…And the 2020 BAM Award goes to…

Winners are in BOLD some explication can be found below the categories.

I’m keeping my comments sparse, as per usual, picking nominations is the longest process and all are most worthy to have been chosen.

Best Picture

1917

32 Malasaña Street

Abe

Color Out of Space

Come Play

The Lodge

Team Marco

Vampires vs. the Bronx

We Can Be Heroes

The Wretched

This was the most satisfying film of the year for me. To be able to end a review with the words I do in the one I paste below, the choice was clear.

Being Brazilian-American myself this was a movie I would have to see. While the overarching premise and conflict is clear, well done, and wonderfully performed; how a third culture played into this story would matter quite a bit to me. It adds a bright counterpoint in musical terms as well as some added humor; aside from the necessary and useful analogy of fusion from the culinary world that any bicultural can relate to.

There are some editorial touches that are creative and deft also.

My heart is full.

Most Overlooked Picture

It a year that was so different than any the world has seen in a century it was impossible to decide some film was overlooked and another was not.

Best Director

(from left) Director Sam Mendes, Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay on the set of Mendes’ new epic, “1917.”

Julio Vincent Gambuto Team Marco

Fernando Grostein Andrade Abe

Sam Mendes 1917

Albert Pintó 32 Malasaña Street 

Richard Stanley Color Out of Space

The conception and staging of this film is just marvelous.

Best Actress 

Maria Bakalova Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm

Viola Davis Troop Zero

Julia Louis-Dreyfus Downhill

Riley Keough The Lodge

Joely Richardson Color Out of Space

It’s no small task to play foil to Sacha Baron Cohen’s most iconic character and Bakalova knocked it out of the park.

Best Actor

Nicolas Cage Color Out of Space

Sacha Baron Cohen Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm

Robert De Niro The War with Grandpa

Will Ferrell Downhill

Tom Hanks Greyhound

If ever a performance and a film were tailored for a given year it’s Sacha Baron Cohen in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm this year.

Best Supporting Actress 

Madeline Arthur Color Out of Space

Dagmara Dominzyck Abe

Anastasia Ganias Team Marco

Allison Janney Troop Zero

Alice Krige Gretel & Hansel

One of myriad things I loved about The OA was it was the first time I’d seen Alice Krige in anything in a while. Seeing here back in a horror film, and excelling so as she does here, was even more satisfying.

Best Supporting Actor

Jim Carrey Sonic the Hedgehog

Dean-Charles Chapman 1917

Walton Goggins Fatman

Anthony Patellis Team Marco

Seu Jorge Abe

Supporting roles come in many shapes and sizes. When a character has a smaller role and still has an impact it’s due to an incredible performance such as we have here.

Best Cast

Begoña Vargas, Iván Marcos, Bea Segura, Sergio Castellanos, José Luis de Madariaga, Iván Renedo, Concha Velasco, and Javier Botet 32 Malasaña Street

Noah Schnapp, Seu Jorge, Dagmara Dominzyck, Arian Moayed, Mark Margolis, Tom Madirosian, Salem Murphy, Daniel Oreskes, and Gero Camilo in Abe

Lewis Cancelmi, Greg Rikaart, Thomas Kopache, Anastasia Ganias, Antoinette LaVecchia, Anthony Patellis, Bobby Guarino, Joseph Callari, Owen Vaccaro, Jacob Laval, Jake Katzman, Ethan Coskay, and Skylar Lipkin Team Marco

Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman, Rob Riggle, Oakes Fegley, Laura Marano, Cheech Marin, Jayne Seymour, Christopher Walken, Juliocesar Chavez, Isaac Kragten, T.J. McGibbon, Poppy Gagnon and Colin Ford in The War with Grandpa

Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Pedro Pascal, Adriana Berrazza, Boyd Holbrook, Christian Slater, Taylor Dooley, Sung Kang, Hailey Reinhart, Christopher McDonald, Jill Blackwood, John Valley, YaYa Gosselin, Lyon Daniels, Andy Walken, Hala Finley, Lotus Blosson, Dylan Henry Lau, Andrew Diaz, Isaiah Russell-Bailey, Akira Akbar, Nathan Blair, and Vivien Lyra Blair in We Can Be Heroes 

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Alivia Clark 18 to Party

Chloe Coleman My Spy

Sophia Giannamore The True Adventures of Wolfboy

McKenna Grace Troop Zero

Sophia Lillis Gretel & Hansel

Madalen Mills Jingle Jangle

It’s not easy to play a quirky, oddball and still make them a real person as opposed to a caricature. For McKenna Grace to do that at a young age with such ease is impressive.

