#TFCA: “DRIVE MY CAR” NAMED BEST FILM OF 2021 BY TORONTO FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION
The Toronto Film Critics Association have announced their 2021 Award Winners today. Winning top honours of Best Film is DRIVE MY CAR, a Japanese Drama written and directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi. The Film is Japan’s official entry at the upcoming Academy Awards.
Runners-up were LICORICE PIZZA and THE POWER OF THE DOG.
The Rogers Best Canadian Film Award will award one winner $100,000 from Rogers Communications Inc., with two runners-up each receiving $5,000. Finalists in this category are Beans, directed by Tracey Deer; Night Raiders, directed by Danis Goulet; Scarborough, directed by Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson. The winner will be announced at their upcoming (date TBD) Awards Gala.
List of winners below:
DRIVE MY CAR
Runners-up: LICORICE PIZZA
THE POWER OF THE DOG
Jane Campion (THE POWER OF THE DOG)
Runners-up: Hamaguchi Ryusuke (DRIVE MY CAR)
Denis Villeneuve (DUNE)
Olivia Colman (THE LOST DAUGHTER)
Runners-up: Penelope Cruz (PARALLEL MOTHERS)
Kristen Stewart (SPENCER)
Denzel Washington (THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH)
Runners-up: Benedict Cumberbatch (THE POWER OF THE DOG)
Andrew Garfield (TICK, TICK…BOOM!)
Best Supporting Actress
Jessie Buckley (THE LOST DAUGHTER)
Runners-up: Kirsten Dunst (THE POWER OF THE DOG)
Ruth Negga (PASSING)
Best Supporting Actor
Bradley Cooper (LICORICE PIZZA)
Runners-up: Ciaran Hinds (BELFAST)
Kodi Smit-McPhee (THE POWER OF THE DOG)
DRIVE MY CAR
Runners-up: LICORICE PIZZA
THE POWER OF THE DOG
Best Animated Feature
THE MITCHELLS VS THE MACHINES
SUMMER OF SOUL (…OR, WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED)
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND
Best Foreign Language Film
DRIVE MY CAR
Runners-up: PETITE MAMAN
THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD
Best First Feature
THE LOST DAUGHTER
More to come here.
#EDITORSNOTE: TEAM MR. WILL TOP TENS OF 2021
While it felt the latter part of 2021 was rather hectic on the release side for films, it certainly was a memorable, although sometimes chaotic year in Cinema. As we saw several films which should’ve surfaced in 2020, banked for our enjoyment on the big screen this year, it makes it even more challenging to narrow down our favourites. Truly, the Films that made the cut in 2021 truly were outstanding as they had to shine amongst a quality slate of releases.
Though it seems we’re making one step forward and two steps back in making it through this Pandemic, we were so happy to have been able to be back in theatres once again and enjoy a hybrid version of the Toronto International Film Festival. For that we are grateful and we look forward to sitting in a theatre once again, full capacity with popcorn and drink in-hand, even if not yet.
Team Mr. Will break down their favourite releases of 2021 for us and as always, it is an exciting and eclectic mix. Films like CODA, ROADRUNNER, NINE DAYS, C’MON C’MON and MASS might not be on all Critics’ Top Tens, but they fared well among the Team and found a home with us. If you’re still deciding what to see or are on the fence about, let us help you out!
So grateful for this amazing family of Writers and their esteemed opinions and hard work delivering for us year-round.
I think Cinema is at its best when it entertains, increases empathy and enlighten us. The films in my Top Ten check those boxes for me. However, 2021 is filled with impactful Cinema and my list could easily be 20! Other films I love are Awards Season favourites King Richard, Belfast & Spencer. This list was made before viewing A Hero, Parallel Mothers & Cyrano.
The Worst Person in the World & Petite Maman would be below but they release in 2022. Keep an eye out for them!
Top Ten Narratives (in alphabetical order):
Drive My Car
Judas & the Black Messiah
The Lost Daughter
The Power of the Dog
tick, tick… BOOM!
