“Lost Daughter”, “Licorice Pizza”, “Souvenir” are AP’s best films for 2021 – The Morning Sun

Associated Press film writers Lindsey Bahr and Jake Coyle selected their best films of 2021, each listing their top 10.

Lindsey Bahr

1. “The Lost Daughter”: There is an element of danger, real and theoretical, that pervades every moment of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s electrical adaptation of the Elena Ferrante novel. Despite the idyllic Greek coastal location and the intoxicating premise of a solo vacation, the discomfort hovers oppressively as we follow the brilliant, passionate, selfish, cruel and inscrutable Leda Caruso (Olivia Colman) through some unorthodox decisions past and present. Not only is she one of the richest characters to ever grace our screens, but she’s also the kind of movie that will dig itself into your subconscious.

This picture, published by MGM, shows Bradley Cooper, Cooper Hoffman and Alana Haim from the left in a scene from “Licorice Pizza”. (MGM via AP)

2. “Licorice Pizza”: It’s a rare movie that leaves you nostalgic for a time and place you never knew, but Paul Thomas Anderson’s breezy, sunny “Licorice Pizza” does just that for Gary’s San Fernando Valley Valentine (Cooper Hoffman) and the youth of Alana Kane (Alana Haim). Bathed in southern California’s calm and optimism, this is a playful and happy ode to great personalities, embellished stories, endless possibilities and the lovable Hollywood neighborhood of a place that barely exists.

Timothee Chalamet, left, and Rebecca Ferguson in a scene from “Dune”. (Warner Bros. Images via AP)

3. “Dune”: A smart and spectacular vision that is bigger than IMAX. Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” is by far the best blockbuster of the last few years. There was so much baggage and failures and missed opportunities swirling around “Dune” that it is miraculous that they have been able to make something so clear, exciting and visually unique. The best part is that it isn’t even done yet.

Honor Swinton Byrne in a scene from “The Souvenir Part II”. (Joss Barratt / A24 via AP)

4. “The Souvenir Part II”: Arthouse films usually don’t get sequels with digits for many reasons, most of them are boring and have money to do, so it’s a bit of a miracle that “The Souvenir Part II” even exists . But perhaps even more extraordinary is what a great film it is when director Joanna Hogg and her star / deputy Honor Swinton Byrne unpack Julie’s tragic first love and development as an artist.

Hidetoshi Nishijima, left, and Toko Miura in a scene from “Drive My Car”. (Janus Films and Sideshow via AP)

5. “Drive My Car”: The Japanese drama “Drive My Car”, based on a Haruki Murakami short story by filmmaker Ryusuke Hamaguchi about a widowed actor who connects with his chauffeur during a multilingual production of Uncle Vanya . Don’t be put off by the three-hour runtime, which has recently been considered the exclusive realm of bloated epics: it’s sublime here.

6. “Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar”: Writing about the absurd joys of this film is almost a disservice to something that has to be experienced, preferably in pastel-colored culottes with curlers in your hair and a mixed tropical drink in the Hand . It was a big swing that could have been a disaster. Instead we have a new comedy classic. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t take Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig 10 more years to think of their next adventure.

7. “Luca”: This is the only film on the list that I’ve seen more than 10 times. It’s not exactly voluntary, there’s a 2 year old in the equation, but it’s not a chore either. Indeed, it is a pleasure to be transported to the Cinque Terra-inspired city of Portorosso to watch a few teenage sea monsters dream of Vespas and a better future. It also has a tremendous score and a lively soundtrack of mid-century Italian bops.

8. “The Power of the Dog”: Jane Campion’s breathtaking and sure-footed film, a story about loneliness on the barren border of Montana from 1925, is as rich and multi-layered as a novel, plays itself out as mystery, western and a meditation Masculinity, femininity, class, love and hate. Benedict Cumberbatch’s brilliant, unwashed, casually cruel rancher Phil Burbank is a villain for the ages.

9. “The Hand of God”: Paolo Sorrentino’s autobiographical film “The Hand of God” may deal with tragedy and fate and “growing up”, but it is not a sentimental or exaggerated sentimental matter. This is a shimmery, ecstatic love letter to the family that uses all of the colors of the box.

10. “El Planeta”: Director Amalia Ulman plays at the side of her real mother in “El Planeta”, a wild satire about two women with very limited resources who are trying to achieve a glamorous farce through fraud and shoplifting in Spain after the crisis live through high-end establishments and wear their best in the process.

