The McNeil Minute | The 2021 Critics Choice Awards Winners

Critics Choice Awards 2021

The Critics Choice Awards didn't do much to deviate from the frontrunners or the expected winners in each category. Nothing about what happened here will shake up the races at all. The only thing they really did was solidify the "locks" in certain categories, which I will get to. On the flip side of that coin, the BAFTAs nominated many who were not even in the running nor even remotely in the conversation as far as Oscar consideration. Some might say this is exciting, some might say it's ridiculous and all over the place. Regardless, it was fascinating to see who was nominated, and oftentimes frustrating to see who was left out. Now, I will respond to the winners of the Critics Choice Awards, though there's not a whole lot to say that hasn't been said already. What will really be interesting, is breaking down the recent BAFTA nominations. That will be in my next article, so keep an eye out for that one.

Let's get to it.

Best Comedy

  • Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Amazon Studios)
  • The Forty-Year-Old Version (Netflix)
  • The King of Staten Island (Universal Pictures)
  • On the Rocks (A24/Apple TV+)
  • Palm Springs (Hulu/NEON) – WINNER
  • The Prom (Netflix)

Aside from The Prom and Borat, these felt like more interesting picks as far as nominees than the Globes. The Forty-Year-Old Version, The King of Staten Island, and On The Rocks were all left out at the Globes for this category. The others were nominated, and of course, lost out to Borat Subsequent Moviefilm at the Globes. In addition to more interesting nominees, I felt they also picked a more interesting winner in Palm Springs. The film was a fresh take on the Groundhog Day conceit that was also hilarious and surprisingly heartfelt, at times. I was very glad to see redemption for this film at Critics Choice. Well done, critics.

Best Foreign Language Film

  • Another Round (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
  • Collective (Magnolia Pictures)
  • La Llorona (Shudder)
  • The Life Ahead (Netflix)
  • Minari (A24) – WINNER
  • Two Of Us (Magnolia Pictures)

No surprise here. No complaints on my end. Minari is the most deserving film in this category, and I'm happy for A24 and the whole Minari team, but it's been tough to see Another Round have to lose to it at every awards ceremony. I do hope that Minari continues its run and that it earns a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars, as well. I'd just like to see Another Round maybe just win once. Just once? Nah, maybe too much to ask.

Best Song

  • Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (Netflix) – “Husavik (My Home Town)”
  • The Life Ahead (Netflix) – “Io Si (Seen)”
  • Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros) – “Fight for You”
  • One Night in Miami (Amazon Studios) – “Speak Now” – WINNER
  • The Outpost (Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment) – “Everybody Cries”
  • The United States vs. Billie Holiday (Hulu) – “Tigress & Tweed”

Good to see more redemption in this category as well. After the Globes loss to The Life Ahead (Netflix) – “Io Si (Seen)” I was happy to see "Speak Now" from One Night and Miami take this home. It was also refreshing to see that The Trial of the Chicago 7 not receiving a nomination here, either. Judas and the Black Messiah receiving recognition is always good. The United States vs Billie Holiday, although not a great film, does deserve recognition for its terrific music in the film. I did mention in a previous article that the Eurovision song "Husavik" is kind of a joke, but at the same time, it is gaining some steam as far as Oscar momentum goes. This joke could go on for so long that it laughs its way all the way to an Oscar nomination. Who knows? In any case, I see "Speak Now" sweeping from here on out. Including the Oscar for Best Original Song.

Best Score

  • The Midnight Sky (Netflix) – Alexandre Desplat
  • Mank (Netflix) – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
  • Minari (A24) – Emile Mosseri
  • News of the World (Universal Pictures) – James Newton Howard
  • Soul (Pixar) – Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross – WINNER
  • Tenet (Warner Bros) – Ludwig Göransson

It's been awfully rough to watch Ludwig Goransson lose every award thus far. His score from Tenet is my favorite of the year and it's just a tough beat. Granted, I cannot argue with the wonderful work from Reznor and Ross in Pixar's Soul, but more specifically the beautiful piano work from Jon Batiste. I am happy for them and I cannot say I'm upset over this, but it's painful to watch my favorite score go on this losing streak. And I don't see it ending anytime soon. I do believe the Soul score will go on to dominate the awards circuit from here on out. Now, on the bright side, I have been pleasantly surprised to see Emile Mosseri's beautiful score from Minari gaining some attention. Sure, it will also continue to lose, but I'm glad to see it earning some well deserved recognition, at least. It's my hope that it will continue to gain nominations throughout the course of Awards Season. Mosseri deserves to be recognized for his amazing work, not just on Minari, but on his other films, as well. As far as the race goes, nothing changes - except for maybe the nominees around it.

