Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The 10th Annual Halfway Award Winners

Best Picture
Winner - Black Panther
Runners Up - Incredibles 2, The Rider, and Tully
Commentary - This has actually been a pretty good year across the board so far, with both indies and blockbusters making incredible impressions. Tully was a welcomed return to form for Jason Reitman, The Rider was poetic, sad, and beautiful, You Were Never Really Here was haunting, and Incredibles 2 successfully relaunched a beloved franchise. But at the end of the day, nothing can match the power, the energy, the pure excitement that emanated from the screen when Black Panther was playing. It is one of the best Marvel films to date, had a tremendously talented cast, and proved that Ryan Coogler is one of our finest young filmmakers working today.

Best Director
Winners - (TIE) Ryan Coogler "Black Panther" and Chloe Zhao "The Rider"
Runners Up - Brad Bird "Incredibles 2", Lynne Ramsay "You Were Never Really Here", and Jason Reitman "Tully"
Commentary - Ryan Coogler's energy, vision, and perfect blending of cultural importance and quality action and drama was impeccable. But how do you leave this year without somehow rewarding Chloe Zhao. Her work in The Rider is breathtaking, and it proved to me why she won the Bonnie Award at this year's Indie Spirits. I cannot wait to see what she brings to the screen next.

Best Actor
Winner - Joaquin Phoenix "Your Were Never Really Here"
Runners Up - Chadwick Boseman "Black Panther", Brady Jandreau "The Rider", and Ethan Hawke "First Reformed"
Commentary - Joaquin Phoenix may be one of the strangest individuals in Hollywood, but man can he act. His work in Lynne Ramsay's latest was fantastic. His under the surface boiling rage and trauma that seeps into every frame is nothing short of amazing.

Best Actress
Winner - Toni Collette "Hereditary"
Runners Up - Charlize Theron "Tully", Emily Blunt "A Quiet Place", and Juliette Binoche "Let the Sunshine In"
Commentary - Charlize Theron was marvelous, Emily Blunt was fantastic, and Juliette Binoche lit up the screen, but none of them quite had the cinematic impact of Toni Collette in the horrifying and brilliant Hereditary. She brings an energy and a haunting fear to the screen that stays with you long after you leave the theater.

Best Supporting Actor
Winner - Michael B. Jordan "Black Panther"
Runners Up - Alex Wolff "Hereditary" and Hugh Grant "Paddington 2"
Commentary - Michael B. Jordan has proved himself many times over, and is one of the brightest young actors working today. He is brings a ferocious, socially-relevant, and screen-stealing villain to Black Panther that far outweighs the normal stock villains you see in comic-book films. If Black Panther continues to be a part of this conversation, I hope Jordan is remembered at the end of the year.

Best Supporting Actress
Winner -  Kathryn Newton "Blockers"
Runners Up - Letitia Wright "Black Panther" and Danai Gurira "Black Panther"
Commentary - The Black Panther duo were dynamic, but the performance of this group I can't get out of my head is the Kathryn Newton. Blockers was a surprise for me, a raunchy comedy with a lot of heart I wasn't expecting. Newton is a perfect representation of the film. She was at times hilarious and self-assured, but also managed to bring a lot of depth to the raunch. 

Best Screenplay
Winner - Diablo Cody "Tully"
Runners Up - Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin, and Peter Fellows “The Death of Stalin”, Brad Bird "Incredibles 2", and Andrew Haigh “Lean on Pete”
Commentary - Cody's work doesn't always work, but when it does, it is fantastic. Tully is a return to form for both her and director Jason Reitman. The combination of quirky humor, fully-formed screwed-up characters, and darkness made for a great film, and proved that when Cody is on point, she knocks it out of the park. 

Best Animated Feature
Winner - Incredibles 2
Runner Up - Isle of Dogs
Commentary - Sequels are hard, and they often fail because it is so difficult to recapture the magic. It can be particularly difficult when it has been a whopping 14 years since the original film premiered. But Brad Bird and his Pixar team once again proved why they are best in the business. Incredibles 2, like its predecessor, was wildly fun, beautifully crafted, emotionally complex, and one of the best films of the year.

Best Ensemble
Winner - Black Panther
Runners Up - Game Night, Blockers, Avengers: Infinity War
Commentary - This was easy. Top to bottom, Black Panther had some of the best actors working today firing on all-cylinders.

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