Sunday, January 29, 2023

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The 2022 Hollmann Awards, Part One

The first six categories of the 2022 Hollmann Awards in 2023. Here, you'll find my winners for Best Director, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, and Best Ensemble. Bookending the proceedings are somewhat deeper dives into two of these categories. Without further ado, after the jump:

Best Actress
Andrea Riseborough as Suze
Please Baby Please

Riseborough is past the point of needing an acting reel but if she ever needed one again, she could just run this whole film. She's funny, she's dangerous, she's unhinged, she's giggly, she's romantic. She gets the cadence of 1950s cinema and the cadence of spoofing 1950s cinema - two distinct things - and marries the two as though she were breathing oxygen. Her performance is a capital-p Performance, perfect for her film's observations about sex and gender expression, without belittling Suze's journey from big-haired boho feminity to suspender-snapping loping masculinity. What she does with her voice, her glances, the moments when you see her ignoring or listening to someone... You can't imagine anyone else giving this performance. It is dynamite.
2. Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn Wang
Everything Everywhere All At Once
It is amazing that Yeoh convinces you so much of Evelyn's ordinariness that her multiverse counterparts' glamour, fighting skills, and cunning - really, every facet of her star persona thus far - come as surprises, to say nothing of the genuine chemistry she has with all her co-stars, romantic or otherwise, in every storyline her Evelyns live in. I don't know if I'm making sense, I just know she pulled off the impossible.
3. Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár
Blanchett adds yet another tour-de-force performance to her roster: a monstrous, charismatic conductor who believes in her own mythology, one who's fought hard to get where she is - hard enough to only reveal her full self to, well, no one, and to derail when she sees it all threatened.
4. Tilda Swinton as Julie Hart & Rosalind Hart
The Eternal Daughter
Playing both mother and daughter sounds like a gimmick, but she finds ways to show how one has inherited the other's traits without being one performance, while also maintaining their individuality, from Mother's cobwebby-to-vivid recollections to Daughter's eager-to-please nervousness/frustration.
5. Emma Thompson as Nancy Stokes
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
Glamorous veteran Thompson convinces us she's a simple, somewhat prudish schoolteacher opening up for the first time, not just in her sexual inhibitions, but how she views herself as a woman - and she does it not just with the way she delivers her lines, but the way she carries herself physically.

Best Original Screenplay
The Eternal Daughter
Joanna Hogg
2. The Banshees of Inisherin by Martin McDonagh; 3. Please Baby Please by Amanda Kramer & Noel David Taylor; 4. Tár by Todd Field; 5. Everything Everywhere All At Once by Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert

From most of these movies, I could give you a line or explain a scene out of context and you'd be intrigued; I give The Eternal Daughter the edge here because there is nothing you could isolate out of context. Every moment depends so much on what comes before, what's left unsaid, and what happens after, that it is impossible to sell by those details alone. The way Rosalind chuckles when she hears Cousin Alistair is here, the one hotel employee's slow repeat of a simple order, Julie's reaction to a tragic memory of her mother's and her mother's subsequent reassurance, the other hotel employee's heart-to-heart with Julie: there's no isolating these moments, these are crafted in such perfect rhythm within their own scenes and within the film as a whole, that to clip them out of context is a disservice to all. That is perfection. That is Best Screenplay-worthy.

Best Cinematography

1. The Fabelmans
Janusz Kaminski

2. Please Baby Please
Patrick Meade Jones

3. Tár
Florian Hoffmeister

4. Everything Everywhere All At Once
Larkin Seiple

5. The Eternal Daughter
Ed Rutherford

Best Ensemble
Please Baby Please
casting by Eyde Belasco
2. The Banshees of Inisherin (casting by Louise Kiely); 3. Benediction (casting by Lucy Rands); 4. Bodies Bodies Bodies (casting by Jodi Angstreich / Laura Rosenthal); 5. Catherine Called Birdy (casting by Catriona Dickie / Nina Gold)

All these films are here because everyone in the cast was on-board. No one draws focus or takes you out; they all, as the kids say, "understood the assignment." And Please Baby Please's assignment is exceptionally difficult: how to deliver stylized camp comedy without losing the sincerity of the characters' feelings, without feeling like the parody it could be? Well, they do it, all of them: Jake Choi and Karim Saleh feel genuinely dangerous, and prove themselves several times to be; Ryan Simpkins gives a real lump-in-the-throat performance, their chemistry with Jaz Sinclair full of impending doom and real beauty; Alisa Torres, Yedoye Travis, and Marquis Rodriguez perfectly calibrate their boho snobs so that they always seem to be glancing skeptically over the rim of their glasses, even though none of them are wearing any. Both Harry Melling and Cole Escola get a second, cameo role outside their main one, and are a pleasure. What a cast!

Best Director
Amanda Kramer
Please Baby Please
2. Joanna Hogg for The Eternal Daughter; 3. Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert for Everything Everywhere All At Once; 4. Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans; 5. Todd Field for Tár

At once, one wants to sell what she does as being in the vein of John Waters/Kenneth Anger/Charles Busch/Douglas Sirk/Nicholas Ray, which, sure, yes, but - hers is so undeniably her own thing. Who could possibly make something this dialed-up in stylization, this moving in its genuine search, mm, not for identity but in how to express that identity, this sexy and erotic? Giggle at the bitchy line readings, tear up at a drag queen's phone booth-set solo, bite your lower lip at Karl Glusman's ironing skills - it's all of one mad, beautiful piece.

Best Costume Design

Please Baby Please
Ashley Heatchcock

You could mute this movie and get the whole story from the wardrobe alone. All the Young Gents are distinct in their leatherclad eroticism, but there's a way Karl Glusman's in particular just fits over that tight t-shirt and mesh wear. Andrea Riseborough's modern woman proudly wears pants - and they increasingly become trousers, her blouses changing to shirts to match, as she embraces her more "masculine" qualities. Harry Melling's turtlenecks and tweeds say a lot about how buttoned-up he is, while Cole Escola's ascots as Billy and florals as the Phone Booth Drag Queen are...well, dare I say iconique?

2. Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.
Lorraine Coppin
So much it gets right: the church hats, Lee-Curtis's fashionable duds as evidence of his "prosperity" ministry, Trinitie's "casual" shopping clothes distinct from her curbside costumes, the comparatively "soft" style of the Sumpters.

3. Everything Everywhere All At Once
Shirley Kurata
Each universe with its own look, even making sure the "unremarkable" Evelyn during the day (vest, floral prints, sweatstained) is different from her during the Chinese New Year Party (red turtleneck, "PUNK" sweater that feels either from a distant past or from lost laundry), to say nothing of Jobu Topaki's various golf/pop star/cowgirl/mix-of-all looks.

4. Glass Onion
Jenny Eagan
Love that even a contemporary-set film can follow Sidney Lumet's rule of capital-c COSTUMES for an all-star whodunnit, blessing us with a range from the bland (Hahn's all-whites) to the glam (Hudson's deep rainbow gown).

5. Elvis
Catherine Martin
Eye-popping period details for everyone, even Kodi Smit-McPhee, but as necessary, Elvis's fits outshine them all, starting with that pink-and-black number that launches his career.

A great day for Please Baby Please, which was nominated in all six of these categories and won four of them! Tomorrow, winners for Best Original Song, Best Actor, and four others...

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