First of all, it’s the best performance of the year and it’s from the best film of the year. Second of all, as a straight male, I provide enough for the straight males on this site and thought a picture for those who aren’t straight males would be a treat.

My Top 20

  1. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
  2. Little Women
  3. 1917
  4. Jojo Rabbit
  5. Pain and Glory
  6. Parasite
  7. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
  8. Knives Out
  9. Rocketman
  10. Marriage Story
  11. Toy Story 4
  12. Us
  13. Avengers: Endgame
  14. The Farewell
  15. The Irishman
  16. Ford v Ferrari
  17. Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
  18. The Man Who Killed don Quixote
  19. Dolemite is My Name
  20. Spider-Man: Far From Home

These are all **** films and they are all the **** films for the year (though I haven’t seen Les Miserables).

Consensus Awards

  • Best Picture:  Parasite
  • Best Director:  Bong Joon-ho  (Parasite)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Jojo Rabbit
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Parasite
  • Best Actor:  Joaquin Phoenix  (Joker)
  • Best Actress:  Renee Zellweger  (Judy)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Brad Pitt  (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Laura Dern  (Marriage Story / Little Women)
  • Best Cinematography:  1917
  • Best Animated Film:  Toy Story 4
  • Best Foreign Film:  Parasite

Academy Awards

  • Best Picture:  Parasite
  • Best Director:  Bong Joon-ho  (Parasite)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Jojo Rabbit
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Parasite
  • Best Actor:  Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)
  • Best Actress:  Renee Zellweger  (Judy)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Brad Pitt  (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Laura Dern  (Marriage Story)
  • Best Cinematography:  1917
  • Best Animated Film:  Toy Story 4
  • Best International Film:  Parasite

Top 10 Films  (TSPDT)

  1. Parasite
  2. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
  3. The Irishman
  4. The Souvenir
  5. Marriage Story
  6. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
  7. Uncut Gems
  8. Pain and Glory
  9. Little Women
  10. The Farewell

note:  After only three Best Picture nominees in the Top 10 last year, we’re back up to five this year.  Three more appear by #34 with only Ford being left out entirely.

Top 10 Films  (Awards Points)

  1. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood  –  2185
  2. Parasite  –  2127
  3. The Irishman  –  1811
  4. 1917  –  1678
  5. Joker  –  1433
  6. Marriage Story  –  1375
  7. Little Women  –  1321
  8. Jojo Rabbit  –  953
  9. Ford v Ferrari  –  627
  10. Bombshell  –  475

note:  Hollywood is the lowest #1 in four years.  1917 is the third highest #4 ever, Joker is the third highest #5, Marriage Story is the second highest #6 and Little Women is the highest #7.  Bombshell, on the other hand, is the lowest #10 since 1998.  Overall, it’s the highest Top 10 since 2013.  As a result of all this, Hollywood only accounts for 23.66% of the Top 5, the fifth lowest total ever for the #1 film.

Top 10 Films  (2019 Best Picture Awards)

  1. Parasite
  2. The Irishman
  3. 1917
  4. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
  5. Little Women
  6. Joker
  7. Marriage Story
  8. Jojo Rabbit
  9. Ford v Ferrari
  10. Knives Out

Top 10 Films  (Box Office Gross)

see full post here

Nighthawk Golden Globes

Drama

  • Best Picture:  Little Women
  • Best Director:  Sam Mendes  (1917)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Little Women
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Pain and Glory
  • Best Actor:  Antonio Banderas  (Pain and Glory)
  • Best Actress:  Saoirse Ronan  (Little Women)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Joe Pesci  (The Irishman)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Laura Dern  (Marriage Story)

Comedy / Musical

  • Best Picture:  Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
  • Best Director:  Quentin Tarantino  (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Jojo Rabbit
  • Best Original Screenplay:   Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
  • Best Actor:  Leonardo DiCaprio  (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood)
  • Best Actress:  Renee Zellweger  (Judy)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Brad Pitt  (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Scarlett Johansson  (Jojo Rabbit)

