' ' Cinema Romantico: Random Awards 2019

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Random Awards 2019

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

Best Line Reading of the Year: “It’s a bunch of goddamn fucking hippies.” – Leonardo DiCaprio, “Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood.” Director Quentin Tarantino’s sometimes condescending portrayal of hippies caused much consternation in the ranks, yet this hysterical line reading near the film’s climax lays bare this aggression toward the counter-culture as nothing but the ravings of an angry old man watching the world pass him by.

Best Line Reading of the Year runner-up: “Six.” – Emma Thompson, “Late Night.” Out of context, I know, but Thompson’s droll delivery makes the culmination to an obvious comic set-up soar.

Best Line: “Yes, I Can-ada!” – Keanu Reeves, “Toy Story 4.” Both Keanu’s Canuck roots and his celebrated real-life rectitude were indelibly honored in his animated Duke Caboom’s catchphrase of positivity.

The Annual 5135 Kensington Avenue Award (presented to the best set design in a movie): Welcome to the Moon framed photo in “Ad Astra.” It’s perfect. It suggests a lunar visitors center, like you’ve just crossed the Iowa/Illinois border.

The Annual Buck C. Turgidson Award (presented to the best facial expression in a movie): Elisabeth Moss & Keith Poulson – “Her Smell.” These are not separate facial expressions, mind you, but simultaneous ones. As a, shall we say, difficult-to-work-with rock star, Elisabeth Moss’s Who Do You Think You ARE? expression is caught in the reflection of the window of a sound booth where Keith Poulson’s sound engineer is doing everything possible to avoid her expression.

Forget the foreground, notice the background.
The Annual Rita Hayworth Award (presented to the best walk in a movie): Keanu Reeves, “Always Be My Maybe.” No, no, no, no, no, no, no. No. Not his entrance to the restaurant, the one making all the GIFs. I don’t say this to be contrarian, honest I don’t, because seriously, did you SEE this other walk? It happens when he gets up from the table after their highfalutin meal, says to Ali Wong’s character that he’ll go fetch their “chariot” and then departs with this unparalleled strut that is somehow like a mall walker crossed with a cock of the walk.

The Annual Elevator Killer Award (presented to the best cameo in a movie): Natasha Lyonne, “Ad Astra.” When you need an actor who in the space of, what, ten seconds can embody the entirety of irritating bureaucracy made doubly worse because it’s irritating bureaucracy on Mars and everything is red all the time, who you gonna call? Natasha Lyonne.

The Annual Rolex Submariner Award (presented to the best use of a gadget in a movie): Ophelia, “Us.” Representing Amazon Alexa, I remain, even now, several months later, hesitant to give it away except to say that at a moment of extreme stress technology proves a comically false god.

The Annual I Like My Brandy In A Glass Award (presented to the best drink in a movie): Whiskey Sour(s), “Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood.” Shout-out to cinematographer Robert Richardson and the team of art directors for making every damn Whiskey Sour in “Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood” look as good as the last one on earth.

The Annual “Isn’t This a Lovely Day (To Be Caught in the Rain)” Award (presented to the best dance in a movie): Saoirse Ronan & Timothée Chalamet, “Little Women.” 2019’s Best Dance reminds me a bit of 2018’s dance, culled from “The Favourite”, which was, at once, period appropriate and not period appropriate at all. Indeed, in “Little Women”, when legendary Jo March and Laurie Laurence escape a party to dance alone on the front porch instead to boogie, it is scored to Dvořák even if the choreography is based off a Gilda Radner/Steve Martin sketch, effortlessly, improbably embodying the adaptation’s classical yet contemporary vibe.

The Annual Rolling Boulder Award (presented to the best action sequence in a movie): Divorce Court, “Marriage Story.” “Avengers assemble”, and all that, and more power to you if that’s your thing, but my thing is more Laura Dern and Ray Liotta exchanging verbal haymakers amidst scorching Jennifer Lame edits.

The Annual “Now We Can Eat” Award (presented to the best meal in a movie): Meat Pie in “The Farewell” & Random Flan, “Pain and Glory.” Food looms large throughout “The Farewell” and when a Chinese grandmother feeds her Chinese-American daughter her lovingly made meat pies it becomes an edible invitation to return to her roots. The flan in “Pain and Glory”, meanwhile, well, I have no idea why it’s even there. Nobody eats it. But Pedro Almodóvar doesn’t do anything that’s not on purpose, and so perhaps, like his bright color schemes are often meant to signify one feeling or another, his flan, that savory looking flan, is simply meant, as the scene between Salvador and his ex-lover commences, to savor this scene, this wonderful scene, to the last.

The Annual “Save the Clock Tower!” Award (presented to the best plant & payoff in a movie): Flamethrower, “Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood.” The conclusion’s grisly violence was too much for some, and I’m sympathetic to that argument, though the quality of this particular payoff overruled, for me, any complaints of excess.

The Annual Norma Desmond Award (presented to the best close-up in a movie): Tom Hanks, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” It’s not any one close-up director Marielle Heller frames but all of them. Because if a Mr. Rogers movie doesn’t suggest Freaky, well, big, looming close-ups of Mr. Rogers, it turns out, do.

The Annual Gregg Toland Award (presented to the best lighting in a movie): Miami, “The Irishman.” I want to go to there.

The Annual Then He Kissed Me Award (presented to the best use of pop music in a movie): “Out of Time” by The Rolling Stones in “Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood.” The greatest Quentin Tarantino needle drop, which is really saying something, I know, and which is why I don’t say it lightly, believe me. He repurposes The Stones’ stay-away-girl slice of baroque pop, improbably, to craft his own version of The Busy Sunday sequence in “Goodfellas”, elegiac rather than out of control, a dirge for the Sixties, and all that term entails, and for Hollywood too, one that might never have existed, which, epitomized in all those neon signs that spring to life as the song winds up, shines bright one last time.

The Annual Best of My Love Award (presented to the second best use of pop music in a movie): “Control” by Janet Jackson in “Hustlers.” It doesn’t just use the song; it lives the song out.

The Annual Scarlett O’Hara Curtain Dress Award (presented to the best article of clothing in a movie): Keira Knightley, Bootcut Jeans in “Official Secrets.” If the fashionistas are right and bootcut jeans are on their way back in, then you’ve got Keira to thank.

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