Thursday, January 5, 2017

The 2016 Guru Awards

Yesterday, I unveiled my picks for the best movies of 2016. I'm really proud of my list, and there's no question in my mind that 2016 was a phenomenal year for film. But beyond my main list, I'm going to take the opportunity to throw out some final thoughts on last year. These are the best performances, screenplays, technical elements, and so on. I call these The Guru Awards, and I used to announce them on a yearly basis before I became really inconsistent. So with more awards shows coming in the near future, here are a few more meaningless "awards" to cap off a great year of cinema.

Best Picture

Image courtesy of Lionsgate

10 Cloverfield Lane
Everybody Wants Some!!
Green Room
Hail, Caesar!
Hell or High Water
La La Land
The Nice Guys
Sing Street

WINNER: La La Land
RUNNER-UP: Sing Street

I already explained this one pretty thoroughly in my Top 25 post. I love all of these movies, and my two favorite movies of the year are pretty much perfect. But in the end, La La Land is the one that I love the most. It's an incredible, dizzying achievement.

Best Director

Image courtesy of Lionsgate

John Carney, Sing Street
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Jeremy Saulnier, Green Room
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

WINNER: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
RUNNER-UP: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

These five directors truly brought their A-game. John Carney emerged as one of my favorite filmmakers with Sing Street, Jeremy Saulnier came out of nowhere to shock me with Green Room, and Denis Villeneuve established himself as one of the finest directors on the planet. Barry Jenkins also delivered an uncompromising masterpiece with Moonlight, but for sheer directorial wizardry, nobody comes close to Damien Chazelle. Without his incredible direction, La La Land is nothing.

Best Actor

Image courtesy of Lionsgate

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Ryan Gosling, La La Land and The Nice Guys
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nocturnal Animals
Denzel Washington, Fences
Anton Yelchin, Green Room

WINNER: Ryan Gosling, La La Land and The Nice Guys
RUNNER-UP: Anton Yelchin, Green Room

This was the year of Ryan Gosling. The actor has been in plenty of great projects in the past, but with The Nice Guys and La La Land, Gosling fully became one of the best actors on the planet. The late Anton Yelchin delivers one of the most underrated performances of the year as a scared band leader in Green Room, while Gyllenhaal, Affleck, and Washington dazzled in their own unique way.

Best Actress

Image Credit: Coming Soon

Amy Adams, Arrival
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Hailee Steinfeld, The Edge of Seventeen
Emma Stone, La La Land
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, 10 Cloverfield Lane

WINNER: Amy Adams, Arrival
RUNNER-UP: Emma Stone, La La Land

This was an incredibly strong year for female leads, and it's a trend that I hope continues into the future. I loved Natalie Portman, Hailee Steinfeld, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and especially Emma Stone in their respective roles this year, but ultimately, the most heartbreaking and awe-inspiring performance of the year came from Amy Adams. She won't win the Oscar, but she is nothing short of mesmerizing in Arrival.

Best Supporting Actor

Image courtesy of The Weinstein Company

Alden Ehrenreich, Hail, Caesar!
John Goodman, 10 Cloverfield Lane
Daniel Radcliffe, Swiss Army Man
Jack Reynor, Sing Street
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

WINNER: Jack Reynor, Sing Street
RUNNER-UP: Alden Ehrenreich, Hail, Caesar!

This was maybe the hardest list to compile, with five performances that I truly loved and several more that just missed the cut. John Goodman is appropriately terrifying in 10 Cloverfield Lane, Daniel Radcliffe shows off his impressive versatility in Swiss Army Man, and Michael Shannon is just awesome in Nocturnal Animals. But the two best supporting performances of the year came from Alden Ehrenreich and Jack Reynor. Ehrenreich's breakout turn as Hobie Doyle will send him to the big leagues, but I hope that studios are taking notice of Jack Reynor. He's a revelation in Sing Street, and I can only pray that he gets more terrific roles in the future.

Best Supporting Actress

Image Credit: IMDB

Lucy Boynton, Sing Street
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Felicity Jones, A Monster Calls
Angourie Rice, The Nice Guys

WINNER: Viola Davis, Fences
RUNNER-UP: Angourie Rice, The Nice Guys

There were plenty of excellent performances in this category, but ultimately, nobody is quite on Viola Davis' level. She is absolutely brilliant in Fences, and her climatic monologue is one of the best movie moments of the year. I was also astonished by the work done by Angourie Rice, the breakout star of The Nice Guys, as well as Lucy Boynton, Naomie Harris, and Felicity Jones.

Best Original Screenplay

Joel and Ethan Coen, Hail, Caesar!
Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi, The Nice Guys
John Carney, Sing Street

WINNER: Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi, The Nice Guys
RUNNER-UP: John Carney, Sing Street

Five incredible screenplays make up this list, but there was never a doubt in my mind that The Nice Guys was the best. Just listen to the sharp, witty dialogue as you watch Shane Black's instant classic action comedy- it's hard boiled noir mixed with a strange sense of comedic lunacy. It's a shame that it isn't getting more Oscar attention.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Image Credit: IMDB

Eric Heisserer, Arrival
James Schamus, Indignation
Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals

WINNER: Eric Heisserer, Arrival
RUNNER-UP: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Tom Ford, Patrick Ness, Barry Jenkins, and James Schamus all did great work in 2016, but nothing comes close to what Eric Heisserer accomplished with Arrival. The film unfolds in such a breathtaking manner, and the subtle character work and pitch-perfect world building only make it an even more monumental achievement.

