The 94th Oscars ceremony has concluded, and my Top Ten Films of 2021-list has been released. That means it’s now time for me to reveal the second and final half of my 9th I’m Jeffrey Rex Awards. If you missed part one, then click here to read about my TV, Music, and Games winners. As always, the second half is all about films. In this article, you’ll find out who I think are the best actors of 2021, what film legend I have decided to celebrate, and much, much more. Oh, and also, there is a new-ish award that will be introduced for the first time in this very article. So, let’s get to it.
UNFORGETTABLE MOVIE QUOTE OF THE YEAR
- WINNER: “You have all the time in the world,” – No Time to Die.
I recognize that there are some people who did not love the ending of No Time to Die as much as I did, but I was head over heels in love with how they repurposed the line and song from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I think it has now become an even more iconic Bond line. It’s a nerdy choice, perhaps, but I have no problem with being a nerd.
Also Nominated: “Desert Power (Dune)” – “I feel as if I’m losing all my leaves (The Father).” – “Paris. They don’t even speak English there (The Father)” – “What else ought there be? (The Green Knight)”.
UNFORGETTABLE SCENE OR SEQUENCE OF THE YEAR
- WINNER: Anthony wakes up in a nursing home – The Father.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this is the scariest film that I’ve ever seen which isn’t a horror film. It’s an incredible film, and this scene in particular always brings me to tears when I watch it. There were a lot of incredible scenes in 2021 — including three Spider-Men — but this is a scene (and a film) that I think a lot of people will be thinking about for a while precisely because it is so sad, so scary, and so well-acted.
Also Nominated: America (West Side Story) – The Goodbye (No Time to Die) – The Gom Jabbar-Scene (Dune) – The Music Duel (The Power of the Dog) – The Possible Future (The Green Knight).
BEST MOVIE TRAILER
- WINNER: The Matrix Resurrections – Official Trailer 1.
This was a terrific trailer. It made me want to go back and review the original trilogy, it even made my sister interested in the film (even though she’s never seen any of the first three before). It’s just a fantastic piece of marketing.
Also Nominated: The Green Knight (Official Trailer) – Last Night in SoHo (Official Teaser Trailer) – Spider-Man: No Way Home (Official Teaser Trailer).
BEST MOVIE POSTER
- WINNER: The Matrix Resurrections – Red Pill or Blue Pill – Teaser Poster.
Sure, it’s a very minimalist poster, and yet it very simply transports you back to the world of the original film. You don’t need much more than those two pills. Sometimes simplicity takes the cake, and this is one of those times.
- WINNER: Flee – Directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen.
“Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s animated documentary Flugt is an enlightening, evocative, and eye-opening film about a refugee and his identity — leaving it behind to survive and trying to reclaim it later in life. It is both a beautiful, heartbreaking, and harrowing film and probably my pick for the best documentary of 2021.”Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of Flugt.
Also Nominated: “Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry;” “Procession;” “The Rescue;” “Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In.”
THE NOT-TOO-SHABBY AWARD
- WINNER: Vacation Friends – Directed by Clay Tarver.
In my original bite-sized review, I feel like I was overly critical. Because this absolutely is rewatchable, it is a lot of fun, and John Cena is hysterical. I think it’s one of the better out-and-out comedies that I saw last year, in fact. It may not stand the test of time but it is, indeed, not too shabby!
Also Nominated: “Army of Thieves;” “Bad Trip;” “Fear Street: 1994;” “The Tomorrow War;” “Zack Snyder’s Justice League.”
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A RISING STAR: ACTING
- WINNER: Rachel Zegler – West Side Story.
In her film debut, Rachel Zegler is a revelation. I really hope it’ll help her to do more things because her performance is fantastic. I am very much looking forward to seeing her as Snow White and in Shazam! 2 in the years to come.
Also Nominated: Alan Kim (Minari) – Dominique Fishback (Judas and the Black Messiah) – Emilia Jones (CODA) – Lashana Lynch (No Time to Die).
BEST ACHIEVEMENT BY A RISING STAR: FILMMAKING
- WINNER: Florian Zeller – The Father.
It’s incredible to think that this is his first feature-length film. It’s an incredible achievement. This film feels frighteningly realistic, but it always has a human center. The way the story is told through the fragmented narrative and the small but recognizable changes is just so fascinating and well-done. It’ll be interesting to see what he does next.
