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2021: Watchlist, Honourable Mentions, “Guilty Pleasures”

2021, what a concept!

Here’s my watchlist:

  1. Wild Mountain Thyme
  2. Pieces of a Woman
  3. MLK/FBI
  4. The Slaughterhouse Killer
  5. Like Dogs
  6. Live or Let Die
  7. The Stylist
  8. Outside the Wire
  9. Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy
  10. The Dig
  11. News of the World
  12. Big Trouble in Seattle
  13.  Meanwhile on Earth
  14. Music
  15. Beginning 
  16. Underplayed 
  17. Radiograph of a Family
  18. Limbo
  19. Gunda
  20. A Worm in the Heart
  21. Tina
  22. Minari
  23. Boys from County Hell
  24. Lapsis
  25. My Little Sister
  26. Kubrick by Kubrick
  27. Beasts Clawing at Straws
  28. Just 1 Day
  29. Acasa My Home
  30. After Love
  31. I Never Cry
  32. Gagarine
  33. Aalto
  34. Father
  35. There is No Evil
  36. Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time
  37. Cowboys
  38. Pino
  39. Shorta
  40. The Reason I Jump
  41. The Dissident
  42. My Salinger Year
  43. Apples
  44. Is There Anybody Out There?
  45. Dreams on Fire
  46. Dinner in America
  47. Father of the Cyborgs
  48. New Order
  49. Wild Swords
  50. He Dreams of Giants
  51. Son
  52. Big Vs Small
  53. Ammomite
  54. Supernova
  55. For the Time Being
  56. Dead Pigs
  57. I Care a Lot
  58. The Twentieth Century
  59. Raya and the Last Dragon
  60. Uppercase Print
  61. Nomadland
  62. The Father
  63. Judas and the Black Messiah
  64. Sound of Metal 
  65. Palm Springs
  66. The White Tiger
  67. Love and Monsters
  68. Los conductos 
  69. Nuttorno 
  70. Beckman
  71. Black Pond
  72. Songs My Brothers Taught Me
  73. Godzilla v Kong
  74. The Mitchell’s vs The Machines
  75. Micropub – The New Local
  76. Land
  77. A Quiet Place Part II
  78. Dream Horse
  79. The Unholy
  80. Cruella
  81. Nobody
  82. A Song for While I’m Away
  83. Spiral-From The Book of Saw
  84. Monster Hunter
  85. Groundswell
  86. First Cow
  87. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard
  88. Tom and Jerry
  89. In the Heights
  90. In the Earth
  91. Fatima
  92. Tender
  93. Mortal Kombat
  94. Freaky
  95. French Exit
  96. Death Will Come and Shall Have Your Eyes
  97. Black Widow
  98. Another Round
  99. Ghosts
  100. PVT CHAT
  101. Luca
  102. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
  103. The Forever Purge
  104. Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
  105. Here Before
  106. 22h01
  107. Faith and Branko
  108. Sometimes I Dream in Farsi
  109. At the End of Evin
  110. A Brixton Tale
  111. El Planeta
  112. Death of a Ladies’ Man
  113. Girls/Museum
  114. Secrets from Putumayo 
  115. Best Summer Ever
  116. EYIMOFE (This is My Desire)
  117. Pat O’Donnell V The Queen
  118. Rebel Dykes
  119. Bicycle Thieves: Pumped Up
  120. Hillwalkers
  121. Chaotic 2020
  122. P.S. Burn this Letter Please
  123. Áine Tyerell – Irish Troubadour 
  124. Foscadh
  125. Pure Grit
  126. ICH-CHI
  127. Kimmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy
  128. Ryan McMullan: Debut
  129. The Club of Angels
  130. The Story of Looking
  131. Who We Love
  132. Madly in Life
  133. Mountrath Unlocked
  134. I Don’t Wanna Dance
  135. Doineann
  136. Ride the Wave
  137. The First Death of Joana
  138. Untold Secrets
  139. White on White
  140. The Sparks Brothers 
  141. Nadia, Butterfly
  142. The Suicide Squad
  143. Off the Rails
  144. Old
  145. Wish Dragon
  146. Space Jam: A New Legacy
  147. Circumstantial Pleasures
  148. Zola
  149. Stillwater
  150. Jungle Cruise
  151. Wish You
  152. Free Guy
  153. The Courier
  154. Don’t Breathe 2
  155. The Night House
  156. Censor
  157. Reminiscence
  158. Candyman
  159. Our Ladies
  160. The Last Bus
  161. I Was at Home, But…
  162. Sisters
  163. Goddess of the Fireflies
