Lisa Marie’s Way Too Early Oscar Predictions for May


It’s that time of the month again!

It’s time for me to once again try to predict what will be nominated for the Oscars.  If you had to told me, at this time last year, that Top Gun: Maverick would emerge as an Oscar contender, I would have said that you were crazy but here we are.  Admittedly, it is early in the year and I think there’s always going to be some ambivalence towards honoring Tom Cruise.  (You just know that someone is having nightmares about him thanking David Miscavige in his Oscar speech.)  But with the reviews and the box office success that Top Gun: Maverick is getting, it would be a mistake to dismiss it.  After all, Mad Max: Fury Road came out around this same time of year in 2015.  As well, one can be sure that A24 will be giving Everything Everywhere All At Once a heavy awards push as well.  This could very well be the year of the genre blockbuster as far as the Oscars are concerned.

As for Cannes, it’s come and gone.  George Miller’s Three Thousand Years of Longing got some good reviews, even if those reviews didn’t translate into awards at the end of the Festival.  David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future sounds like it’s going to be too divisive for the Academy and really, the thought of Cronenberg winning an Oscar has always been a bit implausible, regardless of how much he may or may not deserve one.  As for James Gray’s Armageddon Time, Gray has always been more popular with critics than with audiences or Academy voters.  If Gray couldn’t break through with something like The Lost City of Z, I doubt he’s going to do so with an autobiographical film about his life in private school.  Steven Spielberg already has the autobiography slot wrapped up with The Fabelmans. 

Of course, there’s still many films left to see and many more film festivals to be held.  Let us not forget that Martin Scorsese is bringing us Killers of the Flower Moon.  Personally, I’m looking forward to Damien Chazelle’s Babylon.  In short, nothing has been settled yet.  For all the acclaim that Top Gun and Everything are getting, who knows how the race is going to look at the start of the Fall season?

Anyway, here are my predictions for May.  Be sure to check out my predictions for February and March and April as well!

Best Picture

Amsterdam

Babylon

Everything Everywhere All at Once

The Fabelmans

I Want To Dance With Somebody

Killers of the Flower Moon

Next Goal Wins

Rustin

She Said

Top Gun: Maverick

Best Director

Damien Chazelle for Babylon

Kasi Lemmons for I Want To Dance With Somebody

Martin Scorsese for Killers of the Flower Moon

Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans

Taika Waititi for Next Goal Wins

Best Actor

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

Colman Domingo in Rustin

Idris Elba in Three Thousand Years of Longing

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Brad Pitt in Babylon

Best Actress

Naomi Ackie in I Want To Dance With Somebody

Cate Blanchett in Tar

Margot Robie in Babylon

Tilda Swinton in Three Thousand Years of Longing

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actor

John Boyega in The Woman King

Leonardo DiCaprio in Flowers of the Killer Moon

Tom Hanks in Elvis

David Lynch in The Fabelmans

Tobey Maguire in Babylon

Best Supporting Actress

Jessie Buckley in Women Talking

Tantoo Cardinal in Flowers of the Killer Moon

Li Jun Li in Babylon

Samantha Morton in She Said

Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans

Here Are The Gotham Winners!


The Gotham Awards were held last night and the big winners were CODA and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter.  The Gothams aren’t exactly the biggest or most influential of the Oscar precursors but they were are one of the first so a victory can only help!

The winners are listed in bold:

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”

(Incidentally, I’m probably the only person not involved with the show to have noticed the victory for Philly D.A.  I’m just going to be honest and say that is one of my least favorite results ever.  Philly D.A. was a pure propaganda, nothing more.)

Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions for October


It’s time to take a little break from horror so that I may once against do my list of my monthly Oscar predictions!  I guess some people would consider predicting the Oscars to be a scary thing.  Personally, I have fun doing it, even if my predictions often seem to be for naught.  That said, I did manage to predict that Thomas Vinterberg would be nominated for Best Director last year so take that, haters.

