Notes on 2018 Award Season


This is my list of favourites with the crucial difference of not caring what other critics have to say, I also don’t change my mind 6 months later and suddenly say “yeah that’s overrated/ that sucks” because I don’t like to waste people’s time. I haven’t seen all the films on this list, it’s not below me to recommend films to other people I haven’t actually seen, though I’d stop if I weren’t right so often, even if I’m wrong about my own assessment of the movie. This goes back to grade school 2006 when my brother and I recommended the class go see Cars, a controversial decision that ended up with everyone liking the movie except me and my brother. My rationale is strong, if I don’t like a film I can at least appreciate it.

Best Picture: Black Panther (Producer: Kevin Feige) Because this film captured the hearts, minds (and wallets) of so many individuals while telling a layered story about power and privilege wrapped in a thrilling action package Black Panther deserves top awards because it was the year’s most culturally dominant film. Most importantly it caused me to think and change my views on historical narratives of film, to me that is one of the most important things a movie can do.

Best Director: Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite) This is a good example of a director (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer) too idiosyncratic for mainstream audiences that chooses to collaborate with other writers instead of directing from his own material and maintains his vision through directing allowing for a more accessible film that opens audiences up to a style of film they haven’t seen before.

Best Actor: Gerard Butler (Den of Thieves) Not typical awards material, but I am hard pressed to think of a performance I had as much fun watching this year as Gerard Butler (in a good movie for once) and his crooked cop routine. Eating a donut off a dead guy at a crime scene, and making any scene he walks into more interesting and sympathizing with anyone he has to interact with, he’s a perfect modern cops and robbers antagonist. Putting on 25 lbs. and looking like he ate Russell Crowe, this modern Heat ripoff is the perfect kind of movie to watch on home video. [Now on Netflix]

Best Actress
: Toni Collette (Hereditary) Best performance of the year hands down.


Best Supporting Actor: Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther) Looking back on this film, all I can remember most about it all centres on Michael B. Jordan’s performance as Killmonger. It’s too early for most to call but I do think it’ll go down in the villain hall of fame.


Best Supporting Actress: Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk) Just a guess. She wins all the awards, I’ve always liked her.


Best Original Screenplay
:
Paul Schrader (First Reformed) To be associated with one classic film as a writer is something (Taxi Driver), to be associated with 2 (Raging Bull) is lucky, but to late in your career be able to pull out a third and direct it yourself makes you an all-timer.


Best Adapted Screenplay: Audrey Wells (The Hate U Give) Another guess. Because I’d like to see the young adult sub-genre continue to evolve and succeed past The Hunger Games series.

Best Production Design: Crazy Rich Asians is a very entertaining and well made popcorn movie that seems to have no apprehensions about being a mainstream film built to make lots of money and appeal to the broadest possible audience. I enjoyed the film a lot. Given the choice by the filmmakers to push it into theatres and put a stake in their own success rather than take a big payout by Netflix is admirable and deserves respect by artists everywhere. That said, given its adherence to following cliche storytelling routes I think its award season inclusion for any narrative accomplishment is appeasement for the masses (similar to the many wrong ways Black Panther is being praised). A section that CRA deserves respect in all regards though is its production design for delivering the most spectacular looking wedding reception I have ever seen on film.


Best Cinematography
: Newton Thomas Sigel (Bohemian RhapsodyBest Editing: John Ottman (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Out of all the amazing likely overpraise for this film, far too much attention has been given to the principle actor rather than the more likely culprits of the film’s massive commercial success. As soon as I saw the trailer I thought the look of the film was completely unique, but likely the main ingredient to the film’s success was keeping audiences awake and interested (before I saw, it my initial choice given all the acclaim was ROMA) and that comes down to the underrated job of editing which at its highest calling is directing a film in post-production.

