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For the first time in over 70 years, Dickens is great on film again.

My Top 20

  1. The Personal History of David Copperfield
  2. The Trial of the Chicago 7
  3. Promising Young Woman
  4. One Night in Miami…
  5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  6. Judas and the Black Messiah
  7. Soul
  8. Minari
  9. The Father
  10. Tenet
  11. News of the World
  12. Sound of Metal
  13. Emma.
  14. Dear Comrades!
  15. A Whisker Away
  16. Never Rarely Sometimes Always
  17. The Painted Bird
  18. Onward
  19. Wolfwalkers
  20. The Dig

They are **** films through #13.  After that they are high ***.5.  A reminder that Quo Vadis, Aida? was not Oscar submitted for 2020 and didn’t get released in the States until March so it’s actually a 2021 film for my purposes.  If it was a 2020 film it would be at #10.

Consensus Awards

  • Best Picture:  Nomadland
  • Best Director:  Chloe Zhao  (Nomadland)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Nomadland
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Promising Young Woman
  • Best Actor:  Chadwick Boseman  (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)
  • Best Actress:  Frances McDormand  (Nomadland)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Paul Raci  (Sound of Metal)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Youn Yuh-jung  (Minari)
  • Best Cinematography:  Nomadland
  • Best Animated Film:  Soul
  • Best Foreign Film:  Another Round

Academy Awards

  • Best Picture:  Nomadland
  • Best Director:  Chloe Zhao  (Nomadland)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Father
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Promising Young Woman
  • Best Actor:  Anthony Hopkins  (The Father)
  • Best Actress:  Frances McDormand  (Nomadland)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Daniel Kaluuya  (Judas and the Black Messiah)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Youn Yuh-jung  (Minari)
  • Best Cinematography:  Mank
  • Best Animated Film:  Soul
  • Best Foreign Film:  Another Round

firstcowTop 10 Films  (TSPDT)

  1. First Cow
  2. Nomadland
  3. Never Rarely Sometimes Always
  4. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
  5. Da 5 Bloods
  6. The Assistant
  7. Bacurau
  8. Minari
  9. Mank
  10. Wolfwalkers

note:  This is not the actual list as you will find if you click the link.  But I eliminated Lovers Rock at #2 (television), Time at #7, American Utopia at #8, Dick Johnson is Dead at #11, Bloody Nose Empty Pockets at #12 and Collective at #13 (all documentaries).
note:  From five Best Picture nominees last year down to three and that’s only because I cut out the films listed above and that boosted Minari and Mank up five spots.  But it’s also possible that because of how this year worked, Judas and The Father might make appearances next year (they aren’t listed at all).  For the purposes of my list, Sound of Metal is #11 and Promising Young Woman is #14.  Trial is at #37 (on their list, not including my cuts).

Top 10 Films  (Awards Points)

  1. Nomadland  –  2548
  2. Mank  –  1290
  3. Promising Young Woman  –  1271
  4. Minari  –  1226
  5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom  –  1132
  6. Sound of Metal  –  1039
  7. Trial of the Chicago 7  –  1006
  8. The Father  –  924
  9. Da 5 Bloods  –  770
  10. Soul  –  726

Top 10 Films  (2020 Best Picture Awards)

  1. Nomadland
  2. The Trial of the Chicago 7
  3. Promising Young Woman
  4. Mank
  5. Minari
  6. The Father
  7. Sound of Metal
  8. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
  9. Da 5 Bloods
  10. First Cow

bbTop 10 Films  (Box Office Gross)

  1. Bad Boys for Life  –  $206,305,244
  2. Sonic the Hedgehog  –  $148,974,665
  3. Birds of Prey  –  $84,158,461
  4. Dolittle  –  $77,047,065
  5. The Invisible Man  –  $70,410,000
  6. The Call of the Wild  –  $62,342,368
  7. Onward  –  $61,555,145
  8. Tenet  –  $58,456,624
  9. The Croods: A New Age  –  $57,037,348
  10. WW84  –  $46,276,622

