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Uncut Gems, starring Adam Sandler.EXPAND
Uncut Gems, starring Adam Sandler.
Photo courtesy of A24

Miami Film Awards 2019: Local Experts Pick Their Favorites of the Year

For the past half-decade, local film experts — including critics, programmers, professors, and filmmakers — have picked their favorite flicks of the year for the Miami Film Awards. The results were published on the website Dim the House Lights in 2015 and 2016 before moving to New Times in 2017 and 2018. Now they're back to close out the decade.

The voters this year were Igor Shteyrenberg, Victor Gimenez, Diliana Alexander, Dana Keith, Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, Dan Hudak, Chris Molina, Hans Morgenstern, Alfred Soto, April Dobbins, Trae DeLellis, Javier Chavez, Andres Castillo, Ruben Rosario, Lauren Cohen, Salim Garami, and this writer.

Each voter was asked to provide the following nominations and categories: ten for Best Feature Film, Best Lead Performance, Best Supporting Performance, Best Direction, and Best Films of the Decade; five for Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Soundtrack and/or Score; and three for Best Ensemble, Best Breakthrough Performance, Best First Feature as Director, and Best Cinematic Moment. There was no ranking system, resulting in equal votes for all nominees, and voters could abstain from choosing the full number of nominees given to them.

Over the years, films such as Carol, Moonlight, Get Out, and First Reformed topped the list. Now let's see Miami's picks for the standouts of 2019.

Portrait of a Lady on FireEXPAND
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Photo courtesy of Neon

Best Picture

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (10 votes)
Parasite (9 votes, tie)
Uncut Gems (t9 votes, tie)
The Farewell (8 votes, tied)
Midsommar (8 votes, tie)
Little Women (6 votes, tie)
Ad Astra (5 votes, tie)
Birds of Passage (5 votes, tie)
A Hidden Life (5 votes, tie)
The Irishman (5 votes, tie)
Waves (5 votes, tie)

The films Atlantics, High Life, and Marriage Story each received two votes. Three votes were given to nine other films: Apollo 11, John Wick Chapter 3, Knife + Heart, Long Day's Journey Into Night, Pain & Glory, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, The Lighthouse, The Souvenir, and Transit. Nearly 50 additional films received one or two votes.

Parasite
Parasite
Photo courtesy of Neon

Best Director

Bong Joon-ho, Parasite (11 votes)
Céline Sciamma, Portrait of a Lady on Fire (10 votes)
Josh and Benny Safdie, Uncut Gems (9 votes, tie)
Lulu Wang, The Farewell (9 votes, tie)
Greta Gerwig, Little Women (8 votes)
Ari Aster, Midsommar (6 votes, tie)
James Gray, Ad Astra (6 votes, tie)
Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (6 votes, tie)
Martin Scorsese, The Irishman (5 votes, tie)
Mati Diop, Atlantics (5 votes, tie)

Five directors received four votes each: Joanna Hogg (The Souvenir), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood), Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse), Terrence Malick (A Hidden Life), and Yann Gonzalez (Knife + Heart). Four directors received three votes each: Bi Gan (Long Day's Journey Into Night), Pedro Almodovar (Pain & Glory), Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit), and Christian Petzold (Transit). More than 30 other filmmakers received one or two votes.

Uncut Gems, starring Adam Sandler.EXPAND
Uncut Gems, starring Adam Sandler.
Photo courtesy of A24

Best Lead Performance

Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (13 votes)
Florence Pugh, Midsommar (10 votes)
Awkwafina, The Farewell (9 votes)
Antonio Banderas. Pain & Glory (8 votes, tie)
Brad Pitt, Ad Astra (8 votes, tie)
Saoirse Ronan, Little Women (8 votes, tie)
Adèle Haenel, Portrait of a Lady on Fire (7 votes, tie)
Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (7 votes, tie)
Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell (6 votes, tie)
Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon A Time... in Hollywood (6 votes, tie)
Noémie Merlant, Portrait of a Lady on Fire (6 votes, tie)

Two actors tied with five votes: Adam Driver (Marriage Story) and Lupita Nyong'o (Us). Two actors tied with four votes: Robert Pattinson (High Life) and Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story). Four actors scored three votes: Alfre Woodard (Clemency), Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name), Franz Rogowski (Transit), and Song Kang-ho (Parasite). More than 30 additional actors received one or two votes.

