The Sunset Film Circle Honors Promising Young Woman


So, as we all know, December is typically the start of Awards Season but this year, things are up in the air.  With the Academy extending the eligibility window (don’t even get me started on how annoyed I am about that), a lot of critics groups have also pushed back their selection date.  For instance, the National Board of Review will not be announcing their picks until January.  The Golden Globe nominations will not be announced until February.  Things are going to be a bit messed up.

At the same time, some critics groups are still going to be announcing their picks for the best of the year in December, which is the way it should be.  (When it comes time for me to make my annual “best of” list, I will only be considering films that were actually released in 2020.)  With that in mind, the Sunset Film Circle is a new group that, earlier today, announced their picks for the best of 2020!

And here they are (winners in bold):

BEST FILM

Promising Young Woman 

(Runner-up: Mank)

 

TOP FILMS

The Father

The King of Staten Island

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Mank

Minari

Nine Days

Nomadland

Promising Young Woman

Saint Maud

Sound of Metal

 

BEST DIRECTOR

Lee Isaac Chung – Minari

David Fincher – Mank

Darius Marder – Sound of Metal

Florian Zeller – The Father

Chloe Zhao – Nomadland (Runner-up)

 

BEST ACTOR

Ben Affleck – The Way Back

Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal

Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Winston Duke – Nine Days

Anthony Hopkins – The Father (runner-up)

 

BEST ACTRESS

Morfydd Clark – Saint Maud

Glenn Close – Hillbilly Elegy (runner up)

Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman

Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Bill Burr – The King of Staten Island (runner up)

Bill Murray – On The Rocks

Leslie Odom Jr. – One Night in Miami

Paul Raci – Sound of Metal

Stanley Tucci – Supernova

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams – Hillbilly Elegy (runner-up)

Zazie Beetz – Nine Days

Olivia Colman – The Father

Amanda Seyfried – Mank

Youn Yuh-jung – Minari 

 

BEST ENSEMBLE

Hillbilly Elegy (runner-up)

The King of Staten Island

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Minari

The Prom

 

BEST SCREENPLAY

The Father – Christopher Hampton & Florian Zeller

Minari – Lee Isaac Chung

Nine Days – Edson Oda

Promising Young Woman – Emerald Fennell (runner-up)

Sound of Metal – Derek Cianfrance & Darius Marder

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Gretel & Hansel – Galo Olivares

Mank – Erik Messerschmidt

Nomadland – Joshua James Richards (runner up)

Sound of Metal – Daniël Bouquet

Tenet – Hoyte Van Hoytema

 

BEST SCORE

First Cow – William Tyler

Gretel & Hansel – Robin Coudert

Minari – Emile Mosseri (runner-up)

Soul – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross

Tenet – Ludwig Göransson

 

BEST BREAKTHROUGH

Kiera Allen – Run (runner-up)

Nicole Beharie – Miss Juneteenth

Joe Kerry – Spree

Orion Lee – First Cow

Jo Ellen Pellman – The Prom

 

SCENE STEALER

Michael Keaton – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II – The Trial of the Chicago 7 (runner-up)

Gabourey Sidibe – Antebellum

Toby Wallace – Babyteeth

Wil Wheaton – Rent-A-Pal

 

DIRECTORS TO WATCH

Radha Blank – The 40-Year-Old Version

Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman

Rose Glass – Saint Maud (runner-up)

Edson Oda – Nine Days

Jon Stevenson – Rent-A-Pal

Dracula (Netflix) Review By Case Wright


Happy Horrorthon fellow travelers. It’s been a awhile. I’ve been struggling with engineering classes and it’s been hard to set time aside for this essential part of my life. How does this relate to Dracula? Dracula at its core is an unrequited love story. It drips with sanguine hopes and failed dreams (pun intended). Really, we’ve all that relationship that we really wanted, but it was always doomed, doomed, doomed.

I got to enjoy this mini-series the best way possible: a live tweet with the TSL staff. Back to Dracula, this series was originally broadcast on the BBC. It took Dracula from the past to the present. I have read most of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It’s kinda boring, which is why the first episode was uneven in terms of excitement because it held close to the book, which was b o r i n g. Part I established Dracula at home. As in the book, he wanted to see the World, meet new and interesting people in England, and eat them.

To whet his appetite and get waaaaay younger, he decided to feast on a lawyer- Jonathan Harker. This Dracula gets all the memories and knowledge from the people he feeds on, which begs the question: Why travel anywhere? Just hang out at a train station and snack on people. Come on, Drac! I did like how the first episode set up the Courtly Love Interest – Agatha Van Helsing; she’s a Nun with ice water in her veins.

Sister Agatha (Van Helsing) gets a visitor at her convent – Jonathan Harker. He looks dead…well undead. He even has a fly crawl across his eyeball without him noticing. Flies buzzing and crawling about eyeballs is a big theme in this mini-series; you just have to get used to it.