note:  Of course, COVID destroyed the box office.  The Top 6 films were all released in January and February and everything below that had their gross affected by the pandemic.  There is no point in comparing the numbers to other years.  I will mention that Bad Boys is the first non-Disney film to be #1 since 2014 and the first Columbia film to be #1 since Spider-Man 3 in 2007, though that was still far more recently than the last Universal film (2000) or Paramount film (1997).
note:  Bad Boys is the first film lower than *** to rule the box office since How the Grinch Stole Christmas in 2000, the first bad film since Home Alone in 1990 (I give it a 50 – the highest ** but ** is still a bad film) and the worst #1 since The Towering Inferno in 1974.
note:  On that same note, because the terrible early months ruled, the average Top 10 film is 59.0, the lowest in nine years.  There had been a trend of better films in the Top 10 and only five bad films had been in the Top 10 in total from 2013 to 2019.  This year there were five bad films in the Top 10 (Bad Boys, Sonic, Dolittle, Call of the Wild, Croods).

The Eight Hundred Poster_NA26X39Top 10 Films – Worldwide  (Box Office Gross)

  1. The Eight Hundred  –  $461,341,525
  2. Bad Boys for Life  –  $426,505,244
  3. My People, My Homeland  –  $422,390,820
  4. Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train  –  $148,974,665
  5. Tenet  –  $363,656,624
  6. Sonic the Hedgehog  –  $319,715,683
  7. Dolittle  –  $245,509,681
  8. Legend of Deification  –  $240,663,149
  9. A Little Red Flower  –  $216,000,000
  10. Birds of Prey  –  $201,858,461

note:  With the U.S. box office mostly shuttered while China reopened much earlier, a non-English language film is the worldwide #1 grosser for the first time ever.  This might hold true for 2021 as well since Hi Mom is at over $800 million worldwide already.

Nighthawk Golden Globes

Drama

  • Best Picture:  The Trial of the Chicago 7
  • Best Director:  Aaron Sorkin  (The Trial of the Chicago 7)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  One Night in Miami…
  • Best Original Screenplay:   The Trial of the Chicago 7
  • Best Actor:  Chadwick Boseman  (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)
  • Best Actress:  Carey Mulligan  (Promising Young Woman)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Daniel Kaluuya  (Judas and the Black Messiah)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Olivia Colman  (The Father)

Comedy / Musical

  • Best Picture:  The Personal History of David Copperfield
  • Best Director:  Armando Iannucci  (The Personal History of David Copperfield)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Personal History of David Copperfield
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Soul
  • Best Actor:  Dev Patel  (The Personal History of David Copperfield)
  • Best Actress:  Andra Day  (The United States vs. Billie Holiday)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Daniel Levy  (Happiest Season)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Maria Bakalova  (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm)

note:  I thought long and hard about whether Promising Young Woman was a Comedy.  The Globes thought it wasn’t but ACE thought it was.  The final minute suggests it is but what brings about that conclusion suggests more strongly that it isn’t so in the end I went with Drama.  On the other hand, unlike the Globes, I am consistent that biopics of musicians I list in Comedy / Musical so Andra Day ends up there even though that film is anything but funny.  When I eventually get to the Nighthawk Awards for this year, it will be clear the irony that as Comedies have slipped badly at the box office, in a year with no box office and a need to laugh, there was a massive dearth of worthwhile Comedies.

Nighthawk Awards

  • Best Picture:  The Personal History of David Copperfield
  • Best Director:  Armando Iannucci  (The Personal History of David Copperfield)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:   The Personal History of David Copperfield
  • Best Original Screenplay:   The Trial of the Chicago 7
  • Best Actor:  Chadwick Boseman  (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)
  • Best Actress:  Carey Mulligan  (Promising Young Woman)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Daniel Kaluuya  (Judas and the Black Messiah)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Maria Bakalova  (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm)
  • Best Editing:   The Trial of the Chicago 7
  • Best Cinematography:  Judas and the Black Messiah
  • Best Original Score:  Soul
  • Best Sound:  Sound of Metal
  • Best Art Direction:  Emma.
  • Best Costume Design:  Emma.
  • Best Visual Effects:  Tenet
  • Best Sound Editing:  Sound of Metal
  • Best Makeup:  Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Best Original Song:  “This Day”  (Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey)
  • Best Animated Film:  Soul
  • Best Foreign Language Film:  Minari

Foreign Films:  Wow am I in so much better shape than almost any year ever before, at least at this point.  This is the first time I have ever seen all five Oscar nominees before the Oscars and I’ve seen all but 3 of the semi-finalists as well (I’m missing Charlatan, Hope and Sun Children).  I have seen almost half of all submitted films, which is more than either of the two previous years so far.  A couple of notes: first, Bacurau, which is listed among the Top 10 films at TSPDT is actually a 2019 film for these purposes and second, The Painted Bird, which is in my Top 20, is also a 2019 film.

My Top 10

  1. Minari  (U.S.; not Oscar eligible)
  2. Quo Vadis, Aida?  (Bosnia; Oscar nominee, not eligible in this year for other awards)
    ***.5
  3. Dear Comrades!  (Russia; Oscar semi-finalist)
  4. A Whisker Away  (Japan; not Oscar submitted)
  5. The Man Who Sold His Skin  (Tunisia; Oscar nominee, not eligible in this year for other awards)
  6. Blizzard of Souls  (Latvia; Oscar submitted)
  7. Another Round  (Denmark; Oscar nominee)
  8. A Sun  (Taiwan; Oscar semi-finalist)
  9. The Endless Trench  (Spain; Oscar submitted)
  10. What We Wanted  (Austria; Oscar submitted)

Nighthawk Notables

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  Soul
  • Best Line  (comedic):  “I told you chumps I was the greatest.  Now you all must bow!”  (Eli Goree in One Night in Miami…)
  • Best Line  (dramatic):  “Do you have contempt for your government?”  “I’ll tell you, Mr. Schultz, it’s nothing compared to the contempt my government has for me.”  (Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Sacha Baron Cohen in The Trial of the Chicago 7)
  • Best Opening:  The Personal History of David Copperfield
  • Best Ending:  Promising Young Woman
  • Best Scene:  Sam’s Boston concert in One Night in Miami…
  • Most Gut-Wrenching Scene:  hearing the voice in the video and realizing who Carey Mulligan is seeing in Promising Young Woman
  • Most Heart-Wrenching Scene:  the end of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Most Terrifying Scene:  the fire in Minari
  • Best Use of a Song (comedic):  “Edgar’s Prayer”  in Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
  • Best Use of a Song (dramatic):  “The Brazilian”  in Palm Springs
  • Best Ensemble:  The Trial of the Chicago 7
  • Funniest Film:  Palm Springs
  • Funniest Performance:  Daniel Levy in Happiest Season
  • Best Guilty Pleasure:  Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
  • Most Over-Rated Film:  Nomadland  *
  • Worst Film:  365 Days
  • Worst Sequel:  The Christmas Chronicles 2
  • Worst Remake:  The Witches
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Katie Findlay in Straight Up
  • Sexiest Performance:  Matt Bomer in The Boys in the Band
  • Highest Attractiveness / Acting Ability Ratio:  Chloe Grace Moretz in Tom and Jerry
  • Female Star of the Year:  Carey Mulligan  (Promising Young Woman  /  The Dig)
  • Male Star of the Year:  Sacha Baron Cohen  (The Trial of the Chicago 7  /  Borat Subsequent Moviefilm)
  • Highest Ratio Discrepancy Between Two Performances:  Leslie Odom, Jr. in One Night in Miami… and Music
  • Read the Book, SKIP the Film:  The Witches
  • Coolest Performance:  Eli Goree in One Night in Miami…
  • Best Trailer:  Soul
  • Best Trailer for a Film We Didn’t Get Yet:  No Time to Die
  • Best Animated Character Performance:  Rachel House in Soul

note:  Not to suggest that Nomadland is a bad film.  In fact, it’s a very good film.  It’s just not the film you would think given the amount of awards attention.

