Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Power of the Dog Takes a Big Bite Out of the Houston Film Critics Awards

This just in: The Power of the Dog, Jane Campion’s sweeping study of family dynamics set against a background of the American West, has swept the top honors given this year by the Houston Film Critics Society. (Full disclosure: I am a founding — and voting — member of this group.) 

In addition naming Dog the Best Picture of 2021, HFCS has honored Campion for Best Director and Screenplay; Benedict Cumberbatch as Best Actor; and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Best Supporting Actor.

But wait, there’s more: In the Original Score category, Jonny Greenwood’s score for Campion’s drama tied with Hans Zimmer’s score for Dune.

“As a year of uncertainty in movies concludes,” HFCS president Doug Harris said while announcing winners of the organization’s 15th annual awards, “one sure thing is how quality and creativity create screen magic at any time. No matter how we savor film, creative movies that portray people confronting challenge and change will continue to find an audience that appreciates them.”

Among the other winners: Jessica Chastain was voted Best Actress for recreating Tammy Faye Baker in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, while Ann Dowd was rewarded with the Best Supporting Actress prize for her heart-wrenching portrayal of a grieving mother in Mass. That film also received the first HFCS award for Best Ensemble Cast.

The winner of the Texas Independent Film Award – for the best film made in Texas – is Sean Baker’s Red Rocket, which was filmed in and around Texas City, Kemah, and Galveston. The HFC’s Cinematic Achievement Award, given to the person, enterprise, or Texas-based operation that the group feels has contributed the most to film culture in Texas, goes to Well Go USA. Releases in 2021 by this Plano-based company included Escape from Mogadishu and Raging Fire

 “Each year,” Harris said, “the Society presents our awards after thoroughly reviewing the year’s films. We select our nominees in December before casting final votes early in the new year. As professional journalists who believe in the power of film, we are thrilled with the range and substance of this year’s winners.”

Here is a full list of winners for the 15th annual Houston Film Critics Society Awards. 

Picture: The Power of the Dog. 

Director: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog. 

Actor: Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog. 

Actress: Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye. 

Supporting Actor: Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog.

Supporting Actress: Ann Dowd, Mass. 

Screenplay: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog.

Cinematography: Greig Fraser, Dune.

Animated Feature: The Mitchells vs. the Machines.

Original Score: (tie) Hans Zimmer, Dune; Jonny Greenwood, The Power of the Dog. 

Original Song: “Wherever I Fall – Part I,” Cyrano: music by Bryce Dessner and Asron Dessner; lyrics by Matt Berninger and Carin Besser .

Foreign Language Film: Drive My Car. 

Documentary Feature: Summer of Soul. 

Texas Independent Film Award: Red Rocket. 

Visual Effects: Dune: Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor, and Gerd Nefzer. 

Stunt Coordination Team: No Time to Die.

Ensemble Cast: Mass: Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, and Martha Plimpton; Breeda Wool, Michelle N. Carter, Campbell Spoor, Kagen Albright, Michael White.

 Cinematic Achievement Award: Well Go USA.

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