, in my teens most likely (based on how it looked in my mind) I daydreamed about death being no obstacle to a casting decision. Is a Ghost-Peter Cushing ready to headline a film? No, but knowing it would be there, it still had me in the first scene and I was surprised that they went there so much. It is marvelous.

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Debra Paget, For Example

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wins this award for exemplary for artistry of the video essay, and the best short of 2016. It was previously reviewed here.

This film is available to view on Fandor.

2016 BAM Award Winners

2016 BAM Award Winners

In 2016 it was likely the year with fewest qualified films since I was a teenager. Having said that I only held back in fully nominating categories. Looking at this like a film festival, the program size can shrink or increase but the nominees and honorees are still the crème de la crème.

Honorees are pictured.

I’ll update this post live. If the list is incomplete when you visit. Check back!

Best Song

“Equal Rights” Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Atticus Schaffer, and Pink Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

“Incredible Thoughts” Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Atticus Schaffer, Michael Bolton, and Justin Timberlake (as Mr. Fish) Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

“Turn Up the Beef” Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Atticus Schaffer, and Emma Stone Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

“Can’t Stop the Feeling (Film Version)” Justin Timberlake, Anna Kendrick, Gwen Stefani, James Corden, Zooey Deschanel, Ron Funches, Caroline Hjelt, Aino Jawo, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Kunal Nayyar Trolls

“I Wan’na Be Like You” Christopher Walken The Jungle Book“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” Regina Spektor Kubo and the Two Strings

and the award goes to…

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An honorable mention definitely goes to Christopher Walken’s marvelous rendition of “I Wan’na be Like You.”

Odds were always in Popstar‘s favor earning three nominations. However, “Turn Up the Beef” aside from catchiness, hilarity, and featuring Emma Stone; features the infamous “catch-phrase” verse which plays a huge role in the narrative.

It is the first BAM Award for Samberg, Schaffer, and Taccone. The second for Stone.

Best Soundtrack 

Aquarius
Die Boskampi’s
Keanu
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
The River Thief

And the award goes to…

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Last year I admitted I should’ve had this category back in this mix. This year I followed through. While many didn’t jump out, I liked all the nominees immensely. I got Popstar almost immediately, they’re catchy, I like the lyrics, and it still makes me laugh; and even in its stupidity it is also commenting on things, so that’s a bonus.

Best Visual Effects

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Pete’s Dragon
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

And the award goes to…

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Rogue One did a lot very well, and stood out with fewer weaknesses than the other films. More on this later…

Best Makeup

O Diabo Mora Aqui
Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The Revenant
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

And the award goes to…

Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie

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I tried to avoid having a movie about Donald Trump’s insipid book win anything. Believe me. As funny as it is, I was somewhat afraid he’d take it as a compliment. However, making Johnny Depp look like a circa 1987 Trump is a pretty YUGE feat. So YUGE it can’t be ignored. Kind of like Russian hacking.

Best Costume Design

Der Bunker
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
The Revenant
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

And the award goes to…

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children just did more and better; it hit the trifecta (period, fantasy, and contemporary design) and was gorgeous in doing so.

Best Art Direction

Aquarius
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
The Jungle Book
Rogue One: Star Wars Story

And the award goes to…

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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In a similar way to its costume design, but on a grander scale, and in a terrestrial fantasy tale Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children does wonders.

Best Cinematography

Jarin Blascke The Witch
Greig Fraser Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Emmanuel Lubezki The Revenant
Wolfgang Thaler Theeb
Pedro Sotero, Fabricio Tadeu Aquarius

And the award goes to…

Emmanuel Lubezki The Revenant

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All of these films had tremendous images that helped in telling their stories, The Revenant was replete with them.

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

Captain America: Civil War
The Jungle Book
The Revenant
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The Witch

And the award goes to…

The Jungle Book

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Rewatching this at home recently really drove home how immersive and real the sound design and mix for this film was, essential in creating Mowgli’s jungle.

Best Editing

Brett Granato, Maya Mumma, and Ben Sozanski O.J.: Made in America
John Gilroy, Colin Goudie, and Jabez Olssen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Jeffrey Ford and Matthew Schmidt Captain America: Civil War
Louise Ford The Witch
Eduardo Serrano Aquarius

And the award goes to…

Brett Granato, Maya Mumma, and Ben Sozanski O.J.: Made in America

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This film is like a book in its detail, complexity, and plotting (the length helps) but it moves effortlessly like a long harrowing nightmare. It’s incredible and documentary editing is a daunting task. Well done indeed.

Best Score

Jerry Lane Theeb
Andrew Lockington Incarnate
Mogwai, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Gabriel Satolalla Before the Flood
Mark Korven The Witch
Dominic Lewis Money Monster

And the award goes to…

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This is always such a hard category to chose. Ultimately those shortlisted match the action well, and the nominees do that plus add a unique twist of some kind to its music. The Witch‘s music feels like a throwback like the film and it works brilliantly.

Best Adapted Screenplay

David Lowery & Toby Holbrooks, Malcolm Marmostein, Seton I. Miller and S.S. Field Pete’s Dragon
Justin Marks and Rudyard Kipling The Jungle Book
Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Mark Millar Captain America: Civil War
Anders Øholm and Kenneth Bøgh Andersen Antboy 3
Christ Weitz, Tony Gilroy and John Knoll, Gary Whitta and George Lucas Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

And the award goes to…

Pete’s Dragon

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If you not only improve on the original but create something vastly different and superior, you get what Disney did with Pete’s Dragon. As a double-feature they’s be quite a contrast, but what is contained in the new version is special independent of that comparison, and why it stands tall above the rest of the field.

Best Original Screenplay

Robert Eggers The Witch
Nikias Chryssos Der Bunker
Byron Howard & Rich Moore & Jared Bush & Jim Reardon & Josie Trinidad & Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee; Jared Bush & Phil Johnston Zootopia
Kleber Mendonça Filho Aquarius
J.K. Rowling Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

And the award goes to…

Nikias Chryssos Der Bunker

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Some quotes from my review may explain why I chose this film:

Der Bunker is a film that almost needs to be seen to be conveyed but here goes nothing; I will begin by quoting the great John Waters in saying “Get more out of life. See a fucked up movie.”

In summation:

Der Bunker is a comedy that’s great for a laugh but it is of the far-too-rare variety in this day and age that makes you think as well.

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Beau Gadsdon Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Astrid Juncher-Benzon Antboy 3
Oona Laurence Pete’s Dragon
Alexa Nisenson Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Faith Wood-Blagrove Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

And the award goes to…

Alexa Nisenson Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

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These girls are all spectacular in their roles but Alexa Nisenson breaks out when Middle School changes gears and tales it to an unexpected level and completely steals the show.

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

Thomas Barbusca Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Samuel Ting Graf Antboy 3
Isaiah Tootoosis The Revenant
Harvey Scrimshaw The Witch
Emjay Anthony Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie
David Mazouz Incarnate

And the award goes to…

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I couldn’t narrow this category to five as there were six very deserving nominees, but this award was sealed on my first viewing of this film in what is nothing short of a breathtaking performance. To say more would be to spoil The Witch.

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Gabriel Bateman Lights Out
Thor Braun De Boskampi’s
Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat Theeb
Oakes Fegley Pete’s Dragon
Daniel Huttlestone London Town
Neel Sethi The Jungle Book

And the award goes to…

Daniel Huttlestone London Town

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This is another packed category, and any number of the actors could have been chosen. Many of these kids worked alone quite a bit, carried the films they were in, and had tough work to do. However, in a manner of degrees Daniel Huttlestone edges it out.

After his breakout in Les Miserables I wouldn’t have been surprised to find myself awarding Dan Huttlestone, but what was a minor upset is that while this film is musical he does not sing in this one. He plays some quite heightened scenes and conveys world-weariness, youthful enthusiasm of new things with sensativity.

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Ruby Barnhill The BFG
Jessi Goei Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Isabela Moner Legends of the Hidden Temple
Madison Wolfe The Conjuring 2
Lulu Wilson Ouija: The Origin of Evil
And the award goes to…

Madison Wolfe The Conjuring 2

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It’s commonplace for British actors to fool American audiences into believing that they are  from our country. It’s a rarer feat for the opposite to be true, even more rare for a young performer. That combined with her intensity and control is why Madison Wolfe gets the win in a highly talented field.

Best Youth Ensemble

Oona Laurence, Emjay Anthony, Cade Mansfield Cooksey, Ava Alyse Anthony, Kennedy Anthony, Cameron Avants, Gabriel Byrd, Queen Byrd, Parker Hankins, Pixie Hankins, and Zach Mooney Bad Moms
Thor Braun, Rick Lens, Thijn Brobbel, Luciano Hiwat, Dylan Pijper, Joes Brauers, Maas Bronkhuyzen, and Dennis Reinsma De Boskampi’s
Adam Greaves-Neil, Gabriele Dentoni, Niccolò Alaimo, and Finn McLeod Ireland The Young Messiah
Isabela Moner, Jet Jurgensmeyer, and Colin Critchley Legends of the Hidden Temple
Griffin Gluck, Thomas Barbusca, Alexa Nisenson, Jessi Goei, Jacob Hopkins, Patrick Fagan, and Isabela Moner, Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Oscar Dietz, Amalie Kruse Jensen, Samuel Ting Graf, Astrid Juncher-Benzon, and Cecile AsturpTarp Antboy 3

And the award goes to…

De Boskampi’s

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These were all talented and deep casts. What propelled De Boskampi’s (The Little Gangster) to the win is that many cast members in this film were leads in prior projects and all brought it here, some in roles rather different than they previously had. They’re funny with spot-on timing, and serious when they have to be. It’s worth looking for this one.

Best Supporting Actor

Daniel Fripan Der Bunker
Tom Hardy The Revenant
Tom Holland Captain America: Civil War
Jack O’Connell Money Monster
Will Poulter The Revenant

And the award goes to…

Daniel Fripan Der Bunker

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In that same review I compare Fripan to a performance that came over thirty years prior that is iconic. That is how an extremely capable field is topped.

