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The 2021 Bamboo Awards - The Panda Returns with His Top 25 Movies of 2021 and more

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After taking a brief hiatus of doing my personal Bamboo Awards, I am back to self-congratulate myself about lots of movies I sat down. watched and liked quite a bit this year instead of finishing my dissertation. The majority of this will end up being my BOFFY ballot and is thus also an overly elaborate FYC campaign for my favorite movies this year. Hopefully this list might inspire a few people to watch a few films they may not have otherwise and also consider them. Feel free to use this thread to approve and validate my opinions, or trash them and say my takes suck and that this thread should be relegated to the pits of internet hell known as the pokemon subreddit on reddit. I will be revealing my top 25 films throughout the countdown, as well as my sick picks following categories (ie my BOFFY FYCs):
























References from the prior Bamboo Awards. Provides a good reference that these are just moments in time and may not reflect my future opinions. For example, La La Land won the year for me in 2016 and now I think it's a B+ movie (although the Last Jedi from 2017 is still clearly an A+ masterpiece).





1.    The Farewell
2.    Parasite
3.    Little Women
4.    Knives Out
5.    Midsommar
6.    Us
7.    Ad Astra
8.    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
9.    1917
10.    Honey Boy
11.    I Lost My Body
12.    Rocketman
13.    The Two Popes
14.    A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
15.    Always Be My Maybe
16.    Hustlers
17.    The Peanut Butter Falcon
18.    Booksmart
19.    Her Smell
20.    El Camino

1.    Greta Gerwig, Little Women
2.    Lulu Wang, The Farewell
3.    Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite
4.    Ari Aster, Midsommar
5.    Alma Ha’rel, Honey Boy
6.    Rian Johnson, Knives Out

1.    Knives Out
2.    Little Women
3.    The Farewell
4.    Parasite
5.    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
6.    The Irishman

1.    Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
2.    Robert DeNiro, The Irishman
3.    Adam Driver, Marriage Story
4.    Taron Edgerton, Rocketman
5.    Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes
6.    Daniel Craig, Knives Out

1.    Lupita N’yongo, Us
2.    Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
3.    Awkwafina, The Farewell
4.    Florence Pugh, Midsommar
5.    Ana de Armas, Knives Out
6.    Constance Wu, Hustlers

Supporting Actress
1.    Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell
2.    Florence Pugh, Little Women (and Midsommar)
3.    Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers
4.    Yeo-jeong Jo, Parasite
5.    So-dam Park, Parasite
6.    Thomasin McKenzie, Jojo Rabbit


Supporting Actor
1.    Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (and Ad Astra)
2.    Kang-ho Song, Parasite
3.    Shia Labaeuf, Honey Boy
4.    Al Pacino, The Irishman
5.    Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes
6.    Chris Evans, Knives Out

Original Screenplay
1.    The Farewell
2.    Parasite
3.    Knives Out
4.    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
5.    Midsommar
6.    Honey Boy


Adapted Screenplay
1.    Little Women
2.    I Lost My Body
3.    The Two Popes
4.    The Irishman
5.    Hustlers
6.    A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

1.    Little Women
2.    Ad Astra
3.    1917
4.    Parasite
5.    Midsommar
6.    Joker

1.    Parasite
2.    Little Women
3.    The Farewell
4.    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
5.    Honey Boy
6.    Ford v Ferrari

1.    1917
2.    Us
3.    Parasite
4.    Little Women
5.    The Farewell
6.    Knives Out

1.    Rocketman
2.    The Farewell
3.    Always Be My Maybe
4.    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
5.    A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
6.    Yesterday


Production Design
1.    Parasite
2.    Knives Out
3.    Ad Astra
4.    Midsommar
5.    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
6.    Little Women

Costume, Hair and Makeup Design
1.    Rocketman
2.    Us
3.    Little Women
4.    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
5.    Jojo Rabbit
6.    Hustlers

Sound Design
1.    1917
2.    Ford v Ferrari
3.    Rocketman
4.    Ad Astra
5.    John Wick: Chapter 3
6.    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Visual Effects and Stunt Design
1.    Ad Astra
2.    1917
3.    John Wick: Chapter 3
4.    Godzilla: King of the Monsters
5.    Detective Pikachu
6.    The Irishman


1.    My Finest Work Yet, Andrew Bird
2.    Chrysaline, Josh Garrels
3.    i,i , Bon Iver

TV Show
1.    Watchmen
2.    The Good Place
3.    Chernobyl






Crazy Rich Asians

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

If Beale Street Could Talk


Black Panther

Eighth Grade


The Favourite


A Star is Born


Avengers: Infinity War

Sorry to Bother You

First Reformed

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Set It Up

Leave No Trace

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Incredibles 2

Mary Poppins Returns


Private Life

Death of Stalin

Paddington 2



Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Carlos Lopez Estrada, Blindspotting

Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk

Ryan Coogler, Black Panther

Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman

Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite



Crazy Rich Asians


Black Panther

If Beale Street Could Talk

The Death of Stalin




Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade

Toni Colette, Hereditary

Yalitza Aparicio, Roma

Olivia Colman, The Favourite

KiKi Layne, If Beale Street Could Talk

Lady Gaga, A Star is Born



Daveed Diggs, Blindspotting

Ethan Hawke, First Reformed

Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born

John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman

Christain Bale, Vice

Lakeith Stanfield, Sorry to Bother You



Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Emma Stone, The Favourite

Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Jasmine Cephas Jones, Blindspotting

Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians

Kayli Carter, Private Life



Rafael Casal, Blindspotting

Josh Hamilton, Eighth Grade

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mary Poppins Returns

Jesse Plemons, Game Night

Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther

Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman




The Favourite

First Reformed

Eighth Grade

Sorry to Bother You

Private Life



If Beale Street Could Talk



Black Panther

Crazy Rich Asians

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse



If Beale Street Could Talk

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse


The Favourite




Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse




If Beale Street Could Talk

A Star is Born



If Beale Street Could Talk

Black Panther

Mary Poppins Returns

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Avengers: Infinity War

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs



A Star is Born

Mary Poppins Returns

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Crazy Rich Asians

The Favourite

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse



Crazy Rich Asians

Black Panther

The Favourite


Mary Poppins Returns




Black Panther


The Favourite

Crazy Rich Asians

Mary Poppins Returns

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again




A Quiet Place

A Star is Born


Avengers: Infinity War




Avengers: Infinity War

Mission: Impossible - Fallout

Mary Poppins Returns

Incredibles 2


Ready Player One



WINNER: The Most Beautiful Thing I've Seen by Lisa Gungor

HMs: Suite No. 1 "Oh Dreamer" by The Brilliance

The Good Place Season 2b and 3a

Crazy Ex Girlfriend Season 3b and 4a

Super Smash Brothers Ultimate





WINNER: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

RUNNER UP: Blade Runner 2049


4th: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

5th: Lady Bird

6th: Dunkirk

7th: The Big Sick

8th: Logan

9th: Wind River

10th: Wonder Woman

11th: A Ghost Story

12th: Coco

13th: IT

14th: Okja

15th: War for the Planet of the Apes

16th: The Shape of Water

17th: Baby Driver

18th: The Disaster Artist

19th: Darkest Hour

20th: Mudbound

21st: All the Money in the World

22nd: Wonder

23rd: Detroit

24th: Thor: Ragnarok

25th: Raw


Winner: Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Runner Up: Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Co-Runner Up: Denis Villeneuve, Blade Runner 2049
HM1: Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
HM2: Jordan Peele, Get Out
HM3: Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside of Ebbings, Missouri
HM4: Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman


Winner: Three Billboards Outside of Ebbings, Missouri
Runner Up: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Co-Runner Up: Lady Bird
HM1: The Big Sick
HM2: Mudbound
HM3: Get Out
HM4: The Shape of Water


Winner: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside of Ebbings, Missouri
Runner Up: Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Co-Runner Up: Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
HM1: Daisey Ridley, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
HM2: Michelle Williams, All the Money in the World
HM3: Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman
HM4: Seo-Hyeon Ahn, Okja


Winner: Mark Hamill, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Runner Up: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Co-Runner Up: James Franco, The Disaster Artist
HM1: Hugh Jackman, Logan
HM2: Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
HM3: Jeremy Renner, Wind River
HM4: Andy Serkis, War for the Planet of the Apes


Winner: Carrie Fisher, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Runner Up: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Co-Runner Up: Mary J Blige, Mubound

HM1: Holly Hunter, The Big Sick

HM2: Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

HM3: Sophia Lillis, IT

HM4: Dafne Keen, Logan


Winner: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards

Runner Up: Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World

Co-Runner Up: Adam Driver, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

HM1: Patrick Stewart, Logan

HM2: Michael Shannon, The Shape of Water

HM3: Jason Mitchell, Mudbound

HM4: Gil Birmingham, Wind River


Winner: Get Out

Runner Up: Lady Bird

Co-Runner Up: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

HM1: The Big Sick

HM2: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

HM3: Wind River

HM4: Logan


Winner: Blade Runner: 2049

Runner Up: Dunkirk

Co-Runner Up: The Shape of Water

HM1: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

HM2: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

HM3: A Ghost Story

HN4: Logan


Winner: Dunkirk

Runner Up: Baby Driver

Co-Runner Up: Blade Runner 2049

HM1: Get Out

HM2: A Ghost Story

HM3: Darkest Hour

BEST USE OF MUSIC (Includes Original Scores, Original Songs and Soundtracks)

Winner: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Runner Up: Baby Driver

Co-Runner Up: A Ghost Story

HM1: All the Money in the World

HM2: The Shape of Water

HM3: Coco

BEST DESIGN (Includes Production Design, Hair and Makeup design and Costume Design)

Winner: Blade Runner 2049

Runner Up: Beauty and the Beast

Co-Runner Up: The Shape of Water

HM1: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

HM2: Dunkirk

HM3: Wonder Woman

BEST IMMERSIVE DESIGN (Includes Visual Effects, Sound Design and Stuntwork)

Winner: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Runner Up: Blade Runner 2049

Co-Runner Up: Dunkirk

HM1: War for the Planet of the Apes

HM2: Baby Driver

HM3: Wonder Woman


Winner: Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Runner Up: Master of None Season 2

Co-Runner Up: Game of Thrones Season 7

HM1: Ola Gjeilo's Winter Songs

HM2: The Handmaid's Tale Season 1

HM3: Stranger Things Season 2

HM4: Super Mario Odyssey





Golden Bamboo Stick Winner: La La Land

Silver Bamboo Stick Winner: Arrival

Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner: Deadpool

4th: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

5th: Hell or High Water

6th: Zootopia

7th: Moonlight

8th: Kubo and the Two Strings

9th: The Witch

10th: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

11th: Fences

12th: The Edge of Seventeen

13th: Moana

14th: Hacksaw Ridge

15th: Eye in the Sky

16th: The Nice Guys

17th: Finding Dory

18th: 10 Cloverfield Lane

19th: Manchester by the Sea

20th: The Little Prince


Golden Bamboo Stick Winner: Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

Silver Bamboo Stick Winner: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner: David Mackenzie, Hell or High Water

