What If Oscar Season Started And No One Noticed, Part 2: Here Are The Gotham Award Nominations


As a sign of how wrapped up I am in this year’s Horrorthon, consider this: the 2021 Gotham Nominations — the first precursor of Awards Season! — were announced on Thursday and I totally missed them!  This is actually not the first year that this has happened.  October is a busy month for me and sometimes, the Gotham noms get missed.

The Gothams, of course, only honor independent films and they have pretty strict rules as far as what they consider to be independent.  The budget has to come in at a certain relatively low amount, for one thing.  So, as a result, a lot of Oscar nominees are not Gotham eligible.  But, at the same time, those Gotham rules also allow some films that otherwise might get overlooked a chance to get some precursor love.  Being nominated for a Gotham is hardly a guarantee that the Academy will remember you.  But it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Better late than never, here are the 2021 Gotham Nominations!  As you’ll notice, the Gotham’s performance awards are gender neutral.  This is the first year that the Gothams have done this.  They also added categories for supporting performances and best performance in a series.

Anyway, here are the nominees:

Best Feature
“The Green Knight”
“The Lost Daughter”
“Passing”
“Pig”
“Test Pattern”

Best Documentary Feature
“Ascension”
“Faya Dayi”
“Flee”
“President”
“Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”

Best International Feature
“Azor”
“Drive My Car”
“The Souvenir Part II”
Titane
“What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?”
“The Worst Person In The World”

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Maggie Gyllenhaal for “The Lost Daughter”
Edson Oda for “Nine Days”
Rebecca Hall for “Passing”
Emma Seligman for “Shiva Baby”
Shatara Michelle Ford for “Test Pattern”

Best Screenplay
“The Card Counter,” Paul Schrader
“El Planeta,” Amalia Ulman
“The Green Knight,” David Lowery
“The Lost Daughter,” Maggie Gyllenhaal
“Passing,” Rebecca Hall
“Red Rocket,” Sean Baker & Chris Bergoch

Outstanding Lead Performance
Olivia Colman in “The Lost Daughter”
Frankie Faison in “The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain”
Michael Greyeyes in “Wild Indian”
Brittany S. Hall in “Test Pattern”
Oscar Isaac in “The Card Counter”
Taylour Paige in “Zola”
Joaquin Phoenix in “C’mon C’mon”
Simon Rex in “Red Rocket”
Lili Taylor in “Paper Spiders”
Tessa Thompson in “Passing”

Outstanding Supporting Performance
Reed Birney in “Mass”
Jessie Buckley in “The Lost Daughter”
Colman Domingo in “Zola”
Gaby Hoffmann in “C’mon C’mon”
Troy Kotsur in “CODA”
Marlee Matlin in “CODA”
Ruth Negga in “Passing”

Breakthrough Performer
Emilia Jones in “CODA”
Natalie Morales in “Language Lessons”
Rachel Sennott in Shiva Baby”
Suzanna Son in “Red Rocket”
Amalia Ulman in “El Planeta”

Breakthrough Series – Long Format (over 40 minutes)
“The Good Lord Bird”
“It’s A Sin”
“Small Axe”
“Squid Game”
“The Underground Railroad”
“The White Lotus”

Breakthrough Series – Short Format (under 40 minutes)
“Blindspotting”
“Hacks”
“Reservation Dogs”
“Run the World”
“We Are Lady Parts”

Breakthrough Nonfiction Series
“City So Real”
“Exterminate All the Brutes”
“How To with John Wilson”
“Philly D.A.”
“Pride”

Outstanding Performance in a New Series
Jennifer Coolidge in “The White Lotus”
Michael Greyeyes in “Rutherford Falls”
Ethan Hawke in “The Good Lord Bird”
Devery Jacobs in “Reservation Dogs”
Lee Jung-jae in “Squid Game”
Thuso Mbedu in “The Underground Railroad”
Jean Smart in “Hacks”
Omar Sy in “Lupin”
Anya Taylor-Joy in “The Queen’s Gambit”
Anjana Vasan in “We Are Lady Parts”

Horror TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead 7.1 “The Beacon” (dir by Michael E. Stratazemis)


Reviewing Fear The Walking Dead’s seventh and final season is going to be difficult for me.

You have to understand that I’ve only seen a few episodes of Fear The Walking Dead. I watched the first two or three episodes of the first season. Then I got bored. I tried to watch the second season. I got bored. I was determined to watch the third season but I changed my mind halfway through the season premiere. Again, I got bored Seasons 4, 5, and 6, I didn’t even try. I was exhausted with zombies and, even more importantly, I was exhausted with the world of The Walking Dead.

But I am going to try to watch season 7 because it’s the final season. With both The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead reaching their conclusions, a pop cultural era is coming to an end. And so, despite not having the slightest idea what’s going on or who the majority of the characters, I’m going to attempt to watch and review Fear The Walking Dead.

Fear the Walking Dead‘s seventh season premiered last Sunday. I only got around to watching it today because I may be determined but I’m not particularly enthusiastic. “What,” I asked myself, “can this show possibly provide me with that The Walking Dead and countless other zombie films haven’t?”

As if to answer my question, Fear the Walking Dead opened with several atomic warheads exploding. Certainly, there have been other zombie films that have opened with nuclear bombs going off. Fear the Walking Dead, though, may be the first television show to do so at the start of its seventh season. On the one hand, the people incinerated did not return as walkers. However, those who died of radiation poisoning did. Seriously, that’s a terrifying through. Radiation poisoning is a bad enough way to die without spending the entire time knowing that, once you do die, you’re going to return as a zombie.

The majority of the show’s regular cast did not appear in the first episode, which was fine with me since I don’t really don’t know who any of them are. Instead, the episode centered around Strand (Colman Domingo), a regular character who had kind of set himself up as a warlord over the radioactive landscape and Will (Gus Halper), a wanderer who was eventually picked up by Strand’s men. At first, Strand had little use for Will but then Strand discovered that Will knew Alicia. I, of course, don’t know Alicia but this is all stuff for which I’ll have a better understanding after a few episodes. What’s important is that it was obvious that Alicia was important to Strand.

Fortunately, I didn’t really need to understand all of the backstory in order to enjoy this episode. The Beacon, as the premiere was entitled, was a visual triumph, with the nuclear hellscape becoming as important of a character as either Strand or Will. The inevitable battle between Will, Strand, and a group of walkers was also nicely handled, with the shadowy walkers emerging from a dark mist in a style that brought to mind John Carpenter’s The Fog. In this episode, the walkers were frightening in a way that they rarely were in the recent episodes of The Walking Dead.

