After the film industry was hit hard by the events of 2020, many of us were more than keen to return to the cinema this year.
The film industry returned in style, with some embracing streaming, and some sticking to exclusive cinema releases.
While we still faced some delays (who knows when we’ll see Top Gun: Maverick and Mission: Impossible 7 at this point?!), some long, long awaited releases finally came to fruition.
We’ve had gorgeous independent movies, Oscar-worthy performances, and big-screen spectacles.
We’ve had superhero blockbusters, the end of an era when it comes to James Bond, and plenty of stories remade for the modern age.
So, as we look back on film in 2021, here are some of our favourites.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
It’s probably already a cliched choice but there’s no way we could leave it out.
Aside from a slightly rushed beginning, this was an almost perfect film for us. The dream of any Spider-Man fan, there were scenes that, years ago, plenty of people would never have believed possible.
More than that though, we saw Peter Parker return to his roots and Tom Holland’s Spidey being set up to do, presumably, a bit less universe saving and a bit more of being our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.
No Time To Die
Daniel Craig’s final outing as James Bond was a divisive one, but there’s no denying its impact on the film industry.
His 007 bowed out in the most emotional way possible, with even producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson admitting they don’t know how they’re going to bring the character back.
It was a spectacle in every way, and an iconic final film for one of our favourite ever Bonds.
The Power of the Dog
The Power of the Dog treats audiences to what is unquestionably the performance of Benedict Cumberbatch’s career, as a charismatic yet cruel alpha male cattle rancher in 1920s Montana.
It sounds outside the box for the Sherlock star, but he is utterly convincing in the role and surrounded by an impressive supporting cast including Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee.
This, combined with director Jane Campion’s gift for storytelling, makes for an enthralling slow-burn Western, where the tension is just right and the pacing rarely off. Its rich detail and powerful performances make it like watching a play – and one from which you won’t want to tear your eyes.
Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff has deserved a solo film for many, many years – so expectations were high with this one.
But we think Marvel came through. Starring an incredible cast, with standout Florence Pugh (Yelena Bolova), we learned more than we ever had about the Red Room and Natasha’s past.
It was a fitting end to Marvel’s least likely Avenger and a lovely little piece of Marvel history.
The Harder They Fall
Starring an absolutely incredible cast, Netlix’s The Harder They Fall became an overnight phenomenon for good reasons.
The soundtrack, the performances, the direction, the costumes, the storytelling – absolute gold.
As Metro.co.uk’s Alicia Adejobi put it, ‘Simply put, it’s the culmination of Black creative excellence in one.’
Speaking of incredible performances…
It was an early release for 2021 but still an absolute standout of the year, with Sir Anthony Hopkins providing one of his most mesmerising, and heartbreaking performances of all time.
Florian Zeller took major risks with his storytelling, designed to give us an idea of what Sir Anthony’s character might be feeling, and it definitely paid off.
West Side Story
Steven Spielberg set himself up for the biggest challenge of his career when he announced he was helming a new film adaptation of the classic musical West Side Story (because the 1961 version only won 10 Oscars).
Luckily, he was more than up to the task, producing a real spectacle that was updated for modern audiences but sensibly avoiding messing with its iconic source material. Allowing Bernstein and Sondheim’s music and lyrics to be the stars of the show, there’s everything on offer to satisfy an old fan as well as tempt new ones along.
Chloe Zhao has had an incredible year to say the least, starting with the film that won her an Oscar, Nomadland.
While she also smashed it with Eternals, we reckon Nomadland sees her at her best.
A family takes a trip to the beach, and surprise surprise, it goes wrong.
Old is an experience from start to classic-M-Night-Twist finish: the dialogue is terrible, there are plot holes all over the place and certain scenes made the entire cinema audience audibly cringe.
It’s genuinely as though M Night rushed out a first draft, looked at it and thought: ‘That’ll do.’
And it is an absolute blast. Every single person packed into the dark theatre, first giving confused giggles, were belly laughing at every scene less than an hour in.
Not a good movie, but a brilliant experience – definitely one to watch with friends.
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