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The Best of 2021: Films


Devon Malcolm
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Somebody who knows something about music, TV, games and what-have-you should do threads for those because I don't.

Anyway, this was my top 10 of the year. In reverse order for 'dramatic' effect.

10) The Killing of Two Lovers

I don't think I would have believed you if you'd said one of the best films of the year would have been a psychological drama starring the guy who played Martin Riggs in the Lethal Weapon TV show. But here we are. Not only that, but Clayne Crawford gives one of the best performances of the year as well. The opening scene is incredible and it's intense and gripping for the whole rest of the running time.

9) Bad Trip

What I was expecting - lots of really, really funny and juvenile pranks and humour. What I wasn't expecting - a film that is also about the kindness and support of strangers that unexpectedly becomes one of the most wholesome films of the year. Eric Andre and Tiffany Haddish are the best.

8. Censor

 

Takes its place alongside Berberian Sound Studio as a film that delves into the psychology of horror while also being uncomfortable and tense in its own right. Absolutely ridiculous that this was Prano Bailey-Bond's debut, and what a couple of years Niamh Algar is having.

7) The Medium

 

Just when you thought the found footage film was dead, The Medium wandered along and became one of the greatest films in the history of the genre, if not the greatest. Actually uses the gimmick believably and uses its lengthy running time to gradually drain you of all your nerves. The best horror film of the year.

6) Riders of Justice

Anders Thomas Jensen is a madman who has been making weird black comedies like this his whole career, but this is his finest hour. Mads, of course, makes it his but the support characters and story progression mean just as much. Some people will hate it but that doesn't stop it from being brilliant.

5) The Mitchells vs. The Machines

 

The best animated film of the year by some distance. Its depth of character and humour are everything you would expect from the Into the Spider-Verse team, but it's also amazingly subtle with its themes of representation. It's also hilarious and the animation is impossible to fathom.

4) The Card Counter

Paul Schrader is suddenly, unexpectedly doing the best work of his career. He follows up First Reformed with a film that somehow ties in themes of PTSD with addiction and gets Oscar Isaac's best career performance to strengthen it all like he did from Ethan Hawke in his previous film. Not an easy watch but so good.

3) C'mon C'mon

 

Mike Mills (not that one) has established himself as one of the greatest American directors working today with his 20th Century Women / C'mon C'mon double-bill. A really warm and thoughtful film about single parenting, adult guilt and youthful hopes for the future. Phoenix great, as ever, but Gaby Hoffman's arguably better.

2) Another Round

 

Mads so nearly had the perfect year, if it wasn't for Chaos Walking. The great Thomas Vinterberg's best film since Festen (and he's made The Hunt in that time), it's a film every bit as much about friendship and addiction as it is about mid-life crises. The end scene seems to have propelled it into popular culture but there is so much to this than its performances and ending.

1) Petite Maman

Not the film anybody was perhaps expecting as Céline Sciamma's follow-up to the excellent Portrait of a Lady on Fire, but it's also a better film. A deceptively simple story about choldhood grief and trauma, it's also a beautiful film about friendship and family. Does so much more in 70 minutes than all of the year's biggest films managed in over double that running time.

Just missing out were the Greek black comedy Apples, the crime thriller I'm Your Woman with an ace Rachel Brosnahan performance, and the Polish social media drama Sweat.

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I actually quite liked the bloke who played Riggs in the Leathal Weapon tv show that wasn’t even that shit. That The Killing of Two Lovers looks just like the miserable shite I like to watch whilst the missus is in work, I’ll be giving that a go. These end of year lists are pretty much what I use to find films to watch over the next six months.

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2 minutes ago, Mr_Danger said:

I actually quite liked the bloke who played Riggs in the Leathal Weapon tv show that wasn’t even that shit. That The Killing of Two Lovers looks just like the miserable shite I like to watch whilst the missus is in work, I’ll be giving that a go. These end of year lists are pretty much what I use to find films to watch over the next six months.

I wasn't expecting much from it but it's a real gem. Added bonus - only 85 minutes.

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206 watched this year (not including documentaries)

Best? The Last Duel or Sound Of Metal*

Worst: Without a shadow of a doubt, Major League 3: Back To The Minors

 

*Actually I watched The Edge Of Seventeen twice this year as well, so it's probably that to be fair.

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Posted (edited)

471 films watched this year including repeat viewings.

TOTALS

2019 : 449

2020 : 525

2021 : 471

That means I'm down 50 odd from last year.

I'm perfectly capable of misscounting but I believe I watched 50 different films released in 2021. Only 5 of which I saw in a cinema. Sad times. 

TOP 10 OF 2021 based on viewing 50 films that were mostly shit.

Honorable mention - Fear Street Part 3: 1666 - The best of the three Fear Street YA films from Netflix. Surprisingly it's the least slashery of the three but I liked this easily the most of the three.

10) Mortal Kombat - I liked this far more than I thought I would. It's a mess but some times you just need a big dumb bit of fisty cuff fighty fighty action in your life.