4th: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

5th: Taika Waititi, Hunt for the Wilderpeople

6th: Robert Eggers, The Witch


Golden Bamboo Stick Winner: Moonlight

Silver Bamboo Stick Winner: Fences

Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner: Hell or High Water

4th: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

5th: Manchester by the Sea

6th: The Edge of Seventeen


Golden Bamboo Stick Winner: Denzel Washington, Fences

Silver Bamboo Stick Winner: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner: Ryan Gosling, La La Land and the Nice Guys

4th: Chris Pine, Hell or High Water

5th: Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool

6th: Sam Neill, Hunt for the Wilderpeople


Golden Bamboo Stick Winner: Emma Stone, La La Land

Silver Bamboo Stick Winner: Anya Taylor-Joy, The Witch

Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner: Amy Adams, Arrival

4th: Hailee Steinfeld, The Edge of Seventeen

5th: Helen Mirren, Eye in the Sky

6th: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, 10 Cloverfield Lane


Golden Bamboo Stick Winner: Viola Davis, Fences

Silver Bamboo Stick Winner: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner: Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

4th: Naomie Harris, Moonlight

5th: Ben Foster, Hell or High Water

6th: Angourie Rice, The Nice Guys


Golden Bamboo Stick Winner: Arrival

Silver Bamboo Stick Winner: Fences

Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

4th: Hell or High Water

5th: La La Land

6th: Zootopia

BEST USE OF MUSIC (Includes Best Score, Soundtrack and Original Songs)

Golden Bamboo Stick Winner: La La Land

Silver Bamboo Stick Winner: Moana

Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner: The Witch

4th: Moonlight

5th: Kubo and the Two Strings

6th: Hell or High Water

BEST TECHNICAL WORK (Includes Best Cinematography, Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects)

Golden Bamboo Stick Winner: La La Land

Silver Bamboo Stick Winner: Arrival

Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner: Moonlight

4th Place: Hacksaw Ridge

5th Place: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

6th Place: Kubo and the Two Strings

BEST PRODUCTION WORK (Includes Best Production Design, Best Makeup/Hairstyling and Best Costume Design)

Golden Bamboo Stick Winner: La La Land

Silver Bamboo Stick Winner: The Witch

Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

4th Place: Hacksaw Ridge

5th Place: Deadpool

6th Place: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them


Game of Thrones Season 6




RUNNER UP: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
CO-RUNNER UP: Mad Max: Fury Road
4. The Big Short
5. Spotlight
6. Ex Machina
7. Bridge of Spies
8. Creed
9. Sicario
10. Jurassic World
11. The Peanuts Movie
12. Beasts of No Nation
13. What We Do in the Shadows
14. The Martian
15. Kingsman: The Secret Service
16. The Hateful Eight
17. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
18. Brooklyn
19. The Last 5 Years
20. Spy
21. Slow West
22. The Good Dinosaur
23. Furious 7
24. Everest
25. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation




WINNER: Boyhood

RUNNER UP: Birdman: Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

CO-RUNNER UP: Guardians of the Galaxy

4. The Grand Budapest Hotel

5. The Immigrant

6. Interstellar

7. Snowpiercer

8. The LEGO Movie

9. The Theory of Everything

10. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

11. Gone Girl

12. The Fault in Our Stars

13. Fury

14. Blue Ruin

15. X-Men: Days of Future Past

16. Into the Woods

17. Only Lovers Left Alive

18. The Imitation Game

19. How to Train Your Dragon 2

20. The Interview



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"End the curse."


Synopsis: "In 1666, a colonial town is gripped by a hysterical witch-hunt that has deadly consequences for centuries to come, and it’s up to teenagers in 1994 to finally put an end to their town’s curse, before it’s too late."


Letterboxd Review: "never trust a rich man. only trust the lgbtq+ community" - marybernthal, 4 stars


Critic Excerpt: "Arriving this week, Fear Street Part Three: 1666 owes more to The Crucible than it does to any American shocker (the flavours of British folk horror are surely accidental). We are, for a spell, back at the origins of the mayhem and, as is so often the case, women are being demonised. Though the decision to have the puritan settlers speak in largely terrible Irish accents defies all reason, the closing section ties up some ends in a satisfactory whirl of implausibly well-scrubbed colonial paranoia. Old lags may still be left wondering “who the thing is for”, but better that sort of confusion than another franchise designed by focus groups and demographic research. An oddball epic." - Donald Clark, The Irish Times


My Opinion: The Fear Street trilogy was more or less a pleasant surprise to me this summer, releasing weekly movie length installments it was almost like a mini-series (and ineligible for this list). However, these are in fact three movies and so I will list 1666 as my entry for this trilogy. The trilogy is ripe with young adult tropes, slasher horror throwbacks, and an abundance of sex and gore, and whatever your opinion is from hearing those terms will likely be your reaction to watching these movies. 1666 stands out to me for taking the finale in a starkly different directorial direction than what its young adult audience might be expecting. Beyond the cringey accents, the first half was the closest thing I've gotten to The VVitch style horror in a while, and it was a great deal of fun. The series is fun and creative, worth watching in a time of mundane franchise installments.



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Synopsis: "A young man is sent to “La Maca,” a prison in the middle of the Ivorian forest ruled by its inmates. As tradition goes with the rising of the red moon, he is designated by the Boss to be the new “Roman” and must tell a story to the other prisoners. Learning what fate awaits him, he begins to narrate the mystical life of the legendary outlaw named “Zama King” and has no choice but to make his story last until dawn."


Letterboxd Review: "Night of the Kings is undeniably challenging at points, but if one is willing to meet it, it offers a rollicking story about stories, brilliantly acted by all involved. It's a film that feels truly one-of-a-kind, wearing its influences openly but yet feeling wholly new. It's invigorating, and even though it has some lulls, the entirety of the film just feels truly special. Night of the Kings is hard to describe and some might not find much enjoyment out of it, but I frequently blown away by some of the sequences within it. Excellent." - @Blankments


Critic Excerpt: "Lacôte traces his inspiration for this project back to childhood experiences of visiting his mother at La Maca, which left him with the fairytale sense of “being at the court of some archaic kingdom”. Fitting, then, that through the newcomer’s stories we see the life of gang leader Zama transformed from a blood-splattered headline into a mythical tale of grand queens and legendary beasts, played out as an hallucinogenic opera (plaudits to cinematographer Tobie Marier Robitaille) steeped in a childlike sense of wonder.


Narratively, that fable-like element links Night of the Kings back to the folkloric tales of One Thousand and One Nights, with the prison’s storyteller as a modern-day Schéhérezade, required to spin yarns for his life. While Lacôte reports that the Roman ritual was not a fiction but a fact of life at La Maca, the atmosphere he conjures is one of creation and invention. This portrayal of imprisonment may be authentically down to earth (Blackbeard’s rival Lass wants inmates to be managed “more rationally”, not as enslaved people but “customers”), but Night of the Kings proves most captivating in evoking the transformative power of the imagination."


My Opinion: Night of the Kings is like being in a hallucatory state for a an hour and a half run time. You are dropped into the prison world of La Maca, only really learning hints of the prisoners arcane traditions as the protagonist Roman is. Soon in the film, our protagonist is assigned as the Roman charged with telling stories during the Red Moon until the night ends, but he soon finds that when his story ends his life will end also. Watching the oral storytelling take place, with the crowd of prisoners interacting to what Roman tells them (and his attempts to linger on as long as possible) is rather incredible. The surrounding movie to the central setpiece and the stories being told aren't quite as invigorating as watching the storytelling take place, which is the main reason this is not higher.



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"The truth does not matter, there is only the power of men."


Synopsis: "Based on the true story of France's last trial by combat in the Middle Ages. Knight Jean de Carrouges challenges his former friend Jacques Le Gris to a duel after Jean's wife Marguerite accuses Le Gris of rape. Told in multiple "Rashomon-style" points of view."


BOT Review: "I shall not stand quiet while ridiculous nonsense like this is being said about Benny. His performance deserves 50 Oscars and 50 Razzies and whatever else there is to give him. It destroyed me in ways I can't explain. The accent, the hair, the blondness, asking about what shoe color was better between gold and silver, DEMANDING Driver to take off his pants. My face during all his screen time must have been incredible because I couldn't believe any of it." - @CJohn


Critic Excerpt: "These self-perceptions of the truth – “your truth” as it were – unfolds through The Last Duel’s structure, which begins with de Carrouges’ version of events, of how he sees himself and his relationship to the events. Everyone truly is the hero of their own stories. 


But it’s also a very heavy-handed film that almost shouts its feminist sympathies. You end up admiring The Last Duel more for its formalist and structural building blocks – and you can see the seams of how it’s put together – than for any emotional impact. It’s Comer who saves it from being a cold, intellectual exercise in storytelling. The subtle modulations in her performance within each segment is more effective than the film’s violent ending. If there’s any reason to see The Last Duel, it’s for Comer." - Wenlei Ma, Australian News


My Opinion: The Last Duel is one of Ridley Scott's finer efforts in the last decade, although maybe that is not saying too much. The film uses its medieval setting to draw parallels to modern society's treatment of women when they tell their stories. It even narratively frames the structure of the film into segments where the abuser's view of themself and the situation at hand is (at first) put up as an equally valid perspective to the one being abused. In effect, the film becomes something of an anti-Rashomon, where the truth is unclear but it is dismissed by the men who hold the power in medieval society. The film could have gotten much closer to some master level craft, but Damon is dry, parts are unnecessarily graphic (imo) when that time could have been used to provide more development to each character and their varying perspectives.



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Best Stunt Ensemble and Choreography


1st: Dune




2nd: West Side Story



3rd: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings



4th: The Last Duel



5th: In the Heights



6th: The Harder They Fall


Best Visual Effects


1st: Dune



2nd: Godzilla vs Kong



3rd: Eternals



4th: The Green Knight



5th: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings



6th: The Matrix: Resurrections


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"As long as homophobia exists in this world, some version of Exodus will emerge."


Synopsis: "In the 1970s, five men struggling with being gay in their Evangelical church started a bible study to help each other leave the “homosexual lifestyle.” They quickly received over 25,000 letters from people asking for help and formalized as Exodus International, the largest and most controversial conversion therapy organization in the world. But leaders struggled with a secret: their own “same-sex attractions” never went away. After years as Christian superstars in the religious right, many of these men and women have come out as LGBTQ, disavowing the very movement they helped start. Focusing on the dramatic journeys of former conversion therapy leaders, current members, and a survivor, PRAY AWAY chronicles the “ex gay” movement’s rise to power, persistent influence, and the profound harm it causes."


