By: MIKHAIL KULINETS / STAFF WRITER
2021 year wasn’t so much a new start, but more of a continuation of 2020, especially as the world continues to deal with COVID-19. If it were still 2020, I wouldn’t have to make this list, since many of us were stuck inside, entertaining ourselves by watching anything and everything that streaming services were offering: from “Tiger King” to “Judas and The Black Messiah” and little cinema diamonds in between.
In 2021, as we continue to feel the effects of the pandemic and return to a new “normal,” it’s only natural to have missed out on some of the great movies of this year. Cinema tried to calm and distract us with all the tools they had, so let’s see if there was something worth watching. Here are the best movies of 2021:
Director: Ilya Naishuller
Ilya Naishuller is a famous clip maker in my home country Russia. His first movie was called “Hardcore Henry,” a science-fiction, action movie that was fully filmed on a GoPro attached to the main character’s head. American celebrity and musician The Weekend, impressed by the exotic idea of filming, asked Naishuller to direct a music video for him in the same way. The Weeknd’s video for his song, “False Alarm,” gave Naishuller a name on the western continent and gave him a shot to eventually direct in Hollywood. Together with actor Bob Odenkirk, they made a movie called Nobody, which combines a diversity of American special effects with Russian straightforwardness and brutality. Nobody tells a story about Hutch, a regular office worker who follows the simple routine of work and family, until one night his house gets broken into by two thieves. The burglary starts a chain of events that uncovers the dark past of the main character, who ends up against an army of Russian mafia to protect everything and everyone he loves.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
I was surprised that this American, epic science-fiction movie was already so popular all throughout international cinemas before it reached the US. But what a great movie, right?! I tried to explain the synopsis to my friend, but every time I thought I said enough about the film, I would keep adding more. Dune is an epic science fiction story about a future where artificial intelligence is banned and the world is made up of the elite, clans, valuable resources, monsters and drama. And in the middle of it all we have Paul Atreides, played by Timothée Chalamet, who is destined to shift the direction of relationships between planets and clans. As just a fifteen-year-old kid, he is the heir of House of the Atreides who has a long way to go in mastering his super powers and understanding his dreams. Dune properly transfers the book to the big screen, sending you directly onto the planet Arrakis. As Villeneuve said himself at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival promotion — the big screen is just another tool in cinematography to properly enjoy Dune. So, I took his suggestion and would encourage you to do the same.
Director: Kitao Sakurai.
If you are a fan of comedian Eric Andre and his surreal exotic type of comedy, this Netflix original movie would be a great pick for an evening on a couch with some snacks and friends. Bad Trip is 84 minutes of everything we love Eric Andre for: surprises, blood, experimental humor and honest reactions. Andre’s shows are never about the plot, more to say, they are usually against any linear narrative. But, in this case, Bad Trip follows the story of two friends who are trying to pursue their dreams on a wild trip, while being followed by several hidden cameras. Pranks, hilarious reactions, great sketches — it is all in here in probably one of the best modern hidden camera movies.
The French Dispatch
Director: Wes Anderson
Who doesn’t like Wes Anderson and his theatre-like motion pictures? The Grand Budapest Hotel came out in 2014 and instantly became a masterpiece and Anderson’s fan base anxiously waited for more ever since. While Anderson can make the most dramatic and serious actors act quirky and funny, he also creates his own unique worlds with distinctive camera shots, bright colors, admirable outfits, and complex storylines. This film has an amazing cast, featuring great American actors as well as Anderson’s long time friends: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Benicio del Toro, Timothée Chalamet, Frances McDorman, Andrien Brody, and Tilda Swinton to name a few. The French Dispatch has been accurately described by critics as "a love letter to journalists set at an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city.” It contains 4 full stories and I shouldn’t say more, but only direct you to the cinemas, to see for yourself.
Director: Nia DaCosta
Aggressively political, violent, and filled with tension and dread, Candyman is a fresh take on the cult classic, telling the story of the urban legend: a murderous and vengeful ghost with a hook for a hand. Tony Todd reprises his role as the Candyman in this chilling film and while there is nothing out of the ordinary for this horror and slasher movie, Candyman will definitely stay in your mind for a while. Candyman is sure to bring some interesting discussions to your circle, should you watch this movie with your friends — hint: you should.
Director: Sian Heder
This Apple TV+ movie is quite an interesting concept in comedy and drama movies about teenagers: Ruby is the only hearing girl from a deaf family who is figuring out her life and trying to pursue singing. While singing is something Ruby is passionate about, it is also something her family can’t fully understand or even hear. This movie will make you laugh, but it also brings tears to our eyes, as it reminds us of the circumstances some people are living in. Coda instantly captures your heart, soul, and attention and can work as a great family movie. It’s simple, it’s kind and even me, who is not a fan of tearjerker comedies, really enjoyed everything this film had to offer.