7th Annual LaBeouf Awards

7th Annual LaBeouf Awards

“The Trial of the Chicago 7”: Best Screenplay

Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, “The Trial of the Chicago 7″ follows the trial and preceding riots led by an eclectic group of Vietnam War protesters during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Charged with conspiracy and crossing state lines with the attempt to incite riots, the film depicts how the ensemble cast—whose lives intertwine for just a few tumultuous days that summer and whose only commonality is a shared fervor to bring American troops home—finds camaraderie in a trial none wanted to be a part of. 

The intermixing of real clips of the Chicago riots during scenes of violence are shocking and serve as sobering reminders of the police brutality and injustice experienced by the rioters that the film is based off of. Although the graphic scenes of violence, in my opinion, do not warrant the R rating of the film, they are disheartening, tragic moments that at times made my heart skip a beat in fear for the lives of the rioters. 

Both the acting and the script were phenomenal and solidified the movie’s standing as the 2021 LaBeouf Best Screenplay. The film didn’t try to coddle the audience with unnecessary background information or explanations of the plot; overall, the movie feels realistic and conveys the intensity of the pushback that the Chicago 7 received from the government. 

Although Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (who plays Bobby Seale) has a relatively minor role in the film, his on-screen moments are raw and emotional; these scenes stand out as they effectively set the overarching tone of the film. The entire ensemble cast, from the pragmatic personality of 

photo illustrations by anna lee

Tom Hayden (played by Eddie Redmayne) to the comedic “yippies” that are Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman

(played by Jeremy Strong and Sacha Baron Cohen, respectively), give amazing performances that make the film’s believability akin to a documentary. 

“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” with it’s phenomenal screenplay, acting, and visuals, make it one not to be missed and will have you eager to learn more about the Chicago of five decades ago. 

“Nomadland”: Best Acting

Powerful yet understated, “Nomadland,” which was directed, written, and edited by the talented Chloé Zhao, provides an intimate glimpse into the life of a modern American nomad. After the town of Empire, Nevada diminishes into a ghost down with the closing of the US Gypsum mining facility, Fern, an older widow struggling to make ends meet, sells her belongings in order to buy a van to travel across the country in search of employment.

Devoid of fancy sets or big-budget special effects, the film successfully gives audiences a unfiltered, intimate look into the life of Fern as she perseveres through the perpetual cycle of part-time employment and life in her van. Most scenes are perceptibly quiet, with the organic background noises serving as the soundtrack to Fern’s adventures and leaving the dialogue between characters undiluted. The film also employs several scenes without dialogue as calming classical piano plays in the background while Fern silently goes about her days. These moments are surprisingly intriguing and mesmerizing, as they emphasize the solitude and tranquility of Fern’s unorthodox lifestyle. 

Frances McDormand, who plays Fern, gives an unprecedentedly realistic portrayal of life as a struggling woman trying her best to find stability and happiness while maintaining her independence. She has an acute understanding of the minutiae of facial expressions and body language, and it’s hard to believe that she isn’t somewhere out there living in her van. Her performance is undoubtedly one of the best of the year, and makes “Nomadland” well deserving of the Best Acting award.