Monday, January 23, 2017

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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)

Best Production Design

The Handmaiden
Ryu Seong-hie, production designer

2. Christine; 3. Jackie; 4. Silence; 5. The Wailing

The Wailing boasts some inventive crime scenes, from a nest of nails to a gore-ridden kitchen to a still smoking incinerated home - but it also has a genuinely creepy secret room of photographs and shoes. It's fucking creepy. Silence builds feudal Japanese villages in Taiwan, as well as a Temple and cramped wooden cells in a sunny courtyard. Jackie reimagines the residential quarters of the Kennedy White House. Christine's re-creation of a 1970s television studio is nothing short of perfect. The Handmaiden easily walks away with this honor, for its delirious mix of Japanese and European influences, its sinister basement full of horrors, its library fitted with a stage and meditation garden, and its...literature.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

The Wailing
Kim Seo-yeong, makeup
Hwang Hyo-gyun / Gwak Tae-yong, special makeup

2. Jackie; 3. Silence; 4. Hacksaw Ridge; 5. Florence Foster Jenkins

Period hairstyles and mustaches, certainly, but Florence Foster Jenkins does its best work with Meryl Streep - the wig, the drawn-on eyebrows, the subtle lip. Gore is a grand tradition in this category, and the bruises, broken limbs, and spraying blood of Hacksaw Ridge more than earns its place here.  Silence gives dirt, blood, sores, and most striking, skin rubbed raw by salt water. Jackie's hair and makeup, whether she's perfectly poised, in the middle of a breakdown, or somewhere in between, are always on point. Sigh, but I'm a sucker for horror in this category, and The Wailing has it all: rotting corpses, burned bodies, reanimated dead, bloodied children, simultaneous nosebleeds and projectile vomiting, mysterious boils - even a demon!

Best Costume Design

The Handmaiden
Jo Sang-gyeong

2. Jackie; 3. The Dressmaker; 4. Everybody Wants Some!!; 5. Hail, Caesar!

Don't you just adore the 1930s Hollywood of Hail, Caesar, especially the eccentricity of Tilda Swinton's ensembles? Don't the short shorts, tight pants, and patterned evening wear of Everybody Wants Some!! make you want to watch closely? Aren't the makeovers of The Dressmaker simply to die for? Could the historical recreations of Jackie be more accurate - or more glam? Oh, but yes, I bow to The Handmaiden, where style denotes class and obsession - Japan-obsessed Uncle Kouzuki's yukatas and kimonos, Lady Hideko's European gowns, handmaiden Sook-hee's more Korean servants' clothes, the Count's tailored white pants, which denote...well, look, I liked looking at them.

Best Original Score

1. Moonlight
Nicholas Brittell

2. 20th Century Women
Roger Neill

3. The Neon Demon
Cliff Martinez

4. Kubo and the Two Strings
Dario Marianelli

5. The Witch
Mark Korven

Best Visual Effects

The Jungle Book
Robert Legato / Dan Lemmon, visual effects supervisors
Andrew R. Jones, animation supervisor

2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story; 3. Hacksaw Ridge; 4. Arrival; 5. Doctor Strange

I enjoyed the utter WTF-ery of Doctor Strange's multiverses, just as much as I was awed by the simplicity of Arrival's aliens. Hacksaw Ridge gave me explosions and war, while Rogue One: The Force Awakens literally reanimated the dead - oh, and boasted awesome battles, aliens, and a mo-cap droid that I swear was really there. Finally, The Jungle Book created an entire, duh, jungle, with animals and flora and everything, without ever leaving an LA soundstage.

Best Ensemble

Victoria Thomas, casting director

2. 20th Century Women; 3. Hidden Figures; 4. Everybody Wants Some!!; 5. Queen of Katwe

Strong ensembles all around this year, from the children of Queen of Katwe to the man-children of Everybody Wants Some!!; from the strong women, and their allies and opponents, in Hidden Figures, to the family of allies led by a strong woman in 20th Century Women. But Fences took things to the next level - its main cast already shared history and intimacy, but Thomas found pieces that fit their puzzle perfectly in Jovan Adepo and Saniyya Sidney.

Best Sound

Coll Anderson, supervising sound editor / re-recording mixer

2. The Final Master; 3. The Wailing; 4. The Handmaiden; 5. The Witch

The Witch has some of the grodiest sounds this year, be it a crow pecking at a breast, a goat head butting a man, or a witch cooking meat in her lair. The Handmaiden knows just when to deploy its melodramatic score...and when we should hear the bells. The Wailing plays with sound throughout, but the cacophony of the shaman's first exorcism against the score is a breathtaking example. The Final Master has the usual martial arts sounds: fabric billowing in mid-air, punches, kicks, swords. And Christine, taking the win, recreated the audio of 1970s television, brought us into the editing bays, the control rooms, hearing every whirr and click, every layered murmur against the music at a house party - not to mention the most horrifying sound of all, in its final act.

Best Editing

Sebastiàn Sepúlveda

2. The Final Master; 3. 20th Century Women; 4. Moonlight; 5. The Witch

The Witch excels at building tension; Moonlight gets us through three time periods and an individual's perception of each of them; 20th Century Women gives both a history of the individual and their own place in this world; The Final Master boasts beautifully-executed fight sequences. Jackie reflects both the dreamlike reality of grief and burial, never forgetting that it's all processed through an individual's memory - selective, at times naked, other times foggy.

