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Columbus Film Critics Association Awards Best Films of 2021

George Wolf George Wolf Columbus Film Critics Association Awards Best Films of 2021The Power of the Dog was the big winner of COFCA's 20th annual awards - Photo via IMDb
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Talk about a Best in Show. Writer/director Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog was the big winner Thursday night at the Columbus Film Critics Association’s 20th annual COFCA awards, which recognize excellence in the film industry. 

The drama, based on the Thomas Savage novel, won Best Film, and Campion was honored as Best Director and for Best Adapted Screenplay. Star Benedict Cumberbatch won for Best Actor, in addition to snaging Actor of the Year for his exemplary 2021 body of work that also included The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, The Mauritanian, and Spider-Man: No Way Home. Kodi Smit-McPhee was recognized as Best Supporting Actor, the cast was awarded Best Ensemble, and Jonny Greenwood was tabbed for Best Score.

COFCA member Mark Jackson is just fine with the film’s awards haul.

“I’m pleased with the nominees and results, a cool mix of eclectic, big-budget, and intimate,” he said. “I’m most happy for Benedict Cumberbatch, who has been doing high-quality work for a while, but feels like one of those stars who should have an Oscar by now. Maybe this is his year, with all the momentum behind The Power of the Dog!”

Member Adam Barney sees some definite bright spots in another transition year at the movies.

“With seemingly more films available than ever at your fingertips, I think it is important that people utilize social media and share when they love something and hopefully drive more people to it,” Barney said. “Unfortunately, there’s a lot of noise out there and some films can definitely be lost in the shuffle, so I’m glad that COFCA recognizes films like Riders of Justice, Nine Days, Pig, etc.”

Best Film runner-up Licorice Pizza was the only other film to earn multiple awards, with Alana Haim singled out as Best Actress and Breakthrough Film Artist, and writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson commended for Best Original Screenplay. 

For member Logan Burd, there was one big blank space in the year’s winners list.

“The fact that The French Dispatch wasn’t called at all is a big surprise,” he shared. “I wonder whether it will have more luck as award season presses on.”

Other individuals lauded for their achievements include Passing’s Ruth Negga as Best Supporting Actress; Bruno Delbonnel (The Tragedy of Macbeth) for Best Cinematography; and Sarah Broshar and Michael Kahn (West Side Story) for Best Film Editing.

Other announced winners were Best Documentary Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised); Best Foreign Language Film Drive My Car (Doraibu mai kâ); Best Animated Film The Mitchells vs. the Machines; and Best Overlooked Film Riders of Justice (Retfærdighedens ryttere).

The COFCA members rank their top ten films annually, and here’s how it broke down for 2021:

Best Film 

1. The Power of the Dog
2. Licorice Pizza
3. West Side Story
4. Belfast
5. Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
6. Pig
7. C’mon C’mon
8. The Tragedy of Macbeth
9. tick, tick…BOOM!
10. Dune

Member Melissa Starker sees many positives in the variety of COFCA’s list. 

“I think this year’s awards reflect what a remarkably strong year it was for film,” Starker said. “Just look at the diversity in the top 10—from the unique intimacy of Pig to the classic grandeur of West Side Story, there was so much to enjoy. Personally, I can’t complain about my top two films of the year, Licorice Pizza and The Power of the Dog, seeing a lot of love from the group.”

COFCA offers its congratulations to all the 2021 winners:

Best Director 
– Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
– Runner-up: Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Best Actor 
– Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog
– Runner-up: Nicolas Cage, Pig

Best Actress 
– Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza
– Runner-up: Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Best Supporting Actor 
– Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog
– Runner-up: Troy Kotsur, CODA

Best Supporting Actress 
– Ruth Negga, Passing
– Runner-up: Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Best Ensemble 
The Power of the Dog
– Runner-up: The Harder They Fall

Actor of the Year (for an exemplary body of work) 
– Benedict Cumberbatch (The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, The Mauritanian, The Power of the Dog,and Spider-Man: No Way Home
– Runner-up: Andrew Garfield (The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and tick, tick…BOOM!)

Breakthrough Film Artist 
– Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza – (for acting)
– Runner-up: Jude Hill, Belfast – (for acting)

Best Cinematography 
– Bruno Delbonnel, The Tragedy of Macbeth
– Runner-up: Ari Wegner, The Power of the Dog

Best Film Editing
– Sarah Broshar and Michael Kahn, West Side Story
– Runner-up: Peter Sciberras, The Power of the Dog 

Best Adapted Screenplay
– Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
– Runner-up: Tony Kushner, West Side Story

Best Original Screenplay
– Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza
– Runner-up: Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Best Score 
– Jonny Greenwood, The Power of the Dog
– Runner-up: Jonny Greenwood, Spencer

Best Documentary 
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
– Runner-up: Flee

Best Foreign Language Film 
Drive My Car (Doraibu mai kâ)
– Runner-up: Flee

Best Animated Film 
The Mitchells vs. the Machines
– Runner-up: Flee

Best Overlooked Film 
Riders of Justice (Retfærdighedens ryttere)
– Runner-up: Nine Days

Founded in 2002, the Columbus Film Critics Association, formerly the Central Ohio Film Critics Association, is comprised of film critics based in Columbus, Ohio and its surrounding areas. Its membership consists of 27 print, radio, television, and online critics. COFCA’s official website at www.cofca.org contains links to member reviews and past award winners.

For more information about the Columbus Film Critics Association, please visit www.cofca.org or e-mail [email protected] 

The complete list of members and their affiliations: 

Richard Ades (Freelance); Dwayne Bailey (Bailey’s Buzz); Adam Barney (The Film Coterie); Sam Brady (I Am Sam Reviews); Logan Burd (Cinema or Cine-meh?); Kevin Carr (www.FatGuysattheMovies.com); Bill Clark (www.fromthebalcony.com); Olie Coen (Archer Avenue, DVD Talk); John DeSando (90.5 WCBE); Johnny DiLoretto (90.5 WCBE, PencilStorm.com); Chris Feil (FilmMixTape.com, TheFilmExperience.net); Frank Gabrenya (The Columbus Dispatch); Mark Jackson (MovieManJackson.com); Brad Keefe (Columbus Alive); Kristin Dreyer Kramer (NightsAndWeekends.com, 90.5 WCBE); Adam Kuhn (Corndog Chats); Roger Legg (The Film Coterie, Faith and Film); Hope Madden (Columbus Underground, MaddWolf.com and Good Day Columbus); Paul Markoff (Filmbound); David Medsker (Bullz-Eye.com); Lori Pearson (Kids-in-Mind.com, critics.com); Mark Pfeiffer (Filmbound, Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema); Melissa Starker (Freelance); Brandon Thomas (MaddWolf.com); George Wolf (Columbus Underground, Good Day Columbus and MaddWolf.com); Jason Zingale (Bullz-Eye.com); Nathan Zoebl (PictureShowPundits.com).

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