We’re almost at the end of a very interesting cinematic year and this year’s HeyUGuys movie awards tell a strange tale of independent glory and studio disappointment. The blockbuster season failed to deliver its expected movie magic, but we were drawn along by the overlooked undertow of a thriving independent film scene.
We saw new films from Martin Scorsese, Jim Jarmusch, Steven Spielberg, Denis Villeneuve, Tom Ford and Damian Chazelle. Shane Black, Andrea Arnold and Kenneth Lonergan delighted us with their offbeat tale of love and loss, we returned to Spook Central and Cloverfield Lane, stopped for a while to listen to the melodious air coming out of Sing Street.
In short, and as we seem to write every year, reports of the death of cinema are greatly exaggerated.
Our annual tradition, and this writer’s favourite post of the year, is to award films and filmmakers out invented awards, The Truffles. Each writer tailors their own particular fanfare to celebrate or demonise the best this year has to offer. And Michael Shannon. Seriously – he’s everywhere.
Until next year we hope you enjoy nosing our Truffles. From all of us here at HeyUGuys Towers we wish you a happy, peaceful and film-loving new year.
The ‘Psycho ’98’ Truffle for Most Idiotic Idea For A Film That Became Increasingly Intriguing During Its Production, Only To Finally Reveal Itself As A Completely Idiotic Idea After All©
(Runners Up: Ben-Hur, Point Break)
‘What the hell?’ was the general reaction to the news that Jimmy Perry & David Croft’s geriatric platoon would once again be gracing our screens for the first time since 1977. In that time, the BBC sit-com has become part of the DNA of anyone who has ever had a television in their house and few fictional characters are as universally beloved as the Walmington-On-Sea Home Guard.
However, hopes began to simmer when some of the finest British actors still drawing breath started signing on the dotted line: Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon, Bill Patterson, Tom Courtney and Toby Jones, not to mention Hollywood Royalty making an appearance in the form of Catherine Zeta Jones.
Alas, despite their efforts (Toby Jones’s in particular), it was immediately clear that this was just an extended sit-com episode – not an especially good one – stretched out to 100 mins. That didn’t work back in 1971 and they were blessed with the original actors. Repeat ten times: You can’t replicate alchemy; oh, and extra mutterings of “Stupid boy!” all round for the worst cast-squandering since Red Dragon.
The Karen Black Truffle For Best Obscure Reference
The first time that we see Benedict Cumberbatch’s soon-to-be mystically empowered title character, he is multi-tasking: performing surgery on a patient, while playing Popmaster with his colleagues. Of all the songs that the scriptwriters could have chosen, they picked Chuck Mangione’s 1977 classic, ‘Feels So Good.’ “The man charted a top 10 hit with a flugelhorn!” marvels Dr. Strange.
Mangione’s name might be familiar to anyone who saw The Cannonball Run enough times as a child that they still know who wrote the Main Theme. Assuming that no one else did, I thought that I’d never hear the name Chuck Mangione ever again, still less in a multi-million dollar origin story. The best obscure reference in a superhero movie since Guy Pearce used Croydon as a punchline in Iron Man Three. Marvel? You had me at Chuck Mangiole.
The ‘Tom Cruise’s Underpants Dance In Risky Business’ Truffle, Celebrating The Moment a Star Officially Arrives
Kate McKinnon in Ghostbusters
(Runners-Up: Gal Gadot in Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice and Ryan Reynolds’s A-list Status (finally!) in Deadpool)
Kate McKinnon was pretty much a complete unknown this time last year. If she was known for anything on this side of the pond, it was for her Justin Bieber impressions on SNL that teenagers occasionally shared on Facebook.
This year, she went interstellar. Like Tina Fey with her Sarah Palin act, McKinnon became Election year news with her hilarious Hillary Clinton sketches alongside Alec Baldwin. She is the best thing in Office Christmas Party, and she ate up the screen in the Ghostbusters reboot as the eccentric tech-genius Dr. Jillian Holtzmann. By the time Holtzmann takes her ‘New Toy’ for a slo-mo, ghost-zapping spin around Times Square, it was clear that an immense talent had arrived.
