It’s time again for the RJ Awards, the film awards based purely on my opinion and nothing else. It’s basically me giving you my top 5 in different film categories and choosing a winner. 2016 had a lot of awesome films, that created some fun categories to discuss, so let’s get into the results!

 

Best Debut

Kelly Fremon Craig (Director) – The Edge of Seventeen                                                        

Daniels (Directors) – Swiss Army Man

Travis Knight (Director) – Kubo and the Two Strings

Winner – Neel Sethi (Actor) – The Jungle Book

Dan Trachtenberg (Director) – 10 Cloverfield Lane

2016 offered up some promising new talent and picking a winner out of these 5 was hard but I’m still blown away with Neel Sethi as Mowgli. It’s hard enough being a first time actor, then it’s tough debuting at 12 years old, then debuting in a big budget film, with no other actors to bounce off, is so daunting. This was an incredible feat that deserves much more credit than Sethi is getting.

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Best Horror Film

Don’t Breathe

Green Room

Hush

Lights Out

Winner – The Witch

I’m not much of a horror fan, so this isn’t really a genre that I get excited for but every now and then a horror film comes out I enjoy. The Witch was by far my favourite horror film of last year and more than any of the others, The Witch has stuck with me all these months later.  

Best Comedy Film  

Bad Moms

Central Intelligence

Winner – Keanu

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Not the greatest year for comedies but there were a few solid ones. More than most, I thought Keanu was hilarious. Maybe it’s because I had never seen anything from Key and Peele, so their shtick didn’t get old for me but I was constantly laughing and had the most fun with a comedy when watching Keanu.  

Best Animated Film

Winner – Kubo and the Two Strings

Kung Fu Panda 3

Moana

The Red Turtle

Zootopia

Although I liked the other 4 films on this list a lot, Kubo and the Two Strings was an easy winner for this one. Kubo was original, beautiful and overall was one of my favourite films of 2016 period. It was a great year for animation and in another year any of the other 4 could win but for the RJ Awards in 2017, Kubo was the clear winner.

Breakout Actress of the Year

Auli’i Cravalho – Moana

Winner – Angourie Rice – The Nice Guys  

Anya Taylor-Joy – The Witch

Angourie Rice was the most surprising performance of last year. The Nice Guys starred Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, two of the most talented actors on the planet but the 15 year old girl was the standout? Rice had incredible comedic timing and the way she played off Crowe and Gosling was brilliant.

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Breakout Actor of the Year

Julian Dennison – Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Alden Ehrenreich – Hail, Caesar!

Ferdia Walsh-Peelo – Sing Street

Trevante Rhodes – Moonlight

Winner – Neel Sethi – The Jungle Book

Again, I was blown away by Neel Sethi and despite tough competition, I had to give him this one as well.  

Best Cinematography

Arrival – Bradford Young

Winner – La La Land – Linus Sandgren

The Neon Demon – Natasha Braier

Nocturnal Animals – Seamus McGarvey

Silence – Rodrigo Prieto

I almost gave this to Arrival but I can’t deny how beautiful La La Land looked and Linus Sandgren was one of the main reasons it was so aesthetically pleasing. Every frame, every shot was perfect, you could put La La Land on mute and still enjoy the film through its visuals.

Best Original Score

Arrival – Jóhann Jóhannsson

Winner – La La Land – Justin Hurwitz

Moonlight – Nicholas Britell

The Neon Demon – Cliff Martinez

Star Trek Beyond – Michael Giacchino

I love all these scores but again, La La Land can not be beat. La La Land will be remember for its dance numbers and songs sung by Emma and Ryan but Justin Hurwitz’s score was my favourite musical aspect of the film and was the reason I bought the soundtrack.  

