Cinema Junkie Awards For Best Of 2019
Cinema Junkie / February 6, 2020
The Academy Award nominations always incite me to give out my own awards for best of the year. So here are the Cinema Junkie Awards to highlight the films that I loved this year, some of which I feel were severely under-appreciated.
Speaker 1: 00:00 What was the best picture? The best picture you were there when they announced it. It came after the best actress. I was in a deep depression at the time. What was the best bloody picture? You mean what was the best picture of the year or what did those idiots pick as the best picture of the year?
Speaker 2: 00:16 Hi, yes. Michael Caine pretty much sums up my feelings about the Academy awards and Neil Simon's California suites. This year's Oscar nominations came out and they were exactly what I needed to rile me up and get me to finalize my own awards for the best of 2019 2019 was an amazing year for filmmakers pushing the envelope and that's precisely why the 92nd Academy award nominations were so infuriating. So little of that originality was recognized. Even most of the nominations that are being touted as daring, like 11 nominations for joker aren't really that daring. Sure. Joker is only the second comic book movie to get a best picture nomination, but it's just a comic book movie done like a score Ceci film. There's nothing really original about it and the irony is that the Academy couldn't muster 11 nominations for taxi driver and King of comedy together and those are the Scorsese films. Joker was ripping off. Oh wait, I mean paying homage to those joker nominations just feel like a safe way to pretend the Academy is not heaping accolades on another white male centric film, which for all it's suppose it edginess is really kind of what it is. And while you can point to Cynthia Reva's nomination for Harriet as diverse, how could the Academy Passover Lapido new NGO's searingly good pair of performances in us. They think like us, they know where we are, we need to move and keep moving.
Speaker 3: 01:53 They won't stop until they kill us and we kill them.
Speaker 2: 02:01 Any actress challenged expectations and took a performance to new levels. It was new one go, but the Academy was more comfortable giving her an Oscar for playing a slave in 12 years of slave than for playing a woman who doesn't fit into any category or stereotype. This is a criminal oversight. Similarly, the Academy should be ashamed of itself for nominating Florence Pugh for her work in little women, but not having the guts to single out her far more daring work in Midsummer. I guess Oscar voters don't like to be made to feel uncomfortable by a role and they also seem a little scared by something that burns with true originality. I guess they think it's better to award Renee Zellweger for all her mugging and neurotic mannerisms and bringing Judy Garland to cardboard life.
Speaker 2: 02:57 I know the Academy did recognize the audacity of parasite and the cleverness of Jojo rabbit, but those feel like token crumbs left on the floor so that I can't blast the entire pack of nominations. I also know that the Oscars are industry awards where people vote for friends and colleagues they like, and we're mainstream films are more likely to be honored than indie ones. I get it. It's a business and awards are a marketing tool. I however, am just a person who loves movies and I have no other allegiance except to what I think makes a good film. Movies are my life. There's no dividing line between my professional life and my personal one. I watch movies for a living and I watch them for fun. I have friendships based on movies and I've ended relationships over films, and when I was trying out online dating, I would have a forest gum question if they said they liked the film, that was a deal breaker and that's all I had to say about that. But as with all things in the arts, everyone's taste is different. Many people may be perfectly happy with the Oscar nominations while just as many others pay them no heat because they think they're meaningless. But with the arts, it's also fun to just discuss and debate what you love and hate. I feel like right now that sense of conversation has been lost. I got kicked out of a star Wars fan group for just daring to post a contradictory and positive opinion about the last Jedi.
Speaker 4: 04:20 I've seen this raw strength only once before intense solo. It didn't scan enough then it does now.
Speaker 2: 04:30 So in the spirit of highlighting films that I loved and felt were underappreciated, I offer up my cinema junkie awards. If you share my taste, then we can celebrate these films together. If you never heard of some of these films, then hopefully you'll be inspired to check them out and if you have the opposite tastes to me, then maybe we can sit down over a cup of coffee and debate why we see the same film from such radically different perspectives.
