2019 Leaman Awards - The Part-Time Critic

Sunday, June 7, 2020

2019 Leaman Awards

*Last Updated 6/23/2022

In favor of waiting until I've seen absolutely everything (a bottomless task), I've decided to take a "running list" mentality to the awards. I've got many projects and only so much time so I've just decided to post the awards once I hit a critical mass, mention what I haven't seen and then update them as I (re)watch more 2019 films over time. You can see the last time I've updated it at the top. To help get the projects done, commentary might be light as well - mostly graphics and winners. Enjoy!

2019 Films Seen: 94
Number of Films with A or A+ Grade: 2
Key Films Still to See: The Kingmaker

Brief Summary: 2019 was a return to form for me - the best and deepest year in film since 2016 - helping to rekindle my desire to continue investing free time in this hobby.

Not a "best of" list or a "favorite" list - but a list of the films and sequences (action, drama, comedy, & musical) that I think represent the best the year had to offer. So think of it as a strange mixture of favorite, best, and defining. Once you get to the top ten films, it definitely becomes more defined as a Top Ten list of the year. The number one film is my favorite of the year. 

Honorable Mentions: 
Cold Pursuit, The King, Spider-Man: Far From Home, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

25. Ford v Ferrari (B)
24. The Secret Life of Pets 2 (B)
23. Terminator: Dark Fate (B)
22. Harriet (B)
21. Ad Astra (B)
20. Fighting with My Family (B)
19. The Irishman (B+)
18. Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood (B+)
17. Uncut Gems (B+)
16. Toy Story 4 (B+)
15. Bombshell (B+)
14. The Highwaymen (B+)
13. Jojo Rabbit (B+)
12. Parasite (B+)
11. Hotel Mumbai (B+)

THE TOP TEN
10. American Factory (B+) 
9. Honeyland (B+)
8. Richard Jewell (B+) 
7. One Child Nation (B+)
6. Marriage Story (A-)
5. Just Mercy (A-)
4. The Peanut Butter Falcon (A-) 
3. Avengers: Endgame (A-)
2. 1917 (A)

1. The Farewell (A)
Commentary:  It's a beautiful, thematically rich, and and emotionally engaging family drama. I loved the understated/patient storytelling, the thoughtful camera compositions, and the insight to the age old unity/diversity question.


