Friends! It is a treat to celebrate the passage of another year with you. 2023 has been an unusual one with the Writers and Actors’ strikes provoking much discussion about the current state (and future outlook) of the industry. But there were wonderful high points of pure joy – a Goonie won an Oscar! – and great work was seen and championed.
We saw new films from Hayao Miyazaki, Jeff Nichols, Greta Gerwig, Yorgos Lanthimos, Paul King, Mark Jenkin, Sofia Coppola, M. Night Shyamalan, Nicole Holofcener, Pedro Almodovar, Brandon Cronenberg, Emerald Fennell, Ari Aster, and a new TV series from Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij – life in the chaotic tubetunnel is vibrant indeed!
The 2023 Truffles – The HeyUGuys Alternative Movie Awards
Once again – from all of us at HeyUGuys – we wish you a peaceful and Merry Christmas and a wonderful, cinematic New Year.
Best Needle Drop of 2023
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
I will admit to enjoying the very first Michael Bay Transformers film, but most would agree that since then the franchise has made for increasingly grim, albeit commercially successful viewing.
Or at least that was the case until 2018’s Bumblebee, which made a welcome shift away from the leery sexualising of the Bay films towards something more appropriately nostalgic and child-friendly.
Rise of the Beasts may not have scaled the heights of Bumblebee (those first 10 minutes on Cybertron are very much the franchise high water-mark) but it was a surprisingly enjoyable film nonetheless.
Where it really brought the juice, was the needle-drop that accompanied Bumblebee’s return to the fray during the finale. As he (it?) drops from an aeroplane (there are some size/scale questions to be answered in relation to this film, but that is for another day/article) the cinema surround-sound belts out LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” (“Don’t call it a comeback…”) and the crowd went wild. My son immediately added it to his playlist and we haven’t stopped talking since about what an electrifying experience it was. Kudos.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
Now, I am generally on the same page as Dev Patel’s Neal Sampat from “The Newsroom” – we should focus on the positive rather than the negative – but sometimes a film needs to be called out for what it is. In this case, a bit of a handful.
I wouldn’t describe myself as a huge fan of this franchise, but for the most part I have enjoyed it. This addition was exceedingly hard work however. After the first 2 hours, the main narrative seemed to have run its course, but the film then continued interminably, not seeming to know either how to continue, or to end.
There were a few interesting or knowing nods to the main franchise, but for the most part this was a slog that I could have happily missed.
Film of the Year
Spider-man: Across the Spiderverse
Although most critics lists would not place this so high, perhaps (and understandably) rating films like Tár, Oppenheimer, Killers of the Flower Moon etc more highly, this is a genuinely exceptional film and far and away my most satisfying cinema experience of the year.
There was admittedly an initial sense of almost inexpressible rage when the curtain came down and it became clear that on the cusp of what looked like being an awe-inspiring finale we were instead going to have to wait a whole year for the conclusion. My son looked like he was going to commit an act of violence. We were immediately on IMDb looking for the scheduled release date. We kept saying, “I can’t believe that happened”. But as that initial swell of anger subsided, it was replaced with a deep-seated sense of having watched something legitimately extraordinary. The animation, the voicework, the story-telling, the world-building, the adrenalised action sequences, the emotional resonance, the pairing of style with substance. What a film.
“Sublime!” by Ken is an all-timer. I know that it is far from ideal for a key moment from a film as important and resonant as Barbie to wind up being about a male character, but here we are. To be honest, that single word is neck and neck with America Ferrera’s “it is impossible to be a woman” speech. Take your pick, either is a deserving winner.
Best Franchise Entry
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. III
So, we have a limited pool here, at least in relation to those films likely to deserve being nominated. We had a (possibly) final Indy film, another Fast & Furious entry, more Impossible Missions, the aforementioned Transformers effort and then this franchise-capper from the fast-deteriorating MCU. Needless to say I am not trying to argue that this is capping off the MCU, but it seems clear that this is overwhelmingly likely to be the last we’ll see of the Guardians for the foreseeable future.