Best Animated Film

Image Credit: Coming Soon

Finding Dory
Kubo and the Two Strings
Sausage Party

RUNNER-UP: Zootopia

Disney released not one, but two great animated films in 2016. As good as Dory, Kubo, and Sausage Party are, nothing comes close to the one-two punch of Moana and Zootopia. The latter is a remarkable universe brilliantly realized on screen, but I fell hard for the classic beauty of Moana, Disney's latest and greatest princess tale. It's an instant Disney classic, and a film that generations will appreciate for years to come.

Best Cinematography

Image courtesy of Lionsgate

Bradford Young, Arrival
Stephane Fontaine, Jackie
Linus Sandgren, La La Land
James Laxton, Moonlight
Seamus McGarvey, Nocturnal Animals

WINNER: Linus Sandgren, La La Land
RUNNER-UP: Bradford Young, Arrival

Great work was done by a wide range of cinematographers in 2016, and there were a number of beautifully photographed films. But the work that Linus Sandgren did with La La Land stands head and shoulders above the rest. He recaptures the style and colorful tones of the old musicals, but also injects his own classic, sun-baked modern style. La La Land is sumptuous and beautiful to look at, which is in large part due to Sandgren's work.

Best Original Score

Image courtesy of Lionsgate

Bear McCreary, 10 Cloverfield Lane
Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
Nicholas Britell, Moonlight
Cliff Martinez, The Neon Demon
Abel Korzeniowski, Nocturnal Animals

WINNER: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
RUNNER-UP: Nicholas Britell, Moonlight

Very few things are as important to me as music in movies. I was able to come up with 10 films that I thought were deserving of a nomination in this category, but all along, there was only one that would ever win- Justin Hurwitz's score for La La Land. He carries over the rich melodies of the songs to every moment of the film, and I could listen to the score for days. He created an instantly iconic set of compositions, and it's a score that sends Hurwitz into the big league of composers. Runner-up goes to Nicholas Britell, whose heartbreaking music for Moonlight sets the tone of the entire film.

Best Original Song

Image courtesy of The Weinstein Company

"Another Day of Sun" from La La Land
"Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" from La La Land
"You're Welcome" from Moana
"Incredible Thoughts" from Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
"Drive It Like You Stole It" from Sing Street

WINNER: (TIE) "Another Day of Sun" and "Drive It Like You Stole It"
RUNNER-UP: "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)"

I've been listening to the La La Land soundtrack on repeat for weeks now. It's gotta sweep here, right? Well, not exactly. Because while I'm currently enamored with the excellent songs from that masterpiece, I also listened to an endless loop of "Drive It Like You Stole It" for a good chunk of 2016. For that reason, I'm going with a tie- "Another Day of Sun" and that Sing Street gem both deserve the win.

Best Production Design

Image courtesy of Lionsgate 

Patrice Vermette, Arrival
Jess Gonchor, Hail, Caesar!
Jean Rabasse, Jackie
David Wasco, La La Land
Richard Bridgland, The Nice Guys

WINNER: David Wasco, La La Land
RUNNER-UP: Jean Rabasse, Jackie

The visual look of La La Land is nothing short of perfection, and a good deal of that is due to the work of David Wasco, who created the vibrant sets and designed Mia and Sebastian's wondrous tour of Los Angeles. While Jean Rabasse's historical recreation of the White House was nothing short of incredible in Jackie, Wasco wins the award.

Best Costume Design

Mary Zophres, Hail, Caesar!
Madeline Fontaine, Jackie
Mary Zophres, La La Land
Kym Barrett, The Nice Guys
Tiziana Corvisieri, Sing Street

WINNER: Kym Barrett, The Nice Guys
RUNNER-UP: Mary Zophres, La La Land

Mary Zophres did some incredible work in 2016, and her work in La La Land may go on to become a part of the Hollywood iconography. But Kym Barrett's spectacularly trashy 70s style in The Nice Guys connected with me in a big way, creating some pitch-perfect styles. Barrett wins the proverbial trophy.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Green Room
Star Trek Beyond

WINNER: Green Room

The Academy would never award something as violent and disgusting as Green Room, but I can't imagine what that film would look like without the gnarly makeup effects done by the effects crew. Never has a dog mauling seemed so vividly real....

Best Film Editing

Image courtesy of Lionsgate

Stefan Grube, 10 Cloverfield Lane
Tom Cross, La La Land
Jennifer Lame, Manchester by the Sea
Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders, Moonlight
Joan Sobel, Nocturnal Animals

WINNER: Tom Cross, La La Land
RUNNER-UP: Joan Sobel, Nocturnal Animals

Tom Cross won the Oscar for his breakneck editing in Whiplash, and Oscar gold will be coming his way again for La La Land. The film flows beautifully- it's a true feat of editing and the best of the year, without question.

Breakout Star

Image courtesy of The Weinstein Company

Lucy Boynton, Sing Street
Auli'i Cravalho, Moana
Lewis MacDougall, A Monster Calls
Angourie Rice, The Nice Guys
Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Sing Street

WINNER: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Sing Street
RUNNER-UP: Angourie Rice, The Nice Guys

I watched Sing Street again last weekend, and I was once again amazed by the performance from Ferdia Walsh-Peelo. You can see him growing as an actor as the film goes on, and by the end, he's a talented, fully charismatic performer. I hope we see much more of him in the future. Same goes for Angourie Rice, who has already snagged a role in this year's Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Best Blockbuster- Captain America: Civil War
Best Comedy- Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Best Horror Film- Green Room

Alright, I know I promised that I was done with personal coverage of 2016 yesterday, but this time I mean it. We're off to the races with 2017 and the Oscar race. Look for Golden Globes coverage soon.

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