' ' Cinema Romantico: Random Cinematic Awards 2017

Monday, January 01, 2018

Random Cinematic Awards 2017

As always, her eminence Nicole Kidman is here to present Cinema Romantico’s annual awards of cinematic randomness. 

Line Reading of the Year: “I fear you must prepare yourself for a polka.” — Cynthia Nixon, “A Quiet Passion”

Line Reading of the Year runner-up: “Thank you, Arthur, for your frankness.” — Meryl Streep, “The Post”

Line Reading of the Year special jury prize: “Well then, I gotta go.” — Lykke Li, “Song to Song”

Exchange of the Year: “Money isn’t life’s report card. Being successful doesn’t mean that you’re happy.” — “But he’s not happy.” The first line is mother, Marion McPherson (Laurie Metcalf), selling daughter, Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), that sort of banal parental wisdom that drives kids absolutely bonkers. And the second line is daughter’s rebuttal, which Ronan strains of any dawning melancholy for piercing clarity instead, the kind of clarity that become comical because it is so innocently up front and free of adult rationalization.

Exchange of the Year runner-up: “By the way, I would have voted for Obama for a third term if I could. Best president in my lifetime. Hands down.” — “I agree.” The first line is Dean Armitage (Bradley Whitford) in “Get Out” not so much sucking up to his daughter’s black boyfriend, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), as trying to play that white liberalist get out of jail free card, which Whitford gives a comic self-congratulatory ring, and the second line is a seemingly simple response that Kaluuya twists into, like, three different things once — actual agreement as well as a verbal equivalent of both head down eyes up incredulousness and a kind of “easy, Tiger.”

Monologue of the Year: Buddy Duress, “Good Time.” The entrance of Duress into the movie as a sudden unwilling and perplexed accomplice of Robert Pattinson’s narcissistic lowlife is something I will not spoil, but not long after this happens, Duress’s character is afforded an explanation of how he came to be where he is now. And while I remain not entirely certain that this speech officially belongs in the movie, that concern is cancelled out by the sheer force of Duress’s hysterical, profane, uninterrupted soliloquy — which can only be heard, not written — rendered in the untrained actor’s brawny Queens accent. The capping line is in and of itself funny, yes, but the pissed off period Duress puts on it is even funnier and made me laugh harder than I did at anything else in a movie all year.

The Annual Goblin King Award (presented to the best pop star in a movie): Lykke Li, “Song to Song.” The music of the Swedish chanteuse exists at the intersection of sorrow and bliss, which in her fleeting turn as the aptly named Lykke in a doomed love affair with Ryan Gosling’s BV is searingly apropos, fatalistically seeing his refusal to commit through to end but extracting this playful mirth in the midst of its failure to launch anyway.

The Annual Scarlett O’Hara Curtain Dress Award (presented to the best piece of clothing in a movie): Allison Williams, turtleneck in “Get Out”. I am hesitant to reveal the precise context of the Pima Cotton Cashmere Turtleneck Sweater that Williams briefly sports for anyone yet to see “Get Out”, but suffice to say that it becomes something akin to the sartorial embodiment of the dubious way Denzel Washington as “Malcolm X” reads the definition of “White” (“White: The color of pure snow. The opposite of black.”)

The Annual Rolling Boulder Award (presented to the best action scene in a movie): Meryl Streep & Tom Hanks having breakfast in “The Post.” What, you think action scenes have to have guns and explosions and fisticuffs? Think again, junior. Sometimes all an action scene requires is two acting titans sitting down in front of the camera and verbally going Hagler v Hearns for a few minutes. I could watch this scene a hundred million times.

The Annual Tom-Hanks-Standing-At-The-Crossroads-In-Castaway Award (presented to the worst symbolism in a movie): Kitchen Sink, “Mother.” Everything, and the kitchen sink.

The Annual Merv-Griffin-Is-The-Elevator-Killer Award (presented to the best cameo in a movie): Tom Skerritt, “Lucky.” When Harry Dean Stanton’s old-timer notices a Marines ballcap get tossed on the counter of the diner he frequents, I never expected to see Skerritt’s face when the camera tilted up, but there it was, and it gave me a rush. He nails his walk-off speech, sure, but there was something even more, I confess, in Skerritt, of my admittedly beloved “Top Gun”, in which he so ably inhabited that film’s atmosphere of testosterone, appearing so frail and politely ruminative. If so much of “Lucky” is about impressing upon us the weight of time, emotionally and physically, in Skerritt’s cameo, Lord help me, I felt it all pressing down on me.

The Annual Penelope Cruz Award (presented to the best hair in a movie): Robin Wright, “Blade Runner 2049”

The Annual Nurse Alex Award (presented to the best nurse in a movie): Pam, “The Meyerowitz Stories”. The only thing worse than a loved one being hospitalized is the preferred nurse caring for your loved one being reassigned, which is brought home in the Meyerowitz clan’s crack-up after discovering Gayle Rankin’s Nurse Pam is no longer looking after their father, the funniest bit in a movie overrun with them.

The Annual “Now We Can Eat” Award (presented to the best meal in a movie): Ice Cream, “Wonder Woman.” Diana Prince’s Hero’s Journey is at least partly a Fish Out of Water comedy, though all the possibility of it becoming hackneyed is negated by Gal Gadot’s indelible guilelessness, never more so than when her character tries ice cream for the first time. If it makes you chuckle, it is not because Gadot is wringing comedy from the moment so much as her mouth-agape earnestness is so true that you can hardly believe your eyes.

The Annual I-Like-My-Brandy-In-A-Glass Award (presented to the best drink in a movie): “John Wick Chapter 2” & “Logan Lucky.” In the immediate aftermath of a brutal brawl, perhaps the film’s actioneering high-point, Keanu Reeves and Common sit down for a cocktail, an action movie evocation of the digestif. The beer that Daniel Craig’s Bang orders while briefly on the lam to help pull the heist at the NASCAR track functioning as the centerpiece of “Logan Lucky”, on the other hand, becomes an evocation of momentary liquified freedom.

The Annual Best of My Love in Boogie Nights Award (presented to the best use of pop music in a movie): “Fortunate Son” in “Logan Lucky.” There is a case to be made that “Take Me Home Country Roads” is the sonic linchpin of not-retired Steven Soderbergh’s brilliant heist movie, the moment when the movie once and for all transcends any charges of condescension. But if Soderbergh manages to breathe new life into that familiar soundtrack tuneage, he employs CCR’s scorching anti-war anthem to breathe new life into the end of thriller cliché in which a quick montage casts many little moments we have already seen in an entirely new light by not simply locking all the plot elements completely into place but utilizing the song to bring the movie’s social ethos to the surface.

The Annual Buck C. Turgidson Award (presented to the best facial expression in a movie): Kristen Stewart, “Personal Shopper.” See above. And while I know that image appears a bit, shall we say, NC-17, context is everything, and the context, as the film title implies, is that Kristen Stewart is playing a personal shopper to a highfalutin celebrity. That she cannot help but try a few of items she is personally picking out for someone else that she could never afford, goes without saying, and when Stewart tries on some retina-sizzling kicks, Stewart opts for that expression, improbably embodying Sade’s “Smooth Operator” in shoe shopping. Props, KStew.


s. said...

Love all the Logan Lucky mentions! And yes the symbolism in mother! was just so silly and on the nose

mercatiwriter@aol.com said...

I'm glad A Quiet Passion got a mention.
I thought Cynthia Nixon was amazing -- and my impression of Emily Dickinson who is taught in schools as a milk sop who sat at her desk writing and smiling and watching birds -- was completely and forever changed. I should have known words were written by a gutsy woman.