Film History:  Sundance and Berlin beat COVID by being early.  Minari wins the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Awards at Sundance, the first film to win both in four years.  It then becomes the first Grand Jury Prize winner in six years to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.  The Golden Bear in Berlin goes to There is No Evil.  Cannes is cancelled.  Venice holds a subdued festival and Nomadland wins the Golden Lion, the fourth winner in a row to go on to earn an Oscar nomination for Picture, while only three films had ever done it before the current streak.  Nomadland also wins in a subdued Toronto festival.   Nomadland wins at the Indie Spirits.  A bullshit “documentary” about the 2020 election wins the Razzie while Kate Hudson wins Worst Actress for the same performance that was nominated by the Golden Globes for Best Actress.

In the year of COVID, film isn’t devastated nearly as much as baseball (the 2020 memorial baseball team would beat the living shit out of any other team in history) but it’s still a hefty death toll.  Buck Henry dies in January followed by Terry Jones (prompting a John Cleese tweet saying it was the only thing Terry ever did that wasn’t funny making me think that he never saw Absolutely Anything).  Kirk Douglas, who, appallingly never won an Oscar, dies at 103 in February.  Max von Sydow dies at the age of 90 after a career of Bergman films, two Oscar nominations, being exposed to massive amount of fans through The Exorcist, Flash Gordon and small roles in Game of Thrones and The Force Awakens and four Best Picture nominees (kudos if you can name all four without looking them up – I myself only remembered him being in three).  My Goldfinger review gets reposted when Honor Blackman dies.  Brian Dennehy dies in April but I’m much more surprised and saddened by the death of Irrfan Khan (who was in a Best Picture winner).  Fred Willard dies in June, prompting a “Wha happened?”  Ian Holm passes into the West in June.  I make Veronica listen to the “2000 Year Old Man” sketch yet again when Carl Reiner dies.  Spaghetti Western soundtracks get their latest re-listen when Ennio Morricone dies in July and I retype his name for the millionth time after misspelling it in my first try.  Grant Imahara, who did visual effects work, dies suddenly in July, though he’s really important because of Mythbusters.  July also takes two time Oscar winner Olivia de Havilland (also 103), most likely bitter that her sister Joan died first as well as two time Oscar nominee Alan Parker.  Wilfred Brimley dies at the age of 85 which means everyone realizes he was only 49 in Cocoon!  What the bloody fuck!!!  Chadwick Boseman dies two years after his movie became the first super hero film to earn a Best Picture nomination and two months before his greatest performance, a truly magnificent all-time performance, gets released.  It’s hard to find a comparable Hollywood death that wasn’t due to their own actions.  Diana Rigg dies and this time I repost On Her Majesty’s Secret Service but you should also watch The Avengers to see her young and sexy and Game of Thrones to watch her old and snarky.  Michael Lonsdale dies a couple of weeks later but I don’t repost my Moonraker review because it’s one of his worst performances and he made for a lackluster Bond villain; watch The Day of the Jackal or his small role in Ronin instead.  Sean Connery dies on Halloween and for that, just go here and pick your review.  John Sessions, one of Branagh’s Shakespeare troupe, dies in November.  David Prowse is the latest original Star Wars cast member to die with Jeremy Bulloch, who joined in Empire, dying a couple of weeks later.  Noted South Korean director Kim Ki-Duk dies and the year ends with noted indie director Joan Micklin Silver dying on New Year’s Eve.  A long, distinguished list but only two Oscar winning actors, which will be matched in 2021 by 5 February.

Academy Awards:  As always, the nomination morning piece is a place to find all the Oscar trivia.  But I also thought of this during the ceremony: only 9 Black directors have had a film nominated for Best Picture and only four in the last four years and of those four, three of them had Daniel Kaluuya in the film (Get Out, Black Panther, Judas).  Chloe Zhao becomes the first non-white female to win Best Director.

But most importantly, the ceremony proves that the show’s producers have no idea what will happen.  If they did, they certainly wouldn’t have done that stupid ending, moving Picture forward and ending with Actress and Actor to get the double whammy ending of an all non-white acting winners group and the heartfelt response to Chadwick Boseman winning because of course it didn’t fucking happen.  As one person put it, a person who didn’t want to be there ended the show by announcing an award for something who wasn’t there.  Unless a Vegas casino was robbed during the final moments then, except for Fran (who was very good but is my #4) and Hopkins (who was phenomenal but is my #2) were the only winners and the rest of us lost by having that ending.