Jonathan describes meeting the Count under the presumption of a land holding trans… sorry I dozed off there. The book was a lot like that too. It would have exciting moments and then BAM… Back to the real estate transactions! As Jonathan stays at the Count’s castle, the Count gets younger and he gets older. His lifeforce is drained away. In fact, all of his memories get drained away as well to the Count after one feeding ah ah ah and then two feedings ah ah ah.. Jonathan appears to succumb to the Count and feel nothing, but his resignation is all an act. DUN DUN DUN!

Jonathan is searching for a way out of the castle and it works….kinda. I mean he ends up at a convent and we learn that he’s undead and under the power of Dracula. This is gleaned from Sister Agatha who relentlessly interrogates …well everyone. I wish she were my best friend. She attracts a lot of monsters, but nobody’s perfect.

Unfortunately, Dracula can sense Jonathan and he has pursued him to the convent. This is where Dracula meets the true love of his life Sister Agatha. She’s fearless, smart, and scientific; the opposite of everyone else whom Dracula encounters. Agatha is a force of reason like Dracula is a force of nature. He represents feudalism and magic, she enlightenment and technocratic future. She is what he aspires to be, but cannot. She hopes that in solving the mystery of Dracula she will understand the mystical and develop her elusive affinity with God.

Of course, by getting close to understand Dracula, Agatha inadvertently allows Dracula to enter the convent and eat everyone, including……her and he does it by wearing a dead man’s face. That was awesome! Gotta see it again!

Two and three will post tomorrow!!!!

Playing Catch-Up: Love & Friendship (dir by Whit Stillman)


love__friendship_poster

Earlier this week, I named Pride and Prejudice and Zombies as the worst Jane Austen adaptation of 2016.  Of course, I understand that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies isn’t really a Jane Austen adaptation.  Instead, it’s an adaptation of a jokey novel that took Austen’s characters and combined them with zombies.  But you know what?  Nobody would have given a damn if the name of that book and that movie didn’t include three words:  Pride.  And.  Prejudice.  That’s the power of Jane Austen.

But anyway, my point is that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was pretty much a low point as far as Jane Austen films are concerned.  Fortunately, 2016 also saw the release of a very enjoyable and entertaining Jane Austen film named Love & Friendship and, even better, Love & Friendship was based on something that Austen actually wrote.

Of course, though Austen may have written the novella Lady Susan, it wasn’t published until long after her death and there’s speculation that it was an unfinished (or abandoned) first draft.  In fact, it’s debatable whether or not Lady Susan was something that Austen would have ever wanted to see published.  While it shares themes in common with Austen’s best known work, it also features a lead character who is far different from the stereotypical Austen heroine.  Lady Susan Vernon is vain, selfish, manipulative, and unapologetic about her numerous affairs.  She’s also one of the wittiest of Austen’s characters, a woman who is capable of identifying and seeing through the hypocrisies of 18th century society.

In Love & Friendship, Susan is played by Kate Beckinsale, who does a great job in the role.  One of the best things about Love & Friendship is that it serves to remind us that Kate Beckinsale is a very good actress, even when she isn’t dealing with vampires and Lycans and all that other Underworld stuff.  Lady Susan is a recent widow and has been staying, with her daughter, Frederica (Morfydd Clark), at the estate of Lord and Lady Manwaring (Jenn Murray and Lochlann O’Mearáin) .  That’s a good thing because, as a result of the death of her husband, Lady Susan is now virtually penniless and homeless.  But, once it becomes obvious that Susan is having an affair with Lord Manwaring, she and Frederica are kicked out of the estate.

They eventually find themselves living with Susan’s brother-in-law, Charles (Justin Edwards) and Charles’s wife, Catherine (Emma Greenwell).  Susan, realizing that she needs to find not only a rich husband for Frederica but also one for herself, immediately starts to scheme to win the hand of Catherine’s brother, Reginald DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel).  Meanwhile, Susan also tries to arrange for Frederica to marry the hilariously slow-witted Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett).  Needless to say, things do not go quite as plan and it’s all rather chaotic and hilarious in its wonderfully refined way.

Director Whit Stillman, who has spent his career making refined and witty movies about morality and manners, is the ideal director for Austen’s material and he’s helped by an extremely witty (and, with the exception of Chloe Sevigny, very British) cast.  In the role of Susan, Kate Beckinsale is a force of nature and Tom Bennett is hilariously dense as Sir James, the type of well-meaning dunce who is literally stumped when someone asks him, “How do you do?”  Never before has dullness been so hilariously performed and Bennett’s performance really is a minor miracle.

Love & Friendship was a wonderful excursion into Austenland.  It didn’t even require zombies to be enjoyable.