As for Strand and Will, Domingo and Halper did a good job playing opposite each other. They’re both intriguing characters. Unfortunately, the script was full of clunky dialogue, which seems to be an issue on all of the shows that make up The Walking Dead universe. Still, the episode was visually impressive and well-acted so I’m going to continue to watch the final season of Fear The Walking Dead and, after a few more episodes, I will hopefully actually know what’s going on.

The Black Reel Awards Honor Judas and the Black Messiah


The 2020 winners of the Black Reel Awards have been announced, with Judas and the Black Messiah taking the prize for best film.

Here are all the nominees and winners:

OUTSTANDING MOTION PICTURE
DA 5 BLOODS
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
SOUL

OUTSTANDING ACTOR
KINGSLEY BEN-ADIR – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
CHADWICK BOSEMAN – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
DELROY LINDO – DA 5 BLOODS
ROB MORGAN – BULL
LAKEITH STANFIELD – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS
NICOLE BEHARIE – MISS JUNETEENTH
VIOLA DAVIS – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
ANDRA DAY – THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY
TESSA THOMPSON – SYLVIE’S LOVE
ZENDAYA – MALCOLM & MARIE

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR
RADHA BLANK – THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION
REGINA KING – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
SHAKA KING – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
SPIKE LEE – DA 5 BLOODS
CHANNING GODFREY PEOPLES – MISS JUNETEENTH

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR
CHADWICK BOSEMAN – DA 5 BLOODS
COLMAN DOMINGO – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
ALDIS HODGE – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
DANIEL KALUUYA – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
LESLIE ODOM JR. – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS
ALEXIS CHIKAEZE – MISS JUNETEENTH
DOMINIQUE FISHBACK – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
KIKI LAYNE – THE OLD GUARD
TRACEE ELLIS ROSS – THE HIGH NOTE
GABOUREY SIDIBE – ANTEBELLUM

OUTSTANDING SCREENPLAY
THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION – RADHA BLANK
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH – WILL BERSON & SHAKA KING
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM – RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI – KEMP POWERS
SOUL – PETE DOCTER, MIKE JONES & KEMP POWERS

OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY
JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE
MLK/FBI
TIME
THE WAY I SEE IT

OUTSTANDING FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
HIS HOUSE
NIGHT OF THE KINGS
THE LIFE AHEAD

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE
DA 5 BLOODS
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
MISS JUNETEENTH
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI

OUTSTANDING VOICE PERFORMANCE
ANGELA BASSETT – SOUL
JAMIE FOXX – SOUL
MAYA RUDOLPH – THE WILLOUGHBYS
OCTAVIA SPENCER – ONWARD
PHYLICIA RASHAD – SOUL

OUTSTANDING SCORE
THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION – GUY C. ROUTTE
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY – JOHN DEBNEY
THE PHOTOGRAPH – ROBERT GLASPER
SOUL – TRENT REZNOR, ATTICUS ROSS & JON BATISTE
SYLVIE’S LOVE – FABRICE LECOMTE

OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL SONG
FIGHT FOR YOU – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
MAKE IT WORK – JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY
POVERTY PORN – THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION
SPEAK NOW – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
TIGRESS & TWEED – THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY

OUTSTANDING INDEPENDENT FEATURE
AMERICAN SKIN
FAREWELL AMOR
THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION
MISS JUNETEENTH
SYLVIE’S LOVE

OUTSTANDING SHORT FILM
BROTHER
CANVAS
THE CYPHER
GRAB MY HAND: A LETTER TO MY DAD
THE PANDEMIC CHRONICLES

OUTSTANDING INDEPENDENT DOCUMENTARY
MR. SOUL!
THE SIT-IN: HARRY BELAFONTE HOSTS THE TONIGHT SHOW
WITH DRAWN ARMS

OUTSTANDING EMERGING DIRECTOR
EUGENE ASHE – SYLVIE’S LOVE
RADHA BLANK – THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION
REGINA KING – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
SHAKA KING – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
CHANNING GODFREY PEOPLES – MISS JUNETEENTH

OUTSTANDING BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE, MALE
YAHYA ABDUL-MANTEEN II – THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
KINGSLEY BEN-ADIR – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
DUSAN BROWN – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
ELI GOREE – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
NTARE MWINE – FAREWELL AMOR

OUTSTANDING BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE, FEMALE
RADHA BLANK – THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION
ALEXIS CHIKAEZE – MISS JUNETEENTH
ANDRA DAY – THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY
DOMINIQUE FISHBACK – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
ZENDAYA – MALCOLM & MARIE

OUTSTANDING FIRST SCREENPLAY
THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION – RADHA BLANK
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM – RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON
MISS JUNETEENTH – CHANNING PEOPLES GODFREY
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI – KEMP POWERS
SYLVIE’S LOVE – EUGENE ASHE

OUTSTANDING CINEMATOGRAPHY
DA 5 BLOODS
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
MALCOLM & MARIE
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
TENET

OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
SYLVIE’S LOVE
THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION DESIGN
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
TENET

Here Are the 2020 Nominations Of The Black Reel Awards!


The Black Reel Awards announced their nominees for the best of 2020 today.  The winners will be announced on April 11th.  The nominees can be found below:

OUTSTANDING MOTION PICTURE
DA 5 BLOODS
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
SOUL

OUTSTANDING ACTOR
KINGSLEY BEN-ADIR – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
CHADWICK BOSEMAN – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
DELROY LINDO – DA 5 BLOODS
ROB MORGAN – BULL
LAKEITH STANFIELD – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS
NICOLE BEHARIE – MISS JUNETEENTH
VIOLA DAVIS – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
ANDRA DAY – THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY
TESSA THOMPSON – SYLVIE’S LOVE
ZENDAYA – MALCOLM & MARIE

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR
RADHA BLANK – THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION
REGINA KING – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
SHAKA KING – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
SPIKE LEE – DA 5 BLOODS
CHANNING GODFREY PEOPLES – MISS JUNETEENTH

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR
CHADWICK BOSEMAN – DA 5 BLOODS
COLMAN DOMINGO – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
ALDIS HODGE – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
DANIEL KALUUYA – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
LESLIE ODOM JR. – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS
ALEXIS CHIKAEZE – MISS JUNETEENTH
DOMINIQUE FISHBACK – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
KIKI LAYNE – THE OLD GUARD
TRACEE ELLIS ROSS – THE HIGH NOTE
GABOUREY SIDIBE – ANTEBELLUM

