Nominated by me, voted for by me. Might tweet myself about my terrible takes later.
December 2020: this has been sitting in my Drafts for about 50 weeks – though as 2019 feels like five minutes ago and my summer lockdown bread-making and home schooling like sometime during WW2, does time even have any meaning any more?
The big takeaway of last year’s awards season was over the food at the ceremonies, which seem to be winner, winner, vegan dinner. Oh how sweet that all looks now...
Usually at awards time I get really invested in who they’ve missed out, stay up until 2am tweeting about the red carpet dresses, then wake up the next morning having forgotten who won, so I might as well host my own.
All these films either had a cinema release, streaming release, re-release or were at UK film festivals in 2019 (I think! It was 40675 years ago).
Best children’s film:
Horrible Histories – The Rotten Romans
I saw this with my 9 year old and we both loved it. It’s silly, the sets look like they were built out of some cardboard boxes, but it is historically accurate (houses were in fact built out of cardboard boxes until after the Great War) and there are some great gags.
Best of British:
Fishing has almost had its chips in this extraordinary movie, set in Cornwall, about the gentrification of fishing villages and what that means for locals, incomers and holidaymakers. Hand-processed, the movie fizzes and pops like a 1960s kitchen sink drama, partly, it turned out, down to the director’s woolly jumper.
Good god, I thought several times while watching Penny Lane’s excellent and hilarious film about the Church of Satan, though for some reason no one replied.
John Wick 3: Parabellum
If this film doesn’t get people to use their local library nothing will, as John tries to escape New York before his hour is up and the world’s assassins come looking for him. The stunt sequences are extraordinary, from a knife-throwing fight to John clattering through Manhattan on a horse to a top-notch Casablanca shoot-out involving Halle Berry, Keanu and one half of Robson and Jerome. The story doesn’t stand up so well (I can’t actually remember what it was), but we did get to see Continental hotel concierge Charon (Lance Reddick) come into his own.
Cod knows, there’s always a plaice for a good pun and Brit feel-good comedy Fisherman’s Friends (based on a true john dory) was a bream in this regard. Yes it’s often pollocks (it’s overly sentimental and overly long, like, um, a conger eel?). But the singing is good, as are most of the performances, especially James Purefoy who I thought was still about 30 but turns out to be Cornwall’s hottest grandad.
Very much my (sports) bag:
Fighting With My Family
Watching the chaotic, love-filled family in this Britflick about wrester Paige was a great antidote to 30 years of hurt (at being picked last in school PE lessons every bloody week).
How do you know it’s a proper ensemble piece? When your review moans that Oscar winning actors don’t have many lines and you get to the end without having mentioned several A listers. And bless Ana de Armas’s stylists who at least tried to make her look frumpy. The cheque is in the post!
Best blast from the past (literally):
Stanley Kubrick’s classic came out in the UK in 1964 but was re-released in 4k in 2019. It shows how easily I slipped back into my 1980s-era Armageddon obsession when – on realising this is 95 minutes long – I decided to work out how many four-minute warnings could fit into it (23.75, as it happens).
(director of accompanying short film Stanley Kubrick Considers The Bomb)
THE HORROR! (Part 1)
To misappropriate 16th century political philosopher Thomas Hobbes, Harpoon is “nasty, brutish and short”. But in a good way! Low budget but high concept (three bickering friends are marooned on a yacht with no food or water), Harpoon is blisteringly funny and very cruel, while asking important philosophical questions like “could you eat someone if all food supplies had been exhausted?”.
THE HORROR! (Part 2)
As my 7 year old put it so eloquently after I took him to see it as a Christmas treat(?), “I didn’t have a favourite cat, they were all horrible”.
Best cheese board:
The Knight Before Christmas
A Netflix movie that does what it says on the tin. Partly, anyway, as a Knight [is transported from 14th century England to 21st century Ohio and must find his true purpose] Before Christmas. Luckily the woman he meets in snowy Ohio is kind-hearted Vanessa Hudgens – and doesn’t do what I would do when faced with a man in chainmail asking for his sword, and call the police.
Best for fashion lovers:
I started my working life in retail management, and often recommend Peter Strickland’s In Fabric to other shop workers. A highly stylised story about a haunted dress, it is brutal, funny, and deeply weird. A killer frock in every sense, this dress is gorgeous: “artery red” and a teeny size that miraculously fits every woman who tries it on. I bet it even has pockets.
And the rest:
Best Film – Parasite
Best Director – Mark Jenkin, Bait
Best Actress – Alfre Woodard, Clemency
Best Actor – Antonio Banderas, Pain & Glory
Best Film Not in The English Language – Atlantics
Best Supporting Actress – Florence Pugh, Little Women
Best Supporting Actor – Jamie Bell, Rocketman
Breakthrough Performance – Sam Adewunmi, The Last Tree
Breakthrough Filmmaker – William McGregor, Gwen
Best animation – Klaus
Best Cinematography – Dan Lausten, John Wick: Parabellum
Best Original Screenplay – The Farewell
Best Adapted Screenplay – The Two Popes
Best Original Score – Nicholas Britell, The King
Best Visual Effects – Bait
Best Costume Design – Midsommar
See you in June 2024 for my hot takes about Songbird, the Rebecca remake and My Spy!