‘Passing’ and ‘The Power of the Dog’ have been honored as two of the best movies of the past year by the Women Film Critics Circle (WFCC), which has announced its complete list of 2021 award winners today. The critics group is celebrating the best movies by and about women, including outstanding achievements by women, who rarely get to be honored historically in the film world. The award-winning films also emphasize WFCC’s mission statement that women’s perspectives and voices in film criticism need to be recognized fully.

WFCC is an association of 75 women film critics and scholars from around America and world, who are involved in print, radio, online and TV broadcast media. The group was formed in 2004 as the first women critics organization in the United States, in the belief that women’s perspectives and voices in film criticism needs to be recognized fully. WFCC also prides itself on being the most culturally and racially diverse critics group in America, and best reflects the diversity of movie audiences.

The complete list of the 2021 winners and nominees honored by the WFCC is listed below:

Best Movie About Women:

Winner: ‘Passing’

Runner Up: ‘The Lost Daughter’

Additional nominees: ‘Being the Ricardos’ and ‘CODA’

Best Movie by a Woman:

Winner: Jane Campion – ‘The Power of the Dog’

Runner Up: Sian Heder – ‘CODA’

Additional nominees: Nora Fingscheidt – ‘The Unforgivable’ and Rebecca Hall – ‘Passing’

Best Woman Storyteller (Screenwriting Award)

Winner: Jane Champion – ‘The Power of the Dog’

Runner Up: Rebecca Hall – ‘Passing’

Additional nominees: Charlene Favier, Antoine Lacomblez and Marie Talon – ‘Slalom’ and Sian Heder – ‘CODA’

Best Actress

Winner: : Kristen Stewart – ‘Spencer’

Runner Up: Nicole Kidman – ‘Being the Ricardos’

Additional nominees: Sandra Bullock – The Unforgivable’ and Virginie Efira – ‘Benedetta’

Best Actor

Winner: Will Smith – ‘King Richard’

Runner Up: Benedict Cumberbatch – ‘The Power of the Dog’

Additional nominees: Andrew Garfield – ‘tick, tick… BOOM!’ and Nicolas Cage – Pig

Best Foreign Film By or About Women

Winner: ‘Titane’

Runner Up: ‘Drive My Car’

Additional nominees: ‘Benedetta’ and ‘I’m Your Man’

Best Documentary by or About Women

Winner: Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It

Runner Up: ‘Introducing, Selma Blair’

Additional nominees: ‘Gunda’ and ‘Lady Buds’

Best Equality of the Sexes

Winner: ‘King Richard’

Runner Up: (Tie): ‘Being the Ricardos’ and ‘The Harder They Fall’

Additional nominee: ‘Gunpowder Milkshake’

Best Animated Female

Winner: Mirabel – ‘Encanto’

Runner Up: Raya – ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’

Additional nominees: ‘Abuela Alma – Encanto’ and Gabi – ‘Vivo’

Best Screen Couple

Winner: Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson – ‘Passing’

Runner Up (Tie): Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur – ‘CODA’ and Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem – ‘Being the Ricardos’

Additional nominee: Anthony Ramos and Melissa Barrera – ‘In The Heights’

Adrienne Shelly Award – For a film that most passionately opposes violence against women

Shelly was a promising actress and filmmaker who was brutally strangled in her apartment in 2006 at the age of forty by a construction worker in the building, after she complained about noise. Her killer tried to cover up his crime by hanging her from a shower rack in her bathroom, to make it look like suicide. He later confessed that he was having a “bad day.” Shelly, who left behind a baby daughter, had just completed her film Waitress, which she also starred in, and which was honored at Sundance after her death.

Winner: ‘Last Night in Soho’

Runner Up: ‘Adrienne’

Josephine Baker Award – For best expressing the woman of color experience in America

The daughter of a laundress and a musician, Baker overcame being born black, female and poor, and marriage at age fifteen, to become an internationally acclaimed legendary performer, starring in the films Princess Tam Tam, Moulin Rouge and Zou Zou. She also survived the race riots in East St. Louis, Illinois as a child, and later expatriated to France to escape US racism. After participating heroically in the underground French Resistance during WWII, Baker returned to the US where she was a crusader for racial equality. Her activism led to attacks against her by reporter Walter Winchell who denounced her as a communist, leading her to wage a battle against him. Baker was instrumental in ending segregation in many theaters and clubs, where she refused to perform unless integration was implemented.

Winner: ‘Passing’

Runner Up: ‘Respect’

Additional nominees: ‘Bruised’ and ‘Test Pattern’

Karen Morley Award – For best exemplifying a woman’s place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity

Morley was a promising Hollywood star in the 1930s, in such films as Mata Hari and Our Daily Bread. She was driven out of Hollywood for her leftist political convictions by the Blacklist and for refusing to testify against other actors, while Robert Taylor and Sterling Hayden were informants against her. And also for daring to have a child and become a mother, unacceptable for female stars in those days. Morley maintained her militant political activism for the rest of her life, running for Lieutenant Governor on the American Labor Party ticket in 1954. She passed away in 2003, unrepentant to the end, at the age of 93.

Winner: ‘Passing’

Runner up: ‘Being the Ricardos’

Additional nominees: ‘Benedetta’ and ‘Spencer’

Acting and Activism Award

Dolly Parton

Lifetime Achievement Award

Betty White

Best Female Action Hero

Sandra Bullock, ‘The Unforgivable,’ and Sandra Oh, ‘The Chair’

Courage in Filmmaking

Julia Ducournau, ‘Titane,’ and Sian Heder, ‘CODA’

Courage in Acing -Taking on unconventional roles that radically redefine the images of women on screen

Halle Berry, ‘Bruised,’ and Sandra Bullock, ‘The Unforgivable’

Women’s Work – Best Ensemble Cast

Kathryn Hunter as The Three Witches, ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth,’ and ‘King Richard’

The Invisible Woman Award – Supporting performance by a woman whose exceptional impact on the film dramatically, socially or historically, has been ignored

Danielle Deadwyler as Cathay Williams, ‘The Harder They Fall,’ and Rae Dawn Chong, ‘The Sleeping Negro’

Women Saving Themselves Award

‘A Quiet Place Part II’ and ‘Holler’

Best Kept Secret – Overlooked Challenging Gems

‘Mama Weed,’ Director Jean-Paul Salomé, and ‘Small Time,’ Directress Niav Conty

Outstanding Series [Television or Streaming]

‘Lovecraft Country’ and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Mommie Dearest – Worst Screen Mom of the Year

Olivia Colman, ‘The Lost Daughter’

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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