Also Nominated: Lin-Manuel Miranda (tick, tick… BOOM!) – Michael Sarnoski (Pig) – Rebecca Hall (Passing) – Shaka King (Judas and the Black Messiah).
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS OR VOICE-OVER PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A FILM
- WINNER: Awkwafina – Raya and the Last Dragon.
“Awkwafina brings an exciting energy to Sisu that I thought was infectious in the best possible way,”Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of Raya and the Last Dragon.
Also Nominated: Abbi Jacobson (The Mitchells vs. the Machines) – Jack Dylan Grazer (Luca) – Kelly Marie Tran (Raya and the Last Dragon).
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS IN A FILM
- WINNER: Dune – Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor, and Gerd Nefzer.
The biggest compliment that I can give the Visual Effects team on Dune has to be that, for the most part, everything just looks so real and tactile in the film. It really is incredible. Even the sandworms look incredibly well. From top to bottom, this is a well-realized creation of the universe.
Also Nominated: Free Guy – No Time to Die – Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – Spider-Man: No Way Home.
BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A FILM
- WINNER: Daniel Kaluuya – Judas and the Black Messiah.
“It is Daniel Kaluuya, who is playing the film’s Black Messiah, that leaves the strongest impression. Kaluuya’s performance is powerful and stirring, and the way he speaks adds up to the heartbeat of the film. You can’t take your eyes off of him.”Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of Judas and the Black Messiah.
Also Nominated: Ben Affleck (The Last Duel) – Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog) – Troy Kotsur (CODA) – Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man: No Way Home).
BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A FILM
- WINNER: Olivia Colman – The Father.
Olivia Colman is one of the greatest actresses of her generation, as she can play comedic and dramatic roles to perfection. In The Father, she manages to really build a complete performance as the film’s most pivotal supporting character. She does a good job of communicating how painful it must be to be in her situation. But when she finally lets out a smile once in a blue moon here, it is so infectious.
Also Nominated: Ariana DeBose (West Side Story) – Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog) – Rebecca Ferguson (Dune) – Youn Yuh-jung (Minari).
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
- WINNER: Dune – Greig Fraser.
This is one of the strongest categories to decide. All of the nominated films would be deserving winners. Heck, The Green Knight, which just missed out on a nomination, is a winner that I would also be happy with. I ended up going with Dune not just because I loved the film, but also because I was so impressed with how the cinmatography in Dune emphasized the film’s scope and the sizes of the ships in this cinematic universe. Fraser’s photography helps to make this film feel both otherworldly, tactile, and epic.
Also Nominated: Ari Wegner (The Power of the Dog) – Bruno Delbonnel (The Tragedy of Macbeth) – Dan Laustsen (Nightmare Alley) – Janusz Kaminski (West Side Story).
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN
- WINNER: Cruella – Jenny Beavan.
While I thought the film was merely okay, Jenny Beavan’s many costumes for Cruella were simply jaw-dropping. There were other great costumes in film 2021, but I think this is the right call for 2021.
Also Nominated: Dune – Nightmare Alley – No Time to Die – West Side Story.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION DESIGN
- WINNER: Dune – Patrice Vermette & Zsuzsanna Sipos.
Truthfullly, this one was really close for me. It ultimately came down between Dune and Nightmare Alley, which I think also has some jaw-dropping production design, but I ended up going with Dune because of how transportive every inch of Villeneuve’s film was.
Also Nominated: Nightmare Alley – The Power of the Dog – The Tragedy of Macbeth – West Side Story.
BEST ANIMATED FILM
- WINNER: Flee – Directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen.
“Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s animated documentary Flugt is an enlightening, evocative, and eye-opening film about a refugee and his identity — leaving it behind to survive and trying to reclaim it later in life. It is both a beautiful, heartbreaking, and harrowing film”Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of Flugt.
Also Nominated: Encanto – Luca – The Mitchells vs. The Machines – Raya and the Last Dragon.
BEST FILM SCORE
- WINNER: Dune – Hans Zimmer.
Somee of the best film music ever made is inseparable from their films. You can’t listen to Star Wars or Jurassic Park‘s themes without thinking of those films. You could go on and on, and I think this is also true of Dune‘s music, which is so fascinatingly made. Zimmer’s brooding musical score with bagpipes and screams is just outstanding, and I’m excited to see how he decides to add to it for the sequel.
