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Last updated: February 19, 2011
Copyright 2006 Michael R. Colford.
All rights reserved

current nominations ceremonyarchives
special awardsballot

23rd Annual Awards, March 19, 2016

Best Movie

MoonlightWinner!Moonlight - That a film about a young African-American growing up gay in the mean streets of Miami over three different periods of time, with different boys and men playing the lead characters, could be made at all, let alone receive the acclaim it has from a vast internationally diverse audience, is miraculous. Despite scenes whose dramatic emphasis is poverty, neglect, violence, and abuse, the overwhelming feeling among the Lincoln Center audience at the screening’s conclusion was exhilaration. Movies this good adapted from plays are as rare as hen’s teeth; that every aspect of MOONLIGHT is triumphantly successful, is rarer still. From the exquisitely appropriate ensemble of actors (kudos to casting director Yesi Ramirez), through artists whose names appear repeatedly on best-of-the-year lists, such as editing by Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders, cinematography by James Paxton, and music by Nicholas Britell, to the adaptation and direction by the brilliant Barry Jenkins, whose sense of detail and movement perfectly informs each and every scene, this is not only Movie of the Year, but also possibly one for the ages. Worthy of mention is the historic importance of the many awards bestowed by groups such as the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association. — kr

The HandmaidenThe Handmaiden - Chan-wook Park doesn't disappoint in his no-holds-barred film, "The Handmaiden." Park bases the film on the Victorian thriller, 'Fingersmith' but moves the setting to to 1930's Korea under Japanese Colonialism. Park maintains the novel's three part structure ( story told from different points of view), a gruesome and debauched tale of a pickpocket masquerading as a servant to cheat an heiress. There are twists and turns that keep the audience guessing. What results is a feminist revenge story that is brilliant, stunning and spellbinding. --vo

Little MenLittle Men - How can I best describe the film that won my Poppy award for Best Picture in 2016? Hmmm. A little film, about little boys on the cusp of teenage angst, whose little families are interrupted and corrupted by life's every day little problems. But believe me, this little slice of life coming of age gem is NOT little in its scope or power. Blessed with two dynamic and supremely talented newcomers in Theo Taplitz and Michael Barbieri, and with a solid supporting cast that includes Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Ehle, Paulina Garcia, Talia Balsam, and Alfred Molina, your heart will connect with these two young "little men" and their families and the challenges their new friendship faces due to problems between their parents. It's something you might see in your own life. In fact, you might see yourself or a few of your family members or friends in the Jardines and Calvelli's. I know I did. And quite honestly, this film deserves a LOT more attention - and kudos - than it's getting. ---tck

Manchester By the SeaManchester By the Sea - is a deeply moving nuanced family drama that examines the complexities of hardship, grief and pain. The film is a tribute to Kenneth Lonergan's extreme artistic ability and brilliant observational skills. The film takes the audience on an emotional roller coaster ride. It gains its momentum from the slow and steady way the story of Lee Chandler unfolds, mixing tragedy with moments of humor. It is a tapestry that works.--vo

Mountains May DepartMountains May Depart - Set over three time periods, the latest from Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke follows Shen Tao (played by his longtime muse Zhao Tao in perhaps her best role to date): she’s a woman coming of age at the end of the 20th century whose choices create consequences both good and bad for those closest to her. A character-driven epic that’s more confident and efficient than Zhangke’s earlier work, it recalls the Zhang Yimou of To Live, while also coming off as more subtle and poignant; it also makes inspired, repeated use of pop songs both by Taiwanese-Canadian singer Sally Yeh and venerable British duo the Pet Shop Boys --ck

Our Little SisterOur Little Sister - Hirokazu Koreeda is a master a creatng movies where very little seems to happen. What the statment translates to, is he creates rich stories about the everyday lives of people who are nuanced, who face decisions, who encoutner challenges, but behave like real people, not like characters in a movie. In OUR LITTLE SISTER, three sisters hear that their estranged father has passed away and left a half-sister that they've never met. They travel to the funeral, and end up taking her home with them. This new sibling's bright, optimistic presence melds well with the dynamic shared by the other three and a subtle new rhythm emerges in all their lives. Based on a graphic novel, there are no back-stabbing betrayals, dark hidden secrets, or hair-pulling jealousy-fueled fights; just four people living life, learning to love, and capturing our hearts. --mrc

Buried Treasure

Free in DeedWinnerFree In Deed - Abe, a born-again minister at a storefront Pentecostal church in Memphis attempts to help out Melva, a single mother whose mentally ill young child Benny is subject to terrifying fits of rage. It doesn’t go all that well as Abe’s attempts to spiritually heal Benny test not only Melva’s faith but also his own. Exploring the controversial subject of faith healing without judgement, writer/director Jake Mahaffy’s film allows the worshippers’ actions and their consequences to speak for themselves, no matter how devastating the results. Based on real-life events and featuring a trio of great performances, FREE IN DEED is intense and unforgettable like little other contemporary indie cinema. --ck

The FitsThe Fits - Anna Rose Holmer’s first narrative feature, THE FITS, is about a ten-year-old African American girl, Toni, who trains as a boxer yet becomes obsessed with a West End Cincinnati community’s dance group. With a balance of coming-of-age and identity to the supernatural, the story unfolds between Toni’s relationship with her brother and the “fits” that spread amongst the girls on the team. The tone of THE FITS builds with its haunting free-jazz oriented musical choices. As Toni transitions between boxer and dancer, her internal fears of losing her place in the community parallel with the spells afflicting the other girls. The cinematography moves along slow motion shots with the chilling score and strong editing choices of vignettes. This comes together as audience take this in from sidelines in this unique perspective of Toni and she overcomes “the fits” to be fabulous. --tp

Neon BullNeon Bull - NEON BULL is an audacious film involving the lives of a troop Brazilian rodeo workers. The film is testimony to the many contradictions in the human condition - a daredevil rodeo rider has a passion for designing women’s clothing. A female truck driver moonlights as an exotic dancer. The scenes of raw sensuality offer a reminder that there is a decided connectivity between man and beast. -- bk

Take Me to the RiverTake Me to the River - Matt Sobel’s TAKE ME TO THE RIVER is a gem of a film; and could be described as the embodiment of the quality of film sought after for this special Chlotrudis award. It has a subtle and patient direction, the characters are well developed and the tension inherent in the story is not heavy-handed or overly dramatized. In short, the story unfolds in the most natural way. Take Me to the River is an emotionally compelling film that conveys the difficulty the protagonist has handling his family’s deep, troublesome, and upsetting tensions. All the characters in this film deserve praise for their performance, with a particularly noteworthy performance of 12-year old Ursula Parker. All elements of the film’s creation are truly outstanding and worthy of recognition. --bca

Under the ShadowUnder the Shadow - The best horror films are usually allegories for circumstances based in reality, and UNDER THE SHADOW tackles several in its depiction of an apartment seemingly haunted by a spirit called a djinn. Shideh is facing a host of doubts living in war-torn, post-revolutionary Tehran. This young mother, who once dabbled briefly in youthful political rebellion, finds herself unable to return to medical school to complete her studies and become a doctor, struggles with the care of her young daughter, Dorsa, questioning her skill as a mother, and do this alone, while her city is being bombed, and her husband is sent to the front lines. These dobuts manifest in the form of a dark spirit that works its way into the minds of bother Shideh and her daughter, while trying to prevent them from leaving the apartment and traveling to safety. Writer/director Babak Anvari uses a supernatural spirit to explore the politics of 1980's Iran, and the core identity that comes with motherhood in a way that is entertaining and enlightening. -- mrc

