In selecting their 2020 award-winners, the Boston Society of Film Critics did the more-or-less expected thing by giving the Best Picture prize to Chloe Zhao‘s Nomadland, and the Best Director trophy to Zhao. They also handed their Best Cinematography award to Nomadland‘s Joshua James Richards.
I’ve attached a parenthetical classification to some of the BSFC winners — pure craft and quality (PCC) which means quality not necessarily augmented by politically woke currents. The wins by Nomadland, Zhao and Richards are all PCC.
Anthony Hopkins‘ poignant conveyance of dementia in The Father won for Best Actor (PCC), and that film’s director, Florian Zeller, won the BSFC’s Best New Filmmaker award (PCC).
Sidney Flanigan took the Best Actress award for her sad, somber, ultra-minimalist performance in Never Rarely Sometimes Always — a decision that I respectfully regard as a head-scratcher.
Sound of Metal‘s Paul Raci won for Best Supporting Actor (no opinion — still haven’t seen it), and Young Yuh-jung‘s luminous performance as an intrepid grandma in Minari resulted in a Best Supporting Actress win (PCC).
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom won for Best Ensemble Cast.
Charlie Kaufman won the Best Screenplay award for the justly admired I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PCC). And that film’s editor, Robert Frazen, won the Best Editing trophy (PCC).
Alexander Nanau‘s Collective won for Best Documentary. (PCC)
Here’s the rundown:
Flanigan’s less-is-more performance as a guarded, fearful woman in Never Rarely Sometimes Always is very rooted and deep-down. But in my 3.9.20 review I lamented that her “Autumn” character “is so buried, so shielded…so much so that Never Rarely Sometimes Always feels less of a sad tale about getting an abortion in NYC, and more of a study of Autumn’s isolation and defensiveness…about a prisoner living in her own cage and terrified of leaving it.”
Who would I have given the Best Actress award to instead? Either Michelle Pfeiffer in French Exit, Frances McDormand in Nomadland or Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman — all pretty much on an equal footing.
Excerpt from “Afraid So,” posted on 10.19.20: “Right here and right now, films are mainly being made and judged according to who’s in them, who made them and whether or not the right boxes have been checked.
“Critics are totally playing along with this, of course. Because they don’t want to be replaced.
“This is the ideological garrison state within which we all currently reside. What a film is ‘saying’ by way of story, theme and casting is almost all. Craft levels are appreciated, respected…but if they’re only so-so in this or that film, no one is going to get overly bent out of shape.
“Because ideology and social reflection are what matter. Say it correctly and assemble the package with the right collaborators, and you’re more than halfway home.”