Le Carré Adaptations, Ranked

I recently read John le Carré’s Silverview, a water-tight little gem of a novel that is a fitting and poignant cap to the author’s storied career. It reminded me of a long-abandoned pet project that I began a number of years ago (before the Park Chan-Wook Little Drummer Girl series was even announced, I think) but never got over the finish line: to watch, rank, and write up every filmed adaptation of le Carré’s work, whether movie or TV series.

Well, I finally tracked down and powered through some of more obscure BBC adaptations (not to give any spoilers, but some have been clearly forgotten for a reason). The gap between starting and finishing my project does mean it has now unfortunately been some time since I visited some entries and my keenest analysis has perhaps faded from memory. On the other hand, perhaps that assisted with the ranking – letting those movies with the strongest and most lasting impression rise to the top. In any case, much as I love le Carré’s grimy, shifty landscape of sallow-faced operatives and creaky back rooms, I’m not particularly inclined to start all the way over, so here we go. From the bottom to the top:

16. The Looking Glass War (1970)

One of the earliest adaptations takes the lowest spot by virtue of being so utterly, completely, transcendentally forgettable. I suppose in a meta way, The Looking Glass War is actually the most authentic depiction of the faceless men that le Carré held so dear; but let’s be honest, that kind of authenticity is not really the reason we read books or watch movies. I struggled to recall a single detail of the plot here – Wikipedia tells me something about a Polish emigré dropped back into Eastern Germany to retrieve photographs, which is certainly plausible and standard le Carré fare, though Christopher Jones makes for a rather less-plausible Pole. I remember a young Anthony Hopkins being mildly interesting in a too-brief supporting turn, but otherwise this is entirely boilerplate material elaborated to much greater effect by both le Carré and his adapters elsewhere.

15. A Perfect Spy (TV, 1987)

One of le Carrés most sprawling and ambitious novels (the only, to my recollection, to attempt to actually cover a character’s lifetime) gets a listless and overlong “mini”-series. On the page, Magnus Pym is a cipher, his loyalties at any given moment as much a mystery to the reader as to those around him – forced to visualize this in five episodes’ worth of low-budget closeups, Peter Egan can pretty much only summon this inscrutability via blank stares and incomprehensible, paradoxical actions (not even taking into the account the whole two episodes/hours spent in Pym’s childhood and teenage years). Meanwhile, the day players are pitched all wrong, dominated by over-the-top, Law and Order-cameo-type theatrics that are so very wrong for le Carré’s tone and which pretty much every other entry on this list avoids. The one bright spot is Ray McAnally as Magnus’ rapscallion father Rick.

14. The Little Drummer Girl (1984)

A wonky film, though one nominally wouldn’t expect much from some of le Carré’s worst source material (a fact that made one of the later entries on this list such a pleasant surprise). The Little Drummer Girl is possibly his most outrageous plot, much closer than usual to the romanticized Ian Fleming-type spy stories that le Carré supposedly hated. So the filming style here – utilitarian and sparse, barely a notch up from the BBC productions, probably intentional to match their reputation and audience expectations of a “le Carré” work – actually clashes horribly. Diane Keaton is terribly miscast as Charlie, clearly very much a woman in her mid-30s when the character does not work at all if a day over 20 (and look, I adore Diane Keaton, but the idea of giving this part to a non-Brit is madness). It’s a shame, especially since Klaus Kinski as Charlie’s Mossad controller is the kind of insane casting that inexplicably *does* work. But the movie just winds up a string of baffling choices cobbled together to little point or effect.

13. Our Kind of Traitor (2016)

Another attempt whose greatest sin is blandness. It very much feels like some producer wanted to piggyback on the recent successes of other contemporary adaptations higher on this list, with little enthusiasm or perspective behind the particular story; an IP grab for the art house (clearly evidenced by the hedged, tacked-on coda to one of le Carré’s most brutal endings). But, it’s shot slickly enough, and the cast is uniformly solid if unremarkable. You expect the standout to be Stellan Skarsgård, teed up to chew the scenery as Dima,the flamboyant Russian money launderer looking to sell out his oligarch clients, but in true le Carré fashion that kudos actually belongs to Damian Lewis, both catching and deflecting the eye as Hector, the MI6 investigator caught between manipulating his agents and being manipulated by his political superiors.

