Who needs the Oscars or the Golden Globes when I will be making my picks for the best film, director, actor, actress, and everything else? Sure there is no statue or physical prize for anyone to take home, just the satisfaction in knowing that one person liked your work (not that anyone I pick will ever read this). So let’s get this year’s Shuggies underway.
Best Actor – Michael Shannon (Elvis & Nixon, Midnight Special, Nocturnal Animals): If La La Land had been a 2016 UK release then you may well have been seeing Ryan Gosling as the pick for best actor. Similarly Andrew Garfield misses out as neither Silence nor Hacksaw Ridge have had UK releases yet. However Michael Shannon has had an extremely impressive year. From a biographical piece playing Elvis, and being the heart of that film, to his spectacular turn in Nocturnal Animals, and being the best thing about Midnight Special, Shannon consistently proves what a brilliant actor he is. He’s been right at the top of his game this year, and deserves award recognition for his performance in Nocturnal Animals alone.
Best Actress – Amy Adams (Arrival, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Nocturnal Animals): Amy Adams has had an exceptional year. She delivered two brilliant and breathtaking films in quick succession thanks to Arrival and Nocturnal Animals. And in Batman v Superman she had her most commercially successful film ever, even if it divided audiences. As the lead in Arrival she carried one of the best films of the year, but her performance in Nocturnal Animals was arguably even more powerful despite not being quite as prevalent, only featuring in the main story, and not the story within a story.
Best Animated Film – Kubo And The Two Strings: Kubo is a work of art. I’m always going to be slightly biased toward a stop motion animated film, because I love that traditional way of doing animation. But even so Kubo is a genuinely breathtaking work from Laika. The story is fresh enough to avoid being clichéd, the vocal talent with the film is brilliant, the script moves along at a good pace whilst bringing out a myriad of emotions, and the animation work is so beautiful. There have been a lot of great animated films this year, but Kubo is right up there at the top of the tree.
Best Foreign Language Film – Your Name: With Hayao Miyazaki retired, and Studio Ghibli possibly being finished for good as an animated film maker it’s reassuring to know that there are people ready to take their place in the Japanese anime scene. No one more so than Makoto Shinkai. It’s a shame that Your Name didn’t receive a wider release, but hopefully it will manage to find a place on DVD or On Demand. It brilliant captures that Ghibli ability to combine a simple and touching story, in this case a high school romance, with superb fantasy elements. Your Name is one of the underseen and under appreciated gems this year, and certainly the best foreign language film that I’ve seen this year.
Best Screenplay – Manchester By The Sea (Kenneth Lonergan): I have seen a lot of films this year, and so many films that have been poorly written that it made me appreciate great writing even more. And through a lot of great screenplays, Lonergan’s stood out for me. The dialogue manages to create such a raw, and emotional experience as a viewer. Feeling realistic, yet still cinematic. It’s a hard balance to strike, and its something Lonergan does brilliantly. The story unfolds in an extremely powerful way, picking the perfect moments to reveal key details for the maximum impact, particularly the scene where the lawyer reads the will to Affleck’s Lee. There have been a few brilliantly written screenplays in 2016, but Manchester By the Sea moved me more than any other.
Best Director – Denis Villeneuve (Arrival): In my review I let it be known how incredible I thought Arrival was. I think that Villeneuve’s direction is a huge part of that. He proved how well he could direct tension in some of his previous films such as Prisoners and Sicario, but with Arrival he proved he could do even more than that. He brought the tension and thriller elements from those films, and translated it seamlessly into a science fiction first contact film with a hugely powerful message for the modern-day. He unravels the story perfectly in my opinion, and it left such a big impression on me coming out of the cinema.
Best Film – Manchester By The Sea: Wow did Manchester By The Sea blow me away. It really deserves the top award because it manages to bring everything together to create such a powerful film. From Kenneth Lonergan’s direction and script (for which he’s already won a Shuggie), to amazing acting performances from Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, and Lucas Hedges. It is a brilliant piece of filmmaking telling an incredibly small and personal story, and certain one that is worth watching when it gets a full UK release.
I may mess with the format of this for next year to include some kind of voting from people who have contributed to the blog in some form over the year. So if you are interested in being involved with a Top 5 or some other way then please contact me via Facebook or Twitter @ shuggiesays. Have a great New Year, and thank you very much for your support throughout 2016.