2017 was one of the greatest years of filmmaking we’ve ever seen. On one hand, that made finding enough brilliant nominees to fill each category of the Critics’ Pick Awards a breeze. On the other hand, it made picking winners a nightmare. There were a few things on which consensus came easy (Outstanding Actor came with not just nods of agreement but shouts of enthusiasm) and others where we would have been happy to see pretty much any of the awesome nominees take the prize. Somehow we reached a conclusion and below is a list of our favourite achievements in film in 2017, written up by the critic who was their loudest champion in the debate- Kelly Bedard (KB), Clay Keller (CK), Dane McDonald (DM), Saiya Floyd (SF) or Rachael Nisenkier (RN).
Don’t miss our 2017 Nominee Interview Series, featuring exclusive interviews with over 100 of this year’s nominated artists and be sure to check out Awards Headquarters for more from the Critics’ Pick Awards, including the TV and Theatre winners.
Without further ado, the winners are:
War for the Planet of the Apes
This movie almost looks like it isn’t full of special effects. It’s not packed with big explosions or CGI spacescapes or dead actors whose likenesses should be left to rest in peace. There’s a point in War for the Planet of the Apes when you just kinda forget that they’re apes and that Andy Serkis and co are giving these crazy moving performances wearing dot-covered onesies. It all feels real in a way that makes or breaks the movie more than the effects in pretty much anything else. – KB
Space gladiators! We mean… Mayes C. Rubeo’s brilliant costume designs captured the regalness of Asgardian attire, the badassery of the Valkyrie, the terrifingness of Hela, and the eclecticism of the beings that inhabit trash planet Sakaar. Cate Blanchett’s look as Hela in this film was instantly iconic.
Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy
The ensemble of Get Out earns this award almost by default. Not only is every actor in this film asked to play suspense, mystery, horror, and genuine emotion in addition to being funny, but the funny is also as funny or funnier than any other funny movie this year. Lil Rel is the standout, comedy-wise, but Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Allison Williams, Lakeith Stanfield, Betty Gabriel, and, well, everyone else bring the heat just as hard. – CK
Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama
The Shape of Water
The entire Supporting Actor race could have been filled with just this one movie (could have used more ladies though). Sally Hawkins is extraordinary in an insanely difficult leading role, giving a beautifully restrained performance surrounded by an ensemble of excellent men giving massive supernova performances as villains and sidekicks and spies and fish monsters. Every single person is at the top of their game and, as a group, they’re a perfectly balanced joy to watch. – KB
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Ray Romano (The Big Sick)
I’m a sucker for a comedian in a profoundly vulnerable dramatic role so of course Ray Romano’s emotional performance in my favourite movie of the year totally worked for me. His non-sitcom work is so lived-in and natural and just plain great it’s a wonder he got so famous doing something so different. There are a million things I loved about this performance- that big monologue, the subtle relationship building, the precise physicality, that Forrest Gump joke! – KB
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama
John Boyega (Detroit)
Nobody saw this tense Kathryn Bigelow drama about race riots and the real-life atrocities committed in one particular house, in large part because she was the wrong person to tell the story. But John Boyega was so completely the right person for the role of Dismukes, a black police officer trapped in an impossible situation. His unique ability to convey a thousand things without saying a word elevated the film with complex perspective and devastating emotion. – KB
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)
Like all of the supporting characters in Lady Bird, Laurie Metcalf takes the rich writing and creates a character that makes a deep impression even in the relatively small amount of time we spend with her. The moments when she really shines, though, aren’t the humorous shouting matches with her troublesome daughter, but the moments when her face performs a symphony of micro expressions as she fights to cover a deeply and powerfully felt emotion. When Danny (Lucas Hedges) innocently tells her about Lady Bird’s (Saorise Ronan) “wrong side of the tracks” crack, or when she attempts to drive away from the airport without saying goodbye to her daughter, we see her consider and reconcile her entire life of choices in the span of a millisecond and it lands like a ton of bricks. It is subtle work, and it makes her more overtly humorous moments (“…then to jail, then back to City College…”) all the funnier. – CK
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama
Michelle Pfeiffer (Mother!)
Nobody last year stormed into a movie quite like Michelle Pfeiffer in mother!, Darren Aronofsky’s polarizing thriller. Her take on Eve was sexy, dangerous, and enjoyable as hell. Eve may have destroyed paradise by biting into the forbidden fruit, but how can you blame her when she’s having this much fun being bad?
Outstanding Actor in a Comedy
Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)
Again, like the ensemble, Kaluuya takes this one almost by default. He’s just asked to do so much more than an average comedic performance, that it’s sort of unfair. So, in the spirit of fairness, let’s focus solely on the comedic element of his performance as Chris in Get Out, shall we? We shall? Good, because it’s great. Kaluuya delivers a buffet of side-eyes, forced grins, and “it’s fine”s, that satisfy even the most voracious comedy consumers. Playing patient straight man to the cavalcade of bumbling liberal guilty white people, Kaluuya elicits almost as many laughs as Lil Rel, and in a much less showy fashion. When a performance fits as comfortably in “Best Actor in a Comedy” as it would “Best Actor in a Drama,” or “Best Actor in a Horror,” you know that it’s special. Daniel Kaluuya’s performance in Get Out is special. – CK
Outstanding Actor in a Drama
Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name)
Brando. Poitier. Day-Lewis. And now Chalamet. Such praise may feel premature, but young Timothée Chalamet packs more emotional complexity and surprise into his performance as Elio in this coming-of-age romance than most actors do in their entire careers. It’s Timmy’s world now, and we’re just happy to be living in it.
