It is once again time for the Academy Awards! 2021 might have been a rough year for us all, but we got some absolutely STELLAR films to keep us from going insane. Many of the films nominated this year have stood out as not just great films on their own, but important films in the industry and to our history of media. Satires like Don't Look Up, franchise enders like No Time to Die, and sci-fi wonders like Dune swept theaters; showcasing that you don't always need to trade quality for entertainment. To celebrate the hits of 2021, The Holy Goof team has decided to summarize our feelings on just a few of the nominated films.
So take a look at the following films and let us know which ones you think is going to take home the awards!
Don’t Look Up
Adam Mckay (Step Brothers and The Big Short) makes a huge statement in this unique take on the end of the world genre, where an enormous comet is headed straight to Earth and no one will listen to the scientists warning them, Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) and Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio). There are many hidden and open-faced messages throughout the movie, but it is still constantly funny and entertaining throughout. Amazing performances from Meryl Streep and Jonah Hill make this movie stand out amongst the crowd, but the writing is just pure genius. This movie will leave a huge impact on the world and maybe even hopefully make some people look up.
Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, & Best Original Score
Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones) is the only hearing-able member of her family. Her father (Troy Kotsur), brother (Daniel Durant) & mother (Marlee Matlin) are all deaf. The family operates a fishing ship and depends on Ruby for her hearing to maintain, but Ruby wants to chase her dreams of singing. Troy Kotsur’s performance as Ruby’s father is just outstanding. The movie is filled with drama, A LOT of laughs, but most importantly beautiful singing (and signing).
Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Troy Kotsur), & Best Adapted Screenplay
Guy (Ryan Reynolds) lives his life in the perfect routine until one day he discovers he is a non playable character (NPC) inside of an open world video game. As his world comes to an end, Guy must play the game to save the game. The visual effects are not only pleasing, but in many moments they are references to video games or other Disney owned franchises like Marvel. Joe Keery’s (Stranger Things) acting was the highlight of the movie for me and as always Taika Waititi (director) brings on the laughs as the spoiled CEO.
Nominated for: Best Visual Effects
I quote twitter user, @mcavoyeur, in saying that Andrew Garfield put his whole 'garfussy' into this one.
'tick, tick...BOOM!' is a beautifully done tragedy.
The interesting thing about this one is that it’s a musical drama about a musical about a musical. It’s set during the performance of its namesake, ‘Tick, Tick... Boom!', which is a rock monologue about the events surrounding the creation of another musical play - Jonathan Larson’s, ‘Superbia’. While this may seem a bit confusing to follow, especially while consuming random pockets of singing and dancing, 'tick, tick...BOOM!' cleverly manages to do this without completely losing the attention of its audience.
To be completely transparent, I went into this thing knowing nothing about Jonathan Larson and have never seen RENT. I anticipated that lacking an emotional attachment to the work would be a major issue, it wasn’t. While I think my viewing experience would’ve been that much more enjoyable with more background information going into it, I was extremely captivated by his story nonetheless and found myself wishing I could’ve participated in this moment of art appreciation I was just too young to know existed…and in MY city!
'tick, tick...BOOM!' throws you into the 90’s era New York everyone glorifies from afar but no one actually wants to be apart of. To be a starving artist in the big city; working at a diner, refilling coffees for Wall Street bros, pouring mimosas for groups of chatty girls just celebrating a Wednesday. Devastatingly broke, living in a closet you can’t afford, but at least you have friends you can burst into spontaneous sing-song with. At least you have your ‘Art’. And to that I say, to hell with that advertisement gig! What’s more important about the moment in time in which this film covers, and covers well, is the experiences of those who were so close to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It's an honest depiction of something that I feel is often overlooked and unaddressed. Something that may feel a little closer to home for many of us now in the midst of our own era's global pandemic.
Andrew Garfield is spectacular in this, really showcasing his theatre background, and is well deserving of that Golden Globe for best actor and his Oscar nom in the same category.
It's absolutely worth the watch. That being said, no shade to Lin-Manuel Miranda, but bringing Jonathan Larsen's genius to the big screen isn't a tall task, he left the brilliance in his words.
Cages or wings
Which do you prefer?
Ask the birds...