Probably the biggest development this month is that I’ve lost all faith in Spielberg’s West Side Story.  It’s just not getting the type of hype that I would expect from a Spielberg Oscar movie.  In fact, it seems like everyone involved is in kind of a hurry to move on.  So, for now, I’m dropping it from my predictions.  While West Side Story goes, Dune has definitely established itself as a probable nominee.  I think the only problem that Dune will have is the possibility of people saying, “We’ll just nominate the sequel instead.”

I’ve also added C’mon C’mon and Passing to my list of Best Picture nominees.  This is almost totally due to their popularity with the Gothams.  If the other critics groups don’t duplicate the love, they’ll probably get dropped from my predictions come January.

As always, keep in mind that I don’t claim to be an expert.  The picture is a bit clearer but I don’t claim to have any inside information or anything like that.  These are just my guesses, for better or worse.  To see how my thinking has evolved,  check out my predictions for March and April and May and June and July and August and September!

Best Picture

Belfast

C’mon C’mon

CODA

Dune

The Lost Daughter

Nightmare Alley

Passing

The Power of the Dog

Spencer

The Tragedy of MacBeth

Best Director

Kenneth Branagh for Belfast

Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog

Maggie Gyllenhaal for The Lost Daughter

Guillermo del Toro for Nightmare Alley

Denis Villeneuve for Dune

Best Actor

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog

Peter Dinklage in Cyrano

Jude Hill in Belfast

Will Smith in King Richard

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Olivia Colman in The Lost Daughter

Penelope Cruz in Parallel Lives

Frances McDormand in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Kristen Stewart in Spencer

Best Supporting Actor

Willem DaFoe in Nightmare Alley

Jamie Dornan in Belfast

Ciaran Hinds in Belfast

Jason Isaacs in Mass

Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Jessie Buckley in The Lost Daughter

Dame Judi Dench in Belfast

Ann Dowd in Mass

Kirsten Dunst in The Power of the Dog

Marlee Matlin in CODA

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”

Here’s The Trailer For The Lost Daughter


The Lost Daughter, which is the directorial debut of Maggie Gyllenhaal, made quite a splash on the festival circuit and it’s being spoken of as a darkhorse Oscar contender. Olivia Colman, who is quickly becoming an Oscar favorite, could pick up another nomination. The destined-to-be-nominated someday Jessie Buckley could pick up her first.

As for the film itself, it’s about confronting dark secrets from the past, which is always an interesting subject matter. We’ll all get a chance to judge the film for ourselves when it’s released in December.

For now, here’s the trailer!

Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions for September


Well, it’s the time of the month again.

No, not that time!  That time ended two days ago.  I’m talking about the fact that it’s time for me to once again share my monthly Oscar predictions.  Thanks to the festival circuit, we’ve finally gotten some advance word on the big Oscar contenders that will be coming out over the next few months.

Belfast, as of right now, sounds like the prohibitive favorite to win it all.  At first, it seemed like the reaction to The Power of the Dog was a bit mixed but later reactions were almost overwhelmingly positive.  It sounds like the type of film that will be nominated even if it won’t necessarily win.  Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter is coming on strong, as is Spencer.  For me, the biggest surprise has been the amount of acclaim that Dune has been getting.  I was a bit dismissive of its Oscar chances earlier this year but now it definitely sounds like it will be in the hunt.

West Side Story has been seen by no one but I continue to list it because it’s a Spielberg film and, with all the musicals that are being released this year and which have subsequently struggled with either critics or audiences or both, it still seems the most likely to pick up a nomination.  I’m a little bit skeptical on whether or not Nightmare Alley is going to be an “Oscar picture” but the trailer was nice to look at so I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt.  House of Gucci is three hours long and full of stars so it’s either going to be an Oscar nominee or a complete bomb.

You may notice a lack of predicted nominations for Licorice Pizza. Licorice Pizza is a film that I fully expect to love but the trailer definitely feels a bit more like Inherent Vice than The Phantom Thread.  I still think that the actors could get nominated but the rumor right now is that Bradley Cooper’s role is actually very small.  That’s why I no longer have him listed as a supporting actor nominee.

