The second year of the COVID-19 pandemic was almost as hard on the picture business as the first. Many movie theaters closed for good and those that did reopen saw low attendance. Streaming and pandemic fears had reprogramed the minds of most moviegoers who were less likely to venture out to see new releases, with a few notable exceptions. Even I was guilty of this. Though I had been fully vaccinated by June 1st, I didn’t venture back to a theater until July 28th. My first new movie in a real cinema was the Nicholas Cage picture Pig. But that experience was so disappointing I found myself wishing I’d waited to see it at home. I left Landmark’s Kendal Square Cinema vowing never to return and actually hoping that this once-loved Art House multiplex, where I had discovered countless movies, would go out of business.
The Kendal Square Landmark had been going downhill ever since the change over to digital projection many years ago. Since then, only one projectionist was responsible for all shows, and they rarely checked to see if lamps needed replacing, or cared if a projector had a burnt-out pixel that just sat there in the middle of every image like a rip in the screen. The theater had recently swapped out all the normal seating for “comfy” recliner chairs (the most uncomfortable recliner chairs I’ve ever sat in), which meant fewer seats per cinema. This, of course, was only a problem on nights when the theater was packed. But digital projection made it easy to accommodate those sold-out shows by moving any film to the largest cinema. Unfortunately, when the theater manager made this switch, they no longer seemed to care what aspect ratio the film was in, and they stopped bothering to raise the screen masking for movies presented in a widescreen format like Pig.
Thus, going out to see a movie at The Kendall Square Cinema felt even more like “watching TV in public,” as Quentin Tarantino refers to digital projection. The black bars that “letterbox” the top and bottom of the image are not actually black. A great deal of light emanates from those black bars and the black fabric of the physical masking curtains absorb the light these black bars cast. When there is no masking, darker scenes appear washed out, and Pig is a movie with a lot of dark scenes. The infuriating irony that I was required by this theater to wear my mask while watching a movie but they couldn’t bother to have their screen wear its mask was the last straw for me at The Kendall.
Theater managers who don’t raise and lower their masking, changing the shape of their screens to match the projected image of a given film, demonstrate how little they care about the movies they are presenting. This trend is not limited to Landmark. Many AMC theaters, I noticed, also stopped bothering with this practice. And the new ICON cinema chain uses curved screens where physical masking is impossible.My frustration with these chain theaters only doubled my resolve to patronize the theaters in my area that were still doing it right.
I am lucky enough to live close to several fantastic independent movie houses—non-profit, for-profit, archive, and museum. I donned my mask, showed my vax card, and did all the other requirements theaters were mandating. The first thing I discovered was that, while new releases weren’t drawing big crowds, repertory cinema was doing great business. On August 9th, long before booster shots were even a thing, I attended a 35mm screening of Seven Samurai at the Coolidge Corner with nearly 400 other masked and excited Kurosawa fans. It was a thrill to be in a crowd watching a classic film with a diverse audience ranging from first-timers to people for whom this is their favorite movie. The experience also made clear the fact that people who come out to classic cinema and support local art house theaters are not the sort who harass employees and make a big stink about COVID protocols. It was refreshing.
In talking with other exhibitors and film programmers, I learned that packed repertory screenings and vacant new release screenings was a national phenomenon. People just weren’t coming out to 80% of the new movies theaters were running, but most old movies were drawing surprisingly large crowds. This was even true of preview screenings. I went to an advance showing of Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley with less than 20 people in the house!
An exception to this new trend was a 70mm screening of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza, for which I actually stood in a massive line for the first time in years. While waiting in this queue that stretched out to the parking lot, I wondered if the fact that the film was showing in 70mm made a difference in its ability to draw. It did seem that more and more people who didn’t previously care about formats were coming out to films shown on film. I also wondered if this whole standing-in-line-for-a-movie business was also soon to become a thing of the past. How weird that would be for me, I’ve spent so much of my life standing in line for movies.
But blockbusters did see a feeble comeback in 2021. Major releases from the prior year like Marvel’s Black Widow, Eternals, and Spiderman: No Way Home to Top Gun: Maverick, The Batman, No Time to Die, West Side Story, Dune, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife, were pushed back anywhere from a few months to roughly a year-and-a-half. When they eventually did come out (still waiting on Top Gun: Maverick) nearly all ended up with returns far lower than what they might have earned in the pre-pandemic days.
