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)

The Denver Film Critics Society Honors The Trial of The Chicago 7


Somehow, I guess I missed the Denver Film Critics Society announcing their nominations.  Oh well, no worries!  We’ve got both their nominations and their winners listed below!  (The winners are in bold.)

The Denver Film Critics Society decided to buck the trend a little bit by giving their best picture award to Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 as opposed to Nomadland.  However, they still gave their best director award to Chloe Zhao.  For some reason, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same thing happen at the Oscars.  In fact, if The Trial of The Chicago 7 does somehow win best picture, I’m hoping that Zhao or someone other than Sorkin win Best Director.  There’s only so many Aaron Sorkin speeches that one can take during the course of one night.

Among the other winners in Denver: Carey Mulligan won Best Actress of Promising Young Woman, Chadwick Boseman took Best Actor for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Ellen Burstyn won Best Supporting Actress for Pieces of a Woman while Sacha Baron Cohen won Best Supporting Actor for The Trial of the Chicago 7.

Here’s the full list:

Best Picture
“Minari”
“Nomadland”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7”
“First Cow”
“Soul”

Best Director
Chloe Zhao – “Nomadland”
David Fincher – “Mank”
Aaron Sorkin – “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
Pete Docter – “Soul”
Lee Isaac Chung – “Minari”

Best Actress
Frances McDormand – “Nomadland”
Viola Davis – “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Carey Mulligan – “Promising Young Woman”
Elisabeth Moss – “The Invisible Man”
Vanessa Kirby – “Pieces of a Woman”

Best Actor
Chadwick Boseman – “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Gary Oldman – “Mank”
Delroy Lindo – “Da 5 Bloods”
Riz Ahmed – “Sound of Metal”
Steven Yuen – “Minari”

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

Best Supporting Actor
Bill Murray – “On the Rocks”
Chadwick Boseman – “Da 5 Bloods”
Bo Burnham – “Promising Young Woman”
David Strathairn – “Nomadland”
Sacha Baron Cohen – “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Best Sci-Fi/Horror
“The Vast of Night”
“Possessor”
“The Invisible Man”
“Tenet”
“Freaky”

Best Animated Feature
“Wolfwalkers”
Soul”
“The Wolf House”
“Onward”
“Over the Moon”

Best Comedy
“The Personal History of David Copperfield”
“The Climb”
“Palm Springs”
“Birds of Prey”
“The Forty-Year-Old Version”

Best Visual Effects
“Tenet”
“The Midnight Sky”
“The Invisible Man”
“Greyhound”
“Birds of Prey”

Best Original Screenplay
Aaron Sorkin – “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
Radha Blank – “The Forty-Year-Old Version”
Pete Docter, Mike Jones & Kemp Powers – “Soul”
Lee Isaac Chung – “Minari”
Emerald Fennell – “Promising Young Woman”

Best Adapted Screenplay
Jonathan Raymond & Kelly Reichardt – “First Cow”
Chloe Zhao – “Nomadland”
Ruben Santiago-Hudson – “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Kemp Powers – “One Night in Miami”
Charlie Kaufman – “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”

Best Documentary
“Boys State”
“All In: The Fight for Democracy”
“The Social Dilemma”
“The Truffle Hunters”
“Dick Johnson Is Dead”

Best Original Song
“Poverty Porn” – “The Forty-Year-Old Version”
“Speak Now” – “One Night in Miami”
“Wear Your Crown” – “The Prom”
“Rocket to the Moon” – “Over the Moon”
“Hear My Voice” – “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Best Original Score
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – “Soul”
Alexander Desplat – “The Midnight Sky”
Terence Blanchard – “One Night in Miami”
Ludwig Goransson – “Tenet”
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – “Mank”

Best Non-English Language Feature
“The Life Ahead”
“Martin Eden”
“Another Round”
“Minari”
“I’m No Longer Here”

The St. Louis Film Critics Association Rewards Downhill


The St. Louis Film Critics Association announced the winners of their 2020 awards earlier today!  Downhill picked up its first trophy of the awards seasons as the SLFCA named it The Worst Picture of the Year.  How will this effect Downhill‘s Oscar chances?  We’ll have to wait and see.