Uncut Gems
Uncut Gems
Photo courtesy of A24

Best Supporting Performance

Julia Fox, Uncut Gems (9 votes)
Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (8 votes, tie)
Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers (8 votes, tie)
Zhao Shuzhen, The Farewell (7 votes)
Laura Dern, Marriage Story (6 votes, tie)
Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (6 votes, tie)

Seven actors tied with five votes: Al Pacino (The Irishman), Cho Yeo-Jeong (Parasite), Da'vine Joy Randolph (Dolemite Is My Name), Florence Pugh (Little Women), Jonathan Majors (The Last Black Man in San Francisco), Park So-dam (Parasite), and Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse). Three actors received four votes: Joe Pesci (The Irishman), Juliette Binoche (High Life), and Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood). Two actors received three votes: Taylor Russell (Waves) and Wesley Snipes (Dolemite Is My Name). More than 50 other actors received one or two votes.

Best Original Screenplay

Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won, Parasite (12 votes)
Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie, and Ronald Bronstein, Uncut Gems (10 votes, tie)
Lulu Wang, The Farewell (10 votes, tie)
Céline Sciamma, Portrait of a Lady on Fire (6 votes, tie)
Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (6 votes, tie)

Three films — Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, The Lighthouse, and The Souvenir — had three votes, and Knives Out and Knife + Heart had two votes. More than 20 other films had one vote.

Little WomenEXPAND
Little Women
Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

Best Adapted Screenplay

Greta Gerwig, Little Women (13 votes)
Steve Zaillian, The Irishman (10 votes)
Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (7 votes)
Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (6 votes, tie)
Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life (6 votes, tie)
Todd Phillips and Scott Silver, Joker (6 votes, tie)

Hustlers received five votes, Transit received four, and Atlantics received three. An additional 12 films received one or two votes.

Best Music (Soundtrack/Score)

Uncut Gems (10 votes)
Ad Astra (6 votes, tie)
Us (6 votes, tie)
Knife + Heart (5 votes)
Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (4 votes, tie)
Waves (4 votes, tie)

Five films tied with three votes: 1917, A Hidden Life, Atlantics, Joker, and Marriage Story. Five films received two votes: Dolemite Is My Name, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Little Women, Monos, and The Lighthouse. Eighteen other films received one vote.

Best Ensemble

Little Women (9 votes)
Parasite (7 votes)
Marriage Story (6 votes)
The Farewell (3 votes, tie)
The Irishman (3 votes, tie)
Knife + Heart (3 votes, tie)

Three films received two votes: Dolemite Is My Name, Hustlers, and Uncut Gems. Twelve additional films received one vote.

Midsommar
Midsommar
Photo courtesy of A24

Best Breakthrough Performance

Florence Pugh, Midsommar (8 votes)
Noah Jupe, Honey Boy (6 votes)
Julia Fox, Uncut Gems (5 votes)
Awkwafina, The Farewell (4 votes)
Honor Swinton Byrne, The Souvenir (3 votes)

Fifteen additional actors received one or two votes.

Atlantics
Atlantics
Photo courtesy of Netflix

Best First Feature

Mati Diop, Atlantics (9 votes)
Joe Talbot, The Last Black Man in San Francisco (8 votes)
Olivia Wilde, Booksmart (7 votes)
Jérémy Clapin, I Lost My Body (4 votes)
Tamara Kotevska and Ljubo Stefanov, Honeyland (4 votes)

Eight other films received one or two votes.

HustlersEXPAND
Hustlers
Photo courtesy of STX Entertainment

Best Cinematic Moment

Cinematic moment is always a tough one because everyone typically votes for something unique. This year, three scenes received more votes than any other film. Hustlers was praised for its introduction of Jennifer Lopez's character via her pole dance to Fiona Apple's "Criminal." The final procession of Midsommar, from the floral arrangements to the beautiful burning, was another major contender. And Uncut Gems' entire final sequence, which involves a basketball game, a glass case of emotions, a big bang, and a bigger bet, was also included in the top trio.

Moonlight
Moonlight
Photo courtesy of A24

Best Films of the Decade

As the year closes, it seemed appropriate to ask everyone what films they thought were the best of the decade. More than a hundred films were submitted by 17 voters for the best film of the decade, only 15 of which received more than two votes. Below is the list of 15, presented in alphabetical order. Only one of these films received an overwhelming number of votes above the rest. That film was Moonlight.

Black Swan
Carol
Max Max: Fury Road
Moonlight

OJ: Made In America
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
The Lobster
The Master
The Social Network
The Tree of Life
The Turin Horse
Under the Skin
Whiplash
World of Tomorrow

Watchmen
Watchmen
Photo courtesy of HBO

Noteworthy in 2019

Each year, we ask voters if there was anything noteworthy about motion pictures they'd like to celebrate because the works don't fit into the above categories. Two, both televisual, popped up this year. The first is HBO's Watchmen, created by Damon Lindelof, and the second is Netflix's choose-your-own-adventure Black Mirror episode, "Bandersnatch."

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