I'll admit that I closely follow the Golden Globes and Academy Awards. Even though I feel as if big award shows have lost touch with the modern viewer and don't give recognition to films and shows that deserve it, they're still an important part of entertainment and aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
That's where I come in. As an avid consumer of all things entertainment, I thought I'd craft my own "awards show": The Minute Awards. The name could definitely be better but hey, at least it's something. The Minute Awards are basically going to be a condensed version of the Academy Awards, giving acknowledgement to the best performances, direction, and writing in film. Winners will be gifted their own Simon (batteries not included).
Much to the misfortune of all of you, I'll be the host this year. Hopefully we can get somebody better in 2021.
Aside from Best Picture, categories won't be separated by genre as I'm of the belief that a comedic performance can be just as good, if not better, than a dramatic one.
Check out my list of my favorite movies of 2019; there will be some repeats, but these awards are for the best, not necessarily my favorite.
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BEST MOTION PICTURE, DRAMA
Directors: Josh & Benny Safdie
Writers: Josh & Benny Safdie, Ronald Bronstein
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin Garnett, Julia Fox, LaKeith Stanfield, and Idina Menzel
Uncut Gems was the best movie of 2019. Since seeing it (for the first time) on Christmas Day, I've been obsessed with it and the fact that it got nominated for zero Academy Awards is baffling.
If you want a more in-depth look into Gems, check out my review here. Never in my life have I seen a film more catered to me, which is the main reason I can't stop doing a Howard Ratner impersonation, much to the chagrin of some (sorry, Haley). From the introduction in the Ethiopian mine to the psychedelic journey through [redacted]'s gunshot wound, Gems is a gripping, anxiety-inducing thrill ride through Howard Ratner's high-stakes lifestyle as a gambling addicted jewelry dealer in New York City's Diamond District.
Further lifted by an ensemble cast of acclaimed actors and first-timers, Gems is Josh and Benny Safdie's magnum opus (for now) and the decade of work that went into the final product is evident in every moment. Whether it's a tracking shot of Howard walking through a showroom of pawners and dealers or the The Weeknd's black light-illuminated club performance of "The Morning", it's crafted precisely.
BEST MOTION PICTURE, COMEDY
Director: Olivia Wilde
Writers: Emily Halpern, Sarah Hoskins, Susanna Fogel & Katie Silberman
Starring: Kaitlyn Dever & Beanie Feldstein
The Golden Globes combines comedies with musicals in one category, and while I have nothing against musicals, the grouping makes absolutely no sense. They should be completely separate categories.
In a time where we've seen licensed franchises and sequels attract more attention than original stories, Booksmart was a breath of fresh air in a year dominated by Disney. Behind Olivia Wilde's direction and the four woman team that wrote the script, Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, and the incredible supporting cast deliver the funniest movie of 2019.
The last few years have lacked R-rated comedies following the earlier part of the decade being flooded with classics, so it's great to see that when they're actually made, and made well, movie magic appears. Booksmart will be remembered fondly and it's safe to say that it's the Superbad of a new generation.
Beanie Feldstein, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance, and Kaitlyn Dever truly shine throughout the movie and both will be popping up on our screens for a long time.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR
Adam Sandler as Howard Ratner (Uncut Gems)
This shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody. Not only was Sandler's turn as Howard my favorite performance of the year, I also genuinely believe it was the best. The way Sandler was able to embody a grimy gambling addict working in the Diamond District was captivating, to say the least. Combined with the dialogue-heavy screenplay and close-up shots, I'd forget that I was watching Sandler but rather felt as if I was in the most intense documentary I'd ever seen. Sandler shakes his usual everyday, laidback funny guy style and delivers with damn good acting.
It's truly disappointing that Sandler couldn't get a Golden Globes or Academy Awards nomination but I guess that means we should expect a terrible comedy in the near future, as promised by Sandman himself.
BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR
Robert Pattinson as Thomas Howard (The Lighthouse)
If the major award shows aren't going to show love to A24 then damn it, this one will.
The Lighthouse (dir. Robert Eggers) was the most batshit movie of 2019, largely due to the insane performances of Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. Presented in a square aspect ratio and shot entirely black and white, the film never lets up and continually presents scenes that leave you looking around and muttering, "What in the absolute fuck?"
Pattinson plays Thomas Howard, a young man looking for a fresh start as a wickie, otherwise known as a lighthouse keeper. He's sent to a remote New England island with three things: a lighthouse, Willem Dafoe, and seagulls. Once he's dropped off via boat, madness ensues and Thomas quickly descends into madness.
Equipped with a thick New England dialect and a multitude of intense breakdowns, Pattinson convincingly portrays a man driven to insanity by a chain of events that he surely couldn't have foreseen when he accepted his new job. Once again, Pattinson proves that he is a legitimate actor and with upcoming roles in Christopher Nolan's Tenet and Matt Reeve's The Batman, there's a lot to be excited for.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS
Saoirse Ronan as Jo March (Little Women)
Little Women (dir. Greta Gerwig) is an absolute delight. Aside from a few scenes, I found myself with a grin on my face for almost the entirety of the movie. It's a heartwarming movie supported by great performances and always-incredible writing and direction from Greta Gerwig.