Best Director

Barry JenkinsWinnerBarry Jenkins for Moonlight - When creative efforts yield an almost perfect film, it is safe to say that the director has the strongest hand in the creative process. Barry Jenkins made an auspicious debut with MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY, a film in the strong-and-simple category. MOONLIGHT maintains that simplicity of style and is flawless in every way. It's Jenkins who deserves credit for bringing it all together. --bk

Hirokazu KoreedaHirokazu Koreeda for Our Little Sister - Hirokazu Koreeda has an uncanny ability to document the day-to-day of people's lives in such away that makes it seem so real. There are dramatic moments in OUR LITTLE SISTER, a story of three sisters who discover a fourth sister who was raised separately by their estranged father and his new wife. At their father's funeral, they meet their new sister and bring her home with them. Koreeda gently documents the shifts in their tight-knit family as they bring a new member into the fold. The emotions are heartfelt, yet lightly played, deftly combining surprising humor with the concern and heartbreak that fill our lives. --mrc

Kelly ReichardtKelly Reichardt for Certain Women - LIke many of Reichardt's films, CERTAIN WOMEN affirms her skill at storytelling that is detailed, layered and subtle. Here, she examines the everyday lives of 3 Montana women, perfectly played by Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart and Michelle Williams, all of whom seem to be waiting for their lives to come together. With Montana as the ever present backdrop and aided by a sharp script and brilliant cinematography, Reichardt gives a riveting study of complex female characters who are witty, bright and flawed. Reichardt leaves us to draw our own conclusions about the women, certainly a mark of fine directing. --vo

Apichatpong WeerasethakulApichatpong Weerasethakul for Cemetery of Splendor - Weerasethakul never ceases to amuse and amaze. In CEMETERY OF SPENDOR he creates a fantasy that stimulates the mind and engages curiosity. As in his previous works this film defies convention, furthering his reputation as one of the world’s unique auteurs. --bk

Zhangke JiaJia Zhangke for Mountains May Depart - This is only the eighth film by matchless Chinese director Jia Zhangke, and probably his best. His wry melancholic view of change in China during globalization is the heart of three stories set in 1999, 2014, and 2025. The director’s muse and wife Zhao Tao stars as a woman who yields to the easy choice of a rich industrialist she does not love over a poor coal miner she does. The film is dazzlingly bookended with a frenzy of disco joy at the turn of the millennium, the Pet Shop Boys’ cover of “Go West” blaring on the soundtrack, and her sadder but wiser walk along the beach in 2025, taking the dog for a walk and suddenly breaking out into her dance moves from 1999. This is a classic moment of sheer cinematic and musical bliss, embracing a dreamy past, as it confronts an uncertain future, emblematic of one of cinema’s greatest auteurs at the zenith of his creative powers. In a profoundly subversive scene, unique in the director’s works, the industrialist has a tantrum at a table overloaded with firearms, raging that he could not own such an arsenal in China, so he moved to Australia — where he now has no one to shoot. Asking the question “What good is freedom?”, he is impotent to provide an answer. During this time of international peril and rampant hostility to sincerity, the question has even more resonance today than when the film was first shown at the New York Film Festival in September 2015. --kr

Best Actress

Isabelle HuppertWinnerIsabelle Huppert for the role of Michèle Leblanc in Elle - Recipient of dozens of international awards including the César Award, Film Independent Spirit Award, New York Film Critics Circle and Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress, Isabelle Huppert is a virtual legend among contemporary actors: her work can be wondered at in films by Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Bertrand Tavernier, Maurice Pialat, Diane Kurys, Benoît Jacquot, Michael Haneke, Christoph Honoré, Patrice Chéreau, and on this film, Paul Verhoeven. At the NYFF Q & A, he stated that he frequently forgot to say “Cut!”, so compelling and surprising did he often find Huppert’s acting choices. She has been surprising audiences with her fearlessness for forty years, and as Michèle Leblanc in ELLE she gives one of her greatest performances. She is a woman who refuses to respond to victimhood, as she engages in a game of cat and rat with a rapist rather than report the crime to police. She is the CEO of a video game company in which she appears uninterested, and the daughter of a jailed serial killer in whose fate she is emotionally vested. Her motivations almost always are mysterious and sly in this lurid comedy of manners. Huppert deftly engages us in every terrible moment that is about to happen, as she enters and exits rooms and plot developments. This is the creative process at its very apex, acting that truly captures the essence of pity and terror. — kr

Annette BeningAnnette Bening for the role of Dorothea in 20th Century Women - Annette Bening plays Dorothea, a child of the Depression navigating the ever-changing world of 1979 as a divorced, atypically older mother of a teenager, willfully single, and working in a male-dominated profession. She is raising her teenage son, Jamie, in a rambling fixer-upper in Santa Barbara, living alongside by two boarder/tenants. Baffled by Jamie’s reckless behavior, she looks to his female best friend and her 20-something tenant to help raise him. Dorothea is at once laid back and uptight, her somewhat formal manner contrasting with her tousled hair, wardrobe of Birkenstocks and trousers, and ever-present cigarette. She is alternately warm and curious about the lives of those around her, but quickly withdrawing when pushed to be more open. As Jamie pushes for greater independence, exploring new ideas under the influence of his two new “mothers”, Dorothea and Jamie struggle to maintain the boundaries of their relationship as they come to know each other on a more individual basis. However, despite this friction, Dorothea and Jamie draw closer while redefining their parent-child dynamic. Ultimately, much as director Mike Mills' first film was a tribute to his father, 20th Century Women is a valentine to his mother, from whom the character of Dorothea is drawn. --hn

Sonia BragaSonia Braga for the role of Clara in Aquarius - Although she’s best known for her role in KISS OF THE SPIDER-WOMAN from three decades ago, Sonia Braga delivers a monumental, career-best performance here as Clara, a retired music critic who staunchly refuses to sell her Recife, Brazil apartment (inherited from her aunt) to developers who want to tear down the building. As a character study, the movie is Clara/Braga and we come to know her both as a mighty force of nature and as an intricate, flawed, fully relatable individual. Aquarius gradually, masterfully builds to its shocking, cathartic final scene, and it simply wouldn’t work without Braga at its center. --ck

Imajyn CardinalImajyn Cardinal for the role of Fern in The Saver - THE SAVER tells the story of Fern, a teenage girl in Montreal coping with her mother’s untimely death. Following in the footsteps of her mother, who worked cleaning houses, Fern lands a job as a live-in maintenance person in a run-down apartment by concealing her age and situation. As Fern, Imajyn Cardinal brings an understated authenticity to the role. Despite her dire circumstances, Fern mostly maintains an optimistic attitude, while juggling multiple jobs, evading child services, tentatively exploring romance, and reconnecting with estranged family, all while planning for her future. Naïve yet a quick learner, she demonstrates empowerment – not in some comic book fashion, but by adopting a resilient attitude and persevering in the face of hardship, when it would be easy enough to yield to despair. As Fern, Cardinal evokes both sympathy and admiration, never overplaying the drama of her situation, and effectively carrying the weight of this simple, human story on her young shoulders. She is certainly an actress to keep an eye out for. --pe

