The San Diego Film Critics Society Honors Promising Young Woman


The Nashville critics were not the only ones to honor Promising Young Woman and Carey Mulligan yesterday!  The San Diego critics did so as well.

Here are all of the winners from San Diego:

​Best Picture
BLACK BEAR
FIRST COW
NOMADLAND
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
SOUND OF METAL (RUNNER UP)
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN (WINNER)

Best Director
Darius Marder – SOUND OF METAL
Kelly Reichardt – FIRST COW
Aaron Sorkin – THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 (RUNNER UP)
Florian Zeller – THE FATHER
Chloe Zhao – NOMADLAND (WINNER)

Best Actor
Riz Ahmed – SOUND OF METAL (WINNER)
Chadwick Boseman – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
Brian Dennehy – DRIVEWAYS
Anthony Hopkins – THE FATHER (RUNNER UP)
Steven Yeun – MINARI

Best Actress
Viola Davis – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
Vanessa Kirby – PIECES OF A WOMAN
Frances McDormand – NOMADLAND (RUNNER UP)
Carey Mulligan – PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN (WINNER)
Aubrey Plaza – BLACK BEAR

Best Supporting Actor
Sacha Baron Cohen – THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
Frank Langella – THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
Peter Macdissi – UNCLE FRANK (RUNNER UP)
Bill Murray – ON THE ROCKS
Paul Raci – SOUND OF METAL (WINNER)

Best Supporting Actress
Maria Bakalova – BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM
Ellen Burstyn – PIECES OF A WOMAN
Olivia Cooke – SOUND OF METAL
Amanda Seyfried – MANK (RUNNER UP)
Yuh-jung Youn – MINARI (WINNER)

Best Comedic Performance
Maria Bakalova – BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM (RUNNER UP)
Sacha Baron Cohen – BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM
Radha Blank – THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION (WINNER)
Bill Murray – ON THE ROCKS (RUNNER UP)
Andy Samberg – PALM SPRINGS

Best Original Screenplay
Lee Isaac Chung – MINARI (WINNER)
Sofia Coppola – ON THE ROCKS
Emerald Fennell – PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN (RUNNER UP)
Darius Marder, Abraham Marder & Derek Cianfrance – SOUND OF METAL (RUNNER UP)
Aaron Sorkin – THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 (RUNNER UP)

Best Adapted Screenplay
Christopher Hampton & Florian Zeller – THE FATHER (WINNER)
Charlie Kaufman – I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS (RUNNER UP)
Kelly Reichardt & Jonathan Raymond – FIRST COW
Ruben Santiago-Hudson – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
Chloé Zhao – NOMADLAND

Best Documentary
ATHLETE A
MY OCTOPUS TEACHER
REWIND
THE SOCIAL DILEMMA (RUNNER UP)
TIME (WINNER)

Best Animated Film
ONWARD
OVER THE MOON (RUNNER UP)
SOUL
TROLLS: WORLD TOUR
WOLFWALKERS (WINNER)

Best International Film
ANOTHER ROUND
THE LIFE AHEAD (WINNER)
MARTIN EDEN
THE PLATFORM (RUNNER UP)
SPUTNIK

Best Editing
Alan Baumgarten – THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 (RUNNER UP)
Andy Canny – THE INVISIBLE MAN (WINNER)
Andrew Dickler & Matthew Friedman – PALM SPRINGS
Jennifer Lame – TENET
Matthew L. Weiss – BLACK BEAR

Best Cinematography
Christopher Blauvelt – FIRST COW
Erik Messerschmidt – MANK (RUNNER UP)
Joshua James Richards – NOMADLAND (WINNER)
Hoyte Van Hoytema – TENET
Dariusz Wolski – NEWS OF THE WORLD

Best Production Design
Donald Graham Burt – MANK (WINNER)
Nathan Crowley – TENET
Molly Hughes – I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS (RUNNER UP)
Kave Quinn – EMMA.
Shane Valentino – THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 (RUNNER UP)

