The year of 2021 is almost over and what a year it has been for the film industry. With many of the cinemas reopen, film-goers were thankfully able to enjoy movies the way we are suppose to. Many films that should have been released last year came out as well as some new ones. Here’s our list of the best films of the year.
Carrying on a legacy is always going to be hard, carrying on a story that so many people have loved for over 30 years is going to be hard. But Ghostbusters Afterlife is a film that proves you can combine the old and new and create something wonderful. A film that can be enjoyed by all the family, both fans of the originals and new fans, who have no idea what or who the Ghostbusters are, this film is not only funny, enjoyable but heartfelt and real. Instead of being a carbon copy of the original, this film has its own story, with its own characters and own ghosts. However, that doesn’t mean it didn’t lean back onto the originals. And for any fans of the 1984 film, the last half an hour of the film is quite perfect. The main theme of this film is family, loss, grief, and love. Also, any film with Paul Rudd is a must, right?
Any type of media about the late Diana Spencer is always going to face some kind of scrutiny. Kristen Stewart wasn’t the first choice for many, but she proves every single one of those people wrong. Almost five minutes into watching the film do you forget it’s not actually Diana in front of you. Stewart is spectacular as the late people’s princess. This film, which takes place during one Christmas in the early 90s isn’t a biopic, it looks more deeply at Diana’s state of mind and being during that difficult time. A stand-out is the relationship Diana has with her two sons, William and Harry, you can tell how deeply she loved them. A truly fantastic film, deserving of any awards it may receive in the new year.
One of the most endearing Pixar films, Luca, was released this year. Although it contains many of the usual Disney and Pixar themes, there was just something special about this movie. We meet Luca, a mysterious sea monster who dreams of seeing a human or experiencing the human world. At the core of this film is friendship and acceptance, in which Luca finds both of those with the help of his friends Alberto and Guilia. A film that fills up your heart and your eyes, Luca is a coming-of-age story but with a twist. Although a much simpler plot and more character-driven, this works perfectly with this movie. Sometimes you don’t need an action-packed movie. The main trio of the film feels authentic and real, characters that resonate with the audience old and young.
Promising Young Woman
Although this film technically should have been released last year, it was such an interesting concept that we just had to include it. Carey Mulligan never fails to disappoint, and she is at her best as sociopathic schemer Cassandra, seeking out the best kind of revenge. Rape culture is something so many people have experienced and this film has an interesting take on that. This isn’t exactly a fun film to watch, audiences are supposed to feel uncomfortable and wary of the characters shown on screen. This film also features several twists and turns, going somewhere that no one would have expected. Mulligan’s intense performance paired with both Anthony Willis’ music score and Emerald Fennell’s writing make this an iconic movie.
Who doesn’t love a good musical? The brilliance of Lin-Manuel Miranda is unmatched. With the help of TikTok, the hype for this movie was very real. There was a time when almost every single video on the For You Page featured the iconic line from the song Blackout. This was such an exuberant and full of life that anyone watching just had to have a smile on their face. Sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy a guilt-free movie, with no strings attached. This critically acclaimed movie brought joy to so many people and it’s no wonder why. A special film that helped many transition back into normal life after so long. This film made us cry, it made us smile, it made us glad to be back in the cinema theatre again.
A Netflix original trilogy, the release of Fear Street created excitement for many. Adapting R.L Stein’s teen horror stories, Fear Street combines classic slasher horror with positive LGBTQ+ characters and a unique story. With three different films, viewers are able to experience the overall story throughout each movie with several horror and slasher references any horror movie fan will enjoy. One particularly refreshing aspect of this trilogy was the inclusion of the queer protagonists, who save the day and their storylines don’t revolve around their sexuality. The cast includes mostly new actors, however, this isn’t a hindrance to the film as our protagonists give some great performances. All films are linked with an interesting story that has a happy ending.
Searching for the so-called ‘American Dream’, a Korean family move to Arkansas. Although they have to tackle a new, strange life, they soon discover the importance of family. Minari is a truly wonderful film, there’s no doubt about that. Enchanting and tender, both the cinematography and film score make this film seem like some sort of dream. This film was critically acclaimed, nominated for six Academy Awards, and it’s no surprise. Youn Yuh-jung also won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. An extremely special film, it almost feels nostalgic for a life the audience didn’t live.
House of Gucci
With Lady Gaga already winning Best Actress at the 2020 New York Film Critics Circle Awards, it’s no surprise that this film is going to break records. House of Gucci, follows Patrizia Reggiani and her marriage into the Gucci family. Any fan of true crime would have heard of the story, the family legacy, the betrayal, the revenge, and the murder. However, for many, this story is a new one. Although some have cited this to glamourise the crime and the family, it is important for us as audiences to know and understand the story. The casting directors should be applauded for their choices, Gaga seems to embody the woman she is portraying, as does Adam Driver, who plays Maurizio Gucci. Possibly not the greatest film ever made, but definitely an enjoyable watch and an eye-opener for all.
Although not a film released in cinemas this year, the T.V movie Help was truly heartbreaking and had to be included in this list. Starring fellow Liverpudlian stars Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham, Help was a clear criticism of the treatment of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Jodie Comer as always shone as new care worker Sarah, whilst Stephen Graham played endearing Tony, a resident in the home with early-onset Alzheimers. One particular scene, over 20 minutes long, demonstrated how frustrating and difficult those early days of the pandemic were for workers like Sarah. This film also highlights how difficult it is for people with loved ones in the care system. The final scene, which features only Sarah with a monologue speaking to the audience. Sarah tells the audience, ‘We can’t cope with Tory, not us, not anymore.’
Now into Phase Four of the MCU, the Marvel universe is constantly expanding. Shang Chi brings something slightly new to the MCU. An exciting, new story moving away from the usual Marvel formula, Shang Chi introduced a new star, Simi Liu. This film also featured Golden Globe winner Awkwafina and film icon Tony Leung. Many superhero films seem to follow the same pattern, but this film is one that definitely deserves the hype. The special effects in this movie are quite incredible as are the fighting sequences, something we haven’t seen in the MCU. The story also revolves around family and the importance of those relationships, which was a nice, refreshing change.
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