Ruth NeggaRuth Negga for the role of Mildred in Loving - What a delight to see Ruth Negga's gentle, yet inspiring performance as Mildred in LOVING after only knowing her as Raina, the villainous Inhuman in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. She was always a standout in that comic-based TV show, but the depths of her dramatic acting, and the nuance she brings to a role that is quietly powerful are fully on display in this bipic about an interracial marriage that challenged the law all the way to the Supreme Court. The power in Negga's performance is the way she underplays it. We're not talking Erin Brokovich her; Mildred is not some fiery crusader fighting for the rights of others. She loves her husband, and as the battle for them to be legally able to cohbitate continues, she realizes that her struggle is larger than just the two of them. It's a quiet metamorphosis that is barely noticeable at first as Negga quietly begins to infuse Mildred with the need to fight injustice and equality. When so many actors are recognized for their flashy roles, it's always nice to see fine acting wrapped with subtlety and grace. -- mrc

Tao ZhaoZhao Tao for the role of Shen Tao in Mountains May Depart - We first see Shen Tao, played by Zhao Tao, dancing blissfully to the Pet Shop Boys’ cover of the Village People’s Go West, eyes shut, consumed by the music. It is New Year’s 1999, with China on the cusp of a new millennium. Over the course of that millennium’s first twenty-five years, Shen Tao and China’s culture will undergo epic changes. Shen Tao is courted by two men, and she decides to marry the flashy businessman, but never forgets the other one, a gentle coal mine worker. Her involvement with both men leads to sadness, disillusion, and a broken family. Zhao Tao portrays Shen Tao, from that idealistic young dancer to an older, wiser, sadder woman, who nevertheless still feels tied to her younger self, as the movie’s last scene portrays. Her transformation is exquisitely played, and conveys both the sense of her own life, its triumphs and disappointments, and those of the country where she lives. --jp

Best Actor

Joel EdgertonWinnerJoel Edgerton for the role of Richard in Loving - Playing against type is always a joy to watch. Joel Edgerton, a rough-and-tumble kind of guy, give a subtle and moving performance in a role that depicts a key figure in civil rights history. Edgerton judiciously depicts Loving as a simple man caught in the throes of history; that simplicity lends the film credibility and is a joy to behold.--bk

Casey AffleckCasey Affleck for the role of Lee Chandler in Manchester By the Sea - In MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA, when we first meet Lee Chandler, working as janitor, he is extremely rude and unsocial. It is clear that he is angry, but we don't know the depths of his emotional state. That backstory slowly unfolds through flashbacks and Affleck's masterful performance. Affleck allows us to sense the numbness of his character through his slumped zombie-like gait; his moments of silent stares; his deliberate slow conversations. By the end of the film, we have witnessed a complex character wrestle, struggle and come to grips with his emotional baggage. Affleck's memorable transformation as Lee Chandler is the heart of Manchester-by-the-Sea. --vo

Vincent LindonVincent Lindon for the role of Thierry Taugourdeau in The Measure of a Man - I think it's safe to say that the majority of Chlotrudis members first noticed Vincent Lindon in Claire Denis' compelling film, FRIDAY NIGHT, which picked up a Trudy for Best Cinematography. Two years later, Vincent picked up his own Trudy in the Best Actor category for his outstanding portrayal in the surreal identiry thriller, THE MOUSTACHE. In that film the dynamic actor portrays a man who is either losing his grip on reality, or being gaslit by his family and friends. What a remarkable turn in his lates film, the somber and exquisite THE MEASURE OF A MAN. Vincent plays Thierry, a good man, struggling with unemployment, and the challenge of finding a job. Employment agencies waste his time sending him to jobs he's not qualified for, banks reject him because he has no steady income, day after day he faces humiliation as he is looked at at somehow less than he is because of his lack of a job. His morals are put to the test when he finally does find work and must do things he finds distasteful. Lindon quietly shows us the pride and pain of this ordinary man, painting a portrait of a struggle faced by so many people around the world and infusing it with dignity and heartbreak. -- mrc

Viggo MortensenViggo Mortensen for the role of Ben in Captain Fantastic - CAPTAIN FANTASTIC is the story of Ben, who lives with his six children in a remote area of the Pacific Northwest. He teaches them a blend of physical and survivalist training, rigorous academics, and anti-establishment socialist politics. It would be easy to portray this character as a sort of clown, yet Mortensen effectively conveys the balance of discipline and love that a single parent must provide, not to mention the challenge of controlling six children in the middle of nowhere. This utopian situation doesn’t last long, as Ben’s absent wife’s situation eventually requires his re-engagement with “normal” society. It is here where we see his somewhat arrogant façade weaken, as Ben is forced to deal with the wider reality of the world beyond his homestead. In dealing with his wife’s family and society at large, Mortensen’s overconfident bluster gives way to self-doubt and frustration, as he accepts that there is indeed a whole world beyond his control. Mortensen presents a multi-layered character, a struggling idealistic parent frankly in a bit over his head, rather than simply a cartoonish iconoclast. --pe

Theo TaplitzTheo Taplitz for the role of Jake Jardine in Little Men - Sometimes debut performances capture the essence of an young actor or actress who is overflowing with so much talent, you can't help but be excited about their future. And that is exactly how I feel about Theo Taplitz. His role as Jake Jardine in Little Men captivated me from the second I first saw it. Jake is twelve, moving into a new apartment, and discovering new friends, and new feelings inside of himself as well. Theo captures Jake's innocence and curiosity so perfectly that sometimes it's hard to believe you're watching a film and not peering into someone's real life. His very real emotions shine throughout the film, and his character's relationship with his parents, best friend Tony, and Tony's mom Elenor each have their own vibe to them. I was hoping that the Awards Season would bring him the kudos he truly deserved, but alas, it wasn't to be until Chlotrudis was able to see the kind of talent this young actor is naturally gifted with. His role in LITTLE MEN was a perfect vehicle for his talents, and I can't wait to watch him as future roles come calling. I have no doubt we are watching a major star for the ages as it just begins to rise. --tck

Best Supporting Actress

Lily GladstoneWinnerLily Gladstone for the role of The Rancher in Certain Women - Lily Gladstone's stoic solitary rancher accidentally encounters a city-lawyer who has come to instruct local teachers some legal issues and her life is suddenly changed. Yet as with everything the Rancher does, the change is supserficially subtle, but a seismic shift has occured deep insider her heart. Gladstone shows this with an increased intensity in her gaze; a barely noticeable tremor in her self-assuredness. So when she suddenly takes a huge risk, ackowledging this new dynamic in her life, it is both thrilling and heartbreaking. Gladstone is a revelation in a film filled with amazing performances. --mrc

Paulina GarciaPaulina García for the role of Leonor Calvelli in Little Men - In the film LITTLE MEN, Garcia plays Leonore, the mother of Tony Calvetti, best friend of Jake Jardine, whose father Brian has become her dress shop’s landlord following the death of his father. When Brian is pressured by his sister to raise Leonore’s rent, it threatens the existence of her little boutique, as well as the friendship of their two sons. Garcia has her character adopt a sarcastic, even cruel tone when dealing with Brian and yet through her actions you can feel her fear of what’s happening, and knowing she cannot afford the new rent, leads her to lash out. That she does so without making the viewer despise her is no small feat – her performance makes you despise the SITUATION, not the character…and that makes the performance spot on. --tck

Naomie HarrisNaomie Harris for the role of Paula in Moonlight - I remember Harris when she was just starting out, in a revival of the UK series "The Tomorrow People". Man has she come a LONG way! And she can handle anything she puts her mind to doing. Paula is her grittiest role to date, and even she said she had problems trying to get into the feel of a woman who had been slapped by life one too many times. You know what? That fear she professed to have doesn't show ANYWHERE on screen. She is electric as always. You can see someone who isn't perfect by a long shot, but there's a deep well of emotion in her, some good and some bad, but always perfect for the character. Bravo. --kb