Nighthawk Awards

  • Best Picture:  Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
  • Best Director:  Quentin Tarantino  (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Little Women
  • Best Original Screenplay:   Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
  • Best Actor:  Antonio Banderas  (Pain and Glory)
  • Best Actress:  Saoirse Ronan  (Little Women)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Brad Pitt  (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Laura Dern  (Marriage Story)
  • Best Editing:   Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
  • Best Cinematography:  1917
  • Best Original Score:  1917
  • Best Sound:  1917
  • Best Art Direction:  Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
  • Best Visual Effects:  Star Wars Episode XI: The Rise of Skywalker
  • Best Sound Editing:  1917
  • Best Costume Design:  Little Women
  • Best Makeup:  Rocketman
  • Best Original Song:  “Speechless”  (Aladdin)
  • Best Animated Film:  Toy Story 4
  • Best Foreign Film:  Pain and Glory

Foreign Films:  Certainly not in great shape, as I never am at this point.  I have only seen nine of the submitted Oscar films (including three nominees and another semi-finalist) but of course, one of the best of the year, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, wasn’t submitted nor was The Farewell.  However, even with several prominent films left out (most notably Les Miserables), this is an absolutely incredible year.  While no film reaches Roma levels, Parasite is the best #2 film since 2002 and Portrait the best #3 since 2001 and the fourth best ever, behind only 1957, 1973 and 2001.  The only year that had four films all better than this year is 1957 (Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Throne of Blood, The Cranes are Flying).  Even if Atlantics stays my #5 film that still leaves this year as tied for the 6th best Top 5 in history.

This is the point in the film where I turned to Veronica in the theater and whispered “Did both fashion and cars peak in 1969?”

Nighthawk Notables

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  Knives Out
  • Best Line  (comedic):  “I spoke in the car about the hole at the center of this doughnut. And yes, what you and Harlan did that fateful night seems at first glance to fill that hole perfectly. A doughnut hole in the doughnut’s hole. But we must look a little closer. And when we do, we see that the doughnut hole has a hole in its center – it is not a doughnut hole at all but a smaller doughnut with its own hole, and our doughnut is not a hole at all!”  (Daniel Craig in Knives Out)
  • Best Line  (dramatic):  “I’m taking one last look at my friends.”  (Anthony Daniels in Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker)
  • Best Opening:  Rocketman
  • Best Ending:  see below
  • Best Scene:  “Avengers Assemble” in Avengers: Endgame
  • Most Gut-Wrenching Scene:  sticking the sliced-open hand through the corpse in 1917
  • Most Heart-Wrenching Scene:  seeing the shoes in mid-air in Jojo Rabbit
  • Most Terrifying Scene:  the revelation in Us
  • Funniest Scene:  the fight in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
  • Best Use of a Song (comedic):  “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”  in Isn’t it Romantic
  • Best Use of a Song (dramatic):  “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”  in Rocketman
  • Best Soundtrack:  Rocketman  (close second to Yesterday)
  • Best Compilation Soundtrack:  Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
  • Best Ensemble:  Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
  • Funniest Film:  Knives Out
  • Funniest Performance:  Billy Lourd in Booksmart
  • Most Creepily Effective Film:  Us
  • Best Guilty Pleasure:  Dark Phoenix
  • Most Over-Rated Film:  Joker
  • Worst Film:  The Haunting of Sharon Tate
  • Worst Sequel:  Rambo: Last Blood
  • Worst Remake:  Hellboy
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Ana de Armas in Knives Out
  • Sexiest Performance:  Brie Larson in Captain Marvel
  • Highest Attractiveness / Acting Ability Ratio:  Anne Hathaway in The Hustle  /  Serenity
  • Female Star of the Year:  Scarlett Johansson  (Avengers: Endgame  /  Marriage Story  /  Jojo Rabbit)
  • Male Star of the Year:  Adam Driver  (Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker  /  Marriage Story  /  The Man Who Killed don Quixote  /  The Report  /  The Dead Don’t Die)
  • Highest Ratio Discrepancy Between Two Performances:  Rebel Wilson  (Isn’t It Romantic as opposed to The Hustle and Cats)
  • Read the Comics, SKIP the Film:  Hellboy
  • Coolest Performance (male):  Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
  • Coolest Performance (female):  Brie Larson in Captain Marvel
  • Weirdest Bit of Real Life Connection:  that I took part in Hands Across America  (Us)
  • Best Teaser:  Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
  • Best Trailer:  Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
  • Best Tagline:  “A true fantasy”  (Rocketman)
  • Best Cameo:  Denis Lawson in Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
  • Funniest Cameo:  Stan Lee in Captain Marvel
  • Best Animated Character Performance:  Keanu Reeves in Toy Story 4

    I was serious. I can even pinpoint where I was thanks to the photo. I’m the one in the A’s cap.

