After a summer blockbuster season at home, audiences were able to return to something closer to normal in 2021 with a mix of digital and theatrical releases.
Great movies were available both at home and the cinema in the last several months and with the season now over, it’s time to look back and give credit to the best of them.
BEST MOVIE – “Luca”
“Luca” was an absolute joy to watch. Charming, funny, meaningful, emotional and visually wonderful, the latest Pixar feature was the best movie of the summer.
The characters are lovable while the writing is smart and relatable. While the story, which revolves around a race competition, is simple, everything else is exceptional.
On top of being fully invested and engaged in the lives of these characters, viewers will also find themselves moved by the themes of acceptance, belonging and finding the courage to be who you are.
- Runner-Up – “In The Heights”
BEST FAMILY – “Luca”
As the best movie of the summer, “Luca” pretty much automatically gets this title, too. That’s especially true since Pixar’s movie didn’t have a whole lot of competition.
The movie earned its award, though. “Luca” is a wonderful movie that the whole movie can enjoy together.
- Runner-Up – “12 Mighty Orphans”
BEST COMEDY – “Together Together”
The summer movie season started this year with this gem of a comedy. The film cleverly explores platonic relationships, the emotions that come with pregnancy and the personal boundaries we put up. It does all of this with good humor and charming characters.
The friendship at the heart of the movie is wonderfully sweet and watching it build over the runtime is a real treat.
- Runner-Up – “Free Guy”
BEST ACTION – “The Suicide Squad”
After an absence of a couple years, DC once again takes the Best Action award. It last won it in 2017 with “Wonder Woman.” This year, it’s “The Suicide Squad” earning DC some respect.
This bloody film was a great time at the theater thanks to the combined efforts of writer/director James Gunn and a solid cast. The writing is funny, the action is entertaining and the characters are enjoyable.
- Runner-Up – “Wrath of Man”
BEST ACTOR – Dev Patel, “The Green Knight”
Dev Patel took center stage in this moody slow-burn and he did wonderful work. The main character, Gawain, wants the attention and glory that comes with being a great knight, but has several character flaws holding him back.
Patel captures all of those flaws in superb fashion, and it’s what really makes the movie work. “The Green Knight” is about self worth, ego and how a person views their own mortality, and Patel succeeds in getting this across.
- Runner-Up – Anthony Ramos, “In The Heights”
BEST ACTRESS – Megan Fox, “Till Death”
I really hope this film launches a Megan Fox comeback tour because she deserves it considering how good she was here. In this thriller, Fox does impeccable work in portraying a traumatized woman who goes on a relentless battle for survival.
Fox’s character is put through the ringer in this film, both emotionally and physically. The actress knocks it out of the park and is convincing from start to finish. Fox wasn’t the only good thing about this movie, but she was certainly an important factor making it work.
- Runner-Up – Jennifer Hudson, “Respect”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Colman Domingo, “Candyman”
“Candyman” had a real urban legend atmosphere to it. The areas where the movie takes place have an earie feel to them in the film and part of that is built by the old stories told by the character William.
Colman Domingo portrayed William and he does outstanding work as the neighborhood storyteller. His voice, attitude and demeanor capture one’s attention whenever he’s on screen and makes the legend of Candyman feel more real.
- Runner-Up – “Charlie Sheen, “12 Mighty Orphans.”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Glenn Close, “Four Good Days”
“Four Good Days” was a fairly straightforward drama about addiction, but it was definitely elevated by the performances of both Mila Kunis and Glenn Close. The latter definitely had the standout supporting performance from this summer.
Her character is a woman who loves her daughter and holds out hope that Kunis’ character can get sober. However, she’s also weary from the number of times Kunis’ character relapsed. Close does phenomenal work portraying both the character’s frustration and heartbreak.
- Runner-Up – Alicia Vikander, “The Green Knight”
BEST DIRECTOR – David Lowery, “The Green Knight”
“The Green Knight” is on point technically and has immense artistic value. All of that came under the leadership of director David Lowery, who crafted a beautiful, hypnotic and haunting medieval picture.
The themes Lowery was going for in his adaptation of this Arthurian tale all come to the forefront thanks to his direction of the movie. Lowery clearly had a vision and he brought it to the screen successfully.
- Runner-Up – SK Dale, “Till Death”
BEST ACTION SEQUENCE – Flag vs Peacemaker, “The Suicide Squad”
“The Suicide Squad” was filled with exploitation-level, blood-splatter violence as well as comedic action sequences. However, the fight between Col. Flag and Peacemaker is a straightforward brawl between two skilled warriors, and it’s the most entertaining part of the movie.
Their fight is not only brutal, well choreographed and intense, it’s also, arguably, the most important action set piece to the whole film when it comes to character motivations.
- Runner-Up – Library shootout, “Gunpowder Milkshake”
BEST SOUND – “Wrath of Man”
One area where “Wrath of Man” undoubtedly succeeded was in the sound work. The intensity of every shootout scene feels heightened because of how well the sound team did its job.
The sound design is especially notable in the final big battle. Every bullet fired feels forceful because of the noise.
- Runner-Up – “Gunpowder Milkshake.”
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – “The Green Knight”
“The Green Knight” has exquisite cinematography and was undoubtedly the best looking film of the summer. The camerawork is stylized and what’s captured through the lens is dazzling.
- Runner-Up – “Candyman.”
BEST WRITING – “Together Together”
Making a romantic comedy without the romance was what Nikole Beckwith, who also directed the film, pulled off with “Together Together.” The love shared in the platonic friendship between the two main characters is what really makes the movie work so well.
It’s an emotional, funny script that will move an audience and make them laugh.
- Runner-Up – “The Green Knight.”
BEST COMPUTER/VISUAL EFFECTS – “The Suicide Squad”
“F9,” “Black Widow” and “The Tomorrow War” had their moments but at the end of the summer, it was “The Suicide Squad” coming out on top in terms of special effects. The movie’s first two acts feature fairly typical action sequences, but the effects score was boosted by the design of King Shark and the look of Polka-Dot Man’s super powers.
Then, the third act happens with the final climactic battle. While it gets ridiculous, it also looks really good.
- Runner-Up – “Free Guy.”
BEST STUNT/CHOREOGRAPHY – “In The Heights”
For the first time, a non-action film has won the Best Stunt/Choreography award. It wasn’t just the music making “In The Heights” work. The dancing also had a lot to do with it.
The standout scene took place at a pool, which was huge in scale. The number of people dancing in sync was truly impressive.
- Runner-Up – “The Suicide Squad.”