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Hello and welcome to the movie blog of author John DeFrank - FilmZ and Guy Sobriquet Malone - Researcher

The 2020 Bi-Czarries


The 2020 B0-Czarries: The Worthy, the Lost, and the Forgotten 
-- by FilmZ and Guy S. Malone, Researcher
Proofread by Marge Inovera and guarded by Dragan Armansky, Milton Security

Yes, it's time again for the real movie awards for real people: the 2020 "Bi-Czarries!" (pat. pending).  We don't assign an arbitrary limit on films and performances, and all genres are considered.  Where we do get arbitrary is with the categories (professional wrestling, zombie-comedies) and the fact that we don't really cover documentaries and animated films, except where they may fall in other categories.  And our choices are arbitrary. ... Arbitrary and capricious, if I'm being honest. ... Well, it is our list, now, isn't it?

BEST PICTURES

Simple criteria: movies we enjoyed in the sheer entertainment sense, like, we could handle repeated viewings, and those we appreciated in the sense that the art of filmmaking burst through.  We chose three "best films" of the year, and then the others we liked the most.  For your convenience, we rank-ordered the rest, breaking them into two categories: "Popular Films" and  "Indies and Hidden Gems."

BEST POPULAR FILMS

Three films stood a notch above the rest:

1 - JoJo Rabbit - A film I could watch over and over; Waititi's signature hilarity with true heart
2 - Parasite - Artistically, the best, most original film of the year
3 - Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - Tarantino's riff on history, nostalgia, best since Pulp Fiction

The Rest of the Best (with comments on the non-Oscar nominated):

4 - Avengers: Endgame - (Kevin Feige brilliantly steered the MCU to this grand finale)
5 - The Irishman 
6 - 1917 
7 - Little Women 
8 - Knives Out  Daniel Craig's Southern-fried Poirot in the best mystery Agatha Christie didn't write
8 - Ford v Ferrari 
10 - Marriage Story 
11 - The Farewell - Alternately hilarious and heartwarming story of Chinese family covering a secret
12 - The Two Popes - Politics take a back seat to personal beliefs and conscience
13 - A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood - A fitting tribute to a man who heals through love

BEST INDIES AND HIDDEN GEMS
These films received less publicity and generated less money, but they are among the best of 2019:

Hidden Life - Terrence Malick's true story of an Austrian farmer refusing to serve Hitler in WWII
Booksmart - Olivia Wilde makes the last day of high school for two nerds fresh and hysterical
Motherless Brooklyn - Edward Norton tour de force detective story of corruption in 1950's NYC
The Mustang - Matthias Schoenaerts brilliant as a violent convict redeemed by equine therapy
Dolemite is My Name - Eddie Murphy loving, laughing riff on a 1970s Blacksploitation phenom
The Peanut Butter Falcon - Down Syndrome man escapes home to become a pro wrestler
The Last Black Man in San Francisco - A man squats in his family's ancestral home
Fighting with My Family - Two siblings dream of becoming professional wrestlers, one makes it
Midsommar - A fragile young woman and friends study a Scandinavian Nature cult
The Dead Don’t Die - Bill Murray and Adam Driver protect their small town from zombies
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PERFORMERS OF THE YEAR

Female Actor - Scarlett Johansson 
We could argue, with some justification that Johansson turned in the Best Lead as Nicole in Marriage Story; as JoJo's Mom, Rosie Betzler, in JoJo Rabbit; and as Best Ill-Fated Super-Hero Natasha Romanoff in Avengers: Endgame.  In addition to garnering awards nominations for two roles, no female actor was seen by so many misty eyes in 2019.

Actor - Adam Driver
What a year.  In addition to playing Scarlett's husband, Charlie in the rom-com Marriage Story,  Driver starred as Daniel Jones in the political history/drama The Report, as Bill Murrays's laconic deputy in the zom-com The Dead Don't Die,  and as emo-baddie Kylo Ren in Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker, making us laugh, cry, love, and hate, all in 2019.