The Best Film Endings of 2019

This was, quite frankly, a great year for film and an especially great year for film endings.  It was just simply, not too difficult, but pointless, to bother to list one winner or even a tie between two films.  The endings were just too powerful and moving in so many different ways (a lot of which had to do with music).  So here is a list.  Rather than attempt to rank them, I am going to discuss them in alphabetical order.  Also, those aren’t blank spaces below each film.  In order to preserve the mystery for those who haven’t been able to see a particular film, I deliberately changed the text color to white.  To read what I actually wrote about a particular film just highlight the text and you’ll be able to see it.

  • Aladdin
    • The Disney live action adaptations weren’t great and Aladdin (except for the brilliant “Speechless”) doesn’t match up to the original.  But one of the things that make it fun is Will Smith’s performance and that’s especially so, first when you get to the end of the film and realize how the framing device has been working (if you hadn’t guessed) and second, with the super fun reprise of “Friend Like Me” that shows that Will Smith really was the right person to take on the role that Robin Williams had done so brilliantly.
  • Avengers: Endgame
    • My brother’s take on movies is greatly influenced by how he walks out of the theater and this was a massive winner for him, declaring it one of the best film endings he’s ever seen.  And they really did brilliantly bring a climax to the stories of both Tony Stark and then Steve Rogers, with that beautiful last shot of Steve and Peggy dancing their time away after originally missing that date almost 20 films ago now.
  • Isn’t It Romantic
    • In a year that was not a strong one when it come to Romantic Comedies, one of the better ones of the year gave a final blow-out with “Express Yourself” that really brings down the house.
  • Jojo Rabbit
    • As will be made more clear in my Best Picture post this ending completely shattered me.  It moved me like no moment in a film has moved me since the father was told to say goodbye to Frankie.  I was so shaken by it, and yet so moved, that between the walk from the theater to the car I had completely written the full review in my head and even told the ending part to Veronica before we got in the car.
  • Knives Out
    • In an era where the most horrible people are in charge of everything it’s nice to see the truly horrible people lose out to the one genuinely nice person.
  • The Nightingale
    • One of the hardest movies to watch from this year has a fantastic ending where two people sit together and we marvel at what they have survived.
  • Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
    • Another ending that will be much discussed in my full review in the Best Picture post.  I will just say here that it’s massively appropriate that it’s only at the end of the film, after we have gone through all of that and seen where it leads, that we finally get the title.
  • Pain and Glory
    • An ending that hearkens back to Bergman’s Persona but which really brings the film to a full closure.
  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire
    • Perhaps more than any other ending on this list, one which needs to be watched in sequence to end the film.  It helps you understand what has been going on and it resonates so much more because of what you have already seen in the film.  Another emotionally devastating ending that underscores the brilliance of the film that has come before it.
  • Rocketman
    • Brilliant, not only because it makes such brilliant use of one of Elton’s best songs, but because it is the culmination of the whole film and it so brilliantly edits him into the original video.  But I actually think, because of the slow build, that Egerton’s version of the song is even better than Elton’s.
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home
    • This isn’t just about the ending, but the brilliant and hilarious way that the mid-credits scene finally makes a connection to the original Sam Raimi films and what is means for the future of Peter as a character in the MCU.
  • Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
    • This is a fantastic nod to those of us old enough to have been collecting Star Wars figures from the beginning.  The original Luke figure was packaged, in spite of what was seen in the film, with a yellow lightsaber.  So to finally get that yellow lightsaber on-screen was a fantastic moment.  But then we get that final line of the film and we are back where we began over 40 years ago and it just feels right.
  • Toy Story 4
    • Reminiscent of another ending that was heart-breaking, Running on Empty.  In both cases, the first line (“She’ll be okay.”; “Get the bike out of the back.”) lead to a second line that isn’t what you were expecting and that’s the heart-breaking part (“Bonnie will be okay.”; “Now get on it.”).  In this scary time (writing this at what I hope is the height of COVID), it’s one thing to say goodbye to someone knowing you will never see them again.  It’s a far different story to say goodbye and wonder if perhaps you might get to see them again, but knowing probably not.  Of course, the sadness of this ending is mitigated by knowing Woody is where he needs to be, plus the hilarious mid-credits sequence (“Do you really have laser eyes?”).
  • Us
    • Just a reminder that not all brilliant endings are happy or even sad.  Some are also terrifying.
  • Yesterday
    • All sorts of things to mention here.  First, for a long time, I believed that people shouldn’t do Beatles covers because of truly awful renditions like Fiona Apple’s “Across the Universe” that almost killed the ending of Pleasantville.  But Across the Universe changed that and I am reminded of yet another of my very favorite film endings.  So maybe what we should get is only full movies of Beatles covers (although Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band disproves that theory).  But then I am reminded that for some reason there were people who really hated this movie (I saw one reviewer who listed it as the worst of the year) and I can’t understand that at all.  It was a really good movie with a fantastic soundtrack.  So we get to the ending, with that really hilarious added on twist.  And then we hearken to The Wizard of Oz and how some people go on a journey to discover they were happy where they were.  Jack’s not supposed to be a rock star and chasing the glamorous life.  He’s supposed to be teaching music to kids and married to Ellie and be happy (and an extra joke for those who don’t know that it’s a helter skelter that Jack and Ellie are riding with their kids at the end).  But there’s also the question of what to end with – a question such films (like Across the Universe and Rocketman) always have to deal with.  You need a song good enough and powerful enough to end with.  So we’ve got the kids and they provide a chorus, so of course we go with one of the Beatles most wonderfully engaging songs, one that all the kids can sing along with.  And that’s the happy ending this film really needs.