My Oscar Notables are:

  • Worst Oscar:  the end of the ceremony
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Adapted Screenplay for Borat: My Joke Sequel Title is Too Long
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Adapted Screenplay for The Personal History of David Copperfield
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
  • Best Eligible Film with No Oscar Nominations:   The Personal History of David Copperfield
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Actor
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Supporting Actor, Original Score, Sound, Visual Effects, Makeup, Animated Film

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.

zhaoBest Director:

  • Consensus Top 5
  1. Chloé Zhao  (Oscar, DGA, BAFTA, CC, GG, NYFC, LAFC, NSFC, BSFC, CFC)
  2. Emerald Fennell  (Oscar, DGA, CC, GG)
  3. Lee Isaac Chung  (Oscar, DGA, BAFTA, CC)
  4. David Fincher  (Oscar, DGA, CC, GG)
  5. Aaron Sorkin  (DGA, CC, GG)
  • My Top 10
  1. Armando Ianucci
  2. Aaron Sorkin
  3. Emerald Fennell
  4. Regina King  (CC, GG)
  5. Shaka King
  6. Christopher Nolan
  7. George C. Wolfe
  8. Lee Isaac Chung
  9. Paul Greengrass
  10. Chloé Zhao

A reminder 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).  As a result, Zhao has the second highest Consensus total ever behind only Soderbergh in 2000 (and he had two films).

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Consensus Top 5
  1. Nomadland  (CC, CFC, AA,  BAFTA, GG)
  2. The Father  (BAFTA, AA, GG, CC)
  3. News of the World  (NBR, WGA, CC)
  4. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm  (WGA, AA)
  5. The White Tiger  (AA, WGA, BAFTA)
  • My Top 10
  1. The Personal History of David Copperfield
  2. One Night in Miami…  (AA, WGA, CC)
  3. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom  (WGA, CC)
  4. The Father
  5. Emma.
  6. News of the World
  7. The Painted Bird
  8. The Boys in the Band
  9. The Dig  (BAFTA)
  10. First Cow  (CC)

Yet again, the Consensus winner is the one I think where the script is the weakest.  Well, no, that would be Consensus #4, but I am not a fan of the Consensus in this year.  It’s rare for three of the Consensus nominees to not even make my Top 10 (in fact none of those three even earned points from me).

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Consensus Top 5
  1. Promising Young Woman  (WGA, BAFTA, CC, LAFC, AA, GG)
  2. Never Rarely Sometimes Always  (NYFC, NSFC, CFC, CC)
  3. The Trial of the Chicago 7  (GG, AA, WGA, BAFTA, CC)
  4. Minari  (NBR, AA, CC)
  5. Sound of Metal  (AA, WGA, CC)
  • My Top 10
  1. The Trial of the Chicago 7
  2. Promising Young Woman
  3. Minari
  4. Judas and the Black Messiah  (AA, WGA)
  5. Soul
  6. Tenet
  7. Sound of Metal
  8. Never Rarely Sometimes Always
  9. A Whisker Away
  10. Dear Comrades!

I’m so glad Mank didn’t earn an Oscar or Consensus nomination.

Best Actor:

  • Consensus Top 5
  1. Chadwick Boseman  (LAFC, CFC, SAG, CC, GG, AA, BAFTA)
  2. Anthony Hopkins  (BSFC, BAFTA, AA, SAG, CC, GG)
  3. Riz Ahmed  (NBR, AA, SAG, BAFTA, CC, GG)
  4. Delroy Lindo  (NYFC, NSFC, CC)
  5. Gary Oldman  (AA, SAG, CC, GG)
  • My Top 10
  1. Chadwick Boseman
  2. Anthony Hopkins
  3. Riz Ahmed
  4. Gary Oldman
  5. Kingsley Ben-Adir  (One Night in Miami…)
  6. Steven Yuen  (AA, SAG, CC)
  7. Mads Mikkelsen  (BAFTA)
  8. Tom Hanks  (CC)
  9. Dev Patel  (GG)
  10. Tahar Rahim  (BAFTA, GG)

Boseman has the most points in four years even without the Oscar.  For the first time since 2009, no Globe – Comedy nominee earned nominations from any other group.
It’s an easy #1 for me and an easy #2 as well.  After that, it bunches up quite a bit.