Breakout Actor - Florence Pugh
The 24-year-old started the year as Goth-girl professional wrestler Saraya "Paige" Knight in the comedy-drama Fighting with my Family and ended it playing Amy March, youngest of the Little Women.  In between, she played the troubled Dani in the Indie horror hit Midsommar.  If that's not range, I don't know what to tell you.
Note; Despite no formal acting training, the Oxfordshire, England native is set to follow-up an impressive 2019 and become a household name in May when she stars opposite Scarlett Johansson in the next Marvel blockbuster, Black Widow.  Her career eerily parallels that of Jennifer Lawrence, arguably the biggest female star of the 20-teens, and Florence Pugh could become the successor to J-Law of the 2020s.
________________________________________________________________________

GREAT PERFORMANCES NOT OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED (listed 1alphabetically)

Lead Female Actor
Ana de Armas - Knives Out
Awkwafina - The Farewell
Annette Bening - The Report
Sienna Miller - 21 Bridges
Lupita Nyong'o - Us

Lead Male Actor
Daniel Craig - Knives Out
August Diehl - A Hidden Life
Eddie Murphy - Dolemite is My Name
Edward Norton - Motherless Brooklyn
Matthias Schoenaerts - The Mustang

Supporting Female Actor
Toni Collette - Knives Out
Jamie Leigh Curtis - Knives Out
Zoey Deutch - Zombieland: Double Tap
Gugu Mbatha-Raw - Motherless Brooklyn
Shuzhen Zhao - The Farewell

Supporting Male Actor
Alan Alda - Marriage Story
Chris Evans - Knives Out
Don Johnson - Knives Out
Kang-ho Song - Parasite
Ben Mendelsohn - Captain Marvel
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SHOULD-HAVE-BEEN-RECOGNIZED DIRECTORS
All of these folks also wrote the Screenplays for their films, BTW

Taika Waititi - JoJo Rabbit
Greta Gerwig - Little Women
Rian JohnsonKnives Out
Terrence Malick - A Hidden Life
LuLu Wang - The Farewell
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BEST DIRECTORS WITH THE WORST EDITING

Terrence Malick - It took him three years to whittle A Hidden Life down to a 2:54 runtime, thus scuttling both the film's chances at wide distribution and its awards consideration.  Hokey smokes!

Martin Scorsese - At a 3:29 runtime, make a decision: either it's a limited TV series, or a film on the big screen with an intermission.  Actually, it should have been on the big screen.
______________________________________________________________________

REALLY GOOD MOVIES THAT ARE HARD TO WATCH

Joker - The supervillain's origin story is unremittingly grim, but Joaquin Phoenix is amazing
The Lighthouse - Fascinating cinematography and acting take a back seat to body functions
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________

SPECIALTY AND GENRE AWARDS

COMEDIES

JoJo Rabbit 
Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood 
Knives Out -
Booksmart 
Dolemite is My Name - Eddie Murphy's comeback is a wild, profane ride
The Upside - Formulaic, but Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart, and Nicole Kidman are winning
_________________________________________________________________________

ZOM-COMS (ZOMBIE COMEDIES)

Zombieland: Double Tap - Zoey Deutch's hysterical turn ratchets up an already worthy sequel
The Dead Don't Die -  Bill Murray, Adam Driver, and Tom Waits bring the weirdness
________________________________________________________________________

PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING IS INSPIRATIONAL

The Peanut Butter Falcon -  (See above)
Fighting with My Family -  (See above)
_________________________________________________________________________

DISAPPOINTMENTS

Rocketman - Genre-bending, but not like Bong Joon-Ho, more like Dolemite
Men in Black: International - They thought Chris and Tessa's charisma was transferrable
Tolkien - A fascinating man reduced to a mundane story
X-Men: Dark Phoenix - Not as bad a critics said, just not up to previous chapters' standard
Downton Abbey - All right for fans, but foreshadowing hit like a sledgehammer
_______________________________________________________________________