Best Supporting Actress

Maria Bello Lights Out
Tiffany Haddish Keanu
Kathryn Hahn Bad Moms
Anna Kendrick Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
Frances O’Connor The Conjuring 2

And the award goes to…

Kathryn Hahn Bad Moms

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This field is great, and mostly comedic, but I was unafraid of including comedy and horror this year. The most scene-stealingest, tour de force of the year in a I’ll-make-this-better-all-by-myself-if-I-have-to way was Hahn’s in this movie. The good news for Bad Moms is that it is pretty damn funny aside from her. She takes it above and beyond.

Best Actor

Joel Courtney The River Thief
Johnny Depp Donald Trump’s The Art the Deal: The Movie
Joshua Dickinson The Mirror
Leonardo DiCaprio The Revenant
Diego Luna Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Andy Samberg Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

And the award goes to…

Leonardo DiCaprio The Revenant

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First, yes, this is a six-nominee category again. Two of the nominees had only the strike against them that they are young. I did not want to hold that against them. There is validity to the argument that you don’t want Best Actor to turn into “Most Acting” but as opposed to the live-wire DiCaprio I loved seeing every so often this was an altogether new one, a borderline transcendent one, and that’s why I chose him as the recipient.

Best Actress

Sonia Braga Aquarius
Raleigh Cain The River Thief
Toni Collette Glassland
Anya Taylor-Joy The Witch
Oona Von Maydell Der Bunker

And the award goes to…

Sonia Braga Aquarius

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There is great potential in Cain and Taylor-Joy. Collette is a dynamo and Von Maydell a revelation, but one woman ran away with this: Sonia Braga.

When I heard this film was coming around, then that Sonia Braga was in it; I was pumped. Yes, I’m Brazilian but it’s been far too long since I saw her in a role of significance. More recently I’d seen her daughter Alice make a small splash here in the US. With this coming out of Brazil and her appearing on Luke Cage (which I need to see) it’s a bounceback for one of Brazil’s, and the world’s, finest actresses. But this is not a glorified achievement award. She is absolute dynamite in this film and jumps off the screen with cool, resolved, steel, rarely big, always connected, and intense; it’s masterful.

Best Cast

Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Tom Holland, Daniel Brühl, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Martin Freeman, Marisa Tomei, John Kani, John Slattery, Hope Davis, and Alfre Woodard in Captain America: Civil War

Pedro Caetano, Pedro Carvalho, Mariana Cortines, Diego Goullart, Ivo Müller, Sidney Santiago, Clara Verdier in O Diabo Mora Aqui

Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccona, Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows, Maya Rudolph, Joan Cusack, Imogen Poots, Chris Redd, Evan Fine, Max Jenkins, Elliot Smith, Ringo Starr, Simon Cowell, Mariah Carey, Pink, Kevin Nealon, Mario Lopez, Will Arnett, Bill Hader, Eric André, Paul Scheer, Will Forte, Weird Al, Michael Bolton, Emma Stone, Justin Timberlake , etc. in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Paul Anderson, Kristoffer Joner, Joshua Burge, Duane Howard, Melaw Nakehk’o, Fabrice Adde, Arthur RedCloud, Christopher Rosamund, Robert Moloney, Lukas Haas, and Isaiah Tootoosis in The Revenant

Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Ben Mendelsohn, Guy Henry, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Jimmy Smits, Alistair Petrie, James Earl Jones, Anthony Daniels, Warwick Davis, etc. in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

And the award goes to…

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This was another tough one two casts the awarded, and O Diabo Mora Aqui (The Devil Lives Here), whom had no glaring weakness. This cast extracted that much more pathos and gravitas in their work and moved me in a way I’d not been moved in this series beforehand. Spectacular work.

Best Director

Nikias Chryssos Der Bunker
Ezra Edelman O.J.: Made in America
Gareth Edwards Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Robert Eggers The Witch
Kleber Mendonça Filho Aquarius

And the award goes to…

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One thing that can play into these awards is improbability: if you told me some time ago that there would be a rather different take on a Star Wars film, in a spin-off mode, and that would deepen and enrich the myth, address some overarching concerns but still remain mostly autonomous, I’d have say you were crazy. Edwards overcame all that, the weight of expectation and brought som innovation to the film in other ways, too.

Best Documentary

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The honorable mention is for Before the Flood but O.J.: Made in a America is truly something special.

Most Overlooked Picture

Antboy 3
De Boskampi’s
Der Bunker
O Diabo Mora Aqui
The River Thief

And the award goes to…

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Typically this award had gone to films without US distribution. This time the one that deserves a wider audience most won out. For more on why The River Thief fits the bill check my review.

Best Foreign Film

Antboy 3
Aquarius
De Boskampi’s
Der Bunker
O Diabo Mora Aqui

And the award goes to…

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The tale of a woman who is the last holdout in her would-be gentrified apartment building sounds like a simple tale one that couldn’t be elaborated on too much or be that great, but the brilliance of this film is it realizes how to fit thoughts and dramatic expressions on many things into one cohesive story. Mesmerizing work.

Best Picture

Aquarius
Before the Flood
Der Bunker
O.J.: Made in America
Pete’s Dragon
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
The Revenant
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The Witch

And the award goes to…

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I’m not going to expect Star Wars to change the game every decade or so, but sure enough after the installment that made me get it, there comes that makes me want to go all in for the anthology titles. Bring them!

NOTE: The honorary awards do not deserve a short shrift, so they will be move to tomorrow (1/10, or later today depending on your time zone).

—–END——–

2016 BAM Award Nominations

Posted here will be the BAM Award Nominations for 2016. Nominees will be updated LIVE category-by-category. Check back if the list looks incomplete. There will be the words THE END at the foot of the post when all is said and done.

Honorees, explanations, and a recap of 2016 (such as it was) will be announced on January 9th in a separate post. Enjoy!

Best Picture

Aquarius
Before the Flood
Der Bunker
O.J.: Made in America
Pete’s Dragon
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
The Revenant
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The Witch

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Best Foreign Film

Antboy 3
Aquarius
De Boskampi’s
Der Bunker
O Diabo Mora Aqui

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Most Overlooked Picture

Antboy 3
De Boskampi’s
Der Bunker
O Diabo Mora Aqui
The River Thief

Best Documentary

It’d be a stretch to nominate five, I could pick four but I’d prefer not to. Winner will be announced on 1/9.

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Best Director

Nikias Chryssos Der Bunker
Ezra Edelman O.J.: Made in America
Gareth Edwards Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Robert Eggers The Witch
Kleber Mendonça Filho Aquarius

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Best Actress

Sonia Braga Aquarius
Raleigh Cain The River Thief
Toni Collette Glassland
Anya Taylor-Joy The Witch
Oona Von Maydell Der Bunker

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Best Actor

Joel Courtney The River Thief
Johnny Depp Donald Trump’s The Art the Deal: The Movie
Joshua Dickinson The Mirror
Leonardo DiCaprio The Revenant
Diego Luna Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Andy Samberg Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

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Best Supporting Actress

Maria Bello Lights Out
Tiffany Haddish Keanu
Kathryn Hahn Bad Moms
Anna Kendrick Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
Frances O’Connor The Conjuring 2

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Best Supporting Actor

Daniel Fripan Der Bunker
Tom Hardy The Revenant
Tom Holland Captain America: Civil War
Jack O’Connell Money Monster
Will Poulter The Revenant

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Best Cast

Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Tom Holland, Daniel Brühl, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Martin Freeman, Marisa Tomei, John Kani, John Slattery, Hope Davis, and Alfre Woodard in Captain America: Civil War

Pedro Caetano, Pedro Carvalho, Mariana Cortines, Diego Goullart, Ivo Müller, Sidney Santiago, Clara Verdier in O Diabo Mora Aqui 

Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccona, Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows, Maya Rudolph, Joan Cusack, Imogen Poots, Chris Redd, Evan Fine, Max Jenkins, Elliot Smith, Ringo Starr, Simon Cowell, Mariah Carey, Pink, Kevin Nealon, Mario Lopez, Will Arnett, Bill Hader, Eric André, Paul Scheer, Will Forte, Weird Al, Michael Bolton, Emma Stone, Justin Timberlake , etc. in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Paul Anderson, Kristoffer Joner, Joshua Burge, Duane Howard, Melaw Nakehk’o, Fabrice Adde, Arthur RedCloud, Christopher Rosamund, Robert Moloney, Lukas Haas, and Isaiah Tootoosis in The Revenant

Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Ben Mendelsohn, Guy Henry, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Jimmy Smits, Alistair Petrie, James Earl Jones, Anthony Daniels, Warwick Davis, etc. in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Ruby Barnhill The BFG
Jessi Goei Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Isabela Moner Legends of the Hidden Temple
Madison Wolf The Conjuring 2
Lulu Wilson Ouija: The Origin of Evil

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Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Gabriel Bateman Lights Out
Thor Braun De Boskampi’s
Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat Theeb
Oakes Fegley Pete’s Dragon
Daniel Huttlestone London Town
Neel Sethi The Jungle Book

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Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Beau Gadsdon Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Astrid Juncher-Benzon Antboy 3
Oona Laurence Pete’s Dragon
Alexa Nisenson Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Faith Wood-Blagrove Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

Thomas Barbusca Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Samuel Ting Graf Antboy 3
Isaiah Tootoosis The Revenant
Harvey Scrimshaw The Witch
Emjay Anthony Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie
David Mazouz Incarnate

 