Letterboxd Review: "

"are you straight now?"

*in gay voice*: "i am"" - saturn, 3 stars


Critic Excerpt: "At once a searing exposé and a soul-bearing confessional, participants reflect on their experiences with unflinching honesty. Julie Rodgers, a survivor who was indoctrinated at 16 and subjected to years of insidious ‘therapy’, is the film’s most compelling speaker. Her damning memories of her life at that time are intercut with footage of wedding preparations with her soon-to-be wife. Such a contrast is present elsewhere, editor Carla Gutierrez skilfully cutting between talking heads to a wealth of archive TV interviews.


Hewing to a conventional form and structure, Pray Away allows the audience to focus fully on the evocative personal testimony Stolakis assembles. It is testament to the director’s approach that the film’s non-judgemental perspective manages to even stretch to Jeffrey McCall, a self-described “formerly transgender” person who started a group devoted to ‘save’ people from their LGBTQ+ lives. Stolakis’ lingering, eerily isolated shot of him smiling as the film draws to a close is more powerful than an outright comment." - Emily Maskell, Little White Lies


My Opinion: Pray Away is a powerfully composed documentary that perhaps doesn't go as far as it needs to in order to fully expose the trauma that conversion therapy instills in its victims. The documentary is at its most powerful when you're simply watching eery footage of "anti-gay" conferences, meetings, and worship take place. The camera does a great job of simply showing you the repressed hurt behind the everything's fine now messaging that the former and current "anti-gay" leaders through faces that seethe of a person hiding what's inside of them. 




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"No one can keep the reins on Kong."


Synopsis: "In a time when monsters walk the Earth, humanity’s fight for its future sets Godzilla and Kong on a collision course that will see the two most powerful forces of nature on the planet collide in a spectacular battle for the ages."


BOT Review: "Enjoyed this a lot. the last half hour was godlike. I'm team Kong but I'm still happy with the way that this played out. You follow him through 90% of the film because the filmmakers know he's more inherently interesting to watch than boring Godzilla, you give Godzilla the W in their match up because you know his fans are the type of nerds who care about power levels and shit but you still give the big hero moment to Kong at the end. Satisfactory. " - @CoolioD1


My Opinion This movie is very dumb but I love it. That is all. Some of the coolest shit is on screen.



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Best Video Game


Before Your Eyes




I balled my eyes out once I finished this one. It's short and so good. Pretty much the length of a movie. Absolutely entrancing and thoroughly creative gameplay. Overlooked and worth a play.


Honorable Mentions: Pokemon Brilliant Diamong and Shining Pearl, Humankind, Forza Horizons 5


Best Album


1st: In These Silent Days, Brandi Carlile



2nd: A Beginner's Mind, Sufjan Stevens and Angelo de Augustine




3rd: Red (Taylor's Version), Taylor Swift




4th: Sour, Olivia Rodrigo



5th: Carnage, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis



6th: Late Bloomer, Semler



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"The market's tough. I'm sure you can understand why our beloved parent company, Warner Brothers, has decided to make a sequel to the trilogy."


Synopsis: Return to a world of two realities: one, everyday life; the other, what lies behind it. To find out if his reality is a construct, to truly know himself, Mr. Anderson will have to choose to follow the white rabbit once more.


BOT Review: 


rcXZMkL.png - @Alpha


Critic Excerpt: "Those foggy on the details of the trilogy’s plot will benefit from the exposition-heavy first act. Plagued by memories of his past, Anderson – also known as Neo – must once again choose whether to take the red pill offered by hacker Bugs (Jessica Henwick, whip-smart), and wake up, or continue to swallow his current reality. Carrie-Anne Moss’s Tiffany, a motorcycle mechanic and mother of two whom Neo remembers as Trinity, has a choice to make too. The romance between them has always been the molten core of the Matrix films; their power as a duo is what drives the story forward.


The actors’ chemistry remains flammable. “I’ve had dreams that weren’t just dreams,” he tells her. “You mean dreams that come true?” she replies. The film is a utopian riff on the apocalyptic source material, a Technicolor reimagining flooded with light and optimism. From the sun-dappled cinematography to the primary colours worn by Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), this world feels liberated from the oppressive green of computer code associated with the original." - Simran Hans, The Observer


My Opinion: Lana Wachowski comes back to where it all started... Back to the Matrix! The Matrix: Resurrections is packed full of meta ideas, deconstructing and reflecting on her prior work, seeing what made it strike a chord with the public, what it had to say at the time, and what it might still have to say now. There's also plenty of rage against the current corporate culture which would never have greenlighted her original Matrix today. The film is packed full of ideas, as Lana throws everything she has at the wall, in which much more sticks than doesn't. A solid coda to the franchise that wipes out the distaste of Revolutions.



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"Through this music, we are shown the path to the Divine."


Synopsis: "Self-doubt, sacrifice and struggle converge into an existential crisis for a devoted classical vocalist as the mastery he strives for remains elusive."


