Greeting Film Fans & Happy New Year to all!
This is always an exciting time of year for those of us who love movies. The awards season begins in earnest, and soon the Academy Awards will announce the nominees for the Best Picture, Best Actor & Actress, from the past year, 2021. We have had a lot of lists of “Best of” which I have often derided as they sometime encompass a lot of the least of the ‘best’ simply to be able to announce the list!
But there have been a lot of interesting films that have been made in the past year. As usual, the comic-book genre and the remakes are leading the pack in Hollywood with some of the ‘same old, same old’ schtick. But often, you will find a trailblazer embedded in there, such as Jane Campion’s Year of the Dog and the Licorice Pizza film with a different type of appeal.
And so we are starting the countdown here with all the best of the best (lists, not movies!), from 2021.
The “Best of” Lists of movies from 2021
- Drive My Car appears on most of the top critics lists of films from last year. This film from Japan is about a widowed actor who confesses to his young female chauffeur that his late wife had been unfaithful.
- Annette proves to be an annoying favorite of critics. Adam Driver is a talented actor who plays a sociopathic stand-up in this film that really defies genres. Described as ‘part rock-opera, part celebrity satire…” this one is a head-scratcher in appeal at times
- The Power of the Dog is from director Jane Campion. Benedict Cumberbatch is one of our finest actors working, and he stars as a malicious brother who torments his new sister in-law within the confines of the ranch the two brothers own in Montana.
- Benedetta, from director Paul Verhoeven, is about a nun, Sister Benedetta, who lives in Italy during the 17th In the words of Film Comment, “Paul Verhoeven delves into the power of spectacle & the spectacle of power, affirming his place as one of cinema’s greatest social critics” The film deals with a lesbian relationship between Benedetta and another young nun, and yet it manages to go beyond the predictable and exploitative nature of the subject at hand.
- The Velvet Underground was an exploration of art in the era of Andy Warhol to see and experience personally the ideas…” to feel like you were discovering the music, and the ideas that were circulating and swapping form artists to artists during this time, yourself.”
- Licorice Pizza is the film from director Paul Thomas Anderson, a coming of age movie that is so named from the memories that Anderson had of a small shop named “Licorice Pizza’ in his California home town.
- The Card Counter is from director Paul Schrader and stars Oscar Isaac as a professional gambler who also happens to be one of the men who tortured prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
- Titane also makes the list, and this one is another ‘head-scratcher’ of sorts when people hear the part about a woman having sex with a car! A Cannes “cause-celebre” break-out film, this film is described by Film Comment as a ‘wild, wild ride.’
Looking ahead…The Films of 2022
A long anticipated look at Robert Pattinson’s take on the title character. Paul Dano will appear as The Riddler in this outing of the caped avenger (Superman is the crusader, right?)
Thor: Love & Thunder
Chris Hemsworth will return as Thor and Christian Bale will play Gorr, the God Butcher in this outing
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Just when you think you’ve had enough of all the comic book tropes, here is one that I would not miss. Benedict Cumberbatch is one of my favorite actors, and he is also someone who makes the never-ending twists and turns of the Multiverse of Madness sound like an interesting adventure, as opposed to a maddening muddle!
(And now for something completely different…movies that aren’t about comic book heroes!)
Downton Abbey: A New Era premieres March 18
Maggie Smith returns to move the action to her newly acquired villa in the South of France
The Northman opens April 22
Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe and a huge cast of stars appear in this Viking epic which is billed as a ‘brutal revenge thriller.’
65 opens in April
The multi-talented Adam Driver stars in this sci-fi thriller about an astronaut who crash lands on a mysterious planet, only to find he’s not alone…
Recommended on the small screen: TCM in January
On Turner Classic Movies, there’s a top ten list of favorite films to screen and record for the Armchair Film Fest!
- Lawrence of Arabia
- Sons of the Desert
- You can’t take it with you
- Picnic at Hanging Rock
- Dr Strangelove
- Mad Max (the original)
- The Verdict
- Red River
- Mr Blandings Builds his Dream House
- Burden of Dreams
6 Degrees of Film @ the Movies
And finally this week, our 6 Degrees magazine is featuring reviews of The Tragedy of Macbeth with Denzel Washington, and Molly Haskell’s review of The Power of the Dog on Film Comment.com. Film Comment also has a thoughtful piece on the state of movies today in “Who Cares about Cinema?”
And there’s a look at two Hollywood passages. The great actor Sidney Poitier is profiled on rogerebert.com, as well as the influential director and actor Peter Bogdanovich. The new movies, The Lost Daughter, directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal in her debut film. And The Tender Bar, which is another coming-of-age tale.
There’s a fun article on “The Night Stalker” the Darren McGavin cult TV classic, a preview of the Sundance Film Festival films, and a listing of the 25 films added to the National Film Registry, including Return of the Jedi.
And to wrap it up, there’s a great piece from Cine-vue.com called “How Star Wars changed the film industry.” It is worth the read, as is my own take in my 6 Degrees of Film book, “From Star Wars to Sin City: A Quarter Century of Film.”
Another interesting take on the Being the Ricardos storyline is found in 6 Degrees of Film: The future of film in the Global Village. The book looks extensively at the role that Lucy & Desi played in pioneering the format of situation comedy.
There have been quite a few articles written lately about the future of film. We can see that the pandemic and so many other factors have contributed to changing the way we view and perceive film in this era. We’ll have to tackle that subject soon! But until next time-
See you @the movies!-ML