Speaker 3: 05:03 [inaudible]
Speaker 2: 05:03 first I just want to mention a pair of films that were not the best of the year, but my emotional attachment to them means I need to highlight them in some way. The rise of Skywalker marks the end of a more than four decade relationship I've had with star Wars, including the dark times of the prequels, George R. Banks. I liked the final film, but what I really wanted to feel was that giddy excitement I felt when the first Imperial cruiser flew over my head in 1977 has star Wars open, nothing on the big screen since the original star Wars and its sequel. The empire strikes back of one my heart over in quite the same way, but the new Mandalorian streaming show on the smaller screen gives me hope for the future of the franchise.
Speaker 3: 05:54 [inaudible].
Speaker 2: 05:54 My relationship with marvels of vendors has [inaudible]. It hasn't been nearly as long as that was star Wars. It's been just over a decade and the final chapter of a vendor's end game was also a satisfying, but not entirely rousing finish. But Avengers in star Wars will always be a part of my life and my movie loves works. One of the most impressive things this year was a group of debuting filmmakers. The best of them was Joe Talbot, who's the last black man in San Francisco delivered cinematic poetry. Also impressive was Maddy de op, whose Atlantics gave us a social drama wrapped in a haunting ghost story. It marked her feature film debut and watering the distinction of being the first woman of color to receive the grand Prix awarded. Con also note where they were lodge Ally's Les Miserables, Melina Matsoukas queen and slim Olivia Wilde's book-smart and Joe Penn is Arctic plus.
Speaker 2: 06:59 There were sophomore filmmakers like Ari Aster with mid-summer, Robert Edgar's with the lighthouse Trey Edward Shults with waves and Jennifer Kent with the Nightingale who did not falter as they moved from a successful debut to a second feature. In fact, all four continued to experiment with form and craft to deliver films that were just as fresh and original as their first ones. Now to the 10 best of 2019 after agonizing debate, I've decided on these top 10 films. But this was a tough year because there were a lot of films I loved and they were all so different that it was hard to judge them side by side. Plus I feel my job is a film critic who sees hundreds of films a year, is to try and shed light on films that may have come in under the radar or simply not received as much attention as they deserve. So as much as I loved the Irishman and once upon a time in Hollywood, I'm giving my top spots to films that pushed the envelope more than these well backed Hollywood movies. So here goes
Speaker 3: 08:06 [inaudible],
Speaker 2: 08:07 bong, Joon, host parasite tops. My list as it has so many others because it manages to be so many things so effortlessly. It's horror, thriller, social commentary, black comedy, satire, and more. South Korean master bong Joon host serves up a wildly entertaining, yet poignantly nuance tale of class and social dynamics. The film surprises at every turn and delivers a riveting piece of cinema, full of pathos, allegory, savagery and unexpected hilarity. And while American films like to define the class battle with the rich as the enemy and the poor is the victim. Parasite is after something more complex and more accepting of our own shared, flawed humanity. The poor are not saints. The rich are not devils, but each is shaped by circumstances, not always within their
Speaker 3: 09:06 [inaudible].
Speaker 2: 09:07 Two is Terrance Malik's, a hidden life. Going to a Malick film is like going to church and having a transcendent religious experience. His quiet yet Epic tale of one man's determination to follow his own moral code, no matter what the cost is truly inspirational.
Speaker 5: 09:25 They calling up a concert. We're killing innocent people, rating other countries, praying on the week, not the priests call them heroes, even saints. The soldiers that do us. It might be that the other ones are the heroes.
Speaker 2: 09:45 One of those debut filmmakers has made it to the number three slot. Joe Talbot's the last black man in San Francisco collaborating with his friend Jimmy fails. Talbot delivers an achingly beautiful film about a changing city and how we define home. It's also a meditation on the stories we create in order to define our place in the world and our sense of belonging.
Speaker 3: 10:09 I always come back to the old house. We just peeked inside. We could throw parties, you can put it on one of your place who can yell. It is his house
Speaker 2: 10:34 at number four is sophomore filmmaker Robert Eggers with the lighthouse. Edgars makes films that fall into the horror genre, the which being his first film get the push, the boundaries of how we define horror. There are no conventional horror beats or scares get his films are filled with a sense of dread created by his precise use of light shot, composition, sound design and perfectly pitched performances. The sounds and visuals in the lighthouse. Give it a texture that you can almost touch. And the film feels like some artifact dug up out of an old trunk where it's been hidden for a century
Speaker 6: 11:14 [inaudible]
Speaker 2: 11:19 in China.