FAVORITE ACTION SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
The Very Good:
  • "Car Factory Fight to Highway Havoc" -Terminator: Dark Fate
  • "Casablanca Shootout...Plus Dogs" -John Wick 3: Parabellum
  • "Finale: Showdown in Four Parts" -Triple Threat
  • "Finale Fight: Max Zhang vs. Dave Bautista" -Mazter Z: The Ip Man Legacy
  • "Finale: Exposing Mysterio in London" -Spider-Man: Far From Home
  • "Finale: From the Skies to the Damn" -Terminator: Dark Fate
  • "Illusion Overwhelm: Mysterio vs. Spider-Man" -Spider-Man: Far From Home
  • "Melee: Group Fights & Zhang vs.  Yeoh" -Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy
  • "Police Station Assault: Gun Fights & Fist Fights" -Triple Threat
  • "Train Finale: Aliens vs. Mutants Ends with a Phoenix" -X-Men: Dark Phoenix 
The Great:
  • "The Battle of Agincourt" -The King
  • "The Battle of Midway: Dive Bombers vs. Carriers" -Midway
  • "Gun and Knife Shop Fight" -John Wick 3: Parabellum
  • "Finale: Two Shootouts and Two Levels of Fights" -John Wick 3: Parabellum 
The Best: "Finale: The Avengers vs. Thanos" -Avengers: Endgame 
Commentary: Similar to Infinity Way, the finale here comprises nearly the last hour of the film. The time heist was successful and Smart Hulk has just snapped the infinity gauntlet to bring back everyone who was lost in Thanos' snap. As the group wonders if it worked, missiles from a time jumping Thanos hit the Avengers compound and destroys nearly everything. There are two clear goals for finale - the Avengers must get the stones back to the timeline they came from and in order to do that they must band together and defeat Thanos and his army (who obviously want the stones themselves). This phase of the finale follows Hawkeye trying to keep the gauntlet away from Thanos's minions and the time traveling "evil" Gamora. However, it is primarily centered on Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man fighting against Thanos three versus one. We all wanted to see this and the fight doesn't fail to deliver. This younger Thanos has an intimidating double blade the the ensuing fight is a visual and action delight. There's some creative moves the stunt coordinators incorporate here but the biggest delight belongs to the writers who give us the moment everyone has wondered about - can Captain America pick up Thor's hammer? It's a great moment. The three try valiantly, but are felled by a incredibly formidable Thanos, with only Rogers left with enough energy to keep going on after his shield as been hacked away. Rogers re-tightens his shield, Thano's army builds, and Cap gives the look that says he is ready to die fighting when we hear a crackle in his ear, "Cap, it's Sam can you hear me?...On your left" My theater went in an uproar at this moment. Portal after portal begins to open up as the music swells and the side for the Avengers gets bigger and bigger with every possible superhero joining their forces. It all crescendos with Captain America giving his command for the first time, "Avengers!..Assemble!" and the two sides rush into battle. Incredible moment - perfect writing. This second phase of the fight is just epic fantasy warfare heaven guys. The creatives are at the height of their powers here, every frame is engaging, dynamic, and packed with details and characters you recognize and love. This initial rush of battle is filled with fan pleasing pops: Big Ant Man crushing everything, Iron Man and Pepper fighting back to back, Spider-Man returning, you name it. After that rush, we get to narrative - the need to keep the stones away from Thanos and into Scott's van (it's a possible second time machine). The sequence becomes one big hot potato who's who after this trying to keep the Stones safe: Hawkeye, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Pepper, Valkyrie and more. Eventually, after Scarlet Witch is kicking Thanos' butt, he calls for missiles to be fired on the battle field. It's clever and results in the big guns for the Avengers like Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange getting used up to hold off other threats like rushing water onto the battlefield. Eventually, Captain Marvel arrives and destroys Thanos' ship and becomes the biggest challenge to him. The "end game" of the sequence is a beautiful dramatic beat where Doctor Strange motions to Tony with 1 finger in the air - calling back his argument that there is only one possible scenario where they win. Tony realizes it requires him to actually die. Tony takes the stones from Thanos and snaps the end of the fight - which turns out to be the end of his life. Both sequences are great and filled with quality stuff, but I favor this sequence over the sheer creativity and shock ending of Infinity War's finale due to the unparalleled single pop of emotion and adrenaline in the Avengers Assemble moment and the emotional climax of Strange/Iron Man/Thanos. Those two emotional highs - one joyous, one grieving - set this sequence apart for me.


FAVORITE DRAMATIC SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
The Very Good:
  • “Running to Stop a Charge” -1917
  • "Let Me Go” -Ad Astra 
  • “One Minute of Silence Together” -A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood 
  • "The Billiard Room” -Escape Room
  • "Saying Goodbye to Nai Nai” -The Farewell 
  • “Saying goodbye to Mom” -Happy Death Day 2U 
  • “Retelling the Candelaria ‘Hands Up’ Story” -The Highwaymen 
  • “F-Off Hitler” -Jojo Rabbit 
  • “Mayer with Judy on the set of Wizard of Oz” -Judy 
  • “Herb is Executed to ‘The Old Rugged Cross’” -Just Mercy 
  • “You’ve been Served” -Marriage Story 
  • “Being Alive” -Marriage Story 
  • “A Former Mid-Wife Recounts her Past Sins & Deeds to Make Up” -One Child Nation 
  • "A Drunken Night Births the Peanut Butter Falcon” -The Peanut Butter Falcon 
  • “Final Interview with the FBI” -Richard Jewell
  • "Raiding Lorea’s Safe House” -Triple Frontier 
The Great:
  • “On Your Left – the Avengers Assemble” -Avengers: Endgame
  • “Argument without the Lawyers” -Marriage Story
  • “Surprising Payoff on the Big Final Bet” -Uncut Gems 
The Best: “Everything is Gone Speech” -The Farewell 
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE COMEDIC SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
Not a category I kept good track of - One of the toughest TBH
The Very Good:
  • n/a 
The Great:
  • n/a
The Best: n/a