Here are the winners:

BEST FILM
First Cow (RUNNER UP TIE)
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Nomadland (WINNER)
Promising Young Woman (RUNNER UP TIE)
The Trial of the Chicago 7

BEST DIRECTOR
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman (RUNNER UP)
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Spike Lee – Da 5 Bloods
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Chloe Zhao – Nomadland (WINNER)

BEST ACTRESS
Jessie Buckley – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand – Nomadland (RUNNER UP)
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman (WINNER)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (RUNNER UP)
Ellen Burstyn – Pieces of a Woman
Olivia Colman – The Father
Amanda Seyfried – Mank
Yuh-jung Youn – Minari (WINNER)

BEST ACTOR
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (WINNER)
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods (RUNNER UP)
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
Gary Oldman – Mank

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Bo Burnham – Promising Young Woman
Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial of the Chicago 7 (RUNNER UP)
Bill Murray – On The Rocks
Leslie Odom Jr. – One Night in Miami
Paul Raci – Sound of Metal (WINNER)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman (WINNER)
Jack Fincher – Mank
Andy Siara – Palm Springs
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7 (RUNNER UP)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Charlie Kaufman – I’m Thinking of Ending Things (WINNER)
Kemp Powers – One Night in Miami (RUNNER UP)
Jon Raymond & Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Ruben Santiago-Hudson – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Chloe Zhao – Nomadland

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Benjamin Kracunc – Promising Young Woman
Erik Messerschmidt – Mank (RUNNER UP)
Joshua James Richards – Nomadland (WINNER)
Newton Thomas Sigel – Da 5 Bloods
Dariusz Wolski – News of the World

BEST EDITING
Jonah Moran – Hamilton
Robert Frasen – I’m Thinking of Ending Things (RUNNER UP)
Kirk Baxter – Mank
Chloe Zhao – Nomadland (WINNER)
​Alan Baumgarten – The Trial of the Chicago 7

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Kave Quinn – Emma. (RUNNER UP)
Mark Ricker – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Donald Graham Burt – Mank (WINNER)
Cristina Casali – The Personal History of David Copperfield
Michael Perry – Promising Young Woman

BEST SCORE
Ludovico Einaudi – “Nomadland” (RUNNER UP)
Ludwig Goransson – “Tenet”
James Newton Howard – “News of the World”
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross & Jon Baptiste – “Soul” (WINNER)
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – “Mank”

BEST SOUNDTRACK
Birds of Prey
Da 5 Bloods
Hamilton (RUNNER UP)
Lovers Rock
Promising Young Woman (WINNER)

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Birds of Prey
The Invisible Man (RUNNER UP)
Mank
The Midnight Sky
Tenet (WINNER)

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Onward
Over The Moon
Soul (WINNER)
The Wolf House
Wolfwalkers (RUNNER UP)

BEST HORROR FILM
Alone
The Invisible Man (WINNER)
La Llorona
Possessor: Uncut
​The Vast of Night

BEST COMEDY FILM
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (WINNER)
Emma.
The King of Staten Island
On The Rocks
Palm Springs (RUNNER UP)

BEST ACTION FILM
Birds of Prey (RUNNER UP)
The Gentlemen
Greyhound
The Old Guard
Tenet (WINNER)

BEST DOCUMENTARY
City Hall
Collective (WINNER)
Dick Johnson Is Dead
My Octopus Teacher
The Social Dilemma

BEST FOREIGN FILM
Another Round (WINNER)
Bacurau
Beanpole (RUNNER UP)
Collective
Vitalina Varela

WORST FILM
Artemis Fowl
The Doorman
Downhill (WINNER)
Hillbilly Elegy
Wonder Woman 1984

BEST SCENE
HR scene in The Assistant
Rudy Guiliani in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (RUNNER UP)
Dinner with parents in I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Sisters dine in The Invisible Man (WINNER)
Questionnaire in Never Rarely Sometimes Always

The Hawaii Film Critics Society Honors The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Spike Lee!


