New York film critics name 'Drive My Car' best film of 2021

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The Associated PressThis image released by Janus Films and Sideshow shows Hidetoshi Nishijima, left, and Toko Miura in a scene from “Drive My Car.” (Janus Films and Sideshow via AP)

NEW YORK — The New York Film Critics Circle on Friday named “Drive My Car,” Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s intimate three-hour epic and Haruki Murakami’s short story adaptation, the best film of the year.

Hamaguchi’s film, about a widowed actor played by Hidetoshi Nishijima, has been widely hailed since its debut earlier in the year at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won for best screenplay. “Drive My Car,” which recently opened in limited theatrical release, is Japan’s submission to the Academy Awards. It’s only the second time in the last four decades that the critics’ top honor went to a non English-language film. (The other was Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” three years ago.)

Jane Campion’s Montana gothic drama “The Power of the Dog” led all films with three awards. Campion took best director, Benedict Cumberbatch won best actor and best supporting actor went to Kodi Smit-McPhee.

The New York critics, as it typically does, otherwise spread its honors around. Best actress went to Lady Gaga for her performance as Patrizia Reggiani in Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci.” Kathryn Hunter won for her ghostly witch in Joel Coen’s upcoming Shakespeare adaptation “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” Paul Thomas Anderson took best screenplay for his coming-of-age comedy “Licorice Pizza.”

Michael Rianda’s robot apocalypse-family road trip comedy “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” won best animated film. Best cinematography went to Janusz Kamisnki for Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” revival. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Elena Ferrante adaptation “The Lost Daughter” took best first film. Best documentary went to Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s animated refugee tale “Flee.” And Joachim Trier’s “The Worst Person in the World,” a chronicle of youth and love in Oslo, Norway, won for best foreign language film.

The group also announced several special awards: Maya Cade, for creating the Black Film Archive, a catalogue of Black films from 1915 to 1979 that are available online; the late Diane Weyermann, a film executive who helped produce social-issue documentaries like “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Citizenfour”; and Marshall Fine, the film critic and general manager of the NYFCC.

The New York Film Critics Circle, founded in 1935, will hand out its 89th awards during a ceremony on Jan. 10. Last year, the group picked Kelly Reichardt’s “First Cow” as its best film. The year before that, it selected Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman.”

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