And this was not an at all bad way to bow out – emotionally impactful, funny, exciting, contained rather than sprawling – all concerned acquitted themselves exceedingly well considering how rough the sledding has been for the MCU since Tony Stark snapped back at Thanos.
Best Film I haven’t seen
The long list for this one is vast. I saw a lot of summer blockbusters this year but missed almost everything else. I’m gradually trying to catch up, but pretty much anything off the mainstream is still on the “To Do” list. So the annual speculation for this award remains. Goodness knows what is or isn’t any good. But I continue to love Spielberg more than any other director I can think of. And apparently this one is really good So there you go. I think it is probably great. I’ll try to watch it before the year is out.
The ‘Golden Lazarus Truffle’ for Comeback of The Year
THE SUMMER MOVIE SEASON
The period between early May and the end of August has, for decades now, been Hollywood’s prime window to release their most lavish and extravagant movies. Since the arrival of Jaws in 1975, the summer had become one long Christmas Day; a relentless unwrapping of their shiniest most expensive gifts to the world.
These summer blockbusters could make or break a studio’s year, financially speaking, and they could have the same effect on careers. Arnold Schwarzenegger never really got up again after Last Action Hero tanked in summer 1993. Ten years later Johnny Depp went from semi-bankable indie darling to the biggest star in the world when Pirates of The Caribbean defied expectations and went interstellar.
The level of excitement at the prospect of all that star-powered mayhem heading our way was almost too much to bear for cinema lovers…but then Covid arrived. Cinemas shut, streaming took off, the big behemoth movies were put on hold. The fun looked to be over for good. Movie seasons, as a concept, seemed to be an instantly dated concept.
Hooray then for last summer, which seemed to go out of its way to pack in a decade’s worth of movie ‘event’ into a single three month period. Of course, there was the magical happenstance of the Barbenheimer craze which turned two genuinely thrilling works of intelligent cinema into cultural phenomena (to the tune of billions of dollars).
This followed in the wake of two shockingly underperforming tentpoles, Mission: Impossible and Indiana Jones, in his case back for the last time after a 15 year gap. It was less the fact that they were terrible films (they weren’t) that astonished, more the reckless budgetary hubris that meant that despite respectable numbers, both films ended up in the red (see also Fast X). It also felt like a line-in-the-sand moment when the world pointedly turned its back with indifference upon the old guard.
That wasn’t even the biggest shock of the season, which was the baffling success of Sound of Freedom, the kind of polished straight-to-DVD movie that would have at one point starred Michael Dudikoff or Wings Hauser. Spurred on by the American evangelist set and one or two conspiracy fanciers, it wound up becoming the sixth biggest hit of the summer on a budget that would have scarcely covered Mission: Impossible’s motorbike expenditure.
Disney Pixar by contrast suffered the ignominy of its lowest opening ever with Elemental. A disaster…or was it? Actually, it stuck around for weeks doing something that few films have been allowed to do for years: find an audience. As its reputation grew, so did the grosses, something that hasn’t happened for God knows how long.
So I present this award collectively to last summer’s winners and losers for reminding us all how exciting it used to be at the cinema once school broke up.
The Nicolas Cage Truffle for the most ‘Nicolas Cage’ performance of the year.
There is an unfair assumption going around that one-time box office golden boy Nicolas Cage has since become a VOD star, churning out lousy films to stave off financial burdens. There are, it’s true, a few more additions to the Tesco DVD aisle genre than there ought to be, but his hits have far outnumbered his misses. His ruminative performance in Pig, for example might be one of the finest of his career.
There is nothing quite so joyful though, as Nicolas Cage pressing the accelerator flush to the floor and going Full-Cage, and in Renfield he did just that. His gloriously over-the-top, gaslighting, genocidal Count Dracula was some of the best fun I’ve enjoyed all year. May his recently stated retirement plans be delayed indefinitely.