Speaker 6: 11:24 [inaudible]
Speaker 2: 11:28 [inaudible]
Speaker 6: 11:35 [inaudible]
Speaker 2: 11:36 XW five is Joanna hogs the souvenir. This falls into a category of films from last year that work in different ways, painful to sit through the souvenir uncut gems and the Nightingale had characters and or situations that were not comfortable to watch in the souvenir. It's a woman who can't escape a bad relationship and uncut gems. It's a man who can't control his gambling addiction or anything in his life and in the Nightingale. It's a woman hell bent on revenge because there's nothing else in her brutal inhospitable environment that seems to give her a reason to live in the souvenir. Hog displays a marvelously elliptical and seductive visual style. She often leaves the characters out of frame are only seen as a reflection. She refuses to spell things out and lets the films exquisite visuals tell the story if you're willing to pay attention. Plus she's willing to challenge us with a female protagonist who's flawed and complex.
Speaker 7: 12:37 I think we're all equal in that. I think what all Israelis each other does. No competition. It doesn't matter that they're not real people. I'm not trying to make a documentary. I'm just making a feature shovel. Yes, I am making a feature film. You're not trying to document some received idea of life up there on the docks, the daily grind, listening to the wireless. Well, I am, but I'm creating something new with that. Well good. So the material is real. Those people exist, but I am designing new ones to fit what I want to make
Speaker 2: 13:37 as a direct challenge to American animated films. I offer it. Number six, the French film. I lost my body by Jeremy clappin. This beautifully executed animation follows a severed hand that escapes a Paris lab and sets out to find its body. The film is surprising, poetic and pushes expectations about not just what animation can be, but about what storytelling can do in film. Another sophomore film maker takes the number seven spot. Arie Aster with Midsummer. This too is a film about discomfort. It's a breakup film wrapped in deceptive folk horror trappings and delivering something that is ultimately both and neither Aster like Eggers is a master craftsmen who combines image, sound, music and editing to build dread in the most unexpected ways.
Speaker 3: 14:29 Christian says you've got this special week planned. It's sort of a crazy festival. Special ceremonies and dressing up [inaudible] believable will come and hit the mid summer score. What do you think? It's like another world.
Speaker 7: 14:55 Tomorrow's a big day.
Speaker 2: 14:58 Number eight. I owe thanks to the San Diego Asian film festival for showcasing the gorgeously seductive GaN B's long day's journey. And tonight, despite the title, it has nothing to do with Eugene O'Neill's play and it's not for anyone who's in a rush or needs all ambiguity cleared up by the final fadeout. This is a film that you just want to sit and luxuriate in its rapturous imagery like you might in a scented bath on a warm night. Wong car-wise, the only other filmmaker who makes romance so intoxicating, Epic, beautiful, mysterious, unsatisfying, and sad all at once. A harsh contrast at number nine is Craig S zollars dragged across concrete. I fell in love with solar when I saw bone Tomahawk at the abetour horror festival in Wales years ago. He's a bit of a conundrum though, creating films that are almost all dialogue yet also absolutely cinematic in their bursts of violence.
Speaker 2: 15:56 He uses dialogue to vividly create and define character so that a scene of people just talking where nothing seems to be happening is absolutely riveting and vital to the understanding of the story. I bristled a bit when I heard the film starred Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn, some loony conservatives, offscreen playing a pair of cops with little regard for suspect's rights onscreen. It's films like this that can stir complaints about toxic masculinity on the screen, but what those complaints sometimes miss is that just because a film serves up toxic masculinity doesn't mean it's celebrating it. Solar serves it up here with some complexity.