Best Visual Effects
BIRDS OF PREY
GREYHOUND
THE INVISIBLE MAN (RUNNER UP)
THE MIDNIGHT SKY
SPUTNIK
TENET (WINNER)

Best Costumes
Erin Benach – BIRDS OF PREY (RUNNER UP)
Alexandra Byrne – EMMA. (WINNER)
April Napier – FIRST COW
Ann Roth – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
Trish Summerville – MANK

Best Use of Music
DA 5 BLOODS
DAVID BYRNE’S AMERICAN UTOPIA (RUNNER UP)
HAMILTON (WINNER)
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM (RUNNER UP)
SOUND OF METAL

Best Ensemble
DA 5 BLOODS
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI (WINNER)
PALM SPRINGS
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 (RUNNER UP)
UNCLE FRANK

Breakthrough Artist
Riz Ahmed – SOUND OF METAL (RUNNER UP)
Maria Bakalova – BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM
Radha Blank – THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION (WINNER)
Sidney Flanigan – NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS
Vanessa Kirby – PIECES OF A WOMAN

Here Are The 2020 Nominations of the San Diego Film Critics Society!


The regional critics have been busy today!

The San Diego Film Critics Society have announced their nominees for the best of 2020!  Perhaps the most interesting tidbit here is that they nominated Black Bear for best picture.  So far, Black Bear hasn’t really been spoken of as an Oscar contender but, with the extended awards season and all, that could all change.  It’ll be interesting to see if the SDFCS nomination is just an outlier or a sign of critics just now discovering the film.  If nothing else, it keeps things interesting.

Here are the nominees!  The winners will be announced on Monday, January 11th.

​Best Picture
BLACK BEAR
FIRST COW
NOMADLAND
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
SOUND OF METAL
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

Best Director
Darius Marder – SOUND OF METAL
Kelly Reichardt – FIRST COW
Aaron Sorkin – THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
Florian Zeller – THE FATHER
Chloe Zhao – NOMADLAND

Best Actor
Riz Ahmed – SOUND OF METAL
Chadwick Boseman – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
Brian Dennehy – DRIVEWAYS
Anthony Hopkins – THE FATHER
Steven Yeun – MINARI

Best Actress
Viola Davis – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
Vanessa Kirby – PIECES OF A WOMAN
Frances McDormand – NOMADLAND
Carey Mulligan – PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
Aubrey Plaza – BLACK BEAR

Best Supporting Actor
Sacha Baron Cohen – THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
Frank Langella – THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
Peter Macdissi – UNCLE FRANK
Bill Murray – ON THE ROCKS
Paul Raci – SOUND OF METAL

Best Supporting Actress
Maria Bakalova – BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM
Ellen Burstyn – PIECES OF A WOMAN
Olivia Cooke – SOUND OF METAL
Amanda Seyfried – MANK
Yuh-jung Youn – MINARI

Best Comedic Performance
Maria Bakalova – BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM
Sacha Baron Cohen – BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM
Radha Blank – THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION
Bill Murray – ON THE ROCKS
Andy Samberg – PALM SPRINGS

Best Original Screenplay
Lee Isaac Chung – MINARI
Sofia Coppola – ON THE ROCKS
Emerald Fennell – PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
Darius Marder, Abraham Marder & Derek Cianfrance – SOUND OF METAL
Aaron Sorkin – THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

Best Adapted Screenplay
Christopher Hampton & Florian Zeller – THE FATHER
Charlie Kaufman – I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS
Kelly Reichardt & Jonathan Raymond – FIRST COW
Ruben Santiago-Hudson – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
Chloé Zhao – NOMADLAND

Best Documentary
ATHLETE A
MY OCTOPUS TEACHER
REWIND
THE SOCIAL DILEMMA
TIME

Best Animated Film
ONWARD
OVER THE MOON
SOUL
TROLLS: WORLD TOUR
WOLFWALKERS

Best International Film
ANOTHER ROUND
THE LIFE AHEAD
MARTIN EDEN
THE PLATFORM
SPUTNIK

