Category Archives: Blatherings

Screen Watch: July 21, 2017

Thoughts on movies, TV, and other things seen on flat screens

Ansel Elgort;Jon Hamm;Jamie Foxx;Eiza Gonzalez

Baby Driver

I’ve pretty much always been along for an Edgar Wright ride, even “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” – and, while “Baby Driver” is better than that oft-maligned flop, it shares and drastically augments my growing concern that Wright has no idea how to cast his leads if Simon Pegg isn’t involved. Michael Cera’s lack of range and off-putting nebbishness tanked “Scott Pilgrim”‘s emotional core, and likewise whatever heights “Baby Driver”reaches are very frequently in spite of, not thanks to, Ansel Elgort’s black hole of charisma. He’s not *bad* exactly, as Baby, the getaway driver with a heart of gold, but he’s utterly boring, and when your narrative is nothing but familiar genre tropes strung together, boring is a cardinal sin.

There’s an exception or two of course: when Elgort gets to show off his training in ballet, as in the way he dances to himself in the car of the film’s opening, outstanding heist sequence, you practically weep wondering what “La La Land” could’ve been with actual dancers leading the way. But mostly Elgort is relegated to playing straight man to a more eclectic (and more fun) cast of supporting characters. Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm spice up the patter, finding room to play in the too-long gaps between undeniably exquisite chase scenes.

Wright’s been one of the best action directors in the world the past decade, hiding behind the comic facade “Hot Fuzz”, “Scott Pilgrim” and “The World’s End”; “Baby Driver” drops much of the parodic pretense, and it’s exhilarating. The chase scenes are slick, sweet, crowd-pleasing; it’s just too bad Wright’s formal mastery is paired with an utter disinterest in narrative innovation. “Baby Driver” is totally content, for instance, to let Lily James’ character be exactly a genre cliche, practically stepped straight out of a James Cagney flick. I still whole-heartedly believe Wright’s got a masterpiece in him, but gods it won’t be “Baby Driver 2”.

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The Beguiled

As usual, Sofia Coppola’s latest is utterly ravishing, and its opening shots of a misty, murky, overgrown Virginian estate immediately sets your mind for a moody, complex thriller – that simply never arrives. Coppola’s particular, repeated treatise on repressed white femininity has played out before with more engaging and engaged characters and style (“The Virgin Suicides”, “Lost in Translation” and “Marie Antoinette” are all hardly perfect, but they are bold messes).

Here, she ventures into historic drama and a loaded premise (a house full of Southern women who shelter a wounded, handsome Union soldier) – while apparently uninterested in most any of the implications of setting the story in a specific time, and a specific place. As told by Coppola, you could transplant this story to any war, in any time; and while universality can be a legitimate point to make, in this case the vagueness simply leaves more questions than connections: beyond the lazy explanation of “that’s the source material”, why the Civil War? Why Virginia? Why dismiss the house’s slaves with a literal one-liner of hand-waving dialogue? It is difficult to get engaged with a story that feels like it is only half-heartedly justifying itself.

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Okja

Bong Joon-ho’s ability to pull off a kitchen-sink approach to genre and tone remains unparalleled – it’s difficult to think of any other director who can slip from black comedy to thrilling action to quiet drama and back again so quickly, and so easily.

Like his previous high-profile international effort, “Snowpiercer”, “Okja” features a blatantly off-key performance that threatens to tip his delicately balanced boat over. In “Snowpiercer”, Chris Evans unfortunately never seemed to receive the “satire” memo; here, Jake Gyllenhaal seems to have taken it too close to heart, putting in such an outrageously cartoonish performance that it becomes impossible to focus on what is actually happening in any of his scenes, much less get emotionally invested in them.

But, far more finely calibrated performances from Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano and lead Ahn Seo-Hyun make “Okja” a winning, if not overpowering, modern fable. The heist/chase scene that arrives mid-second-act is one of the best setpieces of Bong’s career, and the early scenes of Ahn and her charming super-pig together in the forest channel Miyazaki in the best way.