The Hawaii Film Critics Society announced their picks for the best of 2020 yesterday and they did not pick Nomadland.  Instead, they named The Trial of the Chicago 7 as the best picture of the year and they named Spike Lee as a best director for Da 5 Bloods.  (It’s interesting that, after years of struggling to get awards recognition, Lee is feeling getting recognized for films that are nowhere close to being as effective or as revolutionary as his best work.)  Nomadland, however, did not go home empty-handed.  Frances McDormand won Best Actress and Chloe Zhao did pick up an award for her screenplay.  (Zhao won adapted screenplay.  Sorkin won original screenplay.  I dread that the same thing is going to happen on Oscar night and we’re going to have to sit through an Aaron Sorkin filibuster about protest, politics, and why women need to learn more about sports.)

(“Let me fix you,” Aaron Sorkin says as he pulls out a DVD boxset of Sports Night.)

The best thing about the Hawaii Film Critics Society is that they also gave out awards for Best Comic Book movie so congratulations, Bloodshot!  (To be honest, Bloodshot probably deserved the award because it’s not like there’s a lot of competition this year and, seriously, have you tried to sit through Birds of Prey more than once?)  Possessor won the award for Best Overlooked Film of the year.  (I agree, by the way.)  And, of course, Wonder Woman 1984 won worst film of the year, despite all of those early reviews that declared it to be “the film that we need right now.”  Then again, with the way things are going, maybe we deserve a bad movie?  Who knows?

All I do know is that I wish I lived in Hawaii and now learning that they have their own Film Critics Society, I’m probably even more likely to look into moving.  Seriously, Hawaii is beautiful and the film critics are apparently quirky.

Here are the winners!

BEST PICTURE
The Trial of the Chicago 7

BEST DIRECTOR
Spike Lee – Da 5 Bloods

BEST ACTOR
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods

BEST ACTRESS
Frances McDormand – Nomadland

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Paul Raci – Sound of Metal

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Olivia Cooke – Sound of Metal

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Chloe Zhao – Nomadland

BEST ART DIRECTION
Chris Craine and Dan Webster – Mank

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Ann Roth – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Hoyte Van Hoytema – Tenet

BEST EDITING
Alan Baumgarten – The Trial of the Chicago 7

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Lupin III: The First

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Beastie Boys Story

BEST MAKE-UP
Mank

BEST SOUND
Sound of Metal

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – Mank

BEST SONG
“Speak Now” – One Night in Miami…

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Tenet

BEST STUNT WORK
Tenet

BEST NEW FILMMAKER
Regina King – One Night in Miami…

BEST FIRST FILM
Florian Zeller – The Father

BEST OVERLOOKED FILM
Possessor – Brandon Cronenberg

BEST VOCAL/MOTION CAPTURE PERFORMANCE
Jamie Foxx – Soul

BEST HORROR FILM
Relic – Natalie Erika James

BEST COMIC BOOK MOVIE
Bloodshot – Dave Wilson

BEST SCI-FI FILM
Tenet – Christopher Nolan

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Life Ahead – Edoardo Ponti (Italy)

BEST HAWAIIAN FILM
Waikiki – Christopher Kahunahana (Oahu)

WORST FILM OF 2020
Wonder Woman 1984

Here are the 2020 Nominations of the St. Louis Film Critics Association


The St. Louis Film Critics Association yesterday announced their nominees for the best of 2020.  The winners will be announced this Sunday, the 17th.

The great thing about St. Louis is that they give out a lot of awards.  They honor the Best Horror Film and the Best Comedy and all the rest.  As a result, their awards are always marginally more interesting than what you get from some of the other regional groups.

Here are the nominations!

BEST FILM
First Cow
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Nomadland
Promising Young Woman
The Trial of the Chicago 7

BEST DIRECTOR
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Spike Lee – Da 5 Bloods
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Chloe Zhao – Nomadland

BEST ACTRESS
Jessie Buckley – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand – Nomadland
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Ellen Burstyn – Pieces of a Woman
Olivia Colman – The Father
Amanda Seyfried – Mank
Yuh-jung Youn – Minari

BEST ACTOR
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
Gary Oldman – Mank

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Bo Burnham – Promising Young Woman
Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Bill Murray – On The Rocks
Leslie Odom Jr. – One Night in Miami
Paul Raci – Sound of Metal

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Jack Fincher – Mank
Andy Siara – Palm Springs
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Charlie Kaufman – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Kemp Powers – One Night in Miami
Jon Raymond & Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Ruben Santiago-Hudson – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Chloe Zhao – Nomadland