Best Editing
Alan Baumgarten – THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
Andy Canny – THE INVISIBLE MAN
Andrew Dickler & Matthew Friedman – PALM SPRINGS
Jennifer Lame – TENET
Matthew L. Weiss – BLACK BEAR

Best Cinematography
Christopher Blauvelt – FIRST COW
Erik Messerschmidt – MANK
Joshua James Richards – NOMADLAND
Hoyte Van Hoytema – TENET
Dariusz Wolski – NEWS OF THE WORLD

Best Production Design
Donald Graham Burt – MANK
Nathan Crowley – TENET
Molly Hughes – I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS
Kave Quinn – EMMA.
Shane Valentino – THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

Best Visual Effects
BIRDS OF PREY
GREYHOUND
THE INVISIBLE MAN
THE MIDNIGHT SKY
SPUTNIK
TENET

Best Costumes
Erin Benach – BIRDS OF PREY
Alexandra Byrne – EMMA.
April Napier – FIRST COW
Ann Roth – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
Trish Summerville – MANK

Best Use of Music
DA 5 BLOODS
DAVID BYRNE’S AMERICAN UTOPIA
HAMILTON
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
SOUND OF METAL

Best Ensemble
DA 5 BLOODS
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
PALM SPRINGS
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
UNCLE FRANK

Breakthrough Artist
Riz Ahmed – SOUND OF METAL
Maria Bakalova – BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM
Radha Blank – THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION
Sidney Flanigan – NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS
Vanessa Kirby – PIECES OF A WOMAN

The Films of 2020: Driveways (dir by Andrew Ahn)


There’s a certain type of independent film that you tend to see quite frequently towards the end of the year.  It’s the type of film where a single mother and her precociously intelligent child move to a new town and get to know their neighbors.  Usually, the child has to deal with a bully or two while the mother reflects on her own rebellious past.  Almost inevitably, there’s a cantankerous older neighbor who seems a little bit intimidating at first but who eventually turns out to be a decent guy.  That older neighbor is often played by a character actor who has never quite gotten the appreciation that he deserves.

Driveways is one of those films.  This time, the mother is named Kathy (Hong Chau) and her 9 year-old son is named Cody (Lucas Jaye).  Cody is intelligent but shy.  He struggles to fit in.  He worries about the fact that his mom is constantly smoking and whenever she curses, he gives her a slightly judgmental look.  If he gets too anxious, he has a habit of vomiting.  He’s one of those kids who you just want to protect from the outside world and assure him that everything’s going to (eventually) be okay.

The neighbor is Del and he’s played by the late, great Brian Dennehy.  Del is a veteran of the Korean War and a widower.  He spends a lot of time sitting out on his porch.  He’s a nice guy and one of the things that I appreciated about this film is that Del was nice from the minute he first appeared.  Usually, in films like this, it takes a while for the neighbor to let down his defenses and show that he’s not some sort of bitter ogre.  Usually, there’s all sorts of conflicts and “Get off my lawn” moments but, in Driveways, Del pretty much warms up to Kathy and Cody as soon as he meets them.  He shows Cody how drink from a hose.  Kathy gives him a ride to VFW Hall, where he plays bingo with his friends.  Soon, Del is Cody’s only friend on the block and Del is also one of the few sources of support that Kathy has as she cleans out her recently deceased sister’s home.

There’s not really a lot of drama in Driveways.  There is one annoying neighbor named Linda (Christine Ebersole), who shows up for some of the film’s weaker moments.  And there’s a wonderfully acted scene where Del goes shopping with friend (played by Jerry Adler) who has Alzheimer’s.  Otherwise, this is a low-key film about three people who are at the beginning, the middle, and the end of life.  It’s occasionally a little predictable but it’s sweet-natured film and it has a good heart.