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Oakes Fegley The War with Grandpa

Winslow Fegley Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

Jaeden Martell The Lodge

Noah Schnapp Abe

Azhy Robertson Come Play

Owen Vaccaro Team Marco

All these performances need to be seen, Robertson’s work without dialogue is spectacular and deserves mention despite the indication of sparsity above. However, the most soaring of these performances is the nuanced, multicultural, turn by Noah Schnapp.

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Lotus Blossom We Can Be Heroes

Cree Cicchino The Sleepover

Johanna Colón Troop Zero

Hala Finley We Can Be Heroes

Milan Ray Troop Zero

Cree Cicchino has great comic timing and it’s on full display here.

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role 

Harry Collett Doolittle

Gregory Diaz IV Vampires vs. The Bronx

Winslow Fegley Come Play

James Freedson-Jackson 18 to Party

Charlie Shotwell Troop Zero

In an ensemble piece, when all your scenes are of import, and make an impact that’s saying something and Freedson-Jackson delivers memorably in every single one.

Best Youth Ensemble

Alivia Clark, Ashling Doyle, Tanner Flood, James Freedson-Jackson, Oliver Gifford, Nolan Lyons, Sam McCathy, Ivy Mille, Taylor Richardson, and Eric Schuett  18 to Party

YaYa Gosselin, Lyon Daniels, Andy Walken, Hala Finley, Lotus Blosson, Dylan Henry Lau, Andrew Diaz, Isaiah Russell-Bailey, Akira Akbar, Nathan Blair, and Vivien Lyra Blair We Can Be Heroes

Sadie Stanley, Maxwell Simkins, Cree Cicchino, Lucas Jaye and Calidore Robinson The Sleepover

Owen Vaccaro, Jacob Laval, Jake Katzman, Ethan Coskay, and Skylar Lipkin Team Marco

Jaden Michael, Gerald Jones III, Gregory Diaz IV, Coco Jones Vampires vs. The Bronx

Just impeccable work here from top to bottom of a deep cast.

Best Original Screenplay

Lucy Alibar Troop Zero

Jacob Chase Come Play

Fernando Grostein Andrade, Lameece Isaaq, Jacob Kader, and Christopher Vogler Abe

Sam Mendes & Krysty Wilson-Cairns 1917

Jeffrey Roda 18 to Party

Best Adapted Screenplay

C.S. Forester, Tom Hanks Greyhound

Pat Casey, Josh Miller Sonic the Hedgehog

Rob Hayes Gretel Hansel

H.P. Lovecraft, Richard Stanley and Scarlett Amaris Color Out of Space

Stephan Pastis and Tom McCarthy Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

This is some of Lovecraft’s best fodder for film, definitely his most flexible work and this is the best rendition of it so far.

Best Score

Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans The Lodge

Thomas Newman 1917

Blake Neely Greyhound

Colin Stetson Color Out of Space

Rebel Rodriguez We Can Be Heroes

This was a year I went for more ambient selections than thundering booming score, but Color Out of Space takes that ambience from grating to melodic, from subconscious to immersive and is an aural accompaniment to the visual madness of the film.

Best Editing

Brett W. Bachman Color Out of Space

Claudia Castello, Bruno Lasevicius, and Suzanne Spangler Abe

Andrés Federico González 32 Malasaña Street

Robert Rodriguez We Can Be Heroes

Terry Yates The Wretched

This film balances some quick-cut research sequences and conventional invisible editing to heighten dramatic and comedic sequences alike.

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

1917

Color Out of Space

Come Play

Extraction

Greyhound

Best Cinematography

Steve Annis Color Out of Space

Thimios Bakatakis The Lodge

Roger Deakins 1917

Blake McClure Vampires vs. The Bronx

Daniel Sosa 32 Malasaña

This isn’t just about what Deakins and Mendes did on a technical level, but it also looked spectacular.

Best Costume Design

David Crossman, Jacqueline Durran 1917

Pierre-Yves Gayraud The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two

Caroline Eselin Troop Zero

Sammy Sheldon Differ Artemis Fowl

Michael Wilkinson Jingle Jangle

There was the period piece element, sure, but also scout regalia, and a Bowie performance.

Best Art Direction

1917

32 Malasaña Street

Artemis Fowl

Gretel & Hansel

Jingle Jangle

Not many aspects of this film worked, this one definitely did.

Best Makeup

32 Malasaña Street

Artemis Fowl

Gretel & Hansel

The True Adventures of Wolfboy

The Wretched

To share the best bits here would be a spoiler.