12. A Murder of Quality (TV, 1991)

An oddity in le Carré’s oeuvre, starring his most famous character but completely transplanted from “the Circus” to a mystery plot more in line with something from Inspector Morse or Ms. Marple. As long as your expectations are suitably adjusted, this TV movie becomes a perfectly serviceable way to pass the time – Joss Ackland was the proto-Skarsgård of scenery-chewing, Denholm Elliott plays an agreeably rumpled “Detective” Smiley, and you get a fun flash of young Christian Bale. The ceiling is quite low here, but at least it doesn’t trip.

11. The Tailor of Panama (2001)

I had generally positive memories of this one from the early aughts that drained considerably the moment I realized/remembered that *Brendan Gleeson* was meant to be playing a Panamanian. Still – the central relationship mostly lands: Geoffrey Rush makes for a great le Carré scoundrel in the Rick Pym tradition, and Pierce Brosnan is a savvy bit of casting (though he was clearly so bored and/or over-eager to flip his heroic Bond persona that his Andy Osnard comes off as a rather un-le-Carré-ish cartoon villain). The scenes with the two together, bringing out the worst in each other, spiraling out to the great detriment of themselves and those around them, are propulsive amid an otherwise by-the-books thriller. Rush’s visions of his mentor Uncle Benny, gleefully and eccentrically played by Harold Pinter of all people, are so jarringly shot by John Boorman that I still can’t quite decide if they work as part of the film’s darkly comic tone or detract by hitting the node too hard.

10. The Russia House (1990)

Another former Bond paradoxically bringing star-power sheen to le Carré’s galaxy of normies, resulting in a thriller too conventional to reflect the author’s unique voice but that still largely delivers on the genre’s pleasures. Unlike Brosnan, Connery need make no attempt at all to subvert his established persona; his curmudgeonly charisma is a fine match for a reluctant spy (it’s really the bit where he’s a *book-seller* that’s a stretch). Do I buy Michelle Pfeiffer as Russian? No. Do I care, because ’90s Michelle Pfeiffer was and remains a national treasure? I do not. Unremarkably shot, but the twisty plot keeps one engaged.

9. The Deadly Affair (1966)

Catch me on a different day and I could swap around this film and either of the previous two on this list. But today I rank it top in the trio for Sidney Lumet’s elevated direction and James Mason’s sweaty, disheveled take on Smiley (sorry – “Charles Dobbs”), wallowing in perhaps the character’s lowest moment. It’s also unabashedly European – Simone Signoret! Maximilian Schell! Harriet Andersson! – in a way the other two aren’t that just better retains that classic, Cold War-fueled le Carré simmer. Quincy Jones’ moody jazz score and D.P. Freddie Young’s washed-out, foggy color palette are subtler pleasures than some of the bolder work higher on this list, but pleasures nonetheless.

8. The Night Manager (TV, 2016)

If we were ranking based on pure entertainment value, The Night Manager might have come in tops, but that just seems wrong and counter-intuitive for a le Carré list. Unabashedly sexy, over-the-top, all tension and sensuality and romantic settings and daring capers – I mean, there’s not an anticlimax in sight here! You can almost hear the Broccoli family second-guessing whether they should break Daniel Craig’s contract and offer Bond to Tom Hiddleston on the spot. The everyman-turned-accidental-spy is a classic le Carré setup, but Susanne Bier’s series never bothers to address what such an astoundingly handsome and charming man as Hiddleston is doing as a night manager of a hotel in the first place. Instead she just lets a murderer’s row of actors – Hiddleston, Olivia Colman, Hugh Laurie, Tom Hollander, Elizabeth Debicki – absolutely go to town on a spy romp with little to no reflection on the human cost of the craft *at all*. “Joes,” they’re not.

7. Smiley’s People (TV, 1982)

On nearly the perfect flip side are the two BBC Alec Guinness-led Smiley adaptations: all unflashy, workman-like execution of a story done to quiet perfection. Smiley’s People is the lesser of the two less through any fault (or really any kind of difference) in the production than it’s just not quite as good a story – Karla’s downfall has always just been a *little* too pat/quick for me even in the book, though it’s certainly in keeping with le Carré’s insistent de-romanticizing. In any case, Guinness is all you want him to be here in his return to Smiley: more of the same phlegmatic, droll demeanor and hyper-competent machinations. His rapport with Bernard Hepton’s peculiarly jovial Toby Esterhase is a particularly welcome addition to this one.

