Movie critics, film buffs, and some essay writer have all had to resort to straight-to-stream or old classics for their movie fix in pandemic-stricken 2020. While the coronavirus remains prevalent and deadly, its end is bobbing into sight. As such, movies are coming back out again. Releases were pushed back while everyone remained indoors. Now, films are emerging from hibernation and being welcomed into the eyes and minds of many hungry viewers.
These are the best movies of 2021, but they also include films from years gone by that were done dirty by the pandemic. These new films give us plenty to look forward to in the coming year.
Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland follows Fern, played by Frances McDormand, as she copes with the loss of her husband, home, and job. The precarious lifestyle of many aging Americans is brought to life as Fern gets to grips with living out of her van, meeting new people, and moving on from the death of her husband.
It’s a poignant film that’s based on harsh reality. McDormand has an excellent way of playing small-town characters, as those who’ve seen Three Billboards and Fargo will be acutely aware of; other cast members are real people possibly exaggerated or possibly not. Their presence adds to the authenticity of the film.
Nomadland was nominated for many awards, Zhao took home Best Director at the Golden Globes, and is a favorite running into the Oscars. In addition to this spotlight, Zhao has also come under criticism from the Chinese government. The CCP deeming some of her past comments as incendiary.
If you haven’t seen it already make sure Nomadland gets a viewing soon. Given the complexities of the narrative and the political issues around Zhao’s public speech, Nomadland is one of the best movies for students who are studying film.
2- No Time To Die
Development on the latest Bond installment began back in 2016. After a tumultuous five years where directors and screenwriters chopped and changed, the release date has now settled on 30 September 2021.
Hopefully, the pandemic has been brought under control by that point and we will be able to bask in Bond at his most expensive yet – the budget is estimated at around $250 million, making it one of the priciest films ever produced.
In No Time To Die Bond has left MI6, yet, just when he thought he was out his old friend Felix Leiter pulls him back in. A scientist has gone missing, apparently abducted, and Bond must fight against Rami Malek to get to the bottom of some nefarious plans.
Ben Whishaw remains as Q, Christoph Waltz plays Ernst Stavro Blofeld – Bond’s nemesis and foster brother – while Léa Seydoux plays Dr. Madeleine Swann, a psychiatrist who aided Bond in the film Spectre. Swann’s presence opens up Bond’s emotions and makes the film deeper than a slick, British spy thriller.
3- Night of Kings
Myriad stories about crime, violence, power, and surviving play out in Night of Kings. Set in a Cote d’Ivoire prison which is ruled by a warlord/mafia boss/kingpin named Blackbeard, Night of Kings mixes the grit of the City of God with a Borges-like magical realism. Blackbeard wants stories, and forces a recent arrival, played by Bakary Koné, to tell a tale that lasts until sunrise.
The fable is reminiscent of other great tales like Siddhartha or the Odyssey, director Philippe Lacôte’s lyrical and moving film will take the viewer on a transformative journey extolling the power of narratives and story-telling.
4- The Dig
Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan take on a re-telling of the 1939 excavation of Sutton Hoo in the UK. The dig unearthed a hoard of finds from the sixth century, including a fully intact ship. Carey Mulligan plays Edith Pretty, the owner of Sutton Hoo, and Ralph Fiennes plays Basil Brown, a local archaeologist who teams up to investigate the secrets held within her estate.
World War II sits ominously in the distance as Edith’s cousin, played by Johnny Flynn, is called away, and other characters reflect on the impermanence of life itself. The Netflix-produced film is directed by Simon Stone who paints a stunning portrait of mid-20th century Britain.
5- Saint Maud
Religion, sexuality, demons? Saint Maud concerns a palliative care nurse, Maud, who comes to care for a terminally-ill patient Amanda, who happens to be a famed dancer. In the beginning, Maud’s noble mission to care for Amanda seems touching, but then dark aspects emerge. Morality is called into play, the visuals become entrancing, and the horrorshow is well and truly on the road in deepest, darkest Wales.
6- A Glitch in the Matrix
Rodney Ascher’s documentary examines the question – what if reality isn’t really real? The maker of excellent documentaries – like the Kubrick-orientated Room 237 and the spooky sleep paralysis-inspired film the Nightmare – turns his gaze to a fascinating thought experiment that dances with notions of fantasy, enslavement, and escapism. Ascher’s style is slick and incorporates talking heads, movie clips, and computer animations.
Enjoy the return to the cinema when it’s safe for you and be sure to recommend these films to your friends when you’re stuck on the perennial problem of deciding what to watch.