The nominations for the 2016 Kaedrin Movie Awards were announced a couple weeks ago. I’m sure you’ve been waiting with bated breath, so today, I’ll be announcing the winners of said awards. Next week, I’ll cover less traditional categories in what we like to call the Arbitrary Awards, and not long after that, I’ll post my top 10 of 2016. Finally, we’ll have some Oscars talk (predictions and probably live-tweeting or retweeting funnier people than me) and then it’s on to 2017. Without further ado:
- Best Villain/Badass: Darcy, played by Patrick Stewart in Green Room. Nothing worse than a calm, collected white supremecist who almost sounds reasonable… before he tries to kill you. There’s an understated menace to Stewart’s performance that really solidified his win in this category.
As for the other nominees, a shoutout to John Goodman’s turn in 10 Cloverfield Lane, a little more unhinged than Stewart, but no less menacing. Stephen Lang did great work in Don’t Breathe, believably blind but still, um, menacing. I seem to be using that word too much. Alas, Lang didn’t quite make the cut, mostly due to the scripted issue of that stupid turkey baster (which really held the movie back for me). Finally, I thought I’d give a shoutout to Black Phillip in The Witch, who could probably have taken this award in a weaker year, despite not even being human.
- Best Hero/Badass: Wade / Deadpool, played by Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool. Sometimes when I’m figuring out nominees, I have an obvious winner in mind and am just filling in the rest of the slots out of obligation. Other times, I have no idea who will win, like this award. I’m actually a little surprised it came to this. Reynolds is, of course, perfect for the role, mixing the proper degrees of sophmoric humor and self-referential snark, and near as I can tell, he’s capturing what made the character so popular in the source material. Yet I can’t help but think the win here is due to a generally weak year for heroism. Indeed, as Deadpool opines repeatedly throughout the movie, he’s not even a hero! But the competition was pretty scarce this year. As runner up, I was seriously considering Russell Crowe’s bruiser from The Nice Guys. Gerard Butler’s throwback reactionary in London Has Fallen is so inappropriate that he almost crosses through to score an ironic win, but still can’t quite manage it. Sofia Boutella injected a much needed hit of energy into Star Trek Beyond, but the role is perhaps too small to really get there. I’m giving it to Deadpool, but honestly this was the toughest category to pick this year, and it could easily have moved to someone else depending on my mood. Get with the program Hollywood, we need better heroes.
- Best Comedic Performance: Kate Beckinsale and Tom Bennet in Love & Friendship (tie) A cheat, to be sure, and emblematic of the challenge of this particular award. Standout comedic performances turn out to be somewhat rare. Instead, what we mostly get are great performances as part of an ensemble. In this case, we’ve got Kate Beckinsale schredding up the screen with her wry, manipulative wit, contrasted perfectly Tom Bennet’s delightful oaf. The “peas” scene alone is worth the win in this category.
Runner up would be Ryan Gosling in The Nice Guys, another unconventionally funny performance. Kate McKinnon’s mugging in Ghostbusters could be percieved as too showy, but I really enjoyed it (despite the ill-conceived “You just got Holtzmanned baby!” line, which is just abysmal). Other performances also good, but I was taken enough with Love & Friendship to give those performances the nod.
- Breakthrough Performance: Alden Ehrenreich in Hail, Caesar!. In a movie filled with great moments, Alden Ehrenreich managed a couple of classics. First, you’ve got “Would that it ’twere so simple”, one of the best scenes from any movie of the year. Then, in a more subtle sequence, when Ehrenreich’s character is waiting for his date and pulls out a lasso and starts absent-mindeldy doing tricks with it, it’s just great. He’s going to be a star, and his casting as young Han Solo will probably really cement that in a couple years. Runner up, actually, is Janelle Monáe. She was great in Hidden Figures, but what made me bump her higher on the list was her supporting role in Moonlight. I think she’s going to do well in the next few years too. If I awarded this to the person with the best name, Royalty Hightower would obviously win (and she’s great in The Fits too, I guess). Brianna Hildebrand did a lot with a little in Deadpool, and Tom Holland managed to almost single-handedly save a languishing character with his tangential appearance in Captain America: Civil War. The future looks bright, is what I’m saying.