  164. Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  165. Annette
  166. Here Today
  167. Black Bear
  168. Copshop
  169. Malignant
  170. 12 Mighty Orphans
  171. Eating our Way to Extinction 
  172. Ellie and Abbie (and Ellie’s Dead Aunt)
  173. Respect
  174. Gunpowder Milkshake
  175. The Many Saints of Newark
  176. Malcolm & Marie
  177. Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Mohammad Ali
  178. The Alpinist
  179. Labyrinth of Cinema   
  180. No Time to Die
  181. The Green Knight 
  182. Even Mice Belong in Heaven 
  183. Britney V Spears
  184. Deadly Cuts
  185. To All the Boys: Always and Forever
  186. Ron’s Gone Wrong
  187. Venom: Let There Be Carnage
  188. Halloween Kills
  189. The Last Duel
  190. The Guilty 
  191. Sweetie, You Won’t Believe it!
  192. Cyst
  193. When the Screaming Starts
  194. The Deep House
  195. Red Snow
  196. Midnight
  197. Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror
  198. Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
  199. Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes
  200. Antlers
  201. Night at Eagle Inn
  202. The Long Dark Trail
  203. Alien on Stage
  204. The Retaliators
  205. Crabs!
  206. Ditched
  207. Isolation
  208. Post Mortem
  209. Broadcast Signal Intrusion
  210. Buzz Cut
  211. Bring Out the Fear
  212. The French Dispatch
  213. Lemebel
  214. Mayor
  215. Last Night in SoHo
  216. Dune 
  217. Ali & Ava
  218. Lamb
  219. The Real Charlie Chaplin
  220. Cow
  221. Set!
  222. Petite Maman
  223. Titans 
  224. Kids are Fine
  225. Jane By Charlotte
  226. Little Palestine (Diary of a Siege)
  227. Looking for Horses
  228. Memory Box
  229. Pebbles
  230. Women Do Cry
  231. Wood and Water
  232. The Ants and the Grasshopper
  233. Brother’s Keeper
  234. Heavens Above
  235. The Hive
  236. This Rain Will Never Stop
  237. Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
  238. Red Notice
  239. Ghostbusters: Afterlife
  240. Becoming Cousteau
  241. Playlist
  242. I’m Your Man
  243. Among Us Women
  244. Spencer
  245. Eternals
  246. Blue Moon
  247. Lamya’s Poem
  248. Film, The Living Record of our Memory
  249. Home Sweet Home Alone
  250. Drive My Car
  251. North By Current
  252. The Innocents 
  253. Roaring 20s
  254. Taming the Garden
  255. King Richard 
  256. The Power of the Dog
  257. Cry Macho
  258. To the Moon
  259. Encanto
  260. House of Gucci
  261. Shepherd
  262. Army of the Dead
  263. Boxing Day
  264. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
  265. Blue Bayou
  266. Pig
  267. Silent Night
  268. Stardust
  269. Don’t Look Up
  270. Coming 2 America 
  271. West Side Story
  272. Spider-Man: No Way Home
  273. The Nowhere Inn
  274. Cherry 
  275. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
  276. Riders of Justice
  277. Passing
  278. Single All the Way
  279. Kate
  280. IWOW: I Walk on Water
  281. Maquinaria Panamerica
  282. The Matrix Resurrections 
  283. Nina Wu
  284. The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  285. C’mon C’mon
  286. Lux AEterna
  287. Vivo
  288. The World to Come
  289. Summit of the Gods
  290. America: The Motion Picture
  291. The Woman in the Window
  292. The Electric Life of Louis Wan
  293. Chaos Walking
  294. Sweat
  295. Shiva Baby
  296. Quo Vaidis, Aida?
  297. The Tomorrow War
  298. The Tragedy of Macbeth
  299. Benedetta
  300. Anne at 13,000FT
  301. Assassins
  302. The Card Counter
  303. Psycho Goreman

Any of these films you think shouldn’t count as a 2021 release let me know

Let’s start with something new. Every year I put my honorary mentions on Twitter because I like movies and I like recommending them. So this year they’re just going in the blog with brief, BRIEF round ups and I’ll link their IMDb so you can source them yourself if they sound interesting. Here they are!

