Friends – this has been another punishing year. But we got through it, and we even saw the cinemas re-open and the box office begin the thrive once more. We dearly hope this continues in the new year. But The Truffles, our annual Alternative Movie Awards, are about looking back on the year in the seventh art. And it’s been quite a year.
We’ve been highlighting and championing our favourites films of each year since 2009, and this year the HeyUGuys team have come up with a whole host of heartfelt awards. From the sublime to the ridiculous, from the contentious to the uncontested – great performances, amazing films, from Oscar winners to indie oddities – they’re all here.
There may be tough months ahead, but we’ll stay safe and stay smart and we’ll get through this together. And the hope is that we’ll be able to convene safely soon, to sit alongside one another as the lights go down and we dream together.
We wish you all a very Merry Christmas.
The 2021 Truffles
Best Supporting Performance of the Year that was Definitely a Lead Performance of the Year
Every film must have a lead role, right? Someone surely has to be considered the protagonist, the focal point of the narrative that exists around them. Clearly not, in the eyes of the Academy, who nominated both LaKeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya in the Best Supporting category at least year’s Oscars for their turns in Judas and the Black Messiah.
Well, we’re here to put things right. So congratulations LaKeith, with this award you are now considered the lead.
Best Film Named After a Farm Animal this Year
An award we’ve wanted to give out for some time, but just haven’t had the wealth of nominees. Not this year. Take your pick. We’ve had the Nicolas Cage starring PIG. There’s been eccentric Icelandic drama LAMB. Paul Andrew Williams returned to the screen with BULL, and Andrea Arnold released COW.
We choose Pig. Well done, Pig.
Most Inspiring Film of the year award:
A filhm that chlams you csn be contsntly drunk – evhn wwehn working1.
The Audience Award for Millennial Film of the Year
We’ve taken a vote amongst Millennials across the world, and turns out The Last Duel was their favourite film of last year. Who knew?!
The ‘Okay You Win’ Award
West Side Story
Don’t remake West Side Story, I said. A timeless classic, and enriched by it’s old Hollywood fervour, that classic, eternal beauty of watching an old musical, I said. Don’t tamper with it, Spielberg. Leave it alone, I said. I was wrong.
The Big-Screen Snarling “Cockney” Bastard of the year Award
Using the term “cockney” loosely here to mean any typical Brit gangster, rascal/rapscallion who would probably sell their mother to a weirdo down the market, but are not necessarily born within the sound of Bow bells. This year has seen a massive bombardment of big-screen bastards, mostly frequenting gangster films such as: Nemesis, Villain and Rise of the Footsoldier: Origins. But the standout award winner by far is Neil Maskell for his portrayal of gnarly small-time hoodlum, Bull, in Paul Andrew Williams’ genre/brain bending gangster thriller of the same name.
Not only did Maskell spend most of the film murdering his way through an entire crime syndicate, the gong-pinching moment came during a scene which saw the titular antihero slide a machete between a thug’s legs and threaten to cut him from bollocks to arse. Maskell also beat off strong competition from Ray Winstone’s resurgent red room runner Dreykov in Black Widow, who had the audacity to punch Scarlett Johansson in the face (what a bastard), but Winstone was disqualified as his character is Russian.
The Moonraker ”I Can’t Believe They Went to Space” Award
Beating off strong competition from the likes of Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris in the latest Fast and Furious film which saw their characters not quite penetrate the Van Allen radiation belt in a contraption that would make Chitty Chitty Bang Bang emit a banana from its tailpipe, this year’s award goes to William Shatner. Because he actually did go to space.
On 13th October, the Star Trek star boarded a Blue Origin New Shepard rocket and boldly went where quite a few astronauts, but not many normal people, have been before. Shatner gets extra brownie points because, at the age of 90, he also became the oldest person to go to space.
No doubt there will be more competition in this category next year when Tom Cruise takes his anarchic tom-foolery to interplanetary levels in whatever Mission: Impossible or Elon Musk funded real-life space/film project is on his radar, but until then let’s congratulate Shatner for achieving something very few have, but many more will do, in the not-too-distant future.