By the by, I know that the reboot divided many fans of the original, as bold experimental projects are wont to do – many good friends of mine utterly detested it – but the sub-human level of splenetic garbage that Paul Feig and his cast (particularly Leslie Jones) had to endure – for making a comedy, for Christ’s sake – has earned many online commentators a bonus ‘Conduct Unbecoming a Gentleman’ Truffle. If you really want to get upset about something, watch The Do-Over.
The ‘Oh, You’re Back’ Truffle For Most Underwhelming Return After an Extended Absence
(Runners Up: Independence Day: Resurgence; Zoolander No. 2)
Surely the biggest movie event of January will be the return of Danny Boyle’s era-defining Trainspotting crew in T2. The trailer has already had many former mid-nineties students weeping into their untucked paisley shirts in expectation of hooking up with old friends for the first time in 20 years.
My only reservation is based on a fairly recent phenomenon: sequels that have waited too long to appear, only to find that time had moved on in the interim. For the most part, these have been cynical retreads, packaged up like Greatest Hits albums to please audiences with old catchphrases and well-loved scenes repeated verbatim (Dumb & Dumber To, Anchorman 2 and the dismal, celeb-packed Zoolander sequel) but to no good effect.
Spare a thought for Warren Beatty though. This ‘New Hollywood’ megastar Jack of all trades (master of all) hasn’t made a movie in fifteen years. He finally gets to make the Howard Hughes film he’s been working on for over forty years, but when Rules Don’t Apply eventually emerged, it suffered the sixth worst opening all-time and faded to black with less than $4million in its pocket. Still, word of mouth was pretty kind and it does mean that whatever happens, Beatty’s swan song will no longer be the extraordinarily unamusing non-comedy Town & Country.
The Gene Wilder Memorial Award For Funniest Moment of The Year
The Nice Guys
(Runners Up: The brilliantly homo-erotic “No Dames” dance number from Hail Caesar; the Sloth scene in Zootropolis, the Deadpool script, from marketing campaign to closing credits)
Anyone who has felt their inner Chuck Norris disappear in a puff of smoke at the sight of a splinter in the thumb, or retched at the surprising amount of blood that appears at the merest nick of the finger will have enjoyed the hilarious moment when Ryan Gosling’s none-too-bright detective wraps his hand in a cloth and breaks a window, only to suddenly discover that his arteries appear to be emptying as a result and we next see him passed out in the back of an ambulance.
Actually, The Nice Guys could have been shortlisted repeatedly in this category. Gosling’s cigarette-dropping toilet antics, for example, or his miscalculated gun-toss to Russell Crowe, sending it through a window instead? Or indeed, Gosling reminiscing that his wife “used to say I make a living off “Rumpy-Pumpy.” Whatever; she was English – I don’t know what the f*** it means either.”
The “Michael Shannon” award for prolific contribution to cinema
This particular prize recognises an unwavering commitment to the cause, and to qualify you must have starred in at least 5 films across the calendar year. This year, Shannon can boast doing just that, and whether it be a starring turn in Elvis & Nixon or a glorious cameo, his ability to make any film his own makes him a deserving winner of the award names specifically after him.
The Please Don’t Let This Become a Thing award
In a saturated market made up of remakes, reboots, sequels and prequels, it’s fair to suggest a lack of innovation and originality in Hollywood very much exists. But the very worst of all is the inclination to now bring smart phone apps to the silver screen. An Angry Birds movie, really?
You know the worst thing of all is that the film was pretty good. And that means there will probably be more. And now there’s an ‘Emoji Movie’ and now we don’t know what to do anymore.
Most Relevant Political Film of the Year award
Art imitating life is part and parcel of the art-form that is cinema. A reflection of society is what we ask for, and whether that takes place in a galaxy far, far away, or in the White House – topical themes and pertinent issues are so often explored through movies, as we seek to find something to relate to, no matter what the genre.
This year, it’s been a quite unbelievable year from a political perspective, mostly in the victories for both Brexit and Trump. To campaigns build around the notion of fear; and this is what lays the foundation for Disney’s excellent production Zootropolis. One of the most human films of the year, and yet there’s no a single human in sight.