Margo MartindaleMargo Martindale for the role of Sally Hollar in The Hollars - In the comedy/drama, THE HOLLARS, John Hollar (played by director, John Krasinski) returns when his mother, Sally, ends up in the hospital following a seizure and is diagnosed with a brain tumor. As Sally, Margo Martindale holds the family together while stealing every scene she is in. Martindale is hilarious. When hearing that her head will be shaved, she reacts with bravado by saying, "I'll look like Rod Steiger." In the private moments that she shares with John, she is heartbreakingly emotional. Martindale demonstrates once again why she is considered one of film's best character actresses. -- vo

Rima Te WiataRima Te Wiata for the role of Bella in The Hunt for the Wilderpeople - Though only in the movie for the first couple of the films several chapters, Rima Te Wiata as Bella is a critical role. She demonstrates unflappable warmth in the face of both the traumatized foster child and her indifferent or even hostile husband. Bella serves as impetus for the redemption of both, as they ultimately will form an unlikely bond. Even during her absence later in the film, her presence is felt as the link between the man and boy. Rima’s sincerity and compassion in her brief role is one of the many reasons this tale is both humorous and heartwarming. --pe

Michelle WilliamsMichelle Williams for the role of Randi Chandler in Manchester By the Sea - Michelle Williams knows how to capture the moment as evidenced in her countless spot-on performances. In MANCHESTER BY THE SEA she shares the key scene with Casey Affleck; without her, one can only imagine the film would have suffered immeasurably.--bk

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala AliWinnerMahershala Ali for the role of Juan in Moonlight - Ali has been one of my favorite actors for several years now, and his performance in MOONLIGHT has been singled out now by dozens of critics and industry groups, so much so that I feel like there is very little left to say about it. His character's influence throughout the film as it moves through three different phases of life changes with each look, as his own thoughts, and his ideas and maturity, change over the years, and yet he remains at his core the same man he is throughout the film. His outlook on life may be skewed to his own way of thinking, but his impressions are obvious for everyone to see..and embrace. --tck

Michael BarbieriMichael Barbieri for the role of Tony Calvelli in Little Men - LITTLE MEN brought us two fantastic new talents for the ages, and Michael Barbieri is one of them. The on-screen antics of his blustery, mischievous character, Tony Calvelli, will keep your eyes glued to the screen. Tony is an aspiring actor, and although he aces his acting classes (in one of the fall-down-funniest scenes in ANY film in 2016), you also get to see his softer sensitive side when he and new best bud Jake (the wonderful Theo Taplitz) talk parents, school, and especially girls. Already scheduled for two more films coming out later this year, we're going to be seeing a LOT of Barbieri in the future, and we can all say we saw him here FIRST -and what a debut it was..and is! --kb

Ralph FiennesRalph Fiennes for the role of Harry Hawkes in A Bigger Splash - It's a delight to watch Ralph Fiennes cavort and romp in the remake of the French film, LA PISCINE. When Fiennes pays a visit to his old flame, rock star Marianne Lane ( played by Tilda Swinton), on vacation in Sicily resting her voice with her hunk of a boyfriend, Matthias Schoenaerts, it's clear that emotions from their affair still linger. Fiennes is determined not to let the embers die. Fiennes brings obnoxiousness to a new height while balancing the comedic with the pathetic to give us one of the best performances of his career. --vo

Lucas HedgesLucas Hedges for the role of Patrick in Manchester By the Sea - Lucas Hedges’s performance is that of a seasoned actor in his role of Patrick Chandler, orphaned late in his high school years. Very few young actors hold their own against veterans. His sublime assuredness places him on par with the brilliant actors in the cast. --bk

Luis SilvaLuis Silva for the role of Elder in From Afar - Recipient of two international film festival acting prizes for his performance in FROM AFAR, Luis Silva plays an archetypal rough trade garage mechanic street hustler and gang leader, who personifies the masturbatory fantasies of an older Caracas, Venezuela dental prosthetic practitioner played movingly by Alfredo Castro as Armando. The film starts seemingly headed for a cliched story of lonely older man seeking sexual favors with disaffected younger man, but veers affectingly into a more interesting tale of two males connected by universal loneliness but separated by indelible issues of class. Silva captures perfectly the contradictions of Elder, his eyes filled with fear and loathing during his first encounter with Armando, which turns violent, developing into inchoate feelings of caring for someone other than himself, into the final tragic realization that life in modern Venezuela has few opportunities to offer a boy like Elder. --kr

Best Original Screenplay

Yorgos LanthimosEfthymis FilippouWinnerThe Lobster, screenplay by Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou - How refreshing to see that Yorgos Lanthimos' first big budget, English-language film retained the absurdity and originality that made his earlier films, DOGTOOTH and ALPS such Chltorudis favorites. In THE LOBSTER, Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou examine human relationships from every angle and create an absurdist allegory that takes a cynical view of love to extremes. The two opposing viewpoints in THE LOBSTER are both operating on the extremes, and as is the case in anything extreme, the film tends to be fairly polarizing, with its admirers and its detractors. Even among Chlotrudis members, there is little agreement, as seen by this single nomination of a film I thought would dominate this year. At least the Chlotrudis members can recognize an amazing screenplay when they see it. And the pair create such an exquisite, open-ended finale to the film that have encouraged some of the most thrilling discussions about film that I have had in recent years. --mrc

Kleber Mendonça FilhoAquarius screenplay by Kleber Mendonça Filho - When it comes down to it, this film can be boiled down to one succinct thought - one elderly woman's battle to do what she thinks is right and for who she is. But for this intricate, occasionally uncomfortable, and deeply thoughtful film, it's how you get there that makes it worth the time to invest in it. Through both obvious and not-so-obvious means, both through the camera lens and through dialogue, director/writer Kleber Mendonca Filho weaves his way through a life that was and a life that now is and brings them together with just the right touch of grandeur, along with the perfect pinches of pathos, humor, angst, anger, humility, and of course, music. And it completely works. --tck

Matt RossCaptain Fantastic, screenplay by Matt Ross - CAPTAIN FANTASTIC presents a fresh perspective on family relationships and society, in the guise of its titular character who is raising six children on his own in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. Using the father’s unconventional approaches to child rearing, the script calls into question long-held assumptions of proper parenting. Given the unconventional characters at the heart of the story, the script could easily devolve into polemical criticism of consumerist capitalism on the one hand, or a parody of the “survivalist” mindset on the other. However, it never does so. At its core, it presents a very human drama of family relationships, love and loss, and finding one’s place in society. Balancing humor, social criticism, and melodrama, but never overdoing it on any one aspect, the screenplay lays the foundation for a uniquely engaging, thought-provoking yet entertaining tale of a free spirit. We learn to question our own assumptions, and more importantly, not to take ourselves too seriously. --pe

Ira Sachs, Mauricio ZachariasLittle Men, screenplay by Ira Sachs, Mauricio Zacharias - Sachs and Zacharias have captured the perfect slice of life – and have done it so well that the film feels like you’re actually watching someone’s life story unfold rather than watching a film. In their coming of age tale, they capture the youth, innocence, curiosity, and mindset of the films’ two 12 year old protagonists – sweet, shy, artistic Jake and his pal, boisterous, exuberant wannabe actor Tony - and make them seem like every discussion they are having about the things important to them – school, art, video games, girls – are totally honest and not manufactured. Add in a real life situation like a rent dispute, and genuine, regular, flawed adults in their parents, treat it like you are a fly on the wall, and you get this gem of a perfectly scripted film which wraps around real life like a glove…snug, warm, and comfortable. --tck