SCI-FI AND FANTASY

Avengers: Endgame 
Captain Marvel - We didn't think Brie could pull it off, but she and Samuel L. had chemistry
Joker 
Spider-Man: Far From Home - Don't let the teen-centered story fool you, it's fun and funny
Ad Astra - The problem was advertising; it's not an action film but rather a pensive study
Alita: Battle Angel - Ancient cyborg is revived and seeks to learn the origins of her power
Pokémon Detective Pikachu - Ryan Reynolds gives adults something to like
_____________________________________________________________________

THRILLERS

Joker 
The Lighthouse - Photographed like Nosferatu, lit like Caligari; moody study of insanity
Us - Not as strong as Get Out, but a creepy original with a scary good Lupita Nyong'o
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CRIME

Joker 
Knives Out
Motherless Brooklyn 
The Report - Fact-based political thriller that counterpunches Zero Dark Thirty
21 Bridges - Intense police procedural with Chadwick Boseman and a terrific Sienna Miller
_____________________________________________________________________

INTERNATIONAL FILMS

Parasite - Of course
Honeyland - Macedonian documentary that sides with nature over predatory capitalism.

Oscar Predictions: 2020


OSCAR PREDICTIONS: 2020 
-- By FilmZ and Guy S. Malone, Researcher
Results kept in a roll of 24 Copenhagen Snuff cans, guarded by Dragan Armansky, Milton Security

On Sunday, February 9 at 8:00 PM, the 92nd Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.  Once more, we have been denied press passes (I told Guy S. Malone, Researcher, that sheer Calvin Klein number he wore would get us banned).  So, like most of you, we will be watching it on our local ABC TV affiliate.

To increase your joy (if not knowledge), below we have predicted the winners with the prescience of Nosferatu (some of you would have preferred Nostradamus, but you get what you pay for).  Anyway, for each category we give brief intros, our picks to win, potential upsets or something like that, and then the est of the nominees in alphabetical order.


BEST PICTURE:
Four films are in the running for Best Picture, none of which is my personal favorite of the year (JoJo Rabbit), though, admittedly all are among my favorites. And the winner will not be the movie many people believe is truly the best this year: Parasite.  Why?  Because Parasite will win the "International Film" category.  Last summer, I thought Once Upon a Time in Hollywood would be the frontrunner, and it's still up there, though it has lost some steam, as has The Irishman, which loses some power by its sheer length and the fact that it only had a limited theater release.  No, in this horse race, one film came around the December backstretch and passed the rest to win by a nose at the finish line.

Winner:
1917

Possible upsets:
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Parasite

The rest:
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Little Women
Marriage Story
_________________________________________________________________________________

LEAD ACTOR:
For a time in December, many thought Joker was going to clean up at the Oscars but rarely has a film lost so much steam so fast.  Still, this is one category that's a near lock.

Winner:
Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

The rest:
Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory
Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Adam Driver, Marriage Story
Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes
_________________________________________________________________________________

LEAD ACTRESS:
All performances are rave-worthy, but only one has led start to finish and only one is given an outside shot.

Winner:
Renee Zellweger, Judy

Maybe:
Cynthia Erivo, Harriet

The Rest:
Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
Charlize Theron, Bombshell
_________________________________________________________________________________

SUPPORTING ACTOR:
We've liked Brad Pitt's performance ever since the summer, and then Joe Pesci came out of retirement and blew us away.  Still, when two performers are nominated from the same film--Pesci and Pacino from The Irishman--they usually split votes.

Winner:
Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Second among equals:
Joe Pesci, The Irishman

The rest:
Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes
Al Pacino, The Irishman
_________________________________________________________________________________

SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Laura Dern's performance jumps off of the screen, but this is a tough one to call, as Scarlett Johansson is both funny and endearing, and I would have picked her if she wasn't splitting votes with her Best Lead Actress role in Marriage Story.  Relative newcomer Florence Pugh is their equal but not yet known well enough (this is her J-Law in Winter's Bone breakout).

