Despite how much the yearly awards shows may “get right”, there are always so many more “snubs”. Obviously entertainment is all subjective, so definitively pinning down one product to deem it as the best of the year is nigh impossible, but a general consensus is often attainable. This general consensus is how we can determine what may or may not constitute a “snub”. As this year’s awards season has now come to an end, it seemed fit to explore some left field picks that largely went unrecognised among the big awards shows, the underdogs from 2017 if you will…
The Florida Project, dir. by Sean Baker
Despite recognition at the Oscars in the form of a sole nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project is a movie that still feels horribly snubbed. Most people who have seen the movie will agree, critics loved it and the film moved audiences, The Florida Project is a simply extraordinary film that is equal parts uplifting, devastating and hopeful in its bleakness. Under the mesmeric direction of Sean Baker, a wholly overlooked director in this awards season, the film depicts a largely overlooked area of American society in a hauntingly realistic way, featuring some beautiful cinematography, sharp dialogue and wonderful performances. Young Brooklynn Prince is among the breakout stars of the year, her performance recalling that of Jacob Tremblay’s from Room just a few years ago, and Bria Vinaite as her mother is equally as powerful, it is a testament to the film’s greatness that two non-professional actors can hold their own against a veteran like Willem Dafoe. Ultimately, The Florida Project seems like a victim of its own intimacy and small-scale endeavour, a film that would undoubtedly be in the top conversations had it gained more exposure, it unfortunately stands as perhaps the biggest all-round snub of this awards season.
American Vandal, created by Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda
American Vandal came from nowhere to become arguably the best new comedy series of 2017. Satirising the likes of Making a Murderer and The Keepers, this mockumentary, from YouTube comedy writers Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda, took the true crime drama and ultimately did a 360 on it, rather than a 180; yes, it’s satire and the humour is hysterical, but it’s equally as gripping and unpredictable as the very trend it’s satirising. American Vandal is deceptively intelligent and features an exciting story, filled with twists and turns, as well some intricate plotting, held up by some interesting characters and strong performances, particularly from Jimmy Tatro, Griffin Gluck and Tyler Alvarez. Fortunately the awards hopes for the show are still alive as it missed out on the Emmy time frame for last year’s awards and thus will be in contention for this year’s ceremony, however it does feel like a snub will be coming its way. As a unique and original take on both the mockumentary and contemporary comedy and culture in general, American Vandal is one the year’s gems. Emmys, please do it justice.
BROCKHAMPTON – SATURATION trilogy
My love for the internet’s first boyband is well documented here at The Edge: I awarded all three instalments of the SATURATION trilogy five stars and, any chance I get, I’ll faun over BROCKHAMPTON for hours on end, yes, they are that good. Rising from the ever-expanding platform of the internet, BROCKHAMPTON first began to gain recognition through their ringleader Ian “Kevin Abstract” Simpson, before they began to receive promotion from the likes of Anthony Fantano of The Needle Drop and soon their music videos began to rack up views in the hundreds of thousands. Then SATURATION dropped in June and the world took notice, then SATURATION II dropped less than three months later to more stellar reviews and the recognition grew. By the time SATURATION III dropped in December, BROCKHAMPTON were a force to be reckoned with; they earned their strongest reviews thus far, broke into the Billboard Top 20, the video for ‘BOOGIE’ went straight onto YouTube’s trending tab, they scored an interview with Zane Lowe, and ended the year at number two on the aforementioned Anthony Fantano’s prestigious Best Albums of the Year list. All in all, BROCKHAMPTON had a better 2017 than pretty much everyone else, yet there is no awards recognition to show for it. But don’t worry, the boyband will take over in 2018 with their fourth album Team Effort and soon enough we will be kneeling at the feet of BROCKHAMPTON.
13 Reasons Why, created by Brian Yorkey
Whilst leading lady and breakout star Katherine Langford has received some recognition for her work, the controversial, yet utterly essential 13 Reasons Why has largely gone unnoticed among the top brass of the awards circuit. If you ask me, unjustifiably so. Regardless of what you may think of the show’s depiction of mental health, suicide and teenage life, 13 Reasons Why is undoubtedly brilliantly acted across the board- Langford and leading man Dylan Minnette being the standouts – its sharply written and the less immediately noticeable elements, such as the editing, shot composition and colouring, are also excellent. Above all, 13 Reasons Why was the point of conversation for a decent amount of the year after its impacting arrival on Netflix, both among adults and teenagers; the critics scored it highly and it has garnered a large fanbase in the process. There’s still time for 13 Reasons Why to make its presence felt with the big awards shows, with a second season confirmed and based on more of the legal aftermath of season one, moving away, likely, from the controversy and sensitive subject matters of the first season. Nonetheless, 13 Reasons Why became essential viewing.