Kenneth LonerganManchester By the Sea, screenplay by Kenneth Lonergan - The cornerstone of any great film is the writing. Kenneth Lonergan, a leading playwright of his generation, transfers his skills from stage to screen beautifully. MANCHESTER BY THE SEA places the emotions of the story on level footing with the words, evoking marvelous, heart-rendering empathy. --bk

Grímur HákonarsonRams, screenplay by Grímur Hákonarson - RAMS plays as a sleepy type of Scandinavian indie film, but there are many elements to this film that are not so sleepy. In fact, the screenplay is created with a tension that grows steadily and keeps the viewer engaged throughout. The story told in Rams is simple enough: two brothers, estranged. Such is a story, which has been told before, a story of the ties that bind. The best thing about this film is that the story has a central plot that is unique, the brothers’ family story played out in a surrogate family of sheep. RAMS caught Chlotrudis’ attention for best screenplay because the emotional tension of the brothers’ story is felt most as the brothers go to greater lengths to preserve their animals’ family lineage than they would to preserve their own. This Icelandic language film owes much of its success to its wonderfully quirky and interesting screenplay. --bca

Best Adapted Screenplay

Wiebke von CarolsfeldEdeet RavelWinnerThe Saver, screeplay by Wiebke von Carolsfeld, based on the novel by Edeet Ravel - Identifying a source for a great movie is the first challenge for a good adaptation, and Wiebke von Carolsfeld certainly found something special in the YA novel written by Edeet Ravel. But as we've seen many time, a good novel does not always a good screenplay make, and it requires judicious reworking, cutting, and shaping to create an piece of film art that takes its cues from a previously published work, but is something entirely new in its own right. Perhaps is Wiebke's talent as an editor that allowed her to do just that with The Saver. Seeing what must have been paragraphs of text describing Fern's thoughts and emotions distilled into a single scene or a look, speak greatly to Wiebke's skill as a writer, as well as a director. It's truly a talent to be honored that can create a film that is both literary and visual, and Weibke has certainly triumphed in that regard. -- mrc

Kelly ReichardtMalie MeloyCertain Women, screenplay by Kelly Reichardt, based on stories by Maile Meloy - In CERTAIN WOMEN, filmmaker Kelly Reichardt adapts three short stories by Montana-based writer Maile Meloy. They all center on female leads, including a middle-aged lawyer who finds herself forced to negotiate a standoff with her disgruntled client, a woman who attempts to persuade an elderly man to sell her the sandstone on his property and a lonely ranch hand who falls for a younger lawyer teaching a night class at the local school. Although they briefly intersect at the beginning and the end, they otherwise play out as separate entities, allowing us to both take in the nuances of each one and still consider how they depict this ultra-specific environment as a whole. --ck

Nikolaj ArcelJussi Adler-OlsenA Conspiracy of Faith screenplay by Nikolaj Arcel, based on the novel by Jussi Adler-Olsen - is chronologically the third in an eerie and compelling series of popular Danish detective thrillers, all three of which were released in 2016 by Netflix. The title is ironic, as the people involved in the conspiracy are ultimately faithless, even though they are nominally Jehovah’s Witnesses. Commencing with an eight-year-old message in a bottle, one of the oldest but ever reliable narrative tropes, this unnerving chapter of seemingly burned-out detectives, consigned to working on unsolved cases in the police department basement, progresses from that message into a horrifying tale of parents strangely lacking in emotion for their missing children exploited and worse by a minister more akin to serial killer than man of the cloth. That such a horrifying story comes from Denmark, typically regarded as a model of contemporary probity, is due in part to the performance of brilliant Norwegian actor Pål Sverre Hagen as Johannes, in part to excellent direction by Hans Petter Moland, but most of all to an outstanding adaptation by Nikolaj Arcel, who also wrote the screenplay for Denmark’s THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. --kr

Whit StillmanJane AusteLove & Friendship, screenplay by Whit Stillman based on a novella by Jane Austen - Jane Austen’s epistolary novella, “Lady Susan,” is a perfect match for Whit Stillman’s style and ability to skewer social conventions. Stillman and Austen both relish the art of verbal exchange and the humour in moments when verbal communication falters. -- bk

Hannes HolmFredrik BackmanA Man Called Ove, screenplay by Hannes Holm, based on the novel by Fredrik Backman - A MAN CALLED OVE is the story of a lonely and curmudgeonly retiree who spends his time harassing his neighbors for petty HOA violations before ultimately planning to kill himself. However, Ove, who at the film’s beginning is quite unlikeable, ends up being a very sympathetic man. The screenplay modulates the emotional tone in a couple ways. First using a sort of parallel narrative in flashback, we find out more about how the widower’s personality developed: as a victim of fate, his initial optimism was worn down over time. The script also teases the tone using a quintessential Scandinavian dark wit. Ove’s dismal goals are comically thwarted by chance, so that we reflect more on the absurdity of the situation than his nastiness. As he tries and fails to be mean to his new neighbors, Ove slowly redeems himself by being a genuine friend. Balancing wry humor and pathos, the story is nicely paced, with the finale satisfyingly matching the complex tone of the film. --pe

Hirokazu KoreedaAkimi YoshidaOur Little Sister, screenplay by Hirokazu Koreeda, based on the manga by Akimi Yoshida - The gentle rhythms of daily life, so reminiscent of Ozu, are lovingly captured in this screenplay by the modern master of everyday life, Hirokazu Koreeda. Surely the graphic novel upon wich this film is based must share the loving sense of acceptance that Koreeda so beautiful conveys when three close-knit sisters discover they have a little sister they of whome they were not aware. It's a dramatic and lovely story told  by a director/screenwriter who clearly knows his craft. --mrc

Best Use of Music in a Film

Sing StreetWinnerSing Street, Becky Bentham, Music Supervisor - I am not the dancing type. Ask ANYONE who knows me (well...almost anyone). But the music from this perfect little slice of 1980s teen life in Dublin had me tapping my toes from the first second it hit until the closing credits rolled. Whether it was the superb collection of oh-so-fun 80s flashbacks or the film's lineup of utterly FANTASTIC original songs performed by breakout stars Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and Mark McKenna, every song fit every nook and cranny of this film, and makes it an utter JOY to see. It's time for everyone to "Drive It Like You Stole It" and make this film a WINNER! --kb

American HoneyAmerican Honey, Irma de Wind, Music Coordinator - The soundtrack to Andrea Arnold’s one-of-a-kind road trip film suitably plays like an eclectic but not random mixtape, even if its teenaged characters likely no longer make them. It features plenty of hip-hop that we often see the cast rapping along to, but it also makes room for mainstream dance pop (Rhianna’s “We Found Love” exuberantly scores a key scene set in a K-Mart checkout line), ‘90s modern rock (Mazzy Star), country (the Lady Antebellum song that gives the film its title) and even a Bruce Springsteen cover of Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream” that lends considerable poignancy to the scene it accompanies.--ck

Eisenstein in GuanajuatoEisenstein in Guanajuato, Patrick Lemmens, Music Supervisor; Ruy García, Music Consultant - The film’s soundtrack largely relies on the intense range of passions in the music of Sergei Prokofiev, an appropriate choice since Prokofiev had scored Eisenstein’s ALEXANDER NEVSKY and IVAN THE TERRIBLE. Prokofiev was renowned for his uncanny ability to create music that mirrored the visual image. -- bk