Nicolas Cage in Dream Scenario.
The ‘Stacker Pentecost Truffle’ for the most absurd character name of the year.
‘Orson Fortune’ in Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre
I can’t speak for the film itself since I couldn’t watch it, mainly because the main character is called Orson Fortune.
The annual GROSS MISUSE OF A HOUSEHOLD ITEM OF THE YEAR — 2023
A brief history – Terrifier 2 took home the award last year, 2021’s Titane, a curious French indie featuring the gross misuse of a hairpin and a wooden barstool won it that year, and in its inaugural offing the 2020 award went to Possessor.
EVIL DEAD RISE
There is a long tradition of household item abuse in the Evil Dead series, beginning with the
pencil-to-ankle moment in the first film. The 2013 reboot was replete with health and safety violations too, namely the scene in which a possessed woman licks a box cutter, slicing her tongue lengthways with serpentine effect. This grotesque behaviour continues in Evil Dead Rise.
First, a demon woman holds an active drone and observes its whirring blades before
purposefully driving the gadget into her face, tearing her flesh in a mist of blood. Later,
another possessed woman enters the kitchen, puts her gas hob on far too high, and throws
half a dozen eggs into a cast iron pan, cooking an omelette shells and all. This is rather low
stakes in the annals of this award, but I think you’ll agree that it qualifies as gross misuse of a household item.
The insanity continues with a tattoo pen — a household item for some. The demon grabs the thing and thrusts it into her own neck to cover the point in blood – an obscene parody of ink – and stabs her daughter in the face with it, transmitting her possession and proclivity for unbecoming household behaviour. The newly demonic young woman feasts on a wine glass, biting shards from the rim and swallowing them in masticated pieces down her bloody, lacerated throat. Satiated, the young demon attacks her aunt and drags a cheese grater across her calf, scoring it with cringe-worthy grooves. She receives a spatula to the face for this assault and while that is not what the manufacturers intended for this product, you can hardly fault the aunt for this or for thrusting a heavy scissor blade into her sister’s nose, which is justifiable on the grounds of self-defence. All in all, Evil Dead Rise amounts to an orgy of household item abuse
The One Day You’ll Realise How Good It Is Award
You just don’t know it yet, but one day there will be a collective re-appreciation of this Damien Chazalle Hollywood-epic. Except for the closing, cinema-history montage. That will always be shite.
One Day You’ll Realise How Bad It Is Award
I liked it at first, but as the weeks have gone I have come to realise that this film is simply rubbish. In a good way? Not quite sure yet. But this will spread. Take down those five star reviews, you mad people, come and join la résistance!
The Courtroom Drama of the Year Award
Saint Omer / Anatomy of a Fall
Let’s be honest, this is cinema heritage. There’s simply nothing more engaging than a good old-fashioned courtroom drama. Whether it be Harrison Ford’s Witness, to 12 Angry Men or Kubrick’s Paths of Glory. This year had two of the very best from this sub-genre in years. So much so, we simply can’t split between these two incredible French productions.
Best On-Screen Couple
Dom (David Jonsson) and Yas (Vivian Oparah). You know how I know they’re simple a magnificent on-screen couple, with so much affability and romantic chemistry? Because I saw the film not far off a year ago – and I didn’t have to Google the character names. Dom and Yas. You can’t forget it.
Surprising Musical of the Year
Who’d have thought that David Fincher’s noirish look into the barbaric and complex mind of an assassin would transpire in a fully-fledged ‘The Smiths’ musical. The scene when Michael Fassbender shoots someone in the head, and then follows it up by putting a rose in his mouth and floating around the attic while miming The Boy With a Thorn in His Side was a bit too much though.
The Talking Pictures/Talking Heads 2023 Truffle
This award goes to a triumvirate of films: Oppenheimer, Barbie and Napoleon are just three of a host of films released in 2023 that got people talking about cinema and got punters back in the movie theatres. After all the brouhaha about Marvel and its pernicious effect on cinemagoing, these films showed that the film industry is very much alive and in robust health, and more importantly that there is an audience desperate for a variety of films and filmmakers beyond the comic book universe. The reams of articles, reviews and debates each and all of these films generated is also testimony to our insatiable appetite for all things cinematic.