Best Visual Effects

  • Greyhound (Apple TV Plus)
  • The Invisible Man (Universal Pictures)
  • Mank (Netflix)
  • The Midnight Sky (Netflix)
  • Mulan (Walt Disney Pictures)
  • Tenet (Warner Bros) – WINNER
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (Warner Bros)

I was glad to see Tenet, the most deserving of the win, come away with the victory here. This also comes with the sad realization that it's likely the only award that it will win. Of this group, it's easily the film with the best effects. However, I do wish that films like The Invisible Man and Possessor be recognized for their spectacular visual effects given their low budgets. It's plain to see that films with bigger budgets upwards of $200 million+ will have better visual effects than films with smaller budgets simply because they have the means to do so, and the money to spend on the time, visual effects team and manhours. It's all the more impressive when films like The Invisible Man have far greater visual effects than films like say Wonder Woman 1984 (which is also laughable that it was even nominated, considering how awful its effects were). But I digress.

Best Hair and Makeup

  • Emma (Focus Features)
  • Hillbilly Elegy (Netflix)
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix) – WINNER
  • Mank (Netflix)
  • Promising Young Woman (Focus Features)
  • The United States vs. Billie Holiday (Hulu)

This one is a bit of a surprise to me. And frankly, this may shoot Ma Rainey's Black Bottom out ahead of the pack, as far as a frontrunner for the Oscar is concerned. And I don't mean a surprise as in I don't believe it's deserving of the award. It is. When you look at the makeup and hair done for Viola Davis in the titular role, it's easy to see. What I mean is, I felt that something like Emma or Hillbilly Elegy might be the one they would award for this. Emma being the typical period drama they would award and Hillbilly Elegy being that transformative makeup and hair award winner that is typical to reward for this. Of course, any one of these films would be equally deserving and I can easily see it going to any of them. This race will certainly be interesting to the very end, and it leaves me to wonder what direction the other awards shows will go with this one.

Best Editing

  • The Father (Sony Pictures Classics) – Yorgos Lamprinos
  • Mank (Netflix) – Kirk Baxter
  • Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures) – Chloé Zhao
  • Sound of Metal (Amazon Studios) – Mikkel E.G. Nielsen – WINNER *TIE*
  • Tenet (Warner Bros) – Jennifer Lame
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix) – Alan Baumgarten – WINNER *TIE*

This one is just baffling to me. Giving Trial of the Chicago 7 Best Editing feels like the Bohemian Rhapsody effect to where the judges just say to themselves, "Why yes, there is indeed editing present in this film." I simply just cannot wrap my head around why Best Editing would not go to Jennifer Lame for Tenet. This film has some of the most impressive editing I have ever seen in a film. Even if you do not award that film, don't just give it to Trial just because it has the flashiest editing of the bunch. Now, with all that being said, I am happy that the tie also went to Sound of Metal. This was a nice surprise - I truly did not expect this film to be awarded for anything but acting or sound design. But I am glad to see that it was. I do hope that this will bode well for its Oscar prospects. Every film in this category has effective, efficient, and expert editing. So, I would be happy with any of them winning from this point forward (except Trial). I haven't yet seen The Father (I will soon), but from what I've heard, a nomination is more than deserved.