Best Visual Effects

1917

Color Out of Space

Greyhound

We Can Be Heroes

Wonder Woman 1984

To make this Lovecraft tale work the effects have to come through and they did big time.

Best (Original) Song

“Getting Better (otherwise)” The Aubreys & The Turning The Turning

“Mother” Courtney Love & The Turning The Turning 

“The Spirit of Christmas” Kurt Russell & Darlene Love The Christmas Chronicles 2

“I Still Believe” Cast of I Still Believe, KJ Apa

“Rock You Like A Hurricane” Rachel Bloom Trolls: World Tour

There was a lot of ’90s grunge influence on this album, some of it sounded like Courtney, band this one was and it’s epic.

Best Soundtrack

I Still Believe

Jingle Jangle

Hubie Halloween

My Spy

The Turning

This was one of the few highlights of this otherwise dismal film.

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

Jaeden Martell

The cast of It continues to go places. Aside from all the movies I saw Jaeden in this year, one of which was a delayed viewing of Knives Out, he was also in Defending Jacob on AppleTV+. His films also ran the gamut of genre and were seen throughout the year.

Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Award(s)

Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Tom Hanks, Goldie Hawn, and Kurt Russell.

Rather than overthinking this one I chose a handful of actors I’ve loved for a long time.

Neutron Star Award(s)

Agnès Varda

For whatever reason I saw exactly two of her films while she was alive. Even though I loved it I never managed to see others. This box has helped with that.

Special Jury Award(s)

Kino Lorber

For Kino Maquee a virtual cinema platform that has helped 150 arthouses during the pandemic.

2020 BAM Award Nominations

So this past year was…something. I’m almost entirely convinced it really happened. For more on my year of being mostly-absent from my blog read this. Commentary on the smattering of films I saw will accompany my post next week.

These nominations will be posted by live blog until the categories are complete.

Best Picture

1917

32 Malasaña Street

Abe

Color Out of Space

Come Play

The Lodge

Team Marco

Vampires vs. the Bronx

We Can Be Heroes

The Wretched

Most Overlooked Picture

Not awarded. Explanation to follow.

Best Director

Julio Vincent Gambuto Team Marco

Fernando Grostein Andrade Abe

Sam Mendes 1917

Albert Pintó 32 Malasaña Street

Richard Stanley Color Out of Space

Best Actress 

Maria Bakalova Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm

Viola Davis Troop Zero

Julia Louis-Dreyfus Downhill

Riley Keough The Lodge

Joely Richardson Color Out of Space

Best Actor

Nicolas Cage Color Out of Space

Sacha Baron Cohen Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm

Robert DeNiro The War with Grandpa

Will Ferrell Downhill

Tom Hanks Greyhound

Best Supporting Actress 

Madeline Arthur Color Out of Space

Dagmara Dominzyck Abe

Anastasia Ganias Team Marco

Allison Janney Troop Zero

Alice Krige Gretel & Hansel

Best Supporting Actor

Jim Carrey Sonic the Hedgehog

Dean-Charles Chapman 1917

Walton Goggins Fatman

Anthony Patellis Team Marco

Seu Jorge Abe

Best Cast

Begoña Vargas, Iván Marcos, Bea Segura, Sergio Castellanos, José Luis de Madariaga, Iván Renedo, Concha Velasco, and Javier Botet 32 Malasaña Street

Noah Schnapp, Seu Jorge, Dagmara Dominzyck, Arian Moayed, Mark Margolis, Tom Madirosian, Salem Murphy, Daniel Oreskes, and Gero Camilo in Abe

Lewis Cancelmi, Greg Rikaart, Thomas Kopache, Anastasia Ganias, Antoinette LaVecchia, Anthony Patellis, Bobby Guarino, Joseph Callari, Owen Vaccaro, Jacob Laval, Jake Katzman, Ethan Coskay, and Skylar Lipkin Team Marco

Robert DeNiro, Uma Thurman, Rob Riggle, Oakes Fegley, Laura Marano, Cheech Marin, Jayne Seymour, Christopher Walken, Juliocesar Chavez, Isaac Kragten, T.J. McGibbon, Poppy Gagnon and Colin Ford in The War with Grandpa

Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Pedro Pascal, Adriana Berrazza, Boyd Holbrook, Christian Slater, Taylor Dooley, Sung Kang, Hailey Reinhart, Christopher McDonald, Jill Blackwood, John Valley, YaYa Gosselin, Lyon Daniels, Andy Walken, Hala Finley, Lotus Blosson, Dylan Henry Lau, Andrew Diaz, Isaiah Russell-Bailey, Akira Akbar, Nathan Blair, and Vivien Lyra Blair in We Can Be Heroes