The Banality of Evil 2023 Truffle
A seemingly controversial Truffle, this is actually one of the highest accolades I’m handing out this year. It goes to Sandra Hüller for her outstanding performance in Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest.
In this film Hüller, who came to international attention thanks to her brilliant turn in Toni Erdmann, portrays Hedwig Höss, wife of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss. Her rendition of this loving wife and mother running her family household adjacent to the camp, happily using a lipstick found in the pocket of a victim’s fur coat or chatting about the clever ways Jews conceal their cherished possessions over tea with friends, is one of the most chilling and effective depictions of evil: ‘Rudi calls me the Queen of Auschwitz!’ With Anatomy of a Fall also released in 2023, Sandra Hüller is the actress of the year. A shout-out to her dog, who also turns in a star performance in Glazer’s film.
Pantomime Boo 2023 Truffle
This award goes to the European Film Awards for allowing Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest to go home emptyhanded. Up for six top awards, including European Actress for the aforementioned Sandra Hüller, the committee decided that one of the most outstanding films of the year was resoundingly snubbed. BOOOOOO!
Hybrid Trend of 2023 Truffle
Black and white or colour? Which will it be? If you’re having trouble deciding, why not go with both, as so many directors did in 2023? Agnieszka Holland’s stupendous Green Border opens with vistas of verdant green forests only for the rest of the film to revert to black and white. Michael Mann’s ultimately disappointing Ferrari opens with Adam Driver whizzing around a racetrack in black and white for the film to then continue its journey in colour.
Jonathan Glazer shifted chromatically in The Zone of Interest, sometimes showing just one colour on the screen to root audiences to their seats in stunned horror. Moving on to more light-hearted themes, Yorgos Lanthimos also employed both black and white and colour in his truly delightful Poor Things. And not forgetting Maestro, Oppenheimer…the list goes on.
Bottoms Up 2023 Truffle
This goes to Bottoms, which is one of the funnest ways to see out the year. A mashup of Glee, Grease, Fight Club and Wet Hot American Summer, to name a few of the film’s references, Bottoms is an absolute tonic. Director Emma Seligman cowrote the film with its star Rachel Sennott. Sennott and Ayo Edebiri as the two lesbian loser besties at one of the worst high schools in the US, are a riot. Sit back, pour yourself a Christmas tipple and toast to 2023, which has been a truly brilliant year for film. Cheers!
Best Post-Credits Sting
INSIDIOUS: THE RED DOOR
Move over Marvel, there’s a new king in town. Why wait through ten minutes of bum-numbingly dull credits just to see a random tease for a sequel that might never happen, when you can do a Patrick Wilson instead, and sing your way through the closing crawl.
Is there actually a post-credits scene in Insidious: The Red Door? I don’t know. I was too busy getting lost in Wilson’s surprisingly melancholic cover of Shakespeares Sister’s undefeatable 90s pop ballad ‘Stay’.
Best Russell Crowe Accent
THE POPE’S EXORCIST
We should’ve known what was coming back in 2010, when Russell Crowe’s weird, grumpy, sortofbutnotreally-Irish speaking voice was the most interesting thing about Ridley Scott’s boring retread of Robin Hood. Or in 2017, when Universal’s big-budget reboot of The Mummy put him in ludicrously hammy “cor-blimey-guvna” mode, as a scenery-gnawing Dr. Jekyll.
But these days, it’s obvious that the Oscar-winning powerhouse is all-about the wacky accents. And, at least now, he’s very much in on the joke. As his hugely campy, faux-Italian take on Father Gabriel Amorth will attest.