OUTSTANDING SCREENPLAY
THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION – RADHA BLANK
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH – WILL BERSON & SHAKA KING
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM – RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI – KEMP POWERS
SOUL – PETE DOCTER, MIKE JONES & KEMP POWERS

OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY
JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE
MLK/FBI
TIME
THE WAY I SEE IT

OUTSTANDING FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
HIS HOUSE
NIGHT OF THE KINGS
THE LIFE AHEAD

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE
DA 5 BLOODS
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
MISS JUNETEENTH
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI

OUTSTANDING VOICE PERFORMANCE
ANGELA BASSETT – SOUL
JAMIE FOXX – SOUL
MAYA RUDOLPH – THE WILLOUGHBYS
OCTAVIA SPENCER – ONWARD
PHYLICIA RASHAD – SOUL

OUTSTANDING SCORE
THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION – GUY C. ROUTTE
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY – JOHN DEBNEY
THE PHOTOGRAPH – ROBERT GLASPER
SOUL – TRENT REZNOR, ATTICUS ROSS & JON BATISTE
SYLVIE’S LOVE – FABRICE LECOMTE

OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL SONG
FIGHT FOR YOU – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
MAKE IT WORK – JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY
POVERTY PORN – THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION
SPEAK NOW – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
TIGRESS & TWEED – THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY

OUTSTANDING INDEPENDENT FEATURE
AMERICAN SKIN
FAREWELL AMOR
THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION
MISS JUNETEENTH
SYLVIE’S LOVE

OUTSTANDING SHORT FILM
BROTHER
CANVAS
THE CYPHER
GRAB MY HAND: A LETTER TO MY DAD
THE PANDEMIC CHRONICLES

OUTSTANDING INDEPENDENT DOCUMENTARY
MR. SOUL!
THE SIT-IN: HARRY BELAFONTE HOSTS THE TONIGHT SHOW
WITH DRAWN ARMS

OUTSTANDING EMERGING DIRECTOR
EUGENE ASHE – SYLVIE’S LOVE
RADHA BLANK – THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION
REGINA KING – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
SHAKA KING – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
CHANNING GODFREY PEOPLES – MISS JUNETEENTH

OUTSTANDING BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE, MALE
YAHYA ABDUL-MANTEEN II – THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
KINGSLEY BEN-ADIR – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
DUSAN BROWN – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
ELI GOREE – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
NTARE MWINE – FAREWELL AMOR

OUTSTANDING BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE, FEMALE
RADHA BLANK – THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION
ALEXIS CHIKAEZE – MISS JUNETEENTH
ANDRA DAY – THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY
DOMINIQUE FISHBACK – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
ZENDAYA – MALCOLM & MARIE

OUTSTANDING FIRST SCREENPLAY
THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION – RADHA BLANK
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM – RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON
MISS JUNETEENTH – CHANNING PEOPLES GODFREY
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI – KEMP POWERS
SYLVIE’S LOVE – EUGENE ASHE

OUTSTANDING CINEMATOGRAPHY
DA 5 BLOODS
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
MALCOLM & MARIE
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
TENET

OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
SYLVIE’S LOVE
THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION DESIGN
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
TENET

Here Are The Nominees For the 2020 NAACP Image Awards!


The NAACP has announced their nominees for the 2020 Image Awards!

And here they are:

Outstanding Motion Picture
Bad Boys For Life
Da 5 Bloods
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
One Night In Miami…

Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture
David E. Talbert – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
George C. Wolfe – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Gina Prince-Bythewood – The Old Guard
Radha Blank – The Forty-Year-Old Version
Regina King – One Night In Miami…

Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
Anthony Mackie – The Banker
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods
Forest Whitaker – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Will Smith – Bad Boys For Life

Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture
Issa Rae – The Photograph
Janelle Monáe – Antebellum
Madalen Mills – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Tracee Ellis Ross – The High Note
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Aldis Hodge – One Night In Miami…
Chadwick Boseman – Da 5 Bloods
Clarke Peters – Da 5 Bloods
Colman Domingo – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Glynn Turman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Anika Noni Rose – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Gabourey Sidibe – Antebellum
Nia Long – The Banker
Phylicia Rashad – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Taylour Paige – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture
David E. Talbert – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Kemp Powers – One Night In Miami…
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Pete Docter, Kemp Powers & Mike Jones – Soul
Radha Blank – The Forty-Year-Old Version

Outstanding Independent Motion Picture
Emperor
Farewell Amor
Miss Juneteenth
The 24th
The Banker

Outstanding International Motion Picture
Ainu Mosir
His House
Night of the Kings
The Last Tree
The Life Ahead

Outstanding Breakthrough Performance in a Motion Picture
Dayo Okeniyi – Emperor
Dominique Fishback – Project Power
Jahi Di’Allo Winston – Charm City Kings
Jahzir Bruno – The Witches
Madalen Mills – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture
Da 5 Bloods
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Soul
The Banker

Outstanding Animated Motion Picture
Onward
Over the Moon
Scoob!
Soul
Trolls World Tour

Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance – Motion Picture
Ahmir-Khalib Thompson aka Questlove – Soul
Angela Bassett – Soul
Chris Rock – The Witches
Jamie Foxx – Soul
Phylicia Rashad – Soul

Outstanding Short Form (Live Action)
Baldwin Beauty
Black Boy Joy
Gets Good Light
Home
Mr. & Mrs. Ellis

Outstanding Short Form (Animated)
Canvas
Cops and Robbers
Loop
The Power of Hope
Windup

Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Motion Picture)
Loira Limbal – Through the Night
Melissa Haizlip – Mr. Soul!
Nadia Hallgren – Becoming
Radha Blank – The Forty-Year-Old Version
Remi Weekes – His House

Before anyone makes any jokes about that Best Picture nomination for Bad Boys For Life — hey, that was a fun movie.  If the Academy ever had gone through with that plan to start awarding an Oscar for Best Popular Film, I assume that Bad Boys For Life probably would have been contender.  Anyway, the winners of the Image Awards will be announced on March 27th so you’ve all got a lot of times to consider these nominees.

So, get to considering!

Lisa Marie Picks The 30 Top Films of 2020


Well, it’s finally time!  It’s time for me to announce my picks for the best films of 2020.

