2017 Calvin Awards Best Picture

By David Mumpower

February 24, 2017

I failed the Rorschach test.

What’s daring about La La Land is how easily it shapeshifts from regular scenes into magical musical numbers. Anyone who has ever daydreamed about becoming a celebrity can identify with these escapist fantasies brought to life onscreen. The part of the story that will stay with us, however, is the ending. Stubbornly incomplete in nature, it provides multiple variations on the conventional Hollywood ending before ultimately revealing the fates of the characters, ones that perfectly in line with their behaviors leading up to that point.

Director Damien Chazelle has a rare sense of confidence with his storytelling. With La La Land, he isn’t afraid to let his characters fly into unexpected orbits (in one scene, literally) in order to show that life is a series of choices and sacrifices that may ultimately lead to achieving a dream. Whether it arrives in the manner a person desires is the open-ended question that concludes our favorite scene of the year, the Epilogue of La La Land. Both of our two favorite movies of the year refused to spoon-feed the audience or provide standard storyline resolutions. That’s why we liked them so much. A little novelty is refreshing, and Hollywood’s best offerings this year demonstrate this trait.

Three different awards season contenders round out our top five this year. We named Hell or High Water the winner of Best Supporting Actor in novel fashion, listing the performances of Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster as the two best of the year. That demonstrates our feeling about the overall quality of this subversive but straightforward take on how a poor man gets ahead in society today. We also chose Naomie Harris from Moonlight in the Best Supporting Actress category while Mahershala Ali finished third after the Hell or High Water duo in Best Supporting Actor. Clearly, we loved the acting in Moonlight, and it actually earned the third largest total of first place votes in Best Picture, ultimately finishing fourth overall.

Our fifth selection, Hidden Figures, didn’t win any categories, but it earned several nominations including two of the top four in Best Supporting Actress and a top five finish in Best Actress. Our staff adored this upbeat tale of how a group of plucky geniuses shattered the glass ceiling and forced their way into the upper echelon of the NASA space program.

What are the two most different films of the year? Well, there might not be one true answer to this, but our sixth and seventh selections are definitely in the conversation. Manchester by the Sea is one of the grimmest movies ever. Someone involved with the project came up with a literal interpretation of “die in a fire,” presumably to bum out every moviegoer in the world. But it works. Conversely, Deadpool’s sole purpose is to entertain. The wiseacre Merc with a Mouth breaks the fourth wall from start to finish in the movie, and Ryan Reynolds sell out in the role. We named Deadpool the Best Character of the year, while the movie finishes as our seventh favorite of the year.

A pair of animated movies and the latest offering from one of BOP’s favorite content creators complete our top ten for the year. Ultimately, we lauded Kubo and the Two Strings and Zootopia as our favorites, choosing Kubo as the best of the best, presumably due to its profound ending. 2016 was a brilliant year for animation, with several films worthy of consideration for this list.


We also loved auteur Shane Black’s latest offering, The Nice Guys, as a wonderful play on his favorite cinematic theme, the buddy movie. The Nice Guys is basically L.A. Confidential as a comedy, and it works shockingly well.

Last year, I mentioned a rare bit of symmetry between the Academy Awards and The Calvins. Six out of seven Best Picture nominees also earned placement on our list. This year, the percentage isn’t quite as good, but the total’s the same. Our top six films in the category all earned Best Picture nods as well. One of them is La La Land, the heavy favorite in the category. A seventh of our selections, Zootopia, is expected to win Best Animated Feature, also. So, we’ve lined up for a second consecutive year after a decade of widespread disagreements.

Due to its importance, Best Picture is always a bare-knuckled brawl. At BOP, we like to highlight as many films as possible so that you always have a good idea of what we’ve loved during a given year. The closest titles to nomination that fell a bit short are Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Sing Street, Moana, Lion, Fences, and Loving. Out of the 49 films we felt were worthy of selection in the category, the list below shows the 25 highest scoring films.

Calvins Intro
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Cast
Best Character
Best Director
Best Overlooked Film
Best Picture
Best Scene
Best Screenplay
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
Breakthrough Performance
Worst Performance
Worst Picture
Top 25
Position Film Total Points
1 Arrival 144
2 La La Land 86
3 Hell or High Water 76
4 Moonlight 73
5 Hidden Figures 66
6 Manchester by the Sea 65
7 Deadpool 58
8 Kubo and the Two Strings 51
9 Zootopia 39
10 Nice Guys, The 37
11 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 36
12 Sing Street 35
13 Moana 34
14 Lion 33
15 Fences 32
16 Loving 31
17 Captain America: Civil War 30
18 10 Cloverfield Lane 29
19 Jackie 25
20 13th 24
21 Green Room 23
22 The Jungle Book 22
23 O.J.: Made in America 21
24 Eye in the Sky 20
25 Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong 19

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