Also worth mentioning: “The Rescue”, “Bergman Island”, “Flee”, “The World to Come”, “The Green Knight”, “Summer of Soul”

Jake Coyle

Renate Reinsve in a scene from “The Worst Person in the World”. (Kasper Tuxen / Neon via AP)

1. “The Worst Person in the World”: The compassionate character study by Joachim Trier wasn’t my first feature film this year, but it was the first film that filled me with all the joy, joy and surprise in the films. The Trier film, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival and got off to a real start in February, shows Renate Reinsve as an insecure Oslo-30-year-old who finds her way. I haven’t figured out yet if the film’s warm, exuberant humanity or the experience of seeing it on the big screen with other people moved it to tears. But what’s the difference?

This picture published by Disney + shows Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison in the background from left and Yoko Ono and John Lennon in the foreground from left in a scene from the almost 8-hour documentary “Get Back” produced by Peter Jackson. (Disney + via AP)

2. “The Beatles: Get Back”: It’s been an exceptional year for music documentaries thanks to revelations like Questlove’s “Summer of Soul” and Todd Haynes’ “The Velvet Underground”. But Peter Jackson’s eight-hour Beatles hangout is an overwhelming cultural artifact, not only because it reinterprets so much of what we know about Paul, John, George and Ringo, but also because it captures real-time artistic creation and collaboration. As much as “Get Back” is about breaking up the band, it’s often amazing and sweet how in sync they can be with each other.

3. “Licorice Pizza”: Paul Thomas Anderson’s shaggy story of self-discovery in the San Fernando Valley of the 1970s strikes me as a virtuoso filmmaker in his most delicate and organic form. “Licorice Pizza”, replete with the comical chronicles of adolescence and young adulthood, is the most-lived film of the year.

4. “The Souvenir Part II”: Even better than the first part, Joanna Hogg’s continuation of her deeply autobiographical drama is simply one of the most sublime portraits of an artist as a young filmmaker there is. If Anderson revived 1970s California in Licorice Pizza, Hoggs film is just as detailed in 1980s London. Filmmaking is seldom as acutely personal – and yet generously expansive – as this.

Aurelio Conterno and his dog Birba in a scene from “The Truffle Hunters”. (Sony Pictures Classics via AP)

5. “The Truffle Hunters”: Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw’s extremely charming documentary is about ancient Italians who hunt for truffles with loyal canine companions. However, their tradition is jeopardized by the greed of those who would thwart or even kill the dogs so that they could better compete for the high-priced delicacy. With lush, pointillist images (and dog cameras!), The filmmakers discover an enchanting, disappearing world. (For a double game on truffle hunting, combine it with “Pig”, starring a fabulous Nicolas Cage.)

6. “Drive My Car”: Dogs are also a key to happiness in Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s emotional epic, a breathtaking work of quiet, deep intimacy. There is a lot under the hood of “Drive My Car” – art, sadness, friendship, Chekhov. Many films are described as a “ride,” but Hamaguchi’s melancholy masterpiece, in which the opening credits last 40 minutes, deserves this label in its own unique way.

7. “The Mitchells vs the Machines”: A classic family road trip film with a robot apocalypse and a pug that can easily be mistaken for a loaf of bread. An ancient delight.

8. “Petite Maman”: Celine Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” was my favorite film of 2019, but I still wasn’t prepared for what a gentle gem her sequel “Petite Maman” would be. In just 72 minutes, Sciamma composes a sparse but enormously rich fairy tale about an 8-year-old girl who, at a time of mourning in the forest, meets another girl who is mysteriously similar to her. There’s a magic here that Maurice Sendak would have worshiped.

9. “The Humans”: A family gathers in a shabby Chinatown apartment for Thanksgiving when it gets dark in Stephen Karam’s terrifying adaptation of his own Tony-winning play. Like the apartment, they all have their own flaws and flaws painted over, and the conversation vibrates with existentialist reverberations. With a flawless cast including Troy-born Steven Yeun, Richard Jenkins and Jayne Houdyshell stand out in particular.

10. “The Hand of God”: autobiographical is not a natural mode for Paolo Sorrentino, but that makes his most personal film so full of wonders. Sorrentino’s film about a childhood in Naples that ranges from the divine to the profane, from happiness to tragedy, is best when he looks not at himself as a young man but outwards, at his coastal city and the family around him .

Also: “Red Rocket”, “The Power of the Dog”, “The Lost Daughter”, “A Hero”, “CODA”, “Titane”, “Flee”, “Dune”, “Annette”, “Riders of Justice” “”

Follow AP’s film critics on Twitter at twitter.com/ldbahr and twitter.com/jakecoyleAP.

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