The Blue Ribbon Awards, presented by film critics and writers in Tokyo, has announced the winners for the 64th edition which honours films released in 2021.This year’s big prize went to Kazuya Shirashi’s Blood of Wolves sequel Last of the Wolves, while Miwa Nishikawa picked up Best Director for Under the Open Sky, and Junichi Okada took Best Actor for his role in action comedy sequel, The Fable: A Contract Killer Who Doesn’t Kill.
Best Film: Last of the Wolves
- A Madder Red – latest from Yuya Ishii starring Machiko Ono as a widowed single mother struggling under a highly stratified society in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Aristocrats – two women involved with the same man eventually find interclass solidarity in Yukiko Sode’s empathetic critique of a highly stratified and fiercely patriarchal society.
- A Morning of Farewell – melodrama from Izuru Narushima starring Sayuri Yoshinaga as a doctor who returns to her hometown and begins working in a local clinic.
- The Lone Ume Tree – ’60s New Wave icon Mariko Kaga stars as an ageing woman caring for her autistic son but worrying what will happen when she is no longer able to look after him.
- It’s a Flickering Life (God of Cinema) – Yoji Yamada’s adaptation of the novel by Maha Harada starring Kenji Sawada as an ageing movie obsessive with a gambling problem looking back on his younger self (Masaki Suda) and broken cinematic dreams
- Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko – a resentful teenage girl comes to realise that she really does love her larger than life mum after all in Ayumu Watanabe’s anime adaptation of the Kanako Nishi novel.
- Intolerance – drama from Keisuke Yoshida starring Tori Matsuzaka as a supermarket manager whose attempt to catch a teenage shoplifter ends in tragedy while her father (Arata Furuta) relentlessly pursues vengeance.
- The Fable: A Contract Killer Who Doesn’t Kill – Junichi Okada returns as the hitman with a no kill mission in Kan Eguchi’s action comedy sequel.
- Under the Open Sky – a pure-hearted man of violence struggles to find his place in society after spending most of his life behind bars in Miwa Nishikawa’s impassioned character study.
- And, the Baton Was Passed – comedy from Tetsu Maeda (A Banana? At This Time of Night?) revolving around the close relationship between a high school girl and her step dad.
- Drive My Car – a theatre director begins to overcome his sense of inertia after bonding with a young woman hired to drive his car in Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s deeply moving drama.
- We Made a Beautiful Bouquet – romantic drama from Nobuhiro Doi (Flying Colors) starring Masaki Suda and Kasumi Arimura as a young couple who meet after missing the last train home.
- Masquerade Night – sequel to the hugely popular Masquerade Hotel starring Masami Nagasawa and Takuya Kimura.
- In the Wake – mystery drama from Takahisa Zeze starring Hiroshi Abe as a detective hot on the trail of suspect Takeru Satoh
- Baragaki: Unbroken Samurai – historical drama from Masato Harada starring Junichi Okada as Shinsengumi Vice-Commander Hijikata Toshizo
- A Family – Michihito Fujii’s contemporary yakuza epic starring Go Ayano
- A Balance – an idealistic documentarian’s journalistic ethics are strained when she uncovers scandal close to home in Yujiro Harumoto’s probing social drama.
- Belle – Mamoru Hosoda reinterprets Beauty and the Beast as a grieving young woman becomes an in-app idol star but is also threatened by the presence of a mysterious dragon.
- Rurouni Kenshin: The Final – concluding chapter of Keishi Ohtomo’s manga adaptation starring Takeru Satoh as the former assassin turned wandering protector.
- Yuya Ishii (A Madder Red / The Asian Angel)
- Kazuya Shiraishi (Last of the Wolves)
- Takahisa Zeze (In the Wake / Tomorrow’s Dinner Table)
- Miwa Nishikawa (Under the Open Sky)
- Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car)
- Michihito Fujii (A Family)
- Tetsu Maeda (And, the Baton Was Passed / What Happened to Our Nest Egg!?)
- Junichi Okada (The Fable: A Contract Killer Who Doesn’t Kill / Baragaki: Unbroken Samurai)
- Takeru Satoh (In the Wake / Rurouni Kenshin: The Final)
- Hidetoshi Nishijima (Drive My Car / What Did You Eat Yesterday?)
- Tori Matsuzaka (Last of the Wolves / In Those Days)
- Koji Yakusho (Under the Open Sky)
- Yuki Amami (What Happened to Our Nest Egg!?)
- Kasumi Arimura (We Made a Beautiful Bouquet)
- Machiko Ono (A Madder Red)
- Mei Nagano (And, the Baton Was Passed, Office Royale)
- Sayuri Yoshinaga (A Morning of Farewell)
Best Supporting Actor
- Hayato Isomura (A Family / What Did You Eat Yesterday? / Tokyo Revengers)
- Masaki Okada (Drive My Car)
- Ryohei Suzuki (Last of the Wolves, Baragaki: Unbroken Samurai, The Mole Song Final)
- Hiroshi Tachi (A Family)
- Taiga Nakano (Under the Open Sky, Onoda, In Those Days)
Best Supporting Actress
- Kaya Kiyohara (In the Wake)
- Shinobu Terajima (A Family, It’s a Flickering Life, Intolerance)
- Yurina Hirate (The Fable: A Contract Killer Who Doesn’t Kill)
- Toko Miura (Drive My Car)
- Kiko Mizuhara (Aristocrats)
- Yuki Katayama (A Madder Red)
- Yumi Kawai (It’s a Summer Film!, A Balance)
- Ren Komai (Ito)
- Fukase (Character)
- Gordon Maeda (JUMP!! : The Heroes Behind the GOLD)
Best Foreign Film: No Time to Die
- American Utopia
- In the Heights
- Godzilla vs. Kong
- The Father
- Raya and the Last Dragon