Best Actor, Best Film Editing
Will Smith puts on a pair of short-shorts and gives us a performance I can only describe as, ‘purposely farting in the middle of an important business meeting because to hell with the system!’ level motivational. Wait I wrote this already...
...and predicted that Oscar nom!
Best Actor, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing
This was Paul Thomas Anderson being Paul Thomas Anderson. A film about the period of time/place in which it is set in and its characters. No plot structure necessary. You'll try to make sense and "order" of it throughout the course of the movie, just don't. You'll have many questions, try not to ask them. Just enjoy your 2 hour trip to 70's California. The relationship at the core of this thing is complex, odd and... illegal? But watching Alana Kane and Gary Valentine attempt to express their emotions in a healthy "mature" way while navigating their own unique lives is fascinating. A lot of what happens is completely unrealistic, but you feel as if that's intentional (think Tarantino - 'Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood') so you let it go.. (again Paul Thomas Anderson). The Licorice Pizza landscape is a 15 year-old boy's paradise and Gary Valentine is KING! Aesthetically, Licorice Pizza is beautiful, especially if you hold the 1970's style close to your heart. The characters are strange and intriguing. Bradley Cooper, Sean Penn, and Tom Waits make wonderful cameos. Cooper as Hollywood legend/sex fiend Jon Peters may be my favorite 20 - 30 minutes of screen time, I'd watch an entire movie surrounding that guy. Watch it but, 'abandon all hope for plot structure ye who enter here.'
Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Picture
No Time to Die
James Bond is a personal favorite of mine and No Time to Die turned out to be my favorite film of 2021. Daniel Craig made sure his final go as Bond was the best yet. No Time to Die features a stellar script, gorgeous cinematography, stunning directing, great performances, thrilling action, and an emotional core that most Bond films neglect to have. The ending is simply beautiful and makes me cry every time I watch it. SPOILERS: We've seen what Bond lives for over twenty times, but what will Bond DIE for? This film really nails the character in a way we haven't seen before. The whole production gang have pulled out all the stops and given us not just one of Craig's best Bond films, but one of the best films in the entire franchise.
Best Original Song (No Time to Die by Billie Ellish), Best Sound, & Best Visual Effects
Guillermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy 1& 2, The Shape of Water, Pacific Rim) is one of my all-time favorite directors. He has this uncanny ability to bring real vulnerability, depth, and emotion to creatures and monsters that go bump in the night. Nightmare Alley is Del Toro's first film not to feature any kind of supernatural elements. This is simply a tale about a not-so-good man succumbing to the temptation of power. It's an alluring story, and is told in a very dynamic and visually splendid way. But the film sadly feels like a collection semi-connected scenes instead of one long flowing story. I found myself asking "what is this film about?" multiple times during my watch. I feel that focusing on a "real" story sapped some of that creative energy that Del Toro is known for. He's challenging himself here and it shows. Del Toro's strengths lie in telling supernatural tales where his imagination can run wild. Here he is suppressing some of that creative juice in order to tell a "real world" story. And as good as it is, (and it is a very good film), it can't help but feel like one of Del Toro's less engaging pictures.
Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, & Best Production Design
Dune: Part One (2021)
David Lynch (Eraserhead, Twin Peaks) gave us an adaptation of Dune in 1984. And while that film certainly has it's charms, it isn't exactly the best adaptation of the beloved sci-fi classic. And now, auteur filmmaker Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy, Bladerunner 2049) has finally given the story the treatment it deserves. This is a slow, purposeful, sweeping epic filled with incredible performances, stunning action, gorgeous cinematography, and absolutely ace directing. Special shout-out to Stellen Skarsgard as the incredibly imposing and perverted Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. The only major problem with this film is it is only HALF of the story. This is like if The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring ended with the scene where the fellowship is formed and then made you wait another two years to see how it ends. That really sucks. I'm assuming COVID was the reason Parts 1 & 2 were not shot back-to-back. All I can say, is this film is stunning and I absolutely CANNOT wait until Part Two finishes the story.
As you can see from the mammoth list of nominations this film has below, it's GOING TO SWEEP!!
Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, & Best Visual Effects
A quick note: while there are many amazing parts of all of the films I'm reviewing, my commentary will focus mainly on animation. Unbeknownst to most movie-goers, even on large budget studio projects like these, animators are often overworked and underpaid. I wanted to take this small opportunity to highlight their work and struggle.
