2020 Calvin Awards: Best Director

By Kim Hollis

February 16, 2020

We liked Bong before it was trendy.

For 2019 film directors, there was Bong Joon Ho... and then there was everyone else.

Yes, nine voters selected the Parasite auteur as the Best Director in 2019 film - half of the respondents. He received votes on 77 percent of the ballots. As you can see on the chart below, he finished more than 60 points ahead of the second place nominee.

It was Bong's year, plain and simple.

What can I say about Parasite that hasn't already been addressed in our numerous other awards articles lauding the film? It's a film that will turn your expectations on their head numerous times, and then turn them some more. Masterfully acted and beautifully staged, this story that jumped out of Bong's brain during filming of Snowpiercer is ostensibly about class struggles, but that's too simple a definition by far. If you love movies and you haven't seen it, you owe it to yourself to give it a watch. Now.

Our runner-up, probably as was also the case at the Oscars if voting were revealed, is Sam Mendes for 1917. Based on stories told by Mendes' grandfather, this film essentially puts the viewer on the shoulder of main character Lance Corporal Schofield. We experience every harrowing step, every thrill, every victory, every loss. The one-shot gimmick has been used before, but here it's employed to deliver a visceral experience. Sure, we all know that war is hell. But war was different then, and 1917 helps us to remember that fact.

Unlike the Academy, we chose Greta Gerwig and Little Women over her partner Noah Baumbach and Marriage Story. Gerwig told a classic tale beautifully, masterfully moving forward and backward in time as she illustrates themes and ideas around feminism, family, class, and friendship. Gerwig is emerging as a powerful voice in Hollywood.


Fourth place goes to Quentin Tarantino, a mainstay of our Calvin Awards. We've previously recognized him for Django Unchained (third place), Inglourious Basterds (third place), and Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2 (third and ninth). This time, with Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, he creates a dreamlike 1969 LA void of the violence in most of his projects - well, mostly. It's a unique period piece that carries many of the director's typical hallmarks while still bringing new ideas and themes to the forefront.

Lulu Wang rounds out our top five directors, and she earns a deserved spot for her delightful semi-autobiographical film The Farewell. This story is beautifully told, with wonderful set pieces and a warm family feeling. She even evokes a wonderful performance from her real-life great aunt!

Sixth and seventh go to a director who once worked for Disney and two brothers who just wrapped up a series for the studio. Rian Johnson caught a lot of flack for his work on Star Wars: The Last Jedi (not that I agree with it), so he just went off and created his own world. Knives Out is a mystery reminiscent of the work of Agatha Christie, twisting and turning as Benoit Blanc attempts to solve a murder. And of course we'd be remiss if we didn't recognize the super satisfactory conclusion of the Avengers series, with the Russo brothers helming the Thanos arc to a close. It's a thrilling, emotional ride.

We wrap up with a few unexpected nominees in our final three spots. Jordan Peele is quickly establishing himself as the new king of horror, and continues that reign with Us, a creepy and disturbing film that will make you worry about your shadow. Marielle Heller's A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood examines the goodness of Mr. Rogers in surprising ways, resulting in a touching story of a lost man who finds his way. We close out with Taika Waititi and Jojo Rabbit, as the director has created a unique, heartfelt message for our current world.

A few great helmers who didn't quite make the top ten include Olivia Wilde (Booksmart), Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story), Fernando Mereilles (The Two Popes), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), and Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers).

2020 Calvin Awards
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 10
Position Director Film Total Points
1 Bong Joon Ho Parasite 141
2 Sam Mendes 1917 79
3 Greta Gerwig Little Women 77
4 Quentin Tarantino Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood 71
5 Lulu Wang The Farewell 69
6 Rian Johnson Knives Out 65
7 Anthony Russo / Joe Russo Avengers: Endgame 52
8 Jordan Peele Us 41
9 Marielle Heller A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood 36
10 Taika Waititi Jojo Rabbit 35



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