Best traffic jam ever.

My Top 20:

  1. La La Land
  2. Arrival
  3. The Handmaiden
  4. Manchester by the Sea
  5. Moonlight
  6. Silence
  7. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  8. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  9. Zootopia
  10. Moana
  11. Finding Dory
  12. The Salesman
  13. Nocturnal Animals
  14. Fences
  15. Hell or High Water
  16. Julieta
  17. Kubo and the Two Strings
  18. A Monster Calls
  19. 20th Century Women
  20. Sing Street

note:  All 20 films are ****.  There were several high ***.5 films that I wish could have made the list – Captain America: Civil War, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Hail Caesar! and Passengers were among my considered choices.  There are only a handful of films that earned any award nominations that I haven’t seen yet (I Daniel Blake, Certain Woman, Allied, Your Name, King’s Choice) so I don’t think this list will be changing (depending on Your Name, perhaps), unlike the last several years, when this list was written more closely after the Oscars.

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  La La Land
  • Best Director:  Damien Chazelle  (La La Land)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Moonlight  /  Arrival
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Manchester by the Sea
  • Best Actor:  Casey Affleck  (Manchester by the Sea)
  • Best Actress:  Isabelle Huppert  (Elle)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Mahershala Ali  (Moonlight)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Michelle Williams  (Manchester by the Sea)
  • Best Cinematography:  Moonlight
  • Best Animated Film:  Zootopia
  • Best Foreign Film:  Toni Erdmann

note:  La La Land wins Best Picture by just five points over Moonlight, even with the Oscar win for Moonlight.  It’s the first race that’s closer than 200 points in four years, the first one closer than 100 points in 14 years and the closest win since the tie in 1968.  The win for Chazelle isn’t by much more than that over Barry Jenkins.  On the other hand, Moonlight wins the Best Cinematography race over La La Land by just 10 points.  I list both Moonlight and Arrival for Adapted Screenplay because while the former ends up with more points, only the Oscars considered it adapted.  Manchester by the Sea sets a new Consensus points record for Best Original Screenplay and is the first original script to win nine awards and earn ten nominations; it joins Pulp Fiction as the only original scripts to earn more than 50% of the Consensus points.  Casey Affleck earns the fourth highest Consensus points total ever and the highest since 2006; he beats Bill Murray’s 2003 record for most points without the SAG win.  Toni Erdmann is the weakest Consensus winner in Best Foreign Film in six years.

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Moonlight
  • Best Director:  Damien Chazelle  (La La Land)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Moonlight
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Manchester by the Sea
  • Best Actor:  Casey Affleck  (Manchester by the Sea)
  • Best Actress:  Emma Stone  (La La Land)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Mahershala Ali  (Moonlight)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Viola Davis  (Fences)
  • Best Cinematography:  La La Land
  • Best Animated Film:  Zootopia
  • Best Foreign Film:  The Salesman

Top 10 Films  (TSPDT):

  1. Moonlight
  2. Toni Erdmann
  3. Manchester by the Sea
  4. La La Land
  5. Elle
  6. Patterson
  7. Hell or High Water
  8. Certain Women
  9. The Handmaiden
  10. O.J.: Made in America

Note:  For the record, that’s five films I rank as ****, three films I rank at *** and think were over-rated, one film I haven’t seen yet and an 8 hour documentary on a subject that I have already spent too many hours in my life being subjected to.

Top 10 Films  (Awards Points):

  1. La La Land  –  2865
  2. Moonlight  –  2454
  3. Manchester by the Sea  –  2262
  4. Arrival  –  1263
  5. Lion  –  902
  6. Hacksaw Ridge  –  856
  7. Fences  –  766
  8. Hell or High Water  –  707
  9. Nocturnal Animals  –  572
  10. Jackie  –  570

note:  This is an interesting departure from the year before.  First, La La Land has the most points since 2010 and is 6th all-time.  Likewise, Moonlight has the fourth most points for a 2nd place finisher.  But Manchester by the Sea has, by far, the most points for the #3 film and would have easily finished in first the year before.  But, then in 4th place, Arrival has over 250 points fewer than the 4th place film from last year.  Even more surprising, Lion is the first film in the Top 5 with less than 1000 points since 2007 and has the fewest points for a 5th place film since 1999 and Hacksaw Ridge the fewest for a 6th place film since 2003.  Percentage wise, there hasn’t been a drop from #3 to #4 like there is this year since 1982.  The Top 5 films account for 73.74% of the points in the Top 10, the most since 1997.

