Welcome to the second annual Batsies! Following on from the yearly tradition (established just last year, sure) behold my own take on everyone’s yearly movie awards. But first lets cover the boring stuff:
Top 10 Favourite Films of 2017
The Shape of Water
The Big Sick
Blade Runner 2049
Batman and Bill
Now lets get onto the real awards. Based around a certain television series and spin-off, each category looks to highlight a different facet of films in 2017, be it positive, negative or just peculiar. Usual disclaimer, there are still plenty of films I did not get around to seeing in 2017 and so this list is obviously limited to what I did see. But without further ado, lets dive into the second annual Batsies!
Meaning: The winner of Catwalk simply loves to flaunt their stuff. Basically the most beautiful film of the year and knows it.
And the Winner is: Coco. If you can’t see why based on the above wallpaper Coco deserves to win, let me spell it out for you: Coco is freaking beautiful. From the astonishing level of animation fidelity to the draw-dropping attention to detail in the Land of the Dead to even just the flowers, Coco is a feast for the eyes as well as the heart. This is the second time in a row an animated film has taken this prize… I’m sensing a trend forming.
Meaning: After a crushing career low, or even just a slight misstep, the winner of Second Chance has proven that they can come back, better than ever and prove that they’ve still got what it takes.
And the Winner is: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. After an absolutely incredible debut in In Bruges, Martin McDonagh followed that up with a little bit of a misstep in Seven Psychopaths. Not quite a career low, but if Three Billboards prove anything its that McDonagh can do better… and did do better. Three Billboards isn’t a perfect movie, but its still a sharply written and directed one, and its success at least proves that McDonagh will be keeping up the quality as things go forward.
Meaning: For many directors, they don’t enter into the public eye until that one big film that gets everyone talking and finally interested in their filmography. Really should be called Post-Underdwellers, but this winner is that person who piqued my interest strong enough to consider their previous works.
And the Winner is: Jordan Peele for Get Out. While I was somewhat aware of Peele due to his comedy work, being in Australia he never quite hit the big time the way he’s taken over the US. That made the fact his directorial debut was not only the biggest success of the year, but also one of my favourite films of the year a huge surprise. Sadly his previous work doesn’t boast much in the vein of Get Out but it has at the very least made me stand up and take notice of everything he’s going to do from this year onward.
Fear of Victory
Meaning: The winner of Fear of Victory is that one film that tried so damn hard to be awesome, but unfortunately had to stumble at the last hurdle. Not a disaster, but far from what it should be.
And the Winner is: The Greatest Showman. Everyone in Showman is firing on all cylinders. The performances are great, the choreography is exquisite and the songs are frustratingly catchy. Its just a shame all that effort is going into a shallow, vapid story that tries to sanitise history into a fluff piece of the lowest proportions. The highest of highs and lowest of lows all add up to it being… just OK. And that’s not OK.
Meaning: A director who has ascended is one that has elevated themselves from being either good or great to something else entirely. That director who you may have enjoyed their earlier films, but the latest was finally the one that blew you away.
And the Winner is: James Mangold for Logan. Based on Mangold’s previous work in the X-Men universe (The Wolverine), Logan is transcendent. A stellar farewell to the franchise for Jackman, Mangold really took his craft to another level in putting together this final goodbye. And if anything, its made me forget all about that CGI Samurai Robot from the last film.
Meaning: Disappearing Inque is to honour that one bloody amazing movie each year that nobody saw. Honestly I could give this a whole list on its own, but there’s always one each year that you wished would’ve had the legs at the cinema it deserved.
And the Winner is: Detroit. Its strange to think that a modern Kathryn Bigelow film is underseen, particularly after how monstrously successful her previous works The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty were. But Detroit came and went faster than you can play the race card. Tense and compelling with career peak performances from John Boyega and Will Poulter, Detroit stands almost toe to toe with her previous works and yet none of the same accolades came her way.
Meaning: The Lost Soul award is dedicated to the ones who lost their way in 2016. Whether that be through bad decisions, iffy performances or bad directing gigs, this is to commemorate and support the one person who really needs to lift their game going into 2017.
And the Winner is: Bruce Tim for Batman and Harley Quinn. The more I think about this film, the more I hate it. And the more I think about how Bruce Timm, the mind behind the show these awards are based on, was the one responsible for this the worse it becomes. Boasting a bad musical number, horrendous fart jokes and a Harley Quinn performance the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard, Batman and Harley Quinn slumps in its seat as the worst DC animated film to date.
Meaning: That one guy who’s streak has just continued into the stratosphere with no sign of stopping. No problems, no stumbles, the winner of the Untouchable award has never broken their streak and this year was no different.
And the Winner is: Denis Villeneuve for Blade Runner 2049. Boasting a streak that would make even Spielberg jealous, Villeneuve went from one of my favourite films of all time with last year’s Arrival to a sequel to a classic sci-fi masterclass that’s arguably better than the original.
Ace in the hole
Meaning: Ace in the hole exists to support the often overlooked part of movie making. The one critical element that can make or break a film, but also the aspect that so few people consider: the score. The winner of Ace is the movie that delivered the most emotional, imaginative or catchiest score of the year.
And the Winner is: Coco.
To a melody played on the strings of our souls
To the rhythm that rattled us down to the bone
Our love for each other will live on forever
In every beat of my Proud Corazon.