Letterboxd Review: "This gave me a strong epiphany as an aspiring filmmaker that I'm also being controlled by my circumstances and I'm also not the protagonist of my journey, in fact I'm a mere pawn. Like Sharad I'm also delusioned about the fact that weather my capabilities lie where my passion is. And sometimes I fear so much that the answer is not what I'm going to like that I stop questioning at all. I suppose all of us face this dillema, but what about them who knows the answer and the answer is not what they expect. How to make peace with it? How to live with the tag that you're not good enough? Capable enough?


My biggest takeaway from 'The Disciple' is that one can still accept failing to live up to someone else's expectations but once you failed to your own everything becomes redundant for you including your own existence." - Rahul Ranjan, 3 1/2 Stars


Critic Excerpt: "Somewhere in the middle of Chaitanya Tamhane’s The Disciple, set in the world of North Indian classical music, the artiste squares up to the question of the audience. Should she/he bow before the demands of the audience? Should the listeners have the liberty to choose the raga they want the musician to sing/play for them? The answer comes in the form of a counter-question, a rhetorical one at that: “There are 200 people in the room. And 200 people have 200 minds. How many people will you try to please?”


It is a truth that applies across all forms of art—filmmaking, writing, theatre, painting, photography. How much does the art need to cater to its patrons? Conversely, how honest does the artiste need to be to her/his art, talent, inner yearning and truth? And, to take it even further, as individuals, do we need to live according to our own values or co-opt and compromise to please those around us? Tamhane’s deep dive into the world of music is, in turn, a profound take on life itself—about our ideals and dilemmas, the decisions we make for ourselves and what we earn and lose in the process of exercising our choices." - Namrata Joshi, India National Herald


My Opinion: The Disciple follows the career trajectory of an aspiring Indian Classical singer, documenting the tiring dedication a struggling artist puts into his craft, most often to disappointing results. Throughout the movie, Sharad thinks of his father and how he wishes to ascend to greater heights by becoming a beloved artist rather than just one beloving the art of others, which makes the final section of the movie particularly poetic. It's at times a bit too repetitive, but in a way that's exactly how the pursuit of craft works. A challenging piece of art that can stir you if you let it do its work.



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Best Production Design


1st: Dune



2nd: The Green Knight



3rd: West Side Story



4th: Passing



5th: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings



6th: The Last Duel



Costume Design


1st: West Side Story



2nd: The Green Knight



3rd: Dune



4th: Passing



5th: In the Heights



6th: The Last Duel


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"Courage runs deep."


Synopsis: "A chronicle of the enthralling, against-all-odds story that transfixed the world in 2018: the daring rescue of twelve boys and their coach from deep inside a flooded cave in Northern Thailand."


BOT Review: "There's already two different dramatizations of the Tham Luang rescue in the works and I'm sure there will be dozens more in the future. Yet I feel none of these will come close to the raw energy found in this Nat Geo documentary. Just seeing the actual events as they occurred and the testimonies from the divers and SEALs who lived through this goes a long way in showcasing the determination and insistence on doing the right thing that Hollywood actors could not achieve.


The film, directed by the duo behind Free Solo, plays out like a thriller, with potent tension that puts viewers on edge through so many key moments. It's impressive for sure, as this is an event that everybody is aware of and follow, and helps give the film emotional resonance and an inspirational spirit. Really, really liked this." - @Eric


Critic Excerpt: "Even though the music gets very cheesy towards the end, it’s hard not to feel moved and so swept up that you haven’t time to wonder why none of the youngsters themselves are interviewed. Also, why is there no discussion of what was surely the juiciest, weirdest news of the rescue: the efforts from the entrepreneur Elon Musk to design a mini submarine that didn’t get used in the end because they were all running out of time, but somehow led to Musk calling one of the main people involved in the rescue, the British cave cartographer Vernon Unsworth, a “pedo guy”. Unsworth tried to sue Musk for defamation but lost. Hopefully, Unsworth and Musk will be duly noted in the forthcoming dramatic feature version of the story." - Cath Clarke, The Guardian


My Opinion: The Rescue is a documentary that maintains high tension, even though you likely already know the outcome and main rescue mechanisms and heroes that will eventually come to work from following the story in the news. Every part of the rescue mission is provided with such intricate detail, rather than wikipedia bullet points from news headlines, that you start seeing all sorts of things that could go catastrophically wrong and how much logistical thought was put into the mission the entire stretch of the way. It's a real nail biter watching all of the events unfold.



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"You look like Gwyneth Paltrow on food stamps--and not in a good way."


Synopsis: A college student attends a family shiva where she is accosted by her relatives, outshined by her ex-girlfriend, and face-to-face with her sugar daddy and his family.


Letterboxd Review: "uncut gems for hot girls who think considering law school is a personality trait." - lauren, 5 stars


Critic Excerpt: "In the end, the shiva setting is more than just an occasion for compressed social networks and intergenerational friction. If the deceased woman herself barely makes a mark on proceedings, we are nevertheless reminded regularly that death is in the room: candles must be lit, Kaddish said, respect shown. Danielle may resist her parents’ intrusions and assumptions – and, implicitly, the traditional Jewish identity around which they coalesce – but when, at a crucial moment, she accidentally knocks a pile of Torahs to the floor, the sudden, shocked silence slices right through the pettiness of her adolescent crisis and opens up the heart of the matter.