Film History:  Parasite wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes (and then becomes the first winner to earn an Oscar nom for Best Picture in seven years).  Joker wins the Golden Lion in Venice, the first winner in a row to then be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars (after it hadn’t happened since 2005).  Clemency wins the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.  In spite of not being nominated for Director, Screenplay or Actress, The Farewell wins the Indie Spirit.  It beats out Marriage Story making it the first film ever to fail to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture then beat an Oscar nominee at the Indies.  Cats “wins” big at the Razzies making it the first Razzie winner for Worst Picture that I saw in the theater since The Postman in 1997 and the first nominee I’ve seen since 2002.

Albert Finney dies in February without ever winning an Oscar.  Stanley Donen also dies in February without having even earned an Oscar nomination, 67 years after his biggest film and 35 years after his last one.  Four-time Oscar winner Andre Previn dies in March.  Agnès Varda dies at the end of March.  In April we lose Seymour Cassel, Bibi Andersson (winner of multiple Nighthawk Awards), John Singleton (still the youngest director ever nominated for an Oscar) and Peter Mayhew.  We also lose Vonda McIntyre, who’s only relevant to this in that she wrote the novelizations of Star Trek II, III and IV and those were all important to me when I was a kid.  On back-to-back days, Doris Day and Tim Conway die and the only reason I bother to mention the latter is because in both cases I said, “They were still alive?”  Franco Zeffirelli, who was nominated for an Oscar but didn’t deserve to be, dies in June.  July’s death count includes Rip Torn, Rutger Hauer (who dies in 2019, the same year Blade Runner is set) and Hal Prince, who was a bad film director but was probably the most important theatrical director of the 20th Century.  I don’t generally watch documentaries or think about them but D.A. Pennebaker, who dies on 1 August, was one of the greatest at making them.  Just two months after the 50th anniversary of Easy Rider‘s release in June, Peter Fonda dies on 16 August.  Robert Evans, the kid who stayed in the picture, finally exits the picture on October 26.  In November I hold up a copy of the DVD of Georgia Rule (before you ask, I’m working on Universal films and seeing as many as possible) and point out Felicity Huffman, Jane Fonda and Lindsey Lohan and say to Veronica “Two of these actresses went to jail this week and Lindsey Lohan wasn’t one of them!”

Academy Awards:  As always, the nomination morning piece is a place to find all the Oscar trivia.

My Oscar Notables are:

  • Worst Oscar:  n/a  *
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Director for Todd Phillips for Joker
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Director for Greta Gerwig for Little Women
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  The Lighthouse
  • Best Eligible Film with No Oscar Nominations:  Us
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Adapted Screenplay
  • Best Oscar Category:  Supporting Actor
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Sound Mixing, Production Design, Costume Design, Animated Film

*:  Here are my Oscar ranks for all the winners, going through in the order I list the categories above:  6, 6, 3, 2, 2, 5, 1, 1, 7, 1, 4, 1, 1, 4, 2, 1, 5, 4, 2, 1.  There just isn’t a category where they made a choice that I think was wrong enough to list it as “worst”.

