Monday, January 23, 2017

The 2016 Hollmann Awards

The Oscar nominations are tomorrow...and so now is as good a time as any to present my own awards for the best in 2016 cinema. These are the Hollmann Awards.

Best Supporting Actress

Jiang Wenli as Master Zou, the Madame
The Final Master

2. Viola Davis, Fences; 3. Song Jia, The Final Master; 4. Jena Malone, The Neon Demon
5. Lupita Nyong'o, Queen of Katwe

Lupita Nyong'o, expressing disapproval with the little "hmms" she makes, giving those looks children the world over know too well - yet in her eyes, there's guarded hope. Jena Malone, deadpanning her way through an off-kilter performance that boasts three jaw-dropping moments for her. Song Jia, the mysterious wife who enters into a marriage as a transaction, suddenly finding a strength and love for her husband she didn't count on possessing. Viola Davis, breaking our hearts and reflecting every hard-working woman out there who stood to the side so her man could feel like a Man.

But my favorite supporting actress performance this year came from Jiang Wenli, as a smirking, cruel, calculating gang boss who hides behind the cloak of "continuing my husband's name" - while consolidating power for her own ends. She is strong, she is cunning, she is a force to be reckoned with. And Jiang plays her like a cat with a bowl of cream.

(the rest of the awards are after the jump)

Friday, January 13, 2017

The 2016 Hollmann Award Nominees

Finally, the nominations for the Eleventh Annual Hollmann Awards! There is one addition I've made here...and may add retroactively to the other pages, who knows? Anyway, I'm going with the Academy's tradition and awarding Best Picture to the film's producers; you will see their names listed under the title.

Eighteen categories, five nominees for each, presented here in the order in which I figured them out...with the exception of Best Picture, which I've saved for the end.

Let us begin...


20th Century Women
Mark Bennett / Laura Rosenthal
Rosenthal was previously nominated in this category for The Kids Are All Right

Everybody Wants Some!!
Justine Baddeley / Vicky Boone / Kim Davis-Wagner
Baddeley and Davis-Wagner were previously nominated in this category for Whip It! 

Victoria Thomas
Thomas was previously nominated in this category for Straight Outta Compton

Hidden Figures
Victoria Thomas
See above

Queen of Katwe
Dinaz Stafford


Hidden Figures - "Able"
music and lyrics by Pharrell Williams

Like for Likes - "I Can Hear You"

Moana - "How Far I'll Go"
music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Moana - "I Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors)"
music by Opetaia Foa'i / Mark Mancina / Lin-Manuel Miranda
lyrics by Opetaia Foa'i / Lin-Manuel Miranda

Moana - "We Know the Way"
music by Opetaia Foa'i
lyrics by Opetaia Foa'i / Lin-Manuel Miranda

The remaining categories below the jump...

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Longlists

The nominations for the BAFTA Awards were announced today, but things just haven't been the same since they ended the tradition of the long lists. For those who may not remember, or just plain never knew, BAFTA used to release the 15 semi-finalists in each category, before announcing their final nominations. Many people disliked it; I loved it. Oftentimes, it was the only chance to see certain names and titles join the awards conversation. Many felt that was cruel, but for some of us, it was a nice reminder of the embarrassment of riches that are out there, if you only bother to look and carefully consider.

But since I run the Hollmann Awards any way I want, I can do what BAFTA no longer does. Here are my long lists for the 15 semi-finalists in all 18 categories, with the exception of Best Picture - after all, I've already posted my Top Ten, and the Fifteen Honorable Mentions besides.

After the jump...

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Top Ten of 2016

A little late, but still here: my top ten films of 2016. Hopefully this all comes out as much more than just word vomit under some movie titles. If it convinces any of you to get off the fence and see at least one of these, that is victory enough.

In alphabetical order...

20th Century Women
Dir/Scr: Mike Mills
Cin: Sean Porter
Is it weird to quote my Facebook status? Oh well. From December 31st: "Just saw a movie that made me so happy to be alive, grateful for the people I know and have known, excited for the experiences that are still to come, intrigued by uncertainty, and awed by Life. So yes, take this as a recommendation to see 20th Century Women."

Dir: Denzel Washington
Scr: August Wilson, based on his play
Cin: Charlotte Bruus Christensen
The part Denzel was born to play - immensely charismatic, deeply complicated, kind of an asshole, but he also makes sense. Every conversation is an opportunity for monologuing - whether it's a fanciful fight with the devil, heroic tales of standing up to the boss, or a self-pitying diatribe against the world. With such an overpowering central character, it's to the movie's credit that no one gets lost or sidelined - everyone, from Viola Davis to Stephen McKinley Henderson to Saniyya Sidney, is a fully realized human being.

The Final Master
Dir/Scr: Xu Haofeng, from his novel
Cin: Wang Tianlin
In pre-World War II China, a martial artist arrives in Tianjin in the hopes of opening a martial arts school teaching the Wing Chun fighting style; the already-established teachers don't like it one bit. And so begins almost two hours of double-crosses, street fights, ambiguous alliances, legacy, friendly enemies. Yet it is also about a changing China - dig the posh, European-style suits of the Grandmasters, looking down on the unpolished interloper and his peasant pupil, compromising the old values to consolidate power. I wish it had been three hours, truly.

