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Best of the Year in Film and TV: The Third Annual Revvies | 2021 InReview Awards

InReview is pleased to announce its second annual Revvies Awards: Film and TV Edition for 2021. The following awards have been selected by InReview’s editors and writers. To be eligible, all films or TV programs had to have content published during the calendar year 2021, and watched by a member of staff.

Winning games’ analysis by InReview Editor-in-Chief Mitchell Chapman.

Best Special Effects In A Feature Film or TV Show

  • Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • Eternals
  • Dune: Winner
  • Godzilla Vs. Kong
  • WandaVision Season 1
  • Antlers

“Dune” is one of the best-looking films of the year, and a lot of that has to do with its fantastic special effects that bring the world of Arrakis to life.

Best Use of Sound Editing and/or Sound Mixing in a Feature Film or TV Show

  • Last Night in Soho: Winner
  • The Suicide Squad
  • Halloween Kills

This film’s soundtrack bleeds into the film, and director Edgar Wright’s use of sound is absolutely key to his expressive, unconventional style that allows the film to gain momentum in moments other films would lose steam. 

Best Soundtrack In A Feature Film or TV Show

  • Encanto: Winner
  • Tick…, Tick…, BOOM!
  • Dear Evan Hansen
  • Bo Burnham: Inside
  • In the Heights

Encanto’s soundtrack is imaginative, functional, creative and just a breath of fresh air that both elevates the film and stands on its own as an excellent, complete product. 

Best Documentary/Docuseries or Biopic

  • Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain: Winner
  • Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed
  • “Tiger King: Murder, Mayem and Madness” Season 2

While InReview does believe that the film’s director, Morgan Neville, should have disclosed which parts of the film used AI-fabricated voice clips of the film’s subject, the deceased Anthony Bourdain, “Roadrunner” stands tall among the competition. 

Best Director of a Feature Film 

  • Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza
  • Edgar Wright, Last Night in Soho
  • Bo Burnham, Bo Burnham: Inside: Winner
  • Denis Villeneuva, Dune

Bo Burnham created a transformative masterpiece from the comfort of his own home that is both introspective and creative, that transcends its original goal of being a comedy special. 

Best Director or Showrunner of a TV Program

  • Pascal Charrue and Arnaud Delord, Arcane
  • Carlo Bernard, Narcos: Mexico Season 3
  • Hwang Dong-hyuk, Squid Game Season 1: Winner
  • Sera Gamble, You Season 3

Squid Game’s breakout success can largely be attributed to the show’s breakout performances and Hwang Dong-hyuk’s strong, focused direction that knew exactly how much to let the audience in on its shadowy death tournament. It is subsequently one of the most engaging shows of the year.  

Best Art Direction in a Feature Film or TV Program 

  • Encanto
  • Star Wars Visions Season 1: Winner
  • Luca
  • Arcane Season 1
  • Marvel’s What If…? Season 1

As an anthology TV show, “Star Wars Visions” Season 1 showcased many wonderfully artistic takes, styles and interpretations of the galaxy far, far away. 

Best Supporting Actress in a Feature Film 

  • Ana Taylor-Joy, Last Night in Soho
  • Olga Merediz, In the Heights: Winner 
  • Emma Berman, Luca
  • Rebecca Ferguson, Dune

As Abuela Claudia, Olga Merediz is a key supporting character in “In the Heights” for protagonist Usnavi, and delivers one of the musical’s best and most heartbreaking numbers: Paciencia Y Fe, which absolutely steals the show. 

Best Supporting Actress in a TV Program

  • Kathryn Hahn, WandaVision Season 1
  • Sophia Di Martino, Loki Season 1
  • Toks Olagundoye, Arcane Season 1
  • Kim Joo-ryoung, Squid Game Season 1
  • Eve Hewson, Behind Her Eyes

Kathryn Hahn steals the show with her quirky-turned sinister performance as Agatha Harkness, and it is no surprise that Disney has ordered a new series focusing on her character. Her subtle performance is key to the show’s initial mystery, and really helps it gain momentum headed towards the finale. Thanks in part to her strong performance, Disney’s live-action Marvel shows for Disney Plus started off on a very strong note. 

