|As always, her eminence Nicole Kidman is here to present Cinema Romantico’s annual awards of cinematic randomness.|
Best Line/Line Reading of the Year: “There’s always an air mass moving down from Canada.” - Adam Driver, “White Noise”
Best Line/Line Reading of the Year runner-up: “You didn’t tell me this was a polka party.” - David Bloom, “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”
Best Monologue of the Year: Nicole Kidman, “The Northman.” If the Viking warrior and one-time Prince Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) spends a good chunk of “The Northman” seeking to rescue his mother, Queen Gudrún (Kidman), from the uncle that killed his father, upon tracking her down, she disabuses him of his notions with extreme theatrical prejudice in the form of a monologue that begins with the camera backing up, like it’s frightened of her. And why wouldn’t it be given Kidman’s ferocious wracking, her concluding evil laughter epitomizing how the moment is at once horrifying and deliciously entertaining, a reminder that many of cinema’s finest moments are ones that make you laugh in spite of yourself.
Best Shot of the Year: “Nope.” You gotta hand it to Jordan Peele, making a movie that’s all about the very essence of the movie image, what’s in the frame and what’s out, and then rendering his most striking pair of frames as a simple shot-reverse shot. The pair of images comes after O.J. (Daniel Kaluuya) and his sister Emerald (Keke Palmer) have sussed out that an alien craft is hiding in a cloud above their California ranch, which is much less of a spoiler than it sounds. In the first one, O.J. just stands there in a medium shot, looking up, and though it’s kind of counterintuitive to say, a still does not do Kaluuya’s stillness in the moment justice, a living, breathing embodiment of the idea that on camera, less is more, electrifying in his lack of movement. And if his dumbfounded sort of smile speaks to the nature of discovering the alien craft, the reverse shot over O.J. and Emerald’s shoulders underlines that sense of discovery and how the movie camera is a vehicle for it.
The Annual Angels Live in My Town Award (presented to the best movie within a movie): Gunsmog in “The Fabelmans.” Reinforced my belief that the Kangaroo Court of Hollywood should draft a law that all filmmakers under the age of 25 are only allowed to make silent movies to really get a grasp of how to tell a story through images.
The Annual “Isn’t This a Lovely Day (To Be Caught in the Rain)” Award (presented to the best dance in a movie): Jon Hamm, “Confess, Fletch.” Hamm’s turn is the most insouciant of the year, epitomized in the sequence when he tries to disguise his gumshoe character’s sneaking into some affluent-only soiree by cutting a rug on the dance floor with a drink in one hand except his cutting a rug is barely that, half-committed, nay, one-fourth committed, the fake moustache and glasses of blending in by dancing.
The Annual “Paddington 2” Award (presented to the best end credits in a movie): “White Noise.” I’m paraphrasing myself, but if you can’t dance about architecture, as the idiom goes, maybe this sequence proves you can at least dance about death.
The Annual Tony Manero Award (presented to the best walk in a movie): Aaron Taylor-Johnson, “Bullet Train.” For all the lethal choreography in tight spaces, the single most thrilling moment of this action thriller is a dressed to the nines Taylor-Johnson just bopping down the aisle.
The Annual Madonna Award (presented to the best Madonna in a movie): Evan Rachel Wood, “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.” Like Derek Zoolander at the climactic moment of the Walk-Off, Wood is going for it.
The Annual Keira Knightley Green Dress Award (presented to the best costume in a movie): “Kimi,” Zoë Kravitz’s Hoodie. Give the Oscar for Best Costume Design to another period piece if you must, but our award for Best Costume Design goes to Ellen Mirojnick for honoring the Pandemic era’s preferred accessory in a movie willing to acknowledge the Pandemic exists.
The Annual “Nowhere Fast” Award (presented to the best musical performance within a movie): Louisiana Hayride Show, “Elvis.” Baz Luhrmann, his editors, his shrieking extras, and Austin Butler as that boy from Tupelo all achieve the impossible and bring Elvis freaking Presley back to life.
