Another year of cinema has passed, which means it’s time for our second annual Golden Cages awards, the only end-of-the-year awards program featuring everyone’s favorite actor as a screaming statuette! Over the next two weeks leading up to the Academy Awards, we at Flixist will be announcing our winners across seventeen different categories for what we consider the best achievements in film in 2019. Why do we wait so long into the year to do this? Because we can! So sit back, relax, and enjoy the awards.
It’s not often you see someone who’s very presence is that of comedian make a successful play in a dramatic role. Awkwafina is incredibly important to a certain group of people, but her main identifying trait was being a jokester. She was making cool music and starring in good films, but it was all under the guise of being self-aware and funny. She didn’t want the world to look at her like some mopey ass person.
She’s not a one-dimensional actress, though. The Farewell proves that a thousand times over. Before watching the film, you’ll likely have the same thought that its director, Lulu Wang, had. “The ‘My Vag‘ woman is going to be playing in this?” Once you see it, you’ll wonder where the hell Awkwafina has been your whole life.
She not only feels completely natural in this environment, but she delivers a performance that even some of the best actors in Hollywood can’t conjure up. Her facial expressions, body language, tone of voice: everything here comes off like she’s not even acting. This almost is a mirror into her soul with the viewer being able to clearly see the emotional pain and anguish that her character, Billi, is going through.
Looking into her background, it’s clear to see how that came to be. The Farewell deals with an Asian-American woman traveling to China to visit her sick grandmother. Awkwafina was not only raised predominantly by her grandmother, she is also Asian-American. She is the perfect vehicle to carry this idea of clashing cultures and opposing ideologies. She is the vessel for which the audience can learn about this Chinese custom and it works effortlessly because of her own natural questioning of the same material.
I may have become a bit obsessed with Awkwafina recently, but even my bias wasn’t truly prepared for how excellent of a job she did in The Farewell. This is one of those “once in a lifetime” roles that will hopefully show her diversity to the world. She may have started off rapping about how her milkshake brings all the boys to the yard with a tongue firmly planted in her cheek, but Awkwafina is clearly much more than a one-off joke.