Documentary to tell how Dorset bus drivers took Alien to West End | Movies  | The Guardian

Alien on Stage: A bus driver’s amateur panto group put on a staged show of Ridley Scott’s Alien, funny as hell and full of working class vigour

At the End of Evin: An Iranian trans woman tries to get her life on track in a dizzying and claustrophobic thrillride

Beasts Clawing at Straws: Pulp Fiction-esque thriller about various factions fighting over bag of cash in a tightly plotted insanely fun romp

Beginning: This one is a bit much and the content may leave you cold, but it’s a starkly shot and beautifully brutal presentation of a woman’s place in religious conflicts

Benedetta: The master of genre satire Paul Verhoeven returns in an expectedly offensive takedown of religion. Not for everyone and he wouldn’t have it any other way

Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes: A TV signals the future from downstairs but only two minutes ahead, this simple hook leads to an absolutely madcap series of events

Broadcast Signal Intrusion: A Max Headroom tribute gives us one of the most dizzying unravelling thrillers I’ve watched all year, incredible lead performance from Harry Shum Jr.

Cow: Andrea Arnold’s first doc is just the life of a dairy cow, beautifully presented and quietly devastating

The Club of Angels: A group of friends desperately trying to keep their monthly food club going leads them into some deadly territory in this uproarious dark comedy

Dead Pigs: Before the birds’ preyed Cathy Yan sunk her teeth into this multi-storied drama about pigs floating down a river, as vibrantly stylised and obstinately rebellious as you’d expect

Encanto review – Disney musical casts its spell with a little help from  Lin-Manuel Miranda | Animation in film | The Guardian

Encanto: Disney strikes again with this stealth family drama painted in their magical, musical sheen

EYIMOFE (This is My Desire) : A movie about the desires to emigrate and how life can fuck your plans real fast, gripping and heartrending stuff

The Father: Anthony Hopkins doing Oscar winning work by taking a play and playing up the staginess of a play structure to tell a story of dementia

Freaky: The guys behind “Groundhog Day but murder” give us “Freaky Friday but murder” in witty, fun and surprisingly progressive ways

The French Dispatch: Wes Anderson gives us the most Wes Andersony film that ever Wes Andersoned in this heartfelt tribute to The New Yorker

The Green Knight: Telling one of the most unique Medieval poems ever written in a way that resonates its mood and be entirely its own thing, a beast of an epic

Heavens Above: Three interconnected stories about religious fervour starting with a pious man getting a literal halo and going more insane from there, note perfect satire

ICH-CHI: Russia giving us a horror film only it can really produce: existentially bleak and spine tingling with that extra nihilistic factor to boot, terrifying stuff

The Last Duel: Ridley Scott dolled out two films this year, this was the better one. Fantastically told true life tale about no matter what time period you’re in no matter how you look at it it’s always terrifying to be a woman

Last Night in Soho: The Haunting History of Anya Taylor-Joy's “Downtown”  Song | Den of Geek

Last Night in Soho: Edgar Wright does horror, and does it with a stylish gialo throwback with an intense hatred of London, gripping all the way through

Meanwhile on Earth: Dying is terrifying, and watching the process of it is pretty daunting too in this heavy but evocative doc

Midnight: Serial killer targets a deaf mother and daughter in this intense and cleverly presented thriller

Minari: Powerful and really special family drama telling a perspective of an American family not commonly shown

The Mitchell’s vs The Machines: The end of the world was never this much fun with this hilarious and heartfelt family road trip robot apocalypse

Nina Wu: Being a woman sucks, even a successful one, and this film achingly shows you why, fantastically presented if difficult to watch

Nobody: Bob Odenkirk John Wicks it up in this high-octane, heartstopping and hilarious roller coaster that delivers hard on action

Nomadland: Chloé Zhao had a great year and her Oscar-winning film showcases just that, a fascinating and moving portrait of the modern nomad