The Least Surprising, Surprise Cameo(s) of the Year Award
While some are still waiting to definitively find out if Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield turn up in Spider-Man: No Way Home, (if they don’t, I’ll eat several massive hats) at the time of writing, this year’s award goes to Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Bill Murray for their “surprise” return as the beloved Ghostbusters at the end of Jason Reitman’s retro-trope loaded reboot/follow-up.
Harold Ramis is not included in the winners of this award because (a) he’s dead (b) his moving image was ripped from old footage, digitally tinkered with and (respectfully) rendered in a graceful cut and paste job, and (c) because his appearance was a genuine surprise.
While one could argue about whether or not it was ethically justifiable to reanimate Ramis for our viewing pleasure, it’s difficult to shun his manifestation in the last act of Ghostbusters: Afterlife as, for many (including myself), it was a moment of heart-string thrumming joy. At a time when surprise cameos are clearly the in-thing (Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings also had turns), the Ghostbusters cameos at the end of Afterlife could be seen coming a mile off.
It would have been more surprising if Spengler opened the multiverse and Paul Feig’s female Ghostbusters turned up, which could have probably prompted a completely different, but equally emotional outpouring, no doubt accompanied by tears of rage and mass cinema snack hurling.
The Underrated One
Army of Thieves
I love a good zombie film as much as anyone and having loved Dawn of the Dead, I was keen to see Snyder return there with Army of the Dead. That “Army” film was just fine, but the prequel Army of Thieves was heaps better – funnier, cleverer, better structured. That Matthias Scheighofer managed to direct this as well as star in it and tie it into Army of the Dead without being ridiculous or contorted about it was impressive indeed. Top Marks.
The Unexpectedly Terrible One
Okay so Denzel, Jared Leto and Rami Malek in a crime drama. Denzel is all washed up, Malek is young and slick, Leto is doing his acting thing. What’s not to like? Throw in a script and direction by John Lee Hancock (The Blindside, Saving Mr Banks, The Highwaymen) and you’d think this would at least be gripping, enjoyable, maybe just watchable?
Sadly not. It’s hard to know where to start and this is not to be a long article, but the film builds terribly, you keep waiting for it to do something interesting but instead it just ends, no character acts in a remotely logical way and to mismanage that cast is a crime. I can’t remember ever getting to the end of a Denzel film and wishing I could get those two hours of my life back. This one made me cross.
The Best One
My mother used to be a sign language interpreter and I have had reasonably close friends in the past who were hearing-impaired to some degree, so that undoubtedly helped increase my interest in this film, but that is neither here nor there. Sound of Metal is utterly compelling in its simplicity – the lean story of a man who loses his hearing after too much drumming in noisy gig venues and checks into a rehab unit for the hearing impaired.
At first it feels odd to mix rehab with coming to terms with losing your hearing, but Riz Ahmed sells it effortlessly, ably helped by Best Supporting Actor shoe-in (I know, he was robbed) Paul Raci as the guy who runs the rehab unit. Ahmed moves through the gears of denial, anger, acquiescence and all the rest in between with such aplomb – if there is any justice in the world he will be enjoying his pick of roles for the rest of time. The grace note on which the film ends will stay with you for ages, in the best possible way.
The Utterly Compelling One
Daniel Kaluuya is a full-blown movie star. Black Panther, Get Out, Widows, Queen & Slim and now this. He is incredible – compelling, sympathetic, terrifying – there is seemingly nothing he cannot do. LaKeith Stanfield is every bit his match here, conveying the self-loathing, frustration, ambivalence and inner conflict that are so central to making this character and the whole film work so well. But it is Kaluuya’s film, despite both him and Stanfield being nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
The rhythm of his voice, his charisma and magnetism and ultimately the frustration and rage at his needless fate. Hard to watch at times, but one for the ages nonetheless.
The Jupiter Rising Award for “so bad it’s unwatchable”
I can’t remember who first said, “there’s so bad its good and then so bad it’s unwatchable”, but it was meant for Red Notice. I can’t believe I keep putting on these supposedly “entertaining” Netflix and Amazon Prime premieres – Six Underground, Spenser Confidential, Infinite, Extraction – and keep expecting them to be anything other than terrible.
