Ladies and Gentlemen…
The Flirst (first and likely last) Annual
You didn’t ask for them. You don’t care about them. But you’re getting them anyway!
You thought award season was over, didn’t you? Guess again. The Nibbler isn’t always timely, but he is persistent. Like many reviewers on WordPress who write about movies, I don’t always have the time, energy, and motivation to see and review everything out there as soon as it’s released. Budget restrictions have somewhat limited my output this winter. And here in the Midwest, we don’t always get major releases in a timely fashion. I was still watching some of the movies on these lists as late as this morning just to try to catch up. On the plus side, not being a professional film critic, I have been spared the drudgery of seeing films that have been universally panned or that I know I won’t like.
As of the date of publication, I’ve seen 33 movies from 2018 and have not yet seen some of the year’s most acclaimed and/or talked about films including If Beale Street Could Talk, Widows, Shoplifters, Leave No Trace, Capernaum, Mandy, and The Avengers: Infinity War, which I have purposely avoided because I have not seen the other films in the series and do not want to judge it out of context. I have seen all of this year’s Oscar nominees in each of the following categories except, sadly, Beale Street, which unfortunately has had a minimal screen presence here in Kansas City. I hope to correct that soon.
Having seen about 10 movies in the last 10 days, I’ve only had time so far to review two: Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book. I hope to have more of those published in the next two weeks. For those films I have not yet reviewed, I have included short paragraphs explaining why I chose them. I have included links to my reviews of the rest. The rankings for best picture do not necessarily reflect the initial ratings given for the film as initial individual ratings are approximate and subject to change with time and comparison to other films.
So without further ado, I present the Flirst Annual Nibbler Awards. All musical production numbers will be performed by me at my desk and will be posted later.
2. First Reformed
4. Annihilation – Alex Garland and Denis Villeneuve have all but created on their own what seems like a new golden age of science fiction films. Villeneuve’s Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 and Garland’s superb Ex Machina and Annihilation have upped the game with intelligent scripts, and slow, atmospheric paces that allow time for pondering the mysteries of science, the universe, and humankind’s place in each. Annihilation cleverly starts with a mystery and works up to the horror by building character first and saving the creepy music till the finale. Its single guitar score creates a sense of longing and sadness rather than foreboding. When the shocks do come, they’re as unsettling as they are scary. But the scares are secondary to the film’s sense of wonder. There’s a real sense of magic and mystery here. Annihilation combines the sci fi horror of Ridley Scott’s Alien with the thought-provoking wonder of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey in a psychedelic finale that will leave you picking your brain and perhaps, scratching your head.
6. The Hate U Give
7. The Rider
9. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – This anthology of six stories set in the old west ranges from comic to tragic, with the usual doses of morbid humor. Cruel and ironic fate is a major theme in the Cohen’s career and it’s a major character in nearly all these vignettes. It’s hard to pick a favorite, they’re all pretty damn great, except perhaps for the final piece, which seems more like a so-so episode from the 70s TV show Night Gallery than top tier Cohen brothers. My personal favorite, episode V, “The Gal Who Got Rattled” is unexpectedly touching. But the title vignette, a musical, is as funny as anything the duo has ever done.
10. Sorry to Bother You
1. Rosamund Pike – A Private War
2. Lady Gaga – A Star is Born
3. Glenn Close – The Wife – Glenn Close’s slow rage burn as the wife of a Nobel winning novelist is a sight to behold. Many of her most powerful moments are wordless. It’s in those haunting eyes and the subtle line of her mouth that she often screams loudest, at least until the inevitable eruption that comes at the film’s climax. Her best scene, having drinks with Christian Slater, is a masterpiece of restrained acting and telling nuance and a highlight in a storied career.
4. Joanna Kulig – Cold War – Kulig’s ambitious, crazy-sexy cold war-torn lover Zula is a whirlwind of conflicting emotions. You understand why Wiktor wants to ravage her every time he sees her. She has the screen presence of Marilyn Monroe and the complex allure of Catherine Deneuve. Pawolkowski’s camera can’t get enough of her and neither can I.
5. Toni Collette – Hereditary
Best Supporting Actress
1. Marina de Tavira – Roma
2. Victoria Hill – First Reformed
3. Rachael Weisz – The Favourite – In a movie dominated by strong female actresses, Weisz is a standout as the power-tripping Lady Marlboro, whose lesbian-dom hold on the simple-minded queen is yet no match for the duplicitous cousin Abigail whose soft-spoken flattery wins the queen’s heart. Weisz’s ferocity roars forth from her eyes like fire from dual flamethrowers. This is a woman who’s used to getting what she wants, and you don’t mess with her.
4. Millicent Simmonds – A Quiet Place
5. Laura Harrier – Blackkklansman
Best Supporting Actor
1. Simon Russel Beale – The Death of Stalin
2. Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me – Richard E. Grant’s slutty, over-the-hill cock whore is both poignant and hilarious. Free of the restrictions put upon him by society’s arbitrary morals and unbound by legal restraints, Grant’s Jack wrenches every drop of hollow pleasure from his pathetic existence with mischievous glee and it’s a subversive joy to watch.
3. Timothée Chalamet – Beautiful Boy
4. Steve Carell – Vice
5. Russell Hornsby – The Hate U Give
Best Original Screenplay
1. Paul Schrader – First Reformed
2. Alfonso Cuarón – Roma
3. Adam Mackey – Vice
4. Boots Riley – Sorry to Bother You
5. Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara – The Favourite – Davis and McNamara’s wicked script takes documented history and fills in the blanks with naughty lesbian affairs, childlike royalty, and rabbits, lots of rabbits. Ultimately sadder than it is funny, The Favourite’s caustic, often juvenile humor will entertain you while the film is playing, but it’s characters will haunt you long after it’s over.
Best Adapted Screenplay
1. Joel Cohen and Ethan Cohen – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
2. Jeff Whitty and Nicole Holofcener – Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Few films have captured the loneliness, the desperation, and the arrogance of a being both a writer and a criminal as Can You Ever Forgive Me? And by the end of this clever, heartfelt movie, you may wonder if there’s a difference between the two. Based on the book by Lee Israel of her experiences forging collectable letters of famous authors, it’s so much more than a simple cautionary tale. It’s sad and honest look at the lives of two middle aged gay people and the loneliness and sense of hopelessness that often comes with it.
3. Alex Garland – Annihilation
4. Charles Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, and Spike Lee – Blackkklansman
5. Audrey Wells – The Hate U Give