Monday, January 30, 2023

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The 2022 Hollmann Awards, Part Two

The next six categories of the 2022 Hollmann Awards in 2023. The first six were yesterday, and do take a look at my Top Ten and the full list of nominees. Here, you'll find my winners for Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Song, Best Film Editing, Best Sound, and Best Visual Effects. Bookending the proceedings are somewhat deeper dives into two of these categories. Without further ado, after the jump:

Best Original Song
1. "Sunny Side Up Summer" from The Bob's Burgers Movie
music and lyrics by Loren Bouchard and Nora Smith

My anthem this summer. Great way to introduce the characters and give everyone their "I Want" song. More than that, the doubts and insecurities are presented way up front but countered with a relatable optimism. Things may go wrong, events may take unexpected turns, but that doesn't mean it's all going to end in tears. Embrace the excitement, hope for the best, and know that this is part of your evolution as a person. "This summer we might see just who we turn out to be, and it's gonna be the sunny side up summer of our lives!"
2. "Dragon Commander" from Inu-Oh
music by Yoshihide Ôtomo
lyrics by Avu Barazono

The movie builds to this song, this performance, and if one is going to promise a one-of-a-kind showstopper that transcends reality and brings favor from the gods, one better damn well deliver on it. Visually, of course, it does, and gosh, let me tell you, Masaaki Yuasa was this-close to getting a Best Director nomination. Musically? My goodness, yes, from opera to rock and everything in between, the flutes and electric guitars, the duet between our is supernatural, it is divine!
3. "This is a Life" from Everything Everywhere All At Once
music by Ryan Lott, David Byrne, and Mitski
lyrics by Ryan Lott and David Byrne

Was there ever an original song that so succinctly put its film into words?
4. "The Whale" from Inu-Oh
music by Yoshihide Ôtomo
lyrics by Avu Barazono

You hear Inu-Oh's growing influence as it becomes a group number complete with call-and-response: it is ceremonial, bringing together the crowd and the lost ancestors, taking past and present on a single journey together.
5. "Lucky Ducks" from The Bob's Burgers Movie
music and lyrics by Loren Bouchard and Nora Smith

Catchy as hell, this song. Provides another step to Louise Belcher's arc. Best of all, a frustrated shout on behalf of the lower-income workers who "break their backs to make a buck" but are easily discarded by employers and society alike.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Avatar: The Way of Water
James Cameron & Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver
story by James Cameron & Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver & Josh Friedman & Shane Salerno
based on characters and mythology created by James Cameron
2. After Yang by Kogonada; 3. Catherine Called Birdy by Lena Dunham; 4. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish by Paul Fisher and Tommy Swerdlow and Tom Wheeler; 5. Inu-Oh by Akiko Nogi

I said what I said. Cameron and crew took his original concept and ran with it, evoking the previous installment without repeating its beats, bringing back dead characters and adapting them to fit their new surroundings (and selves), building a believable family unit, and paying off every. single. moment from beginning to end. The water training, the repetition of "the way of water is all around us" - I felt that in my soul. And while I know people have trouble with Cameron's dialogue, I've always admired it for what it is: genuine pulp, not all-caps big quotes ""PULP"", but the actual sincere writing that has inspired many an homage.

Best Sound
Johnnie Burn, re-recording mixer / sound designer / supervising sound editor
Keith Kohn, sound designer
Oleg Kulchytskyi, re-recording mixer
2. Tár (Deb Adair / Steve Single / Stephen Griffiths); 3. Avatar: The Way of Water (Dick Bernstein / Gwendolyn Yates Whittle / Christopher Boyes / David Chrastka / Dave Whitehead / Michael Hedges / Gary Summers); 4. The Fabelmans (Brian Chumney / Andy Nelson / Gary Rydstrom); 5. Inu-Oh

Screams are what I think of when I think of NOPE: the screams of the horses as they disappear off-screen, the screams of the audience at Jupiter's Claim as an afternoon showcase goes awry. And then I think of that haunting THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. from the birthday set of Gordy's Home. And then I think of the way the score seems to come in with the wind from the desert, whistling and strumming Morricone-ly. And I think of the horse's hooves kicking sand into an actress's face, a night full of record players and the hum of electricity suddenly dying into silence, a metallic-organic noise combo coming from the sky above. It is haunting. It is the best sound showcase of the year. It is NOPE.