Awards:  Normally at this point, I discuss various statistics about the Year in Film for all the awards groups.  But I covered so much of it at the time in this post that it’s seems redundant to recap all of it here.

Best Director:

  • Consensus Top 5
  1. Bong Joon-ho  (Oscar, DGA, BAFTA, BFCA, Globe, LAFC, BSFC, CFC)
  2. Sam Mendes  (Oscar, DGA, BAFTA, BFCA, Globe)
  3. Quentin Tarantino  (NBR, Oscar, DGA, BAFTA, BFCA, Globe)
  4. Martin Scorsese  (Oscar, BAFTA, BFCA, BSFC, CFC)
  5. Greta Gerwig  (NSFC, BFCA)
  • My Top 10
  1. Quentin Tarantino
  2. Sam Mendes
  3. Greta Gerwig
  4. Taika Waititi  (DGA)
  5. Pedro Almodovar
  6. Bong Joon-ho
  7. Celine Sciamma  (Portrait of a Lady on Fire)
  8. Martin Scorsese
  9. Jordan Peele
  10. Rian Johnson

If the Consensus looks a bit odd, I’ll remind you that my Consensus includes things I don’t list here because I don’t use them for the other groups below (critics award placements, Satellites, Indies, festival wins).

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Consensus Top 5
  1. Jojo Rabbit  (Oscar, WGA, BAFTA, BFCA)
  2. The Irishman  (NBR, Oscar, WGA, BAFTA, BFCA, Globe)
  3. Little Women  (CFC, BFCA, Oscar, WGA, BAFTA)
  4. Joker  (Oscar, WGA, BAFTA, BFCA)
  5. The Two Popes  (Oscar, Globe, BAFTA, BFCA)
  • My Top 10
  1. Little Women
  2. Jojo Rabbit
  3. Toy Story 4
  4. The Man Who Killed don Quixote
  5. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  6. Avengers: Endgame
  7. The Two Popes
  8. The Aeronauts
  9. Captain Marvel
  10. It: Chapter Two

Almost certainly not a list you would find anywhere else.  But I thought The Irishman‘s script was one of the weakest things about the film.  This was definitely a year where Original dominates over Adapted.

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Consensus Top 5
  1. Parasite  (Oscar, WGA, BAFTA, NSFC, CFC, BFCA, Globe)
  2. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood  (BFCA, Globe, NYFC, BSFC, Oscar, BAFTA)
  3. Marriage Story  (LAFC, Oscar, WGA, BAFTA, BFCA, Globe)
  4. Knives Out  (Oscar, WGA, BAFTA, BFCA)
  5. Booksmart  (WGA, BAFTA)  /  1917  (Oscar, WGA)
  • My Top 10
  1. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
  2. Pain and Glory
  3. Parasite
  4. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
  5. Knives Out
  6. Marriage Story
  7. The Farewell
  8. 1917
  9. Us
  10. Booksmart

This is a very very tough year.  My #4 Adapted would have been my #11 Original.

Best Actor:

  • Consensus Top 5
  1. Joaquin Phoenix  (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  2. Antonio Banderas  (NYFC, LAFC, NSFC, Oscar, Globe, BFCA)
  3. Adam Driver  (CFC, SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  4. Leonardo DiCaprio  (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe-Comedy, BFCA)
  5. Adam Sandler  (BSFC, NBR, BFCA)
  • My Top 10
  1. Antonio Banderas
  2. Joaquin Phoenix
  3. Adam Driver
  4. Leonardo DiCaprio
  5. Taron Egerton  (SAG, BAFTA, Globe – Comedy)
  6. Eddie Murphy  (Globe – Comedy, BFCA)
  7. Christian Bale  (SAG, Globe)
  8. Jonathan Pryce  (Oscar, BAFTA, Globe)
  9. Daniel Craig  (Globe – Comedy)
  10. Matt Damon

It’s the third straight year without a dominant Consensus winner because it’s the third straight year in which the awards dominating performance won no critics awards.
The top 3 was easy and the next two weren’t too hard but after that it got very difficult.  Veronica summed up the difference between #1 and #2 quite well: “I felt Phoenix’s performance in the second half of the film wasn’t nearly as strong while Banderas’ performance kept getting better the longer the film went on.”

