We awarded Best Movie Actor/Actress, Best TV Actor/Actress, and Best Director.
Best Movie Actor: Chadwick Boseman
Collectively, 2020 seemed to be the year of great loss. Financially, occupationally, heroically, and more—the world was unprepared for the grievances we would be taking into 2021. One of the most difficult losses being Chadwick Boseman in late August. Losing his battle to colon cancer at the young age of 43, Boseman left an unrivaled legacy on the film and television industries. Despite his unexpected passing, fans continued to remember the icon for his roles in 42, Marshall, The Avengers, and most notoriously, Black Panther. Hardworking by nature, Boseman continued filming his two final movie releases despite his condition. Da 5 Bloods (2020) and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020), both released on Netflix, required Boseman to act at center stage. His persistence and steadfast fortitude made him one of the most talked-about actors of the year. Both films revolved around the recurring central themes of his acting career: being a role model, creating an inviting space for Black creatives, and sharing sincere life lessons. The success of his short-lived life will reign for generations to come. - Deja Williams
Best Movie Actress: Jessie Buckley
Imagine you’re a young, up-and-coming actress in the modern age of Hollywood. You’ve been carefully selected to star in the new Charlie Kaufman movie that will be going straight to Netflix and your face will immediately be on the front screen of millions of people’s homes. Simple enough, right? Okay, now imagine that the character you’ve been assigned is anonymous. She doesn’t have a name and, in reality, she doesn’t even exist. She’s a mental manifestation of an old janitor reflecting on what his life could’ve been if he had only done the right thing. What route would you take towards developing that character? It can’t be as simple as making a whiskey sour and floating in your pool like Rick Dalton in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. It can’t be as simple as Marlon Brando showing up to the set of The Godfather and having the production crew tape his lines to certain parts of the ceiling. Something has to be said for Jessie Buckley, who played the role of Young Woman to a degree that I found unfathomable on my second viewing of Ending Things. From the remarkable outfit changes to showcase which emotion she was feeling in each moment, to her range of attitudes and reactions to the most thrilling act where she meets Jake’s parents for the first time, Buckley’s ability to fully envelop herself in a scene without any real clarity as to where the story was headed was beyond remarkable—it was eternally memorable. -Ralph James
Best TV Actor: Dan Levy
If you watched Schitt’s Creek over the last six years, you witnessed the arrival of a true Hollywood star: Dan Levy. The already-classic comedy would’ve never existed without him, obviously, since he created it and wrote most episodes. However, it also never could’ve flourished without him in the lead role of David Rose, the oldest child of the Rose family.
It only takes a few episodes of Schitt’s Creek to realize that Dan Levy is not just the lead, but also the linchpin of the show. Beyond his amazing comedic timing and mastery of physical humor (his facial expressions by themselves inspire some of the show’s biggest laughs), Dan Levy showcases an emotional depth that the other performers—including Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy—can never quite match. As the show grew into one of the greatest comedies of the decade, Dan Levy grew right along with it—surpassing his own high standard with every additional season. Dan Levy may be on this list as the Best TV Actor of 2020, but in truth, his own scriptwriting gave him the chance to bring his skills to their full potential, which proves he is not just the Best Television Actor of 2020, but one of the best creatives of the decade. -Evan Northrup
Best TV Actress: Anya Taylor-Joy
Honestly, Anya Taylor-Joy deserves this award solely for delivering a performance that drove millions of people to fall in love with a show about chess. The Queen’s Gambit has swept the world by storm, blossoming into another major title for Netflix. In fact, the show became Netflix’s most-watched scripted miniseries in its FIRST MONTH. After falling in love with the show myself (and I could literally not care less about chess), there’s no doubt in my mind that ATJ is a major component behind the show’s success.
The 24-year-old actress has already had her share of compelling roles, shining in The Witch, Peaky Blinders, The Miniaturist, and Emma, among other titles. However, her performance as Beth Harmon in The Queen’s Gambit is by far the best of her young career. From Beth’s undying passion for chess to her addictions and trauma, ATJ did not miss a beat in her portrayal. With that iconic wig thrown in the mix, the deal is sealed: ATJ no longer exists, but Beth Harmon does—and she’s at the top of the world. -Evan Linden
Best Director: Charlie Kaufman (I’m Thinking of Ending Things)
There are few, if any, filmmakers who have as clenching of a stronghold on their cult following as Charlie Kaufman. His films can be boiled down into one word—challenging. The plotlines, themes, even character identities can be grueling and damning while also stimulating above all else.
A movie about invading John Malkovich’s conscience? Check. A movie about writing the follow-up movie to said movie about invading John Malkovich’s conscience where Nicholas Cage plays both a fictionalized version of the real Kaufman and an imaginary twin brother who is twice as successful and sure of himself as Kaufman? Check.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things sees a different side of Kaufman from both the perspective of the pen and the camera. There’s far less intentional humor in this film than there is in even Synecdoche, New York, which is one of the most downtrodden and heart-wrenching films of the 21st century. Kaufman suffocates the viewer in the car for what feels like an eternity with his lead characters Jake (Jesse Plemons) and Young Woman (Jessie Buckley) rambling about fiction novels, critical analysis of John Cassavetes’s A Woman Under the Influence and 20th-century poems that surely fly over the head of the common Netflix subscriber—myself included.
But somehow, Kaufman makes this pretentious nonsense seem futile when it’s basking in the colorization of the cinematography and the snow cascading against the seemingly invisible windshield. Ending Things is not Kaufman’s best work, nor is it a movie that one will fully comprehend on their first attempt, but it is the standout production of 2020—even if it isn’t the standout movie. And all the credit in the world belongs to the film’s writer and director who challenged himself to adapt this novel into a picture on a screen. -Ralph James