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The ScreenCrush Awards: Celebrating the Best Movies, Actors, Actresses, and More From 2016 So Far

bestofawards3

We’ve already picked the best movies of 2016 so far. But with just nine titles across our two lists, that left out a lot of great performances and movies and surprises from the year that was (not to mention the worst movies and crushing disappointments). Before we start looking ahead to the rest of the year, let’s give out some awards for the stuff we loved (and hated) from January to June. It’ll be fun, even if we don’t know what to call these things. (The Crushies? The Screeners?) Whatever they’re called, here they are:

Best Actor – Ryan Gosling, The Nice Guys

Nice GUys trailer

I wouldn’t say I was surprised that Ryan Gosling was funny in The Nice Guys — he’s shown his comedic side before — but I was surprised how funny Ryan Gosling was in The Nice Guys playing a shockingly alcoholic private eye named Holland March. Bouncing quips off his unwanted new partner Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) and his inquisitive daughter (Angourie Rice), Gosling basically does it all. He kills the physical comedy. He nails Shane Black’s pitch-black verbal humor. He screams in a high-pitched squeal that sounds like a dying forest animal sucking down helium. It wasn’t a star-making performance (the dude is already one of our best stars) but it might have been a comedic star-making performance. He and Shane Black should make 10 more movies together. — Matt Singer

Honorable Mention: Colin Farrell, The Lobster


Best Actress – Tilda Swinton, A Bigger Splash

Fox Searchlight
Fox Searchlight

As far as major studio releases are concerned, there haven’t been many great roles for women in 2016. But beyond the multiplex you’ll find fantastic performances from the likes of Rachel Weisz and Lea Seydoux (The Lobster), and Julianne Moore and Greta Gerwig (Maggie’s Plan). There have been none better, however, than Tilda Swinton, a consistently remarkable actress who delivered another fascinating turn in A Bigger Splash, Luca Guadagnino’s loose remake of the 1969 film La Piscine. Swinton plays an enigmatic rock star a la David Bowie named Marianne, whose blissful vacation with her lover (Matthias Schoenaerts) is abruptly interrupted by her ex (Ralph Fiennes) and his estranged daughter (Dakota Johnson). A Bigger Splash is a terrific film with riveting character drama and a disturbingly charming turn from Ralph Fiennes, but Swinton is the real star. Marianne spends the majority of the film either in silence or straining to whisper as the result of a vocal injury, forcing Swinton to rely almost entirely on physicality and facial expressions. She beautifully walks the line between cartoonish charades and nuanced exaggerations, giving us comedy, tragedy, sensuality, and elegance in equal measure. — Britt Hayes

Honorable Mention: Rachel Weisz, The Lobster


Best Sci-Fi Movie – The Lobster

The Lobster review

The best science fiction reflects the anxieties and absurdities of our reality in an imagined world. Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest film is set in a futuristic society where single people are turned into animals when they fail to find a partner. It’s a disturbing premise that touches on the horrors of modern-day dating and our culture’s dependence on relationships. But it’s how Lanthimos weaves the film’s sci-fi element with dark satire that’s most impressive. As futuristic as the premise sounds, the world Lanthimos creates feels believable. That’s good sci-fi. — Erin Whitney

Honorable Mention: 10 Cloverfield Lane


Best Superhero Movie – Captain America: Civil War

Marvel
Marvel

The Marvel Cinematic Universe keeps getting bigger and better. With more Avengers than the last Avengers movie, Captain America: Civil War could have been an absolute clusterf—. But directors Anthony and Joe Russo did an admirable job of balancing their large cast, and finding room to spotlight each of their new superheroes, from Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) to Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) to the terrific teen Spider-Man (Tom Holland). Civil War is the best possible argument for Marvel’s extremely long-form style of cinematic storytelling. It took a decade to build to this confrontation between Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) against Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) so that when it arrived, it wasn’t a matter of rooting for someone to win. It’s about hoping no one loses. — MS

