Thomas Vinterberg: Another Round
David Fincher: Mank
Lee Isaac Chung: Minari
Chloe Zhao: Nomadland (winner)
Emerald Fennell: Promising Young Woman
As I’ve said before, I see Best Picture as the best movie of the year and Best Director as the best storytelling. Those aren’t the same thing, and there’s a lot of room here for some improvement in our nominations. Right off the time, I’m mildly surprised at the misses for Aaron Sorkin for The Trial of the Chicago 7 and especially Shaka King for Judas and the Black Messiah. Horror never gets respect, but Leigh Wannell deserves a lot of praise for The Invisible Man. I also like Il Cho’s direction of #Alive more than I liked the movie. I’m going to stump for Eliza Hittmann and Never Rarely Sometimes Always, well, somewhere between sometimes and always. The really big miss for me, though, was the intentionally disconcerting and detached style of The Father employed by Florian Zeller.
Weeding through the Nominees
4. I like that Osar has started to branch out from the traditional group of five white guys when it comes to director. This year was notable in that respect—only two white guys, one of whom is not a director of English-language movies. All of that said, I’m not entirely sure I would stand by the nomination of Lee Isaac Chung for Minari. Some of this might be the fact that I don’t like this movie as much as I think I’m supposed to like it. Part of it is that when I think about it, I’m not convinced that there’s a lot exceptional when it comes to the actual direction.
3. It is, of course, significant that Chloe Zhao won Best Director—the first Asian woman and only the second woman in history to win. I applaud that, but she wouldn’t be my choice. That said, this is the first of the five nominees I don’t think I would want to replace. Zhao did some excellent work here, and I would like to see her having more opportunities to do more projects that she wants to do. The Eternals seems like a setback for her. I suppose we’ll see moving forward, but I think she has an important voice in the industry.
2. I did not know what to expect going into Another Round aside from the fact that I like Mads Mikkelsen. This is top-tier storytelling, though, aided by a tremendous cast at the top of their game. I love the way this story builds and the way that the characters feel very natural and organic, as if they are real people. Much of that comes from Vinterberg, who always knows where his camera should be. That’s especially true in the joyous and frenetic conclusion, one of the best film endings I’ve seen in probably two years.
1. My winner, though, is going to match my winner for Best Picture. I’m giving this to Promising Young Woman and Emerald Fennell. There is genius in the way this story unfolds and in the way the characters unfold in front of us. What seems like a stretch, if you know the ending at the start of the film, unfolds beautifully and naturally as the story plays out in front of us. Fennell also got a career performance from Carey Mulligan, which is saying a lot. Getting this work from Bo Burnham is just another piece of genius. I love that Fennell was nominated and she would have gotten my vote.