The Pope’s Exorcist isn’t exactly a great watch, even for die-hard fans of possession movies. It’s slow, repetitive, and only just about cracks the so-bad-its-good barrier in its devilishly silly final act. But Crowe’s performance here, as a heavy-handed renegade exorcist (you got a problem? Take it up with his boss, “de Pope”) is more than enough to keep you giggling along. And if the voice alone doesn’t do it, seeing him tear around the continent, doffing his fedora on a tiny little Vespa will.
The “Say Nothing” Award for Biggest Shock & Awe
WHEN EVIL LURKS / MISTER ORGAN
Every year, there’s at least one (usually horror) film that positively begs its audience not to spoil its surprises. Barbarian not only took the crown in 2022, but made good business of it too, riding its twisty shocks and ludicrously positive word-of-mouth buzz to a hugely successful cinema run. 2023’s champions, on the other hand, both flew fairly under-the-radar. So consider this their wake-up call.
Horror fans will be very familiar with Demián Rugna’s deeply unsettling paranormal chiller Terrified, from a few years back. And his latest – the Shudder-released When Evil Lurks – is just as, if not more vicious with its shocks. No plot details needed, go in as blind as possible and expect nothing but pure, unrivalled nastiness from beginning to end.
And while not exactly a horror movie, David Farrier’s latest New Zealand-set doc Mister Organ makes for an equally distressing follow-on, digging down deep under your skin in a way no fiction movie ever possibly could. Anyone familiar with Farrier’s breakout hit Tickled will know his style (equal parts Louis Theroux and David Fincher), but nothing can prepare you for how deeply unpleasant his latest gets, in the most unexpected of ways.
The Glen Coco Award for Best Teen Movie
So it really actually means something when I say that Emma Seligman and Rachel Sennott’s violently funny lesbian fight club comedy Bottoms is maybe the best of the bunch. A movie about outsiders, made in the most outsider way possible – literal laugh-a-minute anarchy that slathers every classic horny teen movie trope in blood and terrorism and giant furry mascot dicks. A joyfully nasty, camp inverse of Heathers and Scott Pilgrim that dares to ask the question “Feminism, who started it? Gloria Steinem, a man, or another woman?”
The “You Completely Missed the Point” Award for Most Frustratingly Approached Sequel
SAW X / THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER
It’s hard to be too harsh on Saw X. It is, after all, a wildly refreshing buzzsaw to the brain of what the series used to be; ditching the dead-on-arrival detective stuff and essentially reinventing the wheel as far as the franchise is concerned. Largely by resurrecting its only real main character – Tobin Bell’s Jigsaw.
Instead of another ludicrously hamstrung soap opera, Saw X is a straight-up revenge movie, built on a carefully empathetic foundation that makes it easily the best since James Wan’s original. The only problem is, everyone involved seems to totally miss the fact that Jigsaw’s actually the bad guy, well and truly buying into their own character’s supposedly moral crusade and painting him as some sort of heroic vigilante. Which, when you know the series and the suffering caused, doesn’t sit right. At all.
And then there’s The Exorcist: Believer. A cheap and thoroughly boring legacy sequel that tries to riff on arguably the greatest horror film of all time, despite apparently not really even knowing what an ‘exorcist’ is.
The “Jason Lives” Award for the Sixth Film in a Franchise That’s Somehow One of the Best Ever
SCREAM VI / V/H/S 85
While Scream’s 2022 Wes Craven-less reboot wasn’t exactly the franchise’s high-point (I blame you, Ghost Billy Loomis), it was still a bloody good time and enough to give the series one of the best batting averages in horror history (hence it winning an almost identical Truffle last year).
It’s direct follow-up though, the more aptly titled Scream VI, does absolutely everything a late-in-the-series sequel should. An exciting new location (New York City!) ballsier action (shotguns!) and plenty of expertly-staged sequences (the subway car!) that well and truly push the scale of the series to completely new heights. Yes, Ghost Billy Loomis is still a problem (when isn’t he?) but as a bigger, barmier and possibly even final instalment for Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera’s new final girls (and directing team Radio Silence), this one couldn’t have landed better.
