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:

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

Longest Zipline:

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:

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’:

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

The Never-To-Be-Discussed 2020 EMOs

Look, I don’t have to get into it, but I didn’t exactly “keep up” with movies in 2020. You know why.

But! I got there eventually, catching up with the weird and aborted list of festival and streaming titles that filled up “best of 2020” lists. Over a year after the fact, and with none of us particularly wanting to revisit that year for any reason, I am not going to advertise this post. But in bringing the EMOs back from the dead for 2021, I weirdly felt the need to document what I would have said or done in 2020 – if anyone asked. This is also now my chance to give a dry-run to a new, slimmer EMOs, and figure out how to do it in WordPress’ godforsaken new editor. Here you go, whoever you are.

Top 10 of 2020

  1. Da 5 Bloods
  2. First Cow
  3. One Night in Miami…
  4. The Personal History of David Copperfield
  5. Wolfwalkers
  6. Nomadland
  7. Sound of Metal
  8. The Old Guard
  9. David Byrne’s American Utopia
  10. Tenet

Best Director

  • Armando Iannucci, The Personal History of David Copperfield
  • Gina Prince-Bythewood, The Old Guard
  • Regina King, One Night in Miami…
  • Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods / David Byrne’s American Utopia
  • Darius Marder, Sound of Metal
  • Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart, Wolfwalkers
  • Kelly Reichardt, First Cow
  • Chloe Zhao, Nomadland

Best Acting Ensemble

  • Da 5 Bloods
  • Emma
  • First Cow
  • Minari
  • One Night in Miami…
  • The Personal History of David Copperfield

Best Lead Performance

  • Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
  • Kingsley Ben-Adir & Leslie Odom Jr., One Night in Miami…
  • Radha Blank, The Forty-Year-Old Version
  • Han Ye-ri & Steven Yeun, Minari
  • Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods
  • John Magaro & Orion Lee, First Cow
  • Frances McDormand, Nomadland
  • Cristin Milioti, Palm Springs
  • Elisabeth Moss, Shirley
  • Gary Oldman, Mank
  • Dev Patel, The Personal History of David Copperfield

Best Supporting Performance

  • Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods
  • Kenneth Branagh, Tenet
  • Colman Domingo, Michael Potts & Glynn Turman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Hugh Laurie, The Personal History of David Copperfield
  • Paul Raci, Sound of Metal
  • Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7
  • Amanda Seyfried, Mank
  • Youn Yu-jung, MinariThe Forty-Year-Old Version

Best Original Screenplay

  • Jeff Barnaby, Blood Quantum
  • Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods
  • Radha Blank, The Forty-Year-Old Version
  • Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
  • Will Collins, Wolfwalkers
  • Darius Marder, Abraham Marder, Sound of Metal

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, The Personal History of David Copperfield
  • Eleanor Catton, Emma
  • Kemp Powers, One Night in Miami…
  • Jonathan Raymond, Kelly Reichardt, First Cow
  • Greg Rucka, The Old Guard

Best Cinematography

  • Christopher Blauvert, First Cow
  • Sturla Brandth Grøvlen, Shirley
  • Hoyte van Hoytema, Tenet
  • Erik Messerschmidt, Mank
  • Tami Reiker, Barry Ackroyd, The Old Guard
  • Joshua James Richards, Nomadland
  • Newton Thomas Sigel, Da 5 Bloods

Best Score

  • Tamar-kali, Shirley
  • William Tyler, First Cow
  • Ludwig Göransson, Tenet
  • Christopher Willis, The Personal History of David Copperfield

The 11th Annual EMOs


It’s that time again! Ethan’s Makeshift Oscars give me a chance to reflect on my year in film that was 2017. As always, to qualify, a film both had to be released in 2017, and I had to see it within the year as well (so, I still have a lot to catch up on – and I’ll just say that “Lady Bird”, which is not represented here because I didn’t see it until Jan. 5, would’ve been a power player). As with last year, I’m just diving straight into winners in each category, before listing others “receiving votes”: that is, not my top pick but other films, performances and elements worthy of a shout-out.