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Alivia Clark 18 to Party

Chloe Coleman My Spy

Sophia Giannamore The True Adventures of Wolfboy

McKenna Grace Troop Zero

Sophia Lillis Gretel & Hansel

Madalen Mills Jingle Jangle

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Oakes Fegley The War with Grandpa

Winslow Fegley Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

Jaeden Martell The Lodge

Noah Schnapp Abe

Azhy Robertson Come Play

Owen Vaccaro Team Marco

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Lotus Blossom We Can Be Heroes

Cree Cicchino The Sleepover

Johanna Colón Troop Zero

Hala Finley We Can Be Heroes

Milan Ray Troop Zero

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role 

Harry Collett Doolittle

Gregory Diaz IV Vampires vs. The Bronx

Winslow Fegley Come Play

James Freedson-Jackson 18 to Party

Charlie Shotwell Troop Zero

Best Youth Ensemble

Alivia Clark, Ashling Doyle, Tanner Flood, James Freedson-Jackson, Oliver Gifford, Nolan Lyons, Sam McCathy, Ivy Mille, Taylor Richardson, and Eric Schuett 18 to Party

YaYa Gosselin, Lyon Daniels, Andy Walken, Hala Finley, Lotus Blosson, Dylan Henry Lau, Andrew Diaz, Isaiah Russell-Bailey, Akira Akbar, Nathan Blair, Vivien Lyra Blair We Can Be Heroes

Sadie Stanley, Maxwell Simkins, Cree Cicchino, Lucas Jaye and Calidore Robinson The Sleepover

Owen Vaccaro, Jacob Laval, Jake Katzman, Ethan Coskay, and Skylar Lipkin Team Marco

Jaden Michael, Gerald Jones III, Gregory Diaz IV, Coco Jones Vampires vs. The Bronx

Best Original Screenplay

Lucy Alibar Troop Zero

Jacob Chase Come Play

Fernando Grostein Andrade, Lameece Isaaq, Jacob Kader, and Christopher Vogler Abe

Sam Mendes & Krysty Wilson-Cairns 1917

Jeffrey Roda 18 to Party

Best Adapted Screenplay

C.S. Forester, Tom Hanks Greyhound

Pat Casey, Josh Miller Sonic the Hedgehog

Rob Hayes Gretel & Hansel

H.P. Lovecraft, Richard Stanley and Scarlett Amaris Color Out of Space

Stephan Pastis and Tom McCarthy Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

Best Score

Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans The Lodge

Thomas Newman 1917

Blake Neely Greyhound

Colin Stetson Color Out of Space

Rebel Rodriguez We Can Be Heroes

Best Editing

Brett W. Bachman Color Out of Space

Claudia Castello, Bruno Lasevicius, and Suzanne Spangler Abe

Andrés Federico González 32 Malasaña Street

Robert Rodriguez We Can Be Heroes

Terry Yates The Wretched

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

1917

Color Out of Space

Come Play

Extraction

Greyhound

Best Cinematography

Steve Annis Color Out of Space

Thimios Bakatakis The Lodge

Roger Deakins 1917

Blake McClure Vampires vs. The Bronx

Daniel Sosa 32 Malasaña

Best Costume Design

David Crossman, Jacqueline Durran 1917

Pierre-Yves Gayraud The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two

Caroline Eselin Troop Zero

Sammy Sheldon Differ Artemis Fowl

Michael Wilkinson Jingle Jangle

Best Art Direction

1917

32 Malasaña Street

Artemis Fowl

Gretel & Hansel

Jingle Jangle

Best Makeup

32 Malasaña Street

Artemis Fowl

Gretel & Hansel

The True Adventures of Wolfboy

The Wretched

Best Visual Effects

1917

Color Out of Space

Greyhound

We Can Be Heroes

Wonder Woman 1984

Best (Original) Song

“Getting Better (otherwise)” The Aubreys & The Turning The Turning

“Mother” Courtney Love & The Turning The Turning

“The Spirit of Christmas” Kurt Russell & Darlene Love The Christmas Chronicles 2

“I Still Believe” Cast of I Still Believe, KJ Apa

“Rock You Like A Hurricane” Rachel Bloom Trolls: World Tour

Best Soundtrack

I Still Believe

Jingle Jangle

Hubie Halloween

My Spy

The Turning

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

To be announced January 11th.

Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Award(s)

To be announced January 11th.

Neutron Star Award(s)

To be announced January 11th.