Everybody Wants SomeEverybody Wants Some!!, Meghan Currier, Randall Poster Music Supervisors; Ian Herbert, Music Coordinator - The soundtrack of EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! ambles between genres as it follows the teammates of the 1980 Texas State University baseball team over the last long weekend before the Fall semester. Music blasts from car radios, nightclub sound systems, and dorm room stereos as they cruise around town while attempt to keep the beat with “Rappers Delight”, boogie at a disco, shoot pool and ride a mechanical bull at a country-and-western bar, go to a scrappy punk-rock show, host and attend raucous house parties, and compare record collections while hanging out in their rooms. The diegetic music becomes another character in the film, perfectly capturing this era just prior to MTV when radio play and vinyl still reigned, with a diverse mix of rock, dance music, hip-hop, new wave, and country. --hn

Green RoomGreen Room, Lauren Marie Mikus, Music Supervisor - A tale of mayhem set in the pristine Oregon coast range, GREEN ROOM tells the story of a punk rock band run afoul of a gang of drug-dealing, Nazi skinheads. The soundtrack thus tends necessarily to be something of a split personality. On the one hand, music composed for the movie itself, lush, electronic, almost New Age, conjures the setting; dark, primeval, forests, lonely backroads shrouded in mist, and rushing rivers. On the other hand, evoking the havoc which drives the movie, we get ferocious punk, death, black, and speed metal, not only the chosen genres of the movie’s characters, but also music that propels the story to its anarchic end. In both guises, the soundtrack of GREEN ROOM conveys its setting and its plot. --jp

MoonlightMoonlight, Nicholas Britell, Composer - In a time when noise increasingly is regarded as the equivalent of emotion, and source music frequently obviates the need for creative thinking, a score such as Nicholas Britell’s MOONLIGHT is something to treasure. A musician and producer (of the short WHIPLASH and co-producer of the feature), as well as film composer of great renown, Britell is enjoying considerable success with his superlative score for MOONLIGHT. Using a technique of Southern Hip-Hop he learned from director Barry Jenkins called “Chopped and Screwed” music (songs are slowed way down, and in doing so, the pitch goes down too, resulting in music very slow and deep), Britell applied the technique to slow things, bend music, deepen the sound of music. “First, I would write music and record it, primarily with piano and strings, in particular featuring the beautiful playing by violinist Tim Fain. After this, I would being to experiment with ‘chopping and screwing’ my own recordings. I would bend tracks, taking cellos and turning them into strange bass-like instruments, taking pianos and violins and altering them into a totally new shape. At times, this sort of alteration is quite subtle, while at other times quite extreme”. Britell’s instinct for both the classical and the unusual can be heard in the virtuoso violin playing by the afore-mentioned Tim Fain, who often sounds like he is evoking the caprices and concertos of famous 19th century virtuoso violinist and composer Niccolo Paganini, or in the sudden even shocking introduction of Mozart’s “Laudate Dominum” from a 1780 sacred work, in counterpoint to a soccer game involving various neighborhood boys: The cue works brilliantly precisely because of its intrusiveness. But ultimately it is Britell’s close collaboration with Barry Jenkins in telling a story that results in a feeling of rapture at the conclusion of MOONLIGHT. --kr

Best Editing

Matthieu LaclauWinnerMatthieu Laclau for Mountains May Depart - Three segments covering three time periods in the lifespan of Tao, the main character; a nostalgic look backward at 1999, jumping ahead to 2014, and landing at last in 2025. Matthieu Laclau's editing forms and re-forms the parameters of Tao's evolving world. In the first segment, we see Tao caught between two men vying for her attention; handheld cameras bring a hesitant edge to the minimalist dialog. Laclau complements the mix of cinema verite and home-video rawness in long shots of tightly packed crowds attending a street parade, a stagnant view of mine tailings jumps to broken ice floating in a swiftly flowing river as Tao considers a marriage proposal. As the film progresses, Laclau cuts carefully to expand the distances between the characters, broken voices are heard from outside the frame, isolation, anger and regret are Tao's constant companions. --kp

Lee ChatametikoolLee Chatametikool for Cemetery of Splendor - CEMETERY OF SPLENDOR features plenty of its director’s favored wide-angle still shots, but it just as often practically glides from scene to scene, concerned with such ephemera as the light in the sky or the unusual therapy provided by symmetrical rows of glowing neon tubes stationed at hospital beds. It’s as if we’re hazily moving through a landscape that’s not entirely concrete, but at least partially of the mind. This culminates in an astonishing sequence where dreams and reality practically seem to dissolve into one another as the film slowly superimposes escalators in a multiplex cinema with the hospital room that serves as its central base.--ck

Elmer LeupenElmer Leupen for Eisenstein in Guanajuato - Sergei Eisenstein arrived in Mexico in late 1930, to scout locations and begin shooting miles of footage for a film project backed by Mary and Upton Sinclair. The project was abandoned after Stalin pronounced him a deserter from Russia; ultimately, the star director was yanked back to Moscow, leaving the footage behind. Elmer Leupen borrows extensively from Eisenstein's signature style of editing, most notably, the Russian Montage -- which was not originated by Eisenstein, but his development of that effect holds a lasting influence on film directors and editors. Cross-cutting/parallel editing, low-angle shots, chiaroscuro lighting, and split screens sliced into triptych panels are all embedded in this puckish and stylized homage to a seminal artist. Director Peter Greenaway's penchant for rich, deep colors and provocative imagery is ably matched by Leupin's keen editorial eye. --kp

Nat Sanders and Joi McMillonJoi McMillon and Nat Sanders for Moonlight - MOONLIGHT is an example of storytelling at its finest, and editing plays an essential role in that success. McMillon and Sanders have carefully chosen the sequence of scenes and shots; the flawless pacing of the film is the result of a myriad of editorial choices. --bk

José SalcedoJosé Salcedo for Julieta - The challenge for Jose Salcedo, Pedro Almodovar’s longtime editor, was how to harness two strong, distinct voices (Almodovar’s and writer Alice Munro, whose short stories were adapted for the screen) into a cohesive blend, while at the same time fashioning a whodunit feel to a time-jumping character study. Which involves the double casting of the lead character. Without completely losing the thread of the story – or confusing the audience! Those are a lot of balls to keep in the air, and Salcedo pulls off the feat. The film is ultimately a meditation on loss and its effect on a person’s outlook, sense of self and memories, and the editing supports the elusive, mysterious shifts in perspective of these
elements, leaning into the changes and coincidences of fate that lead Julieta along in her life. --bcu

Best Cinematography

Diego GarcíaWinnerDiego García for Cemetery of Splendor - CEMETERY OF SPLENDOR is a story of a volunteer nurse at a makeshift hospital where soldiers are stricken by a strange sleeping sickness. Cinematographer Diego Garcia (who also shot Buried Treasure nominee NEON BULL) takes a “less is more” approach to the film. Camera moves are nearly non-existent, and shots are typically framed medium to long. The result is a very non-intrusive, observational approach, allowing the everyday and surreal to subtly blend. Children playing on dirt mounds of a mysterious nearby excavation project, hypnotic ceiling fans and pond aerators, a subtly comical sort of game of musical chairs at a lakeside park, and the eerie lighting of multi-colored tubes by the hospital beds are some of the many memorable images. By leaving plenty of breathing room to soak in the surroundings as well as the acting performances, the cinematography and editing work together to present more of a mood than a rigid narrative, as past and present, dreams and wakefulness, seamlessly interweave. --pe