West Side Story
Fav Docs (in alphabetical order):
Summer of Soul
Writing With Fire
1. NYC Epicenters
2. Life in a Day: 2020
3. The Last Duel
5. Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain
6. C’mon C’mon
8. The Green Knight
9. Bo Burnham: Inside
In a near-tie for my favorite this year: two Documentaries attempting to process recent history. Life in a Day revisits the original 2010 experiment, sourcing thousands of hours of amateur footage from across the world shot on a single day in 2020 that might as well represent the era. Spike Lee‘s NYC Epicenters–a four part miniseries available on Crave–looks at every major New York disaster since 9/11 up to the present moment with absolutely crushing clarity. Sidenote: Netflix‘s ‘Turning Point‘ gives 9/11 some much-needed context as the inciting incident in a much broader tragedy for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. Bo Burnham’s Inside grapples with our collective quarantine routine, and though I have misgivings about how accurate it is to Burnham‘s real experience of the pandemic–dropping it a bit further down the list–I cannot deny the singular power of his music to bring meaning to our perpetually sealed-off lives. In third–and the first narrative on the list–The Last Duel failed to connect with the Box Office but succeeded in keeping me locked at a 70° angle as I untangled the all-too-familiar cycle of assault, denial, and public scorn told from three distinct perspectives, brought together by a relentless, titular duel more explosive than anything Ridley Scott has ever yelled at a journalist. Dune could not be less connected to our present, so it was nice to become ensnared in its deadly world with the most well-integrated Visual Effects I’ve ever seen. Roadrunner and C’mon C’mon are both stories of Documentarians who live their work. For Joaquin Phoenix, it’s a spiritually healing act. For Anthony Bourdain, it’s a bit more complicated. Spencer synthesized Diana‘s tragedy into a devastating weekend of pheasant hunting, pea soup and Jazz. Sidenote: ‘Diana the Musical‘ is worth a Netflix skim for a horrific glimpse into yet another way of defining her story. The Green Knight revitalized title cards–along with reflections on destiny and death. And Annette finally put an end to our cultural obsession with selfish toxic male stars–j/k!
2021 was the year I capitulated, when it came to the Movies. I firmly believed that they HAD to be seen on a big screen to even be considered worthy candidates to make my personal “Best” list. To me, VOD always stood for movies that studios deemed unworthy of a theatrical release and streaming services were like HBO: good stuff but, like HBO movies, should not be considered Oscar-worthy. My feelings came crashing down when I saw my first movie in a darkened theatre when we were finally allowed to do so. It was the Documentary “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain”. It was also the 107th movie I had watched this year. The final nail in the coffin was when I was given the choice to see “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” in the theatre or to stream it and I chose the latter.
Whittling down the 288 titles I watched in 2021 to my Top Ten was no easy task! And apologies to the movies I haven’t seen yet (The Lost Daughter, Drive My Car, A Hero, Parallel Mothers and The Green Knight) that could have made the list and those that I could not squeeze-in (Annette, Flee, Belfast, Being the Ricardos, Don’t Look Up, In the Heights and Passing).
- The Power of the Dog
- West Side Story
- (tie) Summer of Soul/Attica
- Nine Lives
- The Humans
- The Worst Person in the World
What a mess 2021 has been, we thought we couldn’t possibly still be in this god damn pandemic anymore but here we are. Thankfully, even through the endless, and I mean ENDLESS delays we got some content this year that was absolutely incredible. Only one movie on this Top Ten list only played the festival circuit, and I cannot stress enough that it must be viewed when it comes out. Everything on this list deserves its placing, and if you haven’t seen some of these picks, please please please go and see it to warm your Cinephile heart. I present to you my top 10 of 2021. May 2022 bring forward some other excellent Cinema!
Alone With You
I’m your Man
Tick Tick Boom
Note: at the time of publication I have not seen Drive My Car, or Parallel Mothers.
Happy New Year everyone, and Bon Cinema!
Were we wrong thinking 2021 would be better than 2020? While it was not nearly as much of a dumpster fire, there is still so much wrong and so few lessons learned. I loved being able to experience movies in a theatre again, yet am depressed at how few people turned up for anything that did not involve Marvel characters (though I did enjoy some of those ones too). Fingers crossed we can lose the increasingly annoying “Exclusively in Theatres” rhetoric at some point in 2022. All of that said, I was able to experience a whole world of titles at digital festivals and likely saw more movies this year alone than I have in previous years (or at least compared to all the years I have tracked on Letterboxd!). So it was not all doom and gloom.