The Best Nicolas Cage Film of the Year award
All of them
Last year we recognised Nicolas Cage in the unfortunately titled ‘The Worst Nicolas Cage Film of the Year award‘ which we awarded to ‘All of them’. Last year he had three movies releases in the UK; Dying of the Light, outcast and The Runner. All of which were shit. This year, he starred in The Trust (brilliant), Dog Eat Dog (also brilliant) and Snowden (only a little bit shit). What a turnaround. Well done, Nic.
The British Sitcom Adaptation of the Year award (brought to you by Dettol)
David Brent: Life of the Road.
The Brentmeister General made a triumphant, seamless move from the smaller screen to the silver one this year, and it beat off competition with a relative ease. Dad’s Army and Absolutely Fabulous absolutely didn’t need to be made, but Brent bucked the trend. Pablo Larrain’s The Club, a sinister remake of Father Ted was also in the running, but the chilled out entertainer comes out on top.
Most Boring Display of CGI-destruction
Transformers: The Last Knight (for next year)
For 2016 it’s going to have to be X-Men: Apocalypse. All told, I felt it wasn’t quite as bad as everyone said, but the finale was just more of the city/planet wrecking weightlessness that we have tired of lately. MCU realised this was the case after Age of Ultron and wisely avoided going down that route with Civil War.
Yes, Batman vs Superman played the same game, as did Independence Day: Resurgence, but for some reason X-Men felt the least consequential. As good as was to see Jean Grey do her Phoenix thing, it just all felt so augmented and artificial.
Yes, I recognise that films about genetically mutated superheroes are not going to have quite the ring of authenticity of (say) The Road or The Wrestler, but a combination of scale and oomph-less CGI unfortunately delivered tedium rather than wonder.
Most Awkward Cinema-Attending Moment
My eldest son was desperate to see Deadpool and he is of age, so what is a father to do? The only element that helped was how crowded the cinema was, resulting in us having to sit some distance apart, an inadvertent blessing as the predictable avalanche of sex, nudity and discussions of masturbation poured forth from the screen.
At least we didn’t have to pretend the other wasn’t there (“look forward, it’ll all be over soon”) and instead spent the journey home discussing everything about the film except that of which we did not wish to speak. As I said to my brother shortly thereafter when discussing what I thought of the film, “slightly more masturbation-themed content than I would ideally like in a film I am watching with my 15 year old son”.
This one goes to Deadpool too. Specifically, his fight with Colossus and his declaration that the T-Rex is indeed the most feared of the dinosaurs. It was one of those great scenes where half of the lines got missed because everyone was so busy laughing at the last gag. Great lines, great violence, visual gags – everything a funny scene should be.
Deadpool was a wonderful and relatively unexpected treat amidst an at times underwhelming superhero year and for it to be laugh out loud funny rather than just entertaining and crude showed that there was real talent at work.
Everyone has waxed eloquent about Logan and it certainly seems to have a melancholic tone that looks immediately compelling, but T2: Trainspotting’s first trailer was just everything a trailer should be. Of course, marks are earned for tapping into my sense of youthful nostalgia, but to be honest that manic grin from Renton at the end of the trailer clinched this award on its own.
Yes, MCU know how to do their trailers and so Civil War, Dr Strange and Guardians were all superb. But to be honest we kind of expect the Marvel machine to achieve a certain standard. T2 was the business.
Best Film I missed at the cinema
For my now regular self-pity award, where I bemoan how little I get to the cinema these days (I think I hear violins playing very, very sad music), I can, as always, only speculate about what I would have enjoyed, had I seen it.
My heart says The Nice Guys, my head says Arrival. But there’s always a third way, so let’s go with Spotlight. It looks like a really special, un-histrionic (real word?) look at a genuinely important issue and by all accounts it avoided the big Oscar-baiting grandstand scenes and instead decided to take the grown-up route and portray a journalistic enterprise as it really happened.
The Brexit Award for Most Unbelievable Box-Office Success of a Truly Terrible Motion Picture
It doesn’t matter which way you want to sugarcoat it: David Ayer’s DC supervillain ensemble Suicide Squad is a disastrous film. In fact, it doesn’t even maintain enough cinematic value or craft to even quantify the title of “film”. It is an extended promotional reel, a heinously edited, unrelenting ugly, almost Frankenstein music video lacking any finesse, and worst of all, merit.
