Mesa Legend film critic Jordan Jones hands out the 2021 fall semester Critic Awards. (Illustration by Casper Savoie)

“House of Gucci,” “Dune” and “Dear Evan Hansen” — it’s the Mesa Legend Critic Awards

With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and the opening of movie theaters came a lot of greatly anticipated film releases this fall of 2021. Films like “No Time Left to Die” and “Dune” finally hit the big screens. That means it’s time to look back on past film reviews of the semester, and give awards out to the best… and the worst. 

Worst Actor: Hugh Jackman in “Reminiscence”

Although Hugh Jackman is usually a very talented actor, his performance in the film “Reminiscence”, about a private investigator who offers a service that lets people relive their memories, is average at best. 

It is probably because the character, like the rest in the movie, is one-note and not complex enough to be interesting or even likable. For that reason, Jackman couldn’t play up the character enough for the audience to root for him, despite being the main character. 

Worst Actress: Annabelle Wallis in “Malignant”

Annabelle Wallis was in two films I reviewed this semester, “Malignant” and “Silent Night,” but it’s her lead performance as Madison in “Malignant” that earns her the award for worst actress. In the film, Madison is framed for murder by a mysterious person from her past.

As a final girl in a horror movie, you have got to be likable, and she just wasn’t. By the end of the film, I really didn’t care if Madison ended up dead or alive. Wallis played her as this sniffly clueless girl who doesn’t know how to stand up for herself. Wallis couldn’t be the strong female final girl this James Wan film needed.

Worst Movie: “Dear Evan Hansen”

Originally the film “Red Notice” was going to earn the award for worst film of the fall semester, but I forgot about that horrible broadway film adaptation of “Dear Evan Hansen” I reviewed. You know, the unbearably long film where basically a 30-year-old plays a 16-year-old, but it’s very obvious he is 30.  

The plot, although translated well on stage, is quite depressing, and the movie fails to feel authentic to the message. The popular songs from the stage adaptation can’t save the film from being a total miss. 

Best Actor: Jared Leto in “House of Gucci”

This might be the biggest surprise, as Leto’s Paulo Gucci’s presence in “House of Gucci” is short, but man is it memorable. He stole every scene he was in as the idiotically goofy cousin to Adam Driver’s Maurizio Gucci. 

Barely recognizable under the heavy makeup and prosthetics, Leto embodied the role and elevated it. Capturing the affluence and campy fashion of the 1980s, Leto became Paolo and stole the show, even outshining the spectacular Lady Gaga.  

Best Actress: Jessica Chastain in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”

Jessica Chastain embodied the role of Tammy Faye, the wife of notorious televangelist Jim Bakker, in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” She brought humility and a sense of compassion towards the character that many judged unfairly due to the fraud committed by her husband. 

The transformation of face prosthetics, wigs and gaudy makeup only further enhanced Chastain’s performance, masking her own self and bringing forth the real-life character of Tammy Faye.   

Best Director: Edgar Wright in “Last Night in Soho”

Edgar Wright’s neon thriller “Last Night in Soho” was electric and captivating. Wright was able to time travel to the vibrant streets of London in the ‘60s. Classic British music of the time, colorful costumes and dizzying nightclub atmospheres all sell the ambiance and aesthetic of the film.

Wright’s casting of both Anya Taylor Joy and the late, great Diana Riggs brings talent and brilliance to the characters alone. All the things that make Edgar Wright an exciting director were deployed to make an enthralling film-noir and horror genre blend that’s hard to look away from.

Best Movie: “Dune”

“Dune” was absolutely one of the best movies of the fall semester. The highly anticipated release of Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of the novel of the same name did not disappoint with its magnificent visuals, booming sound and all-star cast.

The film did a fantastic job of setting up the universe of “Dune.” With highlight performances from Timothée Chalamat and Rebecca Ferguson as Paul and Lady Jessica, watching “Dune” was like stepping through a portal to a completely different universe. With this only being part one, it is exciting to see what’s in store for the characters, and us audience members, when part two comes out.

Welcome to the Mesa Legend! Subscribe to know more about what goes on at Mesa Community College!