Before we begin, there is one thing I want to make clear.  Unlike the Academy, I did not extend my eligibility window.  Films like Nomadland, Minari, and The Father (amongst others) will undoubtedly be competing for the Oscar for Best Picture of 2020.  However, as far as I’m concerned, those are all 2021 films.  And I imagine that a few of them will probably appear on my best films of 2021 list.  However, the list below are my picks for the best films of 2020.  You’ll probably agree with some of my picks and disagree with some of the others.  As always, I welcome any and all comments.

Also, be sure to check out my picks for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019!  Wow, I’ve been doing this for a while!

And now, in descending order, my favorites of 2020!

30. Money Plane (dir by Andrew Lawrence) — Okay, I can sense that you’re already rolling your eyes at my list by seriously, Money Plane is such a cheerfully absurd and self-aware little B-movie that there’s no way I couldn’t include it.  Seriously, how can you not love a film that features Kelsey Grammer always a gangster known as the Rumble?  Basically, as soon as I heard that priceless declaration of “We are going to rob the Money Plane!,” this movie had me under its spell.

29. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (dir by George C. Wolfe) — Though this adaptation of August Wilson’s play never quite escapes its theatrical roots, no one can deny the powerful performances of Viola Davis, Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman, and especially Chadwick Boseman.  Boseman dominates the film from the minute that he makes his first appearance, playing an ambitious, troubled, and undeniably talented trumpeter.  Viola Davis plays Ma Rainey with the self-awareness of someone who knows that the record producers need her more than she needs them.  She has the power and she’s not going to let anyone get away with forgetting it.

28. The Invisible Man (dir by Leigh Wannell) — Before the Academy announced that they would be changing their rules to considers streaming movies, many critics speculated that one of the results of the pandemic would be The Invisible Man winning all of the Oscars.  Though they may have been joking, it was not as outlandish an idea as they seemed to think.  The Invisible Man is a horror film that proves that being a genre film does not mean that film can’t also be a good and thought-provoking work of art.  The Invisible Man breathes new life into a somewhat hokey premise and Elisabeth Moss gives a great performance as a woman stalked by her abusive (and now invisble) ex.  The Invisible Man features one of the best ending scenes of 2020.

27. The Hunt (dir by Craig Zobel) — Delayed due to a manufactured controversy and released to critical bafflement, The Hunt is a clever satire of our hyper-partisan and hyper-polarized society.  The film’s final twist is a clever commentary on social media drama and Hillary Swank steals the show with an unexpected cameo.

26. One Night In Miami (dir by Regina King) — I went back and forth on this one.  Based on a stage play, this film imagines what happened the night that Malcolm X, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke, and Muhammad Ali met in a Miami motel room.  There are a few times that the film is undoubtedly a bit too stagey for its own good and, early on, some of the dialogue is a bit too on the nose.  But the film has a cumulative power and, despite a few uneven moments, it’s ultimately an intriguing look at race, celebrity, and political activism in America.  A good deal of the film’s power is due to the ensemble.  While most of the awards chatter seems to be focused on Leslie Odom, Jr. as Sam Cooke, it’s Aldis Hodge’s Jim Brown who truly anchors the film.

25. Gunpowder Heart (dir by Camila Urrutia) — This raw and angry film from Guatemala was one of the more powerful films to be featured at 2020’s virtual South By Southwest.  In Guatemala City, Maria and her girlfriend Claudia are assaulted by three men.  Maria wants revenge, no mater what.  Claudia, the more cautious of the two, knows that Maria’s plans are going to end in tragedy and disaster but she also knows that there’s nothing she can do to stop her.  Gunpowder Heart isn’t always easy to watch but it’s undeniably powerful.

24. The Shock of the Future (dir by Marc Collin) — Taking place in 1978, this French film follows one day in the life of a composer named Ana (Alma Jodorowsky).  It’s a typical day — Anna wakes up, a friend comes by with the latest albums, Anna tries to compose music, she goes to a party, and she hears the newest music.  It’s a simple but effective celebration of both music and the thrill of having your entire creative life ahead of you.  Alma Jodorowsky is brilliant in the role of Anna.

23. She Dies Tomorrow (dir by Amy Seimetz) — This a disturbing mood piece about a woman who is convinced that she is going to die in a day.  Everyone who she meets also becomes convinced that they’re going to die within 24 hours.  Some of them go out of their way to make sure that it happens while others just wait for death to come.  Is it a mass delusion or is it something else?  The atmospheric film may raise more questions than it answers but it will definitely stick with you.

22. Driveways (dir by Andrew Ahn) — Kathy (Hong Chau) and her young son, Cody (Lucas Jaye), move into the home that was owned by Kathy’s deceased sister.  In his final film appearance, Brian Dennehy plays the gruff but caring neighbor who befriends both Cody and his mother.  This is a low-key but emotionally resonant film, elevated by Dennehy’s heartfelt performance.

21. Figurant (dir by Jan Vejnar) — Clocking in at 14 minutes, this unsettling but powerful French/Czech co-production tells the story of a quiet man (Denis Levant) who follows a group of younger men into a warehouse and who soon finds himself in uniform and on a battlefield.  Or is he?  It’s not an easy question to answer but this intriguing short film will keep you watching, guessing, and thinking.

20. What Did Jack Do? (dir by David Lynch) — David Lynch interrogates a monkey in an expressionistic train station.  The monkey talks about a chicken and sings a song about true love’s flame.  “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the communist party?” Lynch asks.  It’s a brilliant short film and really, it’s the sort of thing that only David Lynch, with his mix of earnestness and eccentricity, could have pulled off.  Technically, this film was made a few years ago but it only got it’s official premiere in 2020, when Netflix released it on Lynch’s birthday.

19. Red, White, and Blue (dir by Steven McQueen) — Steve McQueen’s Small Axe was made up of five short films.  Three of them appear on this list.  There’s been a lot of debate about whether or not the Small Axe films should be considered individual features or if they should be considered a miniseries.  Obviously, I see them as being individual features but, in the end, they’re brilliant and thought-provoking regardless of whether they’re television or film.  Red, White, and Blue takes a nuanced look at institutional racism and features an excellent lead performance from John Boyega.

18. Mr. Jones (dir by Agnieszka Holland) — A film that deserved more attention than it received, Mr. Jones tells the story of Gareth Jones, the Welsh journalist who, in 1933, discovered the truth about the state-sponsored famine that was killing millions in the Ukraine.  Despite his efforts, the press refused to report on what was really happening in the Ukraine and instead, an odious propagandist named Walter Duranty was awarded a Pulitzer prize for writing pro-Stalin stories that were later determined to be full of deliberate lies.  An important and heartfelt film, Mr. Jones features a subtle but effective lead performance from James Norton and a memorable supporting turn from Peter Sarsgaard, who plays Walter Duranty as a smug snake.

