Film

2021: My year in film

A list of 2021 releases seen this year at theaters in NYC, SF, Sydney, and on VOD.

Initial tweet-reactions to the higher rated films included. In alphabetical order, by star rating…

5⭐

Collective
One of the most remarkable stories I’ve ever seen told on film. The sheer openness and access, the bone-chilling footage, the thrill of investigative journalism. Forget WaPo and NY Times, SPORTS GAZETTE is where it’s at.

Dune
I imagine this is how spice feels. Monumental, lush, intricate, sight and sound overload. Every aspect is on point. Most importantly, does the book justice! Villeneuve is undefeated.

In & Of Itself
They say a magician never reveals their secrets but Derek Delgaudio’s magic trick of storytelling and identity goes all in. A wondrous experience, in some ways more powerful as a film to see the reflections and reactions across many audiences.

The Lost Daughter
A murky, cruel, specific kind of special. Motherhood ain’t for everyone! Can’t believe this is Maggie Gyllenhaal’s debut!

Nine Days
It’s no easy feat to make a life-affirming film this good. Winston Duke is a powerhouse. That bravura, breathtaking ending is my making my all time top 5.

Nomadland
Honestly, this is as good as it gets. Frances McDormand embodies grief and vulnerability. Chloe Zhao is an extraordinary storyteller! Getting the kinds of performances she does out of non-professional actors is the rarest of gifts.

One Night in Miami
It is a pleasure, pure and simple, to take in the words and witness the friendship, delivered by four amazing actors. I smiled every time they did. What can’t Regina King do??

Pig
Men being vulnerable and talking it out is as excellent as it sounds. The best anti-revenge film I’ve seen, at least given my expectations with the logline. Kudos to the screenplay, Cage, and Wolff!

Spencer
For a film about inevitability and tradition, Larraín makes interesting choice after interesting choice, and I liked nearly all of them. Kristen Stewart continues her ascent. So does Jonny Greenwood. A grand ol’ fable.

The White Tiger
Snarling under that subservient smile, Adarsh Gourav is delightfully captivating in this tale of classist India. Love where the story ended up, given how these normally go.

Writing with Fire
A pure, stripped down, reflective window into what journalism really is. The risks and fear these women take daily, in a society completely stacked against them, while adapting, helping each other, and still “running the house” is inspiring.

4.5

A Sun
A broken family gets its second chance at a hefty price. Jumps between genres effortlessly, and the way the story unfurls is a thing of beauty.

Belfast
The kid is a cheat code! Sweet and poignant. Everyone in the ensemble gets to shine, and the delivery at crucial moments is spot on.

The Father
Alarmingly disorienting and skillful in going inside a crumbling mind that’s trying to fight itself and losing. Anthony Hopkins at 80+ pulling this off is seriously impressive.

The Green Knight
A sultry mood piece of direction. There’s such power in seeing Dev Patel slay in this role.

Inside
Bo Burnham’s musical on internet culture and authenticity will be a document that’s referenced for years to come. Is any of it actually him?

Judas and the Black Messiah
As purely cinema, Lakeith’s tormented weasel opposite Plemons is right up there. Taking a step back and seeing what Fred Hampton did by the age of 21, and what the authorities did to him, is sobering.

Lamb
If there’s a movie to see with an audience, this is it. Apparently no one had seen the trailer, and that first reveal was a crowd MOMENT. Good to have Noomi Rapace back. Ends as fleet(bleat)ingly as it begins. Heavy sin/sacrifice Christian vibes.

Old
The dumbest writing I’ve seen and heard in a film. I haven’t laughed so much all year and last. It must have been an Emperor’s New Clothes situation on set with everyone and Shyamalan.

The Power of the Dog
Cumberbatch leads with spite but I forgot how good he can be until he shows what’s underneath. The setting is majestic. Love how things pop into frame. Fun fact: it’s also a Spiderverse movie with MJ and Strange hanging around Peter.

West Side Story
The artistry, movement, and choreography go hand in hand with what Spielberg’s doing with the camera; it’s magnificent. I couldn’t make that last narrative leap. Liked that they chose not to subtitle the extensive Spanish dialogue.

4

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar

The Card Counter

The Donut King

The Forty-Year-Old Version

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

Identifying Features

In the Heights

Luca

No Time to Die

Possessor

Roadrunner

The Worst Person in the World

Tenet

Titane

3.5

The Disciple

Greenland

I Care a Lot

Licorice Pizza

Mank

Shang-Chi

Shiva Baby

Synchronic

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

3

Black Widow

Eternals

Godzilla vs Kong

Locked Down

Minari

Stillwater

The Last Blockbuster

Venom: Let There Be Carnage

2.5

Last Night in Soho

The Little Things

Malcolm & Marie

Reminiscence

The Suicide Squad

Those Who Wish Me Dead

2

Riders of Justice

Mortal Kombat

Standard

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