Prognosticators and numbers crunchers tried to crack the formula for why some theatrical-only releases did well while others bombed. The June 25th premiere of F9: The Fast Saga — two years after this 9th entry in The Fast and the Furious franchise’s original April 19th, 2019 slot —arrived in the sweet spot between high vaccination rates and the Delta Variant. Audiences were briefly less averse to going out to theaters and the film raked in a solid $70 million in the US. The James Bond film No Time to Die, which one trade paper estimated would have to make $900 million in order to recoup its costs and the expenses of delaying its release multiple times, managed to do decent business with its October release. These films, along with Free Guy, Godzilla vs. Kong, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, demonstrated that there was still a desire from the public to see movies in theaters. But as soon as the Omicron variant hit, things changed again. The usually lucrative holiday season saw many high profile films underperform.
From Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, The Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark, the "G.I. Joe" origin story Snake Eyes, the R-rated superhero experiment The Suicide Squad, and the Broadway musical adaptations In the Heights, Dear Evan Hansen, and West Side Story, were all big disappointments for the studios. But when Spider-Man: No Way Home was released in the midst of this December drop and grossed $1 billion worldwide, becoming the first film to do so since the beginning of the pandemic, it became clear that “event” pictures were still going to be highly profitable. But, in order to secure success, marketing needed to be much more inventive than in the past in order to build up the anticipation for these franchise events.
Sony Pictures was coy and clever about the surprises Spider-Man: No Way Home held. Other tactics, like car commercial tie-ins, the encouragement of fan theories, and enlisting the cast in social media games and a “war on spoilers,” generated buzz and got people excited not only about the movie but about seeing the movie ASAP. As someone who dislikes superhero movies, these tactics didn’t engage me—I’ve still not seen 2021’s most successful film and have no plans to—but I did follow the ways Sony used their $288 million marketing to ensure this film was a colossal hit.
In terms of quality pictures, the first two-thirds of the year was lacklustre. But the plethora of terrific pictures of all sizes and sorts at year’s end more than redeemed it. So many gems came out in theaters or streams in the final months that 2021 suddenly became a great year for movies. From October to January we saw the long-anticipated releases of Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, Pablo Larraín’s Spencer, Rebecca Hall’s Passing, Sean Baker’s Red Rocket, Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, Mike Mills’s C’mom C’mon, Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter.
It was not just blockbusters and awards contenders; the plethora of films people were suddenly buzzing about injected a much-needed shot in the arm for movie-lovers. Fantastic little pictures popped up like The Humans, Mass, The Dig, Old Henry, Shiva Baby, Violet, The World to Come, The Dry, and Zola .(the first film to be based on a Twitter thread Most of these were primarily found on streaming, but Art Houses suddenly found themselves selling tickets hand over fist for new releases due to a slew of acclaimed foreign-language pictures carefully rolled out into theaters by crafty distributers. These included Paul Verhoeven’s Benedetta, Céline Sciamma’s Petite Maman, Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee, Tsai Ming-liang’s Days, Asghar Farhadi’s A Hero, Pedro Almodóvar’s Parallel Mothers, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria, Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person in the World, and Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s back-to-back releases of Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy and Drive My Car.
Most Academy voters saw all these films late in the year and nominated many of them for Oscars in categories beyond just Best International Film. The Worst Person in the World was a rare non-English Language movie to score a Best Original Screenplay nomination. Flee became the first film to be nominated for Best International Film, Best Animated Feature, and Best Documentary Feature. Drive My Car, in addition to winning Best International film for Japan, was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. With Penélope Cruz scoring a Best Actress nom for her wonderful turn in Parallel Mothers, Oscar fans eager to see every nominated picture rushed back into theaters propping up the accounts of struggling indie cinemas and making all of these pictures hits.
Much of the credit for these hugely successful international pictures belongs to the smart way their distributors rolled them out in America. NEON not only shepherded The Worst Person in the World, Flee, Petite Maman, Spencer, and Pig, it also released Night of the Kings, the first feature from The Ivory Coast to be submitted for Oscar consideration, the Palme d'Or winning Titane, and the Cannes Jury Prize winner Memoria.
