The Golden Steve Awards for 2021’s best achievements in film

May 6, 2022 • 11:00 am

On April 1, I announced my nephew’s nominations for the “Golden Steve” awards: those awards that he modestly names after himself and which he presents as an alternative to the Ac*demy Aw*ards, awards he despises. Steven is a big film buff and knows his onions, and I’ve found it wise to pay attention to his choices.

Now he has announced the winners, which he’s put in bold under nine of the ten categories.  (The tenth, best original song, went to “No Time to Die,” No Time to Die, by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell).

I have to admit that I’ve seen only one of the nominated pictures and performances:  the Japanese movie “Drive My Car“, which I saw on the plane flying back from Lisbon yesterday. Even on the small seatback screen it was a superb and powerful movie, which of course the critics liked better than the public (below are the Rotten Tomato reviews; click to read). It’s a film that’s slow-paced (like many of Steven and my favorites), and will appeal to those who want windows onto life and don’t require chase scenes and shoot-’em-ups.

The tale, in short, is of two characters who experience great loss but come to epiphanies after one of them, a theater director, stages Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya.  See it! It’s not an all-time masterpiece like Tokyo Story, Ikiru, or The Last Picture Show (note that two of these three are Japanese), but it is certainly one of the best movies I’ve seen in the last few years.  The film “became the first non-English-language film to win Best Picture from all three major U.S. critics groups (the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, and the National Society of Film Critics).”

Now the nominees, with the winners given in bold.

Best Picture

Drive My Car
The Lost Daughter
The Power of the Dog
Red Rocket
The Worst Person in the World

Best Director

Sean Baker, Red Rocket
Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Lost Daughter
Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car
Michael Sarnoski, Pig
Joachim Trier, The Worst Person in the World

Best Actor

Nicolas Cage, Pig
Clifton Collins Jr., Jockey
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog
Winston Duke, Nine Days
Hidetoshi Nishijima, Drive My Car
Simon Rex, Red Rocket

Best Actress

Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter
Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers
Isabelle Fuhrman, The Novice
Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza
Brittany S. Hall, Test Pattern
Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World

Best Supporting Actor

Richard Ayoade, The Souvenir Part II
Anders Danielsen Lie, The Worst Person in the World
Mike Faist, West Side Story
Vincent Lindon, Titane
Will Patton, Sweet Thing
Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter
Ann Dowd, Mass
Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog
Toko Miura, Drive My Car
Ruth Negga, Passing
Suzanna Son, Red Rocket

Best Screenplay–Adapted

Drive My Car (Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe)
The Green Knight (David Lowery)
The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal)
Passing (Rebecca Hall)
The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion)
Zola (Janicza Bravo, Jeremy O. Harris)

Best Non-Fiction Film

Attica (Traci Curry, Stanley Nelson)
Faya Dayi (Jessica Beshir)
In the Same Breath (Nanfu Wang)
Procession (Robert Greene)
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson)
The Velvet Underground (Todd Haynes)

Best Foreign Language Film

Drive My Car (Ryusuke Hamaguchi)
A Hero (Asghar Farhadi)
Memoria (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Parallel Mothers (Pedro Almodovar)
Petite Maman (Celine Sciamma)
The Worst Person in the World (Joachim Trier)

And here’s the winning song, from the eponymous James Bond film (why don’t they stop making them now that they’ve run through Ian Fleming’s books?):

19 thoughts on “The Golden Steve Awards for 2021’s best achievements in film

  1. I found nothing interesting about Power of the Dog. Not the story, not the acting (which was good, it just didn’t stand out to me). Billie Eilish’s ‘No Time To Die’ is not memorable either, though “best of the given entries” is very possible.

    Based on that, I hold little hope that Steve’s other picks will be things I enjoy.

    However even before I read this post, Licorice Pizza, West Side Story, and Worst Person in the World were on my “to see” list. Along with CODA. So maybe when I get those under my belt, I will agree more with Steve than I do now.

    Agree or disagree though, I like these posts. Movie critic information is ofetn useful even when you disagree with the critic. When I lived in the Bay Area, I would often pick movies based on what Mick LaSalle didn’t like. That was a guaranteed win lol. 🙂

      1. At this point James Bond movies are more of a ‘social barometer’ than a series of action movies. Want to know what the decades were about? Check out it’s Bond films! The Connery ones are unconsciously sexist, but it’s a sidebar to the male character’s other actions. 1960s. The Moore ones are much more about the character’s sex exploits. 1970s. The Dalton ones are evils of runaway industry, technology, media. 1980s. The Brosnan ones are self-deprecating – making fun of Bond tropes themselves. 1990s. And the Craig ones are a reboot – new Bond for the new millenia. (And yeah, I know, Niven and Lazenby. But those weren’t eras.)