I could have sat and watched Minari or Passing, for crying out loud. How do you green screen an entire film (that isn’t Sin City or 300) when its whole appeal is its globe-trotting locations? How do you take three such charismatic on-screen actors and strip them of anything compelling or even watchable? How can so little take so long to get through on screen? And how did this feel longer than the Snyder Cut of Justice League? So many questions. So few answers.
The Dave Roper Self-pity Award for Best Film I Didn’t Get to See
I usually finish up with my annual self-pitying award for what was probably the best film I didn’t get to see because I never get to the cinema as much as I would like, but no-one did this year so I’ll simply leave you with three terrific films that I have seen on streaming services this year that I think you should check out:-
I Care A Lot
The Harder They Fall
The Suicide Squad
The Carrie Fisher-Debbie Reynolds Truffle goes to…
To be honest, I would give this film a whole box of truffles as it’s pretty much perfect. Eerie, moving, intimate and charming, in just 72 minutes the sublime Céline Sciamma has created a masterpiece about life, love, death, friendship, and – of course – mothers and daughters.
Best Snuffle Truffle goes to…
(with an honorary mention to The Truffle Hunters)
It would be churlish of us here at HeyUGuys not to award a Truffle to a film about truffle hunters. Nicolas Cage and his character’s beloved pig both gave quite astonishing performances, the former reminding us of what a truly great actor he is despite all the dross you have to wade through before reaching the golden shores of Pig, Mandy and the like.
Pig wins the award in a year that also brought us the wonderful documentary The Truffle Hunters and the two films make great companion pieces. A strong year for the truffle, all in all.
The Couldn’t Organise a Piss-up in a Brewery Truffle goes to…
After lauding the organisers last year for their tremendous efforts to put on an in-person real-life festival (and with me on film begging dashing festival director Alberto Barbera not to eliminate the booking system), this year saw the fiasco of bleary-eyed journalists having to set their alarms for 6am in order to feverishly scrabble for tickets 74 hours before screenings.
With other tickets becoming available while many critics were sitting in dark movie theatres with their phones off, the booking service was the most talked about and most reviled aspect of this year’s otherwise exemplary festival.
The Bonnie Langford Child Actor Truffle goes to…
Panah Pahani’s completely gorgeous road movie was the only film to have me in tears at Cannes this year. A profound portrayal of family, loss, secrets and lies stars the adorable six-year-old Rayan Sarlak, who turns in a tour de force performance. He is gorgeous, infuriating and hilarious in a film that is layered, nuanced and heart breaking.
An outstanding performance in an outstanding directorial debut.
Best Worst Funeral Party Truffle goes to…
Emma Seligman’s exhilarating tale follows naughty student Danielle as she navigates the choppy waters of a shiva whose guests include an old girlfriend, a current male love interest and a mother who ticks all the Jewish cliché boxes. Seligman – and her fantastic lead Rachel Sennott – teeter on a tightrope between absolute farce and high drama, which makes for utterly compelling viewing and a joy to watch. Polly Draper as the neurotic mother deserves special mention, but the whole cast is excellent.
Best Hole in the Ground Truffle goes to…
Michelangelo Frammartino’s follow-up film to Le Quattro Volte is a sight for sore eyes. Based on the 1961 discovery and speleological survey of the Bifurto Abyss in Pollino, the film takes us down into the bowels of the earth while offering a glimpse of life in 1961 southern Italy.
The director’s portrayal of the wrinkled locals maintaining dying traditions juxtaposed with the bright young cave divers from up north heralding in a new era for Italy is subtle and respectful. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait eleven years for Frammartino’s next film for he has a unique and beguiling eye.
Best Eat My Own Words Truffle goes to…
A confession: I didn’t love The Souvenir, so when I saw that The Souvenir II was screening at Cannes, I wasn’t all that bothered and headed to the cinema fully expecting to be underwhelmed. Instead, Joanna Hogg’s film made me reconsider everything negative I had said and thought about her first film. I am a convert and I apologise for being so wrong. It also has a bravura cameo from Richard Ayoade which on its own would have made me love the film.