Not forgetting the sixth film in another happily resurrected horror series either; V/H/S 85 is certainly more of the same, but with enough reckless energy to push the boundaries of its found-footage anthology format too.
On the one hand, there’s Mike P. Nelson’s pair of cleverly mixed-up low-rent shockers No Wake and Ambrosia, offering the very best of the V/H/S blood-and-static nuts-and-bolts. And on the other, there’s Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill’s Dreamkill – a huge, wacky, 80s horror novel of an idea that barely manages to squeeze itself into the tiny budget and run-time it has.
The “Urban Harvest” Award for Baffling Advancements in the Children of the Corn franchise
CHILDREN OF THE CORN
Not all horror franchises are created equal. Some hit big with a winning formula or an iconic baddie that keeps them in cinemas well into double-figures. Some strike hot with the first few but fade fast into straight-to-DVD obscurity. And some start with a largely forgotten original that sinks like a stone on release, but somehow still spawns ten sequels, prequels, and remakes over the course of nearly forty years.
It’s safe to say that Children of the Corn is one of those. A series so unprecedentedly barmy, its first sequel was called ‘The Final Sacrifice’. Before going on to release a string of progressively wackier instalments throughout the 1990s, featuring everything from giant man-eating plants, to corn-cob crucifixes, and early-career performances by everyone from Charlize Theron, to Naomi Watts and Eva Mendes.
The latest, from Kurt Wimmer (the director of Equilibrium, and one of the most accomplished action writers of the ’00s) is the 11th to bear the name, and the second remake-slash-reboot, essentially regurgitating the same small town story of kids rising up to seize control, and murder all the adults. And while this one arguably comes at a more pertinent time than most, with generational issues around climate change at an all-time high, the maddest thing Wimmer does is to ignore almost every last shred of subtext, and just dive right in to making a fairly unimpressive rehash instead.
It’s by no means the worst of the lot, but considering how much extra material it has to play with (as well as having a legitimately talented writer at its helm, and three whole years between wrapping and finally being released), it’s truly baffling that this Children of the Corn is as wildly forgettable as it is.
The Third Time’s The Charm Award
A Haunting in Venice
I love me some murder mystery, and what better than an Agatha Christie classic? A Haunting in Venice is the third Agatha Christie adaptation directed and starring the legend himself, Sir Kenneth Branagh. The first two films (Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile), were adapted from their original novels by the same name. However, this latest adaptation is a combination of two books; Hallowe’en Party and The Last Séance. Even though I did enjoy Death on the Nile to some degree (but let’s be honest – the book was far superior), I absolutely hated Murder on the Orient Express with a passion (and I hadn’t even read the book to compare it to). So with that being said, I had only one more chance to give to Sir Branagh with the latest of his Christie adaptations.
My verdict? It’s safe to say that I really enjoyed it much more than the other two and perhaps might have enjoyed it even more, it being a mixture of the two books. My faith has somewhat been restored in these latest adaptations and I am intrigued to see where the next one takes me. Is there such a thing as a fourth time’s the charm? I guess we’ll see…
The Tearjerker Award
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol: III
I can’t really say too much about this one for fear of spoilers, but all I can say is GET THOSE TISSUES OUT!!! You will cry… a lot. And if you don’t?… I will seriously be judging you. Volume 3 will be the end of the Guardians that we know of with nothing being confirmed for a volume 4, however, the tears that WILL COME, will be from unlikely sources. It will break your heart into a million pieces and then you’ll wish there never was a volume 3. If you know you know. Good luck.
They Shouldn’t Have Bothered Award
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
I am forever a stan of The Hunger Games and nobody was looking forward to watching the newest prequel than me. I read the book shortly before the film was released and even though I mostly enjoyed the book (although it will never hold up to the trilogy), I found myself disappointed and let down with the film adaptation. Not only did they miss major scenes (imo), it just fell flat on its face and was dull for the majority. Even if someone didn’t read the book first, I’m pretty sure they would’ve said the same thing and now they probably wouldn’t even bother reading it. Alas, they should have just left the film franchise back where it ended, in 2015 with Mockingjay Part 2 (now let’s not talk about that shall we….)
