Tuesday, February 2, 2021

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The 2020 Hollmann Awards: Part One

You've had a week to look at my Top Ten and my nominees, a week to disagree and process. Today, we begin. It's Day One of the 2020 Hollmann Awards in 2021, with our first nine categories:

Best Supporting Actor
Brian Dennehy as Del
2. Glynn Turman in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, 3. Paul Raci in Sound of Metal, 4. Colman Domingo in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, 5. Courtney B. Vance in Uncorked

Dennehy's swan song is a beautiful performance delivered with a light touch. Through glances and subtleties of bearing, he communicates Del's loneliness, regrets, and care for others. Like the bingo game,  the seemingly offhanded way he gets nine-year-old Cody to help out Roger, a friend increasingly displaying symptoms of dementia, welcoming one person into the fold and helping the other without embarrassment. A tender portrayal. 

Eight more, including Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay, after the jump:
Best Adapted Screenplay
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Ruben Santiago-Hudson
from the play by August Wilson
2. First Cow, 3. The Man Standing Next, 4. News of the World, 5. Hope Gap

The easiest decision here - both the nominees and the winner. Santiago-Hudson opens up the play just enough to further the tension, provide context, and hit home one of the main themes. The bulk of it takes place in just two rooms, but it never feels "stage-bound," so much as it emphasizes the inescapability of the recording session - and of the exploitation of this system! I know Wilson's text has already done a large chunk of the work, but Santiago-Hudson's organic contributions are not to be dismissed.

Best Costume Design

Charlotte Walter
2. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, 3. We Are Little Zombies, 4. Ammonite, 5. Shirley

Charlotte Walter meets every challenge Misbehaviour throws at her: it's a period piece, but set during a weird transition period (1970); it's a large ensemble whose cast crosses all careers and class, from the layered-up working-class commune feminists to Keira Knightley's sensible middle-class single mum to the sharp looks from celebs like Bob Hope; and it's centered around an international pageant, which means gowns, bathing suits, and "representational" outfits that should be glamorous and eye-catching. From almost invisible to look-look-look, these are solid...looks.

Best Sound
Sound of Metal
Nicolas Becker, supervising sound editor
Phillip Bladh, production sound mixer
Jaime Baksht / Carlos Cortés Navarrete / Michelle Couttolenc, re-recording mixers
2. The Vast of Night, 3. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, 4. The Invisible Man, 5. Tenet

Its arc is an audial one. There's the ring of tinnitus, kind of a hearing-loss "trope" in cinema. More than that, it captures the loud of metal. It depicts the fade of hearing loss, the dull, muted backgrounding of a sound that used to be a din in your ears. The new world of silence allows for more subtle work with trees, wind, the noises we make when we open our mouths or gesture. SPOILER: The alien sounds of the world through cochlear are a crazy thing to hear.

Best Cinematography

1. The Wild Goose Lake
Jingsong Dong

2. Vitalina Varela
Leonardo Simões

3. We Are Little Zombies
Hiroaki Takeda

4. House of Hummingbird
Kang Kook-Hyun

5. Tenet
Hoyte van Hoytema

Best Visual Effects
Scott R. Fisher / Vishal Tyagi / Andy Williams, special effects supervisors
Andrew Jackson / Andrew Lockley / Katie Stetson, visual effects supervisor
2. The Midnight Sky, 3. The Invisible Man, 4. Underwater, 5. We Are Little Zombies

Its seamless blending of practical and post-production effects had me constantly asking, "Now how did they do that?" And really, that's all I ask from the VFX of a movie - fool me into believing without I doubt that everything I'm seeing was real. People moving backwards next to people moving forwards, explosions hollowing out a desert valley, ridiculous bungee-catapult stunts... Hell. Yes.

Best Score
1. Minari
Emile Mosseri
2. Beasts Clawing at Straws
Nene Kang
3. Misbehaviour
Dickon Hinchliffe
4. Let Them All Talk
Thomas Newman
5. Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado
Jeff Morrow

Best Director
Makoto Nagahisa
We Are Little Zombies
2. George C. wolfe for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, 3. Pedro Costa for Vitalina Varela, 4. Kleber Mendonça Filho & Juliano Dornelles for Bacurau, 5. Emerald Fennell for Promising Young woman

Tough call - do I go with Nagahisa's unique vision and juggling of tone to create an oddball mix of Scott Pilgrim vs. the worldThe Funeral and Return of the Stardust Brothers, or Wolfe's sublime execution of a type of adaptation (stage-to-screen) that's kneecapped others? Well, you can see who I wound up choosing, but it was a close one! Nagahisa's deadpan kids exist in a colorful, energetic world, full of stop-motion tigers, neon hobo concerts, centaur TV hosts, and they're barely processing any of it: their fame, their parents' deaths, even their own friendship. It's an entertaining ride that's not merely escapist, but interested in escapism, in how we process tragedy and channel emotions through the pop culture we consume. Getting that discussion in without once stumbling in his deceptively "fun" tone is marvelous.

Best Actress
Nicole Beharie as Turquoise Jones
Miss Juneteenth
2. Viola Davis in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, 3. Yeri Han in Minari, 4. Carey Mulligan in Promising Young woman, 5. Meryl Streep in Let Them All Talk

Count me among the chorus of voices heaping praise on Beharie's performance as a job-juggling single mom pushing her daughter to recreate her past success, but without the messy aftermath. She shares easy chemistry with screen daughter Alexis Chikaeze, screen ex-with-benefits Kendrick Sampson, and screen co-worker Liz Mikel - all natural, all different. She communicates so much with her eyes and mouth, whether suspicious of her daughter's boyfriend, reticent at the prospect of life with the undertaker who loves her, or dealing with her mother. It's a performance that brilliantly captures regrets and coulda-shouldas, and the appreciation of the present.

Nine categories, nine different films honored - a good spread! Tomorrow, the awards for Makeup, Original Song, Actor, and more - including Best Motion Picture of the Year!

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