Memoria, the latest from acclaimed Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, saw the most interesting release strategy of 2021. NEON announced a "never-ending" release strategy for the United States, in which the film would travel from city to city, theater to theater, week by week roadshow style, playing in front of only one solitary audience at any given time," beginning in late December at New York's IFC Center. There was a lot of whining on Film Twitter about this approach, claiming that it was “elitist” not do enable a streaming option for people living outside major cities. These complaints were as ludicrous as most Twitter controversies, but NEON’s "never-ending release" made it to only two more North American cities after New York before switching to a more traditional rollout, which is too bad–because the roadshow idea really made this small, long, inscrutable film seem like something special that people needed to seek out and set aside time for.
But the distributor that crossed over to become a cultural phenomenon by 2021 was A24. When I was a kid, I would get excited when I saw the logo for Orion Pictures at the head of any movie. I didn’t know at the time that Orion was the most filmmaker-friendly production company of the 1980s, having been started by three former senior executives at United Artists who quit their jobs when UA’s parent company Transamerica wanted them to focus more on the bottom line. All I knew was when I saw that Orion logo; I was about to see a good movie.
But Orion never became hipster identity or inspired the kind of “brand loyalty” A24 has. I know Millennials and Gen Z kids who don’t particularly even like movies but who go to see anything A24 puts out. It has nothing to do with who is starring in the film or who directed it, it has everything to do with the distributor. They wear T-shirts and caps with A24 branding all over and make a point to go see these movies in theaters.
It helps that in the nearly ten years A24 has existed its track record of distinctive, quality pictures is stellar. I’ve seen 60 of the 110 features A24 has released since 2013 and I have yet to come across a dud. They focus on “elevated genre” titles like Ex Machina, The Witch, and Hereditary, as well as youth-oriented indies like The Spectacular Now, Eighth Grade, and Mid90s. They’ve also had more than their share of prestige awards pictures like Room, The Lobster, 20th Century Women, Moonlight, Lady Bird, The Disaster Artist, First Reformed, The Florida Project, and Uncut Gems. In 2021, A24 released Zola and The Green Knight to near-universal acclaim; following up those hits with Val, Lamb, C'mon C'mon, The Humans, Red Rocket, and The Tragedy of Macbeth.
In addition to the rise in popularity of smartly marketed international and indie pictures, the biggest trend of the year was the return of the movie musical. Not only the highbrow West Side Story, Tick, Tick... Boom!, Encanto, In the Heights, and Cyrano, we got the inventive Annette, Dear Evan Hanson, and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, as well as yet another live-action Cinderella. It should be noted that nearly all of these films were major box-office disappointments so the idea that 2021 would usher in a new era for movie musicals died a quick death—and they will be very hard to get made for quite a while, I’m sure. Still, for musical lovers, it was a pretty exciting time.
2021 was also an especially good year for first-time directors, with many début features coming from actors and craftsmen who’d been in the business for a long time in other fields. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter, Rebecca Hall’s Passing, Fran Kranz’s Mass, and Justine Bateman’s Violet were all examples of actors stepping behind the camera as well as penning the screenplays for films in which they did not appear. Playwright Stephen Karam made one of the most strikingly cinematic stage-to-screen adaptations of all time with his first directorial effort The Humans. And film composer turned director Jóhann Jóhannsson’s first and last feature Last and First Men was given a posthumous release.
Another minor trend I noticed was a glut of movies about insufferable young artists struggling to make “important” art. The most unabashed example of this was also a musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s film of Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical one-man show Tick, Tick…Boom! Chronicling and elevating the generic early years of talented but hardly genius-level creative types as they struggle so so so mightily to balance their life and relationships with the all-consuming needs of the revolutionary art they will soon create was also the subject of critic’s darlings The Hand of God, The Souvenir: Part 2, The Tender Bar, and, to some extent, Last Night in Soho. A bright counterpoint to these overwrought tales of youthful artistic expression was Mia Hansen-Løve’s Bergman Island, which explores the far less energetic ways middle-aged creative types balance their life and relationships with the needs of their art and careers.
It’s possible that 2021 could mark the peak of streaming. Not that watching movies at home off subscription services will become a thing of the past, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this year ends up being the high point in both the profitability and prestige of the streamers. With the pandemic still keeping people out of cinemas, many studios doubled down on their commitment to day-and-date, simultaneous releases in theaters and streaming platforms. Disney continued with the Premier Access model it had pioneered with 2020’s Mulan. The idea of releasing major features on Disney+ for a $29.99 rental (in addition to the annual subscription fee) during the time these movies were in theaters seemed a bit crazy at first, but this model represented major savings for many families overtaking all the kids out to the movies. Disney used Premier Access for Raya and the Last Dragon, Cruella, Jungle Cruise, and Black Widow.