Again, keep in mind that I’m not an expert.  The picture is a bit clearer but I don’t claim to have any inside information or anything like that.  These are just my guesses, for better or worse.  To see how my thinking has evolved,  check out my predictions for March and April and May and June and July and August!

Best Picture

Belfast

CODA

Dune

House of Gucci

The Lost Daughter

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

Spencer

The Tragedy of MacBeth

West Side Story

Best Director

Kenneth Branagh for Belfast

Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog

Guillermo del Toro for Nightmare Alley

Steven Spielberg for West Side Story

Denis Villeneuve for Dune

Best Actor

Clifton Collins, Jr. in Jockey

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog

Peter Dinklage in Cyrano

Will Smith in King Richard

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Olivia Colman in The Lost Daughter

Penelope Cruz in Parallel Lives

Frances McDormand in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Kristen Stewart in Spencer

Best Supporting Actor

David Alvarez in West Side Story

Willem DaFoe in Nightmare Alley

Ciaran Hinds in Belfast

Jason Isaac in Mass

Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Jessie Buckley in The Lost Daughter

Dame Judi Dench in Belfast

Ann Dowd in Mass

Kirsten Dunst in The Power of the Dog

Marlee Matlin in CODA

Film Review: Romeo & Juliet (dir by Simon Godwin)


It’s a shame, really.

RomeoJuliet, which as you can probably guess is a cinematic adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic play about the doomed lovers and the warring families, is one of the best films that I’ve seen this year.  Under normal circumstances, I would probably have it listed as the 2nd best film of the year so far, right underneath The Father.  Unfortunately, RomeoJuliet did not receive a theatrical release.  Instead, in the United States, it was aired on PBS.  Though it was submitted for Emmy consideration, it was unforgivably snubbed when the nominations were announced earlier today.

And that’s a shame because this film adaptation of RomeoJuliet is one of the best that I’ve seen, one that celebrates the story’s theatrical origins while also working as a wonderful display of cinematic artistry.

The production was filmed over 17 days at London’s Royal National Theater.  Because it was filmed at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, there’s no audience.  Instead, the film opens with a small company of actors, all dressed in modern clothing, walking through the theater.  Director Simon Godwin emphasizes the emptiness of the theater and the almost eerie silence as the actors take their seats around a table and start to recite their lines.  We immediately recognize some members of the cast.  Jessie Buckley plays Juliet while Josh O’Connor plays the role of Romeo.  Adrian Lester is cast as the Prince while Tasmin Grieg plays Lady Capulet.  As the actors recite their lines, they stand up and start to move around the theater and, before our eyes, they transform from being actors to being the characters from Shakespeare’s play.  Suddenly, we’re no longer watching Jessie Buckley and Josh O’Connor.  Instead, we’re watching Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet.

As the action moves to the stage, Simon Godwin continues to emphasize the eerie emptiness of the theater and the desolate look of the play’s ornate but still rather simple sets.  Even with the presence of the actors, the streets of Verona still seem as deserted as the streets of London and every other major city were during the worst days of the pandemic.  Watching the story unfold, it’s hard not to feel that Romeo and Juliet aren’t just rebelling against their warring families but they’re also rebelling against the sense of hopelessness that afflicted so many people in 2020.  Romeo and Juliet’s refusal to surrender their love takes on an extra poignancy when filmed against the backdrop of the pandemic.  At a time when many people were saying that civilization was collapsing and the world was on the verge of ending, Romeo and Juliet refuse to surrender their love.  If their world is going to end, it’s going to end on their terms.

As opposed to other cinematic adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, this version of Romeo and Juliet does not attempt to hide its theatrical origins.  Instead, it embraces them, right down to the obviously fake moon that is lowered from the rafters whenever a scene takes place at night.  And yet, the actors give such good performances and Simon Godwin directs with such confidence and skill that the viewer still gets wrapped up in the story.  Like all good works of theater, Romeo & Juliet succeeded in convincing the viewer of two contradictory things, that they’re both watching a production in a London theater and that they’re watching the Capulets and the Montagues as they walk through the deserted streets of Verona.  This production of Romeo & Juliet is one that celebrate both the power of the stage and the power of cinema.  Perhaps most importantly, it celebrates the power of Shakespeare’s classic tale, with the mix of the actor’s modern costuming and Shakespeare’s Elizabethan language reminding us that great art is universal and timeless.