Best Actress:

  • Consensus Top 5
  1. Frances McDormand  (NSFC, CFC, BAFTA, AA, SAG, CC, GG)
  2. Carey Mulligan  (LAFC, NBR, CC, AA, SAG, GG)
  3. Viola Davis  (SAG, AA, CC, GG)  –  tied with the next two for #3
  4. Sidney Flanigan  (NYFC, BSFC, CC)
  5. Vanessa Kirby  (AA, SAG, BAFTA, CC, GG)
  • My Top 10
  1. Carey Mulligan
  2. Viola Davis
  3. Sidney Flanigan
  4. Frances McDormand
  5. Andra Day  (Oscar, CC, GG)
  6. Anya-Taylor Joy  (GG)
  7. Rosamund Pike  (GG)
  8. Julia Vysotskaya  (Dear Comrades!)
  9. Kate Winslet  (Ammonite)
  10. Vanessa Kirby

For the fifth year in a row, there is no dominant winner.  In fact, McDormand has the fewest points for a winner since 2012 and if Davis had won the Oscar, McDormand and Mulligan would have tied and been the lowest #1 since 1998.  It’s the first time ever that the BAFTA, SAG, Globe and CC awards went to five different performances (two Globe performances).
Mulligan would have been my easy #1 if Davis had been in supporting like she should have been (where she would have been my easy winner).  Instead, it’s a much closer 1-2 finish.  There is also a large bunching of 5-10.  But I should mention that Jasna Đuričić (Quo Vadis, Aida?) would have been #3 if she had been eligible.

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Consensus Top 5
  1. Paul Raci  (NSFC, BSFC, CFC, NBR, AA, BAFTA, CC)
  2. Daniel Kaluuya  (AA, SAG, BAFTA, CC, GG)
  3. Leslie Odom, Jr.  (AA, SAG, BAFTA, CC, GG)
  4. Chadwick Boseman  (NYFC, SAG, CC)
  5. Sacha Baron Cohen  (AA, SAG, CC, GG)
  • My Top 10
  1. Daniel Kaluuya
  2. Sacha Baron Cohen
  3. Eddie Redmayne
  4. Leslie Odom, Jr.
  5. Mark Rylance
  6. LaKeith Steinfeld  (AA)
  7. Jeremy Strong
  8. Paul Raci
  9. Glynn Turman  (LAFC)
  10. Chadwick Boseman

This is almost a repeat of 2018 with a slight winner by winning critics but no awards (Raci won one more critics award than Grant did that year but missed two award nominations), a sweep of the awards by the second place finisher and someone going 0/5 at the awards groups in third place.  Boseman and Cohen even have the same points as the #5 and 6 finishers in 2018.
The utter confounding decision to nominate Steinfeld in supporting (and I go with that for longstanding reasons with using Academy placement) moves him from 6th in Actor to 6th in Supporting Actor.  This is the most stacked category by far and my list goes well past 20.

Best Supporting Actress:

  • Consensus Top 5
  1. Youn Yuh-jung  (LAFC, BSFC, NBR, SAG, BAFTA, AA, CC)
  2. Maria Bakalova  (NYFC, NSFC, CFC, CC, AA, SAG, BAFTA, GG (lead))
  3. Olivia Colman  (AA, SAG, CC, GG)
  4. Glenn Close  (AA, SAG, CC, GG)
  5. Amanda Seyfried  (AA, CC, GG)
  • My Top 10
  1. Olivia Colman
  2. Maria Bakalova
  3. Youn Yuh-jung
  4. Helena Zengel  (SAG, GG)
  5. Saoirse Ronan  (Ammonite)
  6. Dominique Fishback  (BAFTA)
  7. Glenn Close
  8. Tilda Swinton  (The Personal History of David Copperfield)
  9. Jodie Foster  (GG)
  10. Pryinka Chopra Jonas

As mentioned above, Davis wins this with ease if she’s in this category.  Instead, Colman, who didn’t win my award in 2018 when her film did, is the winner in a close three way race.