In the case of Black Widow, a Marvel movie starring Scarlett Johansson as the titular comic book character, the release strategy prompted Johansson to sue the studio for breach of contract. Her allegation was that the simultaneous release of the film on Disney+ violated a stipulation in her deal that the film would receive an exclusive theatrical release to which substantial box office bonuses for Johansson were tied. Disney fired back claiming Johansson was showing a "callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic," which was a laugh since the company was actively encouraging families and employees to return to their theme parks, jobs, and cinemas.
The lawsuit became one of the year’s biggest controversies, with many social media hot takes criticizing Johansson for being greedy, but more savvy industry watchers and advocacy organizations pointed out the importance of the powerful star taking a stand against the mammoth corporation using the pandemic to exclude their artistic and financial partners from sharing in the windfall of streaming profits. In the end, Disney settled with Johansson and discontinued their Premier Access model for the rest of the year, enabling Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Free Guy to do massive, theatrical-only business.
Netflix, the first and most successful of the streamers, has seen a steady rise in profits and subscribers since it began in 2013. And they have been pursuing awards and prestige for most of that time—pouring millions of dollars into the pet projects of high profile directors like Alfonso Cuarón (Roma), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), and David Fincher (Mank). While all these films were major awards contenders, none had won the coveted Best Picture Oscar for the streamer that had revolutionized movie viewing. Netflix seemed on track to win its first Best Picture Oscar with Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, which led nearly all critics’ prizes and other awards until the tide turned just a few weeks before the Academy Awards. Sian Heder’s tiny crowd-pleaser CODA suddenly jumped to the odds-on favorite. When it won Best Picture it was a huge blow for Netflix. The king of the streamers had been bested by one of the smalles od its streaming rivals, Apple TV Plus, which had spent $25 million on CODA and another $10 million on its awards campaign (the film barely made $1.5 million at the box office).
That CODA became the first film produced by a streaming service to win the Academy Award for Best Picture has got to be making Netflix officials think twice about the kind of reckless spending they’d been doing chasing Oscar gold. So I wonder if both the days of them providing seemingly unlimited funds and creative freedom to great filmmakers may soon end.
CODA actually benefited from the fact that so few people saw it upon its initial release. A great majority of Academy members who saw CODA saw it right before they cast their votes. It made them feel good, and it was fresh in their minds, so they voted accordingly. This is not unprecedented in the annals of the Academy. Woody Allen’s manager Charles H. Joffe credited The Z Channel, one of the first pay-TV stations in the US that launched in 1974, for Annie Hall’s surprise Best Picture win in 1977 because so many Academy voters had been watching the great comedy over and over on TV before they voted.
CODA’s upset victory was just one of many things that made the 94th Academy Awards an embarrassment. It’s a perfectly nice picture, but it’s as far from the best movie of the year as almost any prior sub-par picture on which the Academy has chosen to bestow its highest honor. Crash, The King's Speech, Driving Miss Daisy—these are all better films than CODA (I'd say, CODA ranks at about #11 on the list of least deserving of all 94 Best Picture winners). And while I actually think the slight but winsome CODA is a superior film to Campion’s plodding, heavy-handed The Power of the Dog, CODA looks and feels like a distinctly small screen movie. And the lack of technical achievement in the feel-good indie makes its win in this particular Oscar year seem especially egregious.
The 2021 Oscars marked the lowest point in the 71-year history of the TV broadcast. Without consulting its members, the Academy board and smug first-time Oscars producer Will Packer made the desperate and reprehensible decision to give out eight of the night’s “lesser awards” in the hour prior to the live broadcast. The not-glamorous-enough-for prime-time list included Best Score and Best Editing! Film fans and Academy members were outraged, but the resolution held firm. All it would have taken was one or two high-profile nominees to inform the Academy that they would not attend the ceremony unless the idea was dropped, but no one stepped up to lead what could have been the easiest and most successful boycott in Hollywood history.
If you didn’t know about this controversy, you might not have realized there was any change in the show. Packer’s plan was to cut the pre-taped speeches and integrate them seamlessly into the broadcast as if all the categories were being announced live without ever acknowledging otherwise—the “live” logo disingenuously remaining on the screen for the entire show. The idea was to save precious seconds by not showing these winners walking from their seats, as well as giving the producers full control over the length of their speeches.
Academy President David Rubin wrote in a letter to angry members prior to the broadcast that this decision was made in order to “provide more time and opportunity for audience entertainment and engagement through comedy, musical numbers, film clip packages and movie tributes.” But that didn’t satisfy anyone because these lame attempts at “audience entertainment” are usually what makes the Oscars so long and often embarrassing in the first place. And, indeed, most of the attempts at making the show fun did little more than kicking the industry and the Academy while it was down. While it was great to have the film clips and montages reinstated after the disastrous choice to cut them from the previous year, what we got was a far cry from the masterful clip compilations that Chuck Workman use to create for the Oscars back in their heyday. An unnecessary tribute to the James Bond series on the occasion of its sixtieth anniversary was about as inspired as one of those opening menu collages from a 007 BluRay boxset.
After briefly considering the addition of a Most Popular Movie Oscar, the Academy decided to team up with Twitter for an "Oscars Fan Favorite" contest, where Twitter users could vote for their favorite film and their favorite movie moment of the year. No choice could have demonstrated how out of touch the Academy is with the young, hip audience they so desperately want to court than to essentially invite Twitter users to troll the Oscar. Clearly the thinking was the year’s most popular film Spider-Man: No Way Home would win at least one of these fan favorite awards and the Oscars would finally get some superheroes into their ranks. But the folks who run the Academy and produce the Oscars clearly had no experience of Twitter culture. Were they unaware of the #NameOurShip online poll to christen a £200 million UK polar scientific research ship that resulted in a boat called Boaty McBoatface? Did they not see how savvy TikTok users had pranked the Trump administration by artificially inflating attendance expectations for one of the former president’s major rallies?
Mischievous fanboys saw to it that both of these pseudo-awards went to Zack Snyder, whose zombie heist film Army of the Dead, a box office bomb that lost over $80 million, won the Fan Favorite Awards. And Oscars Best Cheer Moment went to “The Flash Enters the Speed Force” from “The Snyder Cut” of Justice League—the four-hour director's cut of the 2017 DC superhero franchise movie Snyder had stepped down from, which was released this year on HBO MAX.
All of these shameless attempts to make the Oscars cool again failed miserably. The show scored the second-lowest rating of any Oscars telecast (worsted only by the previous year’s horrific COVID complicated ceremony). And the show still ended up well over three and a half hours long. The controversial decision to drop eight awards from the live broadcast shaved, at most, a total of 5 minutes off the running time, but it did considerable damage to the Academy’s reputation—making it clear to many in its ranks that the organization placed more value on getting high ratings for a TV show than in honoring the year’s best work in film. Packer packed the broadcast with shameless attempts to win back viewers who had stopped watching the Oscars (and all awards shows) years ago and will never come back.
While most of the acceptance speeches were well-thought-out and well delivered, this most important (yet most problematic for the bean counters at ABC TV) part of the show was, as always, rushed. Yet presenters were given plenty of screen time. The average presenter’s speech was 2.5 times longer than the average winner was permitted to talk. And nearly all presenters were well under the age of 50, with fewer and fewer of them having any connection to the film industry, like music producer Sean Combs, R&B star H.E.R., and a trio that consisted of a snowboarder, a skateboarder, and a surfer all with massive social media cred. The selection of presenters spoke volumes about how ashamed the Oscar show is about its ageing demographic.
But all the abominable choices and the few bright spots of the 94th Academy Awards were overshadowed by the first incident of on-stage violence in Oscar history. When Chris Rock took the stage to present the award for Best Documentary Feature, he made an unscripted joke about actress Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head and her Oscar-nominated husband Will Smith walked onstage, slapped Rock in the face, and returned to his seat shouting, "Keep my wife's name out your fucking mouth!" The shaken Rock then joked that it was the "greatest night in the history of television," but the incident, followed 40 minutes later by Smith’s self-serving, semi-apologetic acceptance speech when he won Best Actor for King Richard, was the most egregious aspect of the most shameful Oscar ceremony to date.
In its attempt to please everyone, the Academy ended up pleasing no one. And what makes all the brouhaha around the Oscars show even more depressing was that 2021’s line-up of movies was the first in a long time to have something for almost everyone. The days when Oscar winners like Kramer vs. Kramer, Chariots of Fire, and Out of Africa ranked among the top ten highest-grossing films of the year are long LONG gone. In our fractured, niche-marketed culture it’s highly unlikely that many if any of the top ten box-office performers will also be any of the ten nominees for Best Picture. But 2021 was the first year in which the Academy mandated a full slate of 10 Best Picture nominees where I felt that choice made sense. The selection ranged from two films that I considered amongst the year’s best pictures to four I thought were pretty terrible movies, but the span of nominations across all categories got me excited about the show.