Jessie Buckley and Josh O’Connor both give compelling performances as the film’s doomed lovers, with Buckley bringing a good deal of inner strength to the role of Juliet while O’Connor wisely underplays the scenes that would tempt a lesser Romeo to go overboard.  As opposed to what we often see in lesser productions of this play, Buckley’s Juliet is never foolishly naïve and O’Connor’s Romeo never surrenders to shrill self-pity.  Instead, they’re two lovers who know what they’re getting into but who are still willing to take the risk, even at the most bleak of times.  When Buckley and O’Connor first show up in the film, walking through that empty theater, they look like themselves, two talented performers in their early 30s.  But, as they perform their roles, they transform before our eyes into Romeo and Juliet and it’s thrilling to watch.

One has to applaud the National Theatre for filming this production.  One also has to applaud PBS for airing it in the States.  But still, how I wish Romeo & Juliet had been given a theatrical release or, at the very least, a Netflix or Prime release!  This is a production that I wish more people had seen, a great work of theater, film, and art.

Romeo-and-Juliet-First-look-26.01.21-1-copy-1618268389

Six Actresses Who I Hope Will Win Their First Oscar In The Next Ten Years


Continuing the theme from my previous post, here are 6 actresses who I sincerely hope will have won their first Oscar by the time that the 2031 ceremony rolls around.

Saoirse Ronan

Admittedly, Saoirse Ronan is an obvious pick. She’s only 27 years old and she’s already been nominated for four Academy Awards and five BAFTAs and she’s got the type of filmography that most performers can only dream of. For a while there, it looked like she was running the risk of being typecast as everyone’s demure girlfriend but, ever since she starred in Brooklyn, she’s proven that she’s capable of playing a lot more and she’s established herself as one of the best and most consistently interesting actresses around.

Personally, I would have given her the Oscar for Brooklyn. I also would have given her an Oscar for Lady Bird. This upcoming year, she’s going to appear in Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch and in an as-of-yet untitled murder mystery, in which she’ll co-star with Sam Rockwell. It’s really not a question of whether Saoirse Ronan will win an Oscar. It’s a question of when. She’s already overdue.

Scarlett Johansson

Much like Saoirse Ronan, Scarlett Johansson feels a bit inevitable. She’s both a star and an artist and she’s shown good instincts when it comes to picking both commercial and challenging material. She can be just as credible in an MCU film as she is in films like Lost in Translation, Marriage Story, JoJo Rabbit, and Under the Skin. Admittedly, Black Widow doesn’t seem like an Oscar film but still, it seems like only a matter of time until she gets the right role.

Jessie Buckley

Buckley deserved to win an Oscar last year for her performance in Wild Rose. This year, she deserved a nomination for her performance in i’m thinking of ending things. She’s got the Maggie Gyllenhaal-directed The Lost Daughter coming up this year, in which she’ll be playing a younger version of a character played by Olivia Colman. Buckley seems to be destined to get her first nomination sometime soon.

Thomasin McKenzie

I was a bit surprised that Thomasin McKenzie wasn’t nominated for either Leave No Trace or JoJo Rabbit. Seriously, her performance in JoJo Rabbit held the entire film together and prevented it from just becoming another awkward comedy about Hitler. This year, McKenzie will be appearing in Edgar Wright’s Last Night In Soho, opposite Anya Taylor-Joy. Last Night in Soho has been described as being a “psychological horror film.” Horror is a genre that, the recent success of Get Out aside, traditionally struggles with getting Academy recognition but, still, anything is possible and McKenzie has proven herself to be one of the most talented actresses out there.

Zoe Kazan

Zoe Kanzan may not be as well-known as some of the actresses on this list but she’s given two of the best performances of the last ten years, in 2012’s Ruby Sparks and 2018’s The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. She may not appear in a lot of movies but the ones that she does appear in are always better due to her presence. If that’s not awards-worthy, then what is?

