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Cooper Hoffman and Alana Haim in "Licorice Pizza." MGM

Film notes: Atlanta Film Critics Circle pick top ’21 films; “Georgia Sky” premieres

The pandemic has been a challenge for almost every corner of Atlanta’s arts scene for a second year, but the Atlanta Film Critics Circle (AFCC) painted a different picture for the movies of 2021.

AFCC Advisory Board member Kyle Pinion views the year in film as evidence of the industry bouncing back in terms of creativity. “As it turns out, 2021 gave way to one of the best years of film I can remember, with best-of-career work from numerous filmmakers,” Pinion said in a statement. “The movies are most definitely back.”

Renate Reinsve in “The Worst Person in the World.” (Courtesy of mk2 films)

The 28 AFCC voting members (including ArtsATL‘s Steve Murray and Jim Farmer) celebrated established auteurs such as Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog) and Steven Spielberg (West Side Story ), but also honored notable first-time filmmakers including Rebecca Hall (Passing), Lin-Manuel Miranda (tick, tick . . . BOOM!), Fran Kranz (Mass) and Mike Rianda (The Mitchells vs. the Machines)

Critic and advisory board member Will Leitch noted that the cultural upheaval of the last half-decade has led to doors opening for diverse emerging cinematic voices. The critics also suggested that 2021 was an exceptionally rich one for films featuring complex, nuanced female characters, including Diana Spencer in Pablo Larrain’s Spencer and Renate Reinsve in Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person in the World.

Anderson’s joyous and funny Licorice Pizza was the big winner in the eyes of the critics group founded in 2017, topping the members’ list of 10 Best Pictures and snagging several other honors. A coming-of-age drama set in the 1970s San Fernando Valley, the film features newcomers Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffmann (son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman).

“With the world experiencing sadness, rising tensions, division and even some hopelessness in the last two years,” AFCC critic Astrid Martinez said, “Licorice Pizza and its simple sweetness were much needed.”

The Power of the Dog, marking New Zealand director Campion’s return to filmmaking after a 12-year absence, came up big with AFCC members, as well. It landed in second place on the Best Picture list and won the Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Cinematography awards.

Here’s the complete list of AFCC honorees . . .

TOP 10 FILMS
1. Licorice Pizza                          
2. The Power of the Dog            
3. The Green Knight                   
4. Belfast                                    
5. tick, tick … BOOM!                 
6. Drive My Car                          
7. Titane                                     
8. West Side Story                     
9. Flee                                        
10. (tie) Dune and The Worst Person in the World

BEST LEAD ACTOR
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog   

BEST LEAD ACTRESS
(tie) Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza, and Kristen Stewart, Spencer    

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST
(tie) Licorice Pizza and Mass       

BEST DIRECTOR
Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

BEST SCREENPLAY
Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Flee  

BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE
Drive My Car (Japan)

BEST ANIMATED FILM
The Mitchells vs. the Machines  

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Ari Wegner, The Power of the Dog    

BEST SCORE
Hans Zimmer, Dune

BEST BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMER:
Agathe Rousselle, Titane  

BEST FIRST FEATURE FILM
Lin-Manuel Miranda , Tick, Tick . . . BOOM!

Atlanta-filmed movie set for gala premiere

Brian Jordan Jr.

Brian Jordan Jr., who plays Maurice Webb on Tyler Perry’s BET series Sistas, will premiere his new film, Georgia Sky, on Thursday at The Foundry at Puritan Mill.

Co-stars Brittany Inge and Tina Fears along with director Rhavynn Drummer also will walk the red carpet at the private event. Celebrity guests at the premiere are expected to include Kandi Burruss, Saycon Sengbloh and Crystal Renee Hayslett.

Shot in Atlanta, the film tells the story of three childhood friends who reunite in their hometown for a particular purpose only to realize that being home was the real point.

“They’re hoping to secure distribution ASAP” following the premiere, according to publicist Ryan Ratelle.

A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who attended Southeastern Louisiana University and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Jordan Jr. is not related to former Atlanta Brave and Atlanta Falcon Brian Jordan.

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