Original Song

1. "I Can Hear You"
Like for Likes

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

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

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

5. "Able"
music and lyrics by Pharrell Williams
Hidden Figures

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali as Juan

2. Andre Holland, Moonlight; 3. Jeff Bridges, Hell Or High Water
4. Ben Foster, Hell Or High Water; 5. Issei Ogata, Silence

There's a scene in Silence where a displeased Issei Ogata literally deflates and it's unlike anything I've ever seen. As polar opposites - the trigger-tempered criminal and the deliberate lawman, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges gave Hell Or High Water its life-blood. Andre Holland, for me, anchors the last third of Moonlight with unexpected warmth, easy intimacy, and the kind of looks and attention you wish you were getting. But yes, like many, I'm firmly on Team Mahershala Ali, whose Juan dominates the first act of Moonlight with a fine balance of sympathy and shame, taking on the role of father figure for a boy whose own misery he is partly to blame for. He's only in the first third, but you feel his presence throughout the movie.

Best Director

Park Chan-wook for The Handmaiden

2. Pablo Larraín for Jackie; 3. Martin Scorsese for Silence; 4. Denzel Washington for Fences
5. Mike Mills for 20th Century Women

Suspenseful, romantic, erotic, campy - Park does it all with The Handmaiden, with lurid and shocking sequences that make you feel like a peeping a good way. Also applause for Larraìn's emotional fever dream that is Jackie, Scorsese's slow-burn meditation on faith and violent culture clash in Silence, Washington's beautiful staging of a man undone by himself in Fences, and Mills' generous network of friends and family that make up 20th Century Women.

Best Original Screenplay

Mike Mills
20th Century Women

2. Kubo and the Two Strings; 3. The Witch; 4. The Edge of Seventeen; 5. The Invitation

The Invitation has such a unique execution of both its plot and its "secret" plot, and not one character rings false. The Edge of Seventeen is honest and frustrating in its depiction of high school; it's also hilarious. The Witch distorts its reality slowly, horrifyingly, even as it shows its hand early on. Kubo and the Two Strings is a modern folk tale whose message about family, love, and story-telling cuts to the core. 20th Century Women is so full of empathy, rooting for each character while exploring their faults, executing voice-overs that build our understanding of the characters - and ourselves.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Jeong Seo-kyeong / Park Chan-wook
The Handmaiden
from the novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

2. Silence; 3. Hidden Figures; 4. Elle; 5. Arrival

Arrival's surprising celebration of motherhood and piece through communication started with a short story by Ted Chiang. Elle is a deliciously funny thriller based on the novel Oh.... Hidden Figures' honest, inspiring, untold account of the black women who changed history started as a non-fiction bestseller. From Japanese novel to American film, Silence explores faith, cultures, and what happens when, as my mother says, "You're the pagan in someone else's culture." But Jeong and Park transferred a sapphic crime novel from Fingersmith's Victorian England to The Handmaiden's Japanese-occupied Korea, tweaking aspects (especially in the third act) to reflect both the differences in time, place, and culture...and to better serve Park's slightly OTT sensibilities.

Best Cinematography

1. Silence
Rodrigo Prieto

2. Jackie
Stéphane Fontaine

3. The Witch
Jarin Blaschke

4. The Neon Demon
Natasha Braier

5. Arrival
Bradford Young

Best Actress

Annette Bening as Dorothea
20th Century Women

2. Isabelle Huppert, Elle; 3. Rebecca Hall, Christine; 4. Kim Min-hee, The Handmaiden
5. Natalie Portman, Jackie

We can talk about Natalie Portman's Jackie accent, or we can talk about her eyes flinging between fear and anger, sorrow and determination, her voice cracking, then suddenly stern. Kim Min-hee's titular Agassi (well, titular in Korea; in the US we promote The Handmaiden) is just weird enough to keep us guessing, and passionate enough to sell the central love story. Rebecca Hall gives her best performance in Christine, and I identified with her too much. There is no actress like Isabelle Huppert, and her performance in Elle is tough, hilarious, and rather human. Annette Bening's 20th Century Women performance is quiet, doesn't feel like she's acting at all, really. She could be my mom, my roommate's, my best friend's, yours! A tough call, but I think the right one.

Best Actor

Denzel Washington as Troy Maxson

2. Joel Edgerton, Loving; 3. Josh Brolin, Hail, Caesar!; 4. Logan Marshall-Green, The Invitation
5. Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington gives the most electric performance of the year in Fences. I hate Troy Maxson. I love Troy Maxson. He's boisterous and cruel; he's hilarious and loving. The lost promise of yesteryear, the frustration that comes from a life's worth of running in place, of life not being what you thought it would be - I know it. Washington nails every aspect of Troy, and for that, I think it the greatest role of his career.

He easily tops a list that includes Edgerton's underplayed, emotional work in Loving; Brolin's tone-perfect, tough-sounding nice guy trying to do well in Hail, Caesar!; Marshall-Green's tightly-wound, deeply-guarded father in mourning in The Invitation; and Mortensen's amusing, inspiring Captain Fantastic.

Best Picture of the Year

20th Century Women
Anne Carey / Megan Ellison / Youree Henley, producers

2. The Handmaiden, 3. Jackie, 4. Fences, 5. The Witch

6. Kubo and the Two Strings, 7. The Final Master, 8. The Invitation, 9. Silence, 10. The Wailing

Not an easy decision at all. I've been going back and forth between The Handmaiden and 20th Century Women. The Handmaiden is a favorite I'll keep with me, delicious and pleasurable...but 20th Century Women made me want to be a better son, brother, citizen, person.

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