For me, 2021 has been a remarkably odder year then 2020. I think this comes from the sense of a start-stop to resuming many normal activities that I’ve enjoyed in a pre-pandemic era. I still take safety seriously, which is why reviews for some popular films (namely Spider-Man No Way Home) have not been covered for the blog. At the same time, my motivation has veined a lot this year, whether it’s my attention being taken up elsewhere or more personal reasons. Despite this, I’m pleased to have introduced One Great Shot to the family of posts and written more about trailers for upcoming movies. And it was a joy to return to the cinema for certain films. The cinematic experience is something I don’t think I will ever take for granted again. Although, I just hope I can inject more ambition and interest in the blog next year.
However, without further ado, here’s my top five films of 2021. What are your top films of 2021? Did you see any at the cinema? Let me know in the comments below.
No-One is the sort of film that lingers and stews in the mind long after the credits have rolled. Combining historical intrigue and underhanded romantic sparring, the Israeli-Ukrainian picture flickers between historical satire and grand Shakespearean tragedy.
4) The Matrix Resurrections
Made in the same vein as Wes Craven’s 1994 metatextual film, New Nightmare, the third Matrix sequel is a subversive and deeply personal film about how an artist views their best work long after it’s made an impact. This gives rise to a new ethos that’s philosophically interesting and emotional in its exploration of Neo’s and Trinity’s relationship. For this reason, and Lana Wachowski’s visuals, that vary from sun soaked Malickiean vistas to Carpenter esque horror, The Matrix Resurrections is my biggest surprise of 2021.
3) The French Dispatch
Despite suffering from a slight sense of law of diminishing returns with its storylines, Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch is nevertheless a charming love letter to vintage journalism in its last throes. Aside from the thematic exploration of how much a writer gets involved in their work, Dispatch is also playful in its comedy, lightly pricking at the pristine and picturesque visuals of Anderson’s oeuvre as well as modern art and celebrity.
Rebecca Hall’s adaptation of Nella Larsen’s novel is a sobering and poignant examination of race relations in 1920s America. Boasting impressive use of diegetic music, fade-in and a starmaking turn from Ruth Negga (who plays the character as a cross between Daisy Buchanan and Katherine Hepburn), Passing is as timely in illustrating the masks we wear in public, as much as the disconnect in the private perception of our biases and life circumstances.
Dune is an astounding singular work. It’s a film that embraces the convictions of the source material and trusts the audience to keep up with its vision. Long gone are the days of two-page glossaries being handed out at screenings for fear of audience comprehension. Instead, Denis Villeneuve believes in the cinema to weave Frank Herbert’s complex novel.