Under-appreciated Film of 2020

The Boys in the Band

(dir. Joe Mantello)boys

In my Adapted Screenplay post for 1970, I mentioned that what I remembered most about the original version of this film is the row of Modern Library books in the scene filmed in the Doubleday on 5th Avenue.  I also acknowledged that while I don’t remember it that well, it is a cultural milestone for a lot of people.  I thought it had flaws as a film though not as many flaws as Pauline Kael thought.  On the other hand, director William Friedkin, who would later direct two of the best films of the decade, holds it up in his memoir as one of the few films he’s directed that he still finds pleasant to watch.  The film hit at an interesting time; the play had been a hit for almost two years but during those two years, Stonewall had happened.  So at the same time that a film was finally being released that showed an actual depiction of gay life, people started wanting more than just a visual representation.

Now we come to the 2020 film version.  I almost wrote that it was imported directly from the stage because this film, like the original, kept the stage actors, but it wasn’t and that’s important.  While Friedkin would later break through with great directorial work, his work on the film was limited (and that was much of what Kael complained about in her review).  Joe Mantello, however, while an acclaimed Broadway director, has only directed one film before this (Love! Valour! Compassion!) but he had directed this same cast on stage and he understood what to do with the film.  As a film, this version is much more visually interesting, knowing who to focus on, knowing when the move, knowing how to make use of the limited space available (the film takes place mostly in one apartment).  Of course, there is also the vital aspect that while the original film made use of a mostly gay cast, they were also a mostly gay closeted cast.  This cast is entirely made up of men who are publicly out.  This is a life they know something about and they aren’t afraid to admit it and it makes the performances flow so much more freely than in the original film.

I went into this film expecting to think it about the same as the original.  It was, after all, a Broadway cast moved to the screen and the film would be balanced by my strong liking of Zachary Quinto (thanks to Heroes and Star Trek) and my rather dislike for Jim Parsons (for starring in a show that panders to geek culture people like myself).  But what was interesting was how well the two of them played off against each other and that’s kind of what is at the heart of the play itself.  This is a birthday party for Harold (Quinto) being hosted by Michael (Parsons) except the two of them really don’t like each other.  It makes you wonder why Michael bothered.  But it’s all about the role that he wants to play and that’s why the use of the original period the play was written is so important to the film.  These men fall into certain roles because that’s what society is allowing for them and they play them in a certain way and then try to break out of them in a certain way.  That’s what makes the appearance of Allen, a purportedly straight man who is a college friend of Michael’s so interesting or the confession on the phone of Larry, the man who refuses to be tied down, so passionate.  The men care about each other but they hide it under bitchiness (the bitchiness gets so extreme that it’s tempting at times to list the film as a Comedy) because in this era men aren’t allowed to show their genuine emotions for each other.

So, yes, I went expecting something the same as the 1970 film but I came out of it realizing that this film was so much more.  The cast clicked perfectly with each other, the screenplay knew how to move between the actors, the editing kept it crisp and clean, the 1970s art direction was fantastic and the direction was more than solid.  I had expected a good film and what I got was a really good one.

End Note:  For the most part, Veronica and I didn’t really know Matt Bomer before this film.  Yes, I had seen him in ensemble pieces (the two Magic Mike films, The Magnificent Seven remake) but he hadn’t stuck with me and most of his work has been on television or the stage.  But not long after we watched this, we watched the two seasons of Doom Patrol.  Now, Doom Patrol is a genuinely weird superhero show but also funny and moving.  Bomer plays Larry Trainer (Negative Man) and one of the ways the show changes things from the comics is that it has Larry having been a closeted gay pilot in the 50s and 60s and that closeted aspect as well as the fact that he can no longer touch people (he’s literally radioactive) makes from some poignant scenes, none so much as in episode eight of the first season, “Danny Patrol” when he gives a performance of Kelly Clarkson’s “People Like Us” that is as moving as any song I’ve even seen performed on film or television and the only reason that I don’t link to it is because it requires those first seven episodes to make you understand what is really going on there (they’re available on HBO Max).  Trust me, we know who Matt Bomer is now.