Monday, January 27, 2020

The 10th Annual Awards Psychic Award Winners

Best Picture - Drama
Winner - The Irishman
Runners Up - Parasite, 1917, Pain & Glory, Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Commentary - Parasite was fantastic, 1917 was impeccably made, Pain and Glory is Almdovar's best film in 20 years, and Portrait of a Lady on Fire is stirring. A great year in cinema indeed. I however, and going to double down on a film that has gotten its fair share of hits. I think personally, that being on Netflix has opened it up to more criticism, because so many people who would not otherwise see this film are trying it out, and it is not for everyone. The Irishman film is for the true Scorsese fans. It is not has energetic as Casino, The Departed, or Goodfellas, but it still beautifully constructs a story in the gangster genre. This time it is slower, it is more contemplative. Scorsese is now older, wiser, and has made a film that takes the time to really reflect on his contribution to the genre. A lot of people have not liked it for that very reason. It is long, and it is not necessarily fast-paced. But it is a magnum opus for one of our greatest directors. Not only for him, but for his amazing cast. Folks like DeNiro, Pacino, Pesci, Keitel, amazing actors that represent the best of the last generation of American art, all have nothing to prove, and yet manage to once again prove just how good they are. Even with the de-aging not entirely working, it is proof that even as Scorsese nears the end of his long career, even has he begins to settle into his old favorites, and reflect, he still believes in the power of cinema, and is still striving to push it to new frontiers. We need more Martin Scorseses in our would, and until then, we need to respect and celebrate the real one, who continues to make film masterpieces. The Irishman is no exception.

Best Picture - Comedy/Musical
Winner - Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Runners Up - The Farewell, Booksmart, and Dolemite is My Name
Commentary - Can you make a more perfect film? I'm sure that statement alone will cause an uproar, but I don't care. I have seen Once Upon a Time in Hollywood five times, and no matter how many times I watch it, I feel like it is not enough. I have respected Quentin Tarantino for a long time. He is a brilliant film maker, whose films will forever remain cultural staples in our society. But this film? This film is his masterpiece. It is a lot slower than many of his previous pieces, which is a apparently a theme this year. He saves his normal bursts of epic violence for his ending. He slowly builds up his story, gently nudging us from scene to scene with effortlessness, building us to a shocking, Tarantino-esque finale. At its core, this film is about an actor, and his stunt double, who are facing the end of their careers. As the Golden Age of Hollywood ends, they find themselves at a crossroads, worrying and wondering what comes next. That is the core story, but is a microcosm of a greater revisionist history. The Golden Age of Hollywood was a veneer, a shiny star to show on the big screen. The 1970's came along and challenged that veneer with gritty, independent films that shook up the most prolific, and arguably, greatest, art form of our time. Tarantino brilliantly conveys this change, butted up against his revisionist history of the Manson murders. The loss of innocence on one had, is countered by the prevention of innocence on the other. All of this combined with the heartbreak, humor, sadness, effervescence, and dreamy fantasy of this winding, intertwined story of love and loss make you swoon, make you wish that it was longer (and it is already two and a half hours), and make you realize just how marvelous cinema can be, when put in the hands of a modern master. It is a crowning achievement for the ages.