The Annual “Then He Kissed Me” Award (presented to the best use of pop music in a movie): “I Ain’t Worried” by OneRepublic in “Top Gun: Maverick.” As an aficionado of the original “Top Gun,” I was dubious the sequel’s soundtrack could compare. But not only did Gaga put the throttle down, OneRepublic impeccably embodied a day at the beach. It’s the whistling, I think, that really feels like some busker at Breakers Beach making up some bouncy tune on the fly, though I also like how the lyrics speak not only to the characters but cosmically to Tom Cruise himself; he may get old someday, he has to, but for right now, Tom ain’t worried. (Listen here.)
The Annual Merv-Griffin-Is-the-Elevator-Killer Award (presented to the best cameo in a movie): Rita Wilson, “Kimi.” Employing one of Hollywood’s Nicest as a phony corporate ally is just marvelously devious.
The Annual Ruffalo Award (presented to the best unnoticed performance in a movie): Scott Subiono, “To Leslie.” The most skin-crawling scene in a movie full of them is made that way with immense help from Subiono playing a character trying to politely extricate himself from a moment opposite Andrea Riseborough’s wild-eyed drunk that is always a half-second away from going off the rails. The way he says “Be well” and means it...it’s shattering. (Honorable Mention: Ayden Mayeri, “Confess, Fletch.”)
The Annual Penélope Cruz Award (presented to the best hair in a movie): Colin Farrell’s Eyebrows in “The Banshees of Inisherin.” The movie’s weathervanes.
The Oscar the Grouch Award (presented to the year’s best trash): Monica Bellucci, “Memory.” In playing an ostensibly compassionate philanthropist revealed as cruel and coldblooded, Bellucci forgoes trying to play it real to play it ridiculous instead, deliciously cutting right to the lurid ridiculousness of the ultra-rich in a way that taking the role seriously could never hope to achieve.
The Annual Buffalo Wild Wings® Award (presented to the best sports movie scene in a movie): “Top Gun: Maverick, Test Run.” All art is political, so frame it through a geopolitical context if you must, but when Maverick goes rogue to prove to his young pilot charges that an impossible test run can be achieved, it is more like American Gladiators. And the way editor Eddie Hamilton sprinkles in reaction shots of those young pilot charges listening along in the briefing room makes them feel like a bunch of
San Diego Los Angeles Chargers fans watching their team make a game-winning drive from inside a sports bar.
The Annual Mission: Impossible – Fallout Award (presented to the best foot chase in a movie): “Decision to Leave.” Unlike the award’s namesake, in which Tom Cruise runs through the streets and across the rooftops of London not quite at Usain Bolt speed but at least at Armin Hary speed* (*sprinter deep cut), the foot chase between a pair of detectives and a perp in Park Chan-wook’s neo-noir is pointedly uphill, leaving the men noticeably exhausted, including one of the detectives who winds up hilariously sprawled on an outdoor staircase, groaning in agony, essentially giving up. Running fast is hard!
The Annual French Connection Award (presented to the best car chase in a movie): “White Noise.” Like last year’s winner, this year’s essentially involved only one vehicle, a family station wagon, the Family Circus as “The French Connection,” the fanatical Popeye Doyle recast as an out of his depth father just trying to keep his family safe.
The Annual Clint Eastwood Squint Award (presented to the best gesture in a movie): TIE, Adam Driver, “White Noise” and Lee Hye-young in “In Front of Your Face.” In the above-mentioned car chase, there is a moment when Driver’s character is attempting to steer the family station wagon even as it floats down a river and Driver puts one hand in the air and shrugs in this impeccable wordless expression of “Fuck if I know.” The latter is probably my favorite movie of the year, built out of gestures as much as plot, like when Lee’s character, an actress having returned from America to her Seoul hometown for the first time in a long time, visits her childhood home, since turned into a boutique, and hugs the little girl of the owner, a sweet moment shading into melancholy and even low-key madness, trying to hold onto something that’s gone.
The Annual This Gun For Fire Award (presented to the best movie poster of the year): Given that she’s both our spiritual presenter and a recipient of two awards she spiritually presented to herself, discerning readers might suspect Cinema Romantico’s awards of being rigged. And while we cannot rightly say we would not not stoop to rigging our awards for Nicole Kidman, we can also say with 100% forthrightness that even if we wanted to, in both cases, Ms. Kidman was the truth. And you can’t close your eyes to the truth. And if you look into her eyes on that poster, boy howdy, you’ll see the truth too.