Best Actress:

  • Consensus Top 5
  1. Renée Zellweger  (NBR, SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  2. Saoirse Ronan  (BSFC, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  3. Lupita Nyong’o  (NYFC, CFC, SAG, BFCA)
  4. Scarlett Johansson  (Oscar, SAG, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  5. Charlize Theron  (Oscar, SAG, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  • My Top 10
  1. Saoirse Ronan
  2. Scarlett Johansson
  3. Noémie Merlant  (Portrait of a Lady on Fire)
  4. Lupita Nyong’o
  5. Renée Zellweger
  6. Cynthia Erivo  (SAG, Oscar, Globe, BFCA)
  7. Charlize Theron
  8. Aisling Franciosi  (The Nightingale)
  9. Emma Thompson  (Late Night)  (Globe – Comedy)
  10. Awkwafina  (Globe – Comedy, BFCA)

It’s the fourth year in a row that the winner doesn’t really dominate (less than 30% of the Consensus points) but like two of the previous three years, there also isn’t anyone really that close.  Most of the awards the Consensus winner didn’t win were pretty spread out.

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Consensus Top 5
  1. Brad Pitt  (NSFC, BSFC, CFC, NBR, SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  2. Joe Pesci  (NYFC, SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  3. Al Pacino  (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  4. Tom Hanks  (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  5. Anthony Hopkins  (Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  • My Top 10
  1. Brad Pitt
  2. Joe Pesci
  3. Tom Hanks
  4. Al Pacino
  5. Anthony Hopkins
  6. Jonathan Pryce  (The Man who Killed don Quixote)
  7. Sang Kang-ho  (Parasite)  (LAFC)
  8. Chris Evans  (Knives Out)
  9. Willem Dafoe  (The Lighthouse)  (BFCA)
  10. Taika Waititi  (Jojo Rabbit)

Pitt has the most wins since 2014 and the third most ever.  The Top 5 combines for over 90% of the Consensus points, the most dominant Top 5 since 2014.  It’s also the first time since, surprise, 2014, that two actors go 0 for 5.
This is actually a really easy Top 5 to pick and then it gets harder to sort out the performances.  Pitt really shouldn’t have been supporting (I had him as supporting until the Spahn Ranch scene and then decided he was lead).  The rare year when I agree with the Consensus (and the Oscars, BAFTA, Globe and BFCA – very reminiscent of Best Actress in 2006).

Best Supporting Actress:

  • Consensus Top 5
  1. Laura Dern  (NYFC, NSFC, BSFC, SAG, Oscar, Globe, BFCA)
  2. Margot Robbie  (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA (twice), Globe, BFCA)
  3. Jennifer Lopez  (LAFC, SAG, Globe, BFCA)
  4. Florence Pugh  (CFC, Oscar, BAFTA, BFCA)
  5. Scarlett Johansson  (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, BFCA)
  • My Top 10
  1. Laura Dern
  2. Scarlett Johansson
  3. Florence Pugh
  4. Jennifer Lopez
  5. Margot Robbie  (Bombshell)
  6. Laura Dern  (Little Women)
  7. Margot Robbie  (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood)
  8. Adèle Haenel  (Portrait of a Lady on Fire)
  9. Thomasin McKenzie  (Jojo Rabbit)
  10. Penelope Cruz  (Pain and Glory)

In the opposite of Actress, Dern is the third straight Consensus winner with at least 30% of the total points.
My winner is easy as are my Top 3 but after that it gets harder to sort out.
I must point that I haven’t seen Richard Jewell.

Under-appreciated Film of 2019

Cats

(dir. Tom Hooper)

Cats wasn’t just unsuccessful.  But, before I get to that, let me point out that it was not as unsuccessful as its detractors would like you to believe.  It’s true it had the second weakest opening weekend of any film opening on 3000+ theaters but it opened over a holiday so it actually had a box office multiplier higher than most of the highest-grossing films of the year.  Yes, making $27 million domestically isn’t good when you cost upwards of $100 million but it’s still more than all but 86 other films from 2019 including many that were playing on over 3000 screens (seven to be precise).  What’s more, it didn’t lose nearly as much money as Terminator: Dark Fate or possibly Dark Phoenix.  But it was also derided on a critical level and what was clear from all the buzz was that people had already decided that they hated it before they went into the theater.  Indeed, it would seem that many decided that they hated it the second it was announced, long before people had seen even a single second of it.  And that’s not really surprising either because of the original show.