Aubrey Plaza

If this seems like a strange pick to you, you obviously haven’t seen Ingrid Goes West.

Agree? Disagree? Do you have a pick of your own you’d like to mention? Let us know in the comments!

The London Film Critics Circle Honors Nomadland


Even in London, they love Nomadland!

The London Film Critics Circle named their best of the year yesterday.  I imagine that this will have negligible influence on the Oscar race since some of the films honored have yet to be released in the States and some of the biggest Oscar contenders have yet to be released in the UK.  Still, I think it’s always interesting to see what films are being honored outside of the U.S.  Cinema is an international art form.

Here are the nominees and, in bold, the winners from London:

FILM OF THE YEAR
About Endlessness
Collective
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Lovers Rock
The Mauritanian
Minari
Nomadland
Promising Young Woman
Rocks
Saint Maud

FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR
About Endlessness
Another Round
Collective
Les Misérables
Minari

DOCUMENTARY OF THE YEAR
Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets
Collective
Dick Johnson Is Dead
Time
The Truffle Hunters

BRITISH/IRISH FILM OF THE YEAR
The Father
Lovers Rock
Mangrove
Rocks
Saint Maud

DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
David Fincher – Mank
Rose Glass – Saint Maud
Kevin Macdonald – The Mauritanian
Steve McQueen – Small Axe
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland

SCREENWRITER OF THE YEAR
Jack Fincher – Mank
Rose Glass – Saint Maud
Charlie Kaufman – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland

ACTRESS OF THE YEAR
Morfydd Clark – Saint Maud
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand – Nomadland
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman

ACTOR OF THE YEAR
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods
Tahar Rahim – The Mauritanian

SUPPORTING ACTRESS OF THE YEAR
Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Ellen Burstyn – Pieces of a Woman
Essie Davis – Babyteeth
Jennifer Ehle – Saint Maud
Amanda Seyfried – Mank

SUPPORTING ACTOR OF THE YEAR
Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Chadwick Boseman – Da 5 Bloods
Aldis Hodge – Clemency
Ben Mendelsohn – Babyteeth
Shaun Parkes – Mangrove

BRITISH/IRISH ACTRESS OF THE YEAR (for body of work)
Bukky Bakray – Rocks
Jessie Buckley – I’m Thinking of Ending Things & Misbehaviour
Morfydd Clark – Eternal Beauty & Saint Maud
Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman & The World to Come
Carey Mulligan – The Dig & Promising Young Woman

BRITISH/IRISH ACTOR OF THE YEAR (for body of work)
Riz Ahmed – Mogul Mowgli & Sound of Metal
Sacha Baron Cohen – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm & The Trial of the Chicago 7
John Boyega – Red, White and Blue
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
Cosmo Jarvis – Calm With Horses & Nocturnal

BREAKTHROUGH BRITISH/IRISH FILMMAKER
Henry Blake – County Lines
Fyzal Boulifa – Lynn + Lucy
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Rose Glass – Saint Maud
Remi Weekes – His House

YOUNG BRITISH/IRISH PERFORMER
Kosar Ali – Rocks
Bukky Bakray – Rocks
Millie Bobby Brown – Enola Holmes
Conrad Khan – County Lines
Molly Windsor – Make Up

BRITISH/IRISH SHORT FILM
Filipiñana – Rafael Manuel, director
Hungry Joe – Paul Holbrook, director
Lizard – Akinola Davies Jr, director
The Long Goodbye – Aneil Karia, director
The Shift – Laura Carreira, director

TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT
Ammonite – Stéphane Fontaine, cinematography
Birds of Prey – Deborah Lamia Denaver & Adruitha Lee, makeup & hair
Lovers Rock – Mica Levi, music
Mank – Donald Graham Burt, production design
Nomadland – Joshua James Richards, cinematography
Rocks – Lucy Pardee, casting
Soul – Pete Docter, animation
Sound of Metal – Nicolas Becker, sound design
Tenet – Jennifer Lame, film editing
Wolfwalkers – Tomm Moore & Ross Stewart, animation

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)