New from Jeff York on The Establishing Shot: “PARASITE” AND “KNIVES OUT” SCORE BIG AT THE 4TH ANNUAL CHICAGO INDIE CRITICS AWARDS

Last night, on Saturday, January 4th, the Chicago Indie Critics held their annual film awards ceremony at the Cards Against Humanity Theater at 1551 W. Homer Street in Chicago. It was the fourth year for the awards and they continue to gain stature in reputation in the city and nationwide. Major Hollywood websites like Deadline.com cover the awards now, and winners in years past have made sure to include our accolades in the trades. Last year, filmmaker Spike Lee prominently displayed his CIC wins for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for BLACKKKLANSMAN in the For Your Consideration ads.

This year, there’s as much to be proud of as the CIC lived up to its motto of Diversity in Film Criticism by acknowledging a wide variety of films, many independent, many foreign, and many directed by women. South Korea’s PARASITE, one of the biggest winners of the evening, took awards for Best Independent Feature, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director Bong Joon-Ho (tied with Greta Gerwig of LITTLE WOMEN), and Best Supporting Actor Kang-ho Song.

In addition to Gerwig’s prize, the LITTLE WOMEN writer/director also took the Chicago Indie Critics awards for Best Adapted Screenplay and the Trailblazer Award. The Trailblazer Award is given to an artist the critics deem as one who has pushed the boundaries of the medium in terms of form and content.

The other special award that was given out last evening, the Impact Award, went to an acclaimed female filmmaker too. Lulu Wang won for her stellar contribution to the cinema this past year with her dramedy THE FAREWELL. The film also took the CIC’s Best Supporting Actress prize for Zhao Shuzhen.

Even the CIC’s selection for Best Studio Film of 2019 showed a more diverse point of view choosing the acclaimed comedy-mystery KNIVES OUT instead of awards favorites like THE IRISHMAN or ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD. Rian Johnson’s clever whodunnit also won Best Original Screenplay, Best Production Design, and Best Acting Ensemble.

Stand-up comedian Katie Baker hosted the crowded event that was open to the public. She was hilariously pointed and self-effacing in her commentary all evening and adlibbed brilliantly in her banter with the various CIC critics who presented the awards. (I was one of them, proud to say.) The other CIC critics who presented awards were CIC directors Don Shanahan and Emmanuel Noisette, regular members Kevin McLenithan, Danielle Solzman, John Robinson, Matt Kubinski, Ryan Jagiello, Leo Brady, and Andrea Thompson.

Amongst the VIP attendees were Dann Gire, the legendary Chicagoland film critic who has been writing criticism and commentary for The Daily Herald for decades. (He’s also the founding director of the Chicago Film Critics Association, now in its 39th year.) The CIC was honored by the presence of Gire and his wife Peggy, with Dann even providing a slew of photos he took over the course of the night.

For the second year in a row, the event was live-streamed on YouTube, a rather tony accomplishment spearheaded by the three directors of the CIC – Shanahan, Noisette, and El’Ahrai Stanek, who did a crack job as the technical director of the event all night. They also provided food and beverages for the evening, not to mention the hire of this year’s hilarious hostess, as well as all the graphics for the event, including the PR materials. CIC critic Linda Lerner even provided her nationally famous brownies for the ceremony. What a treat!

Here then, is the complete list of winners that the CIC gave out last evening:

BEST INDEPENDENT FILM (budgets under $20 million)
Parasite (Producers: Bong Joon-ho, Kwak Sin-ae, Moon Yang-kwon, and Jang Young-hwan)

BEST STUDIO FILM (budgets over $20 million)
Knives Out (Producers: Ram Bergman and Rian Johnson)

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Parasite (Producers: Bong Joon-ho, Kwak Sin-ae, Moon Yang-kwon, and Jang Young-hwan)

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Apollo 11 (Producers: Evan Krauss, Todd Douglas Miller, Thomas Petersen)

BEST ANIMATED FILM
I Lost My Body (Producer: Marc du Pontavice)

BEST DIRECTOR (TIE)
Bong Joon-ho, Parasite
Greta Gerwig, Little Women

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Knives Out (Rian Johnson)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Little Women (Greta Gerwig)

BEST ACTOR
Adam Driver, Marriage Story

BEST ACTRESS
Lupita Nyong’o, Us

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Kang-ho Song, Parasite

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Zhao Shuzhen, The Farewell

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST
Knives Out (Casting director: Mary Vernieu)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
1917 (Roger Deakins)

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Knives Out (David Crank)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Dolemite is My Name (Ruth E. Carter)

BEST MAKEUP
Bombshell (Vivian Baker, Kazu Hiro, and Anne Morgan)

BEST EDITING
1917 (Lee Smith)

BEST MUSICAL SCORE
Us (Michael Abels)

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“I Punched Keanu Reeves” from Always Be My Maybe (written and performed by Randall Park)

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
1917 (Greg Butler, Guillaume Rocheron, and Dominic Tuohy)

SPECIAL AWARDS

TRAILBLAZER AWARD (Honors the work of an artist who pushes the boundaries of the medium in terms of form and content) Greta Gerwig

IMPACT AWARD (Given to a person whose work has had a positive impact on society)
Lulu Wang

We shall see if any of this year’s winners include our plaudits in their FYC ads, but in a very competitive year with no clear favorite in most categories, it would behoove those in the industry to continue to recognize the Chicago Indie Critics and their selections for the best in film of 2019.

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