Best Visual Effects
Avatar: The Way of Water
Daniel Barrett, senior animation supervisor for Weta
Joe Letteri, production senior visual effects supervisor
Eric Saindon, senior visual effects supervisor for Weta
2. Everything Everywhere All At Once (Jonathan Kombrinck / Zak Stoltz); 3. Terrifier 2 (Anthony Giordano / Damien Leone / Joshua Petrino); 4. Decision to Leave (Lee Seung-jae); 5. Top Gun: Maverick (Jack Edjourian / Scott R. Fisher / Biswajit Pegu / Ryan Tudhope)

Like this was ever going to go any other way. Yes, Avatar has the advantage due to its huge budget (my next two picks' budgets are increasingly lower and impressive regarding their respective scales), but they did get what they paid for: photoreal alien life that breathes, that pulses with life. Hair falls awry, slicked in odd esses when wet; water imperceptibly runs down the face of a surfaced tulkun; the marine life swimming in time with Kiri's movements; the pulse of Eywa through the fields; the seamless inclusion of Spider among all the Avatars and Na'vi.

Best Film Editing
Everything Everywhere All At Once
Paul Rogers
2. Avatar: The Way of Water (David Brenner & James Cameron & John Refoua & Stephen E. Rivkin); 3. Please Baby Please (Benjamin Shearn); 4. Tár (Monika Willi); 5. The Eternal Daughter (Helle le Fevre)

Again, how can one not vote for this? I suppose my main criteria for "best" editing are: was I ever bored (even "slow" movies can go by quickly if put together right), was I ever taken out of the film, and did I know where everyone was at any given time? Naturally, that's bare minimum to make the nominations, but of course, Everything Everywhere All At Once also just has so much going on between the many Evelyns, the emotional beats, the multiple climaxes occurring simultaneously, and the fight scenes. Nothing gets lost: not a tear, not a punch, not a spanking. It works!

Best Actor
Colin Farrell as Pádraic Súilleabháin
The Banshees of Inisherin

Such eyebrow acting as I've never seen, how Farrell manipulates them to be so open and confused and naive - your heart breaks for him, he's taken so off-guard by the sudden end of his greatest friendship, and is so lost amid the bad feelings offered by Mrs. McCormick and Mrs. O'Riordan and Peadar Kearney. His sullenness and impatience are just as childish as Colm's actions, and ah, here Farrell (and Gleeson and McDonagh) show what it is that bonded these two together for so long: they've never had to really grow up, and can't deal with these emotions.  Farrell gets you to buy it: one of the most beautiful male sex symbols in the world, and he becomes this unworldly man-child.
2. Ralph Fiennes as Chef Slowik
The Menu
You never quite know what he's thinking, but Fiennes - with his cold eyes, tight smiles, robotic expression really - is absolutely keyed in to the causes of the chaotic rage simmering beneath. When you laugh at his lines, you're never sure if it's because he's funny...or terrifying. Terrific voice work, too, modulating his bizarre accent and service worker gentility to keep his guests (and us!) on their toes.
3. Gabriel LaBelle as Sammy Fabelman
The Fabelmans
He's so good at watching, at processing everything around him, even when he's hyper-focused on what he's doing and what he wants. He doesn't oversell the confidence of a director-in-the-making, he's fully a boy just beginning to come into his own - that sequence where he's directing the war scene, oh my goodness! And the way the light leaves his eyes when he's hurt, not by the bullies at school, but by his parents' words and actions: oh your heart breaks, only they can really hurt him like that.
4. Harry Melling as Arthur
Please Baby Please
Surprised, excited, confused and frightened of his attraction to Karl Glusman's Teddy all at the same time - but that temptation never translates into waning or lack of affection for wife Suze. Affection, love, they are tangible in every moment of Melling's performance - it's what makes Arthur "soft," what makes this story so beautiful. Amid the camp OTT-ness, Melling is the heart, grounding it in something real.
5. Daryl McCormack as Leo Grande
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
McCormack does a lot physically and vocally (a dream customer service voice!) to show why Leo Grande is worth every penny. In the personal moments - one confessional, one angry - he opens up without violating "professionalism"...and you can see, subtly, how it kills him to do so. An incredible performance of giving and withholding.

Our final six categories tomorrow - including, of course, Best Picture of the Year.

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