• Adam Johnson

The 1st Annual Adam's Final Cut Awards

Back in January, I published my list of nominees for the first ever Adam's Final Cut Awards. Now with the 2017 movie season completely over and the 2018 season in full swing, I really ought to announce the winners.

The award for BEST ORIGINAL SONG goes to "Evermore" from Beauty and the Beast (Alan Menken & Tim Rice). While The Greatest Showman received three nominations in this category alongside powerhouse "Remember Me" from Coco, "Evermore" has persisted as one of the most memorable musical numbers of the year and the bright spot in a disappointing film.

The award for BEST ORIGINAL SCORE goes to Dario Marianelli for his score for Darkest Hour. His score was dynamic, intense, inspiring, and put the audience in the mindset of Winston Churchill and the world of Britain's darkest hour, blowing me away in the theater. All I could say then was, "I love the music in this!" Now I'm awarding it.

The special award for BEST HORROR FILM goes to Andy Muschetti's IT. Certainly with its share of flaws, IT had the effective scares, memorable performances, creative adaptation of Stephen King's brick of a novel, and moving execution of a coming-of-age story to prove that horror films don't just have to be scary or metaphorical. They can be great movies, too.

The award for BEST SCREENPLAY, ADAPTED OR ORIGINAL goes to Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird. Deftly balancing an emotional and turbulent mother-daughter story and a love letter to Sacramento, Gerwig's script is also one of the most universally-relatable scripts in recent memory.

The second special award is for the year's MOST UNEXPECTED DELIGHT, the recipient of which is The Greatest Showman. Though I was initially excited for the film, my anticipation quivered in the months leading up to its release. After a suspiciously-timed Golden Globe nomination and a splat on Rotten Tomatoes, I almost wrote off the film. Thank goodness I didn't: The Greatest Showman is one of the great cinematic spectacles.

The award for BEST UP-AND-COMING ARTIST is my favorite. This year saw many artists in the crafts of acting, writing, and directing leave a promising mark in the early points of their career. Sophia Lillis (IT) and Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) both gave fantastic and promising performances in their first major roles. David F. Sandberg (Annabelle: Creation) has become one of my most anticipated directors after scaring the pants of me, and Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) shows she has a phenomenal solo directorial voice in her award-winning solo debut. But the award goes to 12-year-old Dafne Keen, based on her stellar acting performance in Logan that asked so much of her in her first feature role. She showed talent beyond her years, accomplishing what was needed of her and beyond. The sky is the limit for Ms. Keen.

The award for BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR goes to Sir Patrick Stewart in his moving final performance as Charles Xavier in Logan. It is a crime he did not receive more notice for this. As Logan continued the legitimization of superhero films that began with The Dark Knight, Stewart also proved that the same passion and dedication to the craft can and should be brought to comic book properties, even if those aren't as colorful as Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker.

The award for BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS goes to Laurie Metcalf for her role as Marion McPherson in Lady Bird. Up against a roster of actresses of all ages in this category, one needs only see the one-shot airport scene in Lady Bird to know why Metcalf deserves this award above the rest.

The award for BEST ACTOR goes to James McAvoy for his masterclass performance in M. Night Shyamalan's Split. One of the greatest moments I saw on screen this year was McAvoy seamlessly shifting from the Barry personality to the Dennis personality in one take (never mind the fact that he had to play this instance of Barry as Dennis pretending to be Barry). Every character he played had their own memorable personality, voices, and tics. The trying and complex role was played to perfection without ever devolving into camp. It is the best and, sadly, most overlooked performance of 2017.

The award for BEST ACTRESS goes to Saiorse Ronan for her role as Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson in Lady Bird. Ronan grounds the craziest and the most mundane parts of Gerwig's script to the same playing field, and she managed to make yet another angsty high school girl character one of the most beloved and remembered characters at the cinema this year.

The final special award goes to the STUDIO OF THE YEAR in recognition of excellence in entertaining audiences, pursuing innovation, promoting industry voices, and achieving financial successes. The recipient of this award has emerged as one of the most creative and successful independent studios in just under a decade. This past year alone, it produced Split, Get Out, Sleight and Happy Death Day, among others. This studio has used low-budget genre to not only turn a profit, but to tell innovative, entertaining, and insightful stories with fresh voices. Split not only jumpstarted M. Night Shyamalan's career, but it created one of the most exciting and unexpected cinematic universes. Get Out sent horror all the way to the Oscars, earning first-time director Jordan Peele the award for Best Original Screenplay, among several other accolades throughout the season. The Studio of the Year is Blumhouse Productions.

The award for BEST DIRECTOR goes to Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird. Gerwig makes interesting and smart choices in her direction of Lady Bird, firmly establishing her style. Great direction does not just mean handling a technically difficult production and making a lot of moving pieces move correctly. None of that matters if the picture's voice is not set and appropriately executed. While Lady Bird is the smallest in scope among the nominees, Greta Gerwig still makes Sacramento my home and me Lady Bird; she makes me empathize with Marion, call my mom after the credits, and understand every last character and their struggles. And she still makes all these aspects a totally cohesive whole.

Finally, in perhaps an upset, the award for BEST PICTURE goes to The Big Sick. The Big Sick is hilarious and tear-jerking. It is sweet, honest, and should not be overlooked. It is relevant and important for our time. It does many things and it does all those things well, with fantastic performances and writing all-around. It is also the most rewatchable film of any I saw this year, and I anticipate it to stay that way for a while. The Big Sick is without a doubt the best film of 2017.

So that's the end! What would you have awarded? Any major snubs or surprises? Leave your choices for this year in the comments below. In fact, whatever you have to say about me or the movies, comment below!

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