North By Current: A filmmaker explores a personal tragedy that opens up discussions of his family’s history in this probing and deeply personal doc

Limbo: Truly capturing the misery and gallows humour of the wayside immigrant status without downplaying its darker elements

P.S. Burn this Letter Please: A beautiful slice of queer history in the US captured in beautiful letters and even more beautiful memories

LeftLion - Film Review: Petite Maman

Petite Maman: Céline Sciamma follows the success of Portrait of a Lady on Fire with something way more insular, way more relaxed and way more magical

Pig: Nic Cage continuing to prove he’s an incredible actor with this wonderfully odd story about passion and loss

The Power of the Dog: Jane Campion’s latest ruminates about the damage of toxic masculinity and how it warps the vulnerable in this Western with a difference, has my favourite score of the year too

The Real Charlie Chaplin: A stellar look at the popular, complicated and much-imitable entertainer with some stellar found recordings of the notoriously private man

The Reasons I Jump: A memoir that turned into a voice for the nonverbal in a striking and compassionate doc

Rebel Dykes: Bold-headed, cheeky and rebellious doc about the London lesbian scene of the 80s

Riders of Justice: A revenge tale like no other with the bizarre sensibilities and compassion for the weirdos you expect from Men & Chicken director Anders Thomas Jensen

Secrets from Putumayo: Using journal entries to tell a fascinating tale of investigation in the Peruvian Amazon from later disgraced Consul General Roger Casement

The Sparks Brothers: Edgar Wright’s first doc is as brimming with passion and attention to detail as any of his feature, the love for the band really shines through

The Stylist (2020) - IMDb

The Stylist: Glossy and demented descent into madness with a chilling lead performance and a killer ending

The Suicide Squad: James Gunn revitalises the Suicide Squad concept in style filled with his signature heart, humour and spark of madness

Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised): The Woodstock they tried to leave forgotten, Harlem 60s concert in never-before-seen footage and stellar reflection

The Summit of the Gods: Solid animated feature telling an emotional journey of mountain climbing and really getting to the heart of this passion

Taming the Garden: Legitimately insane story about a rich man who collects trees told from the perspective of the people he’s taking trees from in this threadbare yet insightful doc

The Tragedy of Macbeth: A Coen Brother taking on one of the Bard’s most popular play with visual splendour and contemporary reflection

The Twentieth Century: Someone made those half-remembered history classes you took into a movie and it’s fucking great! Surreal, cerebral and full of potent bite

Untold Secrets: The Magdelen Laundries told via the absolute avarice and greed of the Irish Gvoernment and their much-overlooked complicity and participation in the practise, no-holds-barred examination of a national stain

West Side Story: Spielberg’s on top form in his first ever musical-a remake at that!-and showing us it’s like he made them his entire storied career

Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy: You know Ryûsuke Hamaguchi had a great year when this exemplary showcase of anthology form and thematic cohesion wasn’t even his best release of 2021!

And now for my

“Movies I liked but are trashy or silly or unfairly maligned but not good enough to be on the best list or honourary mentions list”…list

America: The Motion Picture (2021) - IMDb

America: The Motion Picture

Honestly this one I only put on this list and not my worst because it reminded me of being a teenager. Just those glut of adult animated shows that followed the success of South Park and Family Guy, not really understanding what made those shows successful, instead opting to just be random, juvenile and cruel. This isn’t as cruel, but having that vibe just put me in that mindspace again which is good cause the movie did not do much else. Its premise is stretched into some weird places, none of the voice cast seem to be trying that valiantly, it’s got some ugly ass animation and it just isn’t funny. Some pointed observations about American culture here and there does not make this a decent comedy, but it felt like a time where I was still depressed but hopeful.

Army of the Dead: Dead Pixels Fiasco Explained | Den of Geek

Army of the Dead 

Mr Snyder had a pretty good year, on top of the release of his Justice League cut he got another zombie film under his belt. It’s about as meatheaded, sluggishly paced and presented with an uncreative visual palette but done with his usual stylism (just a bit toned down here) and the dad jukebox cracked up to 90 but I had a blast. If you go in expecting a Zack Snyder action flick that’s what you’ll get. It definitely feels less trying to be intellectual and just having fun, which I think he needed as a filmmaker and honestly plays to his strengths better. It’s not great, but I enjoyed it a lot.