 

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War for the Planet of the Apes

The “shock” that we can empathize with digital creations is, at this point, entirely stale – we can’t pretend like Pixar hasn’t been at it for 20 years now. Less examined, and less truly appreciated, is the ability to create utterly seamless blends of CGI and physical realities. I have yet to really be *convinced*, for instance, by literally any Marvel movie, in which weightless blurry robots are destroyed by weightless blurry humanoids, with Chris Hemsworth’s face grafted on to the blur most resembling a human head. Suspension of disbelief means that I can still carry on, and even greatly enjoy, most of these movies. But Hollywood has a problem, and it has to do with weight, and the under-explored (at least, when it comes to the cultural conversation around movies) psychological correspondence between physical and emotional presence.

I’m a newcomer to the new “Apes” trilogy, so yes, I’ll join the party and confirm that “War for the Planet of the Apes” is a shining example of movies that do *not* have this problem. Despite largely taking place in a “real” setting (that is, not Thanos’ asteroid, or a Death Star, or some other completely fantastical green-screen environment), Woody Harrelson’s character is more or less the only human character of note, the entire film otherwise being carried by the apes that seem to be equal parts performance-capture and VFX artistry. Film criticism and discourse has long resisted the true appreciation of collaborative efforts – witness, most everyone’s tendency (including my own) to continue referring to movies by their director as “author”, despite us all objectively recognizing that every movie is a herculean mosaic of group effort – and thus, credit for Caesar the chimp seems destined to be handed disproportionately either to Andy Serkis or Weta Digital, when the truth is likely an un-categorizable middle ground.

Regardless. Caesar’s struggle to consider what a leader can or should be, and the tension between those impulses, is a resonant and affecting creation. The third-act prison-escape drama of “War” threatens to drag out the story too long, but it comes roaring back to a thrilling conclusion thanks to Reeves’ sterling craft and canny eye for set-pieces.

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Veep, season 6 / Silicon Valley, season 4

Both HBO stalwarts had solid seasons of comedy, but neither really came close to their respective peaks. The best moments came from those mid- to late-run magic moments of actors and writers who so thoroughly know their characters by now that they’re free to just revel in the wriggly, weird details – see: Zach Woods’ Jared in “Silicon Valley”, revealing ever more hilariously disturbing pieces of his childhood and nearly creating a spinoff show with his schizophrenic side personality, tech bro “Jim Chambers”; or Tony Hale, Matt Walsh and Timothy Simons in “Veep” all somehow finding new depths of empathy and disgust in what, five seasons ago, were already one-note characters (Sam Richardson and Clea DuVall, secret MVPs over the past couple seasons of the show, were generally under-served this time around, but still came through with 101 mph fastballs in limited screentime).

I pair these two together because they’ve also both lost pretty much any narrative engagement to the cyclical nature of sitcoms at this point: the perpetual up-and-down fortunes of Pied Piper and Selina Meyer’s presidential hopes are, at this point, in dire need of a Daenerys Targaryen wheel-breaking. Perhaps, with T.J. Miller’s departure from “Silicon Valley”, that show will at last leave behind Ehrlich’s goddamn living room (or, at least, give us more Jian-Yang).

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House of Cards, season 5

Boy, speaking of wheel-spinning. Does this show have an endgame? A point to make that it didn’t make in season two? Any reason for existing at all? I mean, the ending of season five puts us back in literally the exact same place that season three ended, with the promise of Underwood vs. Underwood. Last time turned out to be a roughly two-episode-long feint; why should I believe the political thriller that cried wolf? Especially when there’s barely even fun to be had in the supporting cast anymore? (Does Lars Mikkelsen even know he’s still on this show???) The only glimmer of life here is Patricia Clarkson more or less playing Tammy One Goes to Washington.

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GLOW, season 1

Where “House of Cards” has grown utterly stale despite self-serious insistence that it’s “relevant”, “GLOW” feels fresh by embracing familiar, comfortable formula done well. We are in true boom times for half-hour comedy, but even so “GLOW” stands out for its snappy and savvy writing and top-to-bottom charming cast of established (Alison Brie, Marc Maron) and should-be (Sunita Mani, Sydelle Noel, Britney Young) stars. It won’t inspire as many thinkpieces as many other peak-TV offerings because it’s message, and implications, are straightforward and not terribly ambitious, but that’s most increasingly welcome in a bloated landscape of cultural conversation.

