It’s time for the Mesa Legend Critic Awards

The Mesa Legend's Film Critic hands out awards for the films she's reviewed in 2020. (Illustration by Casper Savoie)

Now that the semester is over and this chaotic year is coming to a close, I would like to take a look back on some of the films I reviewed this past year. Anyone who knows me knows I love award season, so it only seemed fitting to give out some awards. But, before we can appreciate the best films, we also need to talk about the worst. 

Worst Actor: Jim Parsons in “The Boys in the Band”

Jim Parsons is a talented actor, but his performance as Michael just felt incredibly monotonous. He did okay in his one moment to shine, but it upset me that it took the whole movie to finally see a decent performance from him. 

He didn’t have much to work with, though. Michael, the character, was a lonely man obnoxiously obsessed with his receding hairline. It was hard to feel bad for an unlikeable, poorly-written character. 

Worst Actress: Blu Hunt in “The New Mutants”

It isn’t great for a film when the main character, played by an inexperienced actress, gives quite a forgettable performance. That’s how I felt about Blu Hunt’s performance as Dani Moonstar in “The New Mutants.” With eight acting credits on IMDB, Hunt hasn’t been working in Hollywood for very long. I don’t think she was experienced enough to be standing as the main character in such a huge franchise with such established, experienced, and, frankly, better fellow cast members. 

She was overshadowed by the other characters, even though the film follows her story. Having castmates like Maisie Williams from “Game of Thrones,” Charlie Heaton from “Stranger Things,” and Anya Taylor-Joy from “The Witch” and more recently “The Queen’s Gambit,” makes it hard to stand out without experience to back you up. 

Worst Movie: “The Craft: Legacy”

Hollywood just had to do it. They just had to make a remake to the ‘90s cult classic “The Craft.” This is the worst because it was pretty good until the end. I liked the girls and their intelligence and sincerity; it produced the same sisterhood as the original. I kept thinking, ‘Wow, this isn’t that bad,’ but the climax was confusing and rushed. 

There was supposed to be this big twist, but it wasn’t explained properly and devolved into confusion. It left too many questions and didn’t give enough answers to be satisfying, and it honestly ruined the whole movie. 

Best Actor: Riz Ahmed in “Sound of Metal”

Riz Ahmed in “Sound of Metal” gave a fantastically gripping performance. I knew exactly what his character’s motives were, and I believed in his vulnerability. He transformed into this character who is enduring one of the most difficult, life-altering changes. 

Ahmed plays a heavy metal drummer who abruptly loses his hearing while on tour with his girlfriend. The emotions of this character range from happiness to anger to isolation and loneliness, then back to both happiness and confusion, to the split moment of peace he finally is able to reach.

Best Actress: Sophia Loren in “The Life Ahead”

Directed by her son, Italian icon Sophia Loren gave a riveting performance as Madame Rosa, a Holocaust survivor with declining health who takes care of the children of prostitutes, in “The Life Ahead.” 

Loren captures Madame Rosa’s declining mental capacities while the audience watches through the perspective of Momo, one of her young wards. It’s a hauntingly beautiful performance, and you feel just as attached to her character as Momo. 

Best Director: David Fincher for “Mank”

David Fincher’s new movie “Mank” is one of his best movies that he has directed–and he has directed many great films, including “The Social Network” and “Fight Club.” It’s aesthetically different yet it still oozes as a Fincher film, from the film’s score by the award-winning team of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross to the nostalgic feel of a classic film.. 

The film is a gift for cinephiles. It’s an excellent character study on the troubled and broken man who wrote the script for “Citizen Kane” based on the movie industry’s corrupt structure during the golden age of Hollywood. 

Best Film: “Sound of Metal”

I loved the artistry and message of “Sound of Metal.” It was a beautiful film about a tortured man experiencing a worst-case scenario. The way director Darius Marder used the film’s sound to add on another layer of experience for the audience was powerful. Experiencing Ruben’s disability with him helps the audience understand what he is truly going through. 

The theme of deafness not being a disability also gave this film heart and compassion. It’s an inside to what it’s like being deaf and a member of the deaf community. Another smart idea from the director: the audience didn’t know what people were signing until Ruben started learning sign language. It’s a brilliant and moving film that I thought was one of the more original movies of the year. 

About Author

Jordan Jones was hired as the Culture reporter for the Mesa Legend in January of 2020. She is in her second semester at MCC, and she plans to transfer to ASU and get an Interdisciplinary Studies degree in Film Study and Art History. With her degrees and passion for cinema, Jordan intends to become a film archivist.