The Big Sick, dir. by Michael Showalter
After being shockingly shut out entirely at the Golden Globes, The Big Sick went on to gain only one Oscar nomination (for Best Original Screenplay). Based on critical reception and audience reaction, The Big Sick is one of 2017’s biggest awards snubs. A case could be made for nominations across the board here; Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress, The Big Sick ticked all the boxes but no one checked the form. It’s an unfortunate case, one that further highlights the awards shows’ issues with comedy recognition; rarely do these types of films resonate with the Academy in particular but The Big Sick felt like the film to buck that trend. Combining quality comedy with affecting romance and drama, The Big Sick was the perfect little package of a film and one of 2017’s best independent features. Unfortunately, it’s another example of the comedy’s futile battle to gain awards recognition, especially when up against the vanilla biopics that the Academy can’t help but automatically vote for.
Columbus, dir. by Kogonada
Chances are, you’ve not even heard of Columbus. And you can’t be blamed for that, it hasn’t even received a proper UK cinema release outside of the 2017 London Film Festival. But it has received a US release, and for those who have seen it, the reception for video essayist Kogonada’s debut feature has been stellar. Led by Haley Lu Richardson and John Cho, Columbus is a visually mesmerising and emotionally powerful, yet intimate film. Richardson and Cho play Casey and Jin respectively; one, Casey, a hopeful architect who feels indebted to stay home with her former drug addict mother, the other, Jin, a Korean translator who comes to the titular city to visit his father, who is in a coma after suffering a stroke. When the two meet, they begin to bond over their respective work and discuss life in its many facets, its highs and its lows, all set against the backdrop of Casey’s favourite Columbus architecture. Columbus‘ deeply humane content works in perfect harmony with the stunning cinematography and imagery, most shots stay static as the characters live within them, allowing us to marvel at the beauty of the film, both visually and metaphorically. Cho and Richardson play their roles perfectly and exhibit fantastic chemistry, not once does this relationship feel overly sentimental or inauthentic, Columbus is wonderfully humane and personal, there’s something for everyone in this gentle gem of a movie. Alas, there’s seemingly nothing in it for the awards boards – Columbus has largely been snubbed by all, despite garnering some of the best reviews of the year and undeniably being among the strongest films in certain areas.
Rick and Morty, created by Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland
When a show can cause a resurgence of a promotional McDonald’s sauce and make a thing out of one character turning into a pickle, you know it’s had a good year. What else could achieve such a thing than Rick and Morty? The bizarre, existential animated comedy from Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland has gone from becoming a cult phenomenon to being one of the most beloved shows on TV, all whilst sticking to its guns and never losing sight of what made it special in the first place. The Back to the Future-inspired show returned after rampant speculation and theorising on April 1st with ‘The Rickshank Redemption’ before continuing over the summer. Whilst public reception may not have been as glowing as it was for the first two seasons, critical reception continued to stabilise at a mighty high standard. Let’s face it, even when Rick and Morty is at its worst, it’s still better than a lot of shows on TV. However it unfortunately has to place on this list for that very reason, one of TV’s new behemoths has once again gone unappreciated by most awards shows, there remains hope for the 2018 Emmys, but I wouldn’t bank on it. Maybe it’s because it’s animated, maybe it hasn’t done enough in the eyes of the voters to break into the circuits regular cycle of comedy faves, but one thing is for certain; if it continues to live up to its high standards, it’s gonna be hard to deny Rick and Morty for much longer.
The Mountain Goats – Goths
Saving the best for last, it’s a damn shame that another year has gone by without recognition for the mighty John Darnielle and The Mountain Goats. Now 16 albums into their career, Darnielle’s highly influential project has shaped the face of modern folk-infused rock, with the likes of hot emerging bands like The Front Bottoms and Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties clearly taking cues from the godfather of the modern era. With 2017’s Goths, Darnielle tried something he’d never done before – an album with no guitars. As primarily an acoustic act, this was a bold step for The Mountain Goats, some of their biggest and best songs, like ‘Going to Georgia’, ‘The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton’ and ‘Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod’ are acoustic solo pieces, so when the news broke that Goths would see Darnielle leaving his beloved six-string behind, many were concerned, including myself. But the result was one of the best albums of 2017. Meticulously crafted, enjoyably written and catchy as all hell, Goths further solidified what we already knew, that John Darnielle is one of the best and most creative songwriters and storytellers in all of music. The critics agreed and Goths continued The Mountain Goats’ long-running streak of critical home runs, but it’s a shame that the critics can’t decide what the voters nominate. Goths is an easily accessible album and set a high benchmark for indie/alternative music in the first half of 2017, so it did come as a bit of a shock that there wasn’t more love for this project. Maybe next time he’ll write that long-rumoured and hoped for metal album, maybe next time he’ll drop guitars, keys and drums and just perform a series of panflute solos, maybe next time the world will open its eyes to the glory of JD, one can only hope…