Outstanding Actress in a Comedy
Salma Hayek (Beatriz at Dinner)
This wasn’t a great year for leading women in comedy. In fact, most of the nominees in this category were in films that were barely comedies or were giving serious performances in comedy films. But we’re not here to complain about the dearth of great comedic roles for women, we’re here to celebrate whomever we can celebrate however we can celebrate them. Salma Hayek’s deeply serious performance in the darkly (very darkly) funny Beatriz at Dinner is worth celebrating. – KB
Outstanding Actress in a Drama
Kristen Stewart (Personal Shopper)
Kristen Stewart delivers a performance in Personal Shopper that is so unvarnished, so unencumbered, that one has a difficult time conceiving that it was delivered at all, and not just simply lived. It’s fascinating that a person who is so invasively scrutinized in real life can be so vulnerable and unselfconscious in front of a camera. It’s doubtful that there is another actor of her generation that could sell Assayas’ ephemeral, existential, oddly-text-message-filled, mysteries. Thank goodness he found her. It’s only a matter of time before Americans embrace the truth that the French celebrated a few years back: that Kristen Stewart is fucking terrific. – CK
Outstanding Comedy Screenplay
Jordan Peele (Get Out)
At its core, comedy is about saying something that is both obvious and also something the audience would never think of themselves. Peele succeeds so fully with his suspense satire/horror/comedy masterpiece by taking his brilliance for the language of comedy, and using it to inform his drama and horror: identifying the fears that permeate our everyday existence and delivering them in a way we don’t see coming. It’s an extremely delicate and precise piece of movie writing. – CK
Outstanding Drama Screenplay
Virgil Williams & Dee Rees (Mudbound)
The smart structure, shifting narrators, and sprawling scope of this poetic period piece made the screenplay the standout element of an underrated gem that didn’t get its due because Netflix is a weird place for a movie this epic. A deeply human, disturbing yet inspiring, moving, impressive, complicated piece of writing, the Mudbound script was what made the movie work even if you never got to see it on the big screen where it belonged. – KB
Guillermo Del Toro (The Shape of Water)
A movie is made of a hundred different elements brought together into a cohesive vision, and no one brings a vision together more cohesively than Guillermo del Toro. The screenplay for The Shape of Water is both deeply unusual and “TCM on a Sunday afternoon” classic, the performances are wonderful, the score evocative and whimsical, the cinematography and production design rich with color and detail… there isn’t one frame of this film that feels out of place. Guillermo del Toro can bring together dozens of artisans and inspire them to, through his passion and vision, create stories that feel as though they were birthed, fully formed, from his phantasmagoric mind, with The Shape of Water being perhaps the purest example. – CK
The Big Sick
A sharp script, a top to bottom perfect cast (Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, even the comedian friends are perfectly chosen), subtly directed, and packed with personal emotional goodness and larger social relevance, The Big Sick is the best rom-com since my beloved Ruby Sparks (I see you, Zoe Kazan). For my particular taste, there literally isn’t anything else I could ask for from a movie. I wouldn’t complain if Kumail Nanjiani got more famous and prolific every single day. – KB
The Shape of Water
The world would be a better place if more artists were allowed to pursue their passion projects the way Guillermo del Toro was able to create his beautiful Shape of Water. The story is a little unconventional, but ultimately, it’s a fairy tale about kindness and love. And the way everything comes together – the acting, the direction, the cinematography, the set design, the music – is nothing short of magical.- SF
He was great in Dunkirk on the boat with Mark Rylance and that second solid role in one year definitely put him over the top for this award but Keoghan’s devastating performance in The Killing of a Sacred Deer was the real “holy shit who is that?!” cinematic moment of 2017 for us (funny and terrifying and heartbreaking and did I say TERRIFYING?). Expect more from him. Expect lots. – KB
Performer of the Year
Shape of Water
Call Me By Your Name alone should have won him every award.
And like our other Performer of the Year, he was also in Fargo!
This was the single biggest no-brainer category of the year.
Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor
Taking on an icon is the most cinematic move of all time. It’s Rick versus the Nazis, Harry versus Voldemort, David versus Goliath. It’s a battle made even harder when your icon has been deemed untouchable for years. There’s no guarantee of success, no promise of future glory, no reason to believe anything lurks at the end of the tunnel but pain and professional ruin. And there was every reason to believe that Harvey Weinstein WAS untouchable. Yet New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor persevered in hunting down a story that had been impossible for years, despite being an open secret. And in the process, they unleashed a flood of kinetic energy that is still remaking the face of Hollywood. The ramifications of the Harvey Weinstein story will be felt for the next decade. They have already sparked a reckoning both on and off the screen. For that reason, and many more, we’ve chosen Twohey and Kantor as our Cinema Honorary Award Winners. – RN