List of top movies by Todd McCarthy – Deadline

Last year couldn’t end soon enough for most of the world, and we can only hope that next year will bring little relief, at least in one way or another. May this apply primarily to the planet, but also to the world of film. I saw 2021 as the worst year for films in a few decades. If I did a serious comb through the 1980s I might find some that were worse, but I still felt seriously unrewarded for all the hours I spent watching movies that just weren’t up to the situation, including some which were well received by others.

There were maybe a few dozen films that ventured to the top, but only four of them came from what we call the big studios – the rest were Indies or foreign. This is not the time to delve into the potential death throes of the big studios as we have always known them and cinemas, but these factors certainly contributed to the somber mood above what is still trying to get itself To name the film industry.

Sometimes adverse conditions stimulate artistic daring and enthusiasm, and we see some of it on television. But this is an industry that requires huge financial investments, and with all the name and strategy changes being made now, it’s impossible to know where things will end.

As always, talent will emerge, with new and very different venues popping up all the time. But these days there is no business as usual, just more eyes looking for something new and fresh. Who could have predicted something like Squid Game a year ago?

Pete Hammond’s Top 10 Movies of 2021: Belfast, Don’t Look Up, Licorice Pizza, Spider-Man and more

This is followed by the top 10 films of the year, works that felt a mixture of fresh, original, different, stimulating, provocative and, for one reason or another, very worth seeing.

RED ROCKET
Sean Baker’s funniest and quirkiest film explores a different group of marginalized society, the Texan Oil Countries, that you’ve never seen before. The resident of the porn world, Simon Rex, displays all of the extravagant yet irresistible charm necessary to take this journey to the wild side of a place that is best visited on screen rather than in person.

Little mom

“Little Mama”
neon

LITTLE MOM
On the other side of the world of Red Rocket, not only physically but also in terms of aesthetics and demands, is Celine Sciamma’s short film, which grants a privileged insight into a special connection between two eight-year-old French women. Strolling through the woods while the father clears out his late mother’s country cottage, the girls develop a remarkably mature and deep bond that will always be remembered, even if they never meet again.

WHERE ARE YOU GOING, AIDA?
The genocidal attack by the Bosnian Serbs on the Muslim city of Srebrenica in July 1995 is devastatingly dramatized in Jamila Zbanic’s black and white film. It’s a difficult movie to recommend or watch, but the director’s you-is-there style captivates attention and illustrates a tragic conflict that is generally misunderstood or ignored by most of the world.

THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD
It’s far from perfect, but Norwegian director Joachim Trier still delivered the most amusing and most watched romantic comedy of the year. Renate Reinsve shines as a lively thirty-year-old, surrounded by interested men, but unable to devise a life plan. It is bursting with beautiful moments and is attentive to the rapid passage of time and the realization that you are suddenly no longer young.

WEST SIDE STORY
I loved the original film as a kid, saw it probably six or seven times (and only in theaters!), Played a jet in a high school production (very convincing, I’m sure), heard and was forever listening to the score suspicious even of Steven Spielberg who is attempting a remake. I was convinced within five minutes. Tony Kushner’s new script is a smart upgrade (except he doesn’t really figure out what to do with the Anybodys character), the actors are very good, the orchestrations are great. Still, I’ll never look at it six or seven times.

JOCKEY
Very few films have focused on jockeys, so Clint Bentley and Greg Kwedar’s film has a fresh and welcome feel as it explores the dwindling days of a seasoned rider’s career. A modest, intimate film about men who live in stables or their trucks, get up at dawn, move from track to track and see the end of their careers at any moment. It’s a film that Junior Bonner’s Sam Peckinpah would have appreciated. And Clifton Collins Jr. gives one of the shows of the year in the title role in a calm, introspective manner.

The velvety underground

“The velvety underground”
Apple TV +

THE VELVET SUBSTRATE
The famous New York avant-garde band found their ideal chronicler in Todd Haynes, a downtown man whose previous films have provided some glimpses of Dylan and Sonic Youth. Although only three members of the Velvets survive, Haynes tells their stories with just the right style and mood. This is what deep dive fans and interested parties are looking for.

