Last night at a royal meeting in a black tie, uh, Zoom, the Columbus Film Critics Association announced the winners of our annual awards.
I have been a voting member of this association for years, but I just want to say how proud I am year after year of this collection of friends and colleagues. We constantly choose movies that make me really proud to be a part of it. Honestly, I think we’re doing better than a lot of the much bigger city review groups. Overview, what?
As I just finished watching a bunch of great movies that I haven’t had a chance to review properly this year, here are the winners and some comments, presented in reverse order for a little Oscar drama.
Best neglected film
“The immensity of the night”
Finalist: “Palm Springs”
Guess this one is aptly named, as it is one of the many nominees that I did not have the chance to present on time (although I trust my colleagues so much, he is now at the top from my list). I’m a little more surprised to see my # 1 movie in my very subjective, very filtered COVID Top 10 List as a finalist. I did my best to make sure it wasn’t overlooked.
Best animated film
Tomm Moore’s animated fantasy is turned a bit upside down, given that this association has always been as Pixar-centric as the Oscars (“WALL-E” was named our best film of 2008, animated or not).
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Best Foreign Language Film
Finalist: “Martin Eden”
Yes, just like the Academy, it’s usually an easy victory when one of the nominees for Best Picture is also a foreign language film, but “Minari” is really special. A multigenerational story of Korean immigrants trying to make a living farming a living in Arkansas in the 1980s, “Minari” would have landed my Top 10 if my deadline hadn’t been too soon. (Editor’s Note: Sorry.)
“Dick Johnson is dead”
Finalist: “Boys State”
Kirsten Johnson’s innovative blend of fiction and non-fiction in this touching tribute to her father wins, although I take this one as a surprise. Maybe these are my old journalism roots, but I really thought “Collective” was the favorite, and it didn’t have its place. Womp.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, “Soul”
Finalist: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, “Mank”
Here is where I admit that I am the biggest Nine Inch Nails fan you will likely ever meet. Reznor’s partnership with Ross reinvigorated NIN, as the two also became an epic partnership in film music. “The Social Network” and other scores they’ve made sounded like what you’d expect, but these two films show that they’ve branched out in ways that I didn’t expect.
Best Original Screenplay
Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”
Runner-up: Aaron Sorkin, “The Chicago Trial 7”
Spoiler alert: You’re going to see a lot more about the winning movie (and I’ll do a full review next week when it finally hits VOD). Instead, I’ll comment on how that slightly different but familiar flavor of Aaron Sorkin was also a gem of screenwriting and storytelling, though the categorization of “original” vs “adapted” is often sticky.
Best Adapted Scenario
Chloé Zhao, “Nomadic country”
Finalist: Ruben Santiago-Hudson, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Real-world example, and I don’t know the exact final vote, but I have to assume it was near. These two films are incredible. “My Rainey’s” is a perfect acting showcase that feels great for the stage. “Nomadland” is, well, you’ll have to wait and see, because pretty much only the critics saw it.
Best Film Editing
Alan Baumgarten, “The Chicago Seven’s Trial”
Finalist: Mikkel EG Nielsen, “Sound of Metal”
Editing is always a tough category to vote on because when it’s best, you don’t notice. But “Chicago 7” does a fantastic job, if a little more obvious, in making time jumps and flashbacks cohesive and transparent. “Sound of Metal”, on the other hand, is more linear but emotionally devastating. The edit is quieter, but I’m glad we recognized it.
Joshua James Richards, “Nomadic Country”
Finalist: Eric Messerschmidt, “Mank”
“Mank” was more of a technical feat than a gripping film, but it was a technical masterclass. “Nomadland” mixed intimate with sweeping, and I’d probably watch an entire documentary on the set of Golden Hour in the Badlands.
Revolutionary film artist
Emerald Fennell (“Young Promising Woman”) – for production, direction and screenwriting
Finalist: Radha Blank (“The Forty-Year-Old Version”) – for production, direction, screenwriting and acting
It’s a wonderful catch-all category that the Columbus Film Critics Association has in store for… whatever. It could be an acting performance or what you see above. It’s just that shattered the scene in an unexpected way. There is also a theme forming here.
Actor of the Year (for an exemplary work)
Chadwick Boseman (“Da 5 Bloods” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
Finalist: Elisabeth Moss (“The Invisible Man” and “Shirley”)
This is another unique category of ‘body of work’ that takes into account an actor’s entire year of release, and if you’ve seen these movies you know it’s not just a tribute. . Boseman’s later films showed him making his moments his own and supporting ensembles. His death is only more tragic when you think about what was to follow for the rest of his career.
“Ma Rainey’s black background”
Finalist: “Young promising woman”
It’s going to be an interesting awards season, as honestly there is no lead actor on “My Rainey’s” and pretty much everyone is spotless. Boseman or Viola Davis would be contenders for the title of best actor or supporting actor. There is no flaw in this casting.
Best Supporting Actor
Paul Raci, “The sound of metal”
Finalists (tied): Chadwick Boseman, “Da 5 Bloods” and Mark Rylance, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
I’m not gonna lie, “Sound of Metal” (available on Prime) absolutely drained me. The story of a drummer from a metal two-piece who lost his hearing was made all the stronger by Raci, playing the operator of a rural deaf community. This finalist tie shows just how stacked this category was.
Best Supporting Actress
Youn Yuh-jung, “Minari”
Finalist: Olivia Colman, “The Father”
Yuh-jung added a generational layer to “Minari” which made immigrant history sing. She made every moment on the screen count. This is supporting acting: taking limited screen time and making every moment an integral part of the film as a whole.
Riz Ahmed, “The sound of metal”
Finalist: Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
It’s a tough choice when Boseman (in the best of his two great performances) isn’t necessarily a lead in “Ma Rainey’s”. But also, wow, Ahmed is the reason why “Sound of Metal” is devastating, and it’s one of the best performances you’ll see from an actor.
Carey Mulligan, “Young Promising Woman”
Finalist: Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”
I am shocked, but I am not angry. These two actresses are so talented and so selective in the projects they choose, that you take note every time. Both absolutely owned the movie they were in. I would call this one a tie.
Chloé Zhao, “Nomadic country”
Finalist: Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”
Two women, two very distinct approaches to directing, two reasons why we need more female directors. Zhao took a low-key story and delivered it almost perfectly. Fennell did something more brilliant and somewhat subversive. Track what the two do next.
1. “A promising young woman”
2. “Nomadic country”
3. “The sound of metal”
4. “Ma Rainey’s black background”
7. “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”
8. “The Chicago Trial 7”
9. “First cow”
Well this one is a shock, and again not the one I’m crazy about. Honestly, I’m just a voting member, but there are only a couple of things about this rating that I would change (“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” would be higher). Full review of our pick of the best film of the year to come next week when it hits streaming.