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Best Youth Ensemble

Oona Laurence, Emjay Anthony, Cade Mansfield Cooksey, Ava Alyse Anthony, Kennedy Anthony, Cameron Avants, Gabriel Byrd, Queen Byrd, Parker Hankins, Pixie Hankins, and Zach Mooney Bad Moms
Thor Braun, Rick Lens, Thijn Brobbel, Luciano Hiwat, Dylan Pijper, Joes Brauers, Maas Bronkhuyzen, and Dennis Reinsma De Boskampi’s
Adam Greaves-Neil, Gabriele Dentoni, Niccolò Alaimo, and Finn McLeod Ireland The Young Messiah
Isabela Moner, Jet Jurgensmeyer, and Colin Critchley Legends of the Hidden Temple
Griffin Gluck, Thomas Barbusca, Alexa Nisenson, Jessi Goei, Jacob Hopkins, Patrick Fagan, and Isabela Moner,  Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Oscar Dietz, Amalie Kruse Jensen, Samuel Ting Graf,  Astrid Juncher-Benzon, and Cecile AsturpTarp Antboy 3

 

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Best Original Screenplay

Robert Eggers The Witch
Nikias Chryssos Der Bunker
Byron Howard & Rich Moore & Jared Bush & Jim Reardon & Josie Trinidad & Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee; Jared Bush & Phil Johnston Zootopia
Kleber Mendonça Filho Aquarius
J.K. Rowling Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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Best Adapted Screenplay

David Lowery & Toby Holbrooks, Malcolm Marmostein, Seton I. Miller and S.S. Field Pete’s Dragon
Justin Marks and Rudyard Kipling The Jungle Book
Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Mark Millar Captain America: Civil War
Anders Øholm and Kenneth Bøgh Andersen Antboy 3
Christ Weitz, Tony Gilroy and John Knoll, Gary Whitta and George Lucas Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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Best Score

Jerry Lane Theeb
Andrew Lockington Incarnate
Mogwai, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Gabriel Satolalla Before the Flood
Mark Korven The Witch
Dominic Lewis Money Monster

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Best Editing

Brett Granato, Maya Mumma, and Ben Sozanski O.J.: Made in America
John Gilroy, Colin Goudie, and Jabez Olssen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Jeffrey Ford and Matthew Schmidt Captain America: Civil War
Louise Ford The Witch
Eduardo Serrano Aquarius

 

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Best Sound Editing/Mixing

Captain America: Civil War
The Jungle Book
The Revenant
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The Witch

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Best Cinematography

Jarin Blascke The Witch
Greig Fraser Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Emmanuel Lubezki The Revenant
Wolfgang Thaler Theeb
Pedro Sotero, Fabricio Tadeu Aquarius

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Best Art Direction

Aquarius
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
The Jungle Book
Rogue One: Star Wars Story

 

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Best Costume Design

Der Bunker
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
The Revenant
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

 

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Best Makeup

O Diabo Mora Aqui
Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The Revenant
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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Best Visual Effects

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Pete’s Dragon
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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Best Soundtrack

Aquarius
Die Boskampi’s
Keanu
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
The River Thief

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Best Song

“Equal Rights” Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Atticus Schaffer, and Pink Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping 

“Incredible Thoughts” Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Atticus Schaffer, Michael Bolton, and Justin Timberlake (as Mr. Fish) Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

“Turn Up the Beef” Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Atticus Schaffer, and Emma Stone Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

“Can’t Stop the Feeling (Film Version)” Justin Timberlake, Anna Kendrick, Gwen Stefani, James Corden, Zooey Deschanel, Ron Funches, Caroline Hjelt, Aino Jawo, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Kunal Nayyar Trolls

“I Wan’na Be Like You” Christopher Walken The Jungle Book“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” Regina Spektor Kubo and the Two Strings

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

To be announced.

Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Award(s)

To be announced.

Neutron Star Award(s)

To be announced. 

Special Jury Award(s)

To be announced.

THE END

2016 BAM Award Shortlists

I won’t bother you with math or laments of 2016 (we all have those). Instead, I will just share with you the shortlists at current, and to emphasize how much closer these individuals and films are to a nomination (January 2nd) and being honored (January 9th), I’ve included some images of notable past honorees. Movies viewed between now and December 31st are eligible and may make surprise appearances among the nominees.

Eligible films can be found here.

Artificial Intelligence: A.I. (2001, DreamWorks)

Artificial Intelligence: A.I. which swept through most of the 2001 Awards.

Best Picture

The Revenant
Zootopia
The Jungle Book
Antboy 3
The Witch
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
O.J.: Made in America
Don’t Breathe
Pete’s Dragon
The Purge: Election Year
Der Bunker
Theeb
Aquarius
Finding Dory
Before the Flood
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Note: Ten (10) will be nominated in the above category and will compose my year’s top 10.

The White Ribbon (2009, Sony Pictures Classics)

The White Ribbon which in 2010 smashed the nomination record (21).

Best Foreign Film

Antboy 3
De Boskampi’s
Aquarius
Boy 7
Der Bunker
Killbillies
The Perfect Husband
Theeb
O Diabo Mora Aqui

Note: five (5) will be nominated in the above category.

Class Enemy (2013, Courtesy of Triglav Film)

Class Enemy one of the reasons this award exists.

 Most Overlooked Picture

Antboy 3
De Boskampi’s
Der Bunker
O Diabo Mora Qui
The Young Messiah
Debra Paget, For Example
Glassland
London Town
Money Monster
The Mirror
The River Thief

Note: five (5) will be nominated in the above category.

Best Documentary

The Short Game (2013, Netflix)

The Short Game, a prior winner, and the first streaming service film (Netflix) to win an award.

Before the Flood
Believeland
Doc & Darryl
Fantastic Lies
Hit it Hard
O.J.: Made in America
Phi Slama Jama
Sherpa
This Magic Moment

Note: five (5) will be nominated in the above category.

Bela Tarr

One of two directors (Bergman is the other) to win a BAM Award for their swan song.

Best Director

Travis Knight Kubo and the Two Strings
Robert Eggers The Witch
Nikia Chryssos Der Bunker
Kleber Mendoça Filho Aquarius
Jon Favreau The Jungle Book
Jodie Foster Money Monster
Gareth Edwards Rogue One
Fede Alvarez Don’t Breathe
Ezra Edelman O.J.: Made in America
Anthony & Joe Russo Captain America: Civil War
Alejandro G. Iñárritu The Revenant

Titus (1999, Fox Searchlight)

Jessica Lange remains the only Actress to win consecutive awards in the category (’99 and ’00), and has the longest gap between individual wins after a Supporting Actress win in 2014.

Best Actress

Vera Farmiga The Conjuring 2
Toni Collette Glassland
Sonia Braga Aquarius
Raleigh Cain The River Thief
Oona Von Maydell Der Bunker
Mila Kunis Bad Moms
Margot Robbie Suicide Squad
Kerry Washington Confirmation
Julia Roberts Money Monster
Jemma Dallender The Mirror
Jane Levy Don’t Breathe
Anya Taylor-Joy The Witch

 

Take Shelter (2011)

Michael Shannon in 2011 is the most recent American honoree, and one two native Kentuckians (Jeremy Sumpter is the other).

Best Actor

Andy Samberg Popstar
Dylan Minnette Don’t Breathe
Eddie Redmayne Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
George Clooney Money Monster
Joel Courtney The Rive Thief
Johnny Depp Donald Trump’s The Art the Deal: The Movie
Joshua Dickinson The Mirror
Leonardo DiCaprio The Revenant
Paul Reubens Pee Wee’s Big Holiday
Pit Bukowski Der Bunker
Wendell Pierce Confirmation
Will Poulter Glassland
Zac Efron Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

About A Boy (2002)

Toni Collette (1999 and 2002) remains the only two-time winner in this category to date.

Best Supporting Actress

Tiffany Haddish KeanuSofia Boutella Star Trek Beyond
Maria Bello Lights Out
Kathryn Hahn Bad Moms
Judi Dench Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Frances O’Connor The Conjuring 2
Annalise Basso Ouija The Origin of Evil
Anna Kendrick Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
Aliso Sudol Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Christina Applegate Bad Moms

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (2011)

R.I.P. Alan Rickman Best Supporting Actor in 2011 for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.

Best Supporting Actor

Will Poulter The Revenant
Tom Hardy The Revenant
Will Arnett Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Tom Holland Captain America: Civil War
Steven Lynch Don’t Breathe
Parron Oswalt Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie
Nate Fallows The Mirror
Keegan-Michael Key Keanu
Jack O’Connell Money Monster
Irandhir Santos Aquarius
Greg Kinnear Confirmation
Dwayne Johnson Central Intelligence
Daniel Fripan Der Bunker
Christian McKay The Young Messiah
Andy Devine Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

Into the Woods (2014, Disney)

One thing I wanted to do to differentiate my awards from the start was to borrow categories from disparate award shows, Best Cast from the SAG Awards was an obvious starting point. (Pictured the cast of Into the Woods 2014)

Best Cast

 

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
De Boskampi’s
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Bad Moms
Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal
O Diabo Mora Aqui
Money Monster
Captain America: Civil War
Don’t Breathe
Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates
The Revenant
The Witch
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Note: cast members meriting mention will be included by name when nominations are announced.

In Bloom (2013, Big World Pictures)

Young Actress in a Leading Role honorees have hailed from America, Canada, Georgia (Lika Babulani, prictured), Italy, and Australia.

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Insufficient qualifiers for a shortlist. Nominees announced on January 2nd.

All the Wilderness (2014, Screen Media Films)

Kodi Smit-McPhee has earned four nominations and two wins in Youth categories. Fortunately for his colleagues, he’s aged out of these categories now.

 

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Adam Greaves-Neal The Young Messiah
Art Parkinson Kubo and the Two Strings
Colin Critchley Legends of the Hidden Temple
Daniel Huttlestone London Town
Davis Cleveland Rufus
Gabriel Bateman Lights Out
Griffin Gluck Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat Theeb
Neel Sethi The Jungle Book
Oakes Fegley Pete’s Dragon
Oskar Dietz Antboy 3
Thor Braun Die Boskampi’s

 

We Bought a Zoo (2011)

Elle Fanning helped kick off parity among youth an adult categories earning an award as both Best Actress (Super 8)

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Note: Insufficient qualifiers for a shortlist. Nominees announced on January 2nd.

you_again15

Billy Unger’s performance in You Again was pivotal in my working toward four categories for young actors.

