Welcome to the off-brand, no-statuette, no-glory Envy Awards
Welcome to the shiniest time of the year, when the awards are (usually) golden, the dresses are sparkling and the honors are sent out to all corners of the industry. Well, most corners. Since 2016, The Envelope has been (metaphorically) handing out the Envy Awards, reaching out to the scenes, the people, the ideas and the just plain weird in cinema that otherwise goes without honor — though we’ve yet to come up with our own bright shiny statuette. No matter: We’re sure the recipients of our awards hold them just as dear to their hearts as any old Oscar. Presenting the 2023 Envy Awards!
Most patient punchline pause
Rian Johnson’s sequel to 2019’s “Knives Out” is a buffet of fun on a number of levels, but none quite so deep as his callback to the original film. In “Knives Out,” detective Benoit Blanc notes, “I anticipate the terminus of ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’” and later notes that “nobody has” actually read the book. Fast-forward to 2022, in which Janelle Monáe’s Andi is shown reading … Thomas Pynchon’s impenetrable (but apparently read by at least one person) “Gravity’s Rainbow.”
I just wanna direct award
David Lynch, “The Fabelmans”
In a film about the rise of a fictional young director (based on the life of “Fabelmans” director Steven Spielberg), actual director David Lynch has a cameo as legendary actual director John Ford. Complete with elaborate cigar ritual, eye patch and “advice” for the up-and-coming Sammy (Gabriel LaBelle), Lynch’s Ford is flinty and sharp as an arrowhead, proving you can never pack too many directors into one story.
Matryoshka doll prize
In a year when Marilyn Monroe’s (Ana de Armas) fetus chatted with her while still inside her womb, and “Resurrection’s” Margaret (Rebecca Hall) discovered a fetus inside her (male) ex’s belly, it’s hard to ignore the scene in which male characters “birth” more male characters at the end of Alex Garland’s “Men.” Yeah, this might be the visual representation of Garland’s thesis about toxic masculinity — but we’re more unsettled by the actual visuals than anything else.
Most subtle foreshadowing award
It’s a moment that takes a second: Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) is searching around a room for a way to radio for help and briefly passes by some framed pictures of chef Slowick (Ralph Fiennes) on the wall. One is a newspaper clipping with a photo of Chef in the foreground and — as the camera ever-so-quickly tells us with a brief focus shift — a bearded man in the background. Moments later, a bearded man (Matthew Cornwell, as Dale) very much like the one in the photo shows up as an ostensible rescue from the Coast Guard — but who instead turns out to work for Chef. Though according to Fox Searchlight this was apparently unintentional, it still feels like a brilliant bit of foreshadowing.
The eyes have it special mention
“Everything Everywhere All at Once”
Circular items have great importance in the surreal actioner: bagels, a tumbling washing machine, Deirdre’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) scribbles on her paperwork, Joy’s (Stephanie Hsu) braided hair … and googly eyes, which appear on rocks, foreheads and over people’s actual eyes. What do they mean, beyond a bit of levity? Many theories abound — a spiritual “third eye,” yin and yang, insight into kindness — but there’s no question that the plastic craft items were a kind of additional supporting character, which has to be a first.
Bodies, bodies, bodies prize
“Crimes of the Future”
Body manipulation fed multiple story lines throughout the season, from the amputation scenes in “The Banshees of Inisherin” to the previously mentioned “Men” and the weird hot dog fingers of “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” But with “Crimes of the Future,” David Cronenberg seems to have taken all of his fascination over body horror and transformation and packed every trope into one film. In a near future where no one has to be in pain or ill, people apparently love to mutilate themselves and perform surgery, publicly. Skip the theater snacks before viewing!
Savviest use of the name drop
“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”
“Glass Onion” is packed with celebrity name drops and appearances, from Serena Williams showing up virtually in a rich man’s gym to “products” like Jared Leto’s Hard Kombucha and Jeremy Renner’s Small Batch Hot Sauce. “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” actually features Nicolas Cage making out … with himself. But kudos to Weird Al Yankovic, who co-wrote a script (with Eric Appel) in which he parodies biopics — and rewrites his own history by having “Al” (Daniel Radcliffe) not only make out with Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood), but then turns the Material Girl into his assassin.
It's a date
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