 

Best Original Score: Ludwig Goransson (Black Panther) It was a slow year for listening to film scores so I went with one of the more distinctive and by a less celebrated film composer. It comes as close as Alan Silvestri’s Avengers theme to something distinctive in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and if the movie carried more of these distinctive elements that separated it from its franchise the film would be worth even more celebrating. Best Casting: Lindsay Graham, Mary Vernieu (A Star Is Born) The only main department head that doesn’t have its own Oscar category though perhaps should (stuntwork should be in there too) its hard to look at another film this year with so many sizeable and diverse characters even down to the bit parts by Dice and Chapelle that manage to make an impression. Its the most diverse canvas and in a film as character centred as this one it is a great asset.

Special Mention: Mission Impossible: Fallout [Tom Cruise & Wade Eastwood] Stuntwork deserves its own Oscar category because well-made action films can no longer afford to be overlooked. Filmmakers and audiences need to recognize what good filmmaking looks like in this category before we get another mangled shot of Liam Neeson hopping a fence.

Best Sound: David Farmer, John Pritchett, Nia Hansen (Avengers: Infinity War) It was a tossup between this film and Ready Player One as no one efficiently uses sound to tell their story as Steven Spielberg. However, for Avengers: Infinity War’s devastating use of silence gives the sci-fi story an immense high impact edge.

Genre of the year: The High Concept Comedy (Game Night, Blockers, Tag) Tag is really an also ran in this department given that it was a so-so entry, however the originality and effort involved in making any film it deserves mention. Game Night is the real winner here, showing that an R-rated studio comedy can actually be crafted rather than thrown together in improvisation and found somewhere in the edit. Game Night has a theme, good writing, direction and performances, a few features that Blockers also has. The latter also carries with it some heart and a few good coming of age elements. 2018 was a win for comedy that actually tries.

Best Visual Effects: Industrial Light & Magic, Ready Player One
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a film and wondered How did they do that?! That moment arrived at the midpoint in RPO where our heroes enter a precise recreation of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, the thing is our heroes are actually their CGI counterparts interacting on what appears to be a live action set. I’ve never seen anything convincing like it.

Breakthrough of 2018: Searching – For delivering on the promise of the screen-life genre. Following movies like Open Windows, the Unfriended series, an entire movie taking place on a computer screen was entirely a gimmick, fortunately Searching, about a clueless widowed father searching for his daughter in the internet age finds clever ways to mine its premise and ends just at the appropriate time. It’s under seen and one of the most surprising films of the year.

Trend of the year: Film critics getting needlessly excited for a mediocre big budget studio movie that is in all ways inferior to its predecessor and only serves as a set up for another movie: Avengers: Infinity War, Solo, Jurassic World: Fallen KingdomSicario: Day of the Soldado, Ant-Man & The Wasp, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Q&A/ Festival Screenings
An extension of my beef with other film critics, where movies like the much overrated A Quiet Place can have a surprise debut at a music festival [SXSW] somehow get reviewed by “professional” critics, followed by multiple Q&A screenings that prematurely and unnecessarily over explain parts of the film that shouldn’t need explanation. All this before actual major audiences get to see it, and before then the hype-inflation is insurmountable.

Studio/ Publisher of the year: Ted Sarandos and Reed Hastings (Netflix) who spent $13 Billion on developing orginal content. Maybe one of their movies one day will be better than Ok(ja).

Actor of the Year: Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther, Fahrenheit 451, Creed II) The year an actor went from being an actor to being a living cultural reference. This in part to his standout performance in the highest grossing movie of the year, which also serves as a testament to a career that survives the British Acting invasion. It seems like there aren’t that many young emerging actors to take the place of today’s titans, fewer that are American, and fewer that are coloured. Michael B. checks those boxes and then some.

Filmmaking Decision of the year: The Ending of Avengers: Infinity War (Spoiler Alert:) What if after all these major superhero event films, we had the bad guy win for once and annihilate the heroes. Granted Infinity War works precisely because we know the events of this film will inevitably be reversed, we just don’t know how. That said, the astonishment of everyone when walking out of the theatre is something producer Kevin Feige had been looking forward to for years. “The reaction was the best. The reaction. Was. The. Best.”

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