Speaker 7: 16:38 I do what I think best when I'm out there. I always add weight when we were partners and I'm still that way now. There's a reason I'm sitting behind this desk running things and you're out there crushing fire escapes in the cold for hours with a partner that's 20 years younger than you. Anthony's got a mouth with his own engine, but he's solid. It wasn't my point. Thanks for letting us know about the situation. Any words you can have with the inspector on our behalf would be greatly appreciated. One thing before you go, I watched that video a couple of times. He threw a lot more cast iron than you needed to. Oh, when we worked together, you weren't that rough. Yeah, it's not healthy for you. Just guff concrete as long as you have, you get results, but you're losing perspective and compassion a couple more years out there and you're going to be a human steamroller covered with spikes and fueled
Speaker 1: 17:50 by bile. There's a lot of episodes out there [inaudible]
Speaker 2: 17:54 so in the right hands, toxic masculinity can be fascinating. Just as Zoller challenged both the Western and horror genre with bone Tomahawk and the Grindhouse formula with brawl in cell block 99 he gives the heist film and police thriller, a re-imagining with dragged across concrete writing like his needs to be highlighted because it's becoming something of a rarity. And finally I give the number 10 slot to Tyco [inaudible] anti hate satire. Jojo rabbit plus. He delights us by playing Hitler as a young boy's imaginary friend. I know it sounds all wrong and he makes it work.
Speaker 1: 18:33 Poor Joe. Joe, what's wrong with this man? I adults want to tell me about that rabbit incident. Bob was all that about. They wanted me to kill it. I'm sorry it kitchens. Don't worry about it. I couldn't care less, but now they call me a scared rabbit. Let them say whatever they want. People used to stay a lot of nasty things about me. Oh, this guy's a lunatic. Oh, look at that psycho. He's going to get us all killed. We'll let you in on a little secret. The rabbit is no coward. The humble little bunny faces a dangerous world every day, hunting carrots for his family, for his country. My empire will be full of all animals. Lions, Chekhov's, Z because rhinoceroses octopuses, rhino octopuses, even the mighty rabbit cigarette. Oh no. Sangster don't smoke. Let me give you some really good advice. Be the habit. The humble bunny can add with all of his enemies. He's brave and sneaky and strong. The rabbit,
Speaker 2: 19:45 he walks a tricky line as he moves the film from slapstick to pathos and back again at a time when many comedians are feeling the chill of political correctness to steer clear of potentially offensive humor. Why? TT jumps into a story where a kid blowing himself up. It's played like a cartoon punchline. What T doesn't overthink is comedy. This is not the cold crystalline satire. Stanley Kubrick's, dr Strangelove. It's a comedy that comes at you from an emotional level and through the flawed humanity of its characters. Why? TT has a gift for making us care about his characters from the bickering vampire roommates of what we do in the shadows to the superheroes of the Marvel universe. He shows us Joe Joe's point of view and doesn't judge him, but rather tries to show us what contributes to a young boy willingly buying into Nazi propaganda and then how those ideas can be turned by real world experiences.
Speaker 1: 20:44 Who are you talking to?
Speaker 7: 20:46 Nobody.
Speaker 2: 20:47 I also
Speaker 7: 20:48 have to throw in some honorable mentions. These films just missed my top 10 and are well worth checking out. Jordan Peel's us was a puzzle box that made the film worth viewing multiple times and each time it got better. The softie brothers seemed to revel in the discomfort. They're uncut gems so brilliantly created. Martin Scorsese revisited familiar terrain, but from an aging mobsters. Eyes in the Irishman, Eddie Murphy and Wesley Snipes made dolomite is my name, an absolute delight. Plus it was great to see Rudy Ray Moore get some love. Trey Edward Schultz delivered a hypnotic visual poem with waves. Sam Mendez told his grandfather's war tale in a compelling digital one-shot drama in 1917 Jennifer Kent spared no brutality in the Nightingale. Olivier Assayas, his nonfiction gave us a literate adult romantic comedy as only the French can do. Quintin Tarantino once again rewrote history and delivered perhaps his sweetest Valentine to the movies with once upon a time in Hollywood and Pedro Almodovar and Antonio Banderas partnered beautifully for pain and glory.