Special Jury Award(s)

To be announced January 11th.

2017 BAM Award Nominations

Here are the nominees for the 2017 BAM Awards. Winners will be announced on January 9th. Some films did qualify after 12/24. Some gross omissions, as speculated in the shortlists were corrected. Collages that may feature in the honoree post will feature on my Instagram page over the course of the next week. Without any further ado … enjoy!

Best Picture

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

Best Foreign Film 

Few qualifiers. Jury prize may be announced on January 9th.

Most Overlooked Picture

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

Best Documentary 

Few qualifiers. Jury prize may be announced on January 9th.

Best Director

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

Best Actress

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

Best Actor

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

Best Supporting Actress

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

Best Supporting Actor

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

Best Cast

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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

The Big Sick

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

Get Out

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

The Disaster Artist

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

It

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

Wind River

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

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

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

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

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

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

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

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

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

Best Youth Ensemble

The Glass Castle 

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

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

Wonder 

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

Wonderstruck 

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

Rico, Oskar und der Diebstahlstein 

Anton Petzold, Juri Winkler, and  Tristan Göbel
The Beguiled

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

Best Original Screenplay

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

Best Adapted Screenplay

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

Best Score

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

Best Editing

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

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

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

Best Cinematography

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

Best Art Direction

1922
Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
It
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Costume Design

 

The Dark Tower
The Greatest Show
It
Wonderstruck
Victoria & Abdul

Best Makeup

1922
Gerald’s Game
It
The Shape of Water
Wonder

Best Visual Effects

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

Best Soundtrack

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

Best Song

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

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.

National Coming Out Day

Over the past year, postings on this site have been a bit sparse but one of the more significant ones was for the Things I Learned From the Movies Blogathon (just after National Coming Out Day 2016). It was my coming out on this blog, and those stories real and fictionalized matter. The short below has been released in the past year and made quite a big splash on fictionalized end.

 

The day matters not as a compulsory exercise but rather to raise awareness. Here’s an example of how a real-life coming out can have an impact on others (Yes, this means you need to read a long Instagram caption. #sorrynotsorry).

 

Happy National Coming Out Day!

Christopher Plummer Blogathon: Remember (2015)

Even when you’re as legendary and accomplished an actor as Christopher Plummer is there are certain themes you may be loath to revisit if it mirrors a bit too closely to one of your more famous roles. In Remember Christopher Plummer plays Zev Guttman, a Holocaust survivor living in a nursing home whom has just lost his wife and is dealing with dementia. Now entering a new stage of his life he can embark on his mission to avenge the death of his family at Auschwitz.

When the material is good enough and you feel it has something to say, the director you’ll be working with is acclaimed (as Atom Egoyan is), you will gladly participate in a film that may appear to share superficial themes (Nazism and World War II) to a film in your past you can’t seem to outrun (The Sound of Music). Furthermore, when you have over 200 credits to your name, and are in your late eighties (an age bracket that may as well not exist as a consideration in mainstream films) you may not be too picky. However, as some of Plummer’s more recent films like Beginners show he’s not just agreeing to a project because he read a script as some actors over a certain age may appear to.

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What is the most notable in this film is that Plummer is not merely the elder statesman in an otherwise youthful cast. Quite on the contrary Remember features impressive performances from fellow octogenarian Martin Landau and septuagenarian Bruno Ganz, and features but a brief supporting turn by the prodigious and prolific young actor Peter Dacunha. Not only are the older actors great but they feature prominently in the film. However, the film as opposed to the pre-packaged film for the older set it is one about characters and plot considerations that are specific, and can communicate to audiences of all ages due to the use of expertly employed suspenseful set pieces.

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While much of film acting is the ability to recreate emotional notes many times over owing to the need to shoot coverage, much of a film like Remember wherein a character must reabsorb givens as if it is entirely new information asks much more from an actor, director, and editor than a conventionally constructed film. In this film Plummer has to not only emote to have us engage in the repeated loss of his wife but also on more than one occasion have us fear that his only purpose left — as he sees it — will fail because he has either forgotten about the letter that now defines his reality or because in his travels it has become illegible.

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While a protagonist going brazenly into random encounters with other men of a certain age and asking them they are German, were at Auschwitz, and a blockführer does allow for a quiet thrum of tension throughout; there are moments of unexpected pathos. Zev has but a name (Rudy Kurlander) and a location to find each of the man who could be responsible for killing his family. One of the men has a number tattooed on his arm, which catches Zev by surprise.

“You’re Jewish?”

“Homosexual.”