The star of the movie is Saoirse Ronan, one of the best actors working today (watch Lady Bird ASAP if you haven't seen it). She plays Jo March, the oldest of four sisters attempting to navigate life as a young writer in New York City following the Civil War.
Ronan does a remarkable job portraying a young woman trying to figure it all out. As she works on putting everything together, Jo goes through a lot, discovering love, experiencing loss, and finding her feet professionally. You can feel the ambition that fuels Jo and feel for her whenever an obstacle gets in her way; you just want Jo to succeed.
There's no doubt Ronan deserves an Oscar for Little Women, her fourth Academy Award nomination. At only 25-years-old, it's safe to say we should expect many more awards throughout her already-storied career.
BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS
Laura Dern as Nora Fanshaw (Marriage Story)
2019 was Laura Dern's year. In addition to Marriage Story (dir. Noah Baumbach), she appeared in Little Women and shined once again in HBO's incredible Big Little Lies.
Her best performance comes from Marriage Story as Nora Fanshaw, a divorce lawyer representing Scarlett Johansson (Nicole) as she splits up with her husband.
It's a heartbreaking story that translates into one of the best movies of 2019. While Dern doesn't have as much screen time as Johansson or Adam Driver, she makes the most of her scenes. Nora is friendly and welcoming during her meetings with Nicole but when it comes down to business, she's hard-nosed and wields her power to please her client. One second she's embracing Nicole and listening to her story, the next she's in negotiation mode with intimidating bravado. With Ray Liotta representing Adam Driver (Charlie), it lends to powerful scenes that make me hope I never see either of them in court.
Uncut Gems, score by Oneohtrix Point Never
This was a close call between Gems and 1917 but the techno, psychadelically sci-fi score of Gems proves more effective.
I was just wrapped up my fourth (or fifth?) viewing of Gems today and the music still lends to the tense nature of the film as much as the first time. It's almost like a main character. It's always present and it nails the tone on the head. I'm not even sure how to really describe the score other than edibles gone wrong. At times it's calming but mostly unnerving, sometimes falling to the wayside while affecting you subconsciously.
The Safdie Brother's use of music in their movies is awesome and if you want a similar feel from a score, check out Good Time.
1917, shot by Roger Deakins
Perhaps the movie with the most momentum going into Sunday's Academy Awards, 1917 (dir. Sam Mendes) is expected to pull in a few trophies out of its 10 nominations.
Many are pegging 1917 to take home Best Picture but one award the World War 1 epic is sure to win is Best Cinematography because, well, duh.
1917 is edited to appear as two shots throughout the entire two hour runtime. The camera follows Lance Corporal William Schofield (George MacKay) and Lance Corporal Thomas Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) as they're sent on a mission to deliver a message to British troops who are being led into an onslaught by the Germans.
The film takes place over real time and the close shots following them through the trenches with explosions, chases, and enemies leads to an intense, heart-pounding adventure. While other films like Birdman have appeared to be a single shot, 1917 does it in a way that places you directly into the war, adding a new layer into the war genre.
Even if you're not into war movies, watch 1917 purely for the cinematography; it's groundbreaking.
Knives Out, written by Rian Johnson
Knives Out is a hell of a good time. As pictured above, the film has a killer cast and keeps you guessing until the end. It's a modern day whodunnit done perfectly and was one of my favorite movies of 2019.
Rian Johnson's script is the best of the year, perfectly pushing the pace with snappy dialogue and an awesome montage sequence to kick things off and introduce the characters.
The main characters are developed throughout, especially Ana de Armas' Marta Cabrera, while the multitude of side characters provide their own specific functions to the film. It doesn't feel like a typical murder mystery; it's fun. Johnson's screenplay brings the story to life wonderfully, it'll be interesting to see what he does with the sequel.
Bong Joon-ho (Parasite)
Parasite is ranked as my second-favorite movie of 2019 on Letterboxd (follow me: addictedtomids) and I've been itching to see it again. Bong Joon-ho's commentary on class inequality is funny, terrifying, and eye-opening, following an incredibly poor family on an attempt to get a taste of how the rich live.
Joon-ho utilizes masterful storytelling, multiple genres, and drastically opposite set pieces in order to convey his message and does so very effectively. Multiple symbols and recurring shots drive his point home, namely the use of a staircase (I won't spoil anything).
Parasite has become a global phenomenon and deservingly so. What Joon-ho is trying to see is beyond timely and plays well into American issues, even if it's a South Korean film. It's a truly global film that will have a lasting legacy for years to come.
There it is, the end of the first Minute Awards. If you read this far, wow, good for you. And thank you. I saw more movies then ever before in 2019 and plan to do the same in 2020. There are few things better than a trip to the theater to see a killer movie. 2019 was arguably one of the best movie years of the decade and I'm so happy I went as saw as many as possible. There's still a few I need to catch up on but until then, keep reading Burbs (especially my stuff) and go to the theater! Support art!