And, most importantly, it gives Brian Dennehy one final great role.  When Dennehy passed away earlier this year, Tommy Boy was soon trending on twitter because, whenever a great actor dies, it seems that their worst films always end up trending.  (This is largely because people on twitter have terrible taste.)  Dennehy was a great actor with a commanding screen presence and it’s somewhat surprising that he died without having ever been nominated for an Oscar.  In Driveways, he brings Del to poignant life.  At the end of the film, he delivers a lengthy monologue about his life and its a powerful moment and one that deserves awards consideration.  A supporting actor nomination for Brian Dennehy would not only be a way to acknowledge a great performance but also a great career, in which he appeared in a lot more films than just Tommy Boy.  Here’s hoping!

Lisa’s Oscar Predictions For December


In a normal year, this would be my final Oscar prediction post.  All of the critics groups and the Golden Globes and the SAG would have, by this point, painted a pretty clear picture of what and who was going to be nominated in January.  However, as we all know, 2020 was not a normal year and we’ve still got another two months to go until the 2020 awards season comes to its climax.

Though a few regional groups have announced their picks for the best of 2020, most of the major precursors are delaying announcing their picks in order to better influence the Academy in February.  Of the major groups, only the LAFCA stuck to their usual December schedule and they proceeded to honor Small Axe, which will probably not even be submitted for Oscar consideration.

That said, I still think the Oscar picture has cleared up a bit.  Hillbilly Elegy is no longer contender, beyond maybe Glenn Close.  Mank is a contender but probably not the powerhouse that many of us were expecting.  Nomadland and First Cow appear to coming on strong.  The Trial of the Chicago 7 will probably receive some Academy love, even if it hasn’t exactly overwhelmed the critics.

I feel good about these predictions below.  If you want to see how my thinking has evolved, check out my predictions for January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and November!

Best Picture

Da 5 Bloods

The Father

First Cow

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Mank

Minari

Nomadland

Promising Young Woman

Sound of Metal

The Trial of Chicago 7

Best Director

David FIncher for Mank

Spike Lee for Da 5 Bloods

Kelly Reichardt for First Cow

Aaron Sorkin for The Trial of the Chicago 7

Chloe Zhao for Nomadland

Best Actor

Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal

Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Anthony Hopkins in The Father

Delroy Lindo in Da 5 Bloods

Gary Oldman in Mank

Best Actress

Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Sidney Flanigan in Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman

Frances McDormand in Nomadland

Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman

Best Supporting Actor

Chadwick Boseman in Da 5 Bloods

Brian Dennehy in Driveways

Billy Murray in On the Rocks

Leslie Odom, Jr. in One Night In Miami

Paul Raci in Sound of Metal

Best Supporting Actress

Ellen Burstyn in Pieces of a Woman

Glenn Close in Hillbilly Elegy

Olivia Colman in The Father

Amanda Seyfried in Mank

Yuh-jung Youn in Minari

Here Are the 2020 Greater Western New York Film Critics Association Nominations!


The Greater Western New York Film Critics Association announced their nominees for the best of 2020 earlier today.  The winners will be announced on December 31st so, again, you’ve got some time to consider these nominees.

The Small Axe films are probably not going to be eligible and I’m Thinking of Ending Things will probably be judged too strange to pick up many nominations but otherwise, I kind of have a feeling that they eventual list of Oscar nominees is going to look a lot like the GWNYFCA list.