The Spin Off Show We Always Wanted But Didn’t Think Would Happen Award
If you’re anything like me then you’ll also adore Death in Paradise. What is it you ask? Oh, I don’t know, it’s this little BBC One drama that’s been running for 12 seasons since 2011 and is incredibly good. The murder mystery we all wish we were a part of. This year saw the spin off show Beyond Paradise starring Kris Marshall as DI Humphrey Goodman as he lives his life near the Devon Coast after leaving Paradise itself, Saint Marie.
Goodman is one of the greats and I am delighted that we could finally see his life after he left the island, much to everyone’s shock! Death in Paradise and now its spin off, are pure delights to watch and even for a crime drama, are feel good and warming. Beyond Paradise I would say definitely touches on trickier topics and is less ‘feel good’ in comparison, yet it still deserves every bit of attention and praise it gets. I cannot wait for the Christmas special and season 2!
The Best Comeback (Albeit Briefly) Award
David Tennant in the Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Specials
The Doctor is back. Need I say more?
The “Surprisingly Alright Despite Looking Shite”
There have been a few quite a few films released this year that turned out pretty decent and entertaining, despite looking like the aftermath of a festive confectionary gorge.
Blue Beetle, TMNT: Mutant Mayhem, Gran Turismo and Dungeons and Dragons: Honour Among Thieves all went above and beyond to be engaging fun and much better than anticipated, but the winner of this award should really go to Barbie.
While the trailer gave an amusing hat-tip to Kubrick’s 2001, the grating musical clips, garish colours and toy to big screen adaptation track record suggested it was going to grate harder than Evil Dead Rise.
Thankfully, Gerwig, Gosling and Robbie went above and beyond to make Barbie mature with intelligent humour, social commentary, self deprecation, and a heart large enough to appeal to all ages.
The Best Film I Never Want to See Again Award
When Evil Lurks.
As explored elsewhere in these awards – the hype is justified. It features a world-building masterclass (“The time of the churches is over…”), an unrelenting precision when it comes to the grotesque, visceral set pieces and an assuredness that never wavers from the first moments. If not for the mishandling of a neurodiverse character, this would have been my film of the year, and is really worth watching. Though only once.
The Danny Boyle Award for Most Propulsive Opening to a Film
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
This genuinely felt like a move forward in animated films. As ground-breaking as Toy Story in its way, in visuals certainly but mostly in music. From the very first moments of the film there is a beat that was as exciting as anything I’ve experienced in a cinema this year. Daniel Pemberton explains more…
The Thank Goodness for Mark Jenkin Award
The Best End of the World
Knock at the Cabin
The cast was excellent – with Dave Bautista proving a high point – and the slow creep of uncertainty and malaise was expertly handled. I loved every second of the film, especially the ending, which was earned, and played pitch perfectly. Good show!
The Film I Want to Eternal Sunshine out of my mind
The Most Welcome Trend
Young female directors getting films made and being recognised by audiences and the industry.
There are, thankfully, many examples of this throughout the year. Some which come instantly to mind – and many of them debuts:
- Nilda Manzoor – Polite Society
- Raine Allen Miller – Rye Lane
- Celine Song – Past Lives
- Charlotte Regan – Scrapper
- Molly Manning Walker – How to Have Sex
Really great to see. This is one trend we want to see continuing for many, many years.
The Frost/Nixon Award for Best Interview of the Year
My final award is the second annual celebration of the best filmchat we had this year. The strikes which studio action necessitated in the year curtailed our yearly haul, and made us even more aware of how vital they are to us as a site. But we still had time before and after to sit down with genuine legends and lovely people.
So, here’s a selection of favourites from the year, with one obvious, outright winner.