Top 10 Films  (2016 Best Picture Awards):

  1. La La Land
  2. Moonlight
  3. Manchester by the Sea
  4. Arrival
  5. Lion
  6. Hell or High Water
  7. Hacksaw Ridge
  8. Fences
  9. Hidden Figures
  10. Deadpool

Top 10 Films  (Domestic Box Office Gross):

  1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story  –  $532.17 mil
  2. Finding Dory  –  $486.29 mil
  3. Captain America: Civil War  –  $408.08 mil
  4. The Secret Life of Pets  –  $368.38 mil
  5. The Jungle Book  –  $364.00 mil
  6. Deadpool  –  $363.07 mil
  7. Zootopia  –  $341.26 mil
  8. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice  –  $330.36 mil
  9. Suicide Squad  –  $325.10 mil
  10. Sing  –  $270.32 mil

Note:  Finding Dory is way down from the #2 for 2015 but is still by far the second highest #2.  Civil War just beats out the original Hunger Games for the second highest #3.  Everything below that is the best for its rank, with 6 through 10 all shattering the old records.  The only reason it’s not the all-time best Top 10 is because Rogue One and Finding Dory are so far below Force Awakens and Jurassic World.  Disney crushes everyone else.
From 2000-2015 no studio every broke 20% for a market share.  In 2016, Universal scored 21.3%.  But here Disney, with the top three films, five of the top seven and two more just outside the Top 10 (Moana, Doctor Strange) scores a massive 26.3% market share.
I saw five of these films a combined eight times in the theater – four films with Thomas and four times seeing Rogue One.

Top 10 Films  (Worldwide Box Office Gross):

  1. Captain America: Civil War  –  $1153.3 mil
  2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story  –  $1056.1 mil
  3. Finding Dory  –  $1028.6 mil
  4. Zootopia  –  $1023.8 mil
  5. The Jungle Book  –  $966.6 mil
  6. The Secret Life of Pets  –  $875.5 mil
  7. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice  –  $873.3 mil
  8. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them  –  $814.0 mil
  9. Deadpool  –  $783.1 mil
  10. Suicide Squad  –  $745.6 mil

Note:  Captain America would have been 6th in 2015.  Rogue One is the first domestic #1 to earn more than half its worldwide gross in the States since 2008.  Disney actually has the top five films here, including all the billion dollar grossers.

Nighthawk Golden Globes:


  • Best Picture:  Arrival
  • Best Director:  Denis Villenueve  (Arrival)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Arrival
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Manchester by the Sea
  • Best Actor:  Casey Affleck  (Manchester by the Sea)
  • Best Actress:  Amy Adams  (Arrival)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Dev Patel  (Lion)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Viola Davis  (Fences)


  • Best Picture:  La La Land
  • Best Director:  Damien Chazelle  (La La Land)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Finding Dory
  • Best Original Screenplay:  La La Land
  • Best Actor:  Ryan Gosling  (La La Land)
  • Best Actress:  Emma Stone  (La La Land)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Simon Helberg  (Florence Foster Jenkins)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Greta Gerwig  (20th Century Women)

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture:  La La Land
  • Best Director:  Damien Chazelle  (La La Land)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Arrival
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Manchester by the Sea
  • Best Actor:  Casey Affleck  (Manchester by the Sea)
  • Best Actress:  Emma Stone  (La La Land)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Dev Patel  (Lion)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Viola Davis  (Fences)
  • Best Editing:  La La Land
  • Best Cinematography:  La La Land
  • Best Original Score:  La La Land
  • Best Sound:  La La Land
  • Best Art Direction:  La La Land
  • Best Visual Effects:  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Best Sound Editing:  La La Land
  • Best Costume Design:  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Best Makeup:  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Best Original Song:  “Another Day of Sun”  (La La Land)
  • Best Animated Film:  Zootopia
  • Best Foreign Film:  The Handmaiden

Foreign Films:   Thanks to the delayed posting, I have actually seen almost all the prominent Foreign films, including every Oscar, BAFTA and Globe nominee as well as 19 of the Oscar submitted films.  To me, it’s not a great year overall.  There is a clear winner for me (The Handmaiden), followed by two **** films (The Salesman, Julieta).  There are also three other films that I have as ***.5 (Land of Mine, My Life as a Zucchini, Under the Shadow).  But three of the most prominent Foreign films of the year I only have as mid-***: Elle, Toni Erdmann and A Man Called Ove.

