2021 Recap – Best of the Rest (Part One)

by - December 31st, 2021 - Features


THIRTY MORE – because I can (Part One)

11. The Green Knight (Dir: David Lowery)

David Lowery’s bold and gutsy adaptation of the 14th century epic poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a visual and aural triumph centered on spellbinding performance from Dev Patel. Simply marvelous.

12. Passing (Dir: Rebecca Hall)

Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga give two of the best performances of 2021 in Rebecca Hall’s superlative adaptation of Nella Larsen’s early 20th century novel. Unforgettable stuff.

13. Raging Fire (Dir: Benny Chan)

Benny Chan’s final film is an action barnburner with Donny Yen and Nicholas Tse playing cops and robbers with eye-popping relentlessness. A viscerally kinetic kick in the pants.

14. The Tragedy of Macbeth (Dir: Joel Coen)

By the pricking of my thumbs, something magnificent this way comes. Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand command the screen, while character actor Kathryn Hunter dominates in ways that must be seen to be believed.

15. I’m Your Man (Dir: Maria Schrader)

Deliriously delightful comedic social commentary with Dan Stevens as a robotic hunk and Maren Eggert as the flustered anthropologist who’s been tasked with taking him for a test run. Eloquently hysterical.

16. Wife of a Spy (Dir: Kiyoshi Kurosawa)

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s delicately nuanced WWII marital thriller bobs and weaves to its own idiosyncratic rhythms, building to a profound wallop of a conclusion that left me flabbergasted. Yû Aoi is stupendous as the initially confounded wife who learns her husband isn’t the patriot she thought he was.

17. Lucky (Dir: Natasha Kermani)

Director Natasha Kermani and writer-star Brea Grant’s WTF thriller is the type of psychological puzzle box Rod Serling would rose to his feet in rapturous applause to support. Fearless filmmaking that pulls zero punches.

18. C’mon C’mon (Dir: Mike Mills)

Joaquin Phoenix is superb in Mike Mills easygoing and insightful slice of life that grows in emotional majesty as it strolls along towards its suitably ephemeral conclusion. Full of life and overflowing in love.

19. West Side Story (Dir: Steven Spielberg)

Leave it to Steven Spielberg to tackle West Side Story – a giant of the Broadway stage already made into an Oscar – winning behemoth in 1961 that’s widely considered by many to be one of the greatest musical of all time – and show just why he’s considered America’s greatest living filmmaker.

20. The Night House (Dir: David Bruckner)

Rebecca Hall commands the screen as a grieving wife who slowly discovers her late husband was not exactly the man she thought he was as well as begins to suspect there’s a presence residing in the lakeside home that may not have her best interests at heart.

21. Belfast (Dir: Kenneth Branagh)

Kenneth Branagh light and effervescent childhood remembrances brought a smile to my face, with the luminous Caitriona Balfe stealing scenes left and right from a heavy-hitting ensemble that includes Judi Dench, Ciarán Hinds and Jamie Dornan. Memorably charming.

22. King Richard (Dir: Reinaldo Marcus Green)

The story of Venus and Serena Williams as seen through the eyes of their obsessive and loving father Richard. A soaring tale of familial togetherness and resilience that had me wanting to rise to my feet and cheer. Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton are all outstanding.

23. Jakob’s Wife (Dir: Travis Stevens)

Barbara Crampton has never been better, delivering a performance of such unexpected complexity I almost squealed multiple times as I watched her previously timorous pastor’s wife begin to confidently blossom after she’s bitten by a vampire.

24. Never Gonna Snow Again (Dir: Malgorzata Szumowska, Michal Englert)

What an unanticipated marvel Malgorzata Szumowska and Michal Englert’s Never Gonna Snow Again turned out to be! This suburban slice of life is like David Lynch meets Wim Wenders in its observational exactitude, this tale of a Russian masseuse affecting the lives of the residents of a quiet Polish neighborhood deliciously – oftentimes whimsically – divine.

25. Limbo (Dir: Ben Sharrock)

A pitch-perfect comedic satire focusing on a Syrian refugee named Omar (Amir El-Masry) attempting to get asylum from the British government and forced to wait in the windswept nowhere of a sparsely populated Scottish island until he gets an answer, I couldn’t have loved this movie more had I actively tried.

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