Caroline ChampetierCaroline Champetier for The Innocents - The best films utilize cinematography for aesthetic value and to convey meaningful information about the film’s unexplored plot, themes, and moods. The outdoor scenes in The Innocents are stunning and demonstrate Champetier’s superior skills and perspective. It would appear that the nuns have little distinction amidst the snow-covered ground, the snow-capped trees, as they move through the scenery in their dark habits with their snow-white veils. Yet, the composition of massive trees surrounding the characters, nearly engulfing the individuals, reminds us of the relative insignificance of the human amidst the enduring forest. At that time (WWII) in human history, the overwhelming significance of evil spreading and infecting the world can still be seen as insignificant in comparison to those ancient trees. The cinematography is also completed using a great deal of darkness and shadows within the walls of the convent, allowing light in certain places, very subtle but effective in directing the viewer toward the film’s hidden truths. Together, the remarkable images and ideas contained within make THE INNOCENTS an excellent choice for a Chlotrudis nominee.--bca

Chung-hoon ChungChung Chung-hoon for The Handmaiden - Director Park Chan-wook’s cinematographic collaborator on OLDBOY, LADY VENGEANCE, THIRST and STOKER creates the year’s most dazzling textures and colors for this imaginative evocation of 1930s Korea’s clothes, furniture, drapes, books, and steamy lesbian sex scenes, with particular emphasis on pale pink cloth, flower petals, and skin. The exquisite secret library where spirited dramatic readings of high-toned pornography for a select group of elegant well-dressed gentlemen take place becomes an unforgettable lesson on the power of words, as well as an illustration of the Count’s mantra, “Where I come from, it’s illegal to be naïve” — something impossible to say about Sookee or Hideko by the end. Chung’s justifiably renowned work is so varied, detailed, and jaw-droppingly exquisite that the film invites repeated visits, like the secret rooms of your favorite libraries and museums. --kr

James LaxtonJames Laxton for Moonlight - The film, MOONLIGHT, is an honest narrative about a child of color growing up in the state of Florida. The task of the cinematographer, James Laxton, is to portray the various stages of this character’s life from his viewpoint as a black male in contrast to the viewpoint of the white dominant culture of the state. For these purposes, lighting for the cinematographer is crucial. The very title of the film conveys that the child is growing up in a state somewhere between dark and light, and it is no coincidence that the title is representing a black child growing up in the sunshine state. Surrounded by white sandy beaches, a black boy in this community never learned to swim. The cinematographer utilizes all his superb skills to create a pristine landscape, even when the shadows are allowed to blur the lines. The movement between focus, and foggy, bright fluorescent and gentle twilight is wonderfully used, but is not overly noticeable for the viewer; and it never pulls the viewer into an artificial experience or mood. Laxton is deserving of praise for his talented work in shooting this film, a black and white story, filmed in color.

Marius PanduruMarius Panduru for Aferim! - Marius Panduru's high-contrast B&W photography provides the audience with a crisp and caustic lens through which to view the slapstick adventures of a bureaucratic flunky and his son, as they chase down a Romany slave running from his feudal "lord and master" (after an alleged romance with the nobleman's wife). Who knew that slavery, bigotry and random acts of clumsy violence in mid-19th century Wallachia could be turned on its ear in such a sly fashion? The arid landscape and isolated outposts through which the characters pass calls to mind the classic Westerns of the 1950s and '60s; the casual abuse and sneering disdain aimed at "gypsies", Russians, Hungarians and Jews is reminiscent of modern society's slow and stumbling path toward acceptance/integration of immigrants and minorities into the mainstream population. This blackly comic slice of life reminds us that we have not traveled as far away from these prejudices as we would like to believe. --kp

Paul YeePaul Yee for The Fits - Although filmed in a rather ordinary location—an urban community center/gym in Cincinnati—much of The Fits feels otherworldly thanks to Paul Yee’s camerawork. It’s shot in widescreen format, but favors abstract compositions from wide-angle landscape shots that emphasize surfaces like walls and linoleum floors to extreme close-ups of body parts and facial expressions. His liberal use of slow-motion also heightens the feeling that something’s slightly… off in this mostly contained environment, as seen through the eyes of 11-year-old tomboy Toni whose presence has a peculiar effect on other members of the all-female dance troupe she has recently joined. --ck

Best Production Design

The HandmaidenWinnerSeong-hie Ryu for The Handmaiden - I cannot get out of my head the image of that library, or that tree by the woods, or that hotel! Good lord, that hotel – production designer Ryu Seong-hee outdoes herself stocking every physical space that this Korean film inhabits. An adaptation of Victorian era novel Fingersmith, the story is transplanted to 30’s era Korea, occupied by Japan. Ryu’s design makes manifest in every room of the mansion the overlay and tension between these two different cultures. As well, her design mirrors the shifting tones and perspectives within the story, in a way that helps the viewer navigate the twisty tale, rather than be lost in it. Vivid, lush but nevertheless grounded, Ryu’s work is the fulcrum around which this crazy story can spin merrily along. --bcu

Microbe & GasolineAttila Egry for Microbe & Gasoline - "Aren't the geraniums too much?" NO! They're not, and neither is the design of this wonderful little comedy for kids of all ages. The wonderful design of the films' principal vehicle - a tiny house on wheels - spreads through the rest of the film in its look, feel, and offbeat perception. A fantasy spliced into the real countryside, the film looks great, and all of the various location shots are put to great use, and feel like Daniel and, Microbe (he hates that) and Gasoline (he hates that too) are right where they should be.--kb

JulietaAntxón Gómez for Julieta - In JULIETA, as in all of Pedro Almodóvar’s films, the color palette, wardrobe, and sets are never mere details of production design; they are integral to the world he imagines, a rendering of contemporary Spain filtered through selected works of literature and Hollywood films of the 1950s, particular the lush visuals of Douglas Sirk. The titular character is first presented in middle age, living in a modern apartment in Madrid. She is packing in preparation to move, and we see how deliberately spare her home is, appearing already half-packed: each book carefully selected, her few photos, a curious statue, and so many clean surfaces. As we flash back to her as a young Classics professor, she is all angles and bright colors: spiky bleached hair, hard plastic earrings, and a bright blue knit dress, in sharp contrast to the muted earth tones of the train she is traveling on, and the unkempt hair, beard, and clothing worn by the handsome stranger she encounters. When the story moves the seaside town where the handsome stranger is a fisherman, Julieta becomes softer as she is gradually surrounded by more natural elements such as the ever-changing ocean and the rustic furnishings of their cottage, and leaves behind her urban lifestyle for marriage and motherhood in a small village. --hn

Cemetery of SplendorAkekarat Homlaor for Cemetary of Splendor - Akekarat Homlaor's production design creates the platform for a series of waking-dreams. The viewer is entranced and confused by the combination of the real and the fantastic. An eerie and desolate calm swaddles a hospital for Thai soldiers who have succumbed to a mysterious sleeping sickness. Jen-jira, a partially-disabled woman, volunteers to tend a soldier named Itt, who has no family to care for him. A young medium tells Jen that the hospital is built on the graveyard of ancient warrior kings who conscript the souls of the dreaming soldiers to fight their long-dead enemies. The worlds of the dead, the dreaming, and the living cross paths and wander aimlessly in altered states. The soldiers are sheltered in shabby open-air rooms, bedded down under wood-shuttered windows without glass. A hen and chicks strut and scurry across the concrete slabs and tiled floors. Candy cane-shaped tubes emitting waves of blue, pink, green, and red light are installed as psycho-therapeutic treatment for the patients -- the cold glow bleeds out as borrowed modernity infused over the cultural and spiritual past. Children have deserted a nearby local playground decorated with painted concrete dinosaurs, to play in a huge mound of dirt next to abandoned earth movers and construction equipment. A walk through the grounds of an abandoned palace reveals shards of broken statuary, tumbled against mute references to the horrors of 20th century wars and politically-engendered violence. --kp