17. The Outpost (dir by Rod Lurie) — Based on a true story and directed by Rod Lurie, this film pays tribute to the men who have fought and died in America’s forgotten conflict, the War in Afghanistan.  Well-acted and doggedly unsentimental, The Outpost will literally leave you breathless.

16. Emma (dir by Autumn de Wilde) — The latest adaptation of Jane Austen’s much-adapted novel, Emma has a playful spirit that is lacking in so many other literary adaptations.  It also has a great performance from Anya Taylor-Joy, who makes the character of Emma Woodhouse her own.

15. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (dir by Eliza Hittman) — Two teenagers, Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) and her cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder), travel to New York City from Pennsylvania so that Autumn can get an abortion without having to get her parent’s consent.  Though I’m occasionally a bit skeptic of cinema verite, Never Rarely Sometimes Always makes good use of the style.  Far more than just being a film about abortion, it’s a character study of two people trying to survive in a harsh world.  The scene where the previously withdrawn Autumn is prodded to open up about her past is one of the most powerful of the year.

14. Possessor (dir by Brandon Cronenberg) — Brandon Cronenberg’s disturbing sci-fi/horror hybrid is not an easy film to explain or to even describe.  Questions of identity and betrayal are mixed with grotesque images of body horror and societal neglect.  By the end of the film, you’ll find yourself reconsidering everything that you previously assumed about the movie.  This one sticks with you, even though you may not want it to.  (How’s that for a recommendation?)

13. Horse Girl (dir by Jeff Baena) — This is a film that definitely deserved a bit more attention than it received.  Alison Brie gives a brave and sympathetic performance as someone who believes that she’s a clone who has been abducted by aliens.  Is she suffering from delusions brought on by a combination of loneliness and too much television?  Or is she right?  The film will leave you guessing.  While Brie is at the center of almost every scene, Molly Shannon also gives a good performance as one of Brie’s only friends.

12. Sound of Metal (dir by Darius Marder) — Riz Ahmed plays an occasionally obnoxious drummer who goes deaf.  Worried that Ahemd is going to relapse into drug use, his girlfriend and musical partner (Olivia Cooke) checks him into a rehab center for the deaf.  With the help of a sympathetic but no-nonsense counselor (Paul Raci), Ahmed struggles to come to accept the loss of sound and music from his life.  The three main performances elevate this film, making it one of the year’s best.  In the film’s best moments, we hear the world through Ahmed’s ears and experience what he’s experiencing.

11. Mangrove (dir by Steve McQueen) — The first film in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology tells the story of a true life court case.  Politically charged from beginning to end and leaving no doubt as to what the true stakes were in the case, Mangrove is the film that Trial of The Chicago 7 should have been.

10. Soul (dir by Peter Docter) — The latest from PIXAR made me cry as only a great PIXAR film can.  A music teacher named Joe (voices by Jamie Foxx) falls down a manhole shortly after winning his dream job in a jazz band.  Unwilling to die before performing on stage, Joe finds himself in the Great Before, assigned to teach an unborn soul named 22 (voiced by Tina Fey) what it means to be human …. okay, you know what?  This film has one of those plots that sounds silly if you try to explain it.  What matters is that it’s a heartfelt film that celebrates every minute of life.  Foxx and Fey both do wonderful voice work and the animation is as clever as always.  Plus, there’s a cat!

9. The Vast of Night (dir by Andrew Patterson) — This low-budget film is a wonderfully atmospheric look at what may or may not be an alien invasion taking place in the 1950s.  Featuring wonderfully naturalistic performances and an intelligent storyline, The Vast of Night is a triumph of the independent spirit.  I can’t wait to see what Andrew Patterson does next.

8. Lovers Rock (dir by Steve McQueen) — The 2nd film is Steve MQueen’s Small Axe anthology, Lovers Rock centers on one exhilarating house party.  Though the world outside of this party may be harsh and full of oppression and racism (a group of white teens shout racial slurs at one partygoer when she steps outside of the house), the world inside of the party is one of love, music, and celebration.

7. i’m thinking of ending things (dir by Charlie Kaufman) — A riddle wrapped in an enigma, i’m thinking of ending things features great performance from Jessie Buckley, Jesse Plemons, Toni Collette, and David Thewlis.  What starts out as an awkward drive to visit Plemons’s parents grows increasingly more and more surreal until the audience is left to wonder what is real, what is fantasy, and whether the majority of the film’s characters even exist.  This film plays out like a dream and stays with you long after it end.

6. Palm Springs (dir by Max Barbakow) — Perhaps the ultimate twist on Groundhog Day, Palm Springs is a thought-provoking comedic gem from Lonely Island Classic Pictures.  Andy Samberg, J.K. Simmons, and Cristin Milioti find themselves living the same day over and over again.  Each one reacts to their predicament in a different way.  It’ll make you laugh and then it’ll make you cry.  Revealing too much else about the plot would be a crime.  It’s on Hulu so go watch it.

5. The Assistant (dir by Kitty Green) — This infuriating and ultimately tragic film follows one day in the life of Jane (Julia Garner), a production assistant at a film company.  Though he’s never seen, Jane’s boss is clearly meant to be a fictionalized version of Harvey Weinstein.  Should Jane save her career or try to warn the actress that her boss has clearly set his eyes upon as his next victim?  The scene where the head of HR assures Jane that she needn’t worry about her boss’s behavior because “you’re not his type,” rings all too horribly true.  The Assistant was obviously designed to be a rallying call for #MeToo but sadly, today, it feels more like an obituary.

Bad Education

4. Bad Education (dir by Cory Finley) — All year, I have been lamenting the fact that Bad Education was bought by HBO and not Netflix.  If it had been released on Netflix, it would probably be an Oscar contender and Hugh Jackman would be in the hunt for his first Best Actor Oscar.  Instead, it aired on HBO and it had to settle for limited Emmy recognition.  It’s a shame because this film, which centers on embezzlement at one suburban school, was one of the best of 2020.  At a time when we’re being told not to question authority, Bad Education encourages us to question everything.  Along with being thought-provoking, it’s also occasionally laugh out loud funny.  Jackman is brilliant in the lead role.  Allison Janney is award-worthy as his partner-in-crime.  Ray Romano takes another step in proving that he’s more than just a sitcom actor.  All in all, this was a great movie.