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Filed under Blatherings, Features, Reviews

Screen Watch, June 18th 2017

Thoughts on movies, TV, and anything else seen on a flat screen recently:

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It Comes At Night

I didn’t see the first feature by Trey Edward Shults, 2015’s “Krisha”, but his sophomore effort is the kind that makes me want to not only go back and catch up, but pay close attention to whatever project he’s got lined up next (Trey, more “Moonlight”, less “La La Land”, please). “It Comes At Night” is a solid entry in the new wave of indie horror. Like “It Follows” or “The Babadook” or “Get Out”, it’s steeped in genre history: Shults’ techniques are familiar (slow, brooding zooms, plenty of shadows, sharp and sudden stings of music or sound), but impeccably deployed in a “Night of the Living Dead”-esque scenario that strips out the metaphorical monsters and skips right to the oppressive, sweat-inducing dread.

It is not a spoiler to say, straight up, that you will never see or really learn much of anything about the threat lurking in the woods outside the secluded home of Paul (Joel Edgerton), Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and Travis (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.), and if you need anything more concrete, this will not be your movie. Whereas Romero’s walking, lurching dead are a (brilliantly) simple metaphor for mortality, Shults’ monster is an even broader sense of anxiety and the many, many forms it can take for people: not just death, but xenophobia (sorry, “economic insecurity”), sex, loneliness, puberty, machismo. Our fears are innumerable and therefore, overwhelming and unnameable. There’s been plenty of apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic fare at the box office for the better part of a decade now, and I’m not looking to expound on the likely reasons for that – but “It Comes At Night” for me, taps into a fascinating (and disturbing) new feeling of existential dread: less cataclysmic than Hollywood’s vision of extinction, but a smaller and much harder-to-shake sense that the world we are creating will be worse than the one we’re in now. Society might crumble, our loved ones will be lost, and we’ll be forced to watch it all happen.

The ensemble performance, including surprising turns from Christopher Abbott of “Girls” and Riley Keough (“Mad Max: Fury Road”, “American Honey”), is universally terrific, but the tête–à–tête of Edgerton and Harrison, Jr. as weary, loving father and unmoored son stands out.

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Big Little Lies (HBO)

I missed the cultural conversation on HBO’s all-star mini-series, but hopefully the Emmys will bring back around a revisit of this impressive, occasionally infuriating, terrifically performed production. That “occasional” fury is, at any given moment, almost certainly the blame of an incredibly clunky script by David E. Kelley that tends to throw nuance in the trash at critical moments. The reasons it only pops up now and again, rather than a constant stream of why-am-I-watching-this self-interrogation, are 1) surprisingly moody, woozy direction by Jean-Marc Vallee (making a leap above “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Wild” here), and 2) a veteran cast of actresses clearly reveling in the ability to play women with seven hours of development and shading rather than three scenes of “concerned love interest”.

Nicole Kidman does the most with the most room to play, Reese Witherspoon the most with the least, and Zoe Kravitz is the most ill-served by Kelley’s wildly inconsistent script – for a project otherwise so explicitly meant to explore female perspectives, it’s insane to me how completely uninterested in her character the show is beyond “hippie-dippie step-mom that all the middle-aged white men want to fuck”. Laura Dern at least has much much more screen time to turn a cartoonishly terrible character (in all senses) into something relatable, by pure dint of being Laura Dern.

Oh, also Shailene Woodley is pretty good? Honestly, maybe it’s just her smaller body of work overall, but I have almost no opinion on her career, performance, or character here.

This is what makes the series unique though: a desire to delve into and nitpick the roles of these women and performances at a level of complexity and nuance so rarely afforded these actresses (I mean, Kidman’s had a fair share of real shots on goal, but who’s going to begrudge her more).”Big Little Lies”-stans, please get at me, I’d love to talk more.

Oh oh also, the “Greek chorus” of gossiping townsfolk is a great pilot-episode device that gets increasingly misguided as it continues on throughout the series; but I did appreciate and greatly enjoy that, by the final episode, I could potentially see literally any character on the show murdering any of the other characters. No joke, that makes for a riveting mystery.

