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The Envy Awards: Our salute to those other notable film moments

A film strip winds around a bucket of popcorn to celebrate The Envelope's Envy Awards
The Envelope brings you The Envy Awards for those special film moments no one else noticed.
(Daniel Sulzberg/For The Times.)

From actors to production designers to screenwriters to directors, everyone seems to have a place at the Academy Awards. But that doesn’t mean all the greatest moments from this past year’s films are getting their moment in the sun. The Envelope is here to change that with the 2021 Envy Awards — prizes handed out to some of the most moving or incredible moments in film from this awards season, along with a couple of the real head-scratchers (in our humble opinions). But be warned, there are spoilers ahead. Now get out your popcorn, ‘cause it’s awards time!

Longest Intra-Movie Teaser

“The Trial of the Chicago 7"

“Chicago 7" is a riveting, sometimes absurdist film about how justice can be perverted, and a classic Aaron Sorkin-esque interweaving of dialogue and politics. We wish they’d shot a second movie simultaneously about Black Panther Bobby Seale’s courtroom experience. He’s present but stuck in jail (and eventually bound and gagged), which means his incredible story goes sadly unfleshed out. That’s the film we’re hoping Sorkin — or someone — makes next.

Best Biological Clock Delay Incentive Award

Tie: “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” “Pieces of a Woman”

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It’s hard to say which pregnancy-as-tragedy film was most likely to prevent future pregnancies, so we’ll give it to both of them. “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is a hard watch from moment one and gets even harder once it’s revealed that the title comes from an intake form at Planned Parenthood, where our young pregnant heroine is hoping to secure an abortion. Then there’s the 20-plus-minute unbroken-take birthing scene in “Pieces of a Woman,” unstinting in its minute depiction of a delivery gone wrong. Babies may be a joy, but the road to them can be plagued with true terror — and these films are warning flags all along the route.

Most Devastating Use of an Emoticon

Winky-face, “Promising Young Woman”

Without giving anything away, the last image in “Woman” is a spot-on dark emoticon on delayed send that arrives in Bo Burnham’s character’s phone: a winky-face that’s anything but cute. It’s a loud dun-dun in the “Law & Order” sense that lets us know that although the sender may be gone, she will never be forgotten. And vengeance is hers.

Reality Intrudes Special Mention

Rudy Giuliani, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”

Admittedly, the former presidential advisor had a lot of great absurdist performances in the waning days of the 45th presidency — including one held in front of a landscaping service — but on camera, Giuliani’s stint in “Borat,” in which he finishes an interview then appears to put the moves on his interviewer, was the lowest high point of the year for him. And that’s saying something.

Best Use of Height in a Chase Sequence

“Tenet”

There’s a lot to admire, dislike and be downright confused about in “Tenet,” but one thing that’s clear from the start is that at 6 feet 3, Elizabeth Debicki is a willowy gazelle of a woman. And such height means she gets to survive: While bound in the back of a speeding SUV, she’s able to fling her leg into the driver’s seat to unlock the door to make her escape. It’s a bonkers sequence that works because Debicki gets to display her full range of assets. Here’s to tall women!

Out of Sight, Out of Mind Award

“The Invisible Man”

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Filled with terrific jump scares and terrifying scenes in which we can’t even see the terror, we’re left wondering how Invisible Dude — who must get from his out-of-town home into San Francisco while driving in his car while invisible — managed not to get pulled over at some point. Self-driving cars may exist, but this is probably pushing the limits.

Least Well-Thought-Out Happy Ending

“The Midnight Sky”

We’re not scientists, but we’re reasonably sure repopulating the human race with three people — which is all that’s left at the end of “Sky,” and one of them isn’t even born yet — is not going to happen. Unless there’s a hidden colony of humans on planet K23, or the spaceship Aether is packed with fertilized embryos that can be born via artificial uterus (paging “Raised by Wolves”), the human race is done for in about 50 years, as life has been wiped out. We’re thrilled George Clooney’s earthbound scientist got his heart right with his daughter in the end, but, well, so long humanity.


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