The 2021 EMOs

They’re back. After a concerted effort to “catch up” with 2021 movies by the time the Oscars rolled around, I didn’t quite make it – there’s still about eight left on my list, including a handful that got caught in the nether-zone of “too late to catch them in post-omicron theaters, still too early to be streaming”. But, all told, getting to 29 new (“new”) releases by Oscar night is actually probably a better rate than I was even managing in the year or two before the pandemic.

So, it seemed time to bring back the EMOs (Ethan’s Makeshift Oscars, for those of you just joining us; welcome to a long and storied tradition, dating back to my high-school days, of being a doofus and making fun of some movies somewhere in the approximate range of “awards season”). Given the four or five-year gap since the last edition, however, it also seemed time to re-evaluate the length and depth of this thing.

While I will never scratch “part two” of the EMOs – in which every single movie is a winner, potentially to their chagrin – I have scaled back and consolidated on the more traditional “part one”. Below you’ll find acting performances piled into either Lead or Supporting categories, eliminating the widespread male/female division that I can no longer really justify to myself; and no general silliness or attempt to find patterns or categories beyond the most bah-sic film bro shout-outs. I actually rather enjoy the chaos this has caused, particularly in the Supporting Performance area: the point of the EMOs from the start, rather than enforce an arbitrary competition for a non-existent award, was to highlight movies, people and work that I particularly liked in the past year. If the ensuing list is rather long, so much the better.

Enjoy (or fight me!)

Top 10 of 2021

  1. The Power of the Dog
  2. Drive My Car
  3. The Green Knight
  4. West Side Story
  5. Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
  6. The Tragedy of Macbeth
  7. The Hand of God
  8. Dune
  9. The Harder They Fall
  10. The Lost Daughter

Best Director:

  • Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
  • Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Lost Daughter
  • Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car
  • David Lowery, The Green Knight
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tick, Tick…Boom!
  • Paolo Sorrentino, The Hand of God
  • Steven Spielberg, West Side Story
  • Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Summer of Soul
  • Denis Villeneuve, Dune

Best Acting Ensemble:

  • Belfast
  • Drive My Car
  • The French Dispatch
  • The Hand of God
  • The Lost Daughter
  • No Sudden Move
  • The Power of the Dog
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • West Side Story

Best Lead Performance:

  • Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog
  • Don Cheadle, No Sudden Move
  • Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick…Boom!
  • Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
  • Hidetoshi Nishijima, Drive My Car
  • Toko Miura, Drive My Car
  • Dev Patel, The Green Knight
  • Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog
  • LaKeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah
  • Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Best Supporting Performance(s):

  • David Alvarez, West Side Story
  • Ana de Armas, No Time to Die
  • Ben Affleck, The Last Duel
  • Caitriona Balfe, Belfast
  • Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter
  • Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
  • Jamie Dornan, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
  • Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog
  • Ed Harris, The Lost Daughter
  • Alex Hassell, The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • Kathryn Hunter, The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • Ralph Ineson, The Green Knight
  • Rita Moreno, West Side Story
  • Carrie-Anne Moss, The Matrix: Resurrections
  • Park Yu-rim, Drive My Car
  • Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog
  • Diana Rigg, Last Night in Soho
  • LaKeith Stanfield, The Harder They Fall
  • Jeffrey Wright, The French Dispatch

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Will Berson, Shaka King, Kenny Lucas, Keith Lucas, Judas and the Black Messiah
  • Ed Solomon, No Sudden Move
  • Paolo Sorrentino, The Hand of God
  • Lana Wachowski, David Mitchell, Aleksander Hemon, The Matrix: Resurrections
  • Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
  • Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Lost Daughter
  • Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Tamakasa Oe, Drive My Car
  • David Lowery, The Green Knight
  • Tony Kushner, West Side Story

Best Cinematography:

  • Alice Brooks, Tick, Tick…Boom!
  • Bruno Delbonnel, The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • Greig Fraser, Dune
  • Dan Lausten, Nightmare Alley
  • Janusz Kaminski, West Side Story
  • Andrew Droz Palermo, The Green Knight
  • Tetsunosuke Sasaki, Wife of a Spy
  • Hidetoshi Shinomiya, Drive My Car
  • Ari Wegner, The Power of the Dog

Best Score:

  • Carter Burwell, The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • Jonny Greenwood, The Power of the Dog
  • Daniel Hart, The Green Knight
  • David Holmes, No Sudden Move
  • Nathan Johnson, Nightmare Alley
  • Hans Zimmer, Dune
  • Hans Zimmer, No Time to Die

Best Editing:

  • Tom Eagles, The Harder They Fall
  • Michael Kahn, Sarah Broshar, West Side Story
  • David Lowery, The Green Knight
  • Joshua L. Pearson, Summer of Soul
  • Peter Sciberras, The Power of the Dog
  • Azusa Yamazaki, Drive My Car

Best Scene:

  • Dueling banjo redux, The Power of the Dog
  • Edgar’s Prayer, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
  • Sly and the Family Stone, Summer of Soul
  • Battle Hymn of the Republic, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  • Visions? of the future, The Green Knight
  • Crashing Blofeld’s birthday party, No Time to Die
  • Meeting the witches (either/or), The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • Lunch alfresco, The Hand of God
  • Sonya’s monologue, Drive My Car
  • Mambo, West Side Story
  • “Why do you write about food”, The French Dispatch
  • First entrance to the night club, Last Night in Soho
  • First sand worm attack, Dune

Most Straining Credulity – Not Because It Involves a Giant Ape, But Because It Expects Me to Believe That Godzilla Would Not Rinse Said Giant Ape in Two Minutes:
Godzilla vs. Kong

Worst Gig Economy Propaganda:
Single All the Way

Most Ray Liottas:
The Many Saints of Newark

Most Incompetent Cops, Though Note That’s Not ‘Most Straining Credulity’:
The Woman in the Window

#YesAllMen, Including the Director:
The Last Duel

Least Batshit Movie About Most Batshit People:
The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Goofiest Nonsense in a Movie This Year, and This Year That Includes a Fast & Furious Installment So You Know This Is Saying Something:
Bionic eyes in No Time to Die

Simply the Best Documentary Subject:
Tina

How Dare You Waste Terence Stamp Like This:
Last Night in Soho

Longest Zipline:
F9

Special Demerit in Title Selection:
Wife of a Spy

Worst Ratio of Good Acting To Me Giving a Shit:
Nightmare Alley

Most Post-Movie:
The Matrix: Resurrections

Best Enjoyed in One of 18 States:
Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar

Least Worth “The Discourse”:
The French Dispatch

Fishiest Lens:
No Sudden Move

Most Likely For Your Reaction to Vary Depending on 1) You Had That One “Rent”-Obsessed Friend in High School, and 2) Whether You Were Fond of That Person Or Not
Tick, Tick…Boom!

Most Exceptionally, Unnaturally, Unfairly Beautiful Family:
Belfast

Wait This Movie Came Out in What Year?
Judas and the Black Messiah

No, I Can’t Believe This Is the Award Either, But the EMO for Too Much Olivia Colman Goes To:
The Lost Daughter

Absolutely Would Be the Best Movie of the Year If It Could Have Been Seen As Intended, at the UA Court Street Theater, RIP
The Harder They Fall

Worst Thing To Watch On a Mis-calibrated TV During the Daytime Since ‘The Battle of Winterfell’:
Dune

Most Italian:
The Hand of God

Something Artsy This Way Comes:
The Tragedy of Macbeth

Most Likely To Satisfy Both Video Archivists and Other People Too, Probably:
Summer of Soul (…Or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

Best Attempt At Alllllmost Making Me Forget That You Cast Ansel Elgort In This Movie:
West Side Story

Special Achievement in Punning:
The Green Knight

Most Subtitles:
Drive My Car

Noblest Attempt to Make New Zealand Look Like Montana When We All Know Montana Doesn’t Look Like That:
The Power of the Dog

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