Ten Film Awards That Aren’t Given, But Should Be, 2023 Edition | Sarah Boslaugh

Best Satire of a High School Movie. Bottoms, directed by Emma Seligman, which is funny, insightful, and very weird. The main premise is that, in the hopes of nailing their heart’s desires, two lesbian students form a fight club under the guise of female empowerment. And it all takes place in a high school in which the football team is always in full uniform, students blow up each other’s cars, and a rival school performs kidnappings to improve their odds of winning the big game.

Best Use of the Academy Ratio. Monica, directed by Andrea Pallaoro, who uses the now-nonstandard 4:3 frame, along with extreme closeups, odd camera angles, and abrupt cuts to communicate the claustrophobia, unease and disorientation felt by Monica (Trace Lysette), a trans woman returning home to take care of her mother.

Biggest Waste of An Amazing Cast: The Miracle Club, directed by Thaddeus O’Sullivan, which forces Maggie Smith, Laura Linney, Kathy Bates, Agnes O’Casey and Stephen Rea into predictable, cartoonish roles and ridiculous conflicts that could have been solved in a minute if anyone acted with an ounce of common sense. 

Fictional Premise Most Ripped from the Headlines. The Royal Hotel, directed by Kitty Green, which is based on a documentary about the misogyny experienced by the female staff at the Hotel Coolgardie in South Australia. 

Film Most Made to Look Shabby on Purpose. Blackberry, directed by Matt Johnson, is full of pasty skin tones, bad lighting, odd framing, and clumsy handheld shots—apparently with the goal of looking retro and amateurish, despite being shot on an Arri Alexa Mini (also used for, among others, Shoplifters, Paterson, A Star is Born, and Booksmart).

Film in Which the Lead Actors Are Less Attractive Than the People They Are Playing. Maestro, directed by Bradley Cooper. It’s not just Cooper’s prosthetic nose, although that’s almost bad enough to deserve its own category. Check out the side-by-sides of the real and fictional Lenny, Shirley, and Felicia at this website if you don’t believe me.

Greatest Squandering of a Promising Premise. Freud’s Last Session, directed by Matthew Brown, which imagines a meeting between C.S. Lewis (Matthew Goode) and Sigmund Freud (Anthony Hopkins) in which they debate religion and other charged matters, and yet manages to be profoundly boring. 

Dialogue Best Expressing the Hudson River Divide. Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, directed by Kelly Fremon Craig. As the film begins, 11-year-old Margaret (Abby Ryder Forston), a true child of New York City, has just arrived home from summer camp, only to be greeted by her parents exclaiming “We got a car!” shortly followed by “We moved to New Jersey!”

Most Comic-Booky Comic Book Movie. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson. The creative team makes full use of the possibilities of animation to mix up artistic styles, so Ben-Day dots rub shoulders with references to the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Jeff Koons.

Most Play-Like Film Not Based on a Play. Sanctuary, directed by Zachary Wigon. Almost all the action takes places in a single hotel room, part of a chain owned by Hal (Christopher Abbott), and in which he engages in role play with his dominatrix (Margaret Qualley).

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