Speaker 7: 21:59 My best actor award goes to Antonio Banderas for pain and glory with the runners up going to Adam Sandler for making me hate him so much and uncut gems that I wanted to shoot him, myself and Eddie Murphy for bringing Rudy Ray Moore to vivid life in dolomite is my name. You know what? We should have all girl come from army. Um, you know, there's, there's plenty of stories opportunity Rudy, across this nation in the cities and being plagued by violent crime. I, I feel the government hasn't stepped up. It's whities fault. LeMay is corrupt and that's an exorcism, goddammit. And extra says, yeah. You know, the mothers in the L, I don't know how that fits into our urban,
Speaker 2: 22:43 hands down the best actress award goes to Lapita new mango for her riveting work in us.
Speaker 7: 22:51 Ooh.
Speaker 6: 22:54 [inaudible] okay.
Speaker 7: 23:04 The girl shit. I know
Speaker 2: 23:10 it's hard to believe that the same person played the two roles in the film because she created such unique vocal and physical qualities for each character.
Speaker 7: 23:19 Good to connect together,
Speaker 2: 23:26 runner's up our honor, Swinton burn in the souvenir, Iceland Francios and the Nightingale Florence Pugh in Midsummer and Aquafina in their farewell. Such an embarrassment of riches in the female acting category. Yet none of these performances were acknowledged by the Academy. She was
Speaker 7: 23:46 being test PICA.
Speaker 2: 23:50 My supporting actor award goes to Willem Defoe for creating the crustiness and most flatulent performance of the year in the lighthouse runner's up or Wesley Snipes and dolomite is my name for perhaps the most delightful performance of the year.
Speaker 7: 24:04 Is there any angle that you could shoot this way? It looks like he's actually kicking him. There is no such angle rolling action
Speaker 2: 24:20 and the entire supporting cast of just mercy from Jamie Fox to Rob Morgan to Tim Blake Nelson flawless performances in capturing flawed individuals. The best supporting actress award goes to Xiao shoes. Then as the dying mom who causes her family to engage in an elaborate charade in the farewell runners up are defined. Joy. Randolph and dolomite is my name and Laura Dern. In marriage story, it's kind of hard singling her out because the character she played had zero humanity, but Dern delivered a performance that was ice and steel under a smiling, let's be friends facade. It was fantastic for best director. I'm going with bong, Joon ho for parasite because he executed a complex ever surprising film with a magician's flourish that made it all look so effortless and amazing. But kudos to a mix of veterans and newcomers that had me staring up at the screen in awe from experienced master Terrence Malick to sophomore filmmakers, Robert Edgars and Arie Aster to truly defiant female directors, Joanna Hogg and Jennifer Kent to the ever challenging and rewarding Safdie brothers.
Speaker 2: 25:32 There were a lot of good scripts out there, but I want to single out Craig S Zoller for dragged across concrete and the Egger brothers for the lighthouse. I also need to highlight a category that I only fully came to appreciate this year that a film colorist, I always knew that there were people in the labs who time the color on prints, but with the potential offered by the digital realm. I had not really considered the role of a colorist today until I saw waves and saw Damien Vander crisis credited in the opening titles as colorist, fender Christs, and also worked on this year's, the last black man in San Francisco and uncut gems and in all three, his work gave each film a unique visual flair. Kudos to him and to the filmmakers he worked with to put state of the art technology in service of the story and not merely as a gimmick. There are so many other craft categories I'd love to mention. So here are a few kudos to film a Schoon maker. Martin score says he's veteran editor who continues to display her subtle skills in the Irishmen and cinematographer York Vidmar gave us images that seemed touched by God in a hidden life. While the venerable Roger brought 1917 to vivid life.
Speaker 2: 26:51 Since this is a medium better suited to audio than visual. Let me highlight some of the fabulous music that elevated films like us.
Speaker 3: 27:11 [inaudible]
Speaker 2: 27:17 Michael Abel score for Jordan peals genre pushing horror film enhanced the sense of unease at a world that seemed broken, giving us something that sounded familiar and yet entirely creepy. The unease of mid summer was also intensified by music this time by hacks and cloak dam. Even the name sounds a little creepy
Speaker 6: 28:15 [inaudible]
Speaker 2: 28:16 than a meal. Masori gave the last black man in San Francisco a haunting score that can make my heart Swoon with aching sadness as well as hope and joy just by hearing it.