Love & FriendshipAnna Rackard for Love & Friendship - The works of Jane Austen continue to find favor with each new generation of artists and audiences. Director Whit Stillman’s most assured work to date, and very possibly the most remarkable Austen adaptation yet, is 2016’s version of LADY SUSAN entitled with a name from Austen’s juvenilia. The production design by Anna Rackard makes full use of characters’ frequent entrances into and exits from stately mansions, beautifully decorated sitting rooms and parlors, empty hallways, and sculpted formal gardens. In Rackard’s incisive work, the rooms become as much characters in Austen's story as the costumes, paintings, furniture, and music. --kr

High-RiseMark Tildesley for High-Rise -

Best Performance by an Ensemble Cast

MoonlnightWinnerMoonlight - This glorious film may have achieved show business immortality because of a mind-numbing error at the 89th Academy Awards, but at the October NYFF screening, it was the clear audience favorite, with three standing ovations bestowed upon it — one at the conclusion of the film, and two for the superlative cast members before and after the Q & A. It is worth repeating that the three stories set in troubled inner city Miami take place through the childhood, adolescence and adulthood of a conflicted gay African-American, his family and friends, whose heart-breaking desires reflect an almost unheard of universality of humanity in independent cinema. That the narrative seamlessness is so extraordinarily moving is due to memorable writing and direction by Barry Jenkins, but the impulse for the entirety of that Lincoln Center audience to leap from their seats three times is a tribute to a note-perfect ensemble cast that finds every shade of human interaction. The perfection of the ensemble rewards repeat viewings of this masterpiece with additional revelations. —kr

Certain WomenCertain Women - Films like Kelly Reichardt's CERTAIN WOMEN, that tell three separate stories that are only tangentially related, can be frequent fodder for great ensemble cast performances. The women assembled to tell these stories do so in very complex and varied ways. From Laura Dern's no frills, capable lawyer, who has to continuously go above and beyond precisely because of her gender, to Lily Gladstone's taciturn, solitary rancher who embodies the phrase, 'still waters run deep,' we're talking some incredible performances. Michelle Williams tackles a complex, ambitious woman who knows shat she wants and goes after it. Kristen Stewart, a young lawyer from the city traveling hours weekly to teach a class to a few teachers in the country. And let's not forget the amazing men who support these stories. James LeGros, Rene Auberjonois and especially, Jared Harris, create rich support characters that truly bring this amazing film to life. -- mrc

Don't Think TwiceDon't Think Twice - Improv-comedy teams, in order to be successful, find the way to take a group of different individuals and create a cohesive story to tell. Don’t Think Twice, a film about such a team, had find that balance, twice. The film can’t succeed unless viewers see that the Commune members are good at what they do, before things befall them all over the course of the movie. This cast passes that test. Writer and director Mike Birbiglia gives his costars, including Keegan-Michael Key and Gillian Jacobs, room to shine, as the tight-knit group reacts to one of its own finds solo success. --bcu

Little MenLittle Men - If there was ever a perfect cast for a perfect little film, this is it. While each performance is nuanced, the performances come together as a whole that makes each individual actor an important part of an ensemble as well. Three parents, each with difficulties of their own when it comes to life, two pre-teen boys discovering new friendships, as well as what puberty brings on, while their parents are preparing to go to war with each other. The relationships between parents and sons form an unbreakable bond, but it is one that is both dependent AND independent of each other. Does that make any sense? When it comes to this film, yes. It makes PERFECT sense. --tck

Our Little SisterOur Little Sister - The three grown sisters in this Japanese manga adaptation are as richly drawn as those in similarly-structured works by Anton Chekhov and Woody Allen. The eldest, Sachi, is a nurse and responsible mother figure to the wilder Yoshino, who works in a bank and the more carefree Chika, who works in a sporting goods store. At their father’s funeral, they meet their 13-year-old stepsister whom they welcome into their lives. The actresses in these four roles make up a strong ensemble that includes love interests but also such characters as a woman who runs the sisters’ favorite restaurant, who also becomes an unexpectedly touching part of their story. --ck

Best Documentary

13thWinner13th - The facts delivered in the first few moments of the documentary are painful to accept -- informing the audience that the US is home to 5% of the population of the globe, and American prisons hold 25% of the total number of incarcerated persons worldwide. The focus of the film is juxtaposition of the first 250 years of slavery in the American Colonies and the early history of the United States, against the intent and repercussions of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. For each step taken to distance ourselves from the sin of slavery, our customs and subsequently manufactured laws were complicit in reforging and reinforcing those chains through arrest and imprisonment of black men and women in ever-increasing numbers. Through interviews of political figures, activists, historians, and former inmates of these wretched institutions, Ava DuVernay brings our nation's historic and on-going failures of legal rights and justice to light. --kp

City of GoldCity of Gold - Focusing on Los Angeles food writer Jonathan Gold, this wonderful tour of the cuisine in the little hidden places in LA makes you hungry (ok, the hagfish almost make me yarp) and makes you wish you had a friend like Gold to take you around to introduce you to them in person. Coupled with his witty wife and food-curious son and daughter, the film shows you a family man who is trying to spread the word about all different kinds of food, one reader at a time. And he's succeeding very well at that - and so does this film, a must see for any foodie! --kb

Miss Sharon Jones!Miss Sharon Jones! - It is inspiring to watch Barbara Kopple's honest and intimate portrait of Miss Sharon Jones, the dynamo of a soul singer. THe well-crafted documentary chronicles the singer's brave fight against pancreatic cancer in a brilliant way that gives the audience a glimpse at Jones in performance mode before cancer and then watches her determination to return to the stage. IN the film, she is triumphant against the cancer, but sadly she lost her battle in 2016. . How fortunate we are to have this tribute to her exuberance and fierce spirit. --vo

Tickled!Tickled! - TICKLED! begins with a wink and a nod—a feature-length documentary about competitive tickling online? Still, few can fathom what its co-director, New Zealand-based pop culture journalist David Farrier uncovers as he investigates this initially innocuous-seeming niche/fetish subculture. He soon faces resistance and all-out harassment from “Jane O’Brien Media” the mysterious entity behind the competitions, which is nothing compared to the widespread bullying and abuse the organization heaps upon its young male participants. Tickled is a classic “truth is stranger than fiction” expose that just gets increasingly stranger (and more fascinating) the deeper Farrier delves into this world. --ck

WeinerWeiner - WEINER profiles the former New York Congressman who resigned in the wake of a sex scandal involving his posting online pictures of his genitalia. His career sidelined, Anthony Weiner regrouped and promised his wife, an aide to Hillary Clinton, “You can be sure I’ll never take a picture of myself.” That false promise once again cut short his political career, this time a run for Mayor of New York City. WEINER is a fascinating, well-constructed piece of documentary filmmaking. --bk

Where to Invade NextWhere to invade Next - Michael Moore has long been a documentary filmmaker who uses humor in activism. Moore’s art form is designed to bring enjoyment to the viewer, even as the content of the film addresses difficult or controversial subjects. Where to Invade Next is a lighthearted documentary with a serious message: The United States could take a page from the social institutions of nations that value their society. Moore visits countries abroad who have demonstrated that they value the individuals that make up their society and value young people as an investment – an investment in the well-being of the country and the strength of the country’s future. In the past, critics of Michael Moore have argued that his films would benefit from more strategic editing in order to improve the message of his films. WHERE TO INVADE NEXT is far from excessive or indulgent, however. Michael Moore finds an excellent balance of material to convey his message and he does so in a remarkably creative manner, an ideal form as a sociopolitical documentary. --bca