Meaning: Ah, the blockbuster. The backbone of Hollywood movie-making, these movies have big budgets and big prospects to absorb their audience into a different fantastical world, and take them on an adventure. The winner of Joyride is a big-budget movie that I had the most fun in all year. Didn’t need to think, didn’t need to study the cinematography – all I needed to do was let go and be taken on a ride.
And the Winner is: The Lego Batman Movie. Essentially crack cocaine for Batfans, if I could I would inject all the in-jokes, cameos and glorious glorious puns directly into my bloodstream. Everything is awesome indeed.
What is reality?
Meaning: In honour of one of my personal favourite subgenres, the Puzzle film, What is reality? seeks to recognise the single biggest mind-screw of the year. Whether it be from an amazing twist, fascinating concepts or purely through a film’s structure, What is reality? is presented to that one special movie that blows my hair back and makes me pull out a Matrix ‘woah’.
And the Winner is: Blade Runner 2049. Thoughtful, poetic and psychedelic sci-fi to a fault, 2049 eclipses the original in sheer quantity of fascinating sci-fi concepts wrapped in an astonishingly beautiful package.
Meaning: Mad Love is dedicated for that one movie that I seemed to fall in love with that no-one else did. Due to the extremely subjective nature of film critique, these come along occasionally, but Mad Love is especially for that film that sucked me into a trance, had me hooked on every word, and had all my friends just going ‘meh’.
And the Winner is: Wonderstruck. Just as underseen as it is underrated, Todd Haynes nostalgic love letter was one of my biggest takeaways from the Melbourne International Film Festivals and stuck with me through the rest of the year and beyond. I would put it on par with the Lady Birds and Call Me By Your Names of the world, while everyone else just forgot about it and moved on.
Meaning: That person who showed up, did something solid, and made me realise ‘hey, they still exist’. Maybe they had gone away for a while, or I simply hadn’t encountered them again until this year, but The Forgotten is dedicated to those who managed to creep back into my thoughts after time away from the spotlight.
And the Winner is: Michael Stuhlbarg for The Shape of Water, Call Me By Your Name and The Post. Talk about working around. Not since John C. Reilly 15 years ago has someone appeared in three separate Oscar nominated films – and he’s great in all of them. Turns out I’d seen Stuhlbarg in a multitude of roles before but it wasn’t till he began to appear everywhere that I finally took notice. From a condescending board member to a Russia spy to a little bit of a supportive dad in the middle, Stuhlbarg’s done it all this yeah and made me think ‘hey, that’s Joaquin Phoenix’ on three separate occasions.
I am the night
Meaning: Its pretty simple. What was the best Batman movie of this year? There are often more to choose from than people may think.
And the Winner is: Batman and Bill. Surprise! Its not Lego Batman. As great as that film is, Batman and Bill was a documentary that really hit me in the guts. Loving Batman for as long as I have and then suddenly discovering everything I knew about his creation was a lie was quite a shock. And on top of that, this is a steady, emotional look at a man who never got the credit he deserved, but is now finally getting his long overdue chance in the spotlight.
Night of the Ninja
Meaning: The slickest, slyest, coolest film of the year. Extra points for actual ninjas.
And the Winner is: John Wick: Chapter 2. No actual ninjas but it does have the second best thing: violence. And lots of it. Chapter 2 doesn’t quite reach the first one in sheer impact, but it still boasts some of the best and slickest choreographed action of the year, all tied together with one of the most entertaining action leads in history – Keanu ‘FBI AGENT’ Reaves.
Heart of Ice
Meaning: Heart of Ice refers to the film that I definitely did not bawl my eyes in. Not at all. Nope.
And the Winner is: Coco. Not only did I burst my tearducts twice watching this both the first AND second time, I weep every second time I listen to the soundtrack. In classic Pixar fashion, Coco knows exactly what buttons to push to make me bawl like a baby and I absolutely love it for it.
Be a Clown
Meaning: The funniest film of the year. Ha. Ha. Ha…
And the Winner is: The Big Sick. I just had to find a way to send some love The Big Sick’s way. And while it isn’t a straight comedy like would typically earn this honour, it has just enough standout laughs to make it humorously memorable on top of being simply a standout film.
Almost got ‘im
Meaning: Almost got ‘im is for that movie that was almost my favourite film of this year. May have held the mantle for a period of time, only to be snubbed out at the last minute, Almost Got ‘im still commemorates an amazing movie, but one that was so close to being my favourite.
And the Winner is: The Shape of Water. While it never actually held my top spot, it got damn close when I saw it for the first time. A sweeping romantic tale filled with all the magic, nuance and charm you would expect from a Del Toro passion project, seeing The Shape of Water on the big screen for the first time rivalled Pans Labyrinth in sheer emotional weight. It may not be universally lauded now, but I won’t be the least bit surprised if history looks back on this Oscar winner favourably.
The Winning Edge
Meaning: Simply put, my #1 favourite film of this year. Not much else to it.
And the Winner is: Dunkirk. Big surprise I know. For more details feel free to check out my review, but simply put I believe Dunkirk to be a technical masterpiece of the highest calibre and will likely go down in history as one of the great war films. The most powerful cinematic experience of my life brought to the big screen by my favourite director of all time – could it truly be anything else?
And that’s the second annual Batsie awards! 2017 was a great year for films and I’m sure there’s plenty of beloved future-classics that I haven’t mentioned here so feel free to throw them in the comments. For a more extensive list of my favourites, my Letterboxd list can be found here, but if not let’s just hope for another great year of film.