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

 

Thomas Barbusca Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Samuel Ting Graf Antboy 3
Rick Lens De Boskampi’s
Jace Norman Rufus
Isaiah Tootoosis The Revenant
Harvey Scrimshaw The Witch
Emjay Anthony Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie
Albert Tsai Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie
Jacob Tremblay Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie
Emjay Anthony Bad Moms
David Mazouz Incarnate

Best Youth Ensemble

Super 8 (2011, Paramount)

When seeking parity in awards this was the first natural growth for categories I found. The groups of young performers have hailed from many different nations (Denmark, Belgium [twice], Canada, United Kingdom, and the United states [pictured in Super 8]).

Antboy 3
De Boskampi’s
The Young Messiah
Adventures in Babysitting
Legends of the Hidden Temple
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Ouija: The Origin of Evil
Bad Moms
The BFG
The Conjuring 2

Note: cast members meriting mention will be included by name when nominations are announced.

lockescreenplay

The first page of Locke by Stephen Knight winner of Best Original Screenplay in 2014.

Best Original Screenplay

Kleber Mendoça Filho Aquarius
Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore, and Jim Kouf Money Monster
Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues Don’t Breathe
J.K. Rowling Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
James DeMonaco The Purge: Election Year
Robert Eggers The Witch
Nikia Chryssos Der Bunker
Andrew Stanton, Victoria Strouse and Bob Peterson, and Angus MacLane Finding Dory
Marc Haimes and Chris Butler, and Shannon Tindel Kubo and the Two Strings
Byron Howard & Rich Moore & Jared Bush & Jim Reardon & Josie Trinidad & Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee, and Jared Bush Zootopia

contactscreenplay

The opening of Contact (1997)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Stephen Borwn, Zach Hyatt, Alex J. Reid, David G. Stanley, Scott A. Sloane, and Johnny Umansky Legends of the Hidden Temple
Ransom Riggs and Jane Goldman Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, and Mark Millar Captain America: Civil War
David Lowery & Toby Halbrooks, Malcolm Marmorstein, Seton I. Miller, and S.S. Field Pete’s Dragon
Justin Marks and Rudyard Kipling The Jungle Book
Mark L. Smith & Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Michael Punke The Revenant
Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, John Knoll and Gary Whitta, George Lucas Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Anders Ølholm and Kenneth Bøgh Andersen Antboy 3
Anne Rice, Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh, and Cyrus Nowrastweh The Young Messiah

Above is one of the easiest award decisions I ever had.

Best Score

 

Nathan Whitehead The Purge: Election Year
Mogwai, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Gabriel Satolalla Before the Flood
Michael Giacchino Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Mark Korven The Witch
John Debney The Young Messiah
John Debney The Jungle Book
Jerry Lane Theeb
James Newton Howard Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Dominic Lewis Money Monster
Dario Marianelli Kubo and the Two Strings 
Daniel Hart Pete’s Dragon
Andrew Lockington Incarnate

Note: The above scores are all available on Spotify. I have curated a playlist here.

 

It’s not necessary to have quick smash-cutting travel montages to be up for Best Editing, but it doesn’t hurt.

Best Editing

Nominees only, no public shortlist.

If possible I’ll try an find a clip for this year’s winner as it is the most effective way t demonstrate why a given film won.

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

Nominees only, no public shortlist.

mother_night.jpg

Two films shot in black and white have won Best Cinematography. The first being Mother Night at the 1996 awards.

Best Cinematography

Wolfgang Thaler Theeb
Pedro Luque Don’t Breathe
Pedro Sotero and Fabricio Tadeu Aquarius
Joel Ransom The Young Messiah
Jarin Blascke The Witch
Greig Fraser Rogue One
Frank Passingham Kubo and the Two Strings
Emmanuel Lubezki The Revenant
Bill Pope The Jungle Book
Antonio Rossi Before the Flood
Andy Patch The River Thief

Is Anybody There? (2008, Magnolia Pictures)

It doesn’t have to be a work of fantasy or science fiction to be considered in this category as Is Anybody There? shows.

Best Art Direction

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
The Revenant
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Legends of the Hidden Temple
O Diabo Mora Aqui
The Jungle Book
Aquarius

 

harry-potter-3-8

Mixing sensibilities and periods always gets my attention.

Best Costume Design

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
The Revenant
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Star Trek Beyond
Antboy 3
Captain America: Civil War
Der Bunker

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2011)

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is one of many examples that prove horror films can win Best Makeup at the BAM Awards.

Best Makeup

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The Revenant
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Star Trek Beyond
X-Men Apocalypse
Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal The Movie

 

Independence Day (1996, 20th Century Fox)

20 years after the White House blew up in Independence Day and won the first Visual Effects Award. 20 Years later, Donald Trump is snubbed in the same category as his winning the election was deemed more a mass hallucination. For more serious political commentary go here. #ShamelessSelfPromotion

Best Visual Effects

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Captain America: Civil War
Pete’s Dragon
The Jungle Book
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Kubo and the Two Strings
Star Trek Beyond

maxresdefault-10

Ludivine Sagnier and Virginie Ledoyen in 8 Femmes won the first Best Song Award, establishing a precedent of the songs not necessarily needing to be “original.” 2016’s shortlist includes covers as well

Best Song

“The Dragon Song” Pete’s Dragon
“I’m So Humble” Popstar
“Equal Rights” Popstar
“Turn Up the Beef” Popstar
“Finest (Bin Laden Song)” Popstar
“Mona Lisa” Popstar
“Hunter the Hunter is Gon’ Eat” Popstar
“Should I Move?” Popstar
“Two Banditos” Popstar
“Things in My Jeep” Popstar
“Ashley Wednesday” Popstar
“Donkey Roll” Popstar
“Ibitha” Popstar
“Incredible Thoughts” Popstars
“Karate Guy” Popstar
“Can’t Stop the Feeling” Trolls
“Hello” Trolls
“I Wan’na Be Like You” The Jungle Book
“Trust in Me” The Jungle Book
“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” Kubo and the Two Strings
“Mafia Twist” De Boskampi’s
“Bare Necessities” The Jungle Book

Chloe Grace Moretz (Don Flood)

Chloë Grace Moretz in 2012 was the youngest recipient of the Entertainer of the Year Award (15).

Robert Downey, Jr. Entertainer of the Year Award

To be announced.

 

 

Into The Woods (2014, Disney)

Meryl Streep was the first female honoree in this category in 2014.

 

 

Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Award

To be announced.

 

Vincent Price

Vincent Price was the first to win the award that was designed to honor one whose notoriety and visibility has increased since their death.

Neutron Star Award

To be announced.

The Exorcist (1973, Warner Bros.)

The Exorcist was one of the first two films to receive a Special Jury prize in recognition of its brilliantly successful re-release in 2000.

Special Jury Award(s)

To be announced.

2015 Neutron Star Award: Dickie Moore

Introduction

OK, so what is the Neutron Star Award? As I watched older selections through the year, I was frequently compelled to pick a film based on the fact that Vincent Price was in it. When I was younger I was very actor-oriented, more so than with directors. The fact that an actor had that kind of draw, and was one who is sadly no longer with us, made me think there had to be some kind of way I could honor them.

2015: Dickie Moore

dickie-moore-and-pete-the-pup-from-our-gang-ca1933jpg-1f9eded7279ba808

Here’s one I thought I wasn’t going to hand out this year.

However, even though I knew Dickie Moore from things like The Little Rascals, Oliver Twist, The Word Accuses, Three on a Match, and saw him in a few titles this year; I thought his star couldn’t grow to me – matching the definition of a neutron star – a star bigger after its death. However, after his passing I started to realize he would fit.

Blonde Venus (1932, Paramount)

In April I covered a movie he was in for the Pre-Code Blogathon, Blonde Venus.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (1984, Harper & Row)

For the Summer Reading Classic Film Challenge I covered his book Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, which is a bittersweet-at-best account of the early days of child stardom, which includes the perspective of many young stars (himself included) from the early days of sound when he caught up with them again in the 1980s.

The World Accuses (1934)

Then less than a month later he passed away at the age of 89. One of the better obits I read was this one.

Bogged down with other things I didn’t eulogize him at the time. I believe the one I did for Wes Craven was the only one this year.

There is precedent for the recipient dying in the year he was awarded.

Miss Annie Rooney (1942, RKO)

So, while there will not be Film Discoveries like there was for 2013 (Miss Annie Rooney and The World Accusses) for Moore this year, his TCM homage is taking up much of my DVR with many titles I was hoping to have seen for quite some time.

dickie-moore-435

So 2016 and beyond will likely feature more of his films. No one perfectly captures all of film’s past as they learn to love and fully embrace the art. For as much as you learn and know about technique and production there is a tendentiousness to things, and everyone develops personal favorites and preferences. Some films and people are inarguably greats, or talented if their films don’t happen to reach you on a visceral level.

732288_ori

Despite the fact that he may not have been a Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney or a Freddie Bartholomew; Dickie Moore is one of my favorites. He was undoubtedly a star in his own right, he was just surrounded by many of them in a crowded system. I look forward to getting to know more of his films that remain with us though he may be gone from this world.

RIP.

2015 BAM Special Jury Award

A Statement of Explanation and a Mea Culpa

One plan I had this year was to discuss the BAM Awards’ past, which I may do. It’s a way to self-examine, look at oddities, and acknowledge past triumphs and errors.

When acting as a committee of one, you may wonder what’s the point of a Jury Award. It’s really because somethings that should be considered or rewarded don’t fit into categories, and on occasion, like this to acknowledge a film where you couldn’t – even if in error.

