Ryan's Cinema Awards 2017

Best Visual Effects
War for the Planet of the Apes (Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri & Joel Whist)

The Planet of the Apes trilogy that began with Rise of the Planet of the Apes has been a benchmark in the evolution of visual effects in cinema.  The way that the WETA team and others have improved the motion capture process is truly astonishing and has allowed for the actors (especially Andy Serkis) to deliver performances in formats that were simply not possible twenty years ago.  Now the visual effects in War for the Planet of the Apes aren't exactly a step up from what this trilogy began with, but it's still far and away from anything else in the visual effects department currently.

Best Sound Mixing
Song to Song (Joel Dougherty)

Ever since Terrence Malick returned to directing with The Thin Red Line, his movies have relied heavily on its sound mix.  With numerous voiceovers intertwined with classical scores and actual action, there's a lot of work that needs to be done to nail the final mix on his films.  Song to Song also adds in modern music to the final equation and it results in Malick's best movie since The Tree of Life.

Best Sound Editing
Thor: Ragnarok (Daniel Laurie & Shannon Mills)

Not only is Sakaar one of the most visually interesting places of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it has some of the most unique sounds in a movie in recent history.  The Grandmaster's random musical cues and the sounds of the gladiator arena make for a memorable concoction.

Best Production Design
The Lost City of Z (Jean-Vincent Puzos)

The Lost City of Z does a stunning job of bringing early 20th century Britain and the jungle life of Brazil to reality.  It does it all without a blockbuster budget as well.

Best Original Song
"Visions of Gideon", Call Me By Your Name (Sufjan Stevens)

This song does a great job of setting the tone of the movie's final scene and credits.  It's easily the most impactful song in a movie this year.

Best Original Score
Dunkirk (Hans Zimmer)

Hans Zimmer and Christopher Nolan make for the strongest composer-director collaboration currently going in the business and the Dunkirk score is a perfect example why.  Zimmer's aggressive score adds to the unrelenting action of the movie.  "Supermarine" and "The Oil" are the highlights of his work.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
The Lost City of Z (Nana Fischer)

Some of the hairstyling (especially on Sienna Miller's character) is interesting in this movie, but it's the makeup work done to show the effects of living in the jungle that really makes the work in this movie standout.

Best Film Editing
Dunkirk (Lee Smith)

Time and the mechanics surrounding it have always been a reoccurring theme of Christopher Nolan's works.  Dunkirk is another example of this as it shows three different storylines that play out at different paces.  It left editor and frequent Nolan collaborator Lee Smith in a tough spot, but the final product makes it look easy.

Best Costume Design
Phantom Thread (Mark Bridges)

The costumes of Phantom Thread are not only memorable but integral to the plot.  It makes for an easy winner in this category.

Best Cinematography
Song to Song (Emmanuel Lubezki)

Emmanuel Lubezki is the undisputed grandmaster of displaying natural lighting in cinema (among many other accomplishments).  He takes his methods and adapts them to a much more urban setting to great effect in this movie.

Best Original Screenplay
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards may not have dialogue as catchy as In Bruges, but this still marks some of Martin McDonagh's most profound work.  In terms of dark humor, no one is currently writing as well as he is.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Craig Kyle, Eric Pearson & Christopher L. Yost, Thor: Ragnarok

There are better entries than Ragnarok in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but there is no other that marks such a huge improvement over its predecessor.  Thor as a character seemed lost for some time (The Dark World is probably the worst movie in the MCU and Thor was largely wasted in Age of Ultron), but with this movie he encounters a renaissance that leads him to this point in time where he is one of the best characters in the franchise.  That's all due to the fun dialogue and memorable characters of this movie.

Best Supporting Actress
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread

Manville isn't in this movie for long, but she makes quite an impact for a movie that wants to be just a two character story.  She also might deliver the best one liner of the year.

Best Supporting Actor
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Sam Rockwell gets the big, showy role in this movie (and deservedly so), but I find Woody Harrelson's performance to be the heart and soul of the movie.  You are trained to want to hate his character, but Harrelson does all of the little and subtle things right to make this a character that you want to root for and feel his absence in the later stages of the movie.

Best Lead Actress
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Martin McDonagh is great at writing characters.  Most of them are loud but with a sly undercurrent that you don't notice until the final stages of the movie.  Mildred might be the best character he's ever written, and he couldn't have found a more perfect actor for her than Frances McDormand.  McDormand commands the screen when she has to, but she's even better when she's adding the sly touches that make her character more human.

Best Lead Actor
Hugh Jackman, Logan

Hugh Jackman's Wolverine is the true first superhero of the cinematic superhero era having been the protagonist of 2000's X-Men.  I don't think Jackman ever got enough credit through the years, but Logan finally gives the character enough range for him to deliver a truly spectacular performance.

Best Director
James Mangold, Logan

James Mangold has one of the most diverse filmographies out there for a director.  He's done a musical drama, an action comedy, a western and superhero movies.  Yet his success rate is still quite high.  Logan might be his most challenging endeavor yet as he had to battle the studio system in order to deliver a story set in an established and money making IP that actually feels like it matters.  Logan really works, and I don't know when we are going to see a superhero movie like this again.

Best Picture
Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan & Emma Thomas)

When Christopher Nolan is working at the top of his game his movies are unmatched.  Recently he's delivered a couple of admirably ambitious movies that don't quite work all the way (The Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar).  Dunkirk, however, is Christopher Nolan at the top of his power again.  Despite time being a reoccurring theme of his movies he once again finds a way to make it seem unique with a tale of how the evacuation of Dunkirk plays out over land, air and sea.  With some stunning cinematography (brought together with 70mm IMAX cameras), a memorable score and some shockingly subtle performances from a cast that includes everyone from theater legend Mark Rylance to teen heartthrob Harry Styles, it's hard not to love this movie.

3-Dunkirk, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
2-Logan, The Lost City of Z, Phantom Thread, Song to Song, Thor: Ragnarok

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