6. A Most Wanted Man (2014)

My word, was anyone ever better suited to play a le Carré protagonist than Philip Seymour Hoffman, the hangdog’s hangdog? Even his talent as one of cinema’s great swearers comes into play here, in a denouement where Hoffman’s thwarted operative lets loose a thunderous “fuck” that has stayed with me for years and in many ways feels like an eruption *on behalf* of every other le Carré lead, too professional to ever do it themselves. Anton Corbijn’s highly composed, clinical style and visuals feel right for latter-day, post-Soviet le Carré – all glass and marble and computer screens, a reminder that the tech-infused, “modern” iteration of espionage and surveillance remains as cold as the Cold War ever was.

5. The Little Drummer Girl (TV, 2018)

I mentioned before that this is one of le Carré’s wonkiest, most outrageous plots, making it an absolutely inspired course correction to hand a second attempt at adaptation to Park Chan-wook. Completely eschewing the dust and fog and chipped paint that usually defines le Carrés underworld-in-plain-sight, Park (as he ever does) goes full-tilt aesthete, packing the frame with flowing dresses and saturated color and sumptuously-decorated sets, right down to a woozy, romantic set-piece staged on the steps of the goddamn Parthenon. No one is hiding behind blandness and mediocrity here – instead, the series piles on layer after layer of artifice, a fitting match for Charlie, the aspiring actress trying on political loyalties and ideology like a new bathing suit. Florence Pugh was the breakout start here for good reason – she balances confidence, naivete, insecurity, yearning, curiosity, boredom, all the pieces necessary to make this story work at all. Elsewhere, Michael Shannon is as solid as to be expected (not as unhinged as you might expect, as a latter-day Kinski), and Alexander Skarsgård is miscast (just, stop with signing up northern European men to play Mossad agents, I’m begging you) but not disastrously so.

4. The Constant Gardener (2005)

Rachel Weisz won the Oscar (not undeservedly) for her turn as the crusading activist Tessa, but it’s really Ralph Fiennes’ finely-calibrated, devastating turn as Justin Quayle, the naive and passive diplomat who gradually uncovers a web of political corruption and pharmaceutical greed, that sticks with you. Fernando Meirelles’ style and tone, vibrant and melancholy in equal measure, is a great match for the material, one of le Carré’s saddest and starkest in its depiction of the impact of the games played by the global elite. In his postscript to Silverview, le Carré’s son Nick Harkaway speculates onhis father’s hesitancy to publish such a near-complete manuscript, landing on its unflinching and arguably unkind depiction of the wheel-spinning of tradecraft – in Harkaway’s eyes, a sharper critique of the utter pointlessness of professional espionage than most of le Carré’s other works. I don’t entirely buy or agree with this argument, and The Constant Gardener is a big reason why – no one playing inside the system comes off well here, and I think the movie does an excellent job of documentary-influenced exposure of injustice without overly preaching or losing the messy character arc at its center.

3. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (TV, 1979)

In many ways the ur-text of le Carré adaptations and the one most of the entries ranked lower are largely trying to copy in one way or another. For many, Alec Guinness defined George Smiley, and this series at large stands as the best example of adapting le Carré’s uncanny ability to make art with shades of beige. I can’t really find any particular fault with that assessment – the paranoid languor of Smiley’s methodical search for a mole in MI6’s highest circles is the author’s master work, and the BBC series is as dutiful and attentive to le Carré’s text as his lamplighters are to the arrangements of a dead drop. Procedural/narrative television still rarely hits this level of genre satisfaction so squarely.

2. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965)

It’s fascinating, particularly considering how so many folks looked to copy the BBC Tinker Tailor on both TV and film, the ways in which the *actual* first le Carré adaptation – Martin Ritt’s movie, coming only two years after the breakout novel and preceding even the actual writing of the Karla trilogy – continues to stand alone. The only adaptation to be shot explicitly in black-and-white, such a literal realization of le Carré’s shadows and grays could’ve whacked viewers over the head with visual metaphor,but by god it plays, Richard Burton’s Alec Leamas trapped in the purgatory of a cover story, probing and poking for the way out of his self-imposed captivity with no way of knowing whether he’s headed for escape and reward or just an even worse fate. Le Carré’s plots often hinge on what is not said between his characters, but Ritt’s film has some of the best, sharpest dialogue in any of the adaptations, particularly in the scenes with Burton and Oskar Werner dueling back and forth, the movie just sitting back and letting them sink into the rhythm and tension of each interrogation. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is really worth seeking out if the extent of your le Carré knowledge is one or both versions of Tinker Tailor.

1. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

I mean, I don’t even know where to start. Tomas Alfredson’s film exceeded all my expectations for another take on Tinker Tailor (how could you top Guinness?) and gets better every time I re-watch it and notice another subtle detail or precise edit. It seemed an impossible task to condense the twisty narrative, full of divots and red herrings, down to a two-hour film, but Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan’s script succeeds precisely by throwing too much detail at the viewer in too little time – the effect is a fog, a blur of names, faces, and obscure lingo with little guidance until the very end on *which* of these details is actually important. That’s what elevates Smiley as a character in the books – his ability to sift through the noise and the haze and see the threads, the true intentions at play behind seemingly unconnected symptoms. I do hesitate to declare Gary Oldman a better Smiley than Guinness – the former is clearly still indebted to the latter – but he certainly finds his own spin on it, taking the veteran spymaster’s monkishness to the extreme. I recall, at the time of the movie’s release, my mother compared Oldman’s performance to a lizard gradually waking up from a cold-blooded stupor, and the metaphor is bang-on: that is exactly what Smiley is in this story, a camouflaged leviathan stirred, inexorably, out of retirement. The supporting cast is uniformly excellent – Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Colin Firth stand out, but there’s not a note wrong in the grizzled bunch – and Alfredson comes up with several shots and set-pieces that reach an instantly iconic distillation of le Carré’s mood and tone as no other adaptation has. (I’m thinking, in particular, of the interrogation of David Dencik’s Toby Esterhase on an airport runway,a propeller plane growing ever, anxiously closer in the background via a flattened, distorted lens; but there are others, like the menacing freight elevator at the Circus, or Tom Hardy’s Ricki Tarr zipping around shipping containers in a sports car with his doomed lover/mark). If you don’t vibe with this movie, I can’t help you – best to avoid le Carré altogether.

The 3rd Annual ERPs

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A year in movies isn’t just about the new releases. In addition to the EMOs, now I present the 3rd annual Ethan’s Repertory Picks, running down some of the best, worst and most memorable games of cinematic catch-up that I played in 2017. Enjoy!

For Marilyn Monroe Really Going For It With the Crazy: “Don’t Bother to Knock” (1952), Roy Ward Baker

For Marilyn Monroe Really Bored: “Niagara” (1953), Henry Hathaway

For the Origin of Every Think-Piece and Opinion You’ve Ever Seen or Had About Marilyn Monroe: “The Seven Year Itch” (1955), Billy Wilder

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For “Deliverance” But More Martial and Also Insane: “Southern Comfort” (1981), Walter Hill

For the Silliest Vin Diesel Hair: “The Last Witch Hunter” (2015), Breck Eisner

For When Your “Stranger Things” ’80s Nostalgia Isn’t Ultra-Violent Enough: “Turbo Kid” (2015), Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell

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For When You Want to Yell At Protagonists Who Are Not Nearly Freaked Out Enough About the Circumstances They Find Themselves In: “Children of the Corn” (1984), Fritz Kiersch

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For Cary Grant In Some Really Primo Hats: “Only Angels Have Wings” (1939), Howard Hawks

For Faye Dunaway Really Going For It in a Movie with Unclear Reasons for Existing: “Mommie Dearest” (1981), Frank Perry

For a Great Le Carre Adaptation Done in By Bizarre Casting: “The Little Drummer Girl” (1984), George Roy Hill

For A So-So Le Carre Adaptation Elevated By Great Casting: “The Russia House” (1990), Fred Schepisi

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For Sexy Mermaids That Will Eat the Patriarchy: “The Lure” (2015), Agnieszka Smoczynska