I’ve had them infrequently for a while, and learned later that Ebert did them on his best of the year lists. Quite frankly, this one is to acknowledge an unforgivable bookkeeping error. The system will improve for 2016.

Stranger (2015, Tursunov Film)

As you can see here, I love Stranger (Zhat). Somehow, it was on my Letterboxd but didn’t enter my offline BAM lists and a later, second braincramp kept it out of consideration. So the Special Jury Award becomes my salvation. Below I will cite its best aspects, and rest assured it will be on my top films of the year list, which starts soon.

Be that as it may its a richly deserving film that I will gladly champion and I hope it sees  US distribution.

The Award

Stranger (2015, Tursunov Film)

This is a Special Jury Award Commending Stranger (Zhat) for:

Yermek Tursunov for writing and directing;
Murat Aliyev for his lush, layered cinematography;
Nurgali Nugman and Erzhan Nurymbet for magnetically portraying Ilya at many ages;
as an overlooked film;
and, finally, in recognition of its being one of the finest films of 2015.

2015 Robert Downey, Jr. Award for Entertainer of the Year: Will Ferrell

Introduction

This award is one I will present annually to the actor, writer, director or any combination thereof who has in my estimation the best year. The only real criteria is that they have multiple credits. The credits can be two responsibilities on the same film or more than one film. The idea came to me based on Robert Downey, Jr.’s incredible 2008. He was the first winner and the name stuck.

2015 Entertainer of the Year: Will Ferrell

Sometimes it’s next to impossible to pick this award and not confuse it with a Lifetime Achievement award. Though the main difference is, even though this is also a body-of-work trophy it’s awarded for a year’s work irrespective of the accomplishments made in prior years.

Yes, Will Ferrell has been at it longer than many of us care to realize right now and I’ve been a fan for quite some time and think he has had very few misses along the way. However, this year there was a lot of stuff, all throughout the year, and it was all hilarious; at least his involvement was.

I like to be inclusive of comedy, and horror, and any other genres the awards generally disregard, so those are just some reasons this funny man is honored this year. Now, for some more specifics about his 2015….

GH_D29_283.dng

First, there was Get Hard, as with any projects he does with Adam McKay behind the scenes there is silliness and farce in equal measure. There’s much topical humor about the world of high finance aside from broad generalizations and stereotypes exploited for comedic value.

a-deadly-adoption
A Deadly Adoption really should have sealed it any, but these awards are ones that kind of occur to me rather than being ones that I consciously plot more often than not. First, this film was a secret project. It was then a surprise announcement as a Lifetime Movie mocking Lifetime Movies, mysteriously pulled from its premiere then rescheduled. It then received a drubbing from those not prepared for the film’s tongue-so-firmly-planted-in-cheek. Will McKinley’s take on it echoes my sentiments on it perfectly. It’s very effective, funny when the absurdity hits you with its subtlety and marks the 2nd straight year a TV film has been included in the BAM Awards.

FerrellTakeTheField2

Ferrell Takes the Field is Ferrell taking his love of baseball to a hilarious extreme to help a charity, create a documentary and promote the MLB by making appearances at 10 positions in real Spring Training games. It aired on HBO and is well worth your time if you like him or baseball or both.

a7f5abcc-eric-jonrosh-quotes

Shortly after that I discovered that perhaps his most hilariously insane character Orson Welles caricature (my reading) Eric Jonrosh had The Spoils Before Dying on IFC. I was able to stream the first two so far. It doesn’t start as strongly as The Spoils of Babylon but he’s as funny as ever.

daddys-home-will-ferrel900

Then came Daddy’s Home, a re-teaming with Mark Wahlberg and a return to more family-friendly fare where he’s more successful than most comedians.

The cherry on top of his 2015 was his unannounced return to SNL in a recent cold open as Dubya.

Clearly it was a great year for him, and one thing Wahlberg said in his junket/circuit interviews was true, to paraphrase he said “His comedy doesn’t come from a dark place, he just genuinely wants to me make people laugh,” and in 2015 he made me laugh quite a lot.

 

2015 Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Award: Max von Sydow

Introduction

This award is named after Bergman because when I was set to establish an award of its type his last film blew me away and was nominated for many awards. The idea then is that it’s not a parting shot but rather recognition of someone still very much at the top after many, many years.

2015 Max von Sydow

still-of-max-von-sydow-and-birgitta-valberg-in-jungfrukällan-(1960)

I like these awards to come around almost by osmosis. I considered another way for Bergman-connected people: like Liv Ullmann, unfortunately I did not see her most recent film (as director).

It seemed like a stretch to pick Max von Sydow, as someone active this year only in the very beginning of the new Star Wars, but as I thought about it it started making more and more sense. He’s been considered before and was part of a BAM-nominated cast this year.

In the future, he will be the human embodiment of Bran’s raven on Game of Thrones.

Winter Light (1963)

He has connections with other liftetime winners: He co-Starred with Werner Herzog in What Dreams May Come, was in Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters, 14 feature films with Ingmar Bergman himself and Best Intentions based on Bergman’s novel, Sleepless with Dario Argento, and Minority Report with Steven Spielberg.

In a year with another sub-par Bond, it made me long for old Bond films and von Sydow was Blofeld in Never Say Never Again.

Considering that Robin Williams passed well before his time, and the seemingly-immortal Christopher Lee did as well, it’s not too late but about time to honor Max von Sydow. He clearly has well-earned longevity of his career on his side with credits in the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, ‘00s, ‘10s; in other words consecutive decades. He’s 86 years old, and debuted at 22 in Miss Julie (1951).

max-von-sydow-extremely-loud-incredibly-close

He was Oscar nominated in 1989 and 2012 (most recently for Extremely loud and Incredibly Close), Golden Globes in 1967 and 1974, Emmy in 1990.

Yet more impressive are his list of credits I’ve not even mentioned yet.

  • Shutter Island
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • Snow Falling on Cedars
  • Leland Gaunt in Needful Things; perfection of casting imperfection of adaptation
  • The Diary of Anne Frank
  • Ghostbusters II
  • Pelle the Conqueror
  • Conan the Barbarian
  • Flash Gordon

He went from something like Winter Light to playing Christ in The Greatest Story Ever Told to being Father Merrin in The Exorcist.

His credits are multi-lingual.

Even the blind spots I have with him are well-regarded:

  • Tudors
  • Dune
  • Dreamscape
  • Ice Pirates
  • Three Days of the Condor
  • Steppenwolf
  • New Land
  • Emigrants

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His voice has even featured in games like Skyrim and Ghostbusters.

When I discovered he was going to be on Game of Thrones my reaction was simply “Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow,” which was frequently how I reacted to his performances.

Max von Sydow is a true living legend.

 

2015 BAM Awards

Hello All,

So another year passes at the BAM Awards. Just a few quick reminders on procedure.

  1. The nominations are what I belabor more than the honorees. I will try and give each performance or film its due in my write-up.
  2. Only films I’ve personally viewed are eligible.
  3. I will be updating this list LIVE. Category-by-category as the decisions are announced one-by-one. Check back early and often. Bottom line: it’s cooler to live-blog the honorees because it’s like a real award show, and it’s also a necessary because my schedule is a bit unpredictable today.
  4. Lastly, I welcome your comments and opinions on nominees and the honorees but the decision in the end is mine alone. If my choices bother you that much WordPress is free, you can pick your own winners.

Without further ado, the awards (in reverse order of the nomination field).

First up…

Best Soundtrack

This category is back owing its resuscitation to strong soundtracks in recent years such as Warm Bodies.

Nominees

All the Wilderness
Big In Japan
Bloody Knuckles
Metalhead

Ten Thousand Saints

Big in Japan is not a feature-length ad for Tennis Pro but an interesting look at a subculture of bands more popular abroad than in their home country. Their stuff is really catchy so they end up here. Listen to it on Spotify.

Bloody Knuckles has good source music throughout but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the first song selected has much to do with their nomination.

Metalhead being about mostly death metal and set in Iceland has much quality source music.

However, the two standouts use music to establish tone and setting for their films.

Ten Thousand Saints goes into the underground punk scene in 1980s New York, in source music and plot.

However,

the Awards goes to

All the Wilderness (2014, Screen Media Films)

All the Wilderness

Jónsi and Alex are a bulk of the sourced music and it works brilliantly and everything selected for this film seems like it was written for the film rather than hand-selected. It’s teenager like in its mixtape aptitude, which is very appropriate seeing as how this is a coming-of-age story.

Best Song

Best Song is one I track with parenthesis around the word original. It doesn’t have to be written for the movie, that’s hard to prove anyway. So here are the songs that not only stood out musically and mattered to the film. 

“Lord Knows/ Fighting Stronger” Meek Mill, Jhene Alko, Ludwig Goransson Creed
“Gruss vom Krampus/ Krampus Karol of the Bells” Bree Olinda High School Singers Krampus
“Svarthamar” Petúr Ben Metalhead
“Wrecking Ball” Seth Rogen and Miley Cyrus The Night Before
“Kiss from a Rose” Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo, Steele Stebbins Vacation

What this usually comes down to is how functional the song is in the plot of the film. As great as Krapus’ song is, it is in the credits. As good as the medley in Creed is it merely accompanies a montage. The last three are showstopping numbers that are also functions of their protagonist(s).

The award goes to…

Metalhead (2013, Cinelicious Pics)

“Svarthamar” Petúr Ben Metalhead

However, aside from being a great song “Svathamar” is a massive plot point in metal head and the apex of the film. Therefore, it’s an easy winner.

Best Visual Effects

Best Visual Effects is getting tougher to gauge because it’s not just for show anymore but about making the impossible not just possible but practical. So how do these nominees stack up?

Ex Machina
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Ex Machina’s making a robot human was impressive but wasn’t something heretofore unseen and not necessarily a groundbreaking treatment of a visual motif like Gravity was.

