Plus: 'Hail, Caesar!' Assigned.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, that stretch of November and December when the studios release every single movie aimed at adults and expect critics to watch all of them so they can vote on said movies for their awards. This year comes with a little added drama, as the Los Angeles Film Critics Association demands screeners in perpetuity because theaters are too terrifyingly diseased to set foot inside.
On the one hand: yes, screeners during awards season are great, though if the studios didn’t jam everything into the last month of the year, we wouldn’t need them to do our job. On the other, there’s nothing more tiresome than listening to people who watch movies early and for free whinge about having to go to the theater and mingle with the commoners and their filthy germs. You all have your shots; you’re going to be fine; if you’re still worried, wear an N95 mask and keep your complaints to yourself.
Anyway, as the awards roll out—the New York Film Critics Circle is dropping their winners today; check out their Twitter feed for the latest—I figured I’d share my nominations. (WAFCA noms are due tomorrow at noon; we then vote on the short list, revealed Sunday; and winners are announced Monday morning.) Sadly, I’ve yet to see Licorice Pizza or Nightmare Alley, two top contenders, but them’s the breaks. We’ll see if they make my year-end top ten.
On to the (well, my) nominations!
Best Film: Pig, Red Rocket, The French Dispatch, The Card Counter, The Last Duel
Best Director: Zack Snyder, Zack Snyder’s Justice League; Sean Baker, Red Rocket; Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch; Paul Schrader, The Card Counter; Ridley Scott, The Last Duel. [Note: I realize my top choice here is self-parody, but we’ve rarely been gifted with an opportunity to see the same film made twice by two different directors and how important having a Good, Actually director is. I mean, just look at this comparison!]
Best Actor: Nicolas Cage, Pig; Jim Cummings, The Beta Test; Oscar Isaac, The Card Counter; Will Smith, King Richard; Simon Rex, Red Rocket.
Best Actress: Jodie Comer, The Last Duel; Thomasin Mackenzie, Last Night in Soho; Rebecca Hall, The Night House; Marion Cotillard, Annette; Noomi Rapace, Lamb.
Best Supporting Actor: Alex Wolff, Pig; Ben Affleck, The Last Duel; Benicio Del Toro, The French Dispatch; Bill Murray, The French Dispatch; Ray Liotta, The Many Saints of Newark.
Best Supporting Actress: Anya Taylor Joy, Last Night in Soho; Suzanna Son, Red Rocket; Lea Seydoux, The French Dispatch; Amy Siemetz, No Sudden Move; Rebecca Ferguson, Dune.
Best Acting Ensemble: The French Dispatch; Dune; No Sudden Move; The Last Duel; Army of the Dead.
Best Youth Performance: Woody Norman, C’mon C’mon; Noah Jupe, No Sudden Move; Saniyya Sideny, King Richard; Demi Singleton, King Richard; Finn Little, Those Who Wish Me Dead.
Best Voice Performance: Danny McBride, The Mitchells vs. the Machines; Olivia Colman, The Mitchells vs. the Machines; Fred Armisen, The Mitchells vs. the Machines; Beck Bennett, The Mitchells vs. the Machines; Abbi Jacobson, The Mitchells vs. the Machines. [Note: I thought this year’s crop of animated features was dire, so I just picked the five actors I liked most in the only animated movie I liked.]
Best Original Screenplay: The French Dispatch, Wes Anderson: Red Rocket, Sean Baker & Chris Bergoch: The Card Counter, Paul Schrader: The Beta Test, Jim Cummings & PJ McCabe; Pig, Michael Sarnoski.
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Last Duel, Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, & Matt Damon; Dune, Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth; The Many Saints of Newark, David Chase & Lawrence Konner; Wrath of Man, Guy Ritchie and Ivan Atkinson & Marn Davies; The Power of the Dog, Jane Campion.
Best Animated Feature: The Mitchells vs the Machines; Luca; Encanto; Raya and the Last Dragon; Paw Patrol: the Movie.
Best Documentary: Val; Roadrunner; The Sparks Brothers; The Velvet Underground; Summer of Soul.
Best International/Foreign Language Film: Lamb. [Note: I, uh, only saw one foreign film this year. Apologies to the Benedetta and Titane partisans.]
Best Production Design: The French Dispatch; Dune; Annette; Army of the Dead; Pig.
Best Cinematography: Dune; The Last Duel; Last Night in Soho; Red Rocket; Pig.
Best Editing: The French Dispatch; No Sudden Move; The Card Counter; Dune; Pig.
Best Original Score: Zack Snyder’s Justice League; Dune; The Power of the Dog; The French Dispatch; Annette.
Best Portrayal of DC: The Card Counter.
Make sure to check out Ali Arikan’s review of Get Back. He makes a key point about the lack of talking heads leading to viewers being able to make up their own mind about what they’re seeing.
This week I reviewed C’mon C’mon and The Power of the Dog, two awards-season darlings. The Power of the Dog is particularly interesting, as the frame it has arrived with—“Oh, another gay cowboy indie about the perils of toxic masculinity!”—does it a modest injustice. There’s something a bit more interesting and subversive at the heart of Jane Campion’s latest, I think.
I also wrote about the great Ridley Scott and his distrust of both systems and the individuals who comprise them.
On the podcast front, I had a really interesting chat with David Herrin at The Quorum about what movie theaters need to do to get folks back through the door and dug into his site’s incredibly interesting and useful moviegoer interest tracking data. And on Across the Movie Aisle we talked about House of Gucci and how we would improve Twitter on the main episode and about Adam Driver’s wonderful career on the bonus. Check ‘em out!
Assigned Viewing: Hail, Caesar! (Netflix)
As the world awaits the first solo Coen Brother project, The Tragedy of Macbeth, let us revisit the final (for now!) theatrically released project by Joel and Ethan. I rewatched it over Thanksgiving with my dad and it really is wickedly funny from start to finish, working on about six different layers of irony. I mean, it presents Hollywood as a modern embodiment of the Catholic Church while simultaneously positing a homosexual communist conspiracy defeated by a Roy Rogers-style singing cowboy. And yet, this paranoid read on Hollywood’s past is also, fairly transparently, the joke?
The whole thing is really quite wonderful; I don’t know that it’s the best studio comedy I’ve seen in the last decade or so, but it’s the only one I’ve felt the desire to watch repeatedly.
Your top 5 film list is really solid. I would swap out Card Counter, but I think you mostly nailed it.