Best Costume Design

  • Emma (Focus Features) – Alexandra Byrne
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix) – Ann Roth – WINNER
  • Mank (Netflix) – Trish Summerville
  • Mulan (Walt Disney Pictures) – Bina Daigeler
  • The Personal History of David Copperfield (Searchlight Pictures) – Suzie Harman, Robert Worley
  • Promising Young Woman (Focus Features) – Nancy Steiner

This is another one similar to that of the hair and makeup award. It's not a huge surprise that Ma Rainey's Black Bottom would win for this as well. Especially if you watch the 20 ish minute documentary on the making of the film that dives into how they did the research and made sure the authenticity of the costumes were on point. Again, I am just surprised that something like Emma or Mank would not win in this category. Now, the costume design by Ann Roth is wholly accurate and genuine to the time period and the characters, so one cannot really argue. Also, the authenticity is what and how they will campaign for the Oscar. I will not be surprised to see this take home the Oscar, given that information. Also, this could potentially go on to sweep the rest of awards season, as well. But, watch out for the others I mentioned.

Best Cinematography

  • Da 5 Bloods (Netflix) – Newton Thomas Sigel
  • First Cow (A24) – Christopher Blauvelt
  • Mank (Netflix) – Erik Messerschmidt
  • Minari (A24) – Lachlan Milne
  • News of the World (Universal Pictures) – Dariusz Wolski
  • Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures) – Joshua James Richards – WINNER
  • Tenet (Warner Bros) – Hoyte Van Hoytema

Now, for my favorite category: Cinematography. I have always loved this category and I am always a sucker for it in every film. So, whenever they mess it up, I become angry. So far, no one has! I am always happy to see Nomadland winning as it is very well deserved. Nothing has really blown me away as far as cinematography in 2020 is concerned. It is my one wish that Judas and the Black Messiah will at least be nominated at the Oscars. It's certainly not flashy in the way that traditional films are recognized in this category, but I adored the cinematography in that film. Promising Young Woman is another that I enjoyed, but unfortunately will not be recognized. Others include Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Sound of Metal, Possessor, Another Round, and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Those films deserve shouts, but they won't get them. Now, I do believe the Oscars will likely nominate five from these nominees above. I was glad to see First Cow and Minari up there, but unfortunately I'm not sure we'll see them at the Oscars. And I'm not even sure it's worth discussing who will be nominated because ultimately it's between Nomadland and Mank. I don't see anyone competing other than those two.

Best Production Design

  • Emma (Focus Features) – Kave Quinn, Stella Fox
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix) – Mark Ricker, Karen O’Hara, Diana Stoughton
  • Mank (Netflix) – Donald Graham Burt, Jan Pascale – WINNER
  • News of the World (Universal Pictures) – David Crank, Elizabeth Keenan
  • The Personal History of David Copperfield (Searchlight Pictures) – Cristina Casali, Charlotte Dirickx
  • Tenet (Warner Bros) – Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas

This is another expected pick. No surprise here whatsoever. Mank has been the frontrunner for the Oscar for quite some time. And really, there aren't many others that can give it a run for its money. I wouldn't bet against it from here on out. The closest I think would probably be Emma, if I had to guess. But, look out for Mank sweeping the entirety of awards season.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • The Father (Sony Pictures Classics) – Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller
  • First Cow (A24) – Jonathan Raymond, Kelly Reichardt
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix) – Ruben Santiago-Hudson
  • News of the World (Universal Pictures) – Luke Davies, Paul Greengrass
  • Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures) – Chloé Zhao – WINNER
  • One Night in Miami (Amazon Studios) – Kemp Powers

This comes as no surprise here, either. I expect Nomadland to sweep Adapted Screenplay across the board. The main thing that I am happy about here, aside from Chloe Zhao being recognized as a great writer in addition to being a great director and filmmaker in general, is that First Cow received a nomination here, as well. It is my hope that it will receive one at the Oscars. It will have to gain nominations consistently throughout the course of Awards Season, so as to remain in the consciousness of the voters. The other adapted screenplays in this category I believe will be in the running for the Oscar, it's just a matter of which four, aside from the lock that is Chloe Zhao's Nomadland.