Best Picture - Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror/Comic-Book
Winner - Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Runners Up - Ad Astra, Joker, and Us
Commentary - So Ad Astra was good, but slow. Us proves Get Out was not a fluke, and Joker was controversial, but a great take on the comic book genre. So this year, instead of those great films, I am choosing the final Star Wars film. I will go ahead and admit a few things, in the hopes that it silences the haters/trolls before they start. First, the exposition first hour was roughly edited and at the same time, too much narrative. The return of Emperor Palpatine made sense, but felt abrupt, and no offense to Ian McDiarmid, but he has overacted every scene he has ever played in a Star Wars film. So now you must be wondering: how? How is it the winner this year? Let me explain. First, I think that the second half of the film was much better, connected the characters, and ended up being a fitting conclusion to the saga. The second reason is a bit more complicated, so give me a few minutes to explain, and hopefully it will make sense by the end. The definition of art is complicated, and has been argued indefinitely for centuries. In high school, I studied the great argument between T.S. Elliot and C.S. Lewis, arguably two of the greatest writers of all time. The definition that I have landed on recently is the one that Viola Davis gave when she presented the Cecile B. DeMille award to her mentor, friend, and idol Meryl Streep, a few years ago. When she was describing Meryl, she said this: "Her artistry reminds us of the impact of what it means to be an artist, which is to make us feel less alone". For 42 years, the Star Wars saga, the good films, and bad ones, have always accomplished that goal. For the freaks and geeks of the world, the misunderstood and the mistreated, Star Wars has been a refuge. A beautiful fantasy world to escape to, where you can feel like you belong. During the last half of The Rise of Skywalker, an old friend reminds us, and then shows us, that we are never truly alone. That despite the attempts to separate us, what unites us is always stronger. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is far from a perfect film. But for those of us, spread across three generations of moviegoers, who have loved this film series, this fandom, and this world that has shaped our entire lives, this film is everything we could have asked for, and more. I have often said that, in our divided times, we find our common humanity in art. No matter who you are, or where you come from, who you love, or what you believe, there is a place for you in the Star Wars universe. So thank you. Thank you to George Lucas, J.J. Abrams, Rian Johnson (not kidding), Kathleen Kennedy, and the amazing members of the cast and crew for the last 42 years, for bringing the kid whose parents always fought and the kid who never felt like he belonged, joy and excitement, and for making him believe that no matter what, he did belong in this world. For the last almost 30 years, a Star Wars poster has hung on my bedroom wall, and Star Wars Legos, action figures, and DVDs have populated by bonus room. Star Wars will always be a part of our culture and zeitgeist, and while the Skywalker saga is over (supposedly), there are plenty of amazing stories to tell in this universe, and personally I can't wait. Because no matter what happens, you can always go back and visit a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Finally, and most importantly, to all of the Star Wars fans out there, may the force be with you, always.

Best Picture - Animated
Winner - Toy Story 4
Runners Up - I Lost My Body and Missing Link
Commentary - In case you haven't gotten the message, I am a sucker for nostalgia. Toy Story 4 was pure nostalgia. I really thought that a fourth entry would ruin a beautiful trilogy, and while I think it is the weakest of the bunch, that still means it is stronger than most films released this year. There is just something special about visit old friends that makes these trips back to Toy Story so memorable. It doesn't hurt that it has an amazing voice cast, continually pushes the technical boundaries of animation, and it is a film that is brilliant written to appeal to kids, and to have an underlying message about growing up that undeniable hits adults straight in the heart. Toy Story 4 did all of those things, and proved that this story is timeless. 

Best Picture - Documentary
Winner - Apollo 11
Runners Up - American Factory, For Sama, and One Child Nation
Commentary - One of the biggest snubs of the Oscar nominations was the exclusion of Apollo 11 from the Best Documentary Feature lineup. As a librarian, I spent my entire summer dealing with space stuff, and in the midst of that, I got to see this amazing documentary. Todd Douglas Miller does a fantastic job reconstructing this incredible story about true American heroes who accomplished the impossible. This film is one of the best of the year, and should have been in the Oscars top five. That being said, I also liked American Factory, For Sama, and One Child Nation. I am rooting for For Sama and American Factory to win at the Oscars.

Best Actor - Drama
Winner - Antonio Banderas "Pain & Glory"
Runners Up - Adam Driver "Marriage Story", Joaquin Phoenix "Joker", and George MacKay "1917"
Commentary - All of this talk about Driver vs. Phoenix (both of whom are fantastic actors in great roles), but I sitting her wondering how voters don't choose Antonio Banderas instead. Banderas has had a long career of blockbusters, but in recent years, we have seen him try on indies and films in his native language, and the results have been fantastic. Pain & Glory is his crowning achievement as an actor, and his touching, graceful, and emotional performance, helps the fantastic Pedro Almodovar retell his own story, pain and glory included. I hope we continue to see these types of performances from Banderas, because it turns out that when given the right material, he can showcase an amazing array of talents as an actor that are incredible to watch.

