2021 in Movies

These are the movies I’ve seen which premiered (somehow) in 2021.

1. Taming the Garden, directed by Salomé Jashi (9/10)

Likely the most unique film I’ll see from 2021. A stunning documentary about a former Georgian Prime Minister buying up all the great trees of his country so he can put them in a private park. Read the review of Taming the Garden.

2. Bo Burnham: Inside, directed by Bo Burham (9/10)

As you’ve heard, this is no normal comedy special, it’s much closer to some kind of film. It does as good a job as I’ve seen of capturing what the pandemic was like for privileged people. Read the review of Bo Burham: Inside.

3. Huda’s Salon, directed by Hany Abu-Assad (8/10)

A taut thriller about blackmail and hard choices in Palestine. Read the review of Huda’s Salon.

4. Dirty Tricks, directed by Daniel Sivan (8/10)

A pretty entertaining documentary about a bridge cheating controversy. Well worth watching. Read the review of Dirty Tricks.

5. Attica, directed by Stanley Nelson (8/10)

I watched this on the 50th anniversary of the riot. It’s worth watching even if you can’t do that. Read the review of Attica.

6. Arthur Rambo, directed by Laurent Cantet (8/10)

A rising French literary star’s career is derailed by his behaviour on Twitter. Much more nuanced than that description makes it sound. Read the review of Arthur Rambo.

7. Set!, directed by Scott Gawlik (7/10)

An almost Christopher Guest-esque documentary about competitive table-setting. Read the review of Set!

8. Zalava, directed by Arsalan Amiri (7/10)

A beautiful psychological horror film which I couldn’t quite believe. Read the review of Zalava.

9. Hold Your Fire, directed by Stefan Forbes (7/10)

A pretty interesting documentary about a hostage situation in Brooklyn that helped created the art of hostage negotiation. Read the review of Hold Your Fire.

10. Dead Man’s Switch, directed by Sheona McDonald (7/10)

A hyper-stylized documentary about what happened to what used to be Canada’s most popular crypto exchange. Read the review of Dead Man’s Switch.

11. Untold: Malice at the Palace, directed by Floyd Russ (7/10)

Listing an episode of a Netflix series here feels like cheating but it’s longer than an hour and I may never watch the rest of the series. Far from perfect but still something worth watching, especially to remember how you reacted to this at the time. Read the review of Untold: Malice at the Palace.

12. The Suicide Squad, directed by James Gunn (6/10)

A DC movie that goes full MCU. However, it’s also the Pscyho of superhero team movies, which is something. Read the review of The Suicide Squad.

13. Black Widow, directed by Cate Shortland (6/10)

A necessary corrective. But, like Captain Marvel, it’s too much of an MCU movie for its own good. Read the review of Black Widow.

14. El silencio del topo, directed by Anaïs Taracena (6/10)

A fascinating documentary about a Guatemalan journalist-turned-press-secretary that is too short on context for anyone who doesn’t know anything about Guatemala. Read the review of El silencio del topo.

15. Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash, directed by Edwin [not that Edwin, Canadians] (6/10)

Too many different stories and genres collide together in this Indonesian martial arts love story. But I’ve never seen anything like it. Read the review of Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash.

16. True Things, directed by Harry Wootliff (6/10)

A decent spin on a tired trope of a mysterious stranger changing a depressed person’s life, but still too much of the trope for my liking. Read the review of True Things.

Becoming Cousteau, directed by Liz Garbus (6/10)

Too hagiographic and it leaves you with too many questions about his personal life. But still interesting. Read the review of Becoming Cousteau.

17. Free Guy, directed by Shawn Levy (5/10)

A movie that’s better in its conception than execution. Read the review of Free Guy.

18. Schumacher, directed by Hanns-Bruno Kammertöns, Vanessa Nöcker, Michael Wech (5/10)

In extremely workmanlike documentary about the first part of the career of Michael Schumacher and a tiny little bit about the accident. It feels sanitized but in this case even more so and it also feels incomplete. Read the review of Schumacher.

19. Saloum, directed by Jean Luc Herbulot (5/10)

An over-stylized and tonally confused horror film that has some pretty good performances and some elements that work better than others. Read the review of Saloum.

20. Dashcam, directed by Rob Savage (5/10)

So, spoiler alert, this film isn’t shot on an actual dashcam. It’s a “live stream” horror film. The first I’ve seen, I think. And it’s a mess. Read the review of Dashcam.

21. Red Notice, directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (4/10)

More entertaining than it should be. Read the review Red Notice.

Shorts

1. “Jobs for All,” directed by Axel Danielson, Maximilien Van Aertryck (6/10)

A heavy-handed but fairly effective satirical short about full employment set to Bolero. Read the review of “Jobs for All.”