At that moment Zev breaks down in tears, feeling remorse and offering his condolence. It’s a wonderful moment of empathy that is but an example of how this is a more layered emotional experience than one might expect going into it.

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There is a huge revelation that I will not spoil but it is the commitment to a performance that allows it to work. When the film is over and consider things in hindsight you will note the clues were there all along, but you didn’t even realize you should have been looking for them.
This film was distributed by A24 who is a company willing to go outside the norms and push the envelope even where we weren’t aware it should be pushed even lightly. It is available to stream for Amazon Prime subscribers and is worth checking out.

Film Activism: Beyond Terror Lucio Fulci Book & DVD

Typically when I’ve written about these crowdfunding efforts it has been about campaigns that have not been funded. This reissue of an expanded, gorgeously packaged book is happening but the stretch goals are coming fast and furious, and I suggest you hop on the bandwagon as I have. Here’s what this package about one of the members of the Italian Horror Trinity is about:

 

Here’s what the next stretch goal will add:

Having announced the addition of an illustrated booklet with the trailer DVD after surpassing the £55,000 milestone, here is what everyone gains if we can find more people who want to own the ultimate edition of the ultimate Lucio Fulci tribute package:

Just 30 to 35 more people will bring us to a total of £62,500 raised. If we hit this target everyone will receive a set of postcards featuring the four iconic 1980s British quad poster designs – The Beyond, City of the Living Dead, The House By the Cemetery and Zombie Flesh-Eaters.

Having already added one goal, they announced further add-ons:

£70,000 – Everyone’s package will include a stamped hard enamel badge with the Eibon symbol in black against a polished copper metal finish.

£80,000 – We go into a recording studio, where Stephen Thrower will record a commentary track for the trailer DVD.

Spread the word!

 

The Great Villain Blogathon: The Frailty of Villainy 

Introduction

When deciding what to write about for the Great Villain Blogathon Frailty jumped out immediately. The reason for this is not that there’s nothing necessarily unique about the antagonist(s) within the narrative, nor in the fact that there is some role reversal, but rather in how that comes about and the approaches to it.

That is what makes Frailty such an interesting film to examine in this topic. The mandatory SPOILER ALERT applies that if you have not seen this film you should cease reading now as the film will be discussed in depth.

Frailty 

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For a horror film to thrive its villain(s) need to be effective, for the villains to be effective they need to have a potentially horrific foundation upon which to work. This is a film that offers quite a bit of solid ground to tread upon for not only does the paradigm of the narrative shift fairly often, but in terms of its crafting there are fascinating things to consider. Frailty, for as vague as it may sound, is exactly the title this film needs for whether it’s the frailty of life, the human spirit, religious belief, sanity, and even reality; any weakness, any fissure, any breaks can have dire consequences. Frailty examines such consequences.

This is one of the more frequently overlooked turns by a director/lead actor (Bill Paxton), a fact underscored by his untimely death earlier this year. When you include the fact that it was a first feature film credit for both he and screenwriter Brent Hanley, then the unlikeliness of the creation of what Roger Ebert rated a four-star film is multiplied.

Another thing that jumped out at me was that this is not unlike a story I would’ve written in my late teens or early twenties, thematically speaking. However, if one takes a look at an early draft one can see a majority of an excellent script in tact that was improved to increase surprise and pay-off, and build mystery.

The film gives the sense of Biblical verses clashing without getting into pulpit-pounding, even with all the talk of God, angels, and demons it remains character driven. In true-to-theology fashion fear and disbelief the two most common reactions these characters have to Biblical figures hearing messages from angels. The talk of “are we destroying demons or killing people” in family may get over but the director’s voice could come through in a less obvious in a clip fro the show Davey and Goliath where the discuss the notion of God making people do things or something happen in a very thoughtful way. The allusion to the story of Abraham and Isaac is very properly included and underscores the Old Testament sensibility of the film.

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There is built on a bed of lies a dramatic shell game of names, and antagonists. Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey) comes into the FBI building wanting to see Agent Doyle (Powers Booth) who is in charge of the God’s Hand case, a rash of serial killings linked by notes claiming that “God’s hand was at work.” When Fenton finally gets to see Doyle he starts weaving his tale of how his brother Adam is the God’s Hand killer, and has recently committed suicide. Doyle is doubtful, which sets up the necessary and well-handled element of doubt in this story, but agrees to listen for a time. This disbelief is reflected in the flashback with Fenton as faith and disbelief go hand in hand. He flashes back to when he (Matt O’Leary) and Adam (Jeremy Sumpter) were kids and how the story of the case really started with their father (Bill Paxton). As wild as the story is, at critical junctures gets satisfactory corroborations from others, such that Doyle keeps listening.