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Benjamin Kracunc – Promising Young Woman
Erik Messerschmidt – Mank
Joshua James Richards – Nomadland
Newton Thomas Sigel – Da 5 Bloods
Dariusz Wolski – News of the World

BEST EDITING
Jonah Moran – Hamilton
Robert Frasen – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Kirk Baxter – Mank
Chloe Zhao – Nomadland
​Alan Baumgarten – The Trial of the Chicago 7

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Kave Quinn – Emma.
Mark Ricker – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Donald Graham Burt – Mank
Cristina Casali – The Personal History of David Copperfield
Michael Perry – Promising Young Woman

BEST SCORE
Ludovico Einaudi – “Nomadland”
Ludwig Goransson – “Tenet”
James Newton Howard – “News of the World”
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross & Jon Baptiste – “Soul”
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – “Mank”

BEST SOUNDTRACK
Birds of Prey
Da 5 Bloods
Hamilton
Lovers Rock
Promising Young Woman

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Birds of Prey
The Invisible Man
Mank
The Midnight Sky
Tenet

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Onward
Over The Moon
Soul
The Wolf House
Wolfwalkers

BEST HORROR FILM
Alone
The Invisible Man
La Llorona
Possessor: Uncut
​The Vast of Night

BEST COMEDY FILM
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Emma.
The King of Staten Island
On The Rocks
Palm Springs

BEST ACTION FILM
Birds of Prey
The Gentlemen
Greyhound
The Old Guard
Tenet

BEST DOCUMENTARY
City Hall
Collective
Dick Johnson Is Dead
My Octopus Teacher
The Social Dilemma

BEST FOREIGN FILM
Another Round
Bacurau
Beanpole
Collective
Vitalina Varela

​WORST FILM
Artemis Fowl
The Doorman
Downhill
Hillbilly Elegy
Wonder Woman 1984

BEST SCENE
HR scene in The Assistant
Rudy Guiliani in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Dinner with parents in I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Sisters dine in The Invisible Man
Questionnaire in Never Rarely Sometimes Always

The Columbus Film Critics Circle Honors Promising Young Woman and Carey Mulligan!


Yesterday, the Columbus Film Critic Circle announced their picks for the best of 2020 and the end result was a victory for Promising Young Woman and Carey Mulligan!

Check out their winners and nominees below:​

Best Film
1. Promising Young Woman
2. Nomadland
3. Sound of Metal
4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
5. Minari
6. Soul
7. Never Rarely Sometimes Always
8. The Trial of the Chicago 7
9. First Cow
10. Mank

Best Director
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman (RUNNER UP)
David Fincher – Mank
Darius Marder – Sound of Metal
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland (WINNER)

Best Actor
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal (WINNER)
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (RUNNER UP)
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods
Gary Oldman – Mank
Steven Yeun – Minari

Best Actress
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Sidney Flanigan – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Julia Garner – The Assistant
Frances McDormand – Nomadland (RUNNER UP)
Elisabeth Moss – Shirley
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman (WINNER)

Best Supporting Actor
Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Chadwick Boseman – Da 5 Bloods (RUNNER UP TIE)
Bill Murray – On the Rocks
Paul Raci – Sound of Metal (WINNER)
Mark Rylance – The Trial of the Chicago 7 (RUNNER UP TIE)

Best Supporting Actress
Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Movie Film
Olivia Colman – The Father (RUNNER UP)
Olivia Cooke – Sound of Metal
Amanda Seyfried – Mank
Youn Yuh-jung – Minari (WINNER)

Best Ensemble
Da 5 Bloods
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (WINNER)
Minari
Promising Young Woman (RUNNER UP)
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Actor of the Year (for an exemplary body of work)
Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat Subsequent Movie Film & The Trial of the Chicago 7)
Chadwick Boseman (Da 5 Bloods & Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) (WINNER)
Elisabeth Moss (The Invisible Man & Shirley) (RUNNER UP)

Breakthrough Film Artist
Radha Blank – The Forty-Year-Old Version (for producing, directing, screenwriting, and acting) (RUNNER UP)
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman (for producing, directing, and screenwriting) (WINNER)
Sidney Flanigan – Never Rarely Sometimes Always (for acting)
Kitty Green – The Assistant (for producing, directing, screenwriting, and film editing)
Eliza Hittman – Never Rarely Sometimes Always (for directing and screenwriting)
Alan S. Kim – Minari (for acting)
Darius Marder – Sound of Metal (for directing and screenwriting)