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The Americans, season 5 (FX)

Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields, why you gotta do us like this? After four seasons, by sheer force of will, TV critics and Russian majors had finally gotten the viewing public (or at least the Emmys) to pay attention to your riveting slow-burn spy drama. And then as a victory lap you decide to finally reach the breaking point of “how much plot is too little plot”. When you can literally summarize each character’s season (including, and I can not emphasize this enough, their entire emotional arc) in a sentence or two, you’re really pushing what can even be considered narrative.

In retrospect, we should’ve known we were in for a hit, with the two most interesting side characters on the show, Nina and Martha, more or less taken off the chessboard. But the failure to replace them with any equivalent (oh how this season would’ve benefited from something on the level of season 4’s lights-out supporting turn by Dylan Baker), and then to hand sterling season regulars literally nothing but anticlimax (see: Elizabeth learns tai chi, Oleg investigates grocery fraud) – hooooey. When you catch me admitting that I’m currently most invested in the Paige/Pastor Tim subplot, something is very wrong.

I fully expect “The Americans” to bring it back around for their sixth and final season – I mean, SOMETHING *has* to happen in order to wrap this up – but it was incredible to watch a show that had otherwise so meticulously ratcheted tension for four seasons completely flatline emotionally. When the show, along with Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, earn Emmy nominations again through pure inertia, I will be retroactively applying those nods to season 3.

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Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, season 3 (Netflix)

UKS is following the mold of its Tina Fey-forerunner “30 Rock” of getting stronger the less plot there is. With the Reverend finally out of the picture (Jon Hamm did an amazing job with that character, but really, I’m not convinced we ever ever ever need to see him again), UKS could just go small ball with low-stakes sitcom arcs and focus on being, pound-for-pound and joke-for-joke, the funniest show out there right now. Carol Kane and Tituss Burgess both got some of their best material yet (seriously, that hurricane bottle episode, complete with the perfect Maya Rudolph cameo, is *everything*), while Ellie Kemper proved that Kimmy’s winsome enthusiasm and naivete may very well never grow tiresome.

Jane Krakowski’s character remains the biggest flaw of the show – when somehow *still* sincerely pursuing the nausea-inducing notion of Jacqueline-as-woke-whitewashed-Native American, UKS is, yet again, a black hole of misplaced intentions. Luckily, they improve on season 2 by at least doing *less* of that and much more of the straight-faced absurdity (David Cross getting “smooshed”, flirting with a dead grandmother, anything involving Amy Sedaris) that is Krakowski’s wheelhouse.

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Master of None, season 2 (Netflix)

The increasing indulgence of “Master of None”‘s second (and possibly last) season plays both in its favor and against it. Even more so than the first season, the show revolves around a structure of isolated vignettes – meaning it can live or die not just episode by episode, but sometimes even scene to scene. An homage to “Bicycle Thieves” can be alternately charming AND gratingly twee. Suddenly doubling the running time of an episode for an hour-long romantic interlude can both afford more depth than usual to Dev’s desires AND reveal how shallow the object of that romantic interest (first Rachel, now Francesca) is written.

“Master of None” remains one of the most perceptive and empathetic depictions of 21st-century young-adulthood and immigration, especially when it comes to dating and family relationships. But Dev is increasingly the least interesting character on his own show (partly, I gotta say, because of Aziz Ansari’s limited range – he’s got a note, and he played it extremely well for about a season and a half!), and it feels like Ansari and Alan Yang know it – that explains (terrific) episode-long tangents dedicated to say, Denise’s family dynamics, or literally *a bunch of random strangers encountered on the street* (“New York, I Love You”, which for me ranks with season one’s “Parents” as the best the show has offered, despite the more direct crack at a sequel in “Religion”).

Ansari has made noises that “Master of None” won’t return unless he and Yang really come up with stor(ies) that they love, and I get the sense from season two that might not be likely. Seeing their sensibility and writing brought to a slightly different project, though, would be most welcome.