Honorable Mention: Midnight Special


Best Horror Movie – The Witch

The Witch

Robert Eggers’ feature directorial debut is staggeringly self-assured. The Witch centers on a 17th century Puritan family led by a patriarch (Ralph Ineson) so devout he’s been exiled from their small New England community. When their infant disappears in a mysterious incident, much of the focus — and blame — is placed firmly on the shoulders of Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy in a breakout performance), who becomes the scapegoat for her family’s misfortune. Themes of misogyny, displacement, and the all-too-human nature of evil are united in this fiercely thoughtful and frequently disquieting coming-of-age story. After all the online debate, is The Witch a horror film? Absolutely. And I’ll be shocked if there’s a better one this year — or even this decade. — BH

Honorable Mention: The Invitation


Worst Movie of 2016 So Far: Mother’s Day

Mother's Day

In what was sadly one of the most competitive categories at this year’s awards, the title for the worst piece of dreck so far in 2016 belongs to Mother’s Day, the latest effort in Garry Marshall’s ongoing campaign to turn all of our nation’s most beloved holidays into cinematic abominations. An all-star cast gives a no-laughs performance in a series of interlocking stories, each more horrible than the next, about the joys of motherhood. I cannot imagine a more cruel way to pay tribute to the greatness of mothers than this. (An on-point comment from my ScreenCrush review of the film: “This is a movie to take your mom to if you hate her.”) — MS

(Dis)honorable Mention: Dirty Grandpa


Most Pleasant Surprise: The Shallows

The Shallows

Even with a skilled genre director behind the helm (Jaume Collet-Serra, who made the bonkers horror movie Orphan and the solid Liam Neeson thrillers Unknown and Non-Stop), expectations weren’t exactly high for The Shallows, aka “Shark v Blake: Dawn of Bikinis.” But The Shallows delivered what so many other 2016 summer movies did not; solid thrills, exciting action, genuine stakes, and dry humor. (Expect Blake’s bird sidekick, Steven Seagull, to become a horror movie legend.) In a year when Hollywood’s primary (and, some weeks, only) selling point is Bigger! BIGGER! BIGGER!!!The Shallows was a reminder that small-scale storytelling can deliver huge entertainment. — MS

Honorable mention: The Jungle Book


Biggest Disappointment – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

We’re only halfway through the year, but choosing the biggest disappointment of 2016 is almost tougher than choosing the best film. The Huntsman: Winter’s War, The Conjuring 2, The Boss, and X-Men: Apocalypse were all letdowns for various reasons (mostly in how their talent was wasted), but nothing was more disappointing than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Zack Snyder’s superhero epic that failed to deliver on the promise of two of the most iconic comic book characters battling it out for our entertainment. It’s kind of impressive that Snyder delivered a film that’s so bleak and boring and yet so aggressively crowded with characters and plot. Setting aside the criminal mistreatment of Diane Lane and Amy Adams (and that baffling jar of Granny’s Peach Tea) Batman v Superman is Peak Snyder — all of the filmmaker’s worst tendencies are on display. His grim and gritty aesthetic is like a virus. Over-cooked and overstuffed, Batman v Superman suffers from an ailment that can only be described as “too much.” Snyder’s allergy to restraint essentially made him the Paula Deen of cinema. — BH

(Dis)honorable Mention: The Huntsman: Winter’s War


Best Animal Performance – Black Phillip, The Witch

Black Phillip

Dost thou want to live deliciously? Not only is The Witch the best horror film of the year, but it features the best animal co-star. Apologies to The Shallows and Blake Lively’s BFF Steven Seagull, but Black Phillip is the breakout animal of 2016. It’s impossible to watch Robert Eggers’ film without spending the next week quoting it at your friends until they threaten to burn you at the stake. If you haven’t seen The Witch yet — and you must — then I won’t spoil anything, but some of the film’s most delightfully wicked moments come courtesy of Black Phillip, who is perhaps the most charismatic goat to ever grace the screen. (Except maybe Akiva Schaffer’s tiny baby goat in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.) — BH