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  La La Land
  • Best Line  (comedic):  “Don’t say, ‘and stuff.’ Just say, ‘They’re doing anal.’”  (Angourie Rice in The Nice Guys)  *
  • Best Line  (dramatic):  “We’ll take the next chance, and the next, until we win, or the chances are spent.”  (Felicity Jones in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)
  • Best Line cut from the film (included in end credits):  “For most of my life, I thought that goat cheese was slang for cheese that had gone bad.  I would see moldy cheese and I would be like ‘Yo, man, that cheese is goat!'”  (Aubrey Plaza in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates)
  • Best Opening:  La La Land
  • Best Ending:  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Best Scene:  the opening scene of La La Land
  • Most Gut-Wrenching Scene:  When Lee returns to the house after getting the beer in Manchester by the Sea.
  • Most Heart-Wrenching Scene:  Jacob going out in the rain in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Best Use of a Song (comedic):  “I Ran”  (La La Land)
  • Best Use of a Song (dramatic):  “Don’t Worry About the Government”  (20th Century Women)
  • Biggest Earworm from a Trailer:  “Bad Romance”  (Sing)
  • Best Soundtrack:  Sing Street  **
  • Best Original Song from a Bad Film:  “Heathens” (Suicide Squad)  ***
  • Best George Michael Reference in a Film:  Keanu  ****
  • Best Ensemble:  Moonlight
  • Funniest Film:  The Nice Guys
  • Most Creepily Effective Film:  The Witch
  • Best Guilty Pleasure:  Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
  • Most Over-Rated Film:  American Honey
  • Worst Film:  Gods of Egypt
  • Worst Sequel:  Inferno
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Felicity Jones in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Sexiest Performance:  Emma Stone in La La Land
  • Most Hilarious / Outrageous Sex Scene:  The Bronze
  • Highest Attractiveness / Acting Ability Ratio:  Emma Watson  (Colonia)
  • Female Star of the Year:  Amy Adams  (Arrival / Nocturnal Animals / Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice)
  • Male Star of the Year:  Ryan Gosling  (La La Land  /  The Nice Guys)
  • Most Surprisingly Good Performance in an Otherwise Terrible Film:  Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad
  • Athlete of the Year:  Sebastian Stan  (The Bronze  /  Captain America: Civil War)  *****
  • Final Scene Way Better than the Rest of the Film:  Star Trek Beyond
  • Coolest Performance:  Felicity Jones in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Best Trailer:  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story  ******
  • Best Tagline:  “An unforgettable journey she probably won’t remember.”  (Finding Dory)
  • Best Cameo:  Robert Picardo in Hail, Caesar!
  • Funniest Cameo:  All the original cast in Ghostbusters
  • Best Animated Character Performance:  Dwayne Johnson in Moana
  • Best Motion Capture Performance:  Alan Tudyk in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

*:  Or most of the lines from The Nice Guys.
**:  But massive kudos for La La Land and Moana.
***:  Which, I must admit, I probably never would have even listened to had I not watched a full episode of SNL for the first time in over 20 years because Lin-Manuel Miranda was the host and 21 Pilots happened to be the musical guest and they were brilliant.
****:  There were, by my count, four films that referenced him last year, all in theaters before he died: Keanu, Deadpool, Sing, La La Land.  Also, The LEGO Batman Movie, released early in 2017 probably had the reference in before he died but it could have been changed just before it opened.
*****:  Who, in the latter, played, as Veronica’s friend Maddie pointed out on Facebook: “Bucky with the good hair”
******:  That almost nothing in the teaser was in the film doesn’t diminish how brilliant it is, especially in its use of music.