Here are the nominees:

Best Picture
Da 5 Bloods
Driveways
The Father
First Cow
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Mank
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Nomadland
Small Axe: Lovers Rock
Sound of Metal

Best Film in a Foreign Language
Another Round (Denmark)
Bacurau (Brazil)
Ema (Chile)
Minari (United States)
​Undine (Germany)

Best Animated Film
Onward
Soul
The Wolf House
​Wolfwalkers
World of Tomorrow Episode Three

Best Documentary
Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets
Boys State
Collective
Dick Johnson is Dead
​Time

Best Director
Spike Lee – Da 5 Bloods
Darius Marder – Sound of Metal
Steve McQueen – Small Axe: Lovers Rock
Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland

Best Lead Actress
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Sidney Flanigan – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand – Nomadland
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman

Best Lead Actor
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods
Steven Yeun – Minari

​Best Supporting Actress
Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Ellen Burstyn – Pieces of a Woman
Olivia Colman – The Father
Amanda Seyfried – Mank
Youn Yuh-jung – Minari

Best Supporting Actor
Sasha Baron Cohen – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Brian Dennehy – Driveways
Bill Murray – On the Rocks
Leslie Odom Jr. – One Night in Miami…
Paul Raci – Sound of Metal

Best Adapted Screenplay
Eleanor Catton – Emma.
Christopher Hampton & Florian Zeller – The Father
Jonathan Raymond & Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Charlie Kaufman – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland

Best Original Screenplay
Hannah Bos & Paul Thureen – Driveways
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Eliza Hittman – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Darius Marder & Abraham Marder – Sound of Metal

Best Cinematography
Christopher Blauvelt – First Cow
Erik Messerschmidt – Mank
Martin Ruhe – The Midnight Sky
Joshua James Richards – Nomadland
Shabier Kirchner – Small Axe: Lovers Rock

Best Editing
Andy Canny – The Invisible Man
Kirk Baxter – Mank
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland
Mikkel E.G. Nielsen – Sound of Metal
Alan Baumgarten – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Score
Terence Blanchard – Da 5 Bloods
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Mank
Alexandre Desplat – The Midnight Sky
Emile Mosseri – Minari
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Soul

Breakthrough Director
Max Barbakow – Palm Springs
Radha Blank – The Forty-Year Old Version
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Darius Marder – Sound of Metal
Florian Zeller – The Father

Breakthrough Performance
Kiera Allen – Run
Sidney Flanigan – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Paul Raci – Sound of Metal
Talia Ryder – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Isabel Sandoval – Lingua Franca

The Florida Film Critics Circle Honors First Cow!


The Florida Film Critics Circle today announced their picks for the best of 2020!  You can check out a full list of nominees here.  Meanwhile, the winners are below!

Best Picture: First Cow

Best Actor: Anthony Hopkins in The Father  (Runner-Up: John Magaro in First Cow)

Best Actress: Frances McDormand in Nomadland (Runner-up: Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)

Best Supporting Actor: Paul Raci in the Sound of Metal (Runner-up: Brian Dennehy in Driveways)

Best Supporting Actress: Maria Bakalova in Borat Subsequent Movie Film (Runner-up: Yuh-Jung Youn in Minari)

Best Ensemble: Mangrove (Runner-Up: The Trial of the Chicago 7)

Best Director: Chloe Zhao for Nomand Land (runner-up: Kelley Reichardt for First Cow and Aaron Sorkin The Trial of the Chicago 7)

Best Original Screenplay: Lee Isaac Chung for Minari (runner-up: Sorkin)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Charlie Kaufman for I’m Thinking of Ending Things (Runners-up: Chloe Zhao for Nomadland, Ruben Santiago-Hudson for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)

Best Cinematography — Erik Messerschmidt for Mank (Runner-up: Shabier Kirchner for Lovers Rock)

Best Visual Effects: Murray Barber for Possessor (runner-up: Andrew Jackson for Tenet)

Best Art Direction: Dan Webster for Mank (Runner-up: Adam Marshall for Lovers Rock)

Best Score: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste for Soul (runner-up: Ludwig Goransson for Tenet)

Best Documentary: You Don’t Nomi (Runner-up: Dick Johnson is Dead)

Best Foreign Language Film: Los Fuertes (runner-up: Minari)

Best Animated Film: Soul (runner-up: Wolfwalkers)

Best First Film: Promising Young Woman (runner-up: The Father)

Breakout Award: Sidney Flanigan for Never Rarely Sometimes Always (runner-up: Maria Bakalova for that Borat movie)

The Golden Orange Award: Enzian Theater

Here Are The 2020 Florida Film Critics Circle Nominations!