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The 10th Annual EMOs

It’s a big year – for the tenth time, I’m rolling out my annual awards for the Year in Movies gone by. On the one hand, I would like to pause and celebrate, not just the 35 films mentioned herein, but, self-indulgently, the EMOs themselves. Ten years of movies, ten years of jokes, ten years of hastily and poorly-chosen awards – Ethan’s Makeshift Oscars are a pleasure to put together and present every time, whether in the form of Facebook Note, formalwear party, dialogue between the darkest parts of my own id, Google Hangout, what have you. They started as a way to correct, in my mind, some of the wrongs done by major awards bodies – not enough love for the demi-god Michael Shannon, for instance – but a perusal over the history of the EMOs reveals that my own quirky, spur-of-the-moment choices are not necessarily more guaranteed to stand the test of time (that Best Supporting Actress for Chloe Möretz in Hugo stings). I’m glad for everyone who has indulged this nonsense with me, anyway.

But I’d also like to just get a move on, because I am as eager as everyone else to put the year 2016 firmly in the rearview mirror. In past years I’ve gone further with the EMOs in terms of offering “bonus” commentary, and framed things in terms of nominees. As I’m handing them out purely via this blog post this year, we’re going to cut to the chase in every category, with the winner immediately revealed, followed by others “receiving votes”; that is, other films or performances that I’d still like to mention that I considered. If I’ve called it out, it’s worth your time, is my general attitude. And as always, in Part II of the EMOs, every movie is a winner. At some point I might do a compendium of my favorite EMO awards from the first ten years of its existence, but it is not this day.

And, of course, a reminder that to qualify for the EMOs a film must’ve been theatrically released in the U.S. in 2016 AND I had to see it in 2016 (with the exception of the poster and trailer categories, of course). I’ll be back with a more robust Top 10 list after I’ve had some time to catch up with the end-of-year glut in January and February. And do watch for the second annual ERPs (Ethan’s Repertory Picks), also coming soon! Enjoy!


Best Action Film: Green Room

Receiving Votes:
Captain America: Civil War
Deadpool

Funniest Film: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Receiving Votes:
Deadpool
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
The Nice Guys
Manchester by the Sea (no, really)
Zootopia
Hail, Caesar!

Most Fucked-Up Protagonist: sad white rich people, Nocturnal Animals

Receiving votes:
Michéle, Elle
Lee Chandler, Manchester By the Sea
Wade, Deadpool

Most Inexplicable Multi-Scene Pop Star Appearance: Shakira, Zootopia

Receiving votes:
Janelle Monáe,  Moonlight
Seal, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Most Deserving to Have Everyone Involved in Production Die a Horribly Painful Death Just For Making Me Watch the Trailer: Same Kind of Different As Me

Receiving votes:
Yoga Hosers
Gods of Egypt
The Wild Life
Maximum Ride

 

Best Cameo: Will Arnett/Chelsea Peretti/Eric Andre/Mike Birbiglia as the “CMZ” reporters, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Receiving votes:
Jena Malone, Nocturnal Animals
Justin Timberlake, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Frances McDormand, Hail, Caesar!
Taika Waititi, Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Christina Hendricks, The Neon Demon
Michael Shannon, Loving

Breakthrough Actor/Actress of the Year: Anya Taylor-Joy, The Witch

Receiving votes:
Jaeden Lieberher, Midnight Special
Lily Gladstone, Certain Women
Ashton Sanders, Moonlight
Lucas Hedges, Manchester By the Sea
Markees Christmas, Morris from America
Wyatt Russell, Everybody Wants Some!!
Sasha Lane, American Honey
Julian Dennison, Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Best Poster:
Moonlight
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Receiving votes:
The Handmaiden
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Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World
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Men Go to Battle
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De Palma
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The Birth of a Nation
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La La Land
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Green Room
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The Neon Demon
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American Honey
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Best Trailer: Moonlight

Receiving votes:
The Witch
Logan
La La Land
The Handmaiden
Jackie
High-Rise
Rogue One
Get Out
American Honey

 

Best Scene: mansion detour, American Honey

Receiving votes:
diner, Moonlight
“Would that it were so simple”, Hail, Caesar!
the ending of The Lobster
“Do you think we could get lunch sometime?”, Manchester By the Sea
Churchill, Love & Friendship
the runway, The Neon Demon
“Once, I was a fucking jet engine”, Sing Street
offering a ride, Certain Women