3. First Cow (dir by Kelly Reichardt) — This melancholy tale follows two men who meet in Oregon in the 1820s and who become unlikely business partners.  Unfortunately, being partners means stealing milk from Toby Jones’s cow and thievery was even less appreciated in the 1820s than it is today. Featuring outstanding lead performances from Jon Magaro and Orion Lee, First Cow is a rewarding work of historical fiction.  Kelly Reichardt makes you feel as if you’ve woken up in the 1820s, even as she uses the past to comment upon the present.  This probably isn’t a film for everyone.  Reichardt’s style has always been more about observing than passing judgment.  But for viewers willing to stick with it, this deliberately paced film is a rewarding experience.

Finally, when it comes to the best film of the year, I’ve been going back and forth between two films.  In the end, I have to declare a tie.  In alphabetical order by title, here are the two best films of 2020:

2. The Girl With A Bracelet (dir by Stéphane Demoustier) — This French film is about a teenage girl who is on trial for murdering her best friend.  Whether or not she’s guilty is ultimately less important than why everyone has been so quick to accuse her in the first place.  Featuring an outstanding ensemble and an intelligent script, The Girl With A Bracelet will leave you thinking about …. well, everything.  It can currently be viewed on Prime.

1. Promising Young Woman (dir by Emerald Fennell) — When I first started watching this film, I worried that it might be too stylized to be effective.  But it soon became apparent the director/screenwriter Emerald Fennell and star Carey Mulligan both knew exactly what they needed to do to tell this story.  Mulligan plays a med school drop-out who is seeking her own unique style of revenge against not only the men who raped her best friend in college but also the people who Mulligan feels subsequently let her friend down.  Bo Burnham plays the pediatrician who asks Mulligan out on a date and who appears to be the perfect nice guy, the adorably awkward boyfriend who you you would expect to find in a 90s rom com.  Neither character turns out to be exactly who they initially appeared to be.  Promising Young Woman mixes genres that normally don’t go together, smashing together drama and comedy, and it’s just audacious enough to be one of the best films of the year.

 

 

TSL Looks Back at 2020:

  1. 2020 In Review: The Best of Lifetime (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  2. 12 Good Things I Saw On Television in 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  3. Lisa Marie’s Top 8 Novels of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  4. Lisa Marie’s Top 8 Non-Fiction Books of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  5. Lisa Marie’s 20 Favorite Songs of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  6. Lisa Marie’s 16 Worst Films of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  7. My Top 20 Albums of 2020 (Necromoonyeti)
  8. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems That I Saw In 2020 (Valerie Troutman)
  9. Top 10 Vintage Collections (Ryan C)
  10. Top 10 Contemporary Collections (Ryan C)
  11. Top 10 Original Graphic Novels (Ryan C)
  12. Top 10 Ongoing Series (Ryan C.)
  13. Top 10 Special Mentions (Ryan C.)
  14. Top Ten Single Issues (Ryan C)

Here Are The Film Independent Spirit Nominations!


Earlier today, the nominations for the Independent Spirit Awards were announced!  The winners will be announced on April 22nd so that’ll give all of us a lot of time to consider them.

Here are the nominees:

BEST FEATURE
First Cow
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Minari
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Nomadland

BEST FIRST FEATURE
I Carry You With Me
The Forty-Year-Old Version
Miss Juneteenth
Nine Days
Sound of Metal

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD – Given to the best feature made for under $500,000
The Killing of Two Lovers
La Leyenda Negra
Lingua Franca
Residue
Saint Frances

BEST DIRECTOR
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Eliza Hittman – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland

BEST SCREENPLAY
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Eliza Hittman – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Mike Makowsky – Bad Education
Alice Wu – The Half of It

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Kitty Green – The Assistant
Noah Hutton – Lapsis
Channing Godfrey Peoples – Miss Juneteenth
Andy Siara – Palm Springs
James Sweeney – Straight Up

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Jay Keitel – She Dies Tomorrow
Shabier Kirchner – Bull
Michael Latham – The Assistant
Hélène Louvart – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Joshua James Richards – Nomadland

BEST EDITING
Andy Canny – The Invisible Man
Scott Cummings – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Merawi Gerima – Residue
Enat Sidi – I Carry You With Me
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland

BEST FEMALE LEAD
Nicole Beharie – Miss Juneteenth
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Sidney Flanigan – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Julia Garner – The Assistant
Frances McDormand – Nomadland
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman

BEST MALE LEAD
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Adarsh Gourav – The White Tiger
Rob Morgan – Bull
Steven Yeun – Minari

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Alexis Chikaeze – Miss Juneteenth
Yeri Han – Minari
Valerie Mahaffey – French Exit
Talia Ryder – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Yuh-jung Youn – Minari

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Colman Domingo – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Orion Lee – First Cow
Paul Raci – Sound of Metal
Glynn Turman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Benedict Wong – Nine Days

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD – Given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast
One Night in Miami…
Director: Regina King
Casting Directors: Kimberly R. Hardin
Ensemble Cast: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom Jr.

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Collective
Crip Camp
Dick Johnson is Dead
The Mole Agent
Time

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM (Award given to the director)
Bacurau
The Disciple
Night of the Kings
Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time
Quo Vadis, Aida?

PRODUCERS AWARD – The Producers Award, now in its 24th year, honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality independent films.
Kara Durrett
Lucas Joaquin
Gerry Kim

SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The Someone to Watch Award, now in its 27th year, recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition.
David Midell – Director of The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain
Ekwa Msangi – Director of Farewell Amor
Annie Silverstein – Director of Bull

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD – The Truer Than Fiction Award, now in its 26th year, is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition.
Cecilia Aldarondo – Director of Landfall
Elegance Bratton – Director of Pier Kids
Elizabeth Lo – Director of Stray

TV CATEGORIES

BEST NEW NON-SCRIPTED OR DOCUMENTARY SERIES
Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children
City So Real
Immigration Nation
Love Fraud
We’re Here

BEST NEW SCRIPTED SERIES
I May Destroy You
Little America
Small Axe
A Teacher
Unorthodox

BEST FEMALE PERFORMANCE IN A NEW SCRIPTED SERIES
Elle Fanning – The Great
Shira Haas – Unorthodox
Abby McEnany -Work in Progress
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan – Never Have I Ever
Jordan Kristine Seamón – We Are Who We Are

BEST MALE PERFORMANCE IN A NEW SCRIPTED SERIES
Conphidance – Little America
Adam Ali – Little America
Nicco Annan – P-Valley
Amit Rahav – Unorthodox
Harold Torres – Zero, Zero, Zero

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST IN A NEW SCRIPTED SERIES
I May Destroy You
Ensemble Cast: Michaela Coel, Paapa Essiedu, Wruche Opia,
Stephen Wight

The Films of 2020: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (dir by George C. Wolfe)


The year is 1927 and the place is Chicago.  6 men are in a claustrophobic recording studio, waiting for the arrival of blues singer Ma Rainey (Viola Davis).  While Ma’s agent, Irv (Jeremy Shamos) and studio owner Mel Sturdyvant (Johnny Coyne) wait upstairs, the members of Ma’s band gather in the rehearsal room.  They’ve been given a list of songs to rehearse.  As is quickly made clear, the band doesn’t have much say about which songs they’re going to perform and record.  In fact, Irv and Mel pretty much go out of their way to have as little contact with the black musicians as possible.