Jurassic World wasn’t perfect, but there is some color grading to blame for that and there were practicals there too. Sometimes but not enough.

Mission ImpossibleStar Wars, and Mad Max are the best blend of effects and real elements of the three.

Mission Impossible created sets but even knowing that the feats weren’t as impressive.

It was great to see Star Wars do what Star Wars does, especially in a more old school way, but that’s still a high bar but not one they necessarily raised for themselves.

What was new was, and the Award goes to…

madmaxresdefault

Mad Max: Fury Road

Yes, much of it was practical. However, there were effects. It’s harder to notice because of all the practical stuff, but it is all a brilliantly strung together vision.

Best Makeup

I don’t always pick a horror film but I do tend to go with one for this award because: I love them and they tend to rely heavily on practical make-up. Still. For now anyway.

The nominees are…

Creed
Mad Max: Fury Road
Mr. Holmes
Sinister II
We Are Still Here

Creed does great work selling you on in-fight injuries.

Mad Max‘s madcap makeup is just another tool used in building its world.

Mr. Holmes brilliantly conveys two ages of the iconic character as well as the raves of dementia on the body.

But the award goes to…

WE-ARE-STILL-HERE_Dagmar

We Are Still Here

We Are Still Here uses its make up to be evocative and strike fear, and succeeds wonderfully.

While I think it does juggle the ball a little toward the end it still hinges on the effectiveness of make-up work.

Best Art Direction

Art Direction is clearly important as it has one of the most direct impacts on the mise-en-scène of a film. It’s usually one of my most excruciating decisions, and this year is no different; it was the last decision made. 

The nominees are…

Cinderella
Krampus
Mad Max: Fury Road
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Sinister II

In this situation it’s not about Star Wars being Star Wars. In certain ways The Force Awakens does things better in this department than an other episode, it’s just the others in this category did it better.

Sinister II and Krampus both want to achieve horror in their settings but Krampus seeks more and gets it.

Therefore, it’s a three horse race.

Krampus does some great things in fantasy terms and with a homebound setting and truly creates a world.

Cinderella uses tremendous set pieces and locations and makes opulence gorgeous to look at rather than ostentatious and offensive in a nearly Old Hollywood way.

Then Mad Max makes the Australian outback look otherworldy with real and practical effects.

There were small glimpses of: a world beyond and other houses in Krampus, poverty in Cinderella, and lushness in Mad Max.

 

Two of these films hearken back to an older era of Hollywood films, but the one that provided the most surprises is the recipient here…

krampus8

Krampus

There’s world-building in any film but there are glimpses of worlds here, and locations that speak and breathe, and a few surprising choices that will not be spoiled here that clinch it for this film.

Best Costume Design

One way in which I treat Art Direction and this category in similar fashion is that films that films that feature disparate time-periods or styles have an advantage. However, it all usually comes down not only to intangible aesthetics but also how well those costumes contribute to the story telling.

The nominees are…

Antboy 2: Revenge of the Red Fury
Crimson Peak
Jupiter Ascending
Mad Max: Fury Road
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

One thing these awards prove is that I do compartmentalize, and because just because a movie doesn’t work overall (i.e. Jupiter Ascending and Crimson Peak) doesn’t mean one can’t appreciate an aspect or performance therein.

One thing that Star Wars changed that those harping on similarities to its progenitor miss is that they did mix up the costuming a bit and bring new ideas to that universe. However, two cinematic universes proved stronger…

Better than the first film around the Antboy films are the best superhero films you’re not (probably) not watching, and if the last film is an indicator the3rd will be even better.

However, the award goes to…

charlize-theron-in-mad-max-fury-road

Mad Max: Fury Road

Not only does this film paint its world nearly impeccably but it also has within it cultural icons in the making, Furiosa being among them and her costume being a big reason why.

Best Cinematography

Pictures. Pictures that move and are moving, that don’t disorient but mesmerize, that tell a story be it beautiful or ugly compellingly and gorgeously. These are the films that told their stories best visually and looked beautiful doing it. 

The nominees are…

Maryse Alberti Creed
Nikolas Karakatsanis Cub
Adam Newport-Berra All the Wilderness
Marius Panduru Aferim!
John Seale Mad Max: Fury Road

Creed‘s single-takes alone made it worthy of inclusion but it’s in for more than that.

Cub making horror in the woods is not as easy as it sounds, making horror look this majestic.

All the Wilderness explodes in gorgeous sunlight-dappled scenes, well-saturated colored-monotone, and high contrast shots.

Aferim! is the finest example of glorious black-and-white of the year.

However…

The award goes to…

AP FILM REVIEW-MAD MAX: FURY ROAD A ENT

John Seale Mad Max: Fury Road

Action doesn’t mean the camera has to do too much, the edit can work. The moves can be precise, the framing precise and balanced. The color here is blissfully deep, and in a world that bleak it’s a necessary antidote. Every single frame is glorious.

Sound Editing/Mixing

As mentioned in the past Editing and Mixing sound are two distinct disciplines and arts. I am not trained enough to parse them out. Not only that but even the Academy Awards tend to award the same film for both, albeit they honor different artists.  So here are…

The nominees

Mad Max: Fury Road

Jurassic World
Krampus
Sinister II
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

There is much of the similar artistry in Star Wars and Jurassic World that have been evident throughout the series. The biggest difference was creating new characters like the Indominus Rex and BB-8.

Sinister II and Krampus have similar jobs at hand as the job of the soundscape is mostly to frighten, and about as pivotal as the other nominees, but it doesn’t quite reach the heights of this film.

And the Award goes to…

lead_960
Mad Max: Fury Road

 

The silence speaks volumes, as does the ambience. The home watch can be more detail-oriented listening: the engines roar, the guitars wail and the beat doesn’t stop.

Best Editing

Editing is far too often miscategorized as a technical award. It is an art. It’s an art that requires a high degree of technique and technical proficiency but an art nonetheless. It’s often referred to as the third time you make a film (the first two being writing and principal photography). It’s the last time you make the film and maybe the most important.

The nominees are..

John-Michael Powell All the Wilderness
Claudia Castelo and Michael P. Shawver Creed
Douglas Crise and Billy Fox Dark Places
Cecilia Zanuso Human Capital
Margaret Sixel Mad Max: Fury Road

Human Capital‘s elliptical structure is not just a feat of the script but also one of mise-en-scène and the edit. It should be noted and applauded.

Dark Places similarly has many flashbacks and pushes stories forward on multiple plains to a similar end.

Creed is one of many films that dispels the erroneous notion that there’s less aptitude in editing needed when several long takes are used. It’s a job brilliantly done, and it really hums.

The more lousy films you see the more you realize that running time and pace are not the same. All the Wilderness is a short film but it moves and is moving throughout and there’s hardly an ounce of fat on it.

But one film stands tall..

9e513e79-10fb-4f48-b87e-9ac67d057f0f

Margaret Sixel Mad Max: Fury Road

Walter Murch wrote a book called In the Blink of an Eye. It’s his treatise on editing and his theory about how unconscious things like blinking can help dictate cut-points. Were Margaret Sixel to write a book on editing it  should write Joining Dreams. In British English you do not cut film, you join it . Thus, the name indicates that her editing (joining) of dream-like imagery is some of the best I’ve seen. Exemplary.

Best Score

This is one of the harder ones to judge because sometimes it’s best to go on what stuck out as separating the music from the image can be a bit misleading as you are removing part of what made it work for you – the narrative synchronicity, the spotting of it.

The nominees are…

Steve Moore Cub
Hauschka Futuro Beach
Weigel and Meirmans Life According to Nino
Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL) Mad Max: Fury Road
Tomandandy Sinister II

Cub is a great ode to Gialli and Italian Horror scores that’s worth a listen.
Hauschka’s Futuro Beach score is memorable but hard to find online. I got a trailer as my only reminder. The film should be seen anyway.

Life According to Nino and Sinister II create brilliant an appropriate ambience appropriate to their films but they’re not quite good enough…

And the Award goes to…

FURY ROAD

Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL) Mad Max: Fury Road

Music is one of several intrinsic pieces to the film. When there is a guitar geek credited you know music plays an intricate role even if it’s not about music. Furthermore, it makes the music almost wholly organic, and my word, is it pulse-pounding.

Best Adapted Screenplay

It’s often said that adapting material into a screenplay has to be treated like an original, but that’s kind of like a way to get started. There are differences and different things to consider. Here are the Adapted Screenplay nominees who faced disparate challenges…

Radu Jude and Florin Lazarescu Aferim!
Gilles Paquette-Brenner and Gillian Flynn 
Dark Places
Paolo Virzì, Francesco Bruni, Francesco Piccolo and Stephen Amidon Human Capital
Paul King, Hamish McColl and Michael Bond Paddington
Jeffrey Hatcher, and Mitch Cullin and Arthur Conan Doyle Mr. Holmes

Paddington does the unlikely of capturing the spirit of a piece without being a literal adaptation.

Mr. Holmes is a creative spin on the unexamined life of the unexplored portion of a popular character’s life.

Human Capital’s structure and subtextual commentaries are nearly impeccable.

Dark Places does so in a similar manner.

However, there is one film that not only brings its source material brilliantly to life but also culls from myriad sources and paints not only a personal, humorous, loving albeit sardonic portrait of an individual but also one of a people, place and time…

The Awards goes to…

aferim-berlin-film-festival-review

Radu Jude and Florin Lazarescu Aferim!

Aferim! is a portrait of the Szgany people of Romania. A tale of one man taken from the accounts of many and brilliantly done.

