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11 Best Movies of 2021, From Wild Sex With a Car to the Shiva From Hell

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IIf box office numbers are any indication, the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we consume content (RIP Quibi). We became entangled with our phones, scrolling through the daily news while the comfort food lineup played in the background. The New Yorker invented this “ambient TV” – “calming, slow and relatively monotonous” shows like Netflix’s cute travelogue Emilie in Paris, where viewers can walk in and out without paying too much attention. In the cinema, it is even more serious. Five of the top ten grossing films this year, including the top four, were Marvel superhero films, and the rest were studio blockbusters (F9, No time to die, A Quiet Place, Part II, free guy, and Ghostbusters: the afterlife). No independent film has managed to make it into the top 40.

And it’s a shame, because there was so much outstanding independent and foreign films released last year – so many, in fact, that only one major studio film made our top 11 and several barely missed the cut, including Procession, a devastating documentary on pedophile priests; Rebecca hall Who passed, center of a black woman passing for white in 1920s Harlem; the religious horror movie Saint maud; Maggie Gyllenhaal’s debut as a director The lost girl; Paolo Sorrentino’s sunny coming-of-age drama God’s hand; and Roy Andersson’s absurd satire About infinity, probing the insignificant banalities of life.

Here are the top 11 movies of 2021.

11. baby shiva

Emma Seligman’s feature debut, an expanded version of her NYU thesis, is a claustrophobic and gripping nightmare about a young woman (Rachel Sennott, brilliant) trapped in Shiva and forced to dodge the landmines that are her nagging parents, a bitter ex, and… her sugar daddy.

Where to watch: HBO Max

ten. Summer of Soul (… Or, when the revolution couldn’t be televised)

There are so many moments in Questlove’s documentary, an enthralling cultural artefact bringing to life never-before-seen images from the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival that move the soul. Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Nina Simone and a host of others light up the crowd at Harlem’s Mount Morris (now Marcus Garvey) Park, but the most memorable streak comes courtesy of Mavis Staples and Mahalia Jackson, whose performance of the gospel number “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”, the favorite song of the late Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated a year earlier, moves mountains.

Where to watch: Hulu

9. Annette

Much attention will be paid to Spielberg West Side Story, a dazzling but emotionally hollow remake of the 1961 classic, but the best musical of the year was this gonzo collaboration between French filmmaker Leos Carax (Sacred Motors) and the group Sparks, chronicle of a brutal stand-up comedian (Adam Driver) and an opera singer (Marion Cotillard) who give birth to a musical prodigy … in the form of a doll in drink. A scathing caricature of celebrity culture steeped in you from its roaring opening number.

Where to watch: Amazon prime

A scathing caricature of celebrity culture steeped in you from its roaring opening number.

8. Dune

While there are too many publicity photos of TimothΓ©e Chalamet’s eau de cologne, tousled hair dancing in the wind, gazing at the vast desert with dark eyes, filmmaker Denis Villeneuve has designed a mind-boggling sci-fi world of warring factions killing each other. precious (and scarce) natural resources that do justice to Frank Herbert’s landmark 1965 novel. Many have tried, including Alejandro Jodorowsky, Ridley Scott, and David Lynch, but the French Canadian ultimately pulled it off.

Where to watch: On demand

seven. To flee

Danish documentary filmmaker Jonas Poher Rasmussen met Amin Nawabi as a child; and here, for the first time, Amin tells his friend about his family’s grueling journey from 1980s Afghanistan to Denmark, and living as a gay man in a culture that is not so hospitable to his species. Amin’s storytelling comes to life with vibrant animation reminiscent of Waltz with Bashir, highlighting its courageous history of survival.

Where to watch: In theaters

6. Little mom

French author Celina Sciamma continued her acclaimed romance Portrait of a Lady on Fire with this moving and fantastic meditation on mourning, following a young girl who, having just lost her grandmother, ventures into the woods where she meets a girl of her age. She quickly realizes that this is the childish version of her mother and can then reunite with the mother of the girl (her grandmother), witness to her hopes, dreams and her most sadness. intimate.

Where to watch: In theaters

She quickly realizes that this is the childish version of her mother and can then reunite with the mother of the girl (her grandmother), witness to her hopes, dreams and her most sadness. intimate.

5. Drive my car

Mourning is once again the theme of Japanese filmmaker Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s latest film, one of two excellent films he made last year, with Wheel of Fortune and Fantasyβ€”The story of a theater actor (Hidetoshi Nishijima, a revelation) who, already in mourning for his 4-year-old daughter due to pneumonia, loses his screenwriter-wife to a cerebral hemorrhage. He then faces, with the help of a female driver, his trauma via a series of long scenic drives.

Where to watch: In theaters

4. The green knight

David Lowery’s adaptation of the 14th century poem Sir Gauvain and the Green Knight sees the young knight of Dev Patel embark on a formative quest to face the mythical green knight. It is not only the most visually striking film of the year – each of its shots, accentuated by Andrew Droz Palermo’s kinetic, diving camera – awe-inspiring, but also marks the return of Oscar-winning actress Alicia. Vikander in a story worthy of his talents.

Where to watch: On demand

3. Titanium

Julie Ducournau may have caused walkouts in Cannes with her Bildungsroman cannibalism Raw (the French are getting a bit prudish these days!), but her return to the festival won her the Palme d’Or, making her the second director to do so. It’s a feverish dream from a movie about a woman (Agathe Rousselle) who, after suffering a head injury from a car accident as a child, is sexually stimulated by the act of murder and the rumble of cars. She is eventually taken in by a macho firefighter (Vincent Lindon) mourning the loss of his daughter, and the two lost souls sink deep into the recesses of their psyche, exploring gender dynamics, parenting, sexuality and loss. .

Where to watch: On demand

2. The worst person in the world

There is a strong smell of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag in Julie (Renate Reinsve), the languid protagonist of this final installment of Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier’s Oslo triptych. Over 12 chapters, the young woman in her twenties sprints to and away from love, first falling in love with a controversial cartoonist (Anders Danielsen Lie) and then a less complicated barista. It is a fascinating portrait of the peaks and valleys of a modern young woman, in all their marvelous complexity.

Where to watch: At the cinema (February 4)

1. Licorice Pizza

Paul Thomas Anderson is one of our best living filmmakers, and this ’70s saga about a 15 year old child actor / hustler (Cooper Hoffman, son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) who forms an unshakeable bond with a 25- L’ One-year photo assistant (Alana Haim, of the Haim Group) in the San Fernando Valley is her most personal project to date. It’s a painfully tender rendering of teenage desire and ingenuity, in the shadow of Hollywood, with notable turns of Haim, Hoffman, and Bradley Cooper as coked hound Jon Peters. At the risk of being clichΓ©, they really don’t make movies like that anymore.

Where to watch: In theaters

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