The band is made up of Cutler (Colman Domingo), Slow Drag (Michael Potts), Toledo (Glynn Turman), and a trumpet player named Levee (Chadwick Boseman).  Cutler may be their unofficial leader but Levee is the most outspoken.  Levee is sick of playing what he calls “jug band music.”  He’s written his own songs and he’s shown them to Sturdyvant.  He’s convinced that he’s going to start his own band and that he’s going to become a bigger star than Ma Rainey ever was.  The rest of the band views Levee with a mix of humor and distrust.

As for Ma, she arrives an hour late, accompanied by her girlfriend Dussie (Taylor Paige) and her nephew, Sylvester (Dusan Brown).  She doesn’t apologize for being late and, as soon as she arrives, she starts to make her voice heard.  She wants Sylvester to perform a spoken word intro on the record, despite the fact that Sylvester stutters.  When Irv and Sturdyvant fail to bring her a coke, she brings recording to a halt until she gets one.  She argues about which songs she wants to record and she reprimands Levee for trying to change the arrangement of one of her songs.  Ma’s difficult but, as she explains it, she has to be difficult.  Irv and Sturdyvant don’t care about her, they don’t care about what her music is actually about, and they certainly don’t care about paying her what she deserves.  Irv may claim to care about her but, as Ma tells Cutler, he’s only invited her to his home once and that was so she could sing for his white friends.  When they’re in the recording studio, Ma has all of the power and she’s not going to let anyone forget it.

Meanwhile, the members of the band continue to talk among themselves with the conversation always coming back to what it takes to survive in a society run by white people.  The three older men seem to have accepted that the world is what it is and that’s it’s never going to change but Levee believes that he has a future.  When the other members of the band poke fun at him for the obsequious way that he talks to Sturdyvant, Levee discusses the horrifying trauma of his past.  As the recording sessions continues, tempers start to flare until finally, the film climaxes in an act of sudden violence.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is based on a play by August Wilson and, despite a few efforts to open up the story by including a few scenes on the streets of Chicago, it’s an undeniably stagey film.  You never forget that you’re essentially watching a film version of a theatrical experience.  Fortunately, the performances are so powerful and the dialogue is so sharp that it’s easy to forgive both the film’s staginess and the occasional lapses in pace.

In his final performance before his tragic passing, Chadwick Boseman transforms Levee into a character who manages to be frustrating, sympathetic, and occasionally frightening.  From his powerful monologue about what he and his family experienced during his youth to the film’s final anguished moments, Boseman holds your attention every second that he’s on screen.  Boseman captures not only Levee’s anger and his ambition but also Levee’s fragile confidence.  At the start of the film, he may be bitter about having to play Ma’s music but he’s also perhaps the most hopeful musician in that recording studio and there’s something undeniably tragic about watching him come to realize the truth of his situation.  He’s a character about whom many viewers will have mixed feelings but Boseman is never less than compelling.  Viola Davis, as well, gives a powerful performance as Ma Rainey, playing her as someone who knows that she can’t afford to show a single moment of weakness.  Ma knows that the white men who are in charge of the studio need her more than she needs them and she’s not going to let them forget it.  Of the rest of the cast, Glynn Turman is a stand-out as a piano player who knows and understands history in a way that his bandmates don’t.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is currently streaming on Netflix.

 

Here Are The Nominees of the 2020 Indiana Film Journalists Assosciation!


Bad Education

The Indiana Film Journalists Association (IJA) has announced their nominees for the best of 2020!  They’ll be announcing the winners on December 21st!

What I like about these nominations is that there’s a lot of them.  2020 may have been a difficult year for many but there were a lot of good films released and it does seem kind of silly (as it does every year) to limit things to some sort of arbitrary number.  Why only nominate 10 films when you could nominate 20 or 30?  Many of the nominees below will appear on my own personal best lists in January.

The other thing that I like about these nominees is that the include films like Bad Education and Mangrove.  There’s some debate as to whether or not these films should be considered Oscar eligible.  I feel that they should be so it’s nice to see that the folks in Indiana agree with me!

Here are the nominees:

BEST FILM
Da 5 Bloods
Another Round
The Assistant
Athlete A
Bad Education
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
Dick Johnson is Dead
Emma.
The Father
First Cow
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Minari
The Nest
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Nomadland
One Night in Miami
Palm Springs
The Personal History of David Copperfield
Possessor
Promising Young Woman
Small Axe: Mangrove
Song Without a Name
Soul
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7
The Twentieth Century
The Vast of Night

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Onward
Soul
Wolfwalkers

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
76 Days
Another Round
Bacurau
Beanpole
La Dosis
Song Without a Name

BEST DOCUMENTARY
76 Days
All In: The Fight for Democracy
Athlete A
Boys State
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
Desert One
Dick Johnson is Dead
Disclosure
John Lewis: Good Trouble
The Last Out
Miss Americana
MLK/FBI
Time
Totally Under Control
Welcome to Chechnya

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Brandon Cronenberg – Possessor
Pete Docter, Mike Jones and Kemp Powers – Soul
Sean Durkin – The Nest
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Kitty Green – The Assistant
Eliza Hittman – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Tobias Lindholm and Thomas Vinterberg – Another Round
James Montague and Craig W. Sanger – The Vast of Night
Matthew Rankin – The Twentieth Century
Andy Siara – Palm Springs
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Alice Wu – The Half of It

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller – The Father
Armando Iannucci and Simon Blackwell – The Personal History of David Copperfield
Charlie Kaufman – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Mike Makowsky – Bad Education
Kemp Powers – One Night in Miami
Jonathan Raymond and Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Ruben Santiago-Hudson – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland

BEST DIRECTOR
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Brandon Cronenberg – Possessor
Pete Docter – Soul
Sean Durkin – The Nest
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Kitty Green – The Assistant
Eliza Hittman – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Kirsten Johnson – Dick Johnson is Dead
Charlie Kaufman – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Regina King – One Night in Miami
Spike Lee – Da 5 Bloods
Melina Léon – Song Without a Name
Steve McQueen – Small Axe: Mangrove
Matthew Rankin – The Twentieth Century
Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7
George C. Wolfe – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Alice Wu – The Half of It
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland

BEST ACTRESS
Haley Bennett – Swallow
Jessie Buckley – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Carrie Coon – The Nest
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Sidney Flanigin – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Julia Garner – The Assistant
Han Ye-ri – Minari
Leah Lewis – The Half of It
Rachel McAdams – Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Frances McDormand – Nomadland
Pamela Mendoza – Song Without a Name
Cristin Milioti – Palm Springs
Elisabeth Moss – The Invisible Man
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman
Aubrey Plaza – Black Bear
Margot Robbie – BIrds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
Anya Taylor-Joy – Emma.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jane Adams – She Dies Tomorrow
Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Toni Collette – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Olivia Colman – The Father
Olivia Cooke – Sound of Metal
Allison Janney – Bad Education
Margo Martindale – Blow the Man Down
Talia Ryder – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Youn Yuh-jung – Minari

BEST ACTOR
Christopher Abbott – Possessor
Ben Affleck – The Way Back
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Kingsley Ben-Adir – One Night in Miami
Paul Bettany – Uncle Frank
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Eli Goree – One Night in Miami
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
Hugh Jackman – Bad Education
Jude Law – The Nest
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods
Mads Mikkelsen – Another Round
Jesse Plemons – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Eddie Redmayne – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Steven Yeun – Minari

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods
Bo Burnham – Promising Young Woman
Bill Burr – The King of Staten Island
Peter Capaldi – The Personal History of David Copperfield
Colman Domingo – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Aldis Hodge – One Night in Miami
Caleb Landry Jones – The Outpost
Alan Kim – Minari
Frank Langella – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Orion Lee – First Cow
Ewan McGregor – BIrds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
Bill Murray – On the Rocks
Leslie Odom, Jr. – One Night in Miami
Paul Raci – Sound of Metal
J.K. Simmons – Palm Springs
Dan Stevens – Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
David Strathairn – Nomadland
David Thewlis – I’m Thinking of Ending Things

BEST VOCAL / MOTION CAPTURE PERFORMANCE
Sean Bean – Wolfwalkers
Tina Fey – Soul
Jamie Foxx – Soul
Oliver Platt – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Donald Ray Pollock – The Devil All the Time
Ben Schwartz – Sonic the Hedgehog

BEST ENSEMBLE ACTING
Da 5 Bloods
Another Round
The Devil All the Time
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
The King of Staten Island
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Minari
One Night in Miami
The Personal History of David Copperfield
She Dies Tomorrow
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Uncle Frank

BEST MUSICAL SCORE
Erick Alexander and Jared Bulmer – The Vast of Night
Terence Blanchard – One Night in Miami
Ludovico Einaudi – Nomadland
Ludwig Göransson – Tenet
Emile Mosseri – Minari
Richard Reed Parry – The Nest
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – Soul
William Tyler – First Cow
Jay Wadley – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Isobel Waller-Bridge and David Schweitzer – Emma.
Benjamin Wallfisch – The Invisible Man
Jim Williams – Possessor

BREAKOUT OF THE YEAR
Maria Bakalova (actress) – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Max Barbakow (director) – Palm Springs
Emerald Fennell (writer / director) – Promising Young Woman
Sidney Flanigin (actress) – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Alan Kim (actor) – Minari
Orion Lee (actor) – First Cow
Leah Lewis (actress) – The Half of It
Darius Marder (writer / director) – Sound of Metal
Andrew Patterson (director) – The Vast of Night
Tayarisha Poe (writer / director) – Selah and the Spades
Kemp Powers – co-writer / co-director for Soul and writer for One Night in Miami
Matthew Rankin (writer / director) – The Twentieth Century
Andy Siara (writer) – Palm Springs
Autumn de Wilde (director) – Emma.

HOOSIER AWARD
Athlete A
Eliza Hittman, writer / director of Never Rarely Sometimes Always and graduate of Indiana University

ORIGINAL VISION AWARD
After Midnight
Assassin 33 A.D.
Dick Johnson is Dead
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Possessor
Promising Young Woman
She Dies Tomorrow
The Twentieth Century
The Vast of Night
Vivarium

Mangrove

Lisa’s Way, Way Too Early Oscar Predictions for March


The Oscar (1966, dir by Russell Rouse)

Right now, when it comes to predicting the Oscars, there are two big questions to consider.

First off, will Burden ever find a distributor?  From the reviews in Sundance, it sounds like the type of film that could be embraced by the Academy but, if it can’t get in theaters, it’s not going to get any nominations.

Secondly, will Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman came out in 2019 or 2018?  Right now, Netflix says that The Irishman will be released in 2019 but we all remember what happened with The Wolf of Wall Street.

As of now, I’m going to choose to believe that Burden will get a 2018 release date and that The Irishman will come out in 2019.

I’m also going to chose to believe that Black Panther will be the first “comic book” movie to be nominated for best picture.

Also be sure to check out my predictions for January and February!

Best Picture

At Eternity’s Gate

Black Panther

Boy Erased

Burden

First Man

If Beale Street Could Talk

Mary, Queen of Scots

A Star is Born

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Widows

Best Director

Damien Chazelle for First Man

Ryan Coogler for Black Panther

Andrew Heckler for Burden

Barry Jenkins for If Beale Street Could Talk

Josie Rourke for Mary, Queen of Scots

Best Actor

Christian Bale in Backseat

Willem DaFoe in At Eternity’s Gate

Lucas Hedges in Boy Erased

Ryan Gosling in First Man

Garrett Hedlund in Burden

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett in Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Chloe Grace Moretz in The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Saoirse Ronan in Mary, Queen of Scots

Kristen Stewart in JT LeRoy

Best Supporting Actor

Jeff Bridges in Bad Times at the El Royale

Colman Domingo in If Beale Street Could Talk

Robert Duvall in Widows

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther

Forest Whiteaker in Burden

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams in Backseat

Claire Foy in First Man

Nicole Kidman in Boy Erased

Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk

Margot Robie in Mary, Queen of Scots

Olivia De Havilland and Friends