The Truffle for ‘Most Pleasant Surprise of The Year.’
Maybe it was the whole Wolverine thing, but surely I’m not the only person whose eyes roll upward in despair at the very sight of the word ‘prequel’ or even worse, ’Origin Story?’ Seemingly every other week, a giddy announcement will explain that hot onto the development slate is the origin story of some character or other from an already established franchise, and we are all supposed to keel over in delight that a studio is wringing the tea-towel tight again, hoping to tap an existing fanbase for millions and expand a brand they already own.
And thus it was yawns aplenty for me at the revelation that Disney were going to make “an all-new live action feature film about the rebellious early days of one of cinemas most notorious – and notoriously fashionable – villains, the legendary Cruella de Vil.” Sigh.
At the behest of my kids, I surrendered to their pleas and, with arms folded in protest, sat with them in lockdown to endure this shallow corporate hokum….and it was brilliant! Emma Stone was punky, conflicted and adorable, Emma Thompson was a perfectly aloof, stone-faced villain, and as Jasper and Horace, Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser were revelatory.
The vibrant world of 1960s Carnaby Street was brought to life in dazzling technicolor, and the soundtrack was one of the year’s best (my daughter now loves The Kinks, so my thanks to you, director Craig Gillespie). As a bonus, I have never seen my son laugh as hard and for such a sustained amount of time as he did when the waiter was hit in the face by a Champagne cork.
It’s almost enough to make one give X Men Origins: Wolverine another go. Or possibly not.
In 1985, with Sylvester Stallone’s appeal at its zenith, the unlikely sequel Rocky IV became the most successful entry in the now decades-long boxing franchise. This was in no small part due to the casting of Sico, a then state-of-the-art robot, who stole the film from under the noses of a roster of seasoned character actors.
Within the confines of a brief running time, Sico exhibited an almost Brando-like range: mapping out a truly impressive character arc. Arriving like an invasion from another film altogether, the words ‘Happy Birthday, Paulie’ projected with authority laced with latent menace. Only a few scenes later, Sico had apparently softened his rhetoric, ever-cautiously, keeping Rocky’s son occupied and soothing the great pugilist by playing him Go West songs while he cleaned his car.
Having been complicit in Apollo Creed’s death by enabling the phone call that sets in motion the tragic events that follow, Sico then threw away the acting rule book, reappearing to Carl Weathers’s barely disguised amazement as simultaneously Paulie’s love interest, barmaid and Kenny Loggins/Gladys Knight aficionado.
Sico’s global fame would instantly rival that of his 1980s robotic peers, Johnny Five, Jinx from SpaceCamp, Flight of The Navigator’s Max and our own Metal Mickey. However, as with his contemporaries, the 1990s would usher in a barren period from which none of them, in a world of photo-realistic CGI and non-syth based soft-rock, would ever truly recover.
Finally, there appeared a rainbow of hope, when it was announced that Stallone was returning to the edit suite to forge a new version of his now-classic film (given the rather cumbersome new title ‘Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky IV: Rocky Vs Drago – The Ultimate Director’s Cut’). Would we finally get to see even more of Sico’s astonishing performance? His moving, Van Halen-referencing soliloquy at Apollo’s funeral? The scene where Sico arm-wrestles Rocky in the Russian cabin, foreshadowing the plot of Over The Top?
Alas, it proved a false dawn. When the film was released this year, Sico was devastated to learn that he didn’t feature at all. No statement was issued. There was no confirmation of Sico’s well-publicised suspicions that Stallone had always envied the broad range of the robot’s performance, and that this was the director’s long-planned revenge.
Since the new film’s release, nothing has been seen of this legendary 1980s robotic thespian. The most recent rumour (as yet unsubstantiated) is that he was recycled and is now an industrial-sized 3D printer somewhere in Michigan. He remains fond of Go West’s mid-80’s period.
The (now annual) Most Obscene Misuse of a Household Item of the Year Award
Hairpins have been used since ancient Egypt. We all know that their purpose is to secure hairstyles, typically for women. We also know that they are NOT supposed to be thrust into people’s ear canals, which, apparently, causes victims to froth at the mouth as if they’ve just downed a quart of milk.