Here is a look at my ranked Top 10 list of titles that had a profound effect on me, inspiring my creativity endlessly in a year where I felt so little, followed by alphabetical lists of 2020 films I could not see until 2021 and a few festival favourites waiting for proper release.
- Nine Days
- The Mitchells vs. The Machines
- The Worst Person in the World
- Judas and the Black Messiah
- Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain
- Riders of Justice
- Licorice Pizza
2020 Favourites That Were Available This Year
Quo Vadis, Aida?
Unreleased Festival Favourites
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
Catch the Fair One
Three things we always look for in a great film. One, it has to take us on a real journey and there’s gotta be something at stake that’s meaningful. It doesn’t matter how big the stakes are. It is the Director and Actors’ jobs to make it feel like the journey they are going on matters. Two, we love it when an Actor transforms and we laud bravado in a performance. Three, we want to feel something when we walk away from a film. These Films meet all the criteria for me. Whether it be Kristen Stewart’s transcendent performance as Diana in Spencer which we’re still obsessed with, or what it means for a father to go for broke because he believes so much in his daughters in King Richard, or films like Zola and Red Rocket which pushed the envelope giving us a glimpse into the lives of Sex Workers, my eyes were opened and sometimes welled-up from some of the masterful work I saw in my Top Ten.
Don’t forget to check-out highlights from our 2021 Star Sightings in Toronto here!
2. King Richard
3. Red Rocket
4. Blue Bayou
5. The Eyes of Tammy Faye
7. West Side Story
10. Licorice Pizza
To another amazing year in Film ahead! Thank you for continuing to join us!
Team Mr. Will
#TIFF21: “DRIVE MY CAR” REVIEW
Review by Amanda Gilmore
Yusuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is a successful Stage Actor and Director and married to Oto (Reika Kirishima), a successful Playwright and Screenwriter. The two share a long life filled with artistic collaboration. But then Oto dies suddenly. Still coping with the loss two years later, he accepts an offer to direct a play in Hiroshima. It’s there he is forced to have a driver, the young, headstrong Misaki Watari (Toko Miura), who will drive his red Saab 900. The two slowly develop a bond linked to their similar bereavement.
Co-Screenwriter and Director Ryusuke Hamaguchi has adapted Haruki Murakami’s short story into a deeply moving film about loneliness, grief and forgiveness. Both Kafuku and Watari have lost loved ones. For Kafuku it was a secretive wife and for Watari it was her troubled mother. Oto’s wife was sneaking around behind his back, Watari’s mother physically abused her. Along their developing friendship, comes the poignant story of grieving for loved ones who treat us poorly and learning to forgive them along the way.
Hamaguchi dives deep into the importance of artistry in understanding human nature. Throughout the narrative, Kafuku is directing a multilingual stage production of Uncle Vanya. In doing so, the actors Kafuku are directing learn more about themselves. Along the way, so does Kafuku. The edits made and the interwoven story of life and theatre are impeccably crafted. By the time we reach the end of Drive My Car, one thing is crystal clear: artistry brings us catharsis.
Drive My Car is like a Russian Doll of thematic layers and drama. All of which the entire cast unveil. The layers of drama come primarily through Kafuku casting his wife’s lover, Takatsuki, in his play. The two men share many tense yet tender moments playing to both their talents. Nishijima is outstanding in the lead. He carries Kafuku’s grief in his entire body and is able to evoke anguish, anger, and release all at once. And Miura is a pleasure to watch. It’s midway through the Film when we are introduced to her and she barely speaks until the Final Act, but she steals the show.
Most impressively, at one minute under the three hour mark time still manages to fly by.
Drive My Car screens at TIFF ’21:
Fri, Sep 10 at 5 PM at Scotiabank Theatre
Wed, Sep 15 at 7 PM on Digital TIFF Bell Lightbox
Thu, Sep 16 at 1 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox
Sat, Sep 18 at 1 PM on Digital TIFF Bell Lightbox