In a year of truly tortuous cinema, this is the most dismally disappointing, unrelentingly incoherent, and mindnumblingly stupid mainstream release we’ve been subjected to, and it made a TON of money. We are talking nearly $750 million worldwide. What has our species come to…
The La La Land Award for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture
“Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song)” performed by Conner4Real – Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Sure, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling romantically crooning is nice, but there is only a single film with original music that has true staying power once the feature becomes shelved, and that’s the evocative genius of Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping‘s Conner4Real.
He is the dopest, slickest, most dominant force upon the mic, and proves his stripes valiantly with “Finest Girl”; an explosion of feverish sexual tension, paired with astute political commentary of America’s soaring victory over Public Enemy No.1: Osama Bin Laden.
The track is timely, compelling, and urgent, as Conner must face the fearsome challenge of satisfying a mate with the clinical efficiency of the assassination of Bin Laden. “Here’s to the one’s who dream”? Man, the true dream is Conner4Real’s blossoming career following this hit.
The Neville Neville Award for Most Wonderfully Obnoxious Use of Repeated Terms in a Motion Picture
Talk about originality. Adam Driver – one of the finest rising performers at current – finally gets to utilise his family name by becoming a bus driver in Jim Jarmusch‘s quaint and richly observed character study Paterson. Oh, he is also called Paterson. In the movie Paterson. Which takes place in the town of Paterson, New Jersey. So Adam Driver plays a Driver called Paterson in the town of Paterson, in the film Paterson.
In the eagerly awaited sequel, Robert De Niro joins progressive dubstep group Nero who begin an intimate circuit tour performing at Caffè Nero stores.
The Hasbro Award for Best Motion Picture Character who Deserves an Action Figure
Still one of the very best things about 2016 is the sight of beautiful English rose Imogen Poots sporting a full fringe, filthy green bomber jacket, and wielding a smoking-barrel shotgun as she blasts sizeable holes in her dreaded foes. Of all the coolest, destined to become cult characters the year had to offer, her Amber in Jeremy Saulnier’s rugged, razored, and enthrallingly tense Green Room is a true highlight.
She is moody, aggressive, and bitterly funny, and during the white-knuckle climax, really steps up a gear and starts kicking serious ass. In fact, she is so killer, there really should be an action figure available for purchase. If any toy manufacturer decides to step up to this task, holler at me.
The Mary-Kate and Ashley Award for Best Sibling Performances in 2016 Motion Pictures
Elle Fanning (The Neon Demon) and Dakota Fanning (American Pastoral)
The Fanning sisters are ludicrously talented, and considering their ages (Dakota is 22, Elle is 18), the number of performance credits to their names is remarkable. What’s more impressive however is neither of these actresses opt for easy roles. In 2016, the sisters appeared in two extremely different, yet thematically and contextually challenging titles, and delivered immaculate work.
Elle’s immediate and disarming performance in The Neon Demon is something of hypnotic, transformative genius, whilst Dakota’s profound and complex offering in American Pastoral is a subtle yet provocative display. For this author, Elle delivers the most ferocious and impressive screen turn of the year in Nicolas Winding Refn’s candy-coloured fever dream, but Dakota adds such weight and poignancy to Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut that the film would not be the same without her fantastic input.
The Pew Pew Award for Most Incredible Sequence in a Motion Picture
Scarif Extraction – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
In a year of truly abysmal blockbusters – I mean seriously, how bad has 2016 been? – thank the Light and the Dark for Gareth Edwards, and his thunderous, exhilarating, and audaciously outstanding Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The best studio release of the year without a shadow of a doubt. The film is loaded with jaw-dropping sequences, but nothing tops the climatic hour upon the Imperial-occupied tropics of Scarif.
In fact, the final hour of Rogue One is the best blockbuster one has seen all year in its own right; the first half is just a massive bonus. From the ravishing and lush cinematography (filmed on location in the Maldives), to the bombastic X-Wing and TIE Fighter dogfights. From the nerve-shredding tension as Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso scuttles to locate the Death Star schematics, to that spine-chilling final sequence. If you’ve seen the movie, you know precisely what moment we are referring to. It is so amazing, you can feel your heart rate rapidly increase. Plus, watching Stormtroopers of all designs fly through the air as explosives detonate will never not be awesome…
The ‘I felt something inside me snap’ moment of 2016
Room – Jack meets the dog
The beats throughout the opening of Arrival ran this pretty close, but for moment in which you succumb to the story, and feel an overwhelming emotional shifting of weight, it has to be the scene in which young Jack (Jacob Tremblay) meets Leo’s dog.
Up until this point his forced captivity has seen him blinking into the daylight, unsure of the world around him, and we know that he’d had an imaginary canine whilst living in ‘room’. So to see his little face light up, the insecurities drop away, is such a moment of giftastic cathartic joy, for both the audience and Jack. The world needs more moments like this.
The ‘Southland Tales’ Reassessment Award 2016
In a year during which so many unforeseen events have left us dumbfounded at the mindset of the wider world, you can add the performance of Steven Spielberg’s THE BFG to the pile marked “Didn’t see that coming”.
Working from a script by the late Melissa Mathison, adapted from the much loved Roald Dahl book, and opening Cannes to glowing reviews, it landed with a thud the size of a Fleshlumpeater stomp. $55m US domestic and $170m global was scant return for a film conjured from such creative forces.
I’ll freely admit that the first viewing was an underwhelming one; light on story and oh so talky. But subsequent visits to giant land have only accentuated how good the film is. It’s one of small wonders, packaged within a tale of simplicity, and at its centre is a staggering turn from Mark Rylance. It’s infinitely better than his Oscar wining turn in Bridge of Spies, and that final smile is one that breaks the heart and moistens the peepers.
The ‘Ben Affleck and Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting’ Breakout Performance of the Year
Ghostbusters – Kate McKinnon
Alison Sudol’s film stealing performance in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them nearly pipped our winner to this prestigious award, and Jacob Tremblay would have won it had he not already been mentioned, but the name within the envelope was only ever going to be one Jillian Holtzmann, aka Kate McKinnon.
Her twitchy, off-kilter bundle of weird elevated Paul Feig’s loose reboot to something the internet trolls couldn’t touch. It takes something special to upstage Kristen Wiig, but McKinnon did. Whether it was lines like “boo-yah, emphasis on the boo!” , her exchanges with Andy Garcia’s Mayor, or the final battle fight scene, she was MVP of the GB.
The ‘I don’t really like ragging on a film too hard, but….I mean….wow’ Award for 2016
Dan Mazer’s follow-up to middling Britcom, I Give It a Year, had attracted the impressive ensemble of Robert “I AM a comedian” De Niro, Zac Efron, Parks and Recreation alumni, Aubrey Plaza, and How Did This Get Made Podcast funny man, Jason Mantzoukas. However, they appear to have either agreed to star in this while in an intoxicated state akin to the debauched antics scattered throughout this largely unfunny sex-romp, or they just didn’t read the script, because Dirty Grandpa was base level comedy at its worst.
Blowing a huge raspberry to the Bechdel test, decency, and entertaining anyone other than teenage boys with a script largely made up of the word ‘vagina’, this was interminably bad.
The ‘Night Vision Audience Reaction’ moment of 2016
Don’t Breathe – The Pipette
You know the footage I mean. Those shark eyed viewers being filmed so that the grainy ‘jump’ moment video can be used in the studio’s marketing to show us just how scary or disgusting a film is.
Well it was certainly the latter in Fede Alverez’s superb home invasion thriller. Don’t Breathe’s greatest asset was its ability to twist up the audience, running them through the entire gamut of emotions like some kind of interactive haunted house ride. Without going into spoilerific territory, the scene in question involved a moment of cathartic payback against the film’s villain (Stephen Lang’s terrifying bogeyman) and a pipette full of semen.
The Oscar Issac Award for Most Bizarre Dance of the Year
John Goodman, 10 Cloverfield Lane
10 Cloverfield Lane is one of the year’s best movies. Mostly unattached from the original Cloverfield movie, the film sees John Goodman’s Howard keep two poor young souls locked up in an underground bunker under the pretense that the end of the world has come.