This might be surprising to people who think of Cats as this all-encompassing show that simply dominates at the box office (and it’s true that it does – it’s estimated to have taken in over $3 billion on stage worldwide since it originally opened in London in 1981) but Cats was critically lambasted when it originally opened (actually most of ALW’s musicals have taken drubbings from the critics which was a surprise to me when I read his memoir).  But Cats is a phenomenon unlike anything that came before it and unlike almost anything that has come since.  It held the title of longest running Broadway musical for nine years (only to be passed by Phantom which of course is also an ALW show) and held the record in London for an astonishing 17 years before Les Mis finally passed it (which, I’ll remind you was also made into a film that a lot of critics felt they were too good for).  But a lot of people always thought it was just dreck.  That’s a measure, not only of its success and people reacting to it, but also from the fact that this film is almost the polar opposite of the kind of serious theater that devotees of playwrights like Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Eugene O’Neill think the stage is for.

Now we get into the heart of being a critic.  I think of myself as a film critic, though technically an amateur one in that I haven’t been paid to write the millions of words I have put on this blog in the last 12 years.  I approach a film asking how good is it?  Does it put together the myriad of aspects of film in a successful and artistic manner?  In film, that often means looking at the story that is being told (which is why I so often hate Godard films).  But theater has a long tradition of revue shows, of something in which there really isn’t a story being told, but simply a collection of songs and dances or scenes, just some fun put together on the stage.  Such revues have never been aimed at the critics but at those who are there to enjoy themselves.  It’s a reminder of vaudeville and the myriad of things you could find in front of you.  While you can review various aspects of such shows, it’s not really possible to address it as a coherent whole because it isn’t.

In a sense, that’s what the original Cats was.  It had no story to tell.  It took a series of T.S. Eliot poems designed for a child to read (at least to the extent that a child could read Eliot and my wife would loudly insist that no one should read Eliot) and turned them into a show.  Yes, it attached a loose concept to the songs so you felt, at least something like a story had been told, but that wasn’t really the point.  It was always about the experience.

Cats in a theater is an experience not to be forgotten, at least when done properly.  I saw it originally in Portland and it was a fun experience because I was very familiar with the songs.  But in January of 1996 when I was in London for a theater class and we had our mornings and early afternoons free before meeting at the theater each night I insisted that our group go see Cats and Les Mis because we should see them in London and we could see a matinee showing and after all, we were in London for a theatre class.  So we went.  And we saw Cats in the New London Theatre, the theatre where it was originally designed to open.  It’s a small, circular theatre and it puts you really close to the action.  Indeed, the lights went down and the next thing we knew, there were these blinking lights in the audience, and holy crap, there was an actor dressed as a cat two feet from me.  It was an amazingly intimate show that really brought you into the action.  You felt like you were part of the show and not just there to sit and see a play.  I’ve seen far better musicals on stage (I saw Les Mis in London after all and Hamilton on Broadway) but I’ve had very few theatrical experiences like going to see Cats in the New London.

Yes, you’re saying, but that’s the stage production and you’re supposed to be talking about the film and you’re taking a god damn long time to do it.  What about the hands?  What about the tails?  What about the acting?  What about the lack of a story?

Okay, let’s start talking about these things.  We’ll start with the tails because, really, who gives a shit?  If your complaint is that the cats tails are in the wrong place, I can counter with the fact that cats also don’t normally talk, walk on two legs or sing so where the tail is supposed to be means nothing to me.  The hands, on the other hand, are a bit problematic.  It’s clear that the filmmakers freaked out a bit after the insane over-reaction to the first trailer and went back to fix a lot of the visual effects and simply ran out of time to get it the way they wanted it because they were on a deadline.  A lot of the visual effects work in the film actually looks quite amazing (the sets are fantastic) but yet, I count the hands against that and there’s a reason I was surprised to see Cats among the ten semi-finalists for Best Visual Effects at the Oscars.

