This Sunday December 13, the BSFC gathered for a meeting like no other: 7
HOURS on zoom where we applied 2020 hindsight to the hundreds of movies
we were able to screen online this past year. We discussed, and
kibitzed, and argued and discussed some more as we VOTED our year-end
winners in 15 categories. The awards were generously spread among a
variety of films and performances, large and small, obvious and hidden
gems, mainstream and indie. The results are a testament to increasingly
diverse output and recognition of that work in front of and behind the
Topping the list is the transcendent NOMADLAND which earned 3 awards including BEST FILM, BEST DIRECTOR/Chloe Zhao, and BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY/Joshua James Richards.
The film stars Oscar Winner Frances McDormand as a widow who has lost
everything in the recession and takes to the open road out west alone,
living out of her van, getting seasonal work, and meeting like-minded
souls along the way. The film unfolds like a serene meditation on the
essential loneliness of life, as each of us navigates love, connection
and meaning against a landscape of promise and mystery. Zhao, who also
edited and co-wrote the screenplay based on co-writer Jessica Bruder’s
book, has given us an elegiac road trip that resonates profoundly with
the precarious times in which we currently find ourselves. The
instability and the fragility of existence has perhaps never been more
apparent on a personal and global scale. McDormand channels an abiding
stillness and the self-reliance of the pioneering spirit, and eventually
the freedom of what it means to be at “home” in oneself. The final
scenes delivered as sacred an experience as I’ve ever had at the movies.
THE FATHER earned two awards including BEST NEW FILMMAKER/Florian Zeller in his debut effort based on his play of the same name, in which he directs our BEST ACTOR Anthony Hopkins to a sublime performance as a brilliant, elegant man in the throes of dementia.
If you thought you had seen all that Anthony Hopkins over his long
and acclaimed career could do onscreen, stand back and prepare to be
astonished when you see what he does here. Hopkins’ character, 80
year-old Anthony, is living at home with his daughter Anne played by the
wondrous Olivia Colman. From the first frame Anthony is unraveling
before our eyes. Through seamless sleight-of-hand editing and direction,
the film conveys Anthony’s world fragmenting; he and we don’t know
exactly where we are in space and time. Not only does the film juggle
Anthony’s reality, but it renders multiple perspectives putting us in
everyone else’s shoes and in this way, is deeply humane. We empathize
with both the father’s and the daughter’s confusion, frustration, rage,
and sadness as the two navigate the map of Anthony’s dwindling days as
his mind disintegrates. THE FATHER is fearless, dignified, and
poignant, and left me with a deep respect for the process of letting go,
and those who help us do it. THE FATHER opens in theaters DEC. 18.
At the opposite end of her acting career is 21 year-old Sidney Flanigan who earned the award for BEST ACTRESS in NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS– her
screen debut! Flanigan plays Autumn a 17 year-old whose unintended
pregnancy prompts her to make her way from her rural Pennsylvania
hometown to NYC for an abortion. The film is an intimate, step by step
examination of her painful journey, the camera up close on her subtly
expressive face and dark eyes. There we see tidal waves of emotion that
finally wash over her in one unforgettable scene, and the title suddenly
becomes heartbreaking. Now streaming.
The critically acclaimed Sundance hit MINARI about a Korean family who comes to Arkansas in the 1980’s to start a farm won 2 awards– BEST SCORE, and BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS for Youn Yuh-jung.
Youn plays the grandmother, Soonya, who arrives after the family has
settled in. Youn is unforgettable as an offbeat, card-playing grandma
whose childlike enthusiasms, unpretentious demeanor, warm heart and
grassroots wisdom plants the seeds that will carry her family through
tough times. Excellent performances from the entire ensemble, including
Will Patton as a cross-carrying farmhand. This tragi-comic family saga
will renew your spirit. Now streaming.
For a complete list of 2020 BSFC Awards & commendations, click here: BSFC 2020 AWARDS