Best Use of an Existing Song: “We Found Love,” Rihanna + Calvin Harris, American Honey

Receiving votes:
“American Honey”, Lady Antebellum, American Honey
“Nazi Punks Fuck Off”, The Dead Kennedys, Green Room
“God’s Whisper”, Raury, American Honey

Best Original Song: “I’m So Humble”, perf. The Lonely Island w/ Adam Levine, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Receiving votes:
“Drive It Like You Stole It”, perf. Sing Street, Sing Street
“Incredible Thoughts”, perf. The Lonely Island w/ Michael Bolton, Justin Timberlake, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
“Brown Shoes”, perf. Sing Street, Sing Street
“Up”, perf. Sing Street, Sing Street
“Try Everything”, perf. Shakira, Zootopia
“Milestone 2 (Skux Life)”, perf. Moniker, Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Best Original Score: Nicholas Britell, Moonlight

Receiving votes:
David Wingo, Midnight Special
Jóhann Jóhannson, Arrival
Mark Korven, The Witch
Dario Marianelli, Kubo and the Two Strings
Cliff Martinez, The Neon Demon
Nick Cage and Warren Ellis, Hell or High Water
Clint Mansell, High-Rise

https://open.spotify.com/user/egates12/playlist/7xdVKEbVkRp6Cm0vZMTy8C

 

Best Cinematography: Robbie Ryan, American Honey

Receiving votes:
James Laxton, Moonlight
Chung Chung-hoon, The Handmaiden
Bradford Young, Arrival
Jarin Blaschke, The Witch
Christopher Blauvelt, Certain Women
Stéphane Fontaine, Elle
Giles Nuttgins, Hell or High Water
Seamus McGarvey, Nocturnal Animals
Nathasha Braier, The Neon Demon
Laurie Rose, High-Rise
Anthony Dod Mantle, Our Kind of Traitor

Best Adapted Screenplay: Whit Stillman, Love & Friendship

Receiving votes:
Chung Seo-kyung, Park Chan-wook, The Handmaiden
David Birke, Elle
Taika Waititi, Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Franck Ekinci, Benjamin Legrand, April and the Extraordinary World

Best Original Screenplay: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou, The Lobster

Receiving votes:
Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By the Sea
Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water
Jeremy Saulnier, Green Room
Robert Eggers, The Witch
Jeff Nichols, Midnight Special
Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Hail, Caesar!

Best Supporting Actor: Alden Ehrenreich, Hail, Caesar!

Receiving Votes:
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Laurent Lafitte, Elle
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals
Tom Bennett, Love & Friendship
Gil Birmingham, Hell or High Water
Craig Robinson, Morris from America
Joel Edgerton, Midnight Special
Jack Reynor, Sing Street
Damian Lewis, Our Kind of Traitor
Patrick Stewart, Green Room

Best Supporting Actress: Jena Malone, The Neon Demon

Receiving votes:
Lily Gladstone, Certain Women
Kristen Stewart, Certain Women
Laura Dern, Certain Women
Léa Seydoux, The Lobster
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Rooney Mara, Kubo and the Two Strings
Kate Dickie, The Witch

Best Actor: (tie) Ben Foster and Chris Pine, Hell or High Water

Receiving votes:
(tie) Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevonte Rhodes, Moonlight
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Michael Shannon, Midnight Special
Colin Farrell, The Lobster
Josh Brolin, Hail, Caesar!
Sam Neill, Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Logan Marshall-Green, The Invitation
Ralph Ineson, The Witch
Ryan Gosling, The Nice Guys
Joel Edgerton, Loving

Best Actress: Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Receiving votes:
Kim Tae-Ri, The Handmaiden
Kim Min-hee, The Handmaiden
Amy Adams, Arrival
Anya Taylor-Joy, The Witch
Kate Beckinsale, Love & Friendship
Ruth Negga, Loving
Imogen Poots, Green Room
Rachel Weisz, The Lobster
Sasha Lane, American Honey

