2016 #18 – The Handmaiden (dir. Park Chan-wook)

“You can even curse at me or steal things from me. But please don’t lie to me. Understand?” – Kim Min-hee as Lady Hideko in The Handmaiden.

The Handmaiden (2016)
Park Chan-wook
Starring: Kim Min-hee, Kim Tae-ri, Ha Jung-woo, Cho Jin-woong, Kim Hae-sook, Moon So-ri
Written By: Park Chan-wook, Chung Seo-kyung
Running Time: 145 minutes (2 hours, 25 minutes)
Genre(s): LGBT, Romance, Thriller

The nominations for the 89th Academy Awards were announced the other day and I think one of the biggest disappointments of the news was the fact that The Handmaiden went completely unrecognized. Now, I knew it wouldn’t be in play for any of the top categories like Best Picture, acting, etc., but not even a tech nomination? Absurd.

Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden tells the story of Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri), a pickpocket who becomes the made of Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee) to steal her fortune. The story takes many twists and turns throughout with themes such as romance and betrayal playing important roles in the film.

The entire structure of this movie is absolutely phenomenal. The Handmaiden is thrilling, erotic, a bit campy, and most importantly, directed to absolute perfection. Park Chan-wook deserves a lot of credit for the way he put this movie together and he did a great job at balancing the sometimes humorous moments with the actual dramatic elements that are at play too.

I’ve seen some comment that the film goes on for a bit too long (it’s basically two and a half hours), but I felt disappointed when it ended because I wanted more, which is always a good sign.

Kim Min-hee and Kim Tae-ri are both sensational. Even with all of the stunning visuals, The Handmaiden would not be a good film without their performances. It is necessary to believe both of their motivations throughout the movie, especially as Park navigates the audience through all of the twists that unfold. Both actresses do so successfully and command the screen. I’d personally say that Kim Min-hee was the MVP, although Kim Tae-ri is just as good.

The rest of the cast deserves praise though, with a special shout-out to Moon So-ri who provides quite an impact in just a few small moments of screen-time.

And of course, enouch cannot be said about the production aspects of this film. The production design is absolutely flawless. The costumes, cinematography, seamless editing and score are all marvelous. The Handmaiden is a perfect film and I firmly believe it will stand the test of time. 5/5.

2016 Personal Ballot (updates are in bold)

Best Picture
2. The Handmaiden

La La Land
Hell or High Water
Sing Street

Best Director
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
2. Park Chan-wook – The Handmaiden

Damien Chazelle – La La Land
David Mackenzie – Hell or High Water
Jon Favreau – The Jungle Book

Best Actor in a Leading Role
1. Denzel Washington – Fences
2. Joel Edgerton – Loving
3. Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
4. Ryan Gosling – La La Land
5. Chris Pine – Hell or High Water

Best Actress in a Leading Role
1. Emma Stone – La La Land
2. Kim Min-hee – The Handmaiden
3. Sally Field – Hello, My Name Is Doris
4. Kim Tae-ri – The Handmaiden
5. Rebecca Hall – Christine

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
1. Ashton Sanders – Moonlight
André Holland – Moonlight
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Ben Foster – Hell or High Water
5. Trevante Rhodes – Moonlight

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
1. Viola Davis – Fences
2. Janelle Monaé – Hidden Figures
3. Lucy Boynton – Sing Street
4. Naomie Harris – Moonlight
5. Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures

Best Original Screenplay
1. Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
2. Sing Street – Simon Carmody, John Carney
3. La La Land – Damien Chazelle
4. Hello, My Name Is Doris – Michael Showalter, Laura Terruso

Best Adapted Screenplay
1. Moonlight – Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney
2. The Handmaiden – Park Chan-wook, Chung Seo-kyung

3. Fences – August Wilson
4. Loving – Jeff Nichols
5. Hidden Figures – Theodore Melfi, Allison Schroeder

Best Film Ensemble
1. Moonlight – Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, Alex Hibbert, André Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monaé, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali
Hell or High Water – Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Gil Birmingham, Marin Ireland, Katy Mixon, Dale Dickey, Kevin Rankin, Katy Mixon, Margaret Bowman
3. Fences – Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson, Saniyya Sidney
4. Hidden Figures – Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monaé, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Glen Powell, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge
5. The Handmaiden – Kim Min-hee, Kim Tae-ri, Ha Jung-woo, Cho Jin-woong, Kim Hae-sook, Moon So-ri

Best Original Score
1. La La Land – Justin Hurwitz
Moonlight – Nicholas Britell
3. The Handmaiden – Cho Young-wuk
4. Loving – David Wingo
5. The Jungle Book – John Debney

Best Original Song
La La Land – “Audition” by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul
Sing Street – “Drive It Like You Stole It” by Gary Clark
3. La La Land – “City of Stars” by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul
4. Sing Street – “To Find You” by Gary Clark
La La Land – “Another Day of Sun” by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

Best Production Design
1. The Handmaiden – Ryu Seong-hie
2. Passengers – Guy Hendrix Dyas, Gene Serdena
3. La La Land – David Wasco, Sandy Reynolds-Wasco
4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Stuart Craig, James Hambidge, Anna Pinnock
5. Hidden Figures – Missy Parker, Wynn Thomas

Best Cinematography
1. La La Land – Linus Sandgren
2. Moonlight – James Laxton
3. The Handmaiden – Chung Chung-hoon
4. Hell or High Water – Giles Nuttgens

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
1. Deadpool – Bill Corso
2. Sing Street – Barbara Conway, Sandra Kelly
3. The Handmaiden – Song Jong-hee

Best Costume Design
1. The Handmaiden – Jo Sang-gyeong
2. Sing Street – Tiziana Corvisieri
3. La La Land – Mary Zophres
4. Hidden Figures – Renée Ehrlich Kalfus
5. Captain Fantastic – Courtney Hoffman

Best Film Editing
1. Moonlight – Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders
2. La La Land – Tom Cross
3. The Handmaiden – Kim Jae-bum, Kim Sang-bum
4. Hell or High Water – Jake Roberts
5. The Jungle Book – Mark Livolsi

Best Visual Effects
1. The Jungle Book – Andrew R. Jones, Robert Legato, Dan Lemmon, Adam Valdez
Passengers – Pete Dionne, Sebastien Gourdal, Erik Nordby
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Tim Burke, Pablo Grillo, Christian Manz, David Watkins
4. Deadpool – Alex Burdett, Jonathan Rothbart, Ryan Tudhope, Alex Wang
5. Hell or High Water – Jeremy Cox, Scott Hastings, Daniel Holt, Michael Prawitz

2016 Ranked (updates are in bold)

1. Moonlight (dir. Barry Jenkins)
2. The Handmaiden (dir. Park Chan-wook)
La La Land (dir. Damien Chazelle)
Hell or High Water (dir. David Mackenzie)
Sing Street (dir. John Carney)
Loving (dir. Jeff Nichols)
7. The Jungle Book (dir. Jon Favreau)
8. Fences (dir. Denzel Washington)
9. Hidden Figures (dir. Theodore Melfi)
10. Deadpool (dir. Tim Miller)
11. Finding Dory (dir. Andrew Stanton)
12. Hello, My Name Is Doris (dir. Michael Showalter)
13. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (dir. David Yates)
14. Christine (dir. Antonio Campos)
15. Captain Fantastic (dir. Matt Ross)
16. Passengers (dir. Morten Tyldum)
17. Sausage Party (dir. Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon)
18. The Girl on the Train (dir. Tate Taylor)


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