For the Particular Delight of Rock Hudson Trying to Fit Into a Car That’s Too Small For Him, Which Is Really What We Should Be Talking About When We Say That They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To: “Pillow Talk” (1959), Michael Gordon

For a Thriller About Revenge Against the 1% and Nazis That, Somehow, Feels Even Less Timely: “Inside Man” (2006), Spike Lee

For Checking Your Goddamn Narrative Logic At the Door, We’re Making a Soviet Avant-Garde War Movie and Just Go With It: “Story of the Flaming Years” (1961), Yulia Solntseva

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For Super Super Fashionable Murder: “Blood and Black Lace” (1964), Mario Bava

For the Good Old Days When Charles Durning Could Be An Action/Thriller Hero: “When a Stranger Calls” (1979), Fred Walton

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For When You Really Feel Like Suspending Disbelief, Sure Orson Welles Could Hide Out in Small-Town Connecticut Without Attracting Any Attention: “The Stranger” (1946), Orson Welles

For The Most Xtreme Xaction Xaround: “xXx” (2002), Rob Cohen

For Half of a Pretty Good Movie Just Repeated Twice: “Sully” (2016), Clint Eastwood

Top 10 Repertory Picks of 2017

10. “Train to Busan” (2016), Sang-ho Yeon

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A clever, zippy take on the zombie outbreak genre, follows through on its killer conceit with claustrophobic action and character work. The third act really starts to lag, but terrific set-pieces and likable leads make for a real romp that manages to sneak in some feeling.

9. “Woman of the Year” (1942), George Stevens

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A contradictory movie – obvious reshoots and edits reveal paradoxical attitudes towards femininity and Hepburn’s fierce investigative journalist Tess Harding in particular. Her independent spirit is both validated by a refreshingly oddball-yet-realistic romance with Tracy’s kind but emotionally stunted sports reporter; yet knocked down by that grafted-on ending that clearly needs to put the character “in her place” for a 1940s American wife. But when it’s embracing the eccentricities and fumbling of Tess and Sam’s relationship, “Woman of the Year” feels surprisingly ahead of its time and quite unlike contemporary screwball romances – and, while that re-shot ending sequence is awkward, poorly written and problematic against the rest of the film, it *does* give Hepburn one of the best purely comic set-pieces of her career.

8. “The Women” (1939), George Cukor

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Likewise – it’s rough that even when investing in a rare all-female production, it’s tough to say whether Golden Age Hollywood could quite pass the Bechdel Test. But even if the story can’t stray past typical character confinements – “The Women” is all socialite machinations, gossip, and affairs – it’s impossible to put such an incredible cast together and not get something special. Shearer, Crawford, Russell, Fontaine, Paulette Goddard, Marjorie Main, Ruth Hussey – letting these superb actresses bounce off each other, without a rote Melvyn Douglas performance or somesuch to get in the way, remains (sadly) a unique experience.

7. “The Devil and Daniel Webster” (1941), William Dieterle

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Dieterle, a Hollywood transplant from Weimar Germany, leans into the gothic horror of Stephen Vincent Benet’s colonial New England fable, with playful special effects and haunting imagery. Walter Huston has a near criminal amount of fun as the demonic Mr. Scratch.

6. “Repo Man” (1984), Alex Cox

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Cox’s encyclopedic knowledge of and affinity with the L.A. punk scene of the early ’80s may provide the easy hook, but it’s one thing to be referential and another to actually translate punk’s off-kilter humor and disregard for social norms into a movie so viscerally. A send-up of wacky conspiratorial sci-fi B-movies, a satirical critique of consumer dystopia, a punk rock coming-of-age story – none of it should add up to anything coherent, and maybe it doesn’t, but you can’t help but think about the makers laughing at you for being square enough to try to square it, and go along for the ride.

5. “Mildred Pierce” (1945), Michael Curtiz

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Anyone who’s only seen Joan Crawford second-hand: filtered through “Mommie Dearest” or “Feud”, really owes it to themselves to see her at the height of her own power. “Mildred Pierce” ain’t a bad place to start. Narrative casts her as both heel and patsy, but the expressionistic noir wasteland of Curtiz’s California coastline, along with Crawford’s nuanced, powerhouse performance, suggest the deeper tragedy of circumstance going on here in Mildred Pierce’s story.