Honorable Mention: Steven Seagull, The Shallows


Breakout Performance – Krisha Fairchild, Krisha

Krisha

We often think of a breakout star as a young actor early in their career, but this year’s most phenomenal performance from an unknown came from Krisha Fairchild, the 65-year-old star of Trey Edward Shults’ Krisha. Though Fairchild made a successful career out of voicework and TV movies, she didn’t get her first leading role until her nephew Shults asked her to star in his debut film about family trauma and addiction. Fairchild plays the title character as she navigates a cacophony of emotions when reuniting with her estranged family on Thanksgiving Day. She gives a performance of unrelenting intensity that knocks the wind out of you and leaves you wondering why Fairchild never got the showcase she deserved sooner. — EW

Honorable Mention: Julian Dennison, Hunt for the Wilderpeople


Best Dance Sequence – A Bigger Splash

A Bigger Splash

Sorry Mick Jagger, but you have some serious competition. The moment the needle drops on The Rolling Stones’ “Emotional Rescue” in A Bigger Splash, all inhibitions are lost as Ralph Fiennes breaks out into a rapturous dance. In an unbuttoned shirt, Fiennes’ Harry dashes through the curtains, throttles his hips flamboyantly side to side, and jerks his elbows in the air before breaking into a drum solo on the terrace. It’s the kind of unbridled dance you only do in the privacy of your own home, the exact kind of thing the shameless, eccentric Harry would do on a spontaneous Italian vacation. Tilda Swinton may play a rock star in A Bigger Splash, but when it comes to dancing, Fiennes steals the spotlight. — EW

Honorable Mention: Sing Street


Best Documentary – Tickled

Tickled
Magnolia

2016 has given us some excellent documentaries so far, and it’s tough to beat O.J.: Made in America, which may very well be the best doc, film, and TV series of the year. But Tickled is special. The comparisons to Catfish are certainly apt — both are relentlessly bizarre and consistently, breathtakingly absurd. “Competitive tickling” is a hilariously weird concept, but you’d never guess just how much more wild it can get from there. As co-director and journalist David Farrier ventures down a veritable rabbit hole of WTF, he elicits a rare combination of amusement and astonishment from the view. I doubt any other documentary this year will provoke such intense reactions from audiences. If there’s a movie weirder than Tickled in 2016, we might be in trouble. — BH

Honorable Mention: Weiner


Best Animated Movie – Zootopia

Disney
Disney

Disney’s Zootopia was the latest example that animation isn’t just for simple kids stories anymore. Set in an imagined animal world, the film uses the roles of predator and prey to tell a story about prejudice and race relations, while commenting on real-life police brutality. Disney is typically associated with cute and cuddly characters, and its own history with racial representation is less than perfect. But they seem to be making up for that with Zootopia, showing how an animated family movie can be as socially and politically aware as it is playful and fun. — EW

Honorable Mention: Finding Dory


Best Cameo – Will Arnett, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Popstar Arnett

Popstar overflows with celebrity cameos, but the true MVP of the Lonely Island movie is Will Arnett. In the movie’s best running gag, Arnett spoofs TMZ managing editor Harvey Levin as the head of “CMZ.” It’s hands down the funniest TMZ parody I’ve ever seen, with Arnett and his team, hilariously played by Chelsea Peretti, Eric Andre, and Mike Birbiglia, nailing the ridiculous celebrity gossip peddlers perfectly. Arnett has the polo shirt and the tumbler cup (which eventually grows to four tumblers taped together). He’s completely committed to the maniacal shenanigans of the celebrity gossip host. Can I get a whole web series about this guy please? — EW

Honorable Mention: Seal, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping


Most Anticipated Movie From the Rest of 2016 – La La Land

La La Land

We opened our awards with Ryan Gosling, and we’re closing them with him too. How can you not be excited for a movie that pairs Gosling with Emma Stone (again, after their appearances together in Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad) for a musical about the love affair between an aspiring actress and a jazz musician by Damien Chazelle, the writer and director of Whiplash? It’s just the perfect combo of cast, creator, and subject. The film premieres at the Venice Film Festival in August; it opens in theaters on December 2. I plan to see it as soon as humanly possible. — MS

Honorable Mention: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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