Speaker 3: 28:44 [inaudible]
Speaker 2: 28:44 and one final mention of not just the music but the entire soundscape of the lighthouse. I'll let director Robert Eggers describe it.
Speaker 8: 28:52 When I was shooting the film on the Cape for a shoe, which is a peninsula off the Southern tip of Nova Scotia, the sounds in the power of the sea and the wind was so present that, you know, I, I want to [inaudible] okay. Have a really large sounding movie. That was the only way to do it. So we worked very hard with Jamie and voltage as a sound designer and Mark Corban the composer on, on, as you say, a blending the wines between these two things where the Foghorn would sort of Mel with the aleatoric brass section and Willem to foes flatulence. And there was a lot of work to be done to make sure that every object in the house sounded as crusty, dusty, rusty, musty. I hope I didn't already use that string of words in this interview, but you know, to make everything sound as broken down as, as possible so that when you know, when you hear all the rust and old pipes and horrible sounds of the water pumps, that you know that the water that's going to come out of that has gotta be the worst tasting water that's ever existed.
Speaker 2: 29:59 It's audio you can feel with your ears and almost touch. And one final craft award goes to Chad's to hell ski for his action choreography and John wick three, he's a stunt man, turned director and not since the Indonesian film the raid have I felt so exhausted and exhilarated by an action film. John wick three raises the bar on fight choreography by adding canines, doing doggy food confides on horseback Katana wielding motorcyclists,
Speaker 3: 30:38 [inaudible]
Speaker 2: 30:39 [inaudible] films, or as much descendants of Sam Peck and pod John Wu and Asian action cinema as they are of silent clowns. Buster Keaton in Harold Lloyd, it's to hell ski delivers one of the most gorgeously shot and choreographed action films ever as the elevates Wix saga to ridiculously Epic proportions. Some may be offended by the excess violence of the WIC films and I get that we live in a world where we witnessed real and horrific violence on almost a daily basis. Some look to place blame for this violence on movies, but in the case of the WIC films, they feel distinctly removed from the real world and are more like a stunt man's tribute to the best his craft can offer. These films are really at heart about the art and craft of screen stunts and action. All of this, for what? Because of a puppy wasn't just a puppy.
Speaker 3: 31:34 2019
Speaker 2: 31:35 was an exciting year for film and I felt like I barely scratched the surface of what films were available. I hardly saw any documentaries and not nearly enough foreign films. We're so saturated by content, be it streaming movies, films in theaters or the excess of streaming shows that eat up dozens of hours to just complete a season that I felt like I could never catch up, but so much of what I saw this year reinvigorated my love of cinema and my appreciation for audacious talent. When you see hundreds of movies a year, you can get jaded and feel like there's nothing new coming out of Hollywood, but that also means when there is something fresh, it stands out in bold relief and makes you jump up and take notice. I hope this list will inspire you to seek out some of the films you're not familiar with and maybe to travel outside your comfort zone. Since landmark just did a week of classics that included sunset Boulevard. I'll go out with this scene of Norma Desmon because my passion for film like hers is tanged with a little madness and obsession till our next film on Vaca. Mondo, your residents cinema junkie,
Speaker 9: 32:43 is it a meal? Do you mind if I say a few words? Thank you. I just want to tell you all how happy I am to be back in the studio making up picture again. You don't know how much I've missed all of you and I promise you I'll never desert you again because they have to Salome he will make another picture on another picture. You see, this is my life. It always will be. There's nothing else. Camera and those wonderful people up there. The alright, mr Donielle. I'm ready for my cuffs out.
Speaker 3: 33:35 [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible].
Satisfy your celluloid addiction with the Cinema Junkie podcast, where you can mainline film 24/7. This film and entertainment series is run by KPBS Film Critic Beth Accomando. So if you need a film fix, want to hear what filmmakers have to say about their work, or just want to know what's worth seeing this weekend, then you've come to the right place