Best Original Screenplay

One thing that’s always interesting about trying to formulate these categories is trying to parse original an adapted screenplays. I don’t wait for the Academy to rule, or necessarily go by the credits or what the WGA says. Therefore, you’ll see Mad Max below when it’ll probably be considered for Adapted at the Oscars. Anyway, without further ado…

The nominees are…

David Gulpilil and Rolf de Heer Charlie’s Country
Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen, Meg Lefauve and Josh Cooley Inside Out
Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields Krampus
George Miller, Brandon McCarthy and Nico Lathouris 
Mad Max: Fury Road
Simon Blake Still

Charlie’s Country is and unorthodox and brilliant tale of an an aborigine man struggling to hold on to his land, his life and his heritage.

Inside Out is simply put Pixar at its best and really intelligently down.

Still is a compelling, layered and evocative drama.

Mad Max is a futuristic parable that relies heavily on its images to build its myth.

However, the award goes to…

krampus_movie

Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields Krampus

There’s so much this film does it’s not a wonder to see many names attached to the script, that and that’s how screenplays often work anyway. There’s a legend to build, laughs to deliver, and horror tropes to be brilliantly inserted. None are easy all accomplished easily in timely fashion and at times simultaneously.

Best Youth Ensemble

It was apropos to mention last year and this year that the world of television is not entirely excluded from these awards. Usually, TV movies and specials have been included in the negative categories of the awards but last year and this year it’s a good thing. A few years ago it finally occurred to me to finally give young performers all the same categories their adult counterparts get. So here goes…

The nominees are..

Oscar Dietz, Samuel Ting Graf, Astris Juncher-Benzon, Amalie Kruse Jensen, Marcus Jess Petersson, Johannes Jeffries Sørensen and Hectores Brøgger Andersen Antboy 2: Revenge of the Red Fury
Lino Facioli, Muri Grossi, Ravi Hood and Giovanna Rispoli The Boy in the Mirror (O Menino no Espelho)
Maurice Lutjien, Gill Eeckelaert, Noah Tambwe Kabati, Ricko Otto, Louis Lemmens, Tomas de Smet, Pieter de Brabandere, Jessie Tweepenninckx, Isah De Zutter, Hauke Geirnaert, Ebe Meynckens, Ymanol Perset and Nabil Missoumi Cub
Mace Coronel, Casey Simpson, Aidan Gallagher, Lizzy Greene, Jace Norman, Sean Ryan Fox, Ella Anderson, Riele Downs, Brec Bassinger, Jackie Radinsky, Coy Stewart, Buddy Handleson, Maya Leclark, Thomas Kuc, Rio Mangini, Isabella Moner, Cree Cicchino, Madisyn Shipman, Benjamin Flores, Jr., Diego Velazquez, Addison Riecke, Lilimar, Owen Joyner, Jaheem Toombs, et al. Nickelodeon’s Ho Ho Holiday Special
Robert Daniel Sloan, Dartanian Sloan, Lucas Jade Zumann, Jade Klein, Laila Haley, Caden Marshall Fritz, Olivia Rainey, Grace Holuby, Victoria Leigh Morales, Nico Cruea and Alex Ludwig Sinister II

The first time I awarded this category there was an unusual split between the Best Cast  (The White Ribbon) and Best Youth Ensemble (Nanny McPhee Returns). I explained it by using a sports analogy. The cast was a team the Youth Ensemble was a unit of the team like the defense or the bullpen. Sports analogies will work here again as I kind of compared casts and had them play-off seeing which was deepest of the two and moving on.

Is there a weak link in Antboy? No. O Menino no Espelho? Not especially but Antboy is a bigger deeper cast.

Kudos to the eliminated: The Boy in the Mirror (Portuguese title above) is really good and should have seen US distribution.Lino Facioli best known for Game of Thrones is fantastic in it.

Antboy vs. Cub. The Cub cast is big, but how many make an impact? 3 or 4; advantage Antboy.

Kudos to the eliminated: Cub is an epic horror tale and these kids make it.

Antboy vs. Sinister II. How about we consider nominations now? Tie 2-2; only All the Wilderness and Secrets of War had two but their ensembles weren’t big enough.

Antboy standouts: 6; Sinister II 4 or 5. Advantage Antboy.

Kudos to the eliminated: There are standouts and nominees in Sinister II. It’s the kids’ story, they need to be great for it to work and it did.

Antboy vs. Ho Ho Holiday Special

If Nickelodeon parades their stars out anew, I will gladly watch and I’m sure it’ll be great because they’re stable of talent right now is wonderful, the best and deepest they’ve yet had, but ultimately (last sports analogy of this explanation) a fairly deep bench will not beat a starting line-up that is just that good.

The award goes to…

Antboy 2: The Revenge of the Red Fury

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

It seems obligatory to say how hard these categories were but it is true especially with the young performers it seems to get more difficult every year.

The nominees are…

Toby Bisson William’s Lullaby
Joes Brauers Secrets of War
Dartanian Sloan Sinister II
Ty Simpkins Jurassic World
Steele Stebbins Vacation
Lucas Jade Zumann Sinister II

The kids from Sinister II got their notice in my review and it still holds true. They did great.

Dartanian on the other hand inhabits the role of bully and can strike fear, and causes shock in the blink of an eye.

And

Lucas Jade Zumann as Milo who delivers the most hypnotically serpentine performance by a young actor since Frank Dillane in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Steele Stebbins, as indicated by his turn in A Haunted House 2, is perfect as the bullying younger brother, and hilarious.

My review of William’s Lullaby discusses Toby Bisson’s deserving this honor despite his very young age.

Toby Bisson deals with material far more difficult than most young actors his age are asked to deal with and does so with near-prodigious ability.

Joes Brauers in Secrets of War despite being a supporting player is the standout performance.

The Award goes to…

 

Jurassic World (2015, Universal)

Ty Simpkins Jurassic World 

My massive tome on Jurassic World this summer pretty much said it all:

Gray is a character who is a necessity to the film, a kid who knows dinosaurs […] Simpkins brings out genuine enthusiasm, authoritative knowledge[…]

Following Simpkins’ last blockbuster go-around (Iron Man 3) this is a natural progression for him as an actor as he aids in bringing the wonder, joy, and fear to the audience.

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

While compiling the nominations here, and sadly for the leads, was a bit easier picking a winner was not.

The nominees are…

Alyvia Alyn Lind A Deadly Adoption
Isabelle Fuhrman All the Wilderness
Astris Juncher-Benzon Antboy 2: Revenge of the Red Fury
Claudia Kanne T.I.M.
Mia Xitali Max

I could waste many words defending A Deadly Adoption but Alyvia Alyn-Lind is much of why it works.

Astris Juncher-Benzon plays a great counterpart to Oscar Dietz’ Antboy.

Claudia Kanne embodies the love-hate relationship that the protagonist has with her.

Mia Xitali steals every scene in Max she’s in.

But the award goes to…

All the Wilderness (2014, Screen Media Films)

Isabelle Fuhrman All The Wilderness

The counterpart Kodi Smit-McPhee’s character needed played to tee. Consistently locked-in and troubled in a different way than Smit’s character Fuhrman is one of twin towers of this film that holds it up and makes it so strong.

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

I may not have chosen the best way to preserve the drama of these winners, and this one will be my worst effort in that regard for the way I have to go about talking about it. 

The Nominees are…

Emjay Anthony Krampus
Ed Oxenbould The Visit
Levi Miller Pan
Kodi Smit-McPhee All the Wilderness
Rohan Timmermans Life According to Nino
Jakob Salvati Little Boy

If there was not such brilliant work by young actors in 2015 then Kodi Smit-McPhee easily could’ve had three nominations, and though he still deserved three because he’s so prodigious; I decided I had to share the wealth and there were other performances I could not ignore.

Jakob Salvati delivered perhaps the best performance I’ve seen by a child his age (seven when the film was made).

Rohan Timmermans made himself a name to keep an eye on in Dutch cinema with his commanding performance.

Levi Miller had an astonishing debut as Pan.

Ed Oxenbould is a young actor who may just be scratching the surface of his talents at the moment and is marvelous in The Visit. 

And Emjay Anthony encapsulates holiday frustrations of a child doubting his faith in Santa, Christmas, and people.

But as you guessed the award goes to…

90

Kodi-Smit McPhee All the Wilderness

Don’t worry, kids, he’s graduating from this category! Watch out everyone else because he has such mastery already.

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role 

When girls and women don’t get nearly the amount of roles boys and men do at least they can be really good, and these are. 

The nominees are…

Pippa Allen Secrets of War
Isabella Blake-Thomas Little Glory
Mia Helene Solberg Brekke Kick It (Cool Kids Don’t Cry)
Raffey Cassidy Tomorrowland
Olivia DeJonge The Visit
Amalie Kruse Jensen Antboy 2: Revenge of the Red Fury

Pippa Allen finds herself torn in Secrets of War and does very well paired with both boys.

Isabella Blake-Thomas is a revelation in Little Glory.

To use the cliché, Mia Helene Solberg Brekke is the heart and soul of her film.

And Amalie Kruse Jensen is not just a sidekick.

The award goes to…

The Visit (2015, Universal)

Olivia Dejonge The Visit

My post on The Visit tells you why:

It excels mostly because Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould are both inordinately exceptional and achieve the unique tricks of appearing natural as if the camera is just rolling, being believably awkward when the moment demands it, and also entirely inhabiting their characters.

[…]DeJonge’s interpretation of Becca is that of clearly intelligent girl without a note of falsity or petulance, heartbreaking in her embittered memories of her father. These two are really the glue that holds the film together.

Best Cast

This one is always complicated and time-consuming. It’s not only so because of the decision-making but also because I want to hunt down all the names I can find to give as many cast members credit as I can. 