Film History:  I, Daniel Blake wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes.  The Woman Who Left wins the Golden Lion at Venice.  The Birth of a Nation wins the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance kicking off its frontrunner status at the Oscars which crashes and burns in August when the media revisits director Nate Parker’s 1999 rape trial.  Moonlight wins big at the Indies, although it doesn’t even get nominated for Supporting Actor because, well, I don’t know, I totally don’t get the Indie Spirit voters.  Hillary’s America wins big at the Razzies and it almost certainly deserves it since its director is a convicted felon for the right and is full of shit but it’s a “documentary” so I skipped it and have no intention of ever seeing it.

This family of trick or treaters came by the house on Halloween. They said that dad (Prince) and dog (Kenny Baker) were dressed up at home.

I will repeat my paragraph from my 31 December 2016 post: “Well, everyone didn’t die in 2016 in spite of what you may think.  Would you be stunned if I told you that as many acting Oscars were won by people who turned 100 this year as people who died this year?  (It’s true: Olivia de Havilland, who turned 100, won 2 Oscars, which matches the Oscars for the two people who died this year, George Kennedy and Patty Duke).  Though, sadly for me, my first childhood crush, Carrie Fisher died, as did Kenny Baker and Erik Bauersfeld (the voice of Admiral Ackbar).”  I won’t list all the musicians who died because this is primarily a movie post but here comes the major film death list.

Alan Rickman died in January.  George Kennedy died in February.  March took Patty Duke and April grabbed James Bond director Guy Hamilton.  May went easy for major film deaths while June had the surprise death of Anton Yelchin which made me feel kind of bad when my Star Trek posts went up in July and I lambasted his performances as Chekhov.  Two days apart in July we lost Oscar winning director Michael Cimino and never-nominated-for-an-Oscar-but-much-better director Abbas Kiarostami while a week later former Oscar nominated director Hector Babenco died and before the end of the month Marni Nixon, who you never saw but always heard also died.  Kenny Baker died in August and as Mark Hamill said in a tweet, “He was the droid I was looking for!”  Then Gene Wilder died, a great comic talent and everyone wanted to remember him for Willy Wonka which actually isn’t all that great while his performances in Mel Brooks films are amazing.  September cost us Jon Polito and Oscar winner Curtis Hanson (only for writing, though he also should have had a directing Oscar).  Legendary Polish director Andrzej Wajda died in October.  Then came December and we lost Margaret Whitton, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Liz Smith and then, in back to back days, Carrie Fisher, my first celebrity crush, followed by her mother, Debbie Reynolds.

Academy Awards:  La La Land ties the record for most nominations and sets a new record for points without winning Best Picture (535); it also has the most points for any film in 13 years.  For the third time in four years, a film wins at least twice as many Oscars as the Best Picture winner does.  For the fourth time in five years, Best Director and Best Picture don’t match up, matching 1948-52.  While four films have won Director and Actor but not Picture, La La Land joins Cabaret as the only films to win Actress and Director but not Picture.  As always, much trivia is here.

My Oscar Scores break down as thus:

  • Best Picture:  65.0
  • Best Director:  86.5
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  60.6
  • Best Original Screenplay:  83.9
  • Best Actor:  91.7
  • Best Actress:  89.2
  • Best Supporting Actor:  97.1
  • Best Supporting Actress:  97.1
  • Best Editing:  75.6
  • Best Cinematography:  89.7
  • Best Original Score:  73.2
  • Best Sound Mixing:  79.5
  • Best Production Design:  97.4
  • Best Visual Effects:  75.0
  • Best Sound Editing:  57.1
  • Best Costume Design:  89.3
  • Best Makeup:  26.3
  • Best Original Song:  65.0
  • Best Animated Film:  76.0
  • Best Foreign Film:  57.1
  • The Big Four:  72.7
  • Acting:  93.6
  • Tech:  75.8
  • The Year as a Whole:  77.3

note:  I rated Costume Design based on my top four choices since I haven’t seen Allied.