Good luck telling that to Adrien, though, the demented lead character of Titane. Adrien is not a hairdresser but a serial killer, and she has achieved total mastery of her steel hairpin. Through experience and innate dexterity, Adrien uses her pin with the grace of a true femme fatale, ravaging the eardrums of anyone who crosses her.
However, what does Adrien do when the hairpin is out of reach? Well, there’s a moment in which she sits on a bar stool, and that’s completely fine, that is what they are for. The only problem is that one of the wooden legs has been lodged in some bloke’s mouth so hard that it has broken his jaw and neck. Truly obscene.
After that, Adrien gets hold of a fire poker, sparking fond memories of Colin Tate, the onyx-eyed savage from last year’s Possessor. Perhaps out of respect to Colin, Adrien doesn’t show off too much with the fire poker, although she does sever someone’s spine with it. Still, I don’t think she steals Colin’s thunder, which is a classy move.
The “If This Was In English Everybody Would Be Yelling About How Great It Is” Award for Overlooked Foreign-Language Genius
Ivo van Aart’s shamelessly cathartic Dutch black comedy The Columnist is up there with the very best films of the year, genre or otherwise. A much too real, scathingly funny (literal) stab at reply-guy culture, it lives and dies by its lead – Katja Herbers’ beautifully messy journalist, equal parts avenging fury and straight-up loon (think Travis Bickle meets Alice Lowe in Prevenge).
It’s a pitch-perfect performance that builds on an even sharper script and should’ve run away with all of the year’s acclaim after its successful festival run, instead of simply falling onto the internet and straight into obscurity.
Our five star review (https://www.heyuguys.com/the-columnist-review/)
The “We’ve All Been Wasting Our Time” Award for Micro-Budget, Shot-On-A-Smartphone Films That Prove You Don’t Need $$$ To Make A Masterpiece
Every now and then a film shows up – usually an indie, usually at a festival, and usually to great hipster acclaim – that makes you question why the fuck we’re all bothering with $200 million blockbusters. Shot in what looks (and feels) like real-time, on an out-of-date smartphone, with barely a handful of cast members and even less than a skeleton-crew, Junta Yamaguchi’s Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is a ridiculously entertaining, Douglas Adams-esque sci-fi caper that provides more laughs and thrills per second than most films hundreds of times the size.
The Glen Coco Award for Best Teen Movie
To every generation a good teen movie is born. Clueless; Mean Girls; Booksmart, and now Amy Poehler’s Netflix-backed Moxie might just be Gen-Z’s newest hope. Progressive without ever feeling showy, it’s a smart, powerful, sweet-natured, but crucially angry passing-of-the-baton, fuelled by everything in that all-important, 90s-infused teen movie template. But mostly, a killer cast, and a terrifically punk sense of being.
A totally different, much more directed spin on the American coming-of-age favourite, but one that more than makes its mark. If only Netflix’s run-and-gun release and marketing schedule hadn’t basically left it in the dust back in March.
The “Vote For Pedro” Award for Offbeat Coming-of-Age Comedies That Can’t Be Properly Categorised So They’re Basically Ignored or Forever Compared to Napoleon Dynamite
I don’t really know how to describe Dinner in America, and that’s probably a good thing – too many have tried, and too many have failed. Adam Rehmeier’s kinda-sort-of-but-notreally coming-of-age comedy drops two punk-obsessed misfits into decaying suburbia, and follows their burgeoning romance against the backdrop of garage metal shows and small-town outlaw hijinks.
Grounded completely by two of the best performances of the year from Emily Skeggs and Kyle Gallner, it’s about as cult as they come, and all the better for it; the right audience will find so much to love and get lost in.
It’s also nothing like Napoleon Dynamite.
Streamer of the Year
There are no words to accurately describe this writer’s love for Shudder – the horror-focussed streamer that not only kills it with the classics, but seems to year-on-year boast the best new originals around. And in 2021, they very easily pumped out four of the best genre movies of the year full stop, all of which had niche audiences, and all of which could’ve very easily fallen into obscurity (or simply not existed altogether), without Shudder stepping up.
