The 2021 Kaedrin Movie Award Winners were announced last week, so its time to get arbitrary. The idea is to recognize aspects of films that aren’t reflected in more traditional awards or other praise like a Top 10 list. However, any awards system will fail to capture all the nuances and complexity available; hence the Arbitrary Awards, an opportunity to commend movies that are weird or flawed in ways that don’t conform to normal standards. A few of these “awards” have become an annual tradition, but most are just, well, arbitrary. These are always fun, but in a year as weird as 2021, they are also necessary. Previous Arbitrary Awards: [2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006]
The “You know what happens when a toad gets struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else” Award for Worst Dialogue: Halloween Kills. From the chants of “Evil dies tonight!” to people opining about the true curse of Michael Myers being fear or “the anchor that divides us” (that’s not what anchors do!) or just absolutely excusing an angry mob murdering some random guy, claiming that the fear of Michael Myers made them do it… this just has the most memorably bad dialogue of the year.
The Proximity to Jason Vorhees Award for Heroic Stupidity: Halloween Kills. Might as well rename the award to be Michael Myers instead of Jason. The people in this movie are so damn stupid that I was basically rooting for Michael by the end. When he finally turns the tables on the mob, it was actually kinda, sorta satisfying. But it’s not supposed to be? Like, are we supposed to care about the main characters in this movie?
The “Weiner” Award for Unparalleled Access to Documentary Subjects: The Beatles: Get Back. Copious amounts of lovingly restored behind the scenes footage of The Beatles as they rehearse and refine an album, they captured a lot, including George Harrison quitting the band temporarily, some hidden microphone candid stuff, the rooftop concert, and boatloads of jamming on songs they’re trying to figure out. I don’t know that it needed to be 8 hours long, but they captured some amazing moments. Runner up is Val, which has some great behind the scenes footage from movies like Top Gun and the notorious The Island of Dr Moreau, amongst lots of other moments from Val Kilmer’s career.
The Garth Marenghi “I know writers who use subtext, and they’re all cowards” Award for Achievement in Didacticism: Don’t Look Up. This movie is many things, but subtle is not one of them.
Best Running Gag: Don’t Look Up. Early in the movie a three star general charges the scientists for snacks while waiting to warn the president of an impending disaster. It turns out the snacks are actually free, which blows Jennifer Lawrence’s mind and she keeps bring it up throughout the movie. It’s just a perfectly deployed joke that somehow doesn’t wear out its welcome.
Best Video Game Adaptation: Werewolves Within. Based on an early VR game (that leverages the mechanics of Werewolf/Mafia style games), this movie retains only the “one of us is a werewolf” premise, which is a pretty solid conceit to anchor a movie on… The movie probably qualifies for the Garth Marenghi award above, as they really stress the obvious political metaphor with some cringingly dated ideas, but the movie overcomes that thanks to the delightful duo of Sam Richardson and Milana Vayntrub, who are both very funny and have great chemistry together.
Achievement in the Field of Gratuitous Violence: The Suicide Squad. It’s easy to forget because there’s comedy and even a little heart buried in this rated R gorefest.
Best Badass/Hero (non-Human Edition): Godzilla from Godzilla vs. Kong. I guess it could also go to Kong, but I kinda like the way Godzilla handles himself in these recent Hollywoodified movies. Also of note: King Shark from The Suicide Squad (he’s great, but the part is maybe a tiny bit too small).
Best Badass/Villain (non-Human Edition): Starro the Conqueror from The Suicide Squad. It’s such a ridiculous, tonally weird concept that they somehow managed to pull off perfectly.
Best Motion Captured Performance: Caleb Landry Jones in Finch. In the movie, we see a robot quickly grow and learn, and this is all demonstrated through Jones’ excellent motion capture performance (and I’m assuming he did the voice work too, which also gradually morphs throughout the film as he matures).
Best Duel: The Last Duel. Duh. I mean, yeah, it’s in the title, but the actual depiction of the eponymous duel is some of the best filmmaking of the year. It captures the absolute brutality of the fight, made all the more effective because the underlying conflict is so aptly established before the fight.
Best Meltdown: The Beta Test. Writer/director/actor Jim Cummings knows how to meltdown onscreen. He’s done so in all his movies, and while The Beta Test isn’t as good as The Wolf of Snow Hollow overall, the meltdown scene is better and more intense and cutting here. (This movie is another strong candidate for the Garth Marenghi award, but it still works pretty well.)
Should Host the Oscars: Gabriel from Malignant. I’m not sure I thought this one through.
Best Bond Girl: Ana de Armas in No Time to Die. I liked the movie overall, but the best parts were when Ana de Armas showed up as a superficially inexperienced agent who ends up kicking all sorts of ass when the shit hits the fan. Spoilers, I guess, but it’s great. I’d watch a spinoff with her character…
Stay tuned, moar 2021 movie commentary incoming, including the traditional Top 10 list and, probably, some Oscars commentary…