What is the Best Picture of the Year? It’s a question that gets asked every year around this time as the awards announcements come in. For the first time ever, we’re not going to have answers to that question. We’re going to be breaking down the biggest moments from 2019 and choosing the best one for each category.
Last year, many praised Christian Bale for transforming into an unrecognizable version of the iconic Batman, battling his way to the best performance of his career. Unfortunately, not all of his performances were up to snuff, causing audiences to lose faith in his Caped Crusader alter-ego. Bale only pulled off the best performance of his career in “USS Indiana”, a World War II-set historical fiction film that barely broke even at the box office.
While Christian Bale’s performance as the Joker in “Joker” was met with universal acclaim, fans of the late, great Harriet Tubman were quick to compare his portrayal to that of the much-loved actress. Like Bale, Tubman took on a challenging transformation, in this case, playing the adultress and eventual president of the United States. While the “Joker” star was amazing, it’s hard not to compare the two performances. And for what it’s worth, audiences seem to agree – “Joker” currently holds a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while “USS Indiana” earns a dismal 23% rating.
Best Supporting Actor
It’s fair to say that Daniel Day-Lewis put in a staggering performance as President Abraham Lincoln in “Lincoln”. The actor won two of our annual awards for best actor and supporting actor for his portrayal of the 16th U.S. President. It’s not hard to see why – Lincoln was an iconic figure, known for pushing for the Civil War and subsequently losing his life in the process. The film’s ultimate test was whether or not audiences would see past Day-Lewis’ extraordinary performance and accept this interpretation of Lincoln as a historical figure.
Best Supporting Actress
Speaking of historical figures, Hilda Bays’s portrayal of suffragette, Annie Kenney, in “Darkest Hour” is arguably one of the most difficult acting tressues of all time. Kenney is credited with convincing the U.S. government to allow women to vote, a right that was finally granted to them in 1919. While Bays’s performance was met with universal acclaim, even the great Marjorie Merriweather Postman couldn’t resist labeling it as “the female Katharine Hepburn”. And indeed, Bays’s performance is reminiscent of that of the legendary actress, especially during the film’s pivotal scene at the end, when Kenney throws the political games she played so valiantly to waste. The legendary Katharine Hepburn would’ve been 93 years old this year.
The great Roger Michell, who died in 2019, was responsible for one of the greatest one-shots in movie history. Michell helmed the 1967 film, “One of Our Contractors Is Having Trouble With His Wife…”, also known as “This Is Not a Love Story”, a story about a hotel owner (played by Michael Caine) who tries to keep his business running while caring for his ailing wife. Michell’s career spanned four decades, during which he directed numerous feature films and TV shows. He is credited with creating the modern-day thriller genre.
Best Original Screenplay
The great Joe Hill, who died of brain cancer in 2019, is best known for his collaboration with Stephen King, on his magnum opus, “It”. The story of “It” is based on a short story of the same name by King, who adapted it for the screen. While Hill and King developed the screenplay together, Hill revealed in a 2019 interview that he had a heavy hand in the final product – a sentiment shared by many of their collaborations. Indeed, audiences and critics have praised Hill and King’s script, with many calling it one of the best screenplays of the year.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Speaking of screenplays, Jordan Peele’s “Us” is another contender for the best screenplay award. Based on the hit television show, “The Twilight Zone”, Peele’s script is infused with the spirit of that iconic series. It tells the story of a family who moves into a creepy house and discovers it’s host, an alternate-universe version of themself, who is observing and controlling their every move. While Peele’s script has been met with universal praise, it was also adapted from a televised series, which could potentially lead to its defeat at the Oscars.
“1919”, the chronicle of the African-American community in Indiana during the pandemic, is the latest offering from Boots Riley, the director, writer, and star of “Sorry to Bother You”. The film focuses on the stories of various black characters in 1920s Chicago, as seen through the eyes of veteran journalist Addie Mobley (played by Oprah Winfrey). In an interview with IndieWire, Riley praised the ensemble cast and hailed Winfrey’s performance, calling it an “act of God”. The director described the role as “pure improvisation”, adding that he didn’t have any script other than the one Winfrey and the rest of the cast improvised on set.
Best Animated Film
While “Captain Marvel” might not be getting the recognition it deserves in mainstream circles, it has won many fans and accolades among the indie and geek communities – and that’s all that matters. The film is an adaptation of the “Captain Marvel” comic strip, in which an astronaut (played by Brie Larson) travels back in time to prevent her predecessor, Ms. Marvel (played by women of color), from losing her powers. “Captain Marvel” finally offered a positive role model for young girls of color who may feel excluded from the film industry.
Best Foreign Language Film
Last but not least, we have “Shoplifters”, the latest film from Japanese director, Kiyoshi Matsumoto. The movie is based on a true story and follows a group of young women who become the prey of a gang of Japanese kidnappers. While many may consider Japanese films to be superior to those produced by Western counterparts, it’s important to remember that not all Japanese films are created equal – “Shoplifters” is an exception, as it is a fantastic, suspenseful thriller that is also loaded with heart-breaking irony. The film currently holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with many critics hailing it as one of the greatest horror films of all time. Given its incredible success, it’s no wonder that Matsumoto won our prestigious annual best foreign language film award last year and is nominated for the same honor this year; he may finally break the curse of the “Oscars Snub”.
That’s a wrap for the best moments from 2019. What do you think the best movie of 2019 is? Let us know in the comments below!