Amidst all the darkness though there is a brief moment where we get to see John Goodman twerking to The Exciters- Tell Him. The scene only lasts around 20 seconds, but the twerking, and the ensuing dance up the stairs is pure cinematic joy.
The Best Soundtrack since Inside Llewyn Davis Award
Sing Street is my favourite movie of the year, the film had a little bit of everything and I walked away from it with a huge goofy grin on my face, which is a rare occurrence. One of the things that made it so awesome was its soundtrack.
Every single song in this movie is great, and I’ve pretty much had the CD on repeat ever since I left the cinema. The high school dance scene which plays out to Drive it Like You Own It was also one of the best scenes in a movie this year.
The Anchorman Award for Most Over Rated Movie
Please excuse me for a second whilst I find something to hide under. Yes, even after three rewatches (I’ve really tried with this) I still don’t get all the fuss about Deadpool.
Yes, the movie tried something new and different, but ultimately it was just another origins story, and if anything, its smug and irritating.
The jokes in the movie, aside from the cab driver scenes, which I did laugh at, are juvenile and really not all that funny. Had these been in any other movie people would have found them stupid, but because they were ‘meta’ they were hailed as hilarious. I’m sorry, but Deadpool just wasn’t very good.
Best Origami Character of the Year
Honzo – Kubo and the Two Strings
2016 has been one hell of a year on the animation front, and arguably the best of all of them was Kubo and The Two Strings. The latest movie from Laika was an epic tale of good vs evil, featuring some jaw dropping animation and some incredible voice work. It also gave us Regina Skeptor’s take on While my Guitar Gently Weeps, for which I will be forever grateful.
The stand out character though was a silent one- the little paper Samurai named Honzo, who sits on Kubo’s shoulder and guides him through the movie. A little piece of paper somehow manages to steal every single scene he is in with some expert comic timing and some great physical humour.
Best Movie with the word Weiner in the Title
Two movies this year were released with the word weiner in their title. One was Weiner Dog, the latest movie from Todd Solonz about the miserable fate of several people who all come in touch with the a weiner dog. The second was a fly on the wall documentary about the controversial mayoral campaign of American politician Anthony Weiner.
Both of these movies were brilliant in their own right, but the latter was almost Shakespearean in its depiction of a man falling apart in front of our very eyes, and is easily one of the year’s best documentaries.
Most Criminally Unseen Movie of the Year
Morris from America
Markees Christmas plays the titular Morris in a movie about a young American and his father (Craig Robinson) who have left their country and began a new life for themselves in America.
Morris from America is a sweet, poignant and often hilarious coming of age tale told from a unique perspective. As an expat myself with experiences of schools in a foreign country I found the movie to be an accurate portrayal of the experiences that people go through. Craig Robinson also gives a surprisingly tender turn as Morris’ father.
Worst plot twist (and unintentionally hilarious moment of 2016)
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
It’s hard to fathom how the writers of Batman v Superman thought it’d be a good idea to hang the highly anticipated fight between the two heroes on the revelation that their Mothers share the same name.
On paper it sounds pretty silly, and despite the best efforts of Ben Affleck, it just doesn’t work in practice either. It’s little wonder why this is probably the most mocked cinematic moment of the year.
Best (and worst) use of Beastie Boys’ Sabotage
Star Trek Beyond
While the use of Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’ in the first trailer for Star Trek Beyond really didn’t work, the use of the track in the film was another matter entirely, as ‘Sabotage’ literally saves the federation and Yorktown from Krall’s swarm. On paper, it’s a batshit crazy that should never work. In practice, it’s one of the most thrilling (and just plain cool) cinematic moments of 2016.
Suicide Squad Trailer #1
If ever there was a perfect example of how important a musical selection is to a trailer, the first proper trailer to Suicide Squad is it. Soundtracked to the classic Queen track Bohemian Rhapsody, the 2 minute clip is flawlessly edited – seriously, it’s rare we see editing on this level in a trailer – and it pulls off the trick of teasing a lot without spoiling. I re-watched it A LOT. Sadly, the editing in the film itself left much to be desired.