Also Nominated: Encanto – Don’t Look Up – No Time to Die – The Power of the Dog.
BEST FILM EDITING
- WINNER: Dune – Joe Walker.
How do you balance an epic story of universal adversaries, a sci-fi coming-of-age narrative, and delirious visions? To satisfyingly bring all of this together, you get Joe Walker, a frequent collaborator of Denis Villeneuve’s. Let’s not forget it’s only one half of the first novel.
Also Nominated: Don’t Look Up – The Father – The Power of the Dog – tick, tick… BOOM!.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN WRITING A FILM – ADAPTED
- WINNER: The Father – Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton.
I think this film is outstanding. It feels so real and so tender what you see in each and every scene. Obviously, Colman and Hopkins bring the most pivotal scenes to life, but I can imagine that even on the page they were moving and challenging just like they were in the final product. I truly think this film can stand the test of time.
Also Nominated: Dune – The Green Knight – The Power of the Dog – tick, tick… BOOM!.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN WRITING A FILM – ORIGINAL
- WINNER: Pig – Michael Sarnoski (Story and Screenplay) and Vanessa Block (Story).
“Michael Sarnoski’s Pig is one of, if not, the best directorial debut of 2021. It is a surprisingly thoughtful and meditative drama. Sarnoski’s debut is a deconstruction of the expected revenge-film genre that highlights the familiarity of such films before Sarnoski’s film flips the genre on its head to deliver a tender, deliberately paced, and soft-spoken film that is more about existentialism than getting justice. Perhaps the best way to sum up my feelings about this film is to use the popular and surprisingly fitting slang term, chef’s kiss. My compliments to the chef.”Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of Pig.
Also Nominated: Don’t Look Up – King Richard – Minari – The Mitchells vs. The Machines.
BEST DANISH FILM
- WINNER: Flee – Directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen.
This wasn’t a close call. While there are other fine films from Denmark that were released in 2021, Flee, or Flugt (as us Danes call it), is far and away one of the best films released. Not just from Denmark but from anywhere. It feels important, it feels both big and personal, and I think about it quite a bit even though I’ve only seen it once over two months ago. It’s just terrific.
BEST NON-AMERICAN FILM
- WINNER: The Father – British / French.
“Florian Zeller’s directorial debut is simply an extraordinary, heartbreaking, and, frankly, terrifying performance-driven psychological drama. It deserves all the praise it has ben getting.”Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of The Father.
BEST SEQUEL, PREQUEL, OR REMAKE
- WINNER: Dune – Previously adapted into a film in 1984 and as a mini-series in 2000.
“Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part One welcomes you to an intricate and awe-inspiring science-fiction universe brought to life via epic visuals, a menacing score and startling sound work, and an A-list cast dedicated to Villeneuve’s faithful adaptation.”Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of Dune.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A CAST IN A FILM
- WINNERS: The Power of the Dog.
“The solid performances delivered by Kirsten Dunst and the mild-mannered Jesse Plemons anchors the film in its setting, and then Smit-McPhee and Benedict Cumberbatch’s performances elevate it to something more than just a decent western film. Cumberbatch’s performance is especially remarkable. His is a complete character, and I think Cumberbatch has scenes of great nuance that can tell you so much about Phil without ever hearing him open his mouth. The Sherlock and Doctor Strange-star delivers a career-best performance in Campion’s film, in which he sells both the outer frustrations as well as the inner complexities of Phil Burbank.”Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of The Power of the Dog.
Also Nominated: Dune – Judas and the Black Messiah – Nightmare Alley – West Side Story.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A FILM
- WINNER: Sir Anthony Hopkins – The Father.
“Of course, though, it is Sir Anthony Hopkins’ performance that the film rests on, and he is so, so good. In what may be his career’s best-ever performance (it is certainly, at the very least, up there with The Silence of the Lambs), he is magnificent and even unpredictable as this character. He made me sob, he made me laugh, but mostly I was just in awe. The way his character can flip on a dime when he is in a bad mood is seamlessly delivered by Hopkins. I truly believe Hopkins is flawless here.”Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of The Father.
Also Nominated: Andrew Garfield (tick, tick… BOOM!) – Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog) – Nicolas Cage (Pig) – Will Smith (King Richard).