As writer, Seligman studs her intricately constructed screenplay with hilarious absurdity and scalpel-sharp one-liners; as director, she frames the mayhem expertly, with one eye always on the bigger picture. The result is an exhilarating and compassionate film about love, death, loneliness – and the life-affirming importance of dessert." - Lisa Mullen, BFI


My Opinion: Poor Danielle trapped in a packed house with her sugar daddy's family, her successful ex-girlfriend she secretly wants to make out with, and her mom constantly berating her and bringing in others to deliver more punches. The film is absolute chaos, contained in a claustrophobic house, and manages to have complete anxietal tension surrounding a familial affair. Rachel Sennott is terrific in the leading role, constantly stumbling from one messy social situation to another, a train wreck you can't keep your eyes off of.



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Best Supporting Actress


1st: Ruth Negga, Passing



2nd: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story



3rd: Sepideh Moafi, The Killing of Two Lovers




4th: Olga Merediz, In the Heights



5th: Marlee Matlin, CODA



6th: Polly Draper, Shiva Baby





Best Supporting Actor


1st: Daniel Kaluuya, Judah and the Black Messiah



2nd: Alex Wolff, Pig



3rd: Troy Kotsur, CODA




4th: Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog




5th: Idris Elba, The Harder They Fall



6th: Tony Leung, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings



Edited by The Panda
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Synopsis: "David desperately tries to keep his family of six together during a separation from his wife. They both agree to see other people but David struggles to grapple with his wife’s new relationship."


BOT Review: "Due to public transportation issues, I missed the first few minutes of this film, which afterwards I discovered from other reviews would have vastly changed my perspective on certain characters within this. Still, I found it to be a worthwhile film and look forward to revisiting it at some point in its entirety." - @Blankments


Critic Excerpt: "“You know, I wish somebody would have told me that it’s never gonna stop. It’s never gonna be easy,” David confesses to his 15-year-old daughter Jess, after catching her trying to cut school. Jess, the oldest of the children, takes the divorce the hardest, and her resentment towards her father for leaving is what makes David want to fight harder for the marriage itself. Moments like this, though heart-wrenching, pull the focus away from the toxicity that lingers in a cloud around David; these shifts of his between internalising the conflict and allowing it seep over edge make the film feel less like a psychological thriller and more like a family tragedy that takes itself seriously. Additionally, this scene demonstrates the true heart of The Killing of Two Lovers: the richness of the performances. Each of the actors breathes life into their roles, making for an authentic family dynamic.


Through hinting towards some nebulous, violent masculinity – with an air-tight metallic sound design and the recurring images of guns and simulated violence – the film’s innovation lies in how Machoian prioritises the tangibility of a man’s festering mind over exposing the roots, so as to astutely deliver a hand-crafted narrative style that forcefully supports the trauma of such a high-stakes marriage falling apart." - Ariel Klinghoffer, Little White Lies


My Opinion: A film with a continual foreboding atmosphere, as you're slowly waiting for the trigger to be pulled and the marriage to come to its end. You grow to care about the stakes it all entails, from the mental health of the parents, the toxicity of Crawford's character, and the wellbeing of their children. It quietly portrays a more realistic portrayal of the domestic breakdown of families, unlike a more mainstream oscar contender from a few years back (Marriage Story). Well worth a watch, but be sure you catch the first few minutes of the film, turns out it's pretty important.



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"Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed"


Synopsis: "The story of Fred Hampton, deputy chairman of the national Black Panther Party, who was assassinated in 1969 by a Cook County tactical unit on the orders of the FBI and Chicago Police Department."


BOT Review: "With an approach that contextualizes an oft-ignored piece of history in vivid, visceral fashion, Judas and the Black Messiah is an electrifying viewing experience that works at once as a tense thriller, an exceptionally compelling biopic, and a stirring period piece whose attention to contemporary parallels deepens its power. Under Shaka King’s sharp, focused direction, the two major thematic strands work beautifully with one another. As a biopic covering the short life and large legacy of Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton, it’s an exceptionally engaging and moving dramatization of history that feels immediate and relevant despite being set several decades in the past. And as a crime thriller when it deals with Bill O’Neal, the conflicted FBI informant and Judas of the title, it’s a tense, white-knuckle affair even if the viewer goes in already knowing the outcome the film builds toward, and also a stirring and haunting examination of how O’Neal struggles to square his own need for survival with the knowledge that he is helping to sabotage the work of a man he comes to believe in." - @Webslinger


Critic Excerpt: "This is a beautifully executed account of man’s descent into a vicious circle of betrayal and deceit. Elevated by a stunning performance courtesy of Kaluuya — who is yet to put a foot wrong since his starring role in the excellent post-race horror comedy Get Out — the film takes us right into the heart of the historical events that shaped America’s current political landscape. Director King and writer Will Berson have given us a touching and honest film which asks some pertinent and urgent ethical questions surrounding the use of government informants. Engaging and handsomely acted throughout." - Linda Marric, The Jewish Chronicle


My Opinion: Judas and the Black Messiah brings a renewed sense of energy and tension to what would be a standard biopic genre. It challenges its viewers to take a critical reconstructed view at a man and party which was often subjected in the media and schools as being controversial at best. The drama of betrayal and the light casted onto the racially motivated and subversive actions of the FBI in their work to undermine the Black Panther party. It all plays out like a modern Shakespearian tragedy, as you sit in harrowing anticipation of the traitor to deliver his blow.