Best Original Screenplay

  • Mank (Netflix) – Jack Fincher
  • Minari (A24) – Lee Isaac Chung
  • Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Focus Features) – Eliza Hittman
  • Promising Young Woman (Focus Features) – Emerald Fennell – WINNER
  • Sound of Metal (Amazon Studios) – Darius Marder, Abraham Marder
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix) – Aaron Sorkin

For anyone following the awards circuit thus far, this is a pleasant surprise. I've long since joked that Aaron Sorkin could write someone burping the alphabet, and he would win a best screenplay award anywhere. It was refreshing to see someone else more deserving win, finally. I believe every original screenplay (except Trial) deserves to be here. I am very happy to see Emerald Fennell win for her very original and subversive screenplay Promising Young Woman here. It was also a nice surprise to see Never Rarely Sometimes Always and Minari in this category. It's hard to know what will end up as the five at the Oscars, but if I had to guess, it would be our winner here, Mank, Sorkin's very mediocre work as recognized here (and everywhere), potentially Judas and the Black Messiah (I hope), and possibly even more likely, Sound of Metal.

Best Acting Ensemble

  • Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
  • Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros)
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
  • Minari (A24)
  • One Night in Miami (Amazon Studios)
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix) – WINNER

Possibly even more egregious than winning Best Editing, The Trial of the Chicago 7 took Best Ensemble over far better ensemble casts like Judas and the Black Messiah, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Minari, and One Night in Miami. I don't have much more to say than I simply just don't understand the love for this film. Yes, it did have good acting in it, but you can't tell me it had better acting than the previous films I just mentioned. It's my hope that SAG will award a better film than this. Perhaps this was awarded because the acting stood out in what is otherwise a lukewarm, milquetoast film.

Best Young Actor/Actress

  • Ryder Allen, Palmer (Apple TV Plus)
  • Ibrahima Gueye, The Life Ahead (Netflix)
  • Alan Kim, Minari (A24) – WINNER
  • Talia Ryder, Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Focus Features)
  • Caoilinn Springall, The Midnight Sky (Netflix)
  • Helena Zengel, News of the World (Universal Pictures)

I don't have much to say except that Alan Kim from Minari was perhaps the most deserving in this category and this was heartwarming to see him win and give that heartfelt speech. I was sad to see Helena Zengel lose again, but I can't argue with Kim winning at all. I have not seen the other performances aside from Talia Ryder in Never Rarely Sometimes Always (who was excellent in that film), so I could not speak to the other performances if I tried. I am happy for Alan Kim and what looks to be a promising career ahead of him.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Amazon Studios) – WINNER
  • Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (Netflix)
  • Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (Netflix)
  • Olivia Colman, The Father (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Amanda Seyfried, Mank (Netflix)
  • Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari (A24)

The "joke" nominee continues to prove everyone wrong with her continued nominations and now her win here. Maria Bakalova for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm wins here for her breakout comedic performance in her role as Tutar in the Borat Sequel. It's most decidedly a surprise for anyone who has not been following the awards circuit. But, for those who have, it has been essentially prophesized by the critics awards across the nation and should not come as any surprise, really. I expect to see the five nominees come from the nominees above, save for one of them. Which one is yet to be seen, but if I ventured to guess, it would be Ellen Burstyn from Pieces of a Woman because, unfortunately, her performance has since lost momentum.

Best Supporting Actor

  • Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
  • Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)
  • Daniel Kaluuya,  Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros) – WINNER
  • Bill Murray, On the Rocks (A24/Apple TV Plus)
  • Leslie Odom Jr., One Night in Miami (Amazon Studios)
  • Paul Raci, Sound of Metal (Amazon Studios)

One can see the writing on the wall that Daniel Kaluuya for his performance in Judas and the Black Messiah will likely sweep awards season. Whether you have seen the film or not, critics and everyone are raving about his performance, and rightfully so. Not to mention, he's being nominated and winning for everything. I am happy for all the nominees, but ultimately they will all be losing to Kaluuya for the foreseeable future.