The Florida Film Critics Circle announced their nominees for the best of 2020 earlier today!

All I can say is “Thank you, Florida, for doing the right thing!”  Seriously, the best films of 2020 should be announced in December of 2020 and January of 2021.  This whole extended eligibility window that a lot of groups are doing because of the pandemic is idiotic.

Another thing that I’ve noticed is that the late Brian Dennehy has been getting some critical support for his final performance in Driveways.  (I’ll be seeing Driveways next week.)  It would be interesting if both Denney and Chadwick Boseman landed nominations.  I’m not sure which year holds the record for the most posthumous nominations but, if both Boseman and Denney were nominated for Oscars, it would be the first time that there was more than one posthumous acting nominee.

Here’s the nominees.  The winners will be announced on the 21st!

BEST PICTURE
First Cow
Nomadland
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Minari

BEST ACTOR
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
John Magaro – First Cow
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal

BEST ACTRESS
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Carrie Coon – The Nest
Elisabeth Moss – Shirley
Frances McDormand – Nomadland
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Chadwick Boseman – Da 5 Bloods
Paul Raci – Sound of Metal
Brian Dennehy – Driveways
Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Bill Murray – On the Rocks

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Swankie – Nomadland
Yuh-Jung Youn – Minari
Jane Adams – She Dies Tomorrow

BEST ENSEMBLE
Mangrove
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Minari

BEST DIRECTOR
Florian Zeller – The Father
Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Peter Docter/ Kemp Powers/Mike Jones – Soul
Jack Fincher – Mank
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Ruben Santiago-Hudson – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Jon Raymond/ Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Florian Zeller/Christopher Hampton – The Father
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland
Charlie Kaufman – I’m Thinking of Ending Things

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Shabier Kirchner – Lovers Rock
Hoyte van Hoytema – Tenet
Victor Kossakovsky/Egil Håskjold Larsen – Gunda
Erik Messerschmidt – Mank
Joshua James Richards – Nomadland

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Andrew Jackson – Tenet
Mark Bakowski – The Midnight Sky
Murray Barber – Possessor

BEST ART DIRECTION/PRODUCTIOIN
Dan Webster – Mank
Kirby Feagan – Shirley
Adam Marshall – Lovers Rock

BEST SCORE
Ludwig Göransson – Tenet
William Tyler – First Cow
Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross/Jon Batiste – Soul
Alexandre Desplat – The Midnight Sky

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Dick Johnson is Dead
Gunda
You Don’t Nomi
Time
David Byrne’s American Utopia

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Los Fuertes
Those Who Remained
Minari
The Painted Bird
Dry Wind

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Wolfwalkers
Soul
Ride Your Wave
The Wolf House
Over the Moon

BEST FIRST FILM
Promising Young Woman
The Forty-Year-Old Version
Relic
The Father
Some Kind of Heaven

BREAKOUT AWARD
Sidney Flanigan – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Odessa Young – Shirley
Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Marin Ireland – The Dark and the Wicked
Lucas Jaye – Driveways

THE GOLDEN ORANGE AWARD
ENZIAN Theater
Keisha Rae Witherspoon
Amy Seimetz

The Boston Society of Film Critics Honors Nomadland


Like all things this year, 2020’s Awards Season is a bit strange.  Because the Academy foolishly decided to extend the Oscar-eligibility window to February, several groups sold out and moved their annual awards back as well.  The National Board of Review, for instance, won’t be giving out their awards until February or something stupid like that.

Fortunately, some groups — like the Boston Society of Film Critics — are continuing to honor the best of 2020 at the end of 2020.  I love these groups because they’re reminding us that these awards are supposed to be about the movies and not about influencing the Academy.  I mean — seriously, the best films of 2020 should be films that came out in 2020, not films that came out in 2020 and the first two months of 2021.