The Handmaiden
Dir: Park Chan-wook
Scr: Jeong Seo-kyeong/Park Chan-wook, from the novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Cin: Chung Chung-hoon
What a wacky movie! What a stunning movie! What a unique, oddball creation! Park and Jeong so seamlessly transfer the source novel's setting from Victorian London to Japanese-occupied Korea, you can't imagine it ever existed otherwise: the subtleties of language, the cultural particularities of certain literature, the significance of non-Korean influences as it pertains to status. The costumes, the sets, the locales! It's delicious.

The next five, after the jump...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Top Films of 2016...Part One

As you saw yesterday, I saw 128 movies released in 2016 last year. And while I may miss a year here and there, I do like to post my Top 25 of the year.

Mind, this is only 25 - 11; shall we begin?

25. Denial
Dir: Mick Jackson
Scr: David Hare
Cin: Haris Zambarloukos
Sixteen years ago, the very existence of the Holocaust was put on trial as part of a libel suit brought against historian Deborah Lipstadt by the controversial alt-historian David Irving, known as a Holocaust denier and Hitler apologist. A timely film, this, as I'm sure anyone who got into Facebook arguments about what's news and what's fake news can appreciate. We can take the resolution of this trial for granted, but the fact that it happened at all is proof that we should not. And besides all that, I thought it an engrossing, solid film - from the director of The Bodyguard, of all things!

24. The Neon Demon

Dir: Nicolas Winding Refn
Scr: Nicolas Winding Refn/Mary Laws/Polly Stenham, story by Refn
Cin: Natasha Braier
Absolutely bonkers, this fever dream of LA, but accurately captures the city's weirdly insidious beauty. Is it weird to literalize everything that people say about showbiz - "it's cutthroat", "they'll eat you alive", "no, like, there are literal Neon Demons"? Yes, and they commit, so good on them. The off-kilter performances from Jena Malone and Abbey Lee seal the deal.

23. The Dressmaker

Dir: Jocelyn Moorhouse
Scr: P.J. Hogan/Jocelyn Moorhouse, from the novel by Rosalie Ham
Cin: Donald McAlpine
Like a strange marriage of To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar and The Visit, an over-the-top, fabulously dark comedy with cross-dressing cops, slinky gowns, hunky Liam Hemsworth, and murder. I can see this becoming frequent viewing for wine nights with the girls.

22. Arrival

Dir: Denis Villeneuve
Scr: Eric Heisserer, from the short story "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang
Cin: Bradford Young
This is a movie about the complexity of language, and therefore the complexity of our connections and relationships with others: co-workers, parents, children, spouses, aliens, situations both political and personal. That much you know because Amy Adams tells you in the trailer. But I wasn't expecting it to also be a movie about making choices that you know will lead to pain...and deciding it's worth it. Beautiful (though Jeremy Renner is saddled with one howler of a line at the end).

21. Elle

Dir: Paul Verhoeven
Scr: David Birke, translated by Harold Manning, from the novel Oh... by Philippe Djian
Cin: St├ęphane Fontaine
Two hours of Isabelle Huppert side-eyeing everyone in the room. Wearily jerking off a lover. Not bothering to hide her disdain for her family members. Plotting the seduction of her younger, married neighbor. And there's also rape and mass murder. And it's all hilarious. A great argument for what Nathaniel Rogers at The Film Experience called "the actress as auteur."

Entrants 20 - 11, after the jump....

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 in Review: The Movies

This week, we begin the New Year by looking back at what was - great preparation for the Hollmann Awards, which will be give out in two weeks.

So, what's in contention? Behold: a complete list of 2016 releases screened in 2016, a total of 128 films:

10 Cloverfield Lane
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
20th Century Women
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
The Age of Shadows
Almost Christmas
The Angry Birds Movie
Barbershop: The Next Cut
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Blair Witch
Boo! A Madea Halloween
The Boss
The Boy
Cafe Society
Captain Fantastic
Cemetery of Splendor
Collateral Beauty
Dirty Grandpa
Doctor Strange
Don't Breathe
Dongju: Portrait of a Poet
The Dressmaker
Eddie the Eagle
The Edge of Seventeen
Everybody Wants Some!!
Eye in the Sky
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The Final Master
Finding Dory
Florence Foster Jenkins
Front Cover
The Girl on the Train
Green Room
Hacksaw Ridge
Hail, Caesar!
The Handmaiden
Hell Or High Water
Hello, My Name is Doris
Hidden Figures
Holy Hell
How To Be Single
Independence Day: Resurgence
The Infiltrator
The Innocents
The Invitation
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
The Jungle Book
King Cobra
Kubo and the Two Strings
Kung Fu Panda 3
La La Land
The Last Princess
The Light Between Oceans
Lights Out
Like for Likes
The Little Prince
The Lobster
London Has Fallen
Love & Friendship
The Lovers and the Despot
Maggie's Plan
The Magnificent Seven
Manchester by the Sea
The Map Against the World
Me Before You
A Melody to Remember
The Mermaid
Miles Ahead
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Miss Sloane
Money Monster
Mother's Day
Mountains May Depart
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
The Neon Demon
The Nice Guys
Nocturnal Animals
Office Christmas Party
Operation Chromite
Pete's Dragon
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Queen of Katwe
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Rules Don't Apply
The Secret Life of Pets
Seoul Searching
Sing Street
SORI: Voice from the Heart
Spa Night
Spirits' Homecoming
Suicide Squad
Train to Busan
The Wailing
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
The Witch
X-Men: Apocalypse

So what's missing? Among the titles I wish I'd caught: Certain WomenHunt for the Wilderpeople, I Am Madame BovaryA Monster Calls, Other People. But oh well.

My top films of the year tomorrow.

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