Before diving into the EMOs themselves, I do want to note two things about 2017, at least as regards my film-going. First, this is the year that an inundation of original content on streaming platforms, Netflix in particular, really challenged my conception of a “new release” and what content to cover here. Sure, pleasant but relatively trifling fare like “Win It All” and “The Incredible Jessica James” fit the traditional bill of a “movie” thanks to their one-off nature and hour-and-a-half run-time – but can I really say that they were more central to my cinematic experience this year than, say, HBO’s “The Young Pope”? Netflix’s “Wormwood”? Or (though I’m only partially through the series still), Showtime’s “Twin Peaks: The Return”? Should I really spend time praising Nicole Kidman’s performance in a misfire like “The Beguiled” (though, rest assured, she is a gem in it) when your time would probably better be spent watching her in “Big Little Lies”? Is a sprawling, ambitious work like Dee Rees’ “Mudbound” better compared against a theatrical barn-buster like “Get Out” – or its Netflix neighbor, “Godless”?

I don’t know the answer to these questions. The EMOs are already, um, a little unwieldy and going full Golden Globes and adding a whole bunch of new categories to recognize the growing influence and experimentation of episodic content is an exhausting thought. I’ll chew it over, for another year at least.

The second thing I wanted to point out was the overall roaring success of Hollywood genre entertainment this year. This stuff tends to go in cycles, so perhaps next year we’ll be right back to bemoaning the billion-or-bust attitude of current tentpole productions. But, at least this year, the studios seemed to figure out how to deliver popcorn thrills with a dash of genuine, adult emotion. The middle-of-the-road adult drama may be dead, but you know, if we have more “Logans” and fewer “The Judges”, it might not be the worst thing.

In any case – on with the awards!

Best Action: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Receiving votes:
Baby Driver
Atomic Blonde
War for the Planet of the Apes

Funniest Film: Spider-Man: Homecoming

Receiving votes:
Logan Lucky
The Trip to Spain
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
The Big Sick
Baby Driver

Most Fucked-Up Protagonist: Justine, Raw

Receiving votes:
Travis, It Comes At Night
Terry and Bob, War on Everyone
Logan, Logan

Most Deserving to Have Everyone Involved in Production Die a Fiery Painful Death Just For Making Me Watching the Trailer: Monster Trucks

Receiving votes:
The Book of Henry
The Space Between Us
Transformers: The Last Knight

Best Cameo: Frank Oz, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
(spoilers oops whatever)

Receiving votes:
Tilda Swinton #2, Okja
Stephen Root, Get Out
Luke Evans, The Fate of the Furious

Breakthrough Actor/Actress of the Year: Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Receiving votes:
Jessica Williams, The Incredible Jessica James
Garance Marillier, Raw
Kelvin Harrison, Jr., It Comes At Night
Grace Van Patten, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Best Poster:
It Comes At Night

Receiving votes:
Proud Mary
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Get Out
Ingrid Goes West
The Shape of Water
Phantom Thread
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Trailer: Black Panther

Receiving votes:
It Comes At Night
The Florida Project
Thor: Ragnarok
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Atomic Blonde
Blade Runner 2049
War for the Planet of the Apes
The Death of Stalin

Best Scene: “Now you’re in the sunken place”, Get Out

Receiving votes:
throne room fight, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Tom Hardy’s landing, Dunkirk
bikini wax, Raw
opening heist through opening credits, Baby Driver
ALF truck heist, Okja
staircase fight, Atomic Blonde

Best Use of an Existing Song: “Bellbottoms”, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Baby Driver

Receiving votes:
“Harlem Shuffle”, Bob & Joe, Baby Driver
Leia’s theme, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
“Father Figure”, George Michael, Atomic Blonde
“Take Me Home, Country Roads”, John Denver, Logan Lucky

Best Original Song: “Genius Girl”, perf. Adam Sandler and Grace Van Patten, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Best Original Score: Tamar-kali, Mudbound

Receiving votes:
Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water
Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk
Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Wind River

Best Cinematography: Rachel Morrison, Mudbound

Receiving votes:
Hoyte van Hoytema, Dunkirk
Philippe Le Sourd, The Beguiled
Dan Lausten, The Shape of Water
Steve Yedlin, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Ben Richardson, Wind River
Ruben Impens, Raw

Best Adapted Screenplay: Dee Rees, Virgil Williams, Mudbound

Best Original Screenplay: Jordan Peele, Get Out

Receiving votes:
Trey Edward Shults, It Comes At Night
Rebecca Blunt, Logan Lucky
Julia Ducournau, Raw
Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water
Bong Joon-ho, Jon Ronson, Okja
Noah Baumbach, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Supporting Actor: Gil Birmingham, Wind River

Receiving votes:
Michael Shannon, The Shape of Water
Rob Morgan, Mudbound
Daniel Craig, Logan Lucky
Mark Hamill, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Garrett Hedlund, Mudbound
Mark Rylance, Dunkirk
Stephen Merchant, Logan
John C. Reilly, Kong: Skull Island