On that note, earlier today, the Boston Society of Film Critics announced their picks for the best of 2020.

And here they are:

Best Picture
Nomadland
Runners Up: First Cow

Best Foreign Language Film
La Llorona
Runner Up – The Painted Bird

Best Director
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland
Runner Up: Kelly Reichardt – First Cow

Best Ensemble
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Runner Up: Minari

Best Actor
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
Runner Up: Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal

Best Actress
Sidney Flanigan – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
​Runner Up: Julia Garner – The Assistant

Best Supporting Actor
Paul Raci – Sound of Metal
Runner Up: Brian Dennehy – Driveways

Best Supporting Actress
Youn Yuh-jung – Minari
Runner Up: Amanda Seyfried – Mank

Best Screenplay
I’m Thinking Of Ending Things
​Runner Up: First Cow

Best New Filmmaker
Florian Zeller – The Father
Runner Up: Autumn de Wilde – Emma.

Best Documentary
Collective
​Runner Up: The Painter & The Thief

Best Animated Feature
The Wolf House
​Runner Up: Wolfwalkers

Best Cinematography
Nomadland
Runner Up: Lover’s Rock

Best Editing
I’m Thinking Of Ending Things
Runner Up: Nomadland

Best Score
Minari
Runner Up: Mank

18 Days of Paranoia #12: Best Seller (dir by John Flynn)


The 1987 film, Best Seller, tells the story of two men, both equally capable of violence but with two very different moral codes.

Dennis Meechum (Brian Dennehy) is a cop who also writes true crime.  In the early 70s, he was the one of several cops who were attacked by a group of gunmen who were all wearing Richard Nixon masks.  Though he was shot, Meechum survived and he even managed to stab one his assailants.  15 years later, Meechum is still haunted by the incident.  Meechum is a brawler who doesn’t have much time for nonsense but he also has a strong moral code (or so he thinks).

Cleve (James Woods) talks fast and always seems like he’s a little bit nervous.  He has a quick smile and a joke for almost every occasion.  He’s also a professional assassin, a sociopath who is very interested in Dennis.  Cleve has spent the majority of his life working for a powerful businessman named David Madlock (Paul Shenar) but he’s recently been laid off.  Cleve wants revenge and he thinks that Dennis can help him get it.

Together …. THEY FIGHT CRIME!

Well, actually, they kind of do.  Madlock’s done a lot of illegal stuff and Cleve and Dennis are exposing him, his crooked corporation, and all of his powerful connections.  However, what Cleve really wants is for Dennis to write a best seller about his life.  Cleve wants Dennis to write his story and most importantly, he wants Dennis to make him the hero.  Dennis is still a cop and says that once all this is over, he’s going to have to arrest Cleve.  Of course, eventually, he discovers that Cleve was the man who shot him 15 years earlier.  At that point, Dennis says that he’s going to have to kill Cleve once all of this is over.

As a crime thriller, Best Seller hits all of the expected beats.  As soon as we find out that Dennis is a widower and that he has a teenage daughter, we know that she’s eventually going to be taken prisoner by the bad guys.  For that matter, we can also guess that there will be a few scenes where Cleve insists that Dennis is just like him.  When Cleve starts telling people that Dennis is his brother, it’s a fun scene because it’s well-acted by both Woods and Dennehy but it’s not exactly surprising.

But no matter!  Though the the overall plot may be predictable, there’s enough clever little twists and details that the film holds your interest.  For instance, there’s an extended sequence where Dennis insists that Cleve introduce him to his family.  For the next few minutes, the film stops being an action thriller and instead becomes a bit of a domestic comedy as Dennis meets Cleve’s friendly family, none of whom are aware that Cleve is a ruthless killer.  The stuff with Cleve’s family doesn’t move the plot forward but your happy it’s there because 1) James Woods gives a great performance in those scenes and 2) it suggests that the film (which was written by Larry Cohen and directed by John Flynn, who was previously responsible for the brilliant Rolling Thunder) has more on its mind than just shooting people.