4. “Paprika” (2006), Satoshi Kon

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A trippy, balls-to-the-wall thriller that appropriately abandons all logic in favor of stunning, dreamy imagery. Rather than some of its Hollywood equivalents – think “Inception” – Satoshi Kon’s anime classic leans into the absurdity and spontaneity of subconscious thought, trading precision plotting for a zippy, delightful journey that *feels* sensical, even when the details can, and should, fall by the wayside.

3. “Pather Panchali” (1955), Satyajit Ray

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Ray’s loose, eminently empathetic masterpiece practically defines humanist cinema. Effortlessly gorgeous (the Criterion Collection and Academy’s painstaking 2015 restoration is truly something to behold), gently heart-breaking, “Pather Panchali” tells the story of a childhood with minimal bluster and excess. It’s a triumph of understatement and sensitivity.

2. “Poem of an Inland Sea” (1958), Yulia Solntseva

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A deep cut – and even among the small crowd of New York cinephiles who happened to catch all three of Yulia Solntseva’s gorgeous Ukraine trilogy at Museum of the Moving Image this past summer, perhaps the oddball choice. The consensus pick for best of the bunch seemed to be the Tarkovsky-esque “Enchanted Desna”, and Solntseva won Best Director at Cannes for “Story of the Flaming Years”. But “Poem of an Inland Sea” really captured my fascination – precisely because it is in many ways the most stilted of the three. The most overtly “propagandistic”, it is also by far the queasiest about those propagandistic elements – building up the Soviet achievement of a new dam with visual grandeur while at the same time mourning the loss of the Ukrainian communities about to be flooded with a thoroughly anti-Party sense of melancholy and romanticism for the past. Though Solntseva’s visual style had clearly not yet fully matured, the characters in “Poem of an Inland Sea” are fleshed out and empathized with in a way the later films abandon for pure sensual stimulation – and it’s still hardly skimpy on stunning shots. A fascinating relic of the cultural/generational/ethnic tensions contained within the USSR.

1. “Dekalog: One” (1989), Krzysztof Kieslowski

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No other filmmaker gives me chills in quite the same way as Kieslowski. I’m still only partially through the Dekalog, his cinematic series of loosely Biblical morality tales, but the distressing, bitter opening chapter sets a pall that is not easily shaken. As queasy and probing about the relationship between humanity and technology as the best episodes of “Black Mirror”, Kieslowski manages to ask some of the most unsettling, existential questions with the simplest of images.

The 11th Annual EMOs

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It’s that time again! Ethan’s Makeshift Oscars give me a chance to reflect on my year in film that was 2017. As always, to qualify, a film both had to be released in 2017, and I had to see it within the year as well (so, I still have a lot to catch up on – and I’ll just say that “Lady Bird”, which is not represented here because I didn’t see it until Jan. 5, would’ve been a power player). As with last year, I’m just diving straight into winners in each category, before listing others “receiving votes”: that is, not my top pick but other films, performances and elements worthy of a shout-out.

Before diving into the EMOs themselves, I do want to note two things about 2017, at least as regards my film-going. First, this is the year that an inundation of original content on streaming platforms, Netflix in particular, really challenged my conception of a “new release” and what content to cover here. Sure, pleasant but relatively trifling fare like “Win It All” and “The Incredible Jessica James” fit the traditional bill of a “movie” thanks to their one-off nature and hour-and-a-half run-time – but can I really say that they were more central to my cinematic experience this year than, say, HBO’s “The Young Pope”? Netflix’s “Wormwood”? Or (though I’m only partially through the series still), Showtime’s “Twin Peaks: The Return”? Should I really spend time praising Nicole Kidman’s performance in a misfire like “The Beguiled” (though, rest assured, she is a gem in it) when your time would probably better be spent watching her in “Big Little Lies”? Is a sprawling, ambitious work like Dee Rees’ “Mudbound” better compared against a theatrical barn-buster like “Get Out” – or its Netflix neighbor, “Godless”?

I don’t know the answer to these questions. The EMOs are already, um, a little unwieldy and going full Golden Globes and adding a whole bunch of new categories to recognize the growing influence and experimentation of episodic content is an exhausting thought. I’ll chew it over, for another year at least.