Best Cinematography
Christopher Blauvelt – First Cow
Eric Messerschmidt – Mank (RUNNER UP)
Lachlan Milne – Minari
Joshua James Richards – Nomadland (WINNER)
Hoyte Van Hoytema – Tenet

Best Film Editing
Alan Baumgarten – The Trial of the Chicago 7 (WINNER)
Kirk Baxter – Mank
Robert Frazen – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Mikkel E.G. Nielsen – Sound of Metal (RUNNER UP)
Kelly Reichardt – First Cow

Best Adapted Screenplay
Sarah Gubbins – Shirley
Charlie Kaufman – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Kemp Powers – One Night in Miami
Jonathan Raymond & Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Ruben Santiago-Hudson – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (RUNNER UP)
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland (WINNER)

Best Original Screenplay
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman (WINNER)
Darius Marder & Abraham Marder – Sound of Metal
Andy Siara – Palm Springs
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7 (RUNNER UP)

Best Score
Alexandre Desplat – The Midnight Sky
Ludovico Einaudi – Nomadland
Emile Mosseri – Minari
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – Mank (RUNNER UP)
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – Soul (WINNER)

Best Documentary
Boys State (RUNNER UP)
Collective
Crip Camp
Dick Johnson is Dead (WINNER)
The Painter and the Thief
Time

Best Foreign Language Film
Bacurau
Beanpole
Martin Eden (RUNNER UP)
Minari (WINNER)
The Whistlers

Best Animated Film
The Croods: A New Age
Onward
Over the Moon
Soul (RUNNER UP)
Wolfwalkers (WINNER)

Best Overlooked Film
The Assistant
Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets
Palm Springs (RUNNER UP)
Possessor
The Vast of Night (WINNER)

Here Are The Nominees of the 2020 Columbus Film Critics Association!


The Columbus Film Critics Association has announced their nominees for the best of the year and it’s pretty much all of the usual suspects.  The winners will be announced on January 7th, 2021.  I do like the fact that the CFCA gives out an award for the Overlooked Film of the Year.  Some of my top films of the year — Possessor, The Vast of Night, The Assistant — are nominated in that category.

Here are the nominees!

Best Film
First Cow
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank
Minari
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Nomadland
Promising Young Woman
Soul
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Director
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
David Fincher – Mank
Darius Marder – Sound of Metal
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland

Best Actor
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods
Gary Oldman – Mank
Steven Yeun – Minari

Best Actress
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Sidney Flanigan – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Julia Garner – The Assistant
Frances McDormand – Nomadland
Elisabeth Moss – Shirley
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman

Best Supporting Actor
Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Chadwick Boseman – Da 5 Bloods
Bill Murray – On the Rocks
Paul Raci – Sound of Metal
Mark Rylance – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Supporting Actress
Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Movie Film
Olivia Colman – The Father
Olivia Cooke – Sound of Metal
Amanda Seyfried – Mank
Youn Yuh-jung – Minari

Best Ensemble
Da 5 Bloods
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Minari
Promising Young Woman
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Actor of the Year (for an exemplary body of work)
Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat Subsequent Movie Film & The Trial of the Chicago 7)
Chadwick Boseman (Da 5 Bloods & Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)
Elisabeth Moss (The Invisible Man & Shirley)

Breakthrough Film Artist
Radha Blank – The Forty-Year-Old Version (for producing, directing, screenwriting, and acting)
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman (for producing, directing, and screenwriting)
Sidney Flanigan – Never Rarely Sometimes Always (for acting)
Kitty Green – The Assistant (for producing, directing, screenwriting, and film editing)
Eliza Hittman – Never Rarely Sometimes Always (for directing and screenwriting)
Alan S. Kim – Minari (for acting)
Darius Marder – Sound of Metal (for directing and screenwriting)

Best Cinematography
Christopher Blauvelt – First Cow
Erik Messerschmidt – Mank
Lachlan Milne – Minari
Joshua James Richards – Nomadland
Hoyte Van Hoytema – Tenet