Michael Shannon interviewed by Vanity Fair
There are many interviews you watch where you can tell the talent has been PR trained. Michael Shannon is most definitely not PR trained, and that makes for very entertaining interviews. Case in point; When talking with Vanity Fair about Nocturnal Animals, the star diverges to (frankly far more interesting) topics including, but not limited to: Woody Allen, cut-off shorts, and bad auditions with Alexander Payne. It’s a must-watch.
The 2016 ‘I didn’t know they could do that and it’s just not fair that they can’ award
Dwayne Johnson – Moana (singing)
This could so easily have gone to a Ryan Gosling for his brilliant piano playing in La La Land but as its a 2017 UK release, well plum for Johnson who is now able to do pretty much anything. Some wrestling fans may have argued that we should have seen this coming given his penchant for singing on the WWF circuit, but Johnson’s performance of “You’re Welcome” (written by Lin-Manuel Miranda) is brilliant – a sing-song at next year’s Oscars isn’t out of the question.
Double Act of the Year
Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde (Ginnifer Goodwin / Jason Bateman – Zootropolis)
Gosling and Crowe. Gosling and Stone. Affleck and Irons.
The list goes on for the best two-handed this year but miles in front is the double act of Judy Hopps (aka Goodwin and Bateman) in Disney’s phenomenal Zootropolis. Both are on superb form in the buddy-cop movie where animals live in relative harmony but the chemistry between the two mixed with the witticisms of the screenplay (sometimes eight writers is the right number!) it’s no wonder audiences flocked back time and again to watch the two in action.
The Best Nicholas Cage Moustache of the Year Award
Nicholas Cage (The Trust)
Now this year has been a particularly strong year for the moustache. We have most recently witnessed Aaron Eckhart in Sully: Miracle on the Hudson represent his bushy lipped brethren.
But this award is all about the man we love to love and his films we (as of late) hate to watch.
The Trust with all its failings produced a Nicholas Cage performance that frustrates fans, offering moments of brilliance against a film that can’t quite keep up. So it is with that we turn our praise to his mighty moustache rather than the film itself.
Long may his great moustache game continue and 2017 be filled with better film choices.
The Biggest Retrospective, ‘Why Oh Why Did You Do That’, Gut Punch of the Year Award
Lauren Cohan & Jeffrey Dean Morgan [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice]
An unlikely coupling, an unholy matrimony of sorts, now knowing what we know. And it is one that firmly plants a post-apocalyptic boot square in the maracas of The Walking Dead fans.
“You can breathe, you can blink, you can cry. Hell, you’re all gonna be doing that.”
Yes, that cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice where we see Lauren Cohan and Jeffery Dean Morgan as Martha & Thomas Wayne. It seems cruel to The Walking Dead fans to have Negan with Maggie on-screen.
Could this be a bizzaro-world crossover story where Glenn lives, confronts Negan years down the line as that infamous armed assailant and lives happily ever after with Maggie?
The Frank Capra Making the World a Better Place Award
‘Drive It Like You Stole It’ from Sing Street
Let’s face it, this year has been pretty crappy both in terms of political upheaval and saying goodbye to a large number of our most talented celebrities. The feelgood factor is therefore a more valuable commodity than ever before, so step forward director John Carney whose showstopping retro-nostalgic pop hit is as pure a distillation of happiness as is possible to find.
Both a joyously lovely set-piece and a bittersweet extension of central character Conor’s story arc (watch out for his divorcing parents turning up arm-in-arm during the Back to the Future-styled sequence), it would have the master of such things, Frank Capra, looking down and smiling.
The You Didn’t Think Robert De Niro Could Get Any Worse But You Were Wrong Award
Rocky & Bullwinkle. Showtime. Hide and Seek. Little Fockers. Grudge Match. The Big Wedding. Put all of these turkeys out of your mind, because the year kicked off on a thoroughly foul note with quite simply the worst movie Robert De Niro has ever made.
Co-starring a slumming Zac Efron, Dirty Grandpa is a loathsome, contemptible ‘comedy’ that doesn’t so much spend its time trying to make us laugh as actively sneer at the fact we turned up to watch it. Tracing De Niro’s career arc from 1973’s Mean Streets through to this only compounds the despair – please, Robert, no more!
The 2016 Symphony Award
High Rise by Clint Mansell
Fittingly enough in a year that has seen more ups and downs than most, Mansell’s superb score for Ben Wheatley’s savage J.G. Ballard adaptation has come to embody the turbulent spirit of the times.
