I tried to go for different types of visuals here, so everything here has a different reason for me liking the visuals. On the downside this means that some did miss out, purely because what they did very well, others did better.
Avatar: The Way Of Water
Obviously, this was going to be here. The film itself is dull, but it’s a visual masterpiece. The worlds feel lived in, with environments and buildings showing suitable wear and tear.
The level of detail on the clothes is amazing. You can almost feel the fabric. There’s a great visual flow to everything too. The house etc looks lived in due to the little visual details.
Mainly because it did a great job of making you feel like you were high up. This was probably the most nauseating film I saw all year, and that’s entirely due to how effective the visuals were.
I hated this film, but I loved the way it looked. It looked like it was being watched on an old cathode TV.
Orphan: First Kill
It’s a prequel, filmed 13 years on from the original, but you never think that the actress is 13 years older than she was originally. All practical as well.
Very rarely has Gotham looked quite as grimy as it does here.
We’re All Going To The Worlds Fair
Without the visuals, this would be poor. It would be too incomprehensible. With it, it’s hauntingly beautiful. Some films have looked better, but few films have enhanced the quality of a film as much as was done here. It’s like being trapped in a lava lamp.
I watched this film once, haven’t watched anything on youtube about it since, and I don’t own the soundtrack. I can still hear some of the songs in my head sometimes.
It had a Japanese cover of Holding Out For A Hero playing out during action scenes, what else do you want?
A good mix of classic music that suits the tone perfectly. Yes, I am aware it’s weird to nominate a film for two positive awards if I hated it. Deal with it.
So very creepy. Incredibly effective at making you feel wary of what would otherwise be beautiful countryside.
The Justice Of Bunny King
Mainly for the cover of What’s Up that plays over the end.
We’re All Going To The Worlds Fair
I mean, I purchased the soundtrack. The only movie soundtrack I purchased all year in fact. So it’s kind of here by default.
“The Family Madrigal” earned this film a nomination, “Surface Pressure” won this for it. A legit heartbreaking song.
Bee – Bodies Bodies Bodies
She’s one of the few likeable characters. She’s just so damn kind that you see her in this world and really feel for how the dickweeds are treating her. She goes through so much through the course of this film that your heart just breaks for her.
Jupe – Nope
A character is in such strong denial about his trauma. Only being able to talk about it through the medium of an SNL sketch, and then repeating the exact same damn mistakes. It’s stupid, and it’s baffling, but it’s so human.
Luisa – Encanto.
Had a lot of options for this and really there are many that could be chosen, in the end I went with her because it’s specifically her song where the whole tone changes and the film becomes something different.
Mina – Ballad Of A White Cow
She is so beaten down by her situation, and you can’t really blame her for feeling like she does. It’s made worse by the fact that this happens all the time to women in certain parts of the world. They’re powerless to stop it, and others are powerless to help. There’s a scene near the end which demonstrates this. I talked about it in the original review and I’ll post it again here:
Sadly, this act of kindness ends up getting her evicted (for having an unrelated male in the house), but she never mentions it to him. She hides it from him out of kindness for him. Because she doesn’t want him to feel guilty.
The Riddler – The Batman
Takes a character who is usually seen as a joke by the film-going audience, and makes him a highly disturbing serial killer.
The Wolf – Bullet Train
He gets a whole sequence fleshing out his backstory, giving him a compelling arc which you know he’s going to use as the basis to redeem himself later in the film. Instead, he dies, very quickly. And it’s brilliant.
Benoit Blanc – Glass Onion
I think he’s now up there with the greatest characters in modern cinema. Everything about him is notable. The fact that “Benoit describing other films” is now a meme, displays just how well-written and defined this character is.
Cyclone – Black Adam
Mainly because it did a terrible job of explaining her powers.
Spider – Avatar: The Way Of Water
His characterisation is all over the place. He was raised with the Na’vi and dislikes humans. He gets kidnapped by humans and then starts liking them, even though many of his friends have been killed by them. He then watches the humans attempt genocide, and decides that’s too much, he has to leave them. But not before saving the villains life, making sure he can come back in the sequel.