Best Film Editing
Alan Baumgarten – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Kirk Baxter – Mank
Robert Frazen – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Mikkel E.G. Nielsen – Sound of Metal
Kelly Reichardt – First Cow

Best Adapted Screenplay
Sarah Gubbins – Shirley
Charlie Kaufman – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Kemp Powers – One Night in Miami
Jonathan Raymond & Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Ruben Santiago-Hudson – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland

Best Original Screenplay
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Darius Marder & Abraham Marder – Sound of Metal
Andy Siara – Palm Springs
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Score
Alexandre Desplat – The Midnight Sky
Ludovico Einaudi – Nomadland
Emile Mosseri – Minari
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – Mank
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – Soul

Best Documentary
Boys State
Collective
Crip Camp
Dick Johnson is Dead
The Painter and the Thief
Time

Best Foreign Language Film
Bacurau
Beanpole
Martin Eden
Minari
The Whistlers

Best Animated Film
The Croods: A New Age
Onward
Over the Moon
Soul
Wolfwalkers

Best Overlooked Film
The Assistant
Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets
Palm Springs
Possessor
The Vast of Night

Here Are The Chicago Indie Critics Nominations


The Chicago Indie Critics (call them the CIC, if you really want to impress people with your precursor knowledge) released their nomination for the best of 2020 yesterday.  The winners will be announced on January 2nd, 2021 which …. OH MY GOD, THAT’S JUST A FEW DAYS AWAY!

One thing I like about the CIC nominations is that they have two best picture categories — one for low-budget indie films and one for big-budget studio productions.

Here are their nominations:

BEST INDEPENDENT FILM (budgets under $20 million)
THE FATHER
FIRST COW
NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS
NOMADLAND
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

BEST STUDIO FILM (budgets over $20 million)
DA 5 BLOODS
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
MANK
SOUL
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
ANOTHER ROUND
BACURAU
BEANPOLE
HIS HOUSE
THE LIFE AHEAD

BEST DOCUMENTARY
BOYS STATE
DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD
RISING PHOENIX
THE SOCIAL DILEMMA
TIME

BEST ANIMATED FILM
ONWARD
OVER THE MOON
SOUL
THE WILLOUGHBYS
WOLFWALKERS

BEST DIRECTOR
Emerald Fennell – PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
Spike Lee – DA 5 BLOODS
George C. Wolfe – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
Florian Zeller – THE FATHER
Chloe Zhao – NOMADLAND

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
MANK – Jack Fincher
NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS – Eliza Hittman
PALM SPRINGS – Andy Siara
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN – Emerald Fennell
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 – Aaron Sorkin

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
THE FATHER – Florian Zeller
FIRST COW – Kelly Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond
I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS – Charlie Kaufman
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM – Ruben Santiago-Hudson
NOMADLAND – Chloe Zhao

BEST ACTOR
Riz Ahmed – SOUND OF METAL
Chadwick Boseman – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
Anthony Hopkins – THE FATHER
Delroy Lindo – DA 5 BLOODS
Steven Yeun – MINARI

BEST ACTRESS
Nicole Beharie – MISS JUNETEENTH
Viola Davis – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
Sidney Flanigan – NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS
Frances McDormand – NOMADLAND
Carey Mulligan – PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Chadwick Boseman – DA 5 BLOODS
Bo Burnham – PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
Sacha Baron Cohen – THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
Frank Langella – THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
Yayha Abdul-Mateen II – THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
Bill Murray – ON THE ROCKS

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Maria Bakalova – BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM
Olivia Colman – THE FATHER
Talia Ryder – NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS
Amanda Seyfried – MANK
Youn Yuh-jung – MINARI

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST
DA 5 BLOODS
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
MINARI
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
DA 5 BLOODS
EMMA
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY
MANK
NOMADLAND
TENET

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
EMMA
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
MANK
TENET

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
EMMA
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
MANK
SYLVIE’S LOVE

BEST MAKEUP
BIRDS OF PREY
EMMA
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
POSSESSOR