I’m talking about the loveable soapy menace of Simon Barrett’s feature directorial debut Seance; the wildly unhinged Troma-meets-Disney-Channel stylings of Psycho Goreman; the bonkers return of the gnarliest of anthology series with V/H/S 94; and Dusty Mancinelli and Madeleine Sims-Fewer’s critically acclaimed hands-over-the-face “revenge” chiller Violation.
Bless you, Shudder. Horror fans the world over owe you a great debt.
The Tinnitus Award for movie gig I most want to go to
The Japanese hard rock band Band Maid (so named because they play their joyously catchy riffs in maid costumes) were one of my favourite musical discoveries during the pandemic lockdowns. I’ve seen them on a livestream gig and am planning to catch their recorded acoustic set on Christmas Day, so hearing they had a cameo in the Mary Elizabeth Winstead starring Kate (read Joan Wick) got me excited.
We hear them twice. The explosive Blooming plays in the early car chase, and they appear in a club, playing Choose Me (one of many personal favourites) when Kate finds and kidnaps yakuza’s daughter Ani (Miku Martineau). The film is serviceable, but that sequence made me long to be back in a unified crowd, dancing along to one of my favourite bands of the moment. I just hope I feel able to go next time they play here.
The Ryan Reynolds Award for things that have officially outstayed their welcome
Ryan Reynolds can be funny and charming, but post Deadpool everything has become very one-note. He’s no longer taking risks like The Nines, Buried and The Voices and instead is coasting on his persona and endless quips.
Free Guy almost gets away with it, because at least a few of the gags hit but Red Notice and its inability to give him a single piece of dialogue that didn’t include a (terrible) one-liner passed the limits of my patience. I can’t imagine watching another film with Reynolds until he takes on another project that breaks him away from this persona.
The “Nobody’s Perfect” Award for oddest couple
Noemie Merlant established herself (internationally at least) as a talent to watch with her performance in Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Jumbo is in some ways similar, a film about a deeply felt relationship that simply can’t be. Here though it’s less to do with societal restriction than the fact that Merlant’s characters fall in love with one of the rides she has to clean at the fairground she works at.
Merlant and writer/director Zoé Wittock take what could be laughable concept and, while they sometimes find humour in it, make you feel the connection, the aching pull that Merlant’s Jeanne feels towards Jumbo. This may be an obvious choice for the year’s oddest couple, but the empathy Merlant brings to the role is why it works, and ends up as one of the year’s best.
The “Ok, Ok, DISAPPOINTED” Award for Movie that should have been awesome
A samurai action movie which, for 70 minutes, unfolds in a single take in the middle of a massed battle in which one legendary warrior takes on a phalanx of 400 opponents. That. Sounds. Badass. Unfortunately, there is no real plot, no build to the action, no ultimate bad guy, no fights that test our protagonist significantly more.
From a technical standpoint it’s a miserable failure. The single take construction means that we often watch as stuntmen visibly roll out of shot after being ‘killed’, only to return seconds later to be mown down again. It looks as though no more than 15 people were ever on set. The opening and closing sequences of conventionally cut action are a perfect demonstration of why this was doomed from the start
The Ronseal Award for movie that does what it says on the tin
This Die Hard during a school shooting movie, eventually released by right wing ‘news’ site The Daily Wire, which I watched only because the consistently underrated Radha Mitchell has a small part, is both qualitatively awful and morally reprehensible, but you can’t call it out for false advertising.
The three words of the title lay out the actions of the central character across its simple three act structure. There. Now you don’t have to watch it. You’re welcome.
The “It Was Well Worth The Wait But Thanks Anyway Covid” Award
No Time To Die & A Quiet Place Part II
Another year has gone and, let’s be honest, the only good thing to have happened in 2021 in the world of film is the reopening of cinemas. I personally couldn’t wait to get back into the action of the big screen. The first film I saw was A Quiet Place: Part II. This was on the list of my most anticipated films of 2020, so you have no idea the relief I had when I finally took my seat and saw it for the first time this year. And boy was it worth it.