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Best Original Song


1st: Welcome to the Internet, by Bo Burnham (Bo Burnham's Inside)



2nd: That Funny Feeling, by Bo Burnham (Bo Burnham's Inside)



3rd: Guns Go Bang, by Kid Cudi and Jay-Z (The Harder They Fall)



4th: Beyond the Shore, by Emilia Jones (CODA)



5th: Second Nature, by Bon Iver (Don't Look Up)



6th: Rewa Nainon Mein Rahe, by Gitanjali Rao (Bombay Rose)




Best Sound Design


1st: Dune



2nd: The Harder They Fall



3rd: A Quiet Place Part II



4th: In the Heights



5th: West Side Story



6th: Tick, tick... BOOM!


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"For what kind of man would I be if I did not help my mother? If I did not save her?"


Synopsis: "Charismatic rancher Phil Burbank inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love."


BOT Review: "A very well-made film from Jane Campion that takes an unusual, and effective, approach to the Western (one that will no doubt test the patience of those who expect the more pulse-pounding material typically found within the genre). The chilly Phil is the kind of character that's within Benedict Cumberbatch's wheelhouse: while he's definitely a very good actor, I often find him to be a bit too cold of a presence, and that can make even characters like Doctor Strange to be a bit off-putting at times. That clinical aura fits perfectly here for a performance that hits all the right notes without ever overplaying or underplaying the part, and results in what's easily his best work to date IMO." - @filmlover


Critic Excerpt: "When you think "rugged American cowboy," the image that pops to mind probably isn't of Benedict Cumberbatch. Though the English actor has played a wide array of roles — from Doctor Strange to Alan Turing and Sherlock Holmes — there's frequently a common thread of posh intellectualism therein. When Cumberbatch strides into Jane Campion's new Western, The Power of the Dog, wearing buffalo-skin chaps and a battered cowboy hat, it's jarring. His stern expression and snarling American West accent can't hide those aristocratic cheekbones or the intelligent glimmer in his eye. Yet as this fascinating film unfolds, it becomes clear why Cumberbatch's casting was a stroke of brilliance from Campion. 


The acclaimed writer/director adapts The Power of the Dog from Thomas Savage's 1967 novel. Cumberbatch stars as Phil Burbank, a surly rancher who shares a house, business, and life with his timid brother George (Jesse Plemons), who he has nicknamed "Fatso." As you might guess, Phil is casual in his cruelty, which is plainly displayed when a cattle drive through 1925 Montana brings the brothers into the inn of fragile "suicide widow" Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst). There, the snarking cowpoke is quick to mock her son Peter (Kodi Smith-McPhee) for perceived softness, spitting slurs and harshly mimicking of the boy's lisp. With a simple insert shot, Campion's use of visual language poetically exhibits the threat Phil poses to this civilized setting. The petals of a delicate paper flower, which Peter has made for decoration, are invaded by Phil's rough, filthy fingers. It's one of many examples of a collision of decorum and dominance, femininity and masculinity, peace and war. It's a conflict unfurling slowly but unstoppably." - Kristy Puchko, Mashable


My Opinion: The Power of the Dog is a film that I've enjoyed quite a bit after watching the film, despite not really enjoying it when I was actually seeing it for the first time. Part of that is it takes until the very end of the film for everything that you have seen to click and make sense in retrospect, which in part is its magic. The film plays a magic trick on you, subverting the masculine American cowboy who is perceived to hold the power and flipping that notion on its head. An impeccably crafted film that will reward you if you give it the chance.



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"The river Rewa dwells in my eyes."


Synopsis: "Amidst the bustle of a magnetic and multifaceted city, the budding love between two dreamers is tested by duty and religious divides."


Letterboxd Review: "envisioned and tendered with great skill and artistry Bombay Rose is something really really special, such gorgeous and beautiful animation, a frame by frame painting *literally*" - pritish, 4 stars


Critic Excerpt: "At the beginning of Bombay Rose, you might ask: why animation? This bittersweet love story set on the streets of Mumbai could have been live action. But by the end, you will understand that animation was the only way for writer-director Geetanjali Rao, here making her feature film debut, to express the poetry, longing, lyricism and aching nostalgia of her vision. Human beings would have sullied the flight of her rich imagination, the silken movement of the camera and some of the exquisite transitions would have been impossible.


Instead, she has used 2-D animation, colouring each frame by hand. The result is a film experience that feels like a walk through an art gallery. We often say for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s films that his frames are like paintings. But here, it’s literal. Some of the visuals are so delicately wrought that they resemble Mughal miniatures – especially sequences in which Kamala imagines herself as a princess in ancient times. Which transported me back to my childhood, when I was struck by the beauty of Rani Padmavati in a finely illustrated Amar Chitra Katha comic." - Anupama Chopra, Film Companion


My Opinion: Bombay Rose is a minimalistically painted animation that is stirring as you watch the traditional tragedy play itself out. By giving the feeling of a fluid water paint, only sketched out, it allows you to see the fleeting nature of life and love for the characters in the film. I found this movie to be pretty criminally underrated, especially given the experimental nature of the animation style that I found to be a roaring success. Most people on this forum likely haven't seen this so I definitely recommend checking it out, it's on Netflix.



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Best Original Score


1st: Dune, Hanz Zimmer



2nd: Luca, Dan Romer



3rd: The Green Knight, Daniel Hart



4th: Pig, Alexis Grapsas and Philip Klein



5th: The Power of the Dog, Johnny Greenwood



6th: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Joel P West



Best Soundtrack


1st: Bo Burnham's Inside



2nd: The Harder They Fall



3rd: CODA



4th: Summer of Soul



5th: The Disciple



6th: The Matrix Resurrections


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