FAVORITE MUSICAL SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
The Very Good:
  • “Born to Run in the School” -Blinded by the Light 
  • “Karaoke: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” -Isn’t It Romantic 
The Great:
  • n/a 
The Best: “Arriving Upon a Song” -1917 
Commentary: n/a
BEST DIRECTOR
Nominees: 
  • Noah Baumback Marriage Story
  • Sam Mendes 1917
  • Anthony & Joe Russo Avengers: Endgame
  • LuLu Wang The Farewell
  • Tyler Wilson & Michael Schwartz The Peanut Butter Falcon

FAVORITE FILM ENSEMBLE
Nominees: 
  • The Irishman
  • Marriage Story
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Parasite
  • The Two Popes

FAVORITE MALE PERFORMANCES
Nominees: 
  • Robert Downey Jr. Avengers: Endgame
  • Adam Driver Marriage Story
  • Woody Harrelson The Highwaymen
  • Paul Walter Hauser Richard Jewell
  • Joe Pesci The Irishman
  • Brad Pitt Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Joaquin Phoenix Joker
  • Jonathan Pryce The Two Popes
  • Adam Sandler Uncut Gems
  • Kang-Ho Song Parasite

FAVORITE FEMALE PERFORMANCES
Nominees:
  • Awkwafina The Farewell
  • Laura Dern Marriage Story
  • Cynthia Erivo Harriet
  • Julia Fox Uncut Gems
  • Yeo-jeong Jo Parasite
  • Scarlett Johansson Jojo Rabbit
  • Scarlett Johansson Marriage Story
  • Charlize Theron Bombshell
  • Renee Zellweger Judy
  • Shuzhen Zhao The Farewell

FAVORITE SCREENPLAY
(original or adapted)
Nominees: 
  • 1917
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • The Farewell
  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Just Mercy
  • Marriage Story
  • The Peanut Butter Falcon
  • Richard Jewell
  • Uncut Gems

FAVORITE DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Nominees: 
  • American Factory
  • Honeyland
  • One Child Nation

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Nominees: 
  • Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
  • The Secret Life of Pets 2
  • Toy Story 4

BEST FILM EDITING
Nominees: 
  • The Farewell
  • Marriage Story
  • Parasite
  • The Peanut Butter Falcon
  • Uncut Gems

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Nominees: 
  • 1917
  • The Farewell
  • Joker
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 
  • Uncut Gem

BEST ART DIRECTION
Nominees: 
  • 1917
  • The Highwaymen
  • The Irishman
  • The King 
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Nominees: 
  • 1917
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • The Irishman
  • The Lion King
  • Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Nominees: 
  • The Farewell
  • The Highwaymen
  • Joker
  • Marriage Story
  • Uncut Gems

BEST SOUND DESIGN
Nominees: 
  • 1917
  • Ad Astra
  • Avengers: End Game
  • Ford v Ferrari
  • Uncut Gems

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Nominees: 
  • A Hidden Life
  • The Irishman
  • The King
  • Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
  • Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood


BEST MAKE-UP & HAIR DESIGN
Nominees: 
  • 1917
  • Bombshell
  • The Irishman
  • Joker
  • The King

BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE
Nominees:
  • Angel Has Fallen
  • Escape Room
  • Happy Death Day 2 U
  • Midway
  • Terminator: Dark Fate

MOST SURPRISING FILM
Nominees:
  • Bombshell 
  • The Farewell 
  • Terminator: Dark Fate 

MOST DISAPPOINTING FILM
Nominees:
  • Knives Out 
  • Triple Threat 
  • Us 

MOST UNDERRATED FILM
Nominees:
  • Bombshell
  • The Current War
  • The Peanut Butter Falcon

MOST OVERRATED FILM
Nominees:
  • Booksmart
  • Knives Out
  • Midsommar

WORST FILM
Nominees:
  • Knives Out
  • Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
  • Midsommar
  • Rambo: Last Blood
  • Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker

BEST COMPILATION OF WORK
Nominees:
  • Scarlett Johannson (Avengers: Endgame, Jojo Rabbit, Marriage Story)


ERIC BANA AWARD
*Given for the best performance in a bad film (See 2004's Troy)
Nominees:
  • Jack Black Jumanji: The Next Level

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