Predictions for Awards Season from TWB’s Film Group Founder
Award season is ramping up! The Golden Globes are just around the corner, and with that comes predictions and debate galore. What was overhyped? Who was snubbed? Are awards even important in the first place?
For me, this is the time to reflect on a year's worth of content and decide who and what stood out from the rest. 2016 had many ups-and-downs socially and politically, but looking back, this might also be the year we saw TV surpass film in quality, storytelling ability, and general appeal. Most lament having to “sit still and pay attention” for a 2.5-3 hour movie. But bingeing 6 seasons of a show you just fell in love with? It's the new American pastime!
I try to see everything I can get my eyes on, but admittedly still have a lot from this year left to check out (S2 of Mr. Robot!). Here’s my best of 2016 list for TV and film...so far.
10. Best pathetic humour: Fleabag
Publicly admitting our true inner thoughts and desires is a tall order. Being confronted by someone else's isn’t so great either. Observing such things from the comfortable distance from the TV to the couch does make such things more palatable, but Fleabag pushes that threshold to it’s very limit. Maximum cringe. BUT very funny, and pulls off a nice story arc with an impactful ending to it’s premiere season.
Is the main character a neo-feminist, take-no-bullsh*t heroine? Or just another a**hole as the show’s title would suggest? That’s up to you, dear viewer.
9. Best ‘Did that really happen?’: American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson
A rich and strange trip down memory lane, ACS:TPVOJS brings back a few forgotten actors who give strong performances and shows off the power of good ensemble casting. Celebrity is king in America, and the OJ trial placed that front-and-center on the national stage for all to lament. Oh...and race relations.
What do we do when fame can beat a murder beef? We’re still trying to figure that one out I think.
8. Best made me think and have feels: The OA
Being familiar with previous work from Brit Marling and Zal Batmangli via Sound of My Voice (and enjoying it), The OA continued their it-seems-so-real genre bending take on sci-fi, now with a healthy dose of religion stuff. The final scene tested my threshold for corn, but I won’t lie and say I didn’t have a tear or two well up. And the journey makes any ending well worth the effort. Where do we go when we die, you guys?
7. Best made-me-think-and-have PTSD: Black Mirror
For those who haven’t sat down to watch it yet, Black Mirror already! But with that, be careful. It can mess with your head in many, many ways. All for a good cause however… Where’s technology taking us? Where are we going as a society? What does it mean to be human? Could you get a Prime Minister to enact beastiality? Watch, think, and learn.
6. Best pleasant surprise: 3%
The Hunger Games meets Orange Is The New Black in this Brazilian gem of a stylish dystopian sci-fi thriller. Cannot wait for S2 and see what tests come next.
5. Best soup to nuts production: The Crown
4. Best mind-pretzeling: Westworld
3. Best gangstering: Peaky Blinders
2. Best nostalgia bomb: Stranger Things
1. Best of all time: Game of Thrones
5. Best loved-to-hate-to-love: The Neon Demon
A young aspiring model’s several day (?) journey from pure innocence to pure narcissism (and then to pure lunch) in a strange but couldn’t-look-away film. One that stuck with me for many days after viewing.
Was it perfect? No. Was it beautiful? Yes. A fitting quality for a film based around the hyper-reality LA model scene. Director Nicolas Winding Refn is no stranger to beautifully mystifying features (Drive, Only God Forgives, Bronson), and The Neon Demon is no exception.
4. Best art-horror: The Witch
A new genre seems to be establishing itself and The Witch struck that chord very nicely - Art horror. 2014’s It Follows, 2013’s seminal Under the Skin, and going all the way back to Kubrick’s The Shining, Lynch’s Eraserhead, and even farther back to Nosferatu (great article here), art-horror is an exciting fresh take on the now cliched genre.
Robert Eggers first foray into feature film writing and direction, The Witch is beautiful, haunting and makes the spine tingle in all the right ways. I just wish there was more of it to enjoy. The world created was a lot of fun to roll around in. I’ll never look at goats the same way.
3. Best WTF: The Lobster
Dystopian social commentary at it’s sharpest and most absurd. Beautifully made and conceptually assaulting, The Lobster is original in the truest sense of the world. It will leave you questioning not just everything about the film itself, but modern social mores altogether. What could be more fun?
2. Best documentary: Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-qiang
Cai Guo-qiang is an artist I knew little about before, and who I now feel like is my spirit animal. This is the power of Sky Ladder. Not to give away the ending, but I had the big feels once again as Cai’s decades-long pursuit of his sky ladder concludes. A great lesson in letting your dreams literally be as big as the sky, and to never stop chasing them up there. Also, the man paints with fireworks. That’s just cool
1. Best film: Embrace the Serpent
This film was officially released in 2015, but I didn’t see it until 2016 so screw it!
What do you get when you mix a timeline jumping jungle river adventure, shaman mysticism, christianity, drugs, 2001-esque spacey head trips, the slow death of the old world and the rise of the modern? Oh, and in all in stark black and white photography? Answer: Something amazing.
Ask any film director and their least favorite words in a screenplay are “EXT. JUNGLE.” Pulling off this movie was an incredibly admirable feat by Colombian born director Ciro Guerra, and all for the modest price tag of $1.4M. I’ve regretting seeing movies with 100x that budget and with 0.0001x the quality.
Embrace the Serpent is a rare film that supersedes the sum of its parts. Watch it in a quiet, dark room, sit still and pay attention. You won’t regret it.