29 December 2021

The 10 Best Films of 2021

Oh how we've missed the cinema... From A24's eerie productions to the candour of Frances McDormand in Nomadland, we've selected the best films of 2021 for you to watch this Christmas.

The Father

Based on Florian Zeller’s play Le Père, featuring Olivia Coleman and Anthony Hopkins, and a score by none other than Ludovico Einaudi, The Father is a psychological journey deep into the onset of dementia and its effects on those around. Throughout the film, we discover more and more which we were blind to at the beginning, much like characters within the film. The audience experiences what is experienced on-screen, and makes us feel like we should question ourselves, our minds and our own thoughts too.

Nomadland

Chloé Zhao’s film based on the book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century explores the lives of a vagabond community that travel a circuit of jobs and friendships throughout the years — but who have found a home in the world they have grown accustomed to since the Great Recession. The film’s lead, Frances McDormand, one of the only characters in the film that is actually acting and not just playing their authentic self, won her fourth academy award, this time for Best Actress. Zhao took home the award for Best Director – only the second woman to ever win it. And rightly so, the film cleared up at the Academy Awards and continues to be a standout film detailing the intricacies of lives we may never have known about. 

One Night in Miami 

Regina King’s directorial debut earned nominations for three Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Song. The story is based on a fictional meeting in 1964 between Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, Muhammad Ali, and Jim Brown – some of the biggest Black icons to have ever have lived, all in one room together in a what-if situation where we can only imagine what might have been said.

House of Gucci

It’s a mess, but a mess we’ll allow… Concerns around dodgy accents (Gaga), overly-theatrical performances (Leto) and weird appearances from Editor-in-Chiefs aside, House of Gucci is actually pretty good. The film follows the life of Patrizia Reggiani, an office manager at her father’s trucking firm, who meets Maurizio Gucci – the heir to 50% of the clothing brand. The story of love, deceit, murder and, sometimes, fashion, is carried by its performances, soundtrack and casting. And although Tom Ford said the film made him both laugh out loud and left him sad for days, it’s still worth a watch, maybe for the prosthetics more than anything else. 

The Green Knight

A24’s epic medieval fantasy film starring Dev Patel and directed by David Lowery is an adaptation from the 14th Century poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It follows the action-packed, fantastical story of Gawain, who begins a journey to fulfil his end of a mortal bargain. Along his way, much like the stories of King Arthur, who is also in the film, Gawain faces a series of trials and triumphs whilst travelling through the medieval world. The film’s ten award nominations since its release in July are testament to the celebration of imagination, action and story-telling woven throughout.

The French Dispatch

Otherwise known as The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun, Wes Anderson’s latest film is a spectacle of unrivalled direction and story weaving. Broken up into three different storylines, Anderson said that the film is a “love letter to journalists.” Watch not only for the thrill that is a Wes Anderson production, but also do it for Timotheé Chalamet’s pencil moustache and, of course, the tiny details, set design and aesthetics that, as with most films by the director, leave you in awe over how long must be spent dreaming up the world of each film. 

Judas and the Black Messiah 

Any film with Daniel Kaluuya in it is a must-watch. And Shaka King’s film is no exception. Co-starring Lakeith Stanfield, the biopic of Fred Hampton, leader of the Illinois chapter Black Panther Party, takes us back to 1968, when Bill O’Neale infiltrated the Party as an informant for the police. Released at the height of the pandemic, the production did not even earn back half of its budget at the box office, but that didn’t stop Kaluuya taking home an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, as well winning 28 other accolades from various award ceremonies around the world.

Lamb

It’s a bit weird… but that’s why we love it. It’s also what you might expect from A24: weird, wonderful and just a little bit scarring. Basically, one of Maria’s (played by Noomi Rapace) ewes births an offspring which is half human, half animal. A bit like Mr Tumnus, but with much more of a dark, eerie vibe that pulls on our heartstrings of empathy and compassion as Maria nestles herself in the comfort of filling the gap left by her only child.

Promising Young Woman

Directed by Emerald Fennell and starring Carey Mulligan, the film won the Academy Award for the Best Original Screenplay. The black comedy psychological thriller’s heroine, Cassandra (Mulligan) spends her nights at clubs and bars pretending to be paralytic drunk so that she becomes prey in the eyes of self-attested “nice guys” who disguise their ambitions to benefit from her supposed level of intoxication. The film tricks viewers into thinking the film is about mild, deserved retribution which comes to a fluffy conclusion that there are some decent men out there. But it’s much more than that.

Dune

Part one of this sci-fi epic, but with a more mature feel than that of Star Wars or Star Trek, features Hollywood icons and future mega-stars Timotheé Chalamet and Zendaya. Well, sort of Zendaya. She’s in it for about fifteen minutes and the most accurate reading of her appearance in the film is that it feels a bit like a perfume commercial. However, she’s an addition the film definitely needs. Not only to bring some greater interest to Part One, but to promise audiences more screen time for the actress in Part Two. The film raked in 165$ million at the box offices, making it the tenth highest-grossing film of the year.

Banner image credit: Dune (2021) / Warner Bros.