The First Annual Major Film Reviews Awards

So, it’s a New Year, and this site has a new look, and a new name; at least it has for the person reading this, I’m writing this at the start of December, as I have a feeling it’s going to be a long project.

So, I thought after my Top 10 Films list closed out my time under the old name, that I start the new era off with a new concept all together, one that doesn’t just celebrate the films as a whole, but the individuals who made them possible.

There aren’t going to be as many awards as the actual awards ceremonies, I’m streamlining to those I deem most within my area of knowledge (as much as people might scoff at that notion) and there also won’t be a Best Film award, because I think I already covered that point in my Top 10, so if you want to know what my Best Film was, have a read of that. I also won’t be bothering with naming nominees, as that seems pointless when there’s only me deciding the winners, I will talk about other candidates in the following write-up though.

I’ll also be covering a few ‘worst’ awards too, bridging the gap of quality I’ve seen this year.

Here are the categories I will be dealing with:

  • Best Director
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Best New Actor (Breakout Star)
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Music

 

  • Worst Director
  • Worst Actor in a Leading Role
  • Worst Actress in a Leading Role
  • Worst Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Worst Actress in a Supporting Role

All films released in the UK between the 1st January 2019 and the 20th December 2019 are eligible for these awards (I need to allow the final week to write this piece.)

Right, let’s get started…

Best Music – Elton John (Rocketman)

The music used in Rocketman was always going to be strong, given who it was profiling, but it’s how that music is used that sets Rocketman apart from the rest this year.

Rather than using its music as background noise, it is instead a full-blown musical, turning Elton’s biggest hits into big production numbers or more contained, surreal character studies, for a good example of this, just check out the scene set to ‘Rocket Man’ you’ll soon see what I mean.

 

Best Cinematography – Phedon Papamichael (Le Mans ’66/Ford v Ferrari)

There were a few strong contenders in the field of cinematography this year, granted, there wasn’t a film with such stunning camerawork as First Man last year, but a few strong contenders nonetheless.

The Irishman was considered for this, as was Joker, but eventually, Le Mans ’66 won out in my mind, mainly for the race sequences alone, which truly show a cinematographer on top of their game. While the bulk of praise for this film went to its actors, it’s worth remembering the stellar camerawork involved here.

 

Best New Actor (Breakout Star) – Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade)

Now to a film that flew under many radars, but secured its place as one of my favourites of the year early on, a lot of that was thanks to the incredible performance of its young leading lady Elsie Fisher.

Showing a wide range during this exploration of the modern teenager, Fisher shows a maturity beyond her tender years in dealing with the more difficult topics, all going together to create one of the best performances from a young actor I’ve ever seen.

I expect this won’t be the last we hear of Ms Fisher.

Worst Actress in a Supporting Role – Mila Jovovich (Hellboy)

Truth be told, any actor from Hellboy could be considered for the ‘Worst’ categories, but even then Jovovich stands out as the worst of the bunch.

Comfortably one of the worst performances of the year, she milks her dreadful character for all its worth, turning the supposed world-threatening monster into a joke, completely stripping the film of any of its stakes. Why anyone thought this film was a good idea is a mystery in itself, but why such a sub-par actress was considered is an even bigger one.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Debbie Honeywood (Sorry We Missed You)

Probably a film that might be overlooked come awards season, Sorry We Missed You is another searing indictment of modern Britain from firebrand filmmaker Ken Loach.

Although it is littered with fantastic moments, its actors truly shine; both the younger actors give a good impression of themselves, and leading man Kris Hitchen is also great. But the stories emotional heart was the mother, Abbie, played here by Debbie Honeywood.

Her character shoulders the burden of the families turmoil, and you can see this on the actresses face, her outburst towards her husbands boss towards the end being the moment that sticks in my head. A relative unknown knocks her big opportunity out of the park, I hope to see much more of Ms Honeywood in the future.

Worst Actor in a Supporting Role – John Lithgow (Pet Semetary)

In a grievous example of using an established talent and completely wasting them or making them look like fools, we have Pet Semetary.