Best Acting Ensemble: Moonlight

Receiving votes:
Certain Women
Manchester By the Sea
Love & Friendship
The Lobster
Midnight Special
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Best Director: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Receiving votes:
Kirsten Johnson, Cameraperson
Park Chan-wook, The Handmaiden
Paul Verhoeven, Elle
Andrea Arnold, American Honey
Robert Eggers, The Witch
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Lobster
Ava DuVernay, 13th
David Mackenzie, Hell or High Water
Kelly Reichardt, Certain Women

Best Movie: Moonlight

Receiving Votes:
Cameraperson
The Handmaiden
Elle
The Witch
American Honey
The Lobster
Manchester by the Sea
13th
Hell or High Water
Certain Women
Love & Friendship
Green Room
Arrival

2016 Special Achievement (given to a film or film-adjacent contributor for a stellar year across multiple works or media that I consumed in 2016, potentially including movies, TV, theater, the internet, etc.):
Bill Camp (for Ivo Van Hove’s Broadway revival of “The Crucible”, HBO miniseries “The Night Of”, and stellar work in brief parts of both Midnight Special and Loving, though we won’t mention him in Jason Bourne)

Receiving votes:
Michael Shannon (for never having a dull moment in Midnight SpecialNocturnal Animals or even two minutes of Loving, and for generally being Michael Shannon)
Mahershala Ali (for breaking out of the “House of Cards” doldrums in dramatic style with Moonlight and “Luke Cage”)
Jena Malone (for proving in The Neon Demon and Nocturnal Animals that she desperately needs some talented director(s) to give her a Kristen Stewart-style career makeover)

The Putin the Platypus Memorial Award for Misogyny: The Neon Demon

Fan Service – The Movie! : Deadpool

Most Hot Button Political Issues Stepped Into: Zootopia

Most Hot Button Political Issues Not Stepped Into: Jason Bourne

Happiest Affront to Every John le Carré Book I’ve Ever Read: Our Kind of Traitor

Most Under-Marketed Naked Tom Hiddleston: High-Rise

Cubby Broccoli Memorial Award for Keeping a Franchise Relatively Fresh Thirteen Installments In Even Though Oh My God I Still Don’t Give a Shit About Bucky: Captain America: Civil War

Call Your Mother More: No Home Movie

Most Beautiful Mannequins That Also Happen to Be Famous Actors: Nocturnal Animals

Worst Critical Praise to Bechdel Test Ratio: Everybody Wants Some!!

Most Tilda Swintons: Hail, Caesar!

Least Work Done to Overcome the Stereotype That All Germans Are EDM DJs: Morris from America

Most Terrifying Validation of Every Single One of My Social Anxieties: The Invitation

Best Half-Hearted Impression of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang That Mostly Just Makes You Want to Watch Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Again: The Nice Guys

Most Inarticulate Civil Rights Heroes: Loving

Best Opening Line, And That’s Not Even a Joke, Guys:  Kubo and the Two Strings

The Nigel Tufnel Award For Going to 11: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Most Inauthentically Terrific High School Band: Sing Street

Most Inventive Piece of Alternate Reality That Isn’t As Depressing As “The Man In the High Castle”: April and the Extraordinary World

Blandest Conception of Hyper-Real Extra-Dimensional Space Gods: Midnight Special

Silliest Sam Neill: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Most Plot Holes That Have Nothing to Do with Time Science in a Time Science Movie: Arrival

Most Comfortingly Isolated Nazi Punks: Green Room

Best Redemption of a Dismissed Celebrity and No It’s Not Ryan Reynolds As Deadpool, Dammit: Kate Beckinsale, Love & Friendship

The Robert Altman Memorial Award for Resurrecting Rene Auberjonois: Certain Women

The Jeff Bridges Award for Being Jeff Bridges: Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Most Tightly Paced Application of White Guilt: 13th

Most Authentically Terrible High School Band: Manchester by the Sea

Closest Resemblance to What Wes Anderson’s Personal Upside Down Probably Looks Like: The Lobster

Most Disturbing Rat Tail: Shia LaBeouf, American Honey

Happiest Ending: The Witch

Best Example, Possibly Ever, That the Savviest Direction Can Be Good Casting: Elle

Best Performance of Jingle Bells: The Handmaiden

Most Surprisingly Genial Time Spent in Awful, Awful Places: Cameraperson

Darkest Direction to Take Miss Moneypenny: Moonlight

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