If you're interested in learning more:
search the hashtag #newdeal4animation
or check out animationguild.org
What a beautiful movie! In a world of remakes and unoriginality, it's so refreshing to see such a new and interesting world being built. The story is sweet and charming and conveys lovely motifs of friendship and acceptance. And the animation! It's almost as if this film was built to check every box of what's difficult to animate. The water looks flawless. It has stuff in it. It has weight and noise and moves like it. Speaking of noise, there is a beautiful layer of speckling on the skin of the characters that is atypical for Pixar project. Traditionally, Pixar has gone for a very soft even skin. However, in this movie, the skin has texture and depth which helps to sell the transition from "sea monster" to human. Another challenge the animators faced was making the characters move in a much different way than humans while still feeling relatable and familiar. Walk cycles are a cornerstone of animating characters and to have characters that do so much more than walk took a lot of creativity. This was pulled off flawlessly integrating smooth swimming motion with human limb movement. There was even a very fun scene where one character is describing a walk cycle to another character as he learns to move like a human. The art direction was light and colorful with a painterly edge that really helped set the tone of whimsy and childlike wonder.
Best Animated Feature
Speaking of originality... This movie was wildly loved and for good reason. It tells a brand new fairy tale rich with important themes and cultural significance. Lin-Manuel Miranda proves yet again that he doesn't miss and his songs become the icing on the cake that is this movies perfect creative cohesion. This is a big, bold, beautiful movie told through subtly and small moments. Its easy to get lost in the grand scale and bright colors of the film, but the real impact hits in the details. Firstly, the character animation is flawless. The way the characters make a point to have physical contact with each other (an important part of Latin culture) is very effective in communicating the theme of family and togetherness. The small insecure movements of Mirabel eventually give way to more confident self-assured strides as her character evolves. The Casita acts as a living breathing thing in such an intricate way. It pushes characters along and helps them on their journey but in sometimes inaccurate and clumsy ways that make it feel more like a giant lumbering member of the family instead of a simple house.
From a technical perspective, this was also a groundbreaking film for the studio. A new production model was used in this movie which marked the first shift since Tangled (another boundary pushing film for the industry).
New methods of animating the intricacies of light as it interacts with the eye were used here to great effect.
The clothing was animated as actual woven material! Let me say it again: all the cloth and clothing and flowing material you see in this movie is made up of tiny animated fiber and thread! Not as large polygonal pieces simulated and textured to move and look LIKE cloth as is traditional. The cloth was animated as individual fibers woven together to make full pieces of fabric which were then knitted together with other pieces of fabric to form actual clothing!
Okay...I'll calm down now. All of these small details helped weave a warm and full world that provided the perfect stage on which to tell this beautiful tale. Needless to say, this is a masterpiece and a masterclass which marks a new era for animated film.
Best Animated Feature Film, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song
The Mitchells vs. The Machines
I'll keep this short because really...you should jsut see this movie. Also, I'm biased! Let me start with that. I'm biased. This is by far my favorite of the three movies.
Key players of the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse headed up this project and brought that innovative style to this new project and created and absolute explosion of originality. Its hyper-stylized with incredible texture imperfections, line outlines, 2d/3d mixing, and hand-painted backgrounds. The 3d modeling is cutting edge and brand new because traditional computer animation programs HATE doing almost everything these animators wanted to do. There are robots that move like nothing I've ever seen. There's shaky camera movement. There's these punk-rock graphic title cards that evoke the best parts of Scott Pilgrim. Like I said...just watch this movie. Words aren't enough.
I'm so excited to see new styles of animation get recognition. As much as I love Pixar and what they do for the genre, its fun to see something new.
Best Animated Feature Film
Another year has come to a close. And with it, another Academy Awards. Some of the films listed deserve the win more than others, but which one do you think will take home that golden statue? Which ones deserve to be on the list and which ones don't even deserve a nomination? Do you think any of the nominees you are rooting for will win? Let us know in the comments below.
We hope you enjoyed the films of 2021 and are looking forward to this year's next batch! We certainly are! Fingers crossed that 2022 brings us just as many home runs as 2021!