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The Films of 2017. The 18th annual FiLM BiTCH Awards

PICTURE | ACTING | VISUALS | AURALS | EXTRAS | SPECIAL | SCENES 

 

Best Actress
discuss
Rebecca Hall
"Elizabeth Marston"
PROFESSOR MARSTON AND...
Sally Hawkins
"Eliza Esposito"
THE SHAPE OF WATER
Frances McDormand
"Mildred"
THREE BILLBOARDS...
Saoirse Ronan
"'Lady Bird' McPherson"
LADY BIRD
Emma Stone
"Billie Jean King"
BATTLE OF THE SEXES
This undersung actress maps the dissonance between this wive’s intellectual confidence and sexual conservatism when a third party enters the marriage. She makes the situation relateable and unsettling, as if rediscovering herself. In service of a character, Hall proves that the brain is an errogenous zone.
No voice? No problem! Hawkins is just as expressive without dialogue. Though the film opens with her lonely cleaning woman masturbating, Hawkins keeps something innately private about Eliza’s feelings. It’s there to see, though, in those puzzlingly small smiles or the unexpected spine.
  Her stone-faced solemnity is put to expert use here, especially when it cracks as in her big scene with Woody. One senses, even before the flashback, that Mildred’s ferocity and contempt for others was there even before the murder. The crime was the kindling or even the excuse for Mildred’s wildfire.


 Saoirse keeps getting better, making the construction of this instantly classic character look effortless. But there’s a lot going on as she tracks multiple relationship arcs, inner restlessness, and outer (ill-advised?) confidence. All of that with a perfect American accent, top notch comic instincts and performative joy. 

 A famous actor transforms into a wholly different person and awards bodies… shrug instead of showering the actor with statues? Weird! But Stone the star submerges herself in Billie Jean King, from her hunched shoulders, to athlete’s walk, down to the way she expresses joy. Bonus points for the glorious sense of discovery in that haircut scene.

 

Finalists: Kate Winslet goes theatrical for Wonder Wheel and its the right heightened pitch, Meryl Streep anchors The Post and gives it climactic intimacy with one of her greatest scenes in years.

Semi-Finalists: Florence Pugh in Lady Macbeth, Tryne Dyrholm in The Commune, Daniela Vega in A Fantasic Woman, Jessica Chastain in Molly's Game, and Judi Dench in Victoria and Abdul

 

Best Actor
discuss
Claes Bang
"Christian"
THE SQUARE
Jamie Bell
"Peter Turner"
FILM STARS DON'T DIE...
Timothée Chalamet
"Elio"
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
Jake Gyllenhaal
"Jeff Bauman"
STRONGER
Daniel Kaluuya
"Chris Jackson"
GET OUT
This Danish actor gives a remarkably nimble performance as a gallery director in this Swedish satire of our fragile social constructs and the pretentious art world. On the outside he’s a sophisticate at ease but internally he’s imploding or unravelling from a bizarre series of events and the chaos they prompt.
 In one of the most unexpected developments of the film year, the Gloria Grahame biopic turned out to be less of a Grahame biopic and more of a character study of her younger lover just before she dies. Bell rises to this rare opportunity with deep reserves of feeling, conflicted pride, and tearjerking romantic ardor.  As young infatuated Elio, the actor conjures up that hormonally charged teenage confusion but tempers it with unusual sophistication (the child of academics). It's probably easy to pretend to love Armie Hammer but that perfect sustained closeup of heartbreak and inbetween years is a revelatory achievement.

  Men aren’t socialized to show vulnerability. Great acting requires it and Gyllenhaal is a great actor. He’s remarkably open-hearted and tender as this earnest regular guy whose life and enthusiasm for it is pulled out from under him when he loses his legs. His push and pull chemistry with Maslany is a gorgeous thing.

Everyman heroes can be dull but Kaluuya has interiorized every bit of the script: the photographer’s eye, the slight paranoia, his guilt and passivity in stressful situations, his feelings for Rose. Kaluuya stirs it up in his own hypnotic teacup in this wary, funny, nuanced performance.