The first ten minutes especially were simply *chefs kiss*. I haven’t felt that tense whilst watching a film in a long time. A film most definitely worth the wait. Krasinski has done it again, and just when you thought there wasn’t a way he could top the first one, here he is doing that exact thing, with the addition of the great Cillian Murphy joining the team.
Then we have a film that was probably THE most anticipated for me and after all those push backs, we finally made it. No Time to Die was most definitely worth the wait. I didn’t just see it once, I saw it the following day as well. It was simply glorious. As a huge Bond (and Daniel Craig) fan, it was the perfect way to say goodbye to Craig’s 007. The waiting was tedious to say the least, but it was worth it, abso-bloody-lutely. And if that ending didn’t break your heart then God knows what will. I am so excited to see how they make the next Bond film and more importantly, who will play Bond… any bets?
The “You Don’t Need To Act When You’ve Got That Much Charisma” Award
Okay, this isn’t me hating on our friend The Rock, because I absolutely am not. I love watching his films and he seems like such a great guy… However, let’s be honest here – he pretty much plays the same kind of character in all of his films and I’m actually down for that. Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson has so much charisma that I feel like it doesn’t matter if he is somewhat repetitive in his acting or the type of characters he plays, because he’s just that great and people adore him.
I really enjoyed Jungle Cruise where he played alongside Emily Blunt. His character was quite comical but then seeing him play a somewhat different character in Red Notice, with Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot, for me I came to realise I was just watching the same guy in two separate movies being oddly similar. I enjoyed Red Notice don’t get me wrong, but you know what? I wasn’t mad. I’ve started to take note that that’s just who he is and that’s just how he plays his roles and it will never deter me from watching a film he’s in. So kudos to you Dwayne, because not everyone can pull that off and get away with it.
The Best Film With Asian Representation That We Desperately Need More Of
Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings
Nothing really needs to be said about this film other than What. A. Film.
As a person with oriental heritage myself, to see a film with 99% of the cast being Asian AND within a huge franchise like Marvel, is just astounding to see. Never did I think something like this would happen, (since Crazy Rich Asians) but it finally has.
And. We. Need. More.
Don’t let this be the icing on the cake, we need cherries and more decoration. Keep it coming please. We need to carry on the conversation about diversity, and showing how incredible the Asian culture is and proving it by putting actors of Asian heritage on the big screen. Giving us a voice and a chance. An opportunity my culture never really had before. Plus also – can we just recognise how fantastic this cast is?!
The “I Can’t Look At Him In Another Way” Award
Matt Smith pre-Last Night in Soho for me, was simply a version of The Doctor. I enjoy thinking of Matt being the time travelling alien, and of course has gone on to play very different roles, but for me he was always The Doctor… Until now. Last Night in Soho was a game changer for me on how I see Matt Smith as an actor.
He scared me for the first time in this Horror Drama as he plays Jack… If you’ve seen the film you’ll know. If not, go watch it and see what you think. Great acting from Matt, but maybe too much because now, all I see when I see Matt Smith is Jack. I don’t see The Doctor anymore – maybe that’s a good thing, who knows?
The Arkham Asylum Award for Breakout Supervillain
The Suicide Squad did everything a Suicide Squad movie should do. Introduce a collection of D-List supervillains, the more ridiculous the better, then get us to invest in them. And no one was a better investment than Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher 2.
Seemingly the most vulnerable and least inclined to hurt others, when it’s on her to save the day she does so with empathy and grace. Plus, her lethargy and suicidal naivety drive some of the best gags.
The 2005 Crash Award for Most Egregious Oscar Decision
One plays Judas, the other plays The Black Messiah and somehow neither are the lead of Judas and The Black Messiah. It’s not only an insult to the significance of both roles. Not only is it further confirmation of the Academy’s habit of disregarding the work of black actors. But forcing the two men to duke it out in the same category effectively took away a spot that could have been filled by Delroy Lindo, who’s performance in Da 5 Bloods was nothing short of transcendent.
The Simple Jack Award for Worst Representation of Disability
This should probably go to Sia’s Music but there’s not enough money in the world to make me see that. You can make an argument for a film about a deaf family, led by the one hearing daughter but not this one. The Rossi Family are shown relying on their daughter to an infantilising degree.