Best Supporting Actor in a Feature Film 

  • Matt Smith, Last Night in Soho
  • Jared Leto, The Little Things
  • Sean Penn, Licorice Pizza: Winner
  • Tom Waits, Licorice Pizza: Winner

While their appearances in “Licorice Pizza” might be short, Sean Penn and Tom Waits come out of nowhere and display amazing chaotic energy that immediately takes over the film, and their characters are worthy of having their own. 

Best Supporting Actor in a TV Program

  • J.K. Simmons, Invincible Season 1 
  • Luis Gerardo Mendez, Narcos: Mexico Season 3
  • Jason Spisak, Arcane Season 1
  • O Yeong-su, Squid Game Season 1: Winner
  • Ben Mehl, You Season 3

O Yeong-su as Oh Il-nam develops a heartfelt friendship with series protagonist, Seong Gi-hun, which twists and gets complicated once he reveals who he truly is. O Yeong-su delivers a masterful performance no doubt informed by a lifetime of experience, managing to bring to life one of the best characters in the show and of 2021.  

Best Leading Actress in a Feature Film 

  • Rosamund Pike, I Care a Lot
  • Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza: Winner
  • Karen Gillan, Gunpowder Milkshake
  • Emma Stone, Cruella

Alana Haim gives a lively, memorable performance as Alana Kane, who is an emotionally-stunted young adult trying to figure things out in the 70s, who befriends a child actor turned entrepreneur. Haim does a great job of portraying how the character gradually comes out of her shell, gains confidence, and essentially grows up into her own person, and it’s a key reason why “Licorice Pizza” works so well. 

Best Leading Actress in a TV Program

  • Victoria Pedretti, You Season 3
  • Hailee Steinfeld, Arcane: Winner
  • Mia Sinclair Jenness, Arcane: Winner
  • Ella Purnell, Arcane: Winner
  • HoYeon Jung, Squid Game Season 1
  • Elizabeth Olsen, WandaVision Season 1

It was impossible to choose just one actress from Arcane; Hailee Steinfeld’s performance as Vi and Mia Sinclair Jenness and Ella Purnell’s joint performance as Powder/Jinx (Jenness plays the younger version of the character, Purnell plays her teenage counterpart) really make the show. While “Arcane” focuses on magic-making machines, income inequality and the blindness of those in power, at its core it’s about these two sisters who have had to endure under the worst of circumstances in a world that doesn’t want or care about them. Both have tragic flaws and understandable motivations that make them engaging and unforgettable. 

Best Leading Actor in a Feature Film  

  • Bo Burnham, Bo Burnham: Inside: Winner
  • Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza
  • Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick … BOOM!
  • Anthony Ramos, In the Heights

“Bo Burnham: Inside” is an introspective one-man feature film in which Burnham is solely responsible for keeping the audience engaged, and he does so masterfully, with a variety of humor, satire, self-reflection and musical numbers, while also serving as the film’s director. Burnham’s performance goes beyond what is normally asked of lead actors, as the lines between his content and life are blurred – yet he always remains the master of his tale. 

Best Leading Actor in a TV Program

  • Jose Maria Yazpik, Narcos: Mexico Season 3
  • Lee Jung-jae, Squid Game Season 1: Winner
  • Park Hae-soo, Squid Game Season 1
  • Paul Bettany, WandaVision Season 1

Lee Jung-jae’s performance as the klutzy Seong Gi-hun who is down on his luck but has a heart of gold is central to why “Squid Game” became the biggest show in the world on Netflix at one point last year. There is something very pure and sincere at the core of his performance, which makes his bond with fellow death game participant, Oh Il-nam, all the more special. “Squid Game” Season 1 is where Lee Jung-jae proved to the world that he is a leading man. 

