HFCS Best of 2020 Nominees

The Houston Film Critics Society (HFCS) has announced the nominations for the 14th Annual Film Awards which will be televised January 31st on Houston’s independent TV station KUBE 57.

The in-person ceremony was sidelined this year by the pandemic, but the virus couldn’t stop the release of a diverse selection of films represented by this year’s nominees.

2020 was a tumultuous year for the movie industry which should receive some sort of VIP award. Theaters closed, some permanently, while others strived to remain open under safety guidelines developed by the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO). Studios shifted to the small screen premiering new releases On-Demand PPV on several platforms including iTunes, Google, and Virtual Cinema while Warner Bros. announced it would release its slate of films beginning with “Wonder Woman 1984” and continuing through 2021 simultaneously in theaters and on its streaming service, HBO Max.

Movies are best experienced in a cinema, but home viewing is also a rewarding experience especially with the crop of last year’s films. Doug Harris, HFCS President stated, “For the film industry, 2020 will be recalled as much for works that nourished our souls as for the ways world events changed movie habits. The impact of the artistic expression from this year’s nominees reminds us that the size of a screen, or where we view it, matters less than the quality of what we see.”

The Korean-American family drama “Minari” from director Lee Isaac Chung leads this year’s nominees with seven total including Best Picture, Best Actor for Steven Yeun, Best Supporting Actress for Youn Yuh‑jung, and Best Director for Chung.

“Sound of Metal” with Riz Ahmed as a punk-rock drummer who suddenly loses his hearing received six nominations while “Nomadland,” “One Night in Miami” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” each received five nominations.

This year’s Best Director category is evenly split between the men and women with Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”), Regina King (“One Night in Miami”), and Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”) receiving nominations for their outstanding work alongside Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”), Darius Marder (“Sound of Metal”), and Aaron Sorkin (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”).

My favorite category is the Texas Independent Film Award (TIFA) which honors independent films shot in Texas and which have been financed outside the major studio system by small investors and/or independent production companies. Local filmmaker Anthony Pedone received a TIFA nomination in 2018 for “An American in Texas.” This year’s nominees include “Boys State,” “Miss Juneteenth,” “Ready or Not,” “The Vast of Night,” and “Yellow Rose.”

“The performances of our nominees bring to life, through film, the strength of the human mind, body, and spirit,” observes Harris. “We are invited to walk in the steps of an incredible range of people who demonstrate their resilience in the face of challenge. Imagine what this work says about the strength of the human soul in a year filled with tragedy and uncertainty.”

Here's the complete list of the Houston Film Critics 2020 nominations minus Outstanding Cinematic Achievement, Best Movie Poster Art, and the HFCS Lifetime Achievement Award which will be announced with the rest of the winners.

Best Picture

Da 5 Bloods; The Father; Minari; Never Rarely Sometimes Always; Nomadland; One Night in Miami; Promising Young Woman; Soul; Sound of Metal; The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Director

Lee Isaac Chung, Minari; Chloé Zhao, Nomadland; Regina King, One Night in Miami; Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman; Darius Marder, Sound of Metal; Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal; Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom; Anthony Hopkins, The Father; Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods; Steven Yeun, Minari

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Viola Davis, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom; Sidney Flanigan, Never Rarely Sometimes Always; Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman; Frances McDormand, Nomadland; Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods; Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7; Bill Murray, On the Rocks; Leslie Odom Jr., One Night in Miami; Paul Raci, Sound of Metal

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm; Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman; Olivia Colman, The Father; Amanda Seyfried, Mank; Youn Yuh‑jung, Minari

Best Screenplay

Minari; Nomadland; One Night in Miami; Promising Young Woman; Sound of Metal; The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Animated Feature

The Croods: A New Age; Onward; Over the Moon; Soul; Wolfwalkers

Best Cinematography

Mank; Minari; News of the World; Nomadland; Tenet

Best Documentary Feature

Boys State; Collective; Dick Johnson is Dead; My Octopus Teacher; Time

Best Foreign Language Feature

Another Round (Denmark); Bacurau (Brazil/France); Beanpole(Russia); La Llorona (Guatemala); A Sun (Taiwan)

Best Original Score

Mank; The Midnight Sky; News of the World; Soul; Tenet

Best Original Song

All In: The Fight for Democracy, “Turntables”; Life Ahead, “Lo Si”; One Night in Miami, “Speak Now”; Over the Moon, “Rocket to the Moon”; The Prom, “Wear Your Crown”

Best Visual Effects

Tenet; The Invisible Man; The Midnight Sky

Best Stunt Coordination Team

Birds of Prey; Mulan; The Old Guard; Tenet; Wonder Woman 1984

The 40 members of the Houston Film Critics Society are working film journalists on television, radio, online, and in traditional print. Together, they reach millions of people each week across the United States with their critiques and commentaries on film. The organization’s mission is to promote the advancement and appreciation of film in the Houston community and beyond. For a list of members, visit www.HoustonFilmCritics.com.

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Joe Friar is a member of the Critics Choice Association (Los Angeles) and the Houston Film Critics Society. A lifelong fan of cinema, he co-founded the Victoria Film Society, Frels Fright Fest, and is a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic. 

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Joe Friar is a member of the Critics Choice Association (Los Angeles) and the Houston Film Critics Society. A lifelong fan of cinema, he co-founded the Victoria Film Society, Frels Fright Fest, and is a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic.

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