My Oscar Notables are:

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Editing for Hacksaw Ridge
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Sound Mixing for 13 Hours
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Editing for Manchester by the Sea
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  13 Hours
  • Best Eligible Film with No Oscar Nominations:  The Handmaiden
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Makeup
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Production Design
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Original Score, Production Design, Costume Design, Animated Film

Golden Globes:  The record book gets rewritten at the Golden Globes.  La La Land, of course, becomes the first film to win 7 awards (in fact, the first to win more than 5).  But it’s not just the 7 wins that were unprecedented; it’s the fact that it wasn’t a Drama.  This was only the third year since the Screenplay category was introduced in 1965 that neither the Director award nor the Screenplay award went to a Best Picture – Drama nominee (1982, when Gandhi, a “Foreign Film” won both, and 1985 when Prizzi’s Honor won Director while Purple Rose of Cairo won Screenplay) but in both those years, other awards before the three specific Drama awards went to one of the nominees (both eventual Drama winners, E.T. and Out of Africa won Score), while this year the only other award won by a Picture – Drama nominee was Actor – Drama.  La La Land also sets a new all-time points record (480), breaking the record of 455 held by Love Story and The Godfather.  Isabelle Huppert becomes the first non English language performer to win Best Actress – Drama since 1972.  While La La Land sets a wins record, Moonlight becomes the second film in four years and the third in 11 years to win Best Picture – Drama with no other wins, appropriate, since it was handed to them by the stars of Rocky, another film that has that distinction.  Moonlight is the first film since Rocky to win only Best Picture – Drama and not have the Director winner win no other awards (that makes sense, trust me).  La La Land becomes the first film in six years to sweep the big three (Picture, Director, Screenplay), the only Comedy / Musical to ever do it and only the second film (after One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest) to sweep the big five.  It’s the first Comedy / Musical to win Picture and Director since Prizzi’s Honor in 1985.  Nocturnal Animals becomes just the fourth film since 1985 to earn Director and Screenplay nominations without a Picture nom.

Awards:  Moonlight becomes the first film in four years to earn awards from all six of the major critics groups; it ends up with the 10th most points of all-time.  Manchester by the Sea ends up the most critics points since 1993 without being the #1 critics film of the year.  La La Land becomes the first film in a decade to win Best Picture at the NYFC but no other awards from them.  It’s the first time in four years that multiple films earn over 200 points at the NYFC, but it’s the first time that two films earn over 200 points but neither wins Best Picture, as Manchester by the Sea takes Screenplay, Actor and Supporting Actress while Moonlight wins Director, Supporting Actor and Cinematography.  Manchester and Moonlight also score at least 150 points at the NBR, the first time two films in the same year score at least 150 with both the NBR and the NYFC.

La La Land becomes the first film in five years and only the ninth film ever to earn the big 5 nominations at the BAFTAs and the big 5 Tech nominations at the BAFTAs.  Nocturnal Animals ties for the third most nominations in BAFTA history without a Picture nomination, earning nine.  I, Daniel Blake earns Picture, Director and Screenplay noms at the BAFTAs but is blanked by the Oscars, the first time a film has done so since 1987.

La La Land ties Black Swan, Lincoln and 12 Years a Slave with the most BFCA nominations all-time with 12.  La La Land also joins The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Silver Linings Playbook as the only films nominated for Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor and Actress.  Jackie sets a new BFCA record with 6 nominations without a nomination for Best Picture.  La La Land then crushes the points record, with 575, 100 more than any previous film, also setting a new record with 8 wins (the previous high was 6).

La La Land earns 13 guild nominations, tied for 4th most without any VES nominations (which tend to pad the total).  Passengers becomes the first film in the history of the Art Directors Guild to win the award while earning no other guild nominations.  Manchester by the Sea becomes the first film in nine years to receive 4 SAG nominations but not win any.  The nominees from SAG for Supporting Actress match the Oscars 5/5 for the first time since 2011 while the nominees for Actor match 5/5 for the first time since 2009.  Rogue One sets a new guild record with 13 nominations and no wins.  Manchester by the Sea, with 10 nominations and no wins, is the fourth most ever, sets a new points record for no wins and ties Good Night and Good Luck for the most guild nominations with no wins without getting the bulk of its nominations from the VES and MPSE.  Manchester joins Good Night and Good Luck and Frost/Nixon as the only films to earn PGA, SAG Ensemble, DGA and WGA noms and win no guild awards.

