The summer of 2020 sure was different for us movie fans. Fortunately, though, with digital media being so prominent, we weren’t completely deprived of film.
While there wasn’t the quantity of movies to choose from for this type of post as there’s been in past years, there were still some quality films put out.
Here are my awards for what this summer had to offer.
BEST MOVIE – The Assistant
“The Assistant” was a phenomenal film about a problem that’s all too real in the entertainment industry. Despite being entirely subtle, by just showing a slice of life in this woman’s job, the film still has razor sharp teeth in taking on the problem.
The movie offers a harsh critique on the situation of sexual abuse in Hollywood, and does it with extreme realism, rather than more dramatic, bombastic moments. By the end of the film, the viewer is left with the knowledge that abuse happens, most of management knows, and no one takes action.
- Runner-up: “Palm Springs.”
BEST FAMILY – Scoob
This is sort of a cop out, since really the only other family friendly film I watched this summer was “Artemis Fowl,” but still, “Scoob” was viewed and it was pretty good. While I would have preferred a movie centered only on the Mystery Inc., crew, “Scoob” was still a fun animated flick that captured the essence of the characters.
After several poor live action attempts, it was nice seeing a return to animation and a more heartfelt adventure. Bringing in familiar characters like the Blue Falcon for a larger scale quest was good, too.
- Runner-up: None.
BEST COMEDY – Palm Springs
“Palm Springs” was hilarious and a real bright spot during this summer of staying home. The take on the time loop concept, of course made famous by “Groundhog Day,” offered a lot of humor that created plenty of laughs.
A strong cast along with writing that balanced cynical comedy and heartfelt character moments made for a great experience.
- Runner-up: “I Used to Go Here.”
BEST ACTION – The Outpost
Audiences weren’t treated to blockbusters like “Black Widow” this summer and substitutes like “The Old Guard” and “Project Power” didn’t do the trick. One movie with action that delivered, though, was “The Outpost.”
While it takes some time to get going, the second half of the picture is really good. The battle sequences put viewers right into the thick of the situation and can keep an audience on the edge of their seat.
- Runner-up: “Greyhound.”
BEST ACTOR – John Magaro, “First Cow.”
The character Otis “Cookie” Figowitz is quiet, humble and gentle. John Magaro perfectly captures these elements. On the surface, Magaro appears entirely reserved, but through his strong work on screen, he’s able to bring out the more complex emotions to the forefront.
- Runner-up: Delroy Lindo, “Da 5 Bloods.”
BEST ACTRESS – Julia Garner, “The Assistant”
Garner is incredible in this film. Working in a position with basically zero power or authority, Garner’s character often has to carry on with her shift, despite noticing a lot of negative factors taking place.
Garner captures this silent struggle exceptionally well. There’s also a sequence where the character does try to report what’s going on. It’s a tense moment and Garner very nicely incorporates the nervousness a person feels when what they’ve worked for is on the line.
- Runner-up: Gemma Arterton, “Summerland.”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Orion Lee, “First Cow.”
Lee’s character is a bit more energetic and social than his counterpart in “First Cow” and the way he portrays the character really helps to compliment the friendship at the core of the feature. Like Magaro, though, Lee’s performance remains more subtle and it really works for the calm atmosphere the film is going for.
- Runner-up: Andy Samberg, “Palm Springs.”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Gugu Mbatha-Raw, “Summerland”
“Summerland” is mostly about the life of a writer, Alice, having to suddenly take on the role of being a guardian to a student relocated from London during World War II. However, what gives the film more depth are the flashbacks to a relationship Alice had with another woman, Vera.
The relationship is integral to the film’s development and Mbatha-Raw’s performance really helps to drive the importance of their romance home. Vera is more of an extrovert than Alice, and Mbatha-Raw’s work brings this to the screen convincingly, which allows a viewer to better understand the impact of the relationship on Alice’s life.
- Runner-up: Robyn Nevin, “Relic.”
BEST DIRECTOR – Kelly Reichardt, “First Cow.”
I found “The Assistant” to be a better film overall, but the direction for “First Cow” is undoubtedly top tier. The vision Reichardt had for the film, to put together a tranquil, peaceful film that still addressed topics like capitalism and masculinity, was fully realized here. A really strong directing effort.
- Runner-up: Kitty Green, “The Assistant.”
BEST ACTION SEQUENCE – The Battle of Kamdesh, “The Outpost”
The final third of “The Outpost” captures the events of a massive battle in the War of Afghanistan. The scale of the battle is huge, yet it’s put together in a way that a viewer doesn’t get lost with what’s happening. It’s intense and technically sound.
- Runner-up: USS Keeling vs U-Boats, “Greyhound.”
BEST SOUND – “Greyhound”
“Greyhound” was a movie that I really wished I could have seen on the big screen. While being rather weak when it comes to the narrative, there’s no denying that it was at least engaging because of the ongoing conflict between the ship and U-Boats.
What made a lot of this work was the sound, with waves of the high seas and the blasts of canons going off all helping put an audience into this naval battle. While it would be more effective with a theater sound system, it was still good in the living room.
- Runner-up: “The Outpost.”
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – “First Cow.”
“First Cow” is an absolutely gorgeous movie to look at. The picture is exceptionally well shot, capturing both the beautiful natural surroundings and the gritty atmosphere of a fort for fur traders. The movie is full of long shots depicting landscapes and closeups for more intimate moments.
- Runner-up: “Summerland.”
BEST WRITING – “The Assistant”
The writing in “The Assistant” is really what propelled it to being the best film I watched over the summer. The script is so powerful without having moments of dramatic speeches or monologues. What the writing does offer is a lot of hints and clues of what’s going on, with a few very sharp bits of dialogue that really puts the situation into perspective.
- Runner-up: “The Vast of Night.”
BEST COMPUTER/VISUAL EFFECTS – “Greyhound”
I don’t think “Greyhound” was the most outstanding display of special effects I’ve seen on screen, but for this summer, it was the best we had to look at. The special effects here do recreate the naval battle on the Atlantic Ocean quite well.
The explosions and moments where ships have to make key maneuvers are all visually engaging and really hooks a viewer in. Again, one I wish I had been able to see on the big screen.
- Runner-up: “Project Power.”
BEST STUNT AND CHOREOGRAPHY – “The Outpost”
The human effort in making the war sequences in “The Outpost” was integral to making the movie work. Organizing such a large cast into a full scale battle scene that goes on for quite a while was impressive, and helps make the battle feel real.
- Runner-up: “The Old Guard.”
Here are the Summer Awards for past years: