The African-American Film Critics Association Named The Harder They Fall As The Best Film of the Year!


On Monday, the African American Film Critics Association named their picks for the best of 2021!  Their pick for film of the year?  The Harder They Fall.

Here are the rest of the winners:

Best Picture: “The Harder They Fall”
Best Director: Jeymes Samuel (“The Harder They Fall”)
Best Screenplay: Adam McKay (“Don’t Look Up”)
Best Actor: Will Smith (“King Richard”)
Best Actress: Jennifer Hudson (“Respect”)
Best Supporting Actor: Corey Hawkins (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”)
Best Supporting Actress: Aunjanue Ellis (“King Richard”)
Breakout Actor: Saniyya Sidney (“King Richard”)
Best Ensemble: “The Harder They Fall”
Emerging Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green (“King Richard”)
Best Music: Jeymes Samuel, Kid Cudi & Jay-Z (“The Harder They Fall”)
Best Independent Feature: “Who We Are”
Best Documentary: “Summer of Soul”

Here Are the 2021 Nominations of the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics!


The Washington D.C. Area Film Critics have announced their nominees for the best of 2021!  The winners will be announced tomorrow so that means you have exactly one day to see all the nominees.  GET TO IT!

Best Film
Belfast
The Green Knight
The Power of the Dog
tick, tick…BOOM!
West Side Story

Best Director
Kenneth Branagh – Belfast
Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
David Lowery – The Green Knight
Steven Spielberg – West Side Story
Denis Villeneuve – Dune

Best Actor
Nicolas Cage – Pig
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog
Andrew Garfield – tick, tick…BOOM!
Will Smith – King Richard
Denzel Washington – The Tragedy of Macbeth

Best Actress
Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter
Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos
Lady Gaga – House of Gucci
Kristen Stewart – Spencer
Tessa Thompson – Passing

Best Supporting Actor
Jamie Dornan – Belfast
Ciarán Hinds – Belfast
Troy Kotsur – CODA
Jesse Plemons – The Power of the Dog
Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress
Caitríona Balfe – Belfast
Ariana DeBose – West Side Story
Ann Dowd – Mass
Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog
Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard

Best Acting Ensemble
Belfast
The French Dispatch
The Harder They Fall
Mass
The Power of the Dog

Best Youth Performance
Jude Hill – Belfast
Emilia Jones – CODA
Woody Norman – C’mon, C’mon
Saniyya Sidney – King Richard
Rachel Zegler – West Side Story

Best Voice Performance
Awkwafina – Raya and the Last Dragon
Stephanie Beatriz – Encanto
Abbi Jacobson – The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Kelly Marie Tran – Raya and the Last Dragon
Jacob Tremblay – Luca

Best Original Screenplay
Kenneth Branagh – Belfast
Mike Mills – C’mon, C’mon
Zach Baylin – King Richard
Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza
Fran Kranz – Mass

Best Adapted Screenplay
Siân Heder – CODA
Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth – Dune
Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
Steven Levenson – tick, tick…BOOM!
Tony Kushner – West Side Story

Best Animated Feature
Encanto
Flee
Luca
The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Raya and the Last Dragon

Best Documentary
The First Wave
Flee
The Rescue
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Val

Best International/Foreign Language Film
Drive My Car
A Hero
Lamb
Titane
The Worst Person in the World

Best Production Design
Jim Clay, Production Designer; Claire Nia Richards, Set Decorator – Belfast
Patrice Vermette, Production Designer; Richard Roberts and Zsuzsanna Sipos, Set Decorators – Dune
Adam Stockhausen, Production Designer; Rena DeAngelo, Set Decorator – The French Dispatch
Tamara Deverell, Production Designer; Shane Vieau, Set Decorator – Nightmare Alley
Adam Stockhausen, Production Designer; Rena DeAngelo, Set Decorator – West Side Story

Best Cinematography
Haris Zambarloukos – Belfast
Greig Fraser – Dune
Andrew Droz Palermo – The Green Knight
Ari Wegner – The Power of the Dog
Bruno Delbonnel – The Tragedy of Macbeth

Best Editing
Úna Ní Dhonghaíle – Belfast
Joe Walker – Dune
Andrew Weisblum – The French Dispatch
Peter Sciberras – The Power of the Dog
Myron Kerstein & Andrew Weisblum – tick, tick…BOOM!

Best Original Score
Bryce Dessner & Aaron Dessner – Cyrano
Hans Zimmer – Dune
Alexandre Desplat – The French Dispatch
Jonny Greenwood – The Power of the Dog
Jonny Greenwood – Spencer

Here Are The Nominations From The Detroit Film Critics Society


The Detroit Film Critics Society announced their nominations for the best of 2021 earlier today.  It’s an interesting group of nomination, though I would point out that Detroit is usually one of the quirkier of the critics groups.  Every awards season, they nominate something or someone unexpected, there’s a brief flurry of excitement, and then everyone moves on.

I guess that’s one reason why I love them.

Anyway, here’s their nominations:

BEST PICTURE
Belfast
CODA
Cyrano
Don’t Look Up
King Richard

BEST DIRECTOR
Sean Baker – Red Rocket
Kenneth Branagh – Belfast
David Lowery – The Green Knight
Adam McKay – Don’t Look Up
Lan-Manuel Miranda – Tick, Tick…Boom!

BEST ACTOR
Nicolas Cage – Pig
Peter Dinklage – Cyrano
Andrew Garfield – Tick, Tick…Boom!
Oscar Isaac – The Card Counter
Will Smith – King Richard

BEST ACTRESS
Jessica Chastain – The Eyes Of Tammy Faye
Alana Haim – Licorice Pizza
Jennifer Hudson – Respect
Nicole Kidman – Being The Ricardos
​Kristen Stewart – Spencer

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Jon Bernthal – King Richard
Troy Kotsur – CODA
Jared Leto – House Of Gucci
Ray Liotta – The Many Saints Of Newark
Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Power Of The Dog

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Ariana DeBose – West Side Story
Kirsten Dunst – The Power Of The Dog
Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard
Rita Moreno – West Side Story
Diana Rigg – Last Night In Soho

BEST ENSEMBLE
CODA
Don’t Look Up
The French Dispatch
The Harder They Fall
House Of Gucci

BREAKTHROUGH
Alana Haim – Actress – Licorice Pizza
Emilia Jones – Actress – CODA
Woody Norman – Actor – C’mon C’mon
Agathe Rousselle – Actress – Titane
Emma Seligman – Writer/Director – Shiva Baby

BEST USE OF MUSIC/SOUND
Cyrano
In The Heights
Last Night In Soho
Tick, Tick…Boom!
West Side Story

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Don’t Look Up
The French Dispatch
The Harder They Fall
Licorice Pizza
Parallel Mothers

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
CODA
The Green Knight
In The Heights
The Power Of The Dog
Tick, Tick…Boom!

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Belle
Cryptozoo
Encanto
Flee
Luca
The Mitchells vs. The Machines

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Flee
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain
The Sparks Brothers
Street Gang: How We Got To Sesame Street
Summer Of Soul

The National Board of Review Names Licorice Pizza The Best of 2021


The National Board of Review just announced their picks for the best of 2021 and, while many thought they might go with West Side Story or The Power of the Dog, the NBR instead announced that their pick for Best Picture was Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza!

In fact, Power of the Dog went curiously unmentioned by the National Board of Review.  I wouldn’t read too much into that, though.  While the NBR is one of the more prominent of the precursors, they’re also not one of the most reliable.  If the Guilds ignore a film that was considered to be contender, that’s when you might want to start changing your predictions.

Anyway, here are the NBR winners:

Best Film: LICORICE PIZZA
Best Director: Paul Thomas Anderson, LICORICE PIZZA
Best Actor: Will Smith, KING RICHARD
Best Actress: Rachel Zegler, WEST SIDE STORY
Best Supporting Actor: Ciarán Hinds, BELFAST
Best Supporting Actress: Aunjanue Ellis, KING RICHARD
Best Original Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi, A HERO
Best Adapted Screenplay: Joel Coen, THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH
Breakthrough Performance: Alana Haim & Cooper Hoffman, LICORICE PIZZA
Best Directorial Debut: Michael Sarnoski, PIG
Best Animated Feature: ENCANTO
Best Foreign Language Film: A HERO
Best Documentary: SUMMER OF SOUL (…OR, WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED)
​Best Ensemble: THE HARDER THEY FALL
Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography: Bruno Delbonnel, THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: FLEE

Top Films (in alphabetical order)
Belfast
Don’t Look Up
Dune
King Richard
The Last Duel
Nightmare Alley
Red Rocket
The Tragedy of Macbeth
West Side Story

Top 5 Foreign Language Films (in alphabetical order)
Benedetta
Lamb
Lingui, The Sacred Bonds
Titane
The Worst Person in the World

Top 5 Documentaries (in alphabetical order)
Ascension
Attica
Flee
The Rescue
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain

Top 10 Independent Films (in alphabetical order)
The Card Counter
C’mon C’mon
CODA
The Green Knight
Holler
Jockey
Old Henry
Pig
Shiva Baby
The Souvenir Part II

A Movie A Day #168: The Harder They Fall (1956, directed by Mark Robson)


In his final film role, Humphrey Bogart exposes the seamy side of boxing.

Bogart plays Eddie Willis, a washed-up former sportswriter who, because he desperately needs the money, accepts a job offer from crooked boxing promoter, Nick Benko (Rod Steiger).  Eddie is working as a publicist for a South American boxer named Toro (Mike Lane).  Toro is big, strong, and not very bright.  He is not a great boxer but he does not realize that because the Mob has been fixing all of his fights.  After a punch drunk former boxer dies in the ring while fighting Toro, Toro wants to quit and return home to Argentina.  Eddie, who has grown sympathetic to Toro, convinces Toro to fight one last time, against the world champion, Buddy Brannen (Max Baer).  Eddie tells Toro that he does not have a chance of winning but at least he will be able to return home with money for his parents.  However, Benko has other plans for Toro’s money.

Bogart was visibly dying of cancer when he made this tough and uncompromising expose of the racket behind the fight game.  This was his final performance but it is also one of his best.  Even sick and more weary than usual, Bogart could still summon up righteous fury at the type of men that would exploit a fighter like Toro.  His scenes with Rod Steiger are charged with intensity, with Bogart’s film star charisma colliding with Steiger’s stylized method acting.  Both on-screen and 0ff, Humphrey Bogart was an actor who always stood up for the little guy.  Though the film itself may be predictable and Toro is sometimes too saintly to be believed, The Harder They Fall is still a proper finale to an important and distinguished career.