The second thing I wanted to point out was the overall roaring success of Hollywood genre entertainment this year. This stuff tends to go in cycles, so perhaps next year we’ll be right back to bemoaning the billion-or-bust attitude of current tentpole productions. But, at least this year, the studios seemed to figure out how to deliver popcorn thrills with a dash of genuine, adult emotion. The middle-of-the-road adult drama may be dead, but you know, if we have more “Logans” and fewer “The Judges”, it might not be the worst thing.

In any case – on with the awards!

Best Action: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Receiving votes:
Baby Driver
Atomic Blonde
Dunkirk
War for the Planet of the Apes
Logan

Funniest Film: Spider-Man: Homecoming

Receiving votes:
Logan Lucky
The Trip to Spain
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
The Big Sick
Baby Driver

Most Fucked-Up Protagonist: Justine, Raw

Receiving votes:
Travis, It Comes At Night
Terry and Bob, War on Everyone
Logan, Logan

Most Deserving to Have Everyone Involved in Production Die a Fiery Painful Death Just For Making Me Watching the Trailer: Monster Trucks

Receiving votes:
CHiPS
The Book of Henry
The Space Between Us
Transformers: The Last Knight

Best Cameo: Frank Oz, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
(spoilers oops whatever)

Receiving votes:
Tilda Swinton #2, Okja
Stephen Root, Get Out
Luke Evans, The Fate of the Furious

Breakthrough Actor/Actress of the Year: Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Receiving votes:
Jessica Williams, The Incredible Jessica James
Garance Marillier, Raw
Kelvin Harrison, Jr., It Comes At Night
Grace Van Patten, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Best Poster:
It Comes At Night
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Receiving votes:
Split
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Proud Mary
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The Killing of a Sacred Deer
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Get Out
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Ingrid Goes West
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The Shape of Water
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Phantom Thread
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Star Wars: The Last Jedi
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Flatliners
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Best Trailer: Black Panther

Receiving votes:
It Comes At Night
The Florida Project
Thor: Ragnarok
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
It
Atomic Blonde
Blade Runner 2049
War for the Planet of the Apes
The Death of Stalin

Best Scene: “Now you’re in the sunken place”, Get Out

Receiving votes:
throne room fight, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Tom Hardy’s landing, Dunkirk
bikini wax, Raw
opening heist through opening credits, Baby Driver
ALF truck heist, Okja
staircase fight, Atomic Blonde

Best Use of an Existing Song: “Bellbottoms”, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Baby Driver

Receiving votes:
“Harlem Shuffle”, Bob & Joe, Baby Driver
Leia’s theme, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
“Father Figure”, George Michael, Atomic Blonde
“Take Me Home, Country Roads”, John Denver, Logan Lucky

Best Original Song: “Genius Girl”, perf. Adam Sandler and Grace Van Patten, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Best Original Score: Tamar-kali, Mudbound

Receiving votes:
Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water
Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk
Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Wind River

Best Cinematography: Rachel Morrison, Mudbound

Receiving votes:
Hoyte van Hoytema, Dunkirk
Philippe Le Sourd, The Beguiled
Dan Lausten, The Shape of Water
Steve Yedlin, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Ben Richardson, Wind River
Ruben Impens, Raw

Best Adapted Screenplay: Dee Rees, Virgil Williams, Mudbound

Best Original Screenplay: Jordan Peele, Get Out

Receiving votes:
Trey Edward Shults, It Comes At Night
Rebecca Blunt, Logan Lucky
Julia Ducournau, Raw
Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water
Bong Joon-ho, Jon Ronson, Okja
Noah Baumbach, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Supporting Actor: Gil Birmingham, Wind River

Receiving votes:
Michael Shannon, The Shape of Water
Rob Morgan, Mudbound
Daniel Craig, Logan Lucky
Mark Hamill, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Garrett Hedlund, Mudbound
Mark Rylance, Dunkirk
Stephen Merchant, Logan
John C. Reilly, Kong: Skull Island

Best Supporting Actress: Betty Gabriel, Get Out

Receiving votes:
Elizabeth Marvel, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Holly Hunter, The Big Sick
Tilda Swinton, Okja
Ella Rumpf, Raw
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Emma Thompson, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Robin Wright, Wonder Woman