Here's my ranked list of all the 2021 Oscar movies
In the end, I was pretty upbeat about the year in film. Despite the many blows dealt to the movie industry by both external and internal factors, 2021 gave us a lot of stellar performances, screenplays and cinematic craftsmanship resulting in some very fine pictures.
And for once, a great many of my picks for the year’s best performances and craftsmanship come in films that I didn’t think were all that good, but even some of the year’s weakest films contained some of the most significant work...
Steven Spielberg - WEST SIDE STORY
Pedro Almodóvar - PARALLEL MOTHERS
Shaka King - JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi - DRIVE MY CAR
Jessica Earnshaw - JACINTA
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt - THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD
Will Berson, Shaka King, Kenny & Keith Lucas - JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
Pedro Almodóvar - PARALLEL MOTHERS
Fran Kranz - MASS
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi - WHEEL OF FORTUNE AND FANTASY
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
Tony Kushner - WEST SIDE STORY
Maggie Gyllenhaal - THE LOST DAUGHTER
Rebecca Hall - PASSING
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi - DRIVE MY CAR
Stephen Karam - THE HUMANS
Penélope Cruz - PARALLEL MOTHERS
Olivia Colman - THE LOST DAUGHTER
Ann Dowd - MASS
Martha Plimpton - MASS
Renate Reinsve - THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD
Daniel Kaluuya - JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
Andrew Garfield - TICK, TICK...BOOM!
Tim Blake Nelson - OLD HENRY
Lakeith Stanfield - JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
Vincent Lindon - TITANE
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Kirsten Dunst - THE POWER OF THE DOG
Kathryn Hunter - THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH
Brenda Deiss - RED ROCKET
Dakota Johnson - THE LOST DAUGHTER
Mia Wasikowska - BERGMAN ISLAND
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Timothy Spall - SPENCER
Troy Kotsur - CODA
Simon Helberg - ANNETTE
Anders Danielsen Lie - THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD
Janusz Kaminski - WEST SIDE STORY
Jeanne Lapoirie - BENEDETTA
Eduard Grau - PASSING
Lol Crawley - THE HUMANS
Ari Wegner - THE POWER OF THE DOG
Joshua L. Pearson - SUMMER OF SOUL
Myron Kerstein and Andrew Weisblum - TICK, TICK...BOOM!
Jaclyn Lee and Aljernon Tunsil - ATTICA
Claire Simpson - THE LAST DUEL
Sabine Hoffmann - PASSING
Ron & Russell Mael - ANNETTE
Jonny Greenwood - SPENCER
Alberto Iglesias - PARALLEL MOTHERS
Hans Zimmer - DUNE
Ola Fløttum - THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:
ON THESE GROUNDS
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FEATURE:
BEST DEBUT FEATURE:
Jessica Earnshaw - JACINTA
Maggie Gyllenhaal - THE LOST DAUGHTER
Stephen Karam - THE HUMANS
Fran Kranz - MASS
Rebecca Hall - PASSING
BEST COME BACK:
Val Kilmer - VAL
Alana Haim & Cooper Hoffman - LICORICE PIZZA
BEST YEAR OVERALL:
Lin-Manuel Miranda - this guy was everywhere in 2021 - composing the songs for songs Encanto and Vivo, directing and producing Tick, Tick... Boom!, and having his first Broadway musical In the Heights made into a film. He even managed to get shoehorned into the year's biggest documentary Summer of Soul.
Jonny Greenwood - the lead guitarist and keyboardist of the alternative rock band Radiohead has been doing soundtracks for directors Paul Thomas Anderson and Lynne Ramsay since 2007. But this year he scored three of the years most acclaimed films - Anderson’s Licorice Pizza, Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, and Pablo Larraín’s Spencer.
Stephen Sondheim - even though the legendary composer, songwriter and lyricist dies this year, he got to witness a near-flawless cinematic reinterpretation of his first work, West Side Story, and saw one of his protégés Lin-Manuel Miranda direct a film by and about another of his protégés Jonathan Larson.