Beckman (2020) directed by Gabriel Sabloff • Reviews, film + cast •  Letterboxd

Beckman

Pure Flix, like, did a John Wick knock off, complete with that guy in all their movies who I think owns the company and has massive divorce energy going on at the moment? Anyway, it’s about as bizarre a pitch as you can imagine, with cult leaders and terrible lighting and pacing and William Baldwin being as hammy as fucking possible, clearly living for that paycheck. Burt Young is in it?! It’s just…I dunno if you weren’t sold on “Pure Flix John Wick” I dunno what to tell ya.

Cyst (2020) by Tyler Russel | B-Spree Pictures - UCM.ONE

Cyst

So my criteria for this list is all over the place, it’s either films that are bad but I like them for some reason or films people dismiss as bad that, while I don’t think have enough merit to be on my best list, I wanna go to bat for. This is one of those-it absolutely knows what kind of film it is and relishes in it. Just a balmy gross as fuck premise executed with glee and fervour, with a hammy cast and even hammier set design and props. It’s all in that lovingly stomach churning creature design, and it’s great how much they commit. Also Greg Sistero is here! Good blessing.

Movie Review: “Malignant” or just plain “terminal?” | Movie Nation

Malignant

This is one I will absolutely defend, and that is weird for me because I would never thought I’d do that for a James Wan flick. Is it some maligned (ha) horror masterpiece? I dunno if I’d go that far, but it knows exactly what the hell it is and relishes in it with enough money to burn from a dude who prints these studios money. It’s so cool he’s just doing what he wants, and this garish giallo throwback really works with some amazing twists and turns and some of the best set pieces I’ve seen all year. A film that lives in its own skin vivaciously in more ways than one.

Old,” Reviewed: M. Night Shyamalan's New Old-School Sci-Fi Movie | The New  Yorker

Old

I know so many people who will go for bat on this one, and while I am not one of them, it’s just too fascinating for me to truly hate. The inhumane dialogue even by M. Night’s standards and weird stilted acting seem all coordinated to create this strange, off settling mood and I mean I don’t know anymore if this is just this dude’s style or if I’m giving him too much credit as a noteworthy filmmaker continuing to do whatever he wants. All I know is this film is weird and lives in that weirdness, and all the garish oddities have it living in my head longer than a lot of films I think are great, that’s gotta mean something.

The Retaliators (2021) - IMDb

The Retaliators 

This is, like, a stealth Christian movie? And it’s bad? Like, stiff hackneyed acting, incredibly tedious plot with some really fucking meanspirited things to say about criminals and forgiveness. It’s also filled with some of the most baffling cameos I’ve seen for such a nothing film, though my favourite is Clerks star Brian Anderson in a fucking distracting walk on part. But then the ending hits and this waking coma comes to life in one of the most out of nowhere third acts I’ve seen all year. It’s difficult for me to describe just how much on a dime this turns, and I was revved up and loving every second of it. Not great in any real sense, but damn was that ending a flame to a fucking gas pipe.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage Review | Movie - Empire

Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Again, if a film ends up on this list I’d struggle to call it a good movie, but what it is is entertaining as fuck and wholeheartedly embracing its own absurdity. I know people wanted a more gritty, serious Venom movie, but the whole premise is ridiculous and that truly embraces this, with an absolutely stellar dynamic with the symbiote and Brock and Carnage just being the absolute shitshow he always is. Maybe I’m at a loss as not being a Venom fan, but this got me to care about the characters as well as just double down on the silliness of the first one, which is what I wanted to this really gave me everything. I want more please!

There's no point being offended by Wild Mountain Thyme – it's just a bit of  gentle escapism - Independent.ie

Wild Mountain Thyme

First film I saw this year, and yeah wow it’s a mess. I fail to see how this even worked on stage to be honest. Completely does not sell the anachronistic framing, does not understand Ireland or its culture and some of the most stilted and silly performances of the year. And all of it is a joy-there’s a sense of pure unbridled chaos in the sincere attempt of an old fashioned rustic romance that I just got enraptured it, and that’s before it’s utterly baffling final act twist. Starting the year on a bad note and a really, really good one.

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