Best Director:

  • Consensus Top Five:
  1. Damien Chazelle  (LAFC, NYFC, BSFC, CFC, DGA, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA, Satellite)
  2. Barry Jenkins  (NYFC, LAFC, NSFC, CFC, NBR, DGA, Oscar, Globe, BFCA, Satellite, Indie)
  3. Kenneth Lonergan  (NSFC, BSFC, CFC, DGA, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA, Satellite)
  4. Denis Villeneuve  (DGA, Oscar, BAFTA, BFCA)
  5. Mel Gibson  (Oscar, Globe, BFCA, Satellite)

note:  Jenkins would have finished 1st in 2015 and has the highest Consensus 2nd place total in history.

  • My Top 10:
  1. Damien Chazelle
  2. Denis Villeneuve
  3. Chan Wook Park  (CFC)
  4. Kenneth Lonergan
  5. Martin Scorsese
  6. Barry Jenkins
  7. Gareth Edwards
  8. David MacKenzie  (BFCA)
  9. Asghar Farhadi
  10. Tom Ford  (BAFTA, Globe, Satellite)

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Consensus Top Five:
  1. Moonlight  (Oscar, WGA, Globe, BAFTA, BFCA)
  2. Arrival  (Oscar, WGA, BAFTA, BFCA)
  3. Hidden Figures  (Oscar, WGA, BAFTA, BFCA)
  4. Lion  (Oscar, BAFTA, BFCA)
  5. Nocturnal Animals  (WGA, Globe, BAFTA, BFCA)
  6. Fences  (Oscar, WGA, BFCA)

note:  I include six because only the Oscars considered Moonlight to be Adapted.

  • My Top 10:
  1. Arrival
  2. The Handmaiden  (CFC)
  3. Moonlight
  4. Silence  (NBR)
  5. Fences
  6. Julieta
  7. Finding Dory
  8. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  9. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  10. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Consensus Top Five:
  1. Manchester by the Sea  (Oscar, WGA, Globe, BAFTA, BFCA, NYFC, NSFC, BSFC, NBR, CFC)
  2. La La Land  (Oscar, WGA, Globe, BAFTA, BFCA)
  3. Hell or High Water  (Oscar, WGA, Globe, BAFTA, BFCA)
  4. The Lobster  (Oscar, BFCA, LAFC)
  5. 20th Century Women  (Oscar)
  6. I, Daniel Blake  (BAFTA)

note:  20th Century Women and I, Daniel Blake tie for 5th place.  Manchester earns 50.89% of the total Consensus points, falling just short of Pulp Fiction‘s Original Screenplay record.

  • My Top 10:
  1. Manchester by the Sea
  2. La La Land
  3. The Salesman
  4. Hell or High Water
  5. 20th Century Women
  6. Zootopia
  7. Moana
  8. Hail, Caesar!
  9. Sing Street
  10. Passengers

Best Actor:

  • Consensus Top Five:
  1. Casey Affleck  (NYFC, NSFC, BSFC, CFC, NBR, SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  2. Ryan Gosling  (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe – Comedy, BFCA)
  3. Denzel Washington  (SAG, Oscar, Globe, BFCA)
  4. Andrew Garfield  (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  5. Viggo Mortenson  (Oscar, SAG, BAFTA, Globe)
  • My Top 10:
  1. Casey Affleck
  2. Denzel Washington
  3. Ryan Gosling
  4. Andrew Garfield  (Silence)
  5. Sam Neill  (Hunt for the Wilderpeople)
  6. Viggo Mortenson
  7. Shahab Hosseini  (The Salesman)
  8. Hugh Grant  (see supporting)
  9. Tom Hanks  (BFCA)
  10. Nate Parker

Note:  The first two awards awarded each year are the NBR and the NYFC and for the first time since 2009, they agree (on Casey Affleck).
Note:  It’s really close between Affleck and Denzel.  A very tough choice.

