Ah, 2021. What a year. With the pandemic rumbling it was a relief to get back into a masked cinema auditorium and watch some blockbuster action, whilst the streamers also delivered on some heavy hitters and smaller, more character-driven films. This blend of big and small screen releases looks set to remain, with the window between the theatrical and home release growing ever narrower, especially with the likes of Disney Plus steamrollering superhero and animated releases. Nothing can take away the grandeur of the big screen, however, as Dune and Bond attested to this year, delivering on both spectacle and storytelling.
So, here in no real order are 10 of my favourite films of the year. Disagree or agree as you see fit, but be glad if you saw them and they weren’t stuck on the shelf!
No Time To Die
Daniel Craig’s final 007 outing played with the Bond formula, creating some real emotion in No Time To Die amidst traditional, stunt-fuelled hijinks and a ludicrous plot. A fitting end to the Sid James lookalike’s license to kill.
A real sci-fi spectacle from Denis Villeneuve, Dune is superbly designed, makes real headway through the book, and with a sequel confirmed the world-building can only get even better – not to mention thankfully, the story will be resolved. Ride the sandworm!
A beautiful simple film about love and motherhood from French writer/director Cecile Sciamma, Petite Maman quietly breaks you. I still fill up thinking about it. See it if you can.
Mads Mikkelsen emotes and dances with aplomb in this excellent observation of masculinity from Thomas Winterberg, rounded out by an excellent quartet of central performances in a bittersweet tale involving heavy drinking.
Read our review below
A comedy horror with an 80s Gremlins vibe, Werewolves Within is a quality, fun ensemble film that slipped below the radar. Check it out for Sam Richardson’s great performance. (Probably the best video game to film ever.)
The Green Knight
David Lowery’s slow-burn take on the medieval poem may not be to everyone’s taste, but it contained moments I’ve never seen in the cinema before; haunting imagery, a great performance from Dev Patel and an eeriness that gets under the skin.
Shadow In The Cloud
Fancy a bonkers World War II gremlin on a bomber plane action film, with added Ripley-esque elements from lead Chloe Grace Moretz? Then watch this! If you can accept the premise, it’s a wild ride with ludicrously enjoyable action.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
A new character for the Marvel Cinematic Universe kung fu kicked his way into the spotlight in this funny, brilliantly choreographed fight fest, complete with a diverse cast and the charismatic Simu Lui proving adept at humour and ass-beating, ably supported by Awkwafina.
One night in a restaurant is turned into gripping drama in this one-take film that captures the tension of a working kitchen brilliantly. Stephen Graham anchors Boiling Point superbly as the troubled chef.
Read our review below
Riders of Justice
Another Mads Mikkelsen film and another brilliant performance from him as a vengeance-filled husband out to find his wife’s killers – all told in a bleakly humorous style with some unexpected laughs and moving moments.
There we are. Please still go to the cinema if you are allowed as we continue to battle with COVID. A big screen is irreplaceable for a truly immersive experience; hopefully, 2022 will allow us even more of that.
words KEIRON SELF
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