BEST EDITING
THE FATHER
NOMADLAND
TENET
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
WANDER DARKLY

BEST MUSICAL SCORE
MANK
THE MIDNIGHT SKY
MINARI
SOUL
TENET

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Husavik” – EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA
“Loyal Brave True” – MULAN
“Speak Now” – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
“This Day” – JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY
“Wuhan Flu” – BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
THE INVISIBLE MAN
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY
THE MIDNIGHT SKY
TENET
WONDER WOMAN 1984

SPECIAL AWARDS

TRAILBLAZER AWARD
Honors the work of an artist who truly pushes the boundaries of the medium in terms of form and content
Radha Blank
Chadwick Boseman
Emerald Fennell
Steve McQueen
Chloe Zhao

IMPACT AWARD
Given to a person whose work has had a positive impact on society
Chadwick Boseman
Garrett Bradley
Scott H. Dehn
Ryan Oestreich
Chloe Zhao

The Films of 2020: Possessor (dir by Brandon Cronenberg)


Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) is a professional assassin.

That really shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.  For whatever reason, films about assassins have become very popular over the past few years and those assassins are often women.  However, what sets Tasya apart from other assassins is the technique that she uses.  Under the direction of Girder (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Tasya can possess someone else’s body.  While controlling that other person’s body, Tasya commits her murders and then commits suicide.  The host dies while Tasya’s mind returns to her original body.  The media then reports that the murder was some sort of random incident and, with the killer dead by their own hand, their true motives will probably never be known.  It’s an outlandish premise and yet, it’s one that feels oddly plausible.  Most mass shootings and random acts of violence remain a mystery precisely because their perpetrators often take their own lives.  Three years after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, we still don’t know why Stephen Paddock opened fire on a music festival in Las Vegas.  We’ve become conditioned, I think, to accept that these things just happen.

Wisely, Possessor doesn’t go into too much details about just how exactly Tasya possesses other people.  We see that it involves a lot of odd technology and we also discover that Tasya struggles to return to her “normal” self after her mind returns to her body.  That’s really all we need to see.  Too many films make the mistake of trying to explain all of the little details, as if the audience is going to be concerned as to whether or not a film about possession is 100% plausible.  The director of Possessor, Brandon Cronenberg, understands that all he really has to do is make it look convincing.  He doesn’t have to explain it and, indeed, there’s much that Cronenberg doesn’t explain.

Tasya’s latest assignment takes her into the body of Colin Tate (Christopher Abbott), who is engaged to marry the daughter of arrogant businessman named John Parse (Sean Bean).  Colin and Tasya find themselves fighting for control of Colin’s body.  Even while Tasya is setting up the circumstances that will lead to Colin killing both his girlfriend and her father, Colin is resisting and struggling to take control.  It all leads to some disturbingly surreal imagery, as well as some shockingly gory violence.  There’s a lot of blood in Possessor.  Both figuratively and literally, Possessor is a film that’s obsessed with what lies under the skin.  Throughout the film, bodies and minds are ripped open and what we discover inside of them is frequently grotesque.

Possessor is a film that raises a lot of questions and which often refuses to provide easy answers.  Does Girder sincerely care about Tasya or is she just manipulating her emotions to get the result that she desires?  Who exactly does Girder work for?  Does Tasya truly want to get back together with her estranged husband, Michael (Rossif Sutherland)?  Is Michael as clueless as he seems or does he secretly understand that Tasya is lying whenever she says that she has to go away on business?  Possessor is not always an easy film to follow but Cronenberg’s visuals are so strong and the performances are so wonderfully off-center that it remains enthralling regardless of whether or not it always makes it sense.  By the time one person is wearing someone else’s face as a mask, it’s pretty much impossible to look away.

With its emphasis on body horror and loss of identity (as well as its chilly Canadian setting), Possessor has a lot in common with the early work of David Croneberg.  That’s perhaps not surprising, considering that Possessor was directed by David’s son, Brandon Cronenberg.  Unfortunately, Possessor doesn’t really have the same dry sense of humor that distinguished David Cronenberg’s best films.  (David Cronenberg was, in his way, as much of a satirist as a horror director and Possessor doesn’t quite have the same subversive charge as something like Rabid or Shivers.)  That said, Possessor is still a fascinating and enthralling film, one that will stick with you long after it ends.

The Florida Film Critics Circle Honors First Cow!


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

Best Picture: First Cow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Orange Award: Enzian Theater