If he were just mis-cast he could possibly be forgiven, but the way he sleepwalks through his performance, thoughts of the paycheck flashing in his eyes cannot be forgiven. He adds nothing besides some heavy handed exposition.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Al Pacino (The Irishman)

Honestly, this could have gone to either Pacino or Joe Pesci for their part in Scorsese’s latest epic; in the end though, Pacino just edged it.

His portrayal of doomed union man Jimmy Hoffa jumps off the screen and grabs you by the throat. He’s desperate, yet in control and he’s played to perfection by Pacino, who’s invigorated by the material, and probably who he’s working with.

His later scenes ooze effortless tension as we wait for the inevitable, and his character tries to stay two steps ahead, ultimately to no avail, it’s the work of a master, just beginning to realise his power again.

Worst Actress in a Leading Role – Sophie Turner (Dark Phoenix)

Oh, boy. Here we go again.

There were many failings of Dark Phoenix, in fact, let’s not beat about the bush, the whole film was a big failure, but it’s biggest failure was it’s leading performance.

With all the warmth and magnetism of a week-old kipper in a sock drawer, she ghosts her way through this dull slog of a film, never once looking the slightest bit interested in what she’s doing, who can blame her, really?

Another example of a Game of Thrones actor being utterly useless outside of the show, not only is she not as magnetic as the dead fish, she’s probably worse at acting too.

Best Actress in a Leading Role – Renee Zellweger (Judy)

Grizzled and downtrodden, the Judy Garland portrayed here is a million miles away from the glamorous figure she once was, here she’s a broken woman, and Zellweger captures that perfectly.

Almost unrecognisable as the fallen icon, Renee manages to pull off both the showbiz facade and warn-out interior that the actress balanced in her final years, reaching a crescendo in a deeply emotional final act, that really makes you feel for her plight. A deeply troubled women as she was, she was used and abused by the system that made her famous, and when she no longer had a use, she was dropped, that is shown in all its heartbreaking glory here.

Worst Actor in a Leading Role – David Harbour (Hellboy)

Oh dear Lord, this film again.

Very little is right with the Hellboy reboot, especially in the acting department, as this film takes two of my awards in that specific area, and David Harbour is the one I feel most sorry for.

Yes, he’s awful and that’s totally his fault, but I’m not willing to believe he was sane when he agreed to star in this travesty, and he seems pretty good in other projects, so I do feel a bit sorry for him.

I’ll be so glad when I won’t have to think about this again, at this point I’m willing to prise the memory of it out of my brain with a ball point pen.

Best Actor in a Leading Role – Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)

On the complete opposite end of the scale, we have Joaquin Phoenix, portraying a character who we had thought had been perfected, turns out we’d only scratched the surface.

What sets Phoenix apart from any other Joker before him is the closer focus on his character and mental state, we know that Ledger’s character is a sociopath, but we never got down to the nitty-gritty of it all, whereas we do here.

It might be more than we ever wanted to know about Joker, and I’d have agreed with that sentiment before I’d seen the film, but simply put, the film and the portrayal is too good to wish for anything else. There was never any doubt that Phoenix would take this award, and if the chatter over a sequel is to be believed, then I hope it’s being made for the right reasons.

Worst Director – Gene Stupnitsky (Good Boys)

If I’m prepared to perform an amateur lobotomy on myself to forget Hellboy, imagine the lengths I’d go to to be able to forget Good Boys ever existed.

An unfunny, putrid mess of a film without a single original idea in its deformed, inch-thick skull. What I can only imagine is the product of some truly creatively bankrupt people getting around a table and making a film out of the worst ideas they can come up with.

This film is so bad, I think having the child actors star in it might count as child abuse.

Best Director – Martin Scorsese (The Irishman)

Giving a ‘Best Director’ award to Martin Scorsese is a bit like giving a ‘Best Finger-painting’ award to Leonardo Da Vinci. He’s so far ahead of the competition it isn’t even fair.

To be fair though, it’s not that there wasn’t competition. Todd Phillips for his work on Joker perhaps, or even Greta Gerwig, a late entry for Little Women, there were options, I just think that the best direction overall was Marty Scorsese for his incredible new mob drama. It’s the most technically efficient film of the year, incredibly directed and a welcome change from the usual ten-a-penny film we are used to.

Congratulations Marty, you can add this to your awards room, which I’m sure is wallpapered with the bloody things.

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