LIQUORICE PIZZA
Compared to some of his heavier outings, this is a lark from Paul Thomas Anderson, a goofy, free-spinning spin through his teenage years in the San Fernando Valley with two unremarkable leads like you’ve seldom seen to top a major Hollywood movie before. It’s a film to relax in, only to be gently jolted by its idiosyncratic characters and unexpected events.

Nightmare Alley
The original 1947 film, starring Tyrone Power, was a box office disappointment, and so did this lavish and beautifully crafted new version of Guillermo del Toro. With Bradley Cooper distinguishing himself as a showman rising up as a famous clairvoyant in society, this is a beautiful work that is flawless down to the smallest detail, with a final half hour that is absolutely perfect.

DUNE
I didn’t get past page 50 of the book and the 1984 David Lynch film is a shame so I was a very unlikely candidate to accept Denis Villeneuve’s new version. But it got me to the zone very early and I stayed there the whole time, even if in some places I expected to see Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif riding camels through the Arabian desert. I am very happy that the second part has been released.

Here are a few honorable mentions, in no particular order: The power of the dog (I admire Jane Campion’s success in wrestling the material, even if it remains daunting) P.Arallel mothers, Salvation, The man who sold his skin, King Richard, Summer of the soul (a valuable document of a great event, but hardly great filmmaking), The Green Knight, The Tragedy of Macbeth, The Card Counter, CODA, Pig, The Humans (a film version that is superior to the piece due to its extraordinary production design), The hand of God and if you insist titaniumjust because it’s so confident and organically weird.

***

The prodigal daughter

“The Prodigal Daughter”
Yannis Drakoulidis / Netflix

So there were a couple of dozen films from 2021 that were really worth watching. Nonetheless, at least as many publications received significant and even high praise, which in my opinion was not at all deserved, films that were presumptuous, unconvincing, or, if in some ways artful, nevertheless failed to convince me.

The film that has received the most critical acclaim this year is Ryusuke Hamaguchis Drive my car from Japan, but I sat with a petrified face, untouched and unmoved; after that, i had one of the worst feelings you can have in a cinema, knowing that you would never get those three hours back. I was even more detached from Cannes, the cute Apichatpong Weerasethakul Reminder, the director’s English-language debut, an insanely presumptuous film that dared me to snort disrespectfully, an indulgence I could barely resist.

Another Cannes post that felt deeply inadequate was Mia Hansen-Løves Bergman’s Island, which is neglected, especially when it comes to scripting. This is ironic in that the main character goes to a large extent into Ingmar Bergman’s house for inspiration to write.

Wes Andersons The French shipping is fabulously designed and has an incomparable cast but never really engaging due to the complete lack of the human factor; There is no heart in sight. Rebecca Halls pass similarly intelligently addresses problems of the early 20th century, but without fully convincing or bringing them to life.

I didn’t buy Kristen Stewart’s Princess Diana in Pablo Lorrains Spencer for a second and was similarly disaffected by the wild antics of Andrew Garfield as Jonathan Larsen in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut Tick, tick … boom!

Kenneth Branagh’s autobiography Belfast came off very mild, without much emotional weight, and Mike Mills’ C’mon C’mon fully engaged only when the boy played by Woody Norman was on the screen. Joe Wright’s attitude Cyrano with Peter Dinklage in the title role was entertaining and different enough for a while without knocking it out of the park.

I was ready to love Jeymes Samuel’s Black Western The harder they fall But as the novelty wore off, the movie’s lame and derivative script, along with the endless borrowings of Leone, got quite tiresome. Another case that went a little too far and got annoyingly petty was Will Sharpe’s film about a portrait painter of cats. The electrical life of Louis Wain, with the busy Benedict Cumberbatch.

And then there was my least acclaimed film of the year, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut, adapting Elena Ferrante’s novel The prodigal daughter. It’s difficult, daunting work to begin with, and the film’s inelegant visual style presented even more barriers to embracing. Only the immortal Olivia Colman held on to it.

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