Billy Lomas – Scream
Hallucinations always feel like a cheap way of bringing dead characters back, and that’s definitely the case here. It’s nice to see the actor again, and it does make some narrative sense, but it kind of feels like they came up with the concept of him coming back first, and then wrote a reason for it.
Will – Ambulance
Only because it’s yet another “No, I don’t kill” character who then DEFINITELY kills nameless characters by causing accidents and vehicular destruction. He’s written too much like a cliché, which renders him really uninteresting to watch.
Alana/Gary – Licorice Pizza
When the two characters were apart, they were smart, funny, likeable, and I wanted to see more of them. When they were together they were selfish, manipulative, and nonsensical. It drove them to be the worst versions of themselves. Which for a film about a relationship is a bad thing.
Corey Cunningham – Halloween Ends
His entire arc lessens not just this film, but the entire modern trilogy. They really dropped the ball with this entry, and part of that is because of the sudden focus on Corey. I refuse to believe this was the plan all along, if it was, it should have been threaded through the previous two films.
Janelle Monae – Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
A strong cast throughout, but Monae inches ahead because of her (spoiler) duel roles. It’s difficult as not only does she have to play both, but also has to play one who is pretending to be the other. It’s a really tricky performance, but she manages it, and provides the glue that holds the film together.
Ayden Mayeri – Confess, Fletch
She’s surrounded by veterans of the comedy game in Roy Wood Jr, Jon Hamm, Annie Mumolo, and John Slatterly. Meanwhile, she is still yet to have a Wikipedia page. That’s a damn shame, as in a film of comedy giants, she stands out. Her line delivery provides some of the biggest vegan laughs (that’s laughs that contain no Hamm). I want to see her in more stuff, especially leading a sitcom. She’s got the skills, and now she has the credibility.
Grace Carolyn Currey – Fall
The film is anchored around her performance, if she fails, she drags the film down and it sinks. I kind of regret saying “anchored” now, feels like it clashes with the metaphor, but the point still stands.
Anastasia Budiashkina – Olga
If this was “best film debut performance by a sports star” then Anastasia would definitely……be in the top two for this year (spoilers). Even without her complete inexperience, this would be an astounding performance. But when you consider that this is her only acting performance, it’s almost impossible to believe.
Kali Reis – Catch The Fair One
The other sports star performance of the year, this time from a boxer. She has an advantage over Budiashkina in that she has acted before, in an episode of True Detective. Normally, that wouldn’t be enough experience for a director to base a film around. She brings an energy to this film that is unmatched. I also love the fact that she seems like a genuinely good person, albeit one that punches women in the face for a living.
Austin Butler – Elvis
Everyone is familiar with Elvis Presley. They know his voice, they know his look, and they know his mannerisms. So if a performer is lacking in certain aspects, not only will it be noticed, but the person will be ripped apart by a truly passionate fanbase. If you even get a syllable wrong, you’ll be crucified. It’s a LOT of pressure, and it could destroy a young actor. I know Elvis fans, and ones who dislike a lot of things, they liked his performance. I did too, there’s a moment near the end where it shows footage of the real Elvis and it suddenly hit me “oh yeah, I was watching an actor”.
Stephanie Hsu – Everything Everywhere All At Once
I tried to limit it to one performer from each film, and this was the hardest one to pick. Everybody in this is at the top of their game. There’s not a single moment where the performances could be improved. In a way, this film is for all three of the leads, but Hsu deserves highlighting because of the sheer amount of differences she has to give her variations. Michelle Yeoh does too, but a lot of her hardest work is in the physical fight scenes, and the differences aren’t quite as varied as the ones Hsu is given to do. Very few performers can be both an omnicidal maniac, and a broken and scared teen who just wants her mother to recognise she’s in pain, even fewer manage both of those in the same film.