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Feature Film 

  • Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • Eternals
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • Antlers
  • Dune: Winner (TIED)
  • Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Winner (TIED)

While it’s a long watch, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” vindicates Snyder’s vision for the DC Extended Universe, highlighting that, in order for a film to be successful, studios need to trust the creative minds they hire and give them the freedom to carry out their vision. 

“Dune” tells only a portion of the book it’s based on, but it manages to set up an engaging, unique science fiction world and an interesting protagonist in Paul Atreides that no doubt will grow into a great leader in the film’s sequel. 

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Program

  • Arcane Season 1: Winner
  • Masters of the Universe Revelation Part 1
  • Star Wars Visions Season 1
  • Castlevania Season 4
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 1

“Arcane” managed to bridge the science fiction and fantasy genres by bringing to life a world where magic has to be artificially created by machines, that is rife with income inequality and class warfare in which no one is completely innocent. With a stunning art style and compelling characters, “Arcane” is a show anyone can get into and is the best of the year in its genre. 

Best Comedic Feature Film or TV Program 

  • Don’t Look Up
  • Free Guy
  • Bo Burnham: Inside
  • Bad Trip
  • The Suicide Squad: Winner

James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad” was a much-appreciated change of pace for both the DC film universe and the genre in general. This film is unapologetically funny and crude, and manages to both not take itself too seriously while developing great characters that are easy to either root for or root against. 

Best Animated Feature Film 

  • Encanto: Winner
  • Luca
  • The Boss Baby: Family Business
  • Tom & Jerry
  • The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf

Aided by strong animation and a killer soundtrack by Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Encanto” has rightfully become a sensation, with a strong premise and a large cast of likable and relatable characters. 

Best Animated TV Program

  • Castlevania Season 4
  • Arcane Season 1: Winner
  • Star Wars Visions Season 1
  • Masters of the Universe Revelation Part 1
  • Invincible Season 1

While there were many strong animated shows in 2021, “Arcane” transcends in terms of its character development and worldbuilding, which is aided by its strong, expressive art style. Everyone is deeply flawed in this show, and it’s paced just right to make it hard to stop watching. 

Best Dramatic Feature Film 

  • Bo Burnham: Inside
  • Last Night in Soho: Winner
  • Licorice Pizza
  • Encanto

Aided by Edgar Wright’s strong directorial style, “Last Night in Soho” keeps you on your feet as it builds an impossible momentum that goes beyond the conventions of a film in this genre. The film is supported by strong performances that makes this one of the most engaging films of the year. 

Best Dramatic TV Program 

  • Cobra Kai Season 4
  • You Season 3: Winner
  • Squid Game Season 1
  • Narcos: Mexico Season 3

“You” delivered another rollercoaster season that had us on the edge of our seats, and provided a natural although tragic conclusion to Joe Goldberg’s relationship with Love Quinn. Benefitting from economical storytelling, strong direction and great casting, we’re eagerly awaiting “You” Season 4.

Best Overall Film of the Year

  • Licorice Pizza
  • Last Night in Soho
  • In the Heights
  • Encanto: Winner
  • Bo Burnham: Inside

“Encanto” is just what the world needed in 2021; an engaging musical with one of the best soundtracks we’ve seen in years, with emotional depth that has an optimistic message about finding inner happiness and coming together. It’s hard not to love this film, and even harder to deny that it deserves its spot as Film of the Year. 

Best Overall TV Program

  • Cobra Kai Season 4
  • Arcane Season 1
  • Squid Game Season 1: Winner
  • Narcos: Mexico Season 3

“Squid Game” came out of nowhere and dominated streaming, becoming the most popular show on Netflix and a cultural phenomenon. A product of South Korea, it highlights just how much streaming has brought the world together, exposing people to art and cultures they previously might never have gotten the opportunity to enjoy. 

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