Best Actress - Drama
Winner - Renee Zellweger "Judy"
Runners Up - Scarlett Johansson "Marriage Story", Charlize Theron "Bombshell", Lupita Nyong’o “Us”
Commentary - It is so nice to see Renee Zellweger back. I know that she has gone through a lot in the last several years, and has not appeared on screen in a long time. But she was one of the rising stars of the early part of the millennium, and just knocked role after role out of the park. Well whatever she went through, she has decided to return to the screen, and what a triumphant return. Judy, as a whole, is not the best film, but Zellweger is breathtaking in this role. She is Judy Garland. Garland herself never won an Oscar, and while we cannot re-write history, a win for Renee for this role, would serve as a nice reminder of not only Zellweger's amazing talent, but Judy's as well.

Best Actor - Comedy/Musical
Winner - Eddie Murphy "Dolemite is My Name"
Runners Up - Leonardo DiCaprio "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" and Adam Sandler "Uncut Gems"
Commentary - Eddie Murphy is one of those actors who has picked his fair share of crappy roles over the years, but when he lands on a great role, he knocks it out of the park. That is because Murphy is an amazing talent, even if it isn't always reflected on screen. Dolemite is My Name is one of those roles. It is everything we love about Eddie Murphy. It is a brash, funny, showy role that showcases his comedic talent. It is also a layered performance that allows Murphy range to show his depth, and his emotional talent as a true actor. He is a legend because he is one of the best. Dolemite proves that perfectly.

Best Actress Comedy/Musical
Winner - Beanie Feldstein “Booksmart” and Kaitlyn Dever “Booksmart”
Runners Up - Awkwafina "The Farewell" and Emma Thompson "Late Night"
Commentary - This was a really tough race. Awkwafina proved her chops, an it is one of my favorite performances of the year. But in the end, I had to show some love for Olivia Wilde's amazing directorial debut Booksmart. What a better way to reward it that to give an award to its dynamic duo leads. Feldstein and Dever perfectly capture the humor, pain, and anxiety of trying new things, taking a chance, and most importantly growing up. These two remarkable young talents have such bright futures ahead of them, heck both of them have already had great roles in their short careers. I can't wait to see what they do next.

Best Director
Winner - (TIE) Martin Scorsese "The Irishman" and Quentin Tarantino "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
Runners Up - Pedro Almodovar "Pain & Glory", Bong Joon-ho "Parasite", Sam Mendes "1917", Lulu Wang "The Farewell", and Olivia Wilde "Booksmart"
Commentary - See Best Picture - Drama and Best Picture - Comedy/Musical to see why. Let's just say I could not pick between the two.

Best Supporting Actor
Winner - Brad Pitt "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
Runners Up - Song Kang Ho "Parasite" and Joe Pesci "The Irishman"
Commentary - From the second Cliff Booth strides into frame in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, you are hooked. Brad Pitt just plays this role with ease. He brings so much humor and shine to Tarantino's masterpiece. Pitt is one of the last remaining true movie stars left on the planet. He doesn't do Marvel films, or too many sequels. He just picks great role after great role, and his presence alone, his magnetism on screen is just so powerful, people flock to witness every time. Brad Pitt has never won an acting Oscar, and fingers crossed that that ends in a few weeks.

Best Supporting Actress
Winner - (TIE) Jennifer Lopez "Hustlers" and Zhao Shuzhen "The Farewell"
Runners Up - Da'Vine Joy Randolph "Dolemite is My Name" and Margot Robbie "Bombshell" and "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
Commentary - I love Kathy Bates as much as anyone else, but that fact that Oscar voters put her in that fifth slot instead of these two amazing women is just wrong. These two fantastic performances were both so great, I could not pick just one. Jennifer Lopez proves that her star power can be put to good. Her role as Ramona may be supporting, but she steals every scene she is in. From the powerful emotional scenes, to the brilliant combination of fear and bravery, to the dynamic magnetism she brings to every scene, prove Lopez is not just a star, but a true actress. Zhao Shuzhen is pitch-perfect in The Farewell. Everyone has a grandmother that they loved, and Shuzhen feels like she is yours as well as Awkwafina's. She is so funny, fierce, and loving that you can't help but get swept up in wanting to protect Nai Nai as much as her family does. I hope we see more of Shuzhen in the future.