The main reason why Best Seller works so well is because the two leads are perfectly cast.  Brian Dennehy was born to play tough cops while James Woods gives one of his best performances as the unstable but likable Cleve.  I’ve actually had people get made at me for saying that James Woods is a good actor, simply because they disagree with his politics.  But, when it comes to art and talent, I don’t care about anyone’s politics.  (I mean, if I only watched movies starring people whose politics where approved by Film Twitter, I would end up spending the entire pandemic watching romantic comedies starring Alec Baldwin and Rosie O’Donnell and why should I suffer like that?)  James Woods is a good actor and he’s great in Best Seller.

Other Entries In The 18 Days Of Paranoia:

  1. The Flight That Disappeared
  2. The Humanity Bureau
  3. The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover
  4. The Falcon and the Snowman
  5. New World Order
  6. Scandal Sheet
  7. Cuban Rebel Girls
  8. The French Connection II
  9. Blunt: The Fourth Man 
  10. The Quiller Memorandum
  11. Betrayed

A Real American Hero (1978, directed by Lou Antonio)


Based on the title, you might think this made-for-TV movie is about G.I. Joe but instead it’s about Buford Pusser, the club-wielding sheriff who battled bootleggers in Tennessee and who might have been murdered by them.  While he was still alive, Pusser was played by Joe Don Baker in the original Walking Tall.  After Pusser’s mysterious death, Bo Svenson took over the role for two sequels and a Walking Tall television series in 1981.  Meanwhile, in A Real American Hero, the role is played by Brian Dennehy.

Though Pusser may be played by a different actor than in the original movies, A Real American Hero finds him still dealing with same threats.  As a result of getting some bad moonshine at the Dixie Disco, two teenagers are dead and two are blind.  Buford is determined to take down the owner of the Disco, Danny Boy Mitchell (Ken Howard).  Unfortunately for Buford, Danny Boy has a mole in the sheriff’s department and always manages to clean up his club before Buford arrives.  When Buford does arrest Danny, the case is thrown out of court because Buford didn’t have probable cause or any real evidence beyond hearsay.

Buford’s solution is to start enforcing every single law on the books, even the ones that haven’t been relevant for over a century.  Buford knows that stopping Danny Boy for a misdemeanor would give him probable cause to search him for any evidence of smuggling moonshine.  For instance, Buford pulls Danny Boy over because he’s driving a vehicle but, in violation of a law written in 1908, he doesn’t have a man walking in front of the car and waving a red flag.  Another time, he gives Danny Boy a ticket because, in violation of a law from 1888, he never ties his carriage to a hitching post and a law written in 1910 legally defines all cars as being carriages.

The problem is that, if Buford only enforces the law against Danny Boy, he could be accused of police harassment.  So, everyone in the country has to be held to the same standard, which means that everyone in town is soon getting ticketed and jailed for the minor offenses as Danny Boy and his associates.  Everyone gets angry with Buford but, after Danny Boy tries to assassinate the sheriff while he’s got his kids in the car, they change their minds and support being overpoliced.

A Real American Hero was obviously an early attempt at a pilot for a Buford Pusser TV series.  Bulky Brian Dennehy is physically right for Buford but he’s never as convincing a redneck as Joe Don Baker was in the role.  Plus, it’s impossible to watch Dennehy hauling people into court for not hitching their “horseless carriages” without being reminded of Dennehy harassing Sylvester Stallone at the start of First Blood.  Despite a subplot where Pusser tries to help a former prostitute re-enter society, Buford comes across more like a jerk than a real American hero.  Meanwhile, Ken Howard does his best but Danny Boy is still just a generic television bad guy.  If he wasn’t selling moonshine in Buford’s county, he’d probably be further down south, trying to frame the Duke boys for a bank robbery.

This one is for Walking Tall completists only.