Best Actress

  • Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
  • Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (Hulu)
  • Sidney Flanigan, Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Focus Features)
  • Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (Netflix)
  • Frances McDormand, Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures)
  • Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (Focus Features) – WINNER
  • Zendaya, Malcolm & Marie (Netflix)

Everyone nominated in this category deserves to be here. You can make the case for any of them winning. Andra Day, coming off her recent surprise upset at the Globes, is likely to be nominated for an Oscar now. The other four are likely to be Carey Mulligan, Frances McDormand, Viola Davis, and Vanessa Kirby. That has pretty much been solidified from day one. Who will win, is another story entirely. Recently, Carey Mulligan for her dynamic performance in Promising Young Woman has shot ahead of the pack. With her win here, that all but seals up her Oscar nomination, and if she continues, possibly her win. She reclaims her crown here for essentially doing it all in that film. I was proud to see the best performance of the year, in my opinion, be rewarded here.

Best Actor

  • Ben Affleck, The Way Back (Warner Bros)
  • Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (Amazon Studios)
  • Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix) – WINNER
  • Tom Hanks, News of the World (Universal Pictures)
  • Anthony Hopkins, The Father (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
  • Gary Oldman, Mank (Netflix)
  • Steven Yeun, Minari (A24)

This solidifies Chadwick Boseman's dominance in this category. It's another case in which we could all see the writing on the wall. Chadwick Boseman for his performance in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom will sweep all of awards season for Best Actor. There's no denying it at this point and it's more than deserved. The only question is, who will the other four be nominated around him? I believe it will be Riz Ahmed, Anthony Hopkins, Gary Oldman, and Steven Yeun with the possibility of Delroy Lindo playing spoiler to one of them.

Best Director

Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (A24)
Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman (Focus Features)
David Fincher, Mank (Netflix)
Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
Regina King, One Night in Miami (Amazon Studios)
Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)
Chloé Zhao, Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures) – WINNER

Once again, I feel that everyone nominated deserves to be here. However, it is just laughable that Aaron Sorkin's lackluster direction in The Trial of the Chicago 7 be recognized here or anywhere for that matter. In any case, it's plain to see that Chloe Zhao, having won nearly everything by now, will go on to sweep awards season for her beautifully understated direction in Nomadland. Although I am happy that Chloe Zhao continues to win, I just wanted to see Emerald Fennell win for her expertly directed subversive thriller in Promising Young Woman. The film has real stylistic flair and interesting and effective directorial choices which separates it from the pack. All that aside, I do feel that Zhao's wins have been deserved and I have no complaints. This is another case in which we must guess who the other four nominees will be alongside Zhao. My predictions will be Regina King, Emerald Fennell, David Fincher, and unfortunately Aaron Sorkin for some unknown reason.

Best Picture

  • Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
  • Mank (Netflix)
  • Minari (A24)
  • News of the World (Universal Pictures)
  • Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures) – WINNER
  • One Night in Miami (Amazon Studios)
  • Promising Young Woman (Focus Features)
  • Sound of Metal (Amazon Studios)
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)

Once again, no surprise here that Nomadland takes home the top prize. This has essentially swept all the major best picture or drama awards across the board. I am happy for its continued success and everything. However, I just wish that Judas and the Black Messiah would at least be nominated over something like News of the World or The Trial of the Chicago 7. I feel that it should not only be nominated at the very least, but should win as well. Judas and the Black Messiah is the best film I have seen over the course of Awards Season and I want it to be recognized far more than it has been to this point. I just don't feel that average, decent, or mediocre films should be recognized over powerful and masterful films. Perhaps that's a hot take? I shouldn't think so, but maybe it is.


I'd like to hear what you guys think! Did you agree with their picks for the winners? Disagree? Indifferent?

Sound off in the comments!

Rob McNeil

My name is Rob McNeil. I was born and raised in Normal, Illinois and I am a 28 year-old award winning screenwriter. I am very passionate about film, so much that I watch far too many films on a daily basis. I have written fifteen feature screenplays, a spec pilot thriller series, and several short scripts. I aim to make filmmaking a career, but for now, I will write about it.

Rob McNeil

My name is Rob McNeil. I was born and raised in Normal, Illinois and I am a 28 year-old award winning screenwriter. I am very passionate about film, so much that I watch far too many films on a daily basis. I have written fifteen feature screenplays, a spec pilot thriller series, and several short scripts. I aim to make filmmaking a career, but for now, I will write about it.

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