- Most Visually Stunning: The Handmaiden. Usually this award goes to an arthouse flick so concerned with making things pretty that they forget to give the movie a story, but not this year. This is one of may favorite movies of the year, and it’s gorgeous to boot.
Actually not a ton of truly spectacular feasts for the eyes this year, though obviously all the other nominees were visually impressive. I’d probably go with The Witch as runner up, but who knows.
- Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film: Arrival. SF has been making a pretty strong showing in the past few years, but that sort of fell off this year. Then again, the only true SF nominee is winning the award this year. It’s one of the few SF movies to genuinely capture the sense of wonder and conceptual breakthrough that I love so much in SF literature. True, it’s an adaptation of an award-winning novella, but while I wouldn’t go so far as to call it unfilmable, I think the film came out as good as I ever could have hoped for. Runner up is definitely The Witch, which I gather I enjoy more than most people. Indeed, these are probably my two favorite movies of the year.
- Best Sequel/Reboot: 10 Cloverfield Lane. A generally tepid year for sequels, I think it’s telling that my choice doesn’t have much of a connection to its predecessor. That said, this movie was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. In a year of “Who wanted a sequel to that?” movies, this one actually delivered something solid. I also quite enjoyed Captain America: Civil War and Star Trek Beyond, which are vying it out for the number two slot in my head. Fortunately, we only really award the number one slot, so let’s move on.
- Biggest Disappointment: Blair Witch. While not the worst movie of the year… or maybe even not the worst movie on this list, it was, in fact, the biggest disappointment. The reason for this is that I had much higher expectations for this movie than for anything else on the list, and I was really, really let down by the final product (i.e. this scored really poorly on Joe Posnanski’s Plus-Minus Scale). I’ve already laid out my disappointments on this, so I will move on. It’s bad. Runner up is Suicide Squad, mostly because I liked the concept and because those trailers really were fantastic. That being said, my guard was already up after years of DC movie ineptitude.
- Best Action Sequences: Kill Zone 2. Perhaps an obscure choice and choosing martial arts movies feels like cheating, but this has some really solid action and while Tony Jaa hasn’t turned out to be quite the superstar we expected when he burst on the scene, he’s still fantastic at action. The airport setpiece in Captain America: Civil War is wonderful, though it suffers a bit because I don’t like seeing superheroes fight each other like that. London Has Fallen is worth mentioning for the bravura long-take assault on an enemy stronghold, and I enjoyed the other nominees welle enough as well.
- Best Plot Twist/Surprise: Arrival. I often try to spread around these awards to different movies, but I can’t help myself here. To complicate matters, the runner up would be The Handmaiden, which also already has an award. I suppose even mentioning that there’s a twist is a bit of a spoiler, but I will refrain from more detailed discussions here. THis was actually a pretty good year for this sort of thing, with the rest of the nominees that too far behind the winner…
- Best High Concept Film: The Lobster. Look, Yorgos Lanthimos pretty much has a lock on this category. This story is about single people who are sent to a hotel to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or they will be transformed into an animal and sent out into the wild (our protagonist chooses a Lobster). It’s a fascinating movie. Not sure how much I really like it, but whatever you may think of it, it doesn’t get more high concept than that.
- 2016’s 2015 Movie of the Year: JoyThis category grew out of a specific year in which I managed to catch up with a couple of movies that I truly loved, but too far into the following year to give them any love. The problem is that I normally manage to see most movies that I think I’ll love before the year runs out. So I’m not entirely sure about this category. I did wind up enjoying Joy though. It’s a bit of a mess, but it holds a certain personal connection and has some bits that work pretty well for me, so it gets the award. The other nominees were all worthwhile, but none of the nominees would really break into last year’s top 10…
Up next is the fabled Arbitrary Awards, followed by my top 10 and finally the Oscars. Stay tuned!