SPHS Golden Shields

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SPHS Golden Shields

Brianna Horland, Editor-in-Chief & Entertainment Editor

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Awards season has arrived. We have the Emmys, Golden Globes, Grammys and Oscars; but there is one little-known award that seems to have been forgotten: The Golden Shields. Developed in 2015 by legendary Entertainment Editor, Jack R. Levy, and Chief to all Editors, Shannon Gallagher, the pair viewed countless films and in the end created the most equal and bias-free awards in cinema, highlighting six main categories: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Director. Our editors have collaborated and are continuing their tradition for the 2016-2017 award season. Here are your winners.

Best Picture

The nominees are: Arrival; Fences; Hacksaw Ridge; Hell or Hight Water; Hidden Figures; La La Land; Lion; Manchester by the Sea; and Moonlight.

The winner is: a tie between La La Land and Moonlight. In a category that proved too difficult to choose one winner, La La Land and Moonlight stood out. Creative opposites, Moonlight deals with deep issues like sexual identity, the definition of “Manhood” and drug addiction; La La Land, on the other hand, is a story of chasing dreams and sweet love, back dropped by music, dancing and colorful sets. Moonlight is brought to life by unforgettable performances by Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris, who respectively play a drug dealer and addict in one of Miami’s poorest neighborhoods. La La Land follows the story of an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) and a dedicated jazz musician (Ryan Gosling), struggling to make their dreams come true in Hollywood. Great direction and terrific performances in both films make each deserving of the win.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

The nominees are: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea); Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge); Ryan Gosling (La La Land); Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic); and Denzel Washington (Fences).

The winner is: Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea. Affleck’s performance as a grief-stricken janitor was the year’s finest. Through his quiet, understated movements, and a face often devoid of emotion, Affleck conveyed the devastating pain his character was enduring each day: he was a man just going through the motions of his life as a form of self-flagellation. It was quiet yet powerful.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

The nominees are: Isabelle Huppert (Elle); Ruth Negga (Loving); Natalie Portman (Jackie); Emma Stone (La La Land); and Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins).

The winner is: Ruth Negga in Loving. Negga is the underdog in this category of powerhouses. Her haunting performance as the real-life Mildred Jeter–a black woman arrested in 1958 for marrying a white man–was impressively strong. Her luminous eyes pull the audience into the depths of her soul, a place where a weary sadness resides. Negga is the heart of the movie, her presence its driving force. Much like Affleck, Negga’s performance is understated, she conveys a calm sense of purpose while standing her ground in the name of love.

Best Supporting Actor

The nominees are: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight); Jeff Bridges (Hell or High); Water Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea); Dev Patel (Lion); and Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals).

The winner is: Mahershala Ali in Moonlight. In a sea of strong performances, this was a no-brainer. The 6’2” actor stood head and shoulders– both literally and figuratively–above all others in this category. A long-time character actor (one of those whose face you know, but not his name), Ali inhabited his role as a benevolent drug-dealer like a second skin. His character, Juan, is a surprisingly tender father-figure to the film’s young protagonist, Chiron, a boy desperately in need of a mentor as he struggles with issues of sexual identity and a crack-addicted mother. Ali’s performance was brilliant, and elevated the much celebrated Moonlight to another level.

Best Supporting Actress

The nominees are: Viola Davis (Fences); Naomie Harris (Moonlight); Nicole Kidman (Lion); Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures); and Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea).

The winner is: Viola Davis in Fences. Considered by many to be the frontrunner in this category, Davis plays Rose, the long-suffering wife of the film’s main character Troy (Denzel Washington). Despite its highs and often-devastating lows, Rose has stuck by her man for 18 long years of marriage. This role is one Davis knows inside-out; she won the Tony award for her portrayal of Rose on Broadway in 2010. Much like Negga in Loving, Davis’s performance is often nuanced–she quietly conveys much with her eyes–but in one of the film’s most emotionally charged scenes, when those eyes overflow with tears, and the snot is running from her nose, she steals the film from Washington like a thief in the night.

Best Director

The nominees are: Denis Villeneuve (Arrival); Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge); Damien Chazelle (La La Land); Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea); and Barry Jenkins (Moonlight).

The winner is: Damien Chazelle for La La Land. This was a close category, coming down in the end between Moonlight and La La Land. La La Land was chosen for its highly original and creative concept. Under Chazelle’s direction, the film is a beautifully creative, unique and colorful production. After enduring the heightened emotions of our national election and the many deeply emotional films this year – La La Land made audiences smile, infusing us with a carefree sense of lightness. It was a welcomed escape from reality.