9) Framing Britney Spears - I would have liked a more detailed dive into American law and conservatorship but still found this fascinating.

😎 Nail Bomber: Manhunt - A documentary about the real life race to find a far right nail bomber in the UK that targeted minority groups in 1999 London. People like this guy terriffy me as do white supremacist wankers in general.

07) The Orange Years: The History of Nickelodeon - exactly what it says on the tin. A look back at the birth and 90s glory years of kids TV channel Nickelodeon. 

06) Nobody - A slightly slow burn that evolves into a brilliant action film. Wrongly marketed as a action comedy.

05) Last Man Standing: Suge Knight and the Murders of Biggie & Tupac - Follow up documentary to the 2002 documentary Biggie & Tupac. I don't particularly like director Nick Broomfield's style but this one is actually pretty engaging and interesting. 

04) Spider-Man: No Way Home - Loads of fun. I may like it more on repeat viewings but I've only seen it once.

03) Godzilla Vs. Kong - the right balance of stupid blockbuster sci-fi silliness and giant Kaiju fighty fighty. The best of the US Godzilla movies. I've watched it several times and it's a lot of fun.

02) Halloween Kills - As a huge Halloween fan I feel like I should probably hate this cluster of ineptness and dodgy dialogue but I'll be damned of it doesn’t amuse the hell out of me. 

01) The Suicide Squad - Loads of fun. Genuinely funny at times and immensely rewatchable. Harley Quinn is her most tolerable here and Big Match John is on fine form as the stiff neck nutter Peacemaker. I'm hugely fond of DC's lesser known villians and this does a load of them justice. This is what the first film should have been.

I probably should do better than 50 released in 2021 but there are so many films from years gone by I've yet to see that it's a difficult balancing act.

Edited by DEF
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I probably get through 3 or 4 films a week with an assist or two from the kids who mostly watch 3 or 4 different films a year twice daily. 400-500 is a strong effort! Do you still have time for tv, music, books and games etc?

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1 minute ago, Mr_Danger said:

I probably get through 3 or 4 films a week with an assist or two from the kids who mostly watch 3 or 4 different films a year twice daily. 400-500 is a strong effort! Do you still have time for tv, music, books and games etc?

I work nights and the job is mainly just being there ready to go. So we brought a PS4 and projector to keep us alert. TV shows I watch on demand these days. Music tends to be relegated to when I going to and from work. Books probably get the least look in.

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I only watched five films this year that were actually released in 2021 (as far as I can tell anyway). 

I would have no problem with putting them in the following order, from best to worst:

1) Wrath of Man

2) For Those Who Wish Me Dead

3) The Little Things

4) Don't Look Up

5) Halloween Kills

 

 

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1 hour ago, Mr_Danger said:

I probably get through 3 or 4 films a week with an assist or two from the kids who mostly watch 3 or 4 different films a year twice daily. 400-500 is a strong effort! Do you still have time for tv, music, books and games etc?

I know your question was directed at @DEF but I got through 935 last year (about 50 of those were short films though), but I guess I have an advantage working from home as I'll generally watch a couple during the day when working. I watch a few bits of TV here and there but books, games and music? Not much. The advantage of a film is that it's not a huge investment of time so they're easier to consume than most media.

Former UKFFer PUNQ gets through over 2000 films a year, apparently. No idea how that's possible.

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My 5-4 star ratings from 2021 releases.

1. The Suicide Squad
2. West Side Story
3. Dune
4. The Last Duel
5. The Father
6. Spencer
7. Shiva Baby
8. The French Dispatch
9. King Richard
10. The Green Knight
11. The Mitchells Vs The Machines
12. Titane

Both my top 2 were pleasant surprises of how they good they were, I'd recommend seeing West Side Story at the cinema if you can. Most of the Marvel and Disney films released were after this as all do the job you expect. 

If I was counting Get Back as a film it would be on my top 3.

Filmhounds Magazine films of the year here for anyone interested:

https://filmhounds.co.uk/2021/12/2021-films-of-the-year/

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Where's @HarmonicGenerator's annual film roundup? A yearly treat.

Films from 2021 that stuck in my brain:

Dune blew my socks off. Gorgeous looking (of course), a wonderful interpretation of the universe and the effortless brilliance of Rebecca Ferguson holding it all together. Has that Villeneuve restraint and dogged show-don't-tell that he does so well, plus a lovely bit of throat singing in the middle. 

The Green Knight took me by surprise. I was in the middle of Dark Souls Remastered and I correlated lots of the art design to the game. A cracking little jaunt through a medieval legend with Dev Patel being Dev Patel. 

The Last Duel (please note the 'e' not 'a' @Hannibal Scorch) was nearly perfect if not for Damon's hair and Affleck being from a different film. My wife and I spent an hour afterwards discussing the depictions of rape (particularly Driver's version) and anything that delays having to empty the dishwasher for a bit is worth it. 

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