Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car has won the National Society of Film Critics’ Best Picture of 2021, completing the trifecta of wins that started with the New York Film Critics Circle and Los Angeles Film Critics Association.
The last films to win the NYFCC/LAFCA/NSFC Best Picture trifecta were 2009’s The Hurt Locker and 2010’s The Social Network. Interestingly, that was also the last time we had a straight 10 BP Oscar nominees in the preferential ballot era, which the Academy has returned to this year.
Hamaguchi also triumphed in Best Director, which cited his other 2021 film, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy. He also won the group’s screenplay prize with Takamasa Oe among Drive My Car‘s four prizes.
Penélope Cruz won Best Actress for Parallel Mothers, following up her LAFCA win last month. Hidetoshi Nishijima (Drive My Car) was named Best Actor, his second of the season, after Boston awarded him their lead prize.
Nishijima is only the fourth non-English performance to win Best Actor at NSFC after Antonio Banderas in 2019, Gerard Depardieu in 1982, and Per Oscarsson in 1966. He is the first Asian performer to win a Best Actor from any of the trifecta of NYFCC/LAFCA/NSFC.
Supporting wins went to Anders Danielsen Lie for The Worst Person in the World and Ruth Negga for Passing. Flee was named Best Nonfiction film and The Green Knight surprised with a win for Best Cinematography.
As per the rules of the NSFC, if a non-English language film wins Best Picture there is no Foreign Language Film category winner.
Several top contenders were shut out of wins, like Licorice Pizza and The Power of the Dog, but found a place as runner-up screenplay for the former and Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Cinematography for the latter.
Voting is conducted via a weighted ballot system. On the first ballot, members vote for their top three choices (first choice = 3 points, second choice = 2 points, third choice = 1 point). The nominee that receives the most points and appears on a majority of ballots wins. For the final result, the film or performance has to win at both, points and number of ballots. If not, voting continues until that is achieved. In the case of actors with multiple performances in a single year the group also votes if they want to cite them or not. Unique to the NSFC is that not only do they reveal their runners-up they also reveal the vote totals.
This year’s awards were dedicated to the memory of Morris Dickstein and Michael Wilmington, two esteemed colleagues and longtime members. “They wrote about movies in reviews, essays and books, with wit, warmth, passion and skill, and will both be deeply missed,” said the org.
The dedication continued, naming Liz Weis, who is stepping down after serving 47 years as Executive Director of the National Society of Film Critics. For her decades of extraordinary leadership and tireless service.
The Film Heritage Awards went to Maya Cade for the Black Film Archive, which expands knowledge of and access to Black films made between 1915 and 1979, and includes her critical essays that define the project and consider the films in relation to each other and to the cinema overall, as well as the late Bertrand Tavernier and Peter Bogdanovich, distinguished critic-filmmakers for their passion for other people’s movies and film history. Both crowned their careers with invaluable chronicles of their engagement with the cinema: Tavernier with the books “50 Years of American Cinema and American Friends,” and Bogdanovich with the books “Who the Devil Made It” and “Who the Hell’s In It?”
Special Citation for a Film Awaiting U.S. Distribution went to Jean-Gabriel Périot’s documentary “Returning to Reims,” which draws on Didier Eribon’s 2009 memoir about his French hometown and the inequities of class and education that shaped him and his family.
Here is the completely list of National Society of Film Critics winners and runners-up.
Best Picture: DRIVE MY CAR (48 points)
Runners-up: PETITE MAMAN (25 points) THE POWER OF THE DOG (23 points)
Best Director: Ryusuke Hamaguchi, DRIVE MY CAR and WHEEL OF FORTUNE AND FANTASY (46 points)
Runners-up: Jane Campion, THE POWER OF THE DOG (36 points) Céline Sciamma, PETITE MAMAN (28 points)
Best Screenplay: Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe, DRIVE MY CAR (46 points)
Runners-up: Pedro Almodóvar, PARALLEL MOTHERS (22 points) Paul Thomas Anderson, LICORICE PIZZA (20 points)
Best Actor: Hidetoshi Nishijima, DRIVE MY CAR (63 points)
Runners-up: Benedict Cumberbatch, THE POWER OF THE DOG (44 points) Simon Rex, RED ROCKET (30 points)
Best Actress: Penélope Cruz, PARALLEL MOTHERS (55 points)
Runners-up: Renate Reinsve, THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD (42 points) Alana Haim, LICORICE PIZZA (32 points)
Best Supporting Actor: Anders Danielsen Lie, THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD (54 points)
Runners-up: Vincent Lindon, TITANE (33 points); Mike Faist, WEST SIDE STORY and Kodi Smit-McPhee, THE POWER OF THE DOG (26 points)
Best Supporting Actress: Ruth Negga, PASSING (46 points)
Runners-up: Ariana DeBose, WEST SIDE STORY (22 points); Jessie Buckley, THE LOST DAUGHTER (21 points)
Best Cinematography: Andrew Droz Palermo, THE GREEN KNIGHT (52 points)
Runners-up: Ari Wegner, THE POWER OF THE DOG (40 points); Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, MEMORIA (35 points)
Best Nonfiction Film: FLEE (41 points)
Runners-up: PROCESSION and THE VELVET UNDERGROUND (28 points)