Best Supporting Actress: Betty Gabriel, Get Out

Receiving votes:
Elizabeth Marvel, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Holly Hunter, The Big Sick
Tilda Swinton, Okja
Ella Rumpf, Raw
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Emma Thompson, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Robin Wright, Wonder Woman

Best Actor: Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Receiving votes:
Hugh Jackman, Logan
Andy Serkis, War for the Planet of the Apes
Channing Tatum, Logan Lucky
Adam Driver, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick

Best Actress: Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

Receiving votes:
Nicole Kidman, The Beguiled
Garance Marillier, Raw
Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Jessica Williams, The Incredible Jessica James
Charlize Theron, Atomic Blonde

Best Acting Ensemble: Get Out

Receiving votes:
It Comes At Night
Logan Lucky
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Spider-Man: Homecoming

Best Director: Dee Rees, Mudbound

Receiving votes:
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Julia Ducournau, Raw
Trey Edward Shults, It Comes At Night
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Steven Soderbergh, Logan Lucky
Bong Joon-ho, Okja
Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
James Mangold, Logan

Best Movie: Get Out

Receiving votes:
It Comes At Night
The Shape of Water
Logan Lucky
Star Wars: The Last Jedi


The “I Ain’t Even Mad” Award for When Reese Witherspoon Self-Produces a Movie Where She Shtups a Twenty-Year-Old: Home Again

Most Deflating Revelation That One of Your Favorite Up-and-Coming Writer/Directors Wants To Be Tarantino: War on Everyone

Craziest Heigl: Unforgettable

Most Surprisingly Bland Film Featuring Furries, Bigfoot, and Michael Shannon: Pottersville

Best Solution to Mansplaining: talk over it with an extended Roger Moore/Moor bit, “The Trip to Spain”

Most Flagrant Abuse of the After-Credits Scene: Kong: Skull Island

Most Flagrant Abuse of De-Aging CGI: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Most Flagrant Abuse of “Narrative”: Atomic Blonde

Most Troubling Appropriation: The Beguiled

Least Convincing Candidate for “God of War”: David Thewlis, “Wonder Woman”

Fuzziest Friends: Kedi

Most Absurdly Satisfying Payoff to the Mythology of a Franchise About Cars Going Fast: The Fate of the Furious

The Most Brooklyn-ized Irishman Since David Neary: Chris O’Dowd, “The Incredible Jessica James”

Most Mixed Messages About Gambling: Win It All

*Endless Screaming*: Get Me Roger Stone

About As Feminist As A Movie That Puts Its Female Lead in a Coma for Half the Running Time Can Be, I Guess: The Big Sick

Most Unexpected Use of John Denver In a Year Full of Unexpected Uses of John Denver: Free Fire

Most Irresponsible Recruitment of a Minor Into, Like, Highly Dangerous Superhero Bullshit: Tony Stark in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”

I, For One, Welcome Our New Ape Overlords: War for the Planet of the Apes

Troubling Evidence That Taylor Sheridan Has No Idea How to Write a Female Character: Wind River

Most Surprisingly Coherent Mash-up of “Freaky Friday” and “Armageddon”: Your Name

Your Once-a-Decade Reminder That Adam Sandler Can Act If He Wants To, He Just Doesn’t Want To: The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Most Needs To Learn from Ryan Gosling in “Drive” and Never Open His Mouth: Ansel Elgort, “Baby Driver”

Sylvester Stallone in “Creed” Award for Making Me Suddenly Care About a Character Despite Not Having Any Emotional Attachment  Whatsoever to His Previous 17 Franchise Entries: Hugh Jackman, “Logan”

Most Cleverly Meta Blockbuster That’s Kinda Ruined By Everyone Being Obsessed With How Cleverly Meta It Is: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Cutest Pig-Cow That I Would Definitely Still Eat: Okja

Most Gleeful Daniel Craig: Logan Lucky

Weirdest Shade Thrown at Baltimore: The Shape of Water

Most Likely to Not Think About At All For Eight Months Until That One Night You Suddenly Wake up Soaked In Cold Sweat: It Comes At Night

Better At Convincing Me To Go Vegetarian Than “Okja”: Raw

Most Milked Out of Kenneth Branagh’s Two Days On Set: Dunkirk

Whatever the Opposite of Escapist Entertainment Is: Mudbound

If I Could, I Would Have Voted for It For a Second EMO: Get Out