 

Finalists: Denzel Washington as the titular Roman J Israel Esq, Nahuel Perez Biscayart as "Sean" in BPM, and Harris Dickinson as "Frankie" in Beach Rats

Semi Finalists: James McAvoy Split, Hugh Jackman Logan, Jeremy Renner Wind River, and Daniel Day Lewis Phantom Thread

*and for the record I think Gary Oldman is great fun in Darkest Hour but he just misses this top 12

 

 

Best Supporting Actress
discuss
Hong Chau
"Ngoc Lan Tran"
DOWNSIZING
Tiffany Haddish
"Dina"
GIRLS TRIP
Holly Hunter
"Beth"
THE BIG SICK
Laurie Metcalf
"Marion McPherson"
LADY BIRD
Michelle Pfeiffer
(Woman)
MOTHER!
An immediately controversial role due to its broken English comedy. The concerns fall away under Chau’s beautifully wrought turn, which fully humanizes this Vietnamese activist. She was shrunk against her will (long story) and is doing the best she can — and then some as a good samaritan —in this brave new miniature world. Bonus points: that Norway monologue!

 What is it about quartets of women onscreen that they so often follow the Golden Girls formula of “types”. Dinah is the Blanche/Samantha of this round. She embraces the vulgarity and show-pony aspects of the ‘type’ but makes the role entirely fresh. She layers in endearing insecurity and impish mischief, too. Bonus points: “It’s a bootyhole!”

Hunter’s idiosyncratic comedy and incisive acting make her Beth an elevating force in the movie. When she arrives you’re instantly yanked from the limited POV of the protagonist (telling his own story) into a more complicated, thorny, heartbreaking, multidimensional situation. Bonus points: that moment when she strokes Kumail’s face. Gahhh, my heart!

 Metcalf makes Marion’s tense demeanor and harsh tongue something of a self imposed tragedy. She has enormous amounts of love to give and it's killing her to keep withholding. Though one gets the feeling Marion wouldn’t like to be thought of as “funny” she unleashes some zingers in Lady Bird, the comedy emerging offhandedly from the drama.

  Magic from that banal cheerful “hello”. It only gets better from there as she shape-shifts upon entering the home. Immediately casting niceties aside, she circles Lawrence like some bored vampire eyeing particularly bloodless prey. The taunting carnality, the weirdly forceful instant contempt, the lemonade-shaking. This star turn is perverse bliss

 

Finalists: A rich year for supporting actresses. These two I would have liked to have nominated as well -- Lesley Manville's dry ice and even drier affection in Phantom Thread and Betty Gabriel who aces her big two-psyches at war scene in Get Out and moves around the edges of the movie so memorably otherwise.

Semi-Finalists: Allison Janney I Tonya, Beanie Feldstein Lady Bird, Elisabeth Olsen Ingrid Goes West, Nicole Kidman Killing of a Sacred Deer and Catherine Keener in Get Out.

 

Best Supporting Actor
discuss
Gil Birmingham
"Martin"
WIND RIVER
Willem Dafoe
"Bobby"
THE FLORIDA PROJECT
O'Shea Jackson Jr
"Dan Pinto"
INGRID GOES WEST
Tracy Letts
"Larry McPherson"
LADY BIRD
Michael Stuhlbarg
"Mr Perlman"
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
Too many murder mysteries dehumanize the victim but this reliable character actor gifts Wind River with deep roots, amping up a sense of authentic loss. He’s totally affecting, especially at film’s end, when he’s settling into the dull forever ache of losing a child as opposed to its initial shock.

 Given the rare opportunity to play a good guy, he infuses it with tremendous warmth. Was he storing it up for years as a screen villain? In this well modulated performance we get hints of who he is at home and an innate understanding of previous life lessons learned: he’s innately kind and patient but he’s no pushover.

Naturalistic spontaneous feeling comedy can’t be easy to pull off, especially in the heightened context of social satire. Jackson's Batman-loving too-trusting nerd tempers the film’s demoralizing message with goofy charm and forgiving soul. He embodies, in performance, the film’s messaging: authentic humble life > false aspirational one.

 The intense mother-daughter war at the heart of Lady Bird wouldn’t be half as impactful or tender without the contextual shading of his gloriously calm good guy sidebar. Letts tells you exactly what kind of father and husband is, for better (always there for you) and worse (too passive?). Bonus points: “Dori-tos”

 Stuhlbarg has never been better than right here as an arts academic who summers in Italy and seems unflappable. His soft deployment of voice, homebody stillness, and melancholy delivery combine to make his late monologue about romantic loss the emotional climax of a relationship that isn’t even his own. But maybe once was.
 

Finalists: Woody Harrelson keeps threatening to fully humanize Three Billboards (and pays the price for it) and Angus MacFayden does terrific disruption of the central quest in Lost City of Z

Semi Finalists: Steve Zahn War for the Planet of the Apes,  Barry Keoghan Killing of a Sacred Deer, Sam Rockwell Three Billboards, Ray Romano The Big Sick, and Lucas Hedges Lady Bird

 

PICTURE | ACTING | VISUALS | AURALS | EXTRAS | SPECIAL | SCENES