Winner:
Laura Dern, Marriage Story

But don't be shocked if it's:
Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

The rest:
Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell
Florence Pugh, Little Women
Margot Robbie, Bombshell
_________________________________________________________________________________

DIRECTOR:
Tough call here, as the field is stuffed with great work--and as much as we hate to bring up folks who weren't nominated, Greta Gerwig (Little Women) and Taika Waititi (JoJoRabbit) are equally worthy.  In reality, it comes down to two: Sam Mendes for his epic undertaking and Bong Joon Ho, for his most original spellbinder.  We're thinking Hollywood sticks with the traditional epic.

Winner:
Sam Mendes, 1917

Could easily win and get no complaints:
Bong Joon Ho, Parasite

The rest:
Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
Todd Phillips, Joker
Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
_________________________________________________________________________________

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
Conventional wisdom favors The Irishman.  We love what Taika Waititi did with JoJo Rabbit, though, bringing his brand of heart and soul to the comedy, an incredible high-wire act that worked.  And we adore Greta Gerwig's treatment of Little Women,  She took a story no one thought needed another retelling and brought a faithful adaptation, lending a 21st-Century fem-power that also gave nuance to the characters, especially Amy, who is often portrayed as a simple villain.

Winner:
Jojo Rabbit - Taika Waititi

Another second among equals:
Little Women - Greta Gerwig

The rest:
The Irishman - Steven Zaillian
Joker - Todd Phillips, Scott Silver
The Two Popes - Anthony McCarten
_________________________________________________________________________________

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
One could make an argument for any of these to win, though our personal favorite--Knives Out--probably won't.

Winner:
Parasite - Bong Joon-ho, Jin Won Han

But Hollywood's love of stories about Hollywood could prevail:
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - Quentin Tarantino

The rest:
1917 - Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Knives Out - Rian Johnson
Marriage Story - Noah Baumbach
_________________________________________________________________________________

CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Last year, in his 13th Academy Award nomination, Roger Deakins finally won for Blade Runner: 2049.  When he wins this year for his single-shot brilliance in 1917, no one can say it's because he was due.

Winner:
1917 - Roger Deakins

The rest:
The Irishman - Rodrigo Prieto
Joker -Lawrence Sher
The Lighthouse -  Jarin Blaschke
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - Robert Richardson
_________________________________________________________________________________

ANIMATED FEATURE:
UPSET SPECIAL: The smart money will bet that many voters haven't watched the screeners and with a jerk of the knee will vote for Toy Story 4 over Golden Globe favorite Missing Link and guild sweeper Klaus.  We will show faith in humanity.

Winner:
Klaus - Sergio Pablos

But don't listen to me:
Missing Link - Chris Butler

The rest:
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World - Dean DeBlois
I Lost My Body -  Jeremy Clapin
Toy Story 4 - Josh Cooley
_________________________________________________________________________________

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:
SECOND UPSET SPECIAL: Two possibilities here, the favorite, American Factory, the economic/cultural clash between Rust Belt traditionalism and Asian tech and the upstart, Honeyland, about environmental preservation and neighborliness.  We're going for the one nominated in two categories: here and Best International Film

Winner:
Honeyland - Tamara Kotevska, Ljubo Stefanov

Odds-on favorite:
American Factory - Julia Reichert, Steven Bognar

The rest:
The Cave - Feras Fayyad
The Edge of Democracy - Petra Costa
For Sama - Al-Kateab, Edward Watts
_________________________________________________________________________________

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM:
Parasite, the genre-bending original, arguably the best film regardless of qualifiers, is the only choice here.

Winner:
Parasite - Bong Joon Ho

The rest:
Corpus Christi - Jan Komasa
Honeyland - Tamara Kotevska, Ljubo Stefanov
Les Miserables - Ladj Ly
Pain and Glory - Pedro Almodovar
_________________________________________________________________________________

PRODUCTION DESIGN:
We love the re-creation of late-1960s Hollywood, especially with the Tarantino-added easter eggs in ads and playful references to his other films and his own life.

Winner:
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - Barbara Ling and Nancy Haigh

The rest:
The Irishman - Bob Shaw and Regina Graves
Jojo Rabbit - Ra Vincent and Nora Sopkova
1917 - Dennis Gassner and Lee Sandales
Parasite - Lee Ha-Jun and Cho Won Woo, Han Ga Ram, and Cho Hee
_________________________________________________________________________________

FILM EDITING:
I'm always amazed then a Scorsese film gets nominated for editing.  As good as it is, The Irishman, at a 3:29 runtime, is way too long.  Now that we have that gripe out of the way. Outside of that, there are two realistic candidates.  Going with my heart here.