Just as the movie itself encapsulates the worst of the human condition, exploring the horrific fallout as society breaks down within a London tower block, so does Mansell’s score musically render the story’s themes as an operatic symphony of excess, one whose unnerving, doom-laden nuances feel peculiarly apt when looking back on 2016 as a whole.
Quite simply, it’s the most dramatically intuitive and impressive film score of the year, capable of both broadly satirical strokes and eerily quiet foreboding. Wheatley and Mansell’s next collaboration can’t come soon enough.
The Greatest Opening Credits Sequence of the Year Award
The Neon Demon
Nicolas Winding Refn’s divisive fashion satire cum vampire horror lays on the visual opulence in his usual style, dialogue at an absolute minimum as the movie envelops audiences in a sensory experience both surreal and shocking.
The movie nails its visually lush colours to mast immediately with an astonishing, attention-grabbing opening sequence set to Cliff Martinez’ woozy electronic score, one of the simplest yet most hypnotic pieces of filmmaking seen this year.
The Greatest Insult of the Year Award
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Few could have anticipated this year that 2016’s greatest buddy duo would come in the form of veteran Sam Neill and newcomer Julian Dennison, the utterly charming and hilarious leads of Taiki Waititi’s quirky backwoods adventure.
However with one simple dialogue exchange, New Zealand actress Rachel House steals the show as villainous child services officer Paula, adressing Dennison’s Ricky with the following:
“I’ll never stop chasing you. I’m relentless. I’m like the Terminator… You’re more like Sarah Connor… In the first movie too, before she could do chin-ups.”
Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To Award
La La Land
From the screen curtains widening to allow the giant Cinemascope title to appear, via a massive opening dance routine, not to mention one of the best old-school Hollywood kisses, La La Land ticks all the Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To boxes.
Imagine if An American in Paris had a lovechild with Singing in the Rain after spending a weekend overdosing on 1940s romances and 1950s Hollywood musicals and this is pretty much what that blessed baby would look like.
Steamiest Bathroom Award
My, but it’s hot in here! Let’s face it, most (non-horror) bathtub scenes generally fit into two categories: a person lying in the tub, contemplating life and then submerging their entire head under water or a ‘sexy’ scene with one person being washed by another (performed cringingly by Robert Redford and Lena Olin in Havana and in endearing and very British style by Scott-Thomas and Ralph Fiennes in The English Patient).
Park Chan-wookis very much in the latter ‘sexy’ camp, turning up the heat, steaming up the windows and leaving audience members feeling a little dirtier after this bathtime with one of the sexiest scenes ever shot in a bathroom.
Heartstrings Pulled to Breaking Point Award
One More Time with Feeling
Andrew Dominik’s account of Nick and Susie Cave’s grief for their beloved son was one of the toughest viewings of 2016. Their incredible honesty about the devastation wrought by their terrible loss was one of the most articulate accounts of what it is to grieve.
When you see people bearing their deep wounds like this, it seems petty to offer a critique of the film, but it is thanks to Dominik’s skilful direction that this doc is never maudlin or manipulative. A heart-breaking, beautiful work.
Film Critics’ The Man Can Do No Wrong Award
In order to win this award, all Michael Shannon has to do is show up. This fact was made crystal clear when Shannon appeared at the Cannes Film Festival in Loving (the film a strong contender for the Most Understated Movie Ever Award) and then in Venice in Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals. The mere sight of this man is enough to bring whoops of joy and actual applause from beleaguered journos, who forget their sore backsides and backlog of reviews, and instead remember why they love this job so much. The reason is simple: the man can do no wrong.
The Out-Disneying Disney Award
On paper, this wonderful doc looks like it could have been scripted by Disney: we have a young, troubled boy who lives with his family, gets lost, finds his way and comes back to the fold, having learnt a few life lessons and grown up a lot en route. This amazing story follows the life of OwenSuskind, who at the age of three, succumbs to autism and is apparently locked forever in his own head. Yet thanks to his exceptional family and a library of Disney cartoons, Owen slowly returns to his family. Perfect family viewing this Christmas in true Disney style.
See you in 2017…