    1. They haven’t finished emasculating him à la new woke culture yet. My guess is that they are planning to do a full circle with the intention of using the character evolution as an example in future gender studies’ courses, along with Gillette ads.

    1. Yeah, it was great. The highlights for me were Sly (who stole the show at both the black and the white “Woodstocks” in the summer of ’69) and when Mahalia essentially passed the gospel torch to Mavis Staples.

  2. Aaaagh!

    My ears!

    That Billie Eilish song.

    It really grates on me because it’s an example of a trend that really turns me off in pop, but especially female vocalists these days (especially “alt” or some pop). I’d call it the Billie Eilish effect, but it’s been going on for quite a while and Eilish is just one of the more popular versions. It’s this singing like the vocalist is experiencing debilitating ennui, barely getting the words out in a breathy, raspy voice, like it’s their last words before ending it all in the bathtub. It’s now the de rigueur tone for “serious emotion” in many female vocalists and I just find it utterly dour and a chore to listen to.

    For my tastes, plenty of female vocalists were able to sing about emotional turmoil in was that were more melodic and didn’t make the listener want to start taking Zoloft.

    *end old man yelling at cloud*

    1. It seems a bit like jazz improvisation to me. Same sort of play between instruments and voice, though not as upbeat. “Breathy and raspy” is pretty much the definition of mid-century lounge music, after all.

      It’s not my thing, but I don’t think this is some new horror visited on the music universe. It’s a new take on some pretty old music. Like when Stray Cats or Squirrel Nut Zippers used big band sounds.

    2. Completely agree. “A chore to listen to” is the best description I’ve heard. And it’s so ponderously slow, too. I couldn’t listen past about 45 seconds.

      1. Indeed, 1 minute in and I’m starting to see my life flash before my eyes. Life is too short for Billie Eilish songs like that.

  3. Glad to see El Steve-o givin’ some love to Jesse Buckley for her supporting turn in The Lost Daughter. She is, you ask me, one of the most versatile performers in cinema today — the Irish actress who played the Glaswegian country singer in Wild Rose and the (perhaps imaginary) American girlfriend of Jesse Plemons (another very versatile screen performer) in screenwriter nonpareil Charlie Kaufman’s second live-action directorial effort, I’m Thinking of Ending Things.

  4. I found No Time to Die incredibly annoying. Since I was a child, I always looked forward to the next Bond film. They were never great cinema, but they were usually fun.
    It sort of seems like this one was made by people who hated even the concept of Bond, and wanted to ring a last bit of money out of the franchise, while killing it.
    I saw Power of the Dog twice. It was clever, as a slow burn revenge story. The acting was excellent, but the homoerotic stuff seemed unnecessary. I enjoyed Old Henry more.
    If I had to pick 2021 favorites, they would probably be Last Night in Soho, and Nobody. They both worked their respective genres with style.

    The Alpinist was a pretty amazing documentary. Lapsis is a quirky, sci-fi film that managed to stay engaging despite it’s efforts to make profound statements about the gig economy.

  5. I think your nephew has pretty good taste and disagree with only two of his nominations. I thought “No Time to Die” was a forgettable song and certainly not up to the level of the best Bond songs (Goldfinger, Live and Let Die, Nobody Does it Better, etc.).

    And I don’t think David Lowery’s script for The Green Knight deserved any adapted screenplay recognition. I was excited to hear a film of this classic Arthurian tale had been made and then deeply disappointed to see what a botch Lowery made of the story (which was already cinematic). Instead he went in for second-hand stoner imagery, needless obfuscation, and funereal pacing.

    “…why don’t they stop making them now that they’ve run through Ian Fleming’s books?”

    In a way they haven’t. The first three Bonds and a few others were close adaptations of Fleming’s books, but other Bonds had little in common with their source beyond the title. No Time to Die actually uses several elements from Fleming’s later novels, so the well’s not fully dry. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the best Bond films are the ones with the most Fleming content (Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, For Your Eyes Only, Licence to Kill, and Casino Royale).

    1. I think Live and Let Die was a lot of fun, even though it did not follow the novel particularly. There were so many great supporting roles. Geoffery Holder and his dancers, Yaphet Kotto as Br Big. Clifton James as Sheriff Pepper.

  6. Let’s remember some movies that didn’t win Best Picture: Citizen Kane, Notorious, The Third Man, Night of the Hunter, The Searchers, Vertigo, Bonnie and Clyde, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Taxi Driver, Apocalypse Now, Raging Bull, Goodfellas… Most of those are bona fide classics, and some weren’t even nominated for Best Picture. Alfred Hitchcock never won Best Director (he did win Best Picture for Rebecca, but he considered it as belonging to the producer, David O. Selznick.)

Leave a Reply