Best Actress:

  • Consensus Top Five:
  1. Isabelle Huppert  (LAFC, NYFC, NSFC, BSFC, Oscar, Globe, BFCA)
  2. Emma Stone  (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe – Comedy, BFCA)
  3. Natalie Portman  (CFC, SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  4. Amy Adams  (NBR, SAG, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  5. Meryl Streep  (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe – Comedy)
  • My Top Five:
  1. Emma Stone
  2. Amy Adams
  3. Annette Bening  (Globe – Comedy, BFCA)
  4. Natalie Portman
  5. Isabelle Huppert
  6. Kim Tae-ri  (The Handmaiden)
  7. Meryl Streep
  8. Amy Adams  (Nocturnal Animals)
  9. Ruth Negga
  10. Adriana Ugarte  (Julieta)

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Consensus Top Five:
  1. Mahershala Ali  (NYFC, LAFC, NSFC, BSFC, CFC, SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  2. Jeff Bridges  (NBR, SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  3. Dev Patel  (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  4. Hugh Grant  (SAG, BAFTA, Globe – Comedy)
  5. Lucas Hedges  (SAG, Oscar, BFCA)
  • My Top 10:
  1. Dev Patel
  2. Mahershala Ali
  3. Jeff Bridges
  4. Lucas Hedges
  5. Ben Foster  (BFCA)
  6. Liam Neeson  (Silence)
  7. Jeremy Renner  (Arrival)
  8. Michael Shannon  (Oscar, BFCA)
  9. Simon Helberg  (Globe)
  10. Ashton Sanders  (Moonlight)

note:  Supporting Actor seemed like a lock early on.  Mahershala Ali won five critics groups and the BFCA before the Globe – no one had done that and lost the Globe except Thomas Haden Church in 2004.  Aaron Taylor-Johnson, on the other hand, was the first actor in four years and just the second since 1998 to win the Globe while being bypassed by both the BFCA and SAG and the Globes had been ridiculed for their pick of Taylor-Johnson over Michael Shannon.
second note:  I included Hugh Grant here because two of his three nominations were for Supporting but I consider him a lead where he makes my Top 10.

Best Supporting Actress:

  • Consensus Top Five:
  1. Michelle Williams  (NYFC, NSFC, CFC, SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  2. Viola Davis  (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  3. Naomie Harris  (NBR, SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  4. Nicole Kidman  (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  5. Lily Gladstone  (LAFC, BSFC)
  • My Top 10:
  1. Viola Davis
  2. Michelle Williams
  3. Naomie Harris
  4. Kim Min-hee  (The Handmaiden)
  5. Octavia Spencer
  6. Nicole Kidman
  7. Greta Gerwig
  8. Judy Davis  (The Dressmaker)
  9. Janelle Monae
  10. Taraneh Alidoosti  (The Salesman)

Best Original Song:  I have a point scale that I apply to all categories, that runs from 0-9.  Because I limit original songs to five from a film (because that’s how many slots there are for nominees), the most points you can get from one film is 45 (which no film has ever done).  It is extremely rare to break 30 and to reach 35 you basically need to have, not only five songs (no film has ever had four nine point songs), but they all need to average at least a seven, so they need to be really good.  In the history of film, I have given out 13 scores of 35 or higher, with only two times before 2016 having multiple films above a 35: 1964 (Mary Poppins with 43 and A Hard Day’s Night with 41) and 1991 (Until the End of the World with 40 and Beauty and the Beast with 38).  Until this year.  This year has a film with a 38 (La La Land), and two films with 35 (Sing Street, Moana).  Granted, I know that La La Land only submitted three songs and that the other two only submitted two each, but it’s still such an amazing year for original songs (I bought the soundtracks to all three).  In fact, this year has a point total of 39 just for the top five songs that were eligible but not submitted (“Another Day of Sun”, “A Lovely Night” and “Someone in the Crowd” from La La Land, “You’re Welcome” from Moana and “Brown Shoes” from Sing Street).  Now, to be fair, I didn’t include any of those songs when calculating the Oscar Score, but used only the submitted songs.  But that not only included the submitted songs from those three films, which alone earned a score of 40 (“Drive It Like You Stole It”, “City of Stars”, “How Far I’ll Go”, “We Know the Way”, “Go Now”), but also several other songs that I rank higher than Timberlake’s song from Trolls (which I feel only earned a nomination so that people could watch him perform, and I suppose it was worth it just for that opening number which was very fun, but I liked Timberlake’s song the first time I heard it, when it was called “Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough” and it was sung by Michael Jackson) and far more than the weak Sting song from the documentary, including “Heathens” from Suicide Squad but also two songs from animated films that I liked far more than I ever would have expected: “Set It All Free” from Sing and “Try Everything” from Zootopia.