In this frame you have the introduction of an unreliable narrator, which a classic literary and cinematic device, but that’s not the only trick in store just perhaps the most surprising one of all. The biggest twist of the proceedings is that the man who presents himself as Fenton is actually Adam all along.

Crafting a Villains and Shifting Them

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In this film, as you may be able to tell above, plot and character are very closely intertwined such that the changes in the story invariably alter how the audience may react to characters. The film in its flashback gives you what you think is a protagonist you can root for, one whose fighting the good fight. Well, you do have him in Young Fenton. He doesn’t believe the story his father is trying to sell him and who his younger brother seems far too eager to believe. But this tale is tragic in a sense. Young Fenton will not save the day, he will survive his childhood (barely) but he will be dead within minutes of the film having started.

In a world where you’re unsure if anyone is honest is where the line between villain and anti-hero is a little blurred, where demons may or may not exist; there is an additional onus on the casting not only for the adult versions of the characters but who plays their younger versions. Three out of the four are of vital importance and cast with the utmost precision.

 

The hard to properly attribute truism that every villain is the hero of their own story is very applicable to this film. For this film to communicate effectively with its audience all the actors had to connect with their characters and understand the world from their character’s truth. It is only in this way they can hope to be dimensional human beings, rise above caricatures, and have a far more primal, deeper impact on its audience. Having a talented actor such as Bill Paxton directing the film certainly helped the cast and allowed them to expand the potential of their roles: it brought Matthew McConaughey his best performance prior to his McConaissance; a deft turn from Powers Booth; a well-earned ‘Introducing’ credit for Matt O’Leary who is spellbinding; a deceptively good pre-Peter Pan turn from Jeremy Sumpter; and a chillingly effective, and convincingly convicted self-directed role for Paxton.

Yet, to minimize Paxton’s directorial effect to just performance would be wrong. A grasp of narrative and material is needed to successfully shift the audience’s view of a character, or at the very least to successfully pull of a story twist. Furthermore, there are plenty of great visuals that drive home whether its Young Fenton fearfully stepping back into the dark, Young Fenton standing between Dad and the ax, Young Fenton seeking light and water through the knothole, the odes to Hitchcock — Young Fenton’s dismembered head against negative fill, and the dolly back-zoom in at the end — and graceful dissolves that may have impressed Truffaut.

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Also, for the perception of the characters to change frequently the circumstances of the story have to change, which means that the story cannot hinge on just one big twist but have quite a few; and this one does: Fenton kills dad not the demon he’s meant to, which the audience both doesn’t necessarily expect and is glad for, making him momentarily heroic. Adam finishes the kill that dad can’t complete, sending not just a momentary jolt through the audience but breaking the relief that may have come over the audience. We know things are not yet resolved or over just because dad is gone. The twists come until the very end when we learn that Adam is the Sheriff in Meat, Texas.


In this film you go from identifying Fenton to watching his downfall, the zealous end of a patriarch’s life, and the transformation of Adam from complete innocent into acolyte. His typically quiet observance of events as a child make him a hard one to read and that foreshadows his ability to tell the story from another perspective so convincingly. Not that it’s entirely unforeseen either after Young Fenton has killed dad the frequently mentioned promise to buried in the Rose Garden is made. Young Adam’s angry assertion that “I promise to God I’ll bury you here,” show’s the switch flipped in him perhaps more so than when he followed through on dad’s destruction of a demon.

Another brilliant touch in Frailty is that as you follow Adam’s tale (whom we believe to be Fenton), an twists unravel, you realize you’re witness to his methodology. Every demon on his list presents a new challenge. FBI Agent Doyle presents quite a few. However, with Fenton being the demon prior it got the ball rolling and allowed him to concoct his tale, and Adam figures out a way to change the names in the story of his life well enough such that he can lay the appropriate traps to get Doyle’s attention, tell his story with just the right breaks such that he could lead the Agent to his future burial place.

What’s perhaps most impressive in Frailty is that it manages to be deft in a film that deals with a zealotry — or a metaphysical plot depending on your viewpoint. Fenton’s transition from suspected-demon to full-blown serial killer is mostly offscreen. We are witness to only the inception but not the road traveled thereafter. What we may interpret merely as Adam being an obedient, agreeable child is confirmed to be his truth as he saw (or believed he saw) the same things his father saw.