The nominees are…

Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Matilde Gioli, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi Guglielmo Pinelli, Fabrizio Gifuni , Gigio Alberti, Valeria Golino , Silvia Cohen, Luigi Lo Cascio, etc. Human Capital
Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Jonno Davies, Jack Davenport, Alex Nikolov, Samantha Womack, Mark Hamill, Sofia Boutella , Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine and Taron Egerton, etc. Kingsman: The Secret Service
Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania LaVie Owen, Krista Stadler, etc. Krampus
Tim Downie, Madeleine Worrall, Lottie Steer, Geoffrey Palmer, Theresa Watson, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon, Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Madeleine Harris, Samuel Joslin, Michael Bond, Matt Lucas, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Nicole Kidman, etc. Paddington
Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Max von Sydow, Peter Mayhew, Gwendoline Christie, Simon Pegg, Warwick Davis, Iko Uwais, Judah Friedlander, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Bill Hader, Daniel Craig, Ewan McGregor, etc. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

All these casts are great, strong and deep, but only one did I find no fault with at all. Not one.

Krampus

Best Supporting Actor

This one was unusually difficult and not like I expected it to be. 

The nominees are…

Joel Edgerton The Gift
Skyler Gisondo Vacation
Burghart Klaußner 13 Minutes
Sonny Young Still
Sylvester Stallone Creed

There are two young bucks here, two veterans, and one jack-of-many-trades seemingly entering the prime of his career.

Youth ought not preclude a nomination as was evidenced last year. The parity among the youth and the veterans is great but that middle-ground of roles deserves representation also, and they get it here.

Comedy also need not be ignored as evidenced by Gisondo’s nomination.

One of the more visceral checklist items for nominations are “my god he’s incredible in this” being a thought that runs through your mind. That thought occurred to me especially in three performances: Klaßner’s (though that was more about the fact that it wasn’t just The White Ribbon), Young’s and Stallone’s.

The two most powerful were Stallone and Young.

And the award goes to…

still

Sonny Young Still

He’s such a testament to the movie and does such a 180 that it’s impossible to deny him the honor.

Best Supporting Actress

Supporting actor awards are about presence, and presence on film in this capacity is about looming larger than the part you play.

The nominees are…

Louise Bourgoin The Nun
Soufia Issami Traitors
Virginia Madsen All the Wilderness
Fabiula Nascimento A Wolf at the Door
Phylicia Rashad Creed

All these ladies are marvelous. However, there is one who looms largest.

louise-bourgoin

Louise Bourgoin The Nun

Bourgoin’s presence in this film is titanic.

Best Actor

This is perhaps the most diverse group of nominees yet and their roles were differently challenging an compelling in disparate ways. There’s little equal ground to compare them on so on to the nominees…

Christian Friedel 13 Minutes
Aiden Gillen Still
David Gulpilil Charlie’s Country
Michael B. Jordan Creed
Wagner Moura Futuro Beach

And the Award goes to…

Charlie'sCountry (2013, Entertainment One Films)

David Gulpilil Charlie’s Country

If you can hold the screen in silence, and move me to tears likewise; there’s not much more you need to do to clinch the award, but he does so much more.

Best Actress

It’s not just for equality sake that I put Best Actress closer to Best Picture on the rundown, it’s also that these winners are usually harder to pick and more memorable.

The nominees are…

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi Human Capital
Pauline Etienne The Nun
Leandra Leal A Wolf at the Door
Maika Monroe It Follows
Julianne Moore Still Alice

If all performances are equally impressive in different way then arc has to be one of the tie-breakers. In which case, Monroe goes 0 to 60 fast and stays there, Tedeschis arc is obscured in the structure of the narrative but is increasingly alienated, vulnerable with her lover and passionate; Leal shows a more duplicitous nature faux-charm, possessive, passionate, psychotic; Moore’s arc is clear and power being a linguist, and highly intellectual and loses her faculties to Alzheimer’s. Etienne plays a victim of circumstances whose faith gets smashed by a hypocritical society and Church establishment.

So it’s really down to Leal, Tedeschi and Moore.

I can’t hold that Moore was part of last year’s Oscar race against her. I, a plebian, did not get to see the film ’til January.

Leal always hid and was convincing, Tedeschi showed facets and was magnetic but the film was not a one woman show – sadly that does sometimes factor in as Charlize Theron’s two brilliant turns this year were snubbed.

However, on a visceral level Moore’s performance also moved me tremendously.

Was the film blindingly brilliant, no; was she? Absolutely.
Yes, films viewed in January can win here. The Awards goes to…

Julianne-Moore-in-Still-Alice

Julianne Moore Still Alice

Best Director

I always feel the need to discuss the possibility of a split, and what that means. I rarely have splits between Best Picture and Best Director and usually, unlike other shows, I tell you why. 

Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen Inside Out
Michael Dougherty Krampus
Rolf de Heer Charlie’s Country
George Miller Mad Max: Fury Road
Paolo Virzì Human Capital

Who the winner is reminded me of this quote:

“I’ve got vision up the butt, so just go with it,” -Jack Black, School of Rock

There’s really one director on this list that that quote adequately describes, and it’s not that it was a blowout, but it’s truest of this man.

And the award goes to.

Mad-Max-Fury-Road-Tom-Hardy-George-Miller

George Miller Mad Max: Fury Road

Most Overlooked Picture

In picking this award lately I have gravitated towards the films without US distribution, this year there is only one film that fits that bill. However, before I discuss that one allow me to give these other films their due.

The nominees are:

13 Minutes
Antboy 2: Revenge of the Red Fury
All the Wilderness
The Boy in the Mirror (O Menino no Espelho)
Charlie’s Country
Dark Places
Kick It (Cool Kids Don’t Cry)
Little Glory
Metalhead

T.I.M.

And the award goes to…

20120703gb1744.jpg

The Boy in the Mirror (O Menino no Espelho)

Best Foreign Film

Truth be told. I usually start creating my top whatever films list with this category in mind, picking that ranking shortcuts my deciding this category.

The nominees are…

13 Minutes
Aferim!
Cool Kids Don’t Cry (Kick It)
Cub
Futuro Beach
Human Capital
Metalhead
Reckless
T.I.M.
The Wolf Behind the Door

And the Award goes to…

Human Capital (2014, Film Movement)

Human Capital

In a film market that seems to, at times, think we can’t have our cake and eat it too this film knows that’s nonsense, and delivers emotion, pathos, and tension while also crafting a story of sociological relevance and leaving the soapbox out of it. It clicks like a film you can maniacally eat popcorn to and just let it wash over you, but invites you dig deeper and think on it long and hard. What more can you ask for?

Before Best Picture there are some important announcements:

  • First, the announcement of Lifetime Achievement, Entertainer of the Year, Neutron Star (if there is one), and Special Jury Award(s) will occur tomorrow January, 10th because time has run short today.
  • Second, changes to this process will be worked on for next year and decided upon ASAP. 

Without further ado…

Best Picture

The nominees…

Bloody Knuckles
Charlie’s Country
Creed
Human Capital
Inside Out
Krampus
Mad Max: Fury Road
Paddington
Slow West
Still

In this decision I’ve vacillated between two disparate pairs of films: Charlie’s Country and Human Capital; and then Krampus and Mad Max: Fury Road. I don’t recall a year where there has been this much among four films. Usually I talk about a clear delineation from the top three to the rest of the best.

So how to break this stalemate?

Mad Max caught me confusing a turning point for the end; Krampus did something similar with less time but it was clear there was going to be something else…

Human Capital never dips but may not be as strong, and does wait until the end title card to explain its title. It’s a powerful moment but unexpected.

Charlie’s Country has a true-to-life Eastern kind of pacing that does not hold it back as it much stories with less power behind it.

As I tried to pick a number one, I really alternated only two of the four titles: Mad Max and Krampus.

And the BAM goes to…..

krampus_2040.0.0

Krampus

I saw each twice and liked Krampus more twice.

The two allusions I drew in seeing Krampus were to older films I now consider to be classics, in the standing the test of time way rather than in technique- Gremlins and Home Alone.

The Home Alone similarity is in Emjay Anthony’s rant about families. “I don’t want a new family. I don’t want any family. Families suck!” Kevin McAllister exclaims and his sentiments are similar and drew spontaneous applause in my second viewing.

There’s far more intangible things that it taps into, and that’s where Gremlins comes in: it’s not just the Christmas-set horror comedy aspect, Krampus is the 2015 PG-13 movie equivalent of Gremlins’ hard PG in 1984.

When you’re citing films that are 25 and 31 years old respectively, you know you’re entering rarified air.

Yet, much like Super 8 from a few years ago, it’s not just the Spielbergian-Amblin influence that makes Krampus work.

Krampus is hilarious, it’s very much the zeitgeist for the year of its release but like Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat may have conquered a mandatory viewing slot on a major holiday.

The Krampus is not a new or original creation. However, in the US knowledge of the Krampus and discussion of him has remained underground like he was out of the Necronomicon, or better yet has come to a heightened awareness and popularity many years after his “death” like Lovecraft.

Yet, though the Krampus has featured on quite a few TV shows, the feature film eluded it. Then as with any idea in Hollywood many raced to create a story based around a legend, a mythical figure so rife with potential especially in genre cinema.

Kevin Smith was the first name I heard associated with a Krampus-themed film, but that has yet to come to the fore as he’s developing many other thing. So, it’s a but like the victory that was Ender’s Game or other anticipated adaptations – it’s the realization of a dream except I didn’t know how this movie where this movie was going to go, just that I wanted to see where it went every step of the way.

It was the ideal major motion picture “debut” of this Icon.

It took an old mythology and made it new and vibrant, and like the film it tussled with so violently for the title it intimated of much story aside than what was on screen. Ultimately, I always try to compartmentalize; therefore, it’s not a matter of “Well, Mad Max is amazing and won all these awards therefore it has to win Best Picture.” What the equation really is is: How well did the film in question perform in all categories plus factor in the story and how that played.

Krampus got me and I got in a way no other 2015 release did, bar none. Not even close.

See you all tomorrow for the last few trophies. Congratulations to those nominated who made 2015 a great year in film.