Best Ensemble
Winner - Parasite
Runners Up - The Irishman, The Farewell, Hustlers, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Commentary - Whatever happens with Best Picture at the Oscars, the award I was most happy to see Parasite win was the SAG ensemble. Obviously the film is well-written and directed, but for me, it is the cast that I just thought was the best part of this excellent film. They were funny, perfectly played their roles, and captured the humor and horror of Bong Joon Ho's unique vision.

Best Voice Acting/Motion Capture Performance
Winner - (TIE) Tim Allen and Tom Hanks "Toy Story 4"
Runners Up - Zach Galifianakis "Missing Link" and Tony Hale "Toy Story 4"
Commentary - For the last 25 years, Toy Story has been a part of my life. At its center is the rivalry/friendship of our beloved Woody and Buzz. Just in case they don't make a Toy Story 5, I did not want to leave this year without recognizing the two men who made these characters possible. Tim Allen and Tom Hanks have been voicing these roles, and their charisma, emotion, and humor have given this beautiful film franchise its heart and soul. They deserve recognition.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Winner - Steve Zaillian "The Irishman"
Runners Up - Greta Gerwig "Little Women" and Taika Wahiti "Jojo Rabbit"
Commentary - Zaillian is not getting enough credit, in my opinion, for penning this beautiful, haunting, carefully constructed saga. For my money, what he accomplished with this script is the most impressive of the bunch.

Best Original Screenplay
Winner - Lulu Wang "The Farewell"
Runners Up - Pedro Almodovar "Pain & Glory" and Quentin Tarantino "Once Upon a Time in Commentary - I have a grandmother who, already suffering from dementia, has been diagnosed with metastatic melanoma. Of course, we are not telling her, because she would not understand even if we did. So maybe The Farewell hits too close to home. I did cry, like blubbering like a baby cry, twice during the film. Or maybe it is because first time director Lulu Wang has crafted such an emotionally effective story. One one hand, The Farewell is a unique look into Chinese culture, and the way they handle death and sickness. On the other hand, it is a universal tale of love, loss, and family. Wang balances those two poles perfectly, educating us on one hand, and making us connect to the story on another. It is a brilliant script, and an amazing story that deserved to be told.

Best Cinematography
Winner - Roger Deakins "1917"
Runners Up - Robert Richardson "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" and Claire Mathon "Portrait of a Lady on Fire"
Commentary - Duh. Deakins is a master, and his work in the excellent 1917 is easily the best of the bunch, by a mile.

Best Visual Effects
Winner - Avengers: Endgame
Runners Up - The Lion King and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Commentary - The final sequence of Avengers: Endgame earned this category in a walk.

Worst Film of the Year
Loser - Cats
Runners Up - X-Men: Dark Phoenix and Hellboy
Commentary - I never particularly like Cats as a stage musical, but when I saw the crew members and cast members that were going to be involved, my hopes rose that maybe they would make it something worth seeing. How did it go so wrong? Obviously some of the visual effects choices were horrible (to the point that the studio re-released it with fixes). But there was so much more. The Story was awful, and half the time made no sense, the performances, in general, were not good, even when good actors were involved, and it was just an overall hot mess. Easily the worst of the year.

Top 20 Films of 2019
1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
2. The Irishman
3. The Farewell
4. Parasite
5. Booksmart
6. 1917
7. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
8. Pain & Glory
9. Dolemite is My Name
10. Little Women
11. Hustlers
12. Apollo 11
13. Jojo Rabbit
14. Marriage Story
15. Ford v Ferrari
16. Toy Story 4
17. Knives Out
18. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
19. Joker
20. Avengers: Endgame

No comments:

Post a Comment