And before I get to the acting I will jump ahead again and discuss the lack of a story.  I’ll mention my Adapted Screenplay review of Around the World in 80 Days.  What’s the first means of transportation you think of when you hear that title?  If the answer is “hot air balloon”, then congratulations, you’ve never read the book.  So what about the lack of a story in Cats?  Well, if that is your complaint, well then congratulations, you have simply read what you saw online and you didn’t actually see the fucking movieCats is famous on-stage for taking a bunch of poems that tell no story and making a stage musical out of it with a very loose idea to hold them together.  But for the film, they actually decided to provide it with a much more focused story, putting enough effort into it that they created a whole new character as the primary focus of the whole damn film just to give it a coherent storyline.  Yes, it’s the same basic plot (one cat gets to be reborn at the end of the night into a new jellicle life) but now there’s the new cat that has it explained to her and there’s Macavity who’s going off kidnapping the other cats to make certain that he’s the one that gets to be reborn.  (I will say that one of the few actually funny responses to the film was someone who said on Twitter something to the effect of “I clearly should have been more specific about my Christmas wish to see Idris Elba on-screen with no clothes on.”)  It’s not the world’s greatest story but to say it has no story is to have skipped watching the film altogether which is what most people did (although not as many people as skipped out on seeing Where’d You Go Bernadette and Motherless Brooklyn, two movies I wanted to see because I loved the books but which, together made less money than Cats and kind of rightfully so because both were quite disappointing).  They didn’t see the film because they felt it was beneath them or because they hated the original show or because they just wanted to hate it for fun or for no reason at all.  They simply hated the idea of it and derided anyone who didn’t.

Now let’s be clear.  Cats isn’t a great film.  Though it does have a plot to fall back on, it’s still a pretty thin plot and it has barely anything of what you might call character development (with the exception of Mr. Mistoffelees and it was surprising to see him presented as being so timid initially and to be played by such a relative unknown).  What’s more, it’s more proof that Rebel Wilson seems almost incapable of not playing Rebel Wilson, which is fine in a movie like Isn’t It Romantic but can be problematic when she’s in a great film like Jojo Rabbit and even more so when she’s playing the role the opposite of the way it’s been written like in Cats.  James Corden gives a better performance but it’s in a role that is also kind of grating, so that didn’t help.  What’s more, they really didn’t get Idris Elba’s look right and it was distracting.

But there are also the songs and Cats was always an experience that hinged around its songs.  And, while they didn’t quite hit it out of the park like so many of the scenes in the film version of Les Mis, they also didn’t choke on it like any time Gerard Butler tried to sing in Phantom.  While one of my personal favorites, “Mr. Mistofefelees” might have been a bit subdued, Taylor Swift hit an absolute home run singing “Macavity” and I felt an admiration for her singing that none of her own songs have done for me.  There was also the hauntingly beautiful new song, co-written by Swift and ALW, “Beautiful Ghosts”, which not only should have been Oscar nominated but which I thought was actually better than the Elton John song which won the Oscar.

But the core of this show has always been the show-stopper “Memory.”  “Memory’ was the song that didn’t belong originally (it was somewhat derived from the Eliot poem “Rhapsody on a Windy Night”, a poem that actually ends with the line “The last twist of the knife.”) but immediately became the hit of the show and far more as Streisand recorded it that same year, Barry Manilow the next and by 2006 there had been over 600 recorded versions.  Yet, it’s possible that the single best version is the version sung by Jennifer Hudson in this film.  Since her Oscar winning performance in Dreamgirls, Hudson hasn’t focused on film acting but it’s worth remembering she was known first as a singer (and she finished seventh on American Idol so once again, I’ll remind you that other people’s opinions aren’t necessarily worthwhile in telling you what is good).  Her performance is both powerful and haunting and she hits every note in a way I’ve never heard before.  She gives the haunted version early on before she sends it through the roof.  After hearing that, how could you choose any cat but her to be reborn?

Cats isn’t a great film.  But I not only think it’s an under-appreciated film, far better than the dreck people (who didn’t see it) would have you believe, but actually is a good film.  Yes, it has one terrible performance and one that isn’t very good.  It has some problems with its visual effects.  But what it promises is a fun show, some beautiful songs and a bit of magic that will make you believe.  And, even aside from “Macavity” and “Beautiful Ghosts”, when you reach “Memory” you believe.  I’ve seen, at the moment, over 70% of the 344 Oscar eligible films from this year and I will gladly watch this again long before I would watch most of those films again.