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In the end it is Dad Meiks who spends the longest run inhabiting the role of the antagonist in the film. He may have a soft spot for Fenton inasmuch as he does not destroy him after he claims an angel told him he’s a demon, but he still dehumanizes him by locking him in the newly built cellar, starving him in the dark, and only gives him water through a knothole. With him occupying that position and Fenton being his victim its clear where we’ll identify for a majority of the tale. When all is said and done it would have come as no surprise if Fenton had killed himself. However, that was to be another twist, another lie Adam told. He did destroy Fenton and made it seem as if it was he who killed Agent Doyle, hence the ruse of the name when asking to see him.

Conclusion

If Frailty was but a spectacle of twists and upended expectations it would not have the staying power it has had since its release in 2002. Clever writing also can only do so much. It is the sensitive, humanizing, layered portrayals these characters are given by their actors that makes them relatable and identifiable. The performances ultimately makes it possible for the characters to occupy disparate roles throughout, and engender pity if not sympathy. For a villain is ever more effective when you can see where they’re coming from and understand the world from their vantage point, and Frailty makes it such that that happens. You will likely not agree with them, but you will understand them, and that makes the visceral reaction far more palpable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mini-Review: Boy 7 (2015; Germany)

This film is based on a YA novel by Mirjam Bous. The book was so popular that it spawned adaptations in both the Netherlands and Germany in 2015. This is the German version.

The plot is one that starts in medias res as the protagonist cannot remember a thing about himself, then before he has time to think on it at all he realizes he’s being pursued by authorities, and has no choice but to frantically run out of sheer instinct.

Even seeing this much later than the Dutch version, it truly is impressive. It’s a prime example of trying to squeeze all of the narrative and visual potential from the source material versus rote, washed out, dystopia-by-numbers with a few wrinkles in the prior.

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Even some of its strengths are stronger than the highlights of the Dutch version. The electronic score pumps the tension and the endorphins as needed. David Kross, is an effective and more engaging lead, and it brings to fruition my wish/issue with the prior film, which is that it takes that extra fifteen minutes and makes tremendous use of them in creating ambience and developing character.

While the Dutch film was over-concerned with getting details in about how exactly the dystopia came to be but being tremendously broad (in a similar vein to The Purge), the German film treats the dystopia and the commingling of corporate and governmental law enforcement as givens, this allows for more identification with the characters, and basic suspense building.

Furthermore, the cinematography in this version is scintillating. It eschews clichéd desaturation and fluorescence and focuses instead on vibrant, saturated coloration, deep shadows, precise framing, and beautiful compositions that juxtapose the ugliness of the world they portray.

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Were this a story you were interested in seeing I would highly recommend this version of it over the Dutch.

Origin of Evil saves Ouija

Having not written about the original Ouija probably the only way to dissect this one is via a comparative analysis. As I’ve mentioned previously, I don’t go into a standard review with comparative analysis as one of my primary tools. I feel it is so separate and other from reviews that it is its own category on this blog.

Suffice it to say that the original film was one I disliked to such a degree that it was one of those I could describe as painful with a nearly precise degree of literalness. I was at times discomfited by my physical revulsion to the laziness, obviousness, and cliché of the so-called original venture.

Thus, going into this film I had a feeling that at best I’d end up saying after it was over: ”You know a prequel to a movie based on a board game has no business being this good,” but it went a bit beyond that, which in an of itself is quite a surprise.

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The only things that really hold it back from going beyond that level are some of the over-the-top moments which I knew were there. There are just more of them but they weren’t ruinous. Some of them were how far the physical manifestations went, but most of it was about the CG.

However, even that didn’t go very far due to the fact wasn’t always subpar. Perhaps, what is most impressive is that I found myself noting that this film did little things you don’t see enough of lately. Namely:

  • Visually it used focus, or lack thereof, to make some scares more subtle.
  • The sound mix and design is excellent and restrained as necessary.
  • Most of the jump scares are diegetic and involve the characters being jolted by real fright.

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Knowing Flanagan’s other work, namely Oculus and the short film upon which it was based, I expected the performances to be on and show some depth but it ought not be taken for granted. When all was said and done at the end of the year Lulu Wilson was nominated at the BAM Awards, and the cast as a whole is very strong.

Very pleasantly surprised though I am wondering why this proto-franchise seems like its being constructed in reverse in terms of quality.

Mind you this is not to say that this redeems the Hasbro brand on film, but what it does do is fly in the face of the notion that prequels are less-than simply for the reason that it’s painting by numbers. Yes, there may be a blueprint but effort and creativity can take you down a different path. Furthermore, to continue the paint-by-numbers analogy, art can still be made either by disregarding the prescribed color or through technique. This film does both.

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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