Set in a version of modern America with apparently zero accommodations for disabilities and generally portraying deafness as an intolerable burden to the hearing. Someone paid $25 million for this, hope they kept the receipt.
The Matt Hancock Award for Worst Capitalisation on the Pandemic
Malcolm & Marie
A film shot at the peak of the pandemic was an enticing prospect, buoyed by two rising talents in Zendaya and John David Washington. Add Sam (son of Barry) Levinson, critically acclaimed for Assassination Nation and HBO series Euphoria, and you had the makings of something truly novel.
Unfortunately, what we got was a rote, toxic relationship that served as a vehicle for Levinson to bitch about LA Times Critic Katie Walsh (albeit unnamed in the film).
The Cap’ Raising Mjolnir Award for Best Fanservice
I liked Iron Man 3 well enough, but I loved Ben Kingley’s performance as Trevor Slattery, the goofball thespian turned drug addict, hired by Guy Pearce to play The Mandarin.
Shang-Chi finds him imprisoned by the real leader of the Ten Rings, having cleaned up his act but lost none of his comedic spark. Even permitting him a redemption arc as he helps to lead Shang and the others to Tao Lao.
The Knives Chau Award for Terrible Edgar Writing Decision
Don’t get me wrong I love Edgar Wright and Last Night in Soho was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. Turns out though Wright’s comedy doesn’t really translate to a giallo-esque ghost story. Cartoonishly obnoxious mean girls and reducing the only black man in London to a pandering simp were bad enough.
The kicker though is the climax, actually inviting us to sympathise with the sexual abusers Anya Taylor-Joy’s Sandie eventually turned against. It’s the kind of bad writing decision that could only come from the man who wanted Scott Pilgrim to end up with a teenager.
The One Y’all Should Have Supported
Granted this was one of the first films out after UK cinemas reopened and an early victim of Warner Bros’ hybrid release strategy. Still, letting this one die at the box office was nothing short of tragic.
In The Heights is a beautiful showcase for the musical talents of Lin Manuel-Miranda, filled with fast, fun and heartfelt numbers that you’ll be singing well into the New Year. Featuring star-making turns from Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera and Leslie Grace and a powerhouse performance from Olga Merediz. This was one of the best films of the year and criminally underseen.
Comeback of the Year Award
After Rocky III for many the franchise hit the canvas hard and didn’t quite recover until Rocky Balboa in 2006.
Fast-forward from 1986 to 2021 where Sylvester Stallone during the pandemic turned his attention to what would become Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago (Director’s Cut).
Forget about the Snyder Cut, the Sly Cut is the edit we never knew we needed.
Apollo Creed is still dead BUT so is a certain robot – well edited out (thankfully).
Along with the making-of documentary for this director’s cut you feel the journey Sly has been on to redeem himself in a way. Yes, we still a montage or two but it is very much more character focused and adds much-needed emotional depth.
What’s That Accent Award?
House of Gucci
Lady Gaga spent months working on the Italian accent for Patrizia Reggiani and it paid off with her overall performance being an utter triumph.
Her co-stars, however, not so much. Enter the foreboding Jeremy Irons…
When we see his portrayal of Rodolfo Gucci you have to admire his commitment to NOT commit to the accent.
Think Sean Connery in The Hunt for Red October…
While Irons commits to not committing, Jared Leto does the opposite and seems to channel his inner-Mario in what is, if anything, a fun performance.
Scene Stealer Award
Alan S. Kim – Minari
Let’s take a moment to reflect not only on how great and touching Isaac Chung’s Minari is – it’s shower of awards are well-deserved.
Steven Yeun and Yuh-Jung Youn alone are phenomenal but add to the mix the absolute scene-stealer, Alan Kim, and you have something very special.
The dynamics between him and Yuh-Jung Youn, who plays his grandmother, goes beyond what you would expect from such a young actor who was seven during filming.
If you haven’t seen it, watch it. You won’t regret it.
And that’s your lot! All the Truffles have been handed out.
Thank you all for your support over this year – here’s to a much better 2022 for us all.
See you next year!