Winner:
Ford v Ferrari - Michael McCusker, Andrew Buckland

Pretty much a toss-up:
Parasite - Jinmo Yang

The rest:
The Irishman - Thelma Schoonmaker
Jojo Rabbit - Tom Eagles
Joker - Jeff Groth
_________________________________________________________________________________

VISUAL EFFECTS:
Only one, IMO

Winner:
Avengers Endgame

The rest:
The Irishman
1917
The Lion King
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
_________________________________________________________________________________

SOUND EDITING:
Really only two contenders in the Sound Editing and Sound Mixing categories.  Let's say:

Winner:
1917 - Oliver Tarney, Rachel Tate

Could upset:
Ford v Ferrari - Don Sylvester

The Rest:
Joker - Alan Robert Murray
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - Wylie Stateman
Star Wars: The Rise of SkyWalker - Matthew Wood, David Acord
_________________________________________________________________________________

SOUND MIXING:
Like the Sound Editing category, two possible winners.  Since I'm guessing here, let's flip the script for this one.

Winner:
Ford v Ferrari

Could upset:
1917

The rest:
Ad Astra
Joker\
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
_________________________________________________________________________________

ORIGINAL SCORE:
My brain says one, my heart says another.  [And again, I am flabbergasted that Star Wars gets yet another nomination for John Williams 1977 refry, refry, refry, refry, refry, refry, refry, refry.]

Winner:
Joker - Hildur Guðnadóttir

My heart:
Little Women - Alexandre Desplat

The rest:
Marriage Story - Randy Newman
1917 - Thomas Newman
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - John Williams
_________________________________________________________________________________

ORIGINAL SONG:
We really wanted to like Rocketman; we really didn't, but a lot of people did, and a win here is their way to honor the film and Sir Elton.

Winner:
“I’m Gonna Love Me Again,” Rocketman

The rest:
“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” Toy Story 4
“I’m Standing With You,” Breakthrough
“Into the Unknown,” Frozen 2
“Stand Up,” Harriet
_________________________________________________________________________________

MAKEUP and HAIR:
Bombshell has been getting the press for this, I guess because they made Charlize look like Megyn, which she does anyway.  But the field just isn't that strong this year.

Winner:
Bombshell

The rest:
Joker
Judy
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
1917
_________________________________________________________________________________

COSTUME DESIGN:
Never bet against a period piece here

Winner:
Little Women - Jacqueline Durran

Could Upset:
Jojo Rabbit - Mayes C. Rubeo

The rest:
The Irishman - Sandy Powell, Christopher Peterson
Joker - Mark Bridges
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - Arianne Phillips
_________________________________________________________________________________
*** NOTE: 
I never get the short film categories right, so pay absolutely no attention to my picks below.

ANIMATED SHORT:

Winner:
Hair Love - Matthew A. Cherry

The rest:
Dcera - Daria Kashcheeva
Kitbull - Rosana Sullivan
Memorable - Bruno Collet
Sister - Siqi Song

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT:
Learning to Skateboard ... is more than a catchy title; it's a touching, and at times amusing story, of a courageous initiative to bring self-esteem, education, and empowerment to the most at-risk people in Afghanistan: young girls

Winner:
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone - Carol Dysinger

The only serious competition:
St. Louis Superman - Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan

The rest:
In the Absence - Yi Seung-Jun and Gary Byung-Seok Kam
Life Overtakes Me - Kristine Samuelson and John Haptas
Walk Run Cha-Cha - Laura Nix

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM:
Flip a coin.

Winner:
The Neighbors’ Window - Marshall Curry

The rest:
Brotherhood - Meryam Joobeur
Nefta Football Club - Yves Piat
Saria - Bryan Buckley
A Sister - Delphine Girard

 
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