Forget about the ninjas and dire wolves. It’s Child Welfare you have to watch out for.

Under-appreciated Film of 2016:
Hunt for the Wilderpeople  (dir. Taika Waititi)

Poor Ricky Baker has a messed up view of the world.  He’s about to enter his teenage years and he’s in a world of juvenile delinquency, as Paula, the social worker from Child Welfare keeps explaining to people: he destroys stuff, breaks stuff, destroys stuff and he loiters.  Ricky never met his dad and his mom abandoned him and he’s down to his last chance before being shipped to juvy.  He’s already had one friend in the foster care system who died.  He just wants to find a way to get through.  He’s found some good luck.  He’s found a heart-warming woman who’s willing to raise him and love him and give him the family that he needs.  It’s true that she lives on the edge of the Bush with a quiet, taciturn husband and that she slaughters wild boars with a knife, but when you find someone who gives you love, you take it.  Unfortunately for Ricky, she dies and Child Welfare is coming back to take him.  So he fakes his own death (badly) and heads off into the Bush himself and that’s when things get really crazy.  And funny.

“Ninjas!” Ricky says, at one point, when he’s doubling back to a cabin to help Hec, his foster father who refuses to be called Uncle.  They’re actually police, but as I’ve said, Ricky has a messed up view.  “Dire wolves!” Ricky says to himself immediately after, because apparently Game of Thrones is more on his mind than the idea that these are just dogs who are trying to track him.  “Child Welfare!”  Well, that one’s right and it’s best saved for last because it’s the biggest problem.  After all, Paula has already compared herself to the Terminator in her dogged determination to grab hold of Ricky and bring him back to civilization or whatever might pass for it in this part of New Zealand if a woman like Paula is allowed to be in charge of any children.  When she does see Ricky (they are separated by a creek) he makes his own comparison to the Terminator and Paula, showing all the warmth for a frightened, emotionally scarred child, responds “you’re more like Sarah Connor, and in the first movie too, before she could do chinups.”

If that line makes you laugh, and it should, then this is a movie that you probably missed and that you should go back and catch up on.  After all, in spite of a hilarious script and the career-best performance from Sam Neill, this film got basically no awards attention.  I might have missed it myself if not for the fact that I am a bit out of my time.  By that, I mean, I still subscribe to magazines.  One of those magazines is Empire and because it’s a British magazine and focuses on movies that often haven’t been released in the States, there is generally at least one movie per issue that I read about and then set out to see.  Last year, they had an interview with a grizzly, bearded Sam Neill and I instantly added Hunt for the Wilderpeople to my Netflix queue.  It was already intriguing, having been directed by Taika Waititi, who had already been named director of the next Thor film and who had directed What We Do in the Shadows, which was quite entertaining.  But, honestly, looking at Neill in the picture was enough.

I have been a bit perplexed the last few years with the love for Kurt Russell, from his casting in The Hateful Eight (in a role envisioned for him by Tarantino) to his casting as Ego in GotG v2.  Don’t get me wrong; Russell is a fine actor and he’s been in a lot of good films over the years.  But he’s never been nominated for an Oscar and he’s never ranked that high on my own list of actors and because I hate Big Trouble in Little China while she loves it, I don’t have Veronica’s passion for him.  Jeff Goldblum is the same for me – I was surprised that there was such a positive reaction to him starring in the new Thor because he’s always been good but nothing about him screams out to me.  But Sam Neill is a different story.  True, he’s also never been nominated for an Oscar, but he’s always been a fascinating actor for me, not just in blockbusters that I really like such as The Hunt for Red October (where he wants to see Montana) or Jurassic Park (where he begins the movie in Montana) but in films like My Brilliant Career, Plenty, A Cry in the Dark, Dead Calm, Children of the Revolution and Sirens.  Hollywood hasn’t often known quite what to do with him, but Down Under they always have and I’m much more excited about his undisclosed role in the new Thor than Goldblum’s bigger one.

All of this is a long way around to saying that if your only experience with Aussie films is the Mad Max films and the only things you’ve seen filmed in New Zealand are Lord of the Rings and, god help me, Xena, then expand your horizons.  You can start with this film and then pretty much every other film I’ve referenced in this review (except Big Trouble in Little China).  Enjoy!