Melissa George being genuinely lovely and giving us an extended interview that covered a lot.
LEGEND-WATCH Part 1: Brendan Fraser pre-Oscar.
Joe Cornish and his Lockwood & Co(hort) who deserved better.
LEGEND-WATCH Part 2: 22 minutes with the man who is charm personified – Anil Kapoor.
Lovely understated chat with two mates who make films together – Liam Neeson and Neil Jordan.
The madness of a press junket ending up with the interviewees singing songs to each other – Mario songs with Chris and Charlie.
Most amazing story told – James Lance and President Biden.
LEGEND-WATCH Part 3: Michael Frickin’ Douglas.
THUMBNAIL OF THE YEAR (ft. Rebecca Ferguson) – RUNNER UP.
THUMBNAIL OF THE YEAR (NOT ft. Rebecca Ferguson) – WINNER.
LEGEND-WATCH Part 4: Errol Morris.
Last year the Tom Cruise Award for being Tom Cruise went to Tom Cruise for our Top Gun Maverick red carpet interview. This year the Tom Cruise award for being Tom Cruise goes to Tom Cruise at the Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One red carpet.
It was genuinely wonderful to see Adam Deacon on his red carpet, and the love that his cast and crew had for him.
Rudest Interview. Hands down.
The moment we were able to tell a Goonie we loved him.
LEGEND-WATCH Part 5: Gabriel Byrne.
THUMBNAIL OF THE YEAR (ft. Rebecca Ferguson) – WINNER.
And finally, the outright winner. Here’s my final Twitter thread to explain exactly why this is the one.
Yesterday HeyUGuys interviewed Harrison Ford. Our interviewer @stefanpape29 (more on him later) did an incredible, impossible job. He charmed Harrison Ford & James Mangold and elicited genuine, interesting and surprising answers.
He made Harrison Ford look like this: pic.twitter.com/dxHW7vfDgx
— Jon Lyus (@jonlyus) June 29, 2023
The interview went live last night. I was in the middle of editing ten Witcher premiere interviews and didn't see it until this morning. I'm glad I waited. Because – and here's the thing – this job is hard, and done for the love of it, each and every day.
— Jon Lyus (@jonlyus) June 29, 2023
This is not a complaint. But most days is head down, plough on through, enough to get you onto the next day. It's not easy, but it is joyful. If you take the time to stop.
— Jon Lyus (@jonlyus) June 29, 2023
It's turns out that Ferris Bueller was right. Life does move pretty fast, and you do need to stop once in a while. And sometimes, like this morning, I was forced to stop by an overwhelming sense of gratitude and pride in what we had, together, achieved.
— Jon Lyus (@jonlyus) June 29, 2023
It's one interview, out of hundreds we do every year. This is true. And it is a very fun interview – Harrison Ford turns into a country bumpkin for a moment and that's something I've never seen before – and Stefan's questions were thoughtful and brilliant. He did extremely well.
— Jon Lyus (@jonlyus) June 29, 2023
But there's something else.
— Jon Lyus (@jonlyus) June 29, 2023
A day before the interview my co-Editor, co-founder @daveszt asked Stefan, in lieu of a final question, to thank Harrison Ford for his work on these films. Without being mawkish, so that he might know how very much loved he is, the character is, and how much gratitude there is.
— Jon Lyus (@jonlyus) June 29, 2023
And Stefan nailed it. Go to the 6:30 mark and you'll see it (but do watch the whole thing – it's great). https://t.co/NN4YXgYqfq
To be able to offer this thanks to the man himself, in a professional setting, is a privilege. A genuine moment in time.
— Jon Lyus (@jonlyus) June 29, 2023
I wanted to take the time to note this down. To stop and look around this once in a while.
I didn't want to miss it.
— Jon Lyus (@jonlyus) June 29, 2023
Here’s the interview, and my thanks for being with us again on this wild ride. You’re the best – and don’t let anyone tell you differently.
See you in 2024.