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A FILM
- WINNER: Jodie Comer – The Last Duel.
“Jodie Comer is the shining star here, and her character’s perspective, in which she is given the opportunity to really speak up, is also quite frankly the best.”Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of The Last Duel.
Also Nominated: Frances McDormand (The Tragedy of Macbeth) – Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye) – Olivia Colman (The Father) – Rebecca Hall (The Night House).
BEST BODY OF WORK: ACTING
- WINNER: Andrew Garfield – The Eyes of Tammy Faye; Spider-Man: No Way Home; tick, tick… BOOM!
Andrew Garfield is one of the best actors of his generation. In films like The Social Network, Silence, and Hacksaw Ridge, he proved himself as a top-notch thespian, and he and Emma Stone’s chemistry is the very best thing about his hit-or-miss The Amazing Spider-Man films. In 2021, he delivered a solid performance in the Oscar-baity The Eyes of Tammy Faye, he made a surprise appearance in No Way Home and reminded everyone everywhere how good of a Spider-Man he actually was, and, of course, he delivered one of the finest performances of the year as Jonathan Larson in tick, tick… BOOM! In the latter film, he even proved himself as an on-screen singer, and therefore he feels like the absolute right winner this time around.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING A FILM
- WINNER: Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog.
“The Power of the Dog is the hugely celebrated and award-winning director Jane Campion’s first film in more than a decade, and she sure chose a quietly powerful story to tell. It is a rich western drama epic with a thrilling and sometimes quite ominous score from Jonny Greenwood and magnificent images of the wild environment that these characters inhabit. However, although the film is by no means inaccessible, its, admittedly, deliberate pacing may prove to prevent most audiences from connecting with the film. However, it is also the kind of film that if it grabs you, then it could inspire you to rewatch it not long thereafter. I watched it twice in two days because I wanted to see the first half of the film in a new light and recontextualize the film and its character. It is a film that left me feeling two conflicting feelings precisely because I think the characters are brought to life extremely well.”Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of The Power of the Dog.
Also Nominated: Denis Villeneuve (Dune) – Florian Zeller (The Father) – Michael Sarnoski (Pig) – Steven Spielberg (West Side Story).
- WINNER: Dune – Directed by Denis Villeneuve.
“I really can’t say it will do this for everyone, but, as I was sitting in the movie theater, I found myself being reminded of the kinds of films that first made me fall for these grand, epic science-fiction or fantasy stories. I’m not saying that the film is ultimately as good as all of these, but it brought back positive memories of falling in love with the films that shaped my taste in these genres, such as Stargate, Star Wars, or the Lord of the Rings. Those were the films that made me interested in archaeology, egyptology, space, and storytelling, and I hope this film can do for others what they did for me back then, but I digress.”Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of Dune.
Also Nominated: The Father – The Green Knight – Pig – The Power of the Dog.
SPECIAL ENTERTAINMENT ACHIEVEMENT OF THE YEAR
- WINNER: Bo Burnham’s INSIDE.
As a special surprise, I am bringing back one of my old awards and giving it a new name. I used to have an award titled ‘Overall Performance of the Year,’ and I thought it would be a good idea to have that kind of special achievement award once again. The winner can be a movie, a video game, a show, or even some other achievement that is somehow related to entertainment.
This year’s winner is Bo Burnham’s INSIDE. It is the best and most unique new thing that I saw in 2021. It doesn’t feel right to call it a movie, but it is much more than simply a stand-up show. I don’t know what to define it as, but, in the end, it doesn’t really matter. All that needs to be said is that I think this is currently the very best piece of entertainment content about the COVID-19 lockdown that I have seen. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and I think about it all the time. INSIDE is a masterpiece and I highly recommend it.
FILM LEGEND AWARD
- WINNER: Sir Roger Deakins – Cinematographer.
A fifteen-time Oscar nominee (winning twice for Blade Runner 2049 and 1917) and ten-time BAFTA nominee (winning five times for The Man Who Wasn’t There, No Country For Old Men, True Grit, Blade Runner 2049, and 1917), Roger Deakins is widely regarded as one of the film industry’s finest cinematographers working today. I can say that he has shot some of my favorite films of the last couple of decades, and I think a lot of people would feel the same way (seriously, look up his filmography, it’s amazing). He received a lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Cinematographers in 2011, and he should have way more Oscars to his name.
– Article Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.