Best Screenplay

Winner – Arrival – Eric Heisserer

La La Land – Damien Chazelle

Moonlight – Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney

The Nice Guys – Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi

Nocturnal Animals – Tom Ford

This isn’t even close, I’m my eye’s, Arrival is complex, emotional, smart and by far the best written film of 2016. It constantly keeps you guessing and I never saw that ending coming, although I’m the worst at predicting endings.  

Best Supporting Actor

Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water

Winner – John Goodman – 10 Cloverfield Lane

Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Nocturnal Animals

Daniel Radcliffe – Swiss Army Man

Trevante Rhodes – Moonlight

And now we get to the most snubbed performance of this years award season. Just because 10 Cloverfield Lane didn’t come out in November/December, should not mean Goodman’s performance should be overlooked. He was exceptional in 10 Cloverfield Lane and I didn’t see a better performance in 2016, in any other category!   

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Best Supporting Actress

Winner – Viola Davis – Fences

Naomie Harris – Moonlight

Janelle Monae – Hidden Figures

Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

I thought Fences was OK but performance-wise it was a powerhouse. Viola Davis definitely didn’t give an understated performance like some other actors this year, she really went for every scene and it worked. There’s a lot of very talented women in this category but none of them came close to Davis.    

Best Actress

Winner – Amy Adams – Arrival

Elle Fanning – The Neon Demon  

Natalie Portman – Jackie

Hailee Steinfeld – The Edge of Seventeen

Emma Stone – La La Land

In the past I haven’t thought all of Amy Adams’ Oscar nominations were deserved but somehow this year she was snubbed of a nomination, when in my opinion she should have won. What makes this performance so incredible is watching it for a second time. Without getting into spoilers, when you watch Arrival again, you look at it with different eyes and you also see Adams’ character different too. It’s crucial to the film that both times you watch Arrival the performance works and it does, which must have been so hard to pull off. Emma Stone was great in La La Land but for me Amy Adams had so much more depth to her character and therefore her performance too.

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Best Actor

Winner – Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea

Ben Foster – Hell or High Water

Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan Gosling – The Nice Guys

Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic

In the same way I thought Fences was just OK but had excellent performances, I thought Manchester by the Sea was pretty brutal to watch (and not in a good way) but Casey Affleck was amazing. It’s a very quiet, subtle performance but has just as much, if not more emotion and power than any of the other, ‘louder’ performances of last year.

Best Director

John Carney – Sing Street

Damien Chazelle – La La Land

Tom Ford – Nocturnal Animals

Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge

Winner – Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

Denis Villeneuve over the past few years has proven he is one of the top directors to be watching right now and in 2016 I think he outdid himself with Arrival. This film is pieced together with such care, by moving at a methodical pace, revealing itself as it goes along but never giving you too much. As much as I praised Adams for her performance, I have to believe it was a collaborative effort with Villeneuve that made it so effective. He created a tense, scary, thought provoking and even sometimes humorous film that still has me thinking today. You can probably guess what I picked for Best Picture…

Best Picture                                                       

Winner – Arrival                                             

Kubo and the Two Strings            

La La Land                  

Nocturnal Animal   

Sing Street   

Arrival might be my favourite film of the last 10 years, so it’s without a doubt the 2017 RJ Awards Best Picture winner, for all the reasons I’ve listed so far and many more. The design of both the aliens and their ship, are so simple yet so complex and you can really say that for the film in general. It’s an alien invasion story, that doesn’t rely on big explosions and a massive budget, it tells an intelligent story that’s more gripping than anything Roland Emmerich has ever done. The sign of great filmmaking, is when you can watch a film over and over and still get something new, you can talk with your friends and they’ll have a different takeaway, you completely missed. Arrival had all of that and is a masterpiece of a film that in 20, 50, 100 years, people will still be studying and I can’t say that for anything else that was released in 2016!

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There you have it, all the winners for this years RJ Awards. I thought 2016 was a phenomenal year for film and I had a lot of fun putting together the nominations and winners for the RJ Awards. Let me know what you thought about the winners and what you would have picked in the categories.

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