Best Actor: Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Receiving votes:
Hugh Jackman, Logan
Andy Serkis, War for the Planet of the Apes
Channing Tatum, Logan Lucky
Adam Driver, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick

Best Actress: Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

Receiving votes:
Nicole Kidman, The Beguiled
Garance Marillier, Raw
Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Jessica Williams, The Incredible Jessica James
Charlize Theron, Atomic Blonde

Best Acting Ensemble: Get Out

Receiving votes:
Mudbound
It Comes At Night
Logan Lucky
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Spider-Man: Homecoming

Best Director: Dee Rees, Mudbound

Receiving votes:
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Julia Ducournau, Raw
Trey Edward Shults, It Comes At Night
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Steven Soderbergh, Logan Lucky
Bong Joon-ho, Okja
Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
James Mangold, Logan

Best Movie: Get Out

Receiving votes:
Mudbound
Dunkirk
Raw
It Comes At Night
The Shape of Water
Logan Lucky
Okja
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Logan

 

The “I Ain’t Even Mad” Award for When Reese Witherspoon Self-Produces a Movie Where She Shtups a Twenty-Year-Old: Home Again

Most Deflating Revelation That One of Your Favorite Up-and-Coming Writer/Directors Wants To Be Tarantino: War on Everyone

Craziest Heigl: Unforgettable

Most Surprisingly Bland Film Featuring Furries, Bigfoot, and Michael Shannon: Pottersville

Best Solution to Mansplaining: talk over it with an extended Roger Moore/Moor bit, “The Trip to Spain”

Most Flagrant Abuse of the After-Credits Scene: Kong: Skull Island

Most Flagrant Abuse of De-Aging CGI: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Most Flagrant Abuse of “Narrative”: Atomic Blonde

Most Troubling Appropriation: The Beguiled

Least Convincing Candidate for “God of War”: David Thewlis, “Wonder Woman”

Fuzziest Friends: Kedi

Most Absurdly Satisfying Payoff to the Mythology of a Franchise About Cars Going Fast: The Fate of the Furious

The Most Brooklyn-ized Irishman Since David Neary: Chris O’Dowd, “The Incredible Jessica James”

Most Mixed Messages About Gambling: Win It All

*Endless Screaming*: Get Me Roger Stone

About As Feminist As A Movie That Puts Its Female Lead in a Coma for Half the Running Time Can Be, I Guess: The Big Sick

Most Unexpected Use of John Denver In a Year Full of Unexpected Uses of John Denver: Free Fire

Most Irresponsible Recruitment of a Minor Into, Like, Highly Dangerous Superhero Bullshit: Tony Stark in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”

I, For One, Welcome Our New Ape Overlords: War for the Planet of the Apes

Troubling Evidence That Taylor Sheridan Has No Idea How to Write a Female Character: Wind River

Most Surprisingly Coherent Mash-up of “Freaky Friday” and “Armageddon”: Your Name

Your Once-a-Decade Reminder That Adam Sandler Can Act If He Wants To, He Just Doesn’t Want To: The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Most Needs To Learn from Ryan Gosling in “Drive” and Never Open His Mouth: Ansel Elgort, “Baby Driver”

Sylvester Stallone in “Creed” Award for Making Me Suddenly Care About a Character Despite Not Having Any Emotional Attachment  Whatsoever to His Previous 17 Franchise Entries: Hugh Jackman, “Logan”

Most Cleverly Meta Blockbuster That’s Kinda Ruined By Everyone Being Obsessed With How Cleverly Meta It Is: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Cutest Pig-Cow That I Would Definitely Still Eat: Okja

Most Gleeful Daniel Craig: Logan Lucky

Weirdest Shade Thrown at Baltimore: The Shape of Water

Most Likely to Not Think About At All For Eight Months Until That One Night You Suddenly Wake up Soaked In Cold Sweat: It Comes At Night

Better At Convincing Me To Go Vegetarian Than “Okja”: Raw

Most Milked Out of Kenneth Branagh’s Two Days On Set: Dunkirk

Whatever the Opposite of Escapist Entertainment Is: Mudbound

If I Could, I Would Have Voted for It For a Second EMO: Get Out