Cinema was back in 2021, film festivals were on and the new James Bond was finally released.
No Time to Die was officially the highest-grossing film of the year in the UK, with Spider-Man: Now Way Home not far behind. But, what were the best films of the year? What films gripped us and pulled at our heartstrings? What ones were burned into our minds? Here is Brig’s top ten films of the year.
Special mention should be made to Drive My Car, a Japanese film that made it onto many end of year lists but we were unable to see during its limited cinema release. It’s apparently a must-watch.
Titane follows a man who is reunited with his son after a period of unexplained crimes. It is weird and disturbing but somehow manages to be sweet and tender at the same time. Performances by Vicent Lindon and newcomer Agathe Rousselle were incredible. Paired with Julia Ducournau’s impeccable writing and directing, it’s no wonder it won the Palme d’Or at Cannes film festival this year.
The film pushes the boundaries of what is enjoyable to watch on screen and it won’t be for everyone. No matter what, you’ll leave the cinema feeling something, and is that now what cinema is about?
Titane is out in UK cinemas now.
From one odd film to another. Annette is the love child of french director Leos Carax and music duo Sparks. It follows comedian Henry McHenry (Adam Driver) and his opera singer wife Ann Defrasnoux (Marion Cotillard) as they discover their child has a special gift.
Annette is one of the most unique musicals ever made and whether you like it or not, you’ll be thinking about it for days after you watch it. Full Brig review available here.
Annette is available to watch on Mubi.
8. Summer of Soul
This fantastic documentary tells the story of the 1969 Harlem Culture Festival which celebrated Black music and culture. Lost footage from the event is paired with interviews from attendees and performers alike creates a rich picture of what happened.
Having occurred in the same year as Woodstock, a mostly white event, the Harlem Culture Festival was overshadowed for many years and it became lost in history despite there being plenty of footage of the event.
Available to stream on Disney+.
7. The Hand of God
Set in Naples in the 80s, The Hand of God follows Italian teenager Fabietto through a tumultuous time in his life. After legendary footballer Diego Maradona inadvertently saves his life, Fabietto is forced to deal with life in an entirely new way.
The film explores family and loss in a tender and heartbreaking way and it manages to make you cry while you’re laughing out loud. Despite being a little too long, there is no doubt that it belongs on this list.
Available on Netflix.
6. Mitchell’s vs the Machines
The Mitchell’s vs the Machines is undoubtedly one of the most fun films of the year. Its witty humour and sincere story of family stole our hearts immediately. Following in the steps of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the film has an incredible animation style and combined with its unique story it stands out from other animated films released this year.
The full Brig review can be found here.
Available on Netflix.
Kristen Stewart’s performance as Princess Diana is just one of many reasons Spencer has made the top 5. This film is a fresh and fantastically crafted take on the late royals life and relationship. Directed by Pablo Larrin, it is gorgeous yet haunting.
From the weight of her title to the claustrophobia of her marriage, Spencer manages to make you feel what Diana is feeling. It brings you in close to her and it is utterly intoxicating. I would be shocked it it didn’t do well at next years Oscars.
The best way to describe Pig is as a soft-action film. It sees Nicholas Cage play truffle farmer and recluse Rob as he sets out on a mission to recover his stolen pig. What at first some might expect to be full of anger and violence is quite the opposite. It is a film about love – Rob’s love for his pig, a love of food and of love lost.
Pig contains the best scene of any film this year and is generally a must-watch. Brig’s full review can be found here.
3. The Green Knight
Based on a medieval poem about an Arthurian knight written in Middle English, The Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel) as he sets out on a quest of honour after taking part in a gruesome game.
Writer/director David Lowery strikes the perfect balance between the source text and a language that the audience will understand.
From flaming heads and wretched thieves to stunning landscapes and deep realisation and melancholic, The Green Knight is filled with emotion and pain while at the same time managing to be dark and confusing. The result is a rich and exquisite film with an incredible cast that with blow you away.
Available on Amazon Prime.
2. Petite Maman
Petite Maman is a wonderful film about motherhood and our expressions of love. It is heartbreakingly sweet and the embodiment of tenderness.
It follows Nelly as she comes to terms with her grandmother’s death. While her parents are clearing out the late woman’s house, Nelly explores the surrounding woods and meets a girl her age.
The story is incredibly profound and, like many films on this list explores joy with a backdrop of melancholia. Written and directed by Celine Sciamma, it holds the same detailed and rich quality as her other works.
At 1 hour 12 minutes, it isn’t very long but that is just one of its strengths. It manages to capture a snapshot of life in such a short run time. With so many films nowadays being so long, it is refreshing to see something different.
1. C’mon C’mon
It is hard to put into words how fantastic C’mon C’mon is. Filled with overwhelming emotion and beauty, it didn’t take long for this film to completely capture my heart. Shot in black and white, the film is simply stunning and I wanted to absorb every frame. It is sweet and sad and kind of melancholic all at the same time and I didn’t want it to end.
When asked to look after his (slightly odd) nephew Jesse (Woody Norman), radio journalist Johnny (Joaquin Pheonix) has his first taste of what single parenthood is like for his sister Viv (Gabby Hoffman). Travelling across the country for Johnny’s work, the pair have to learn how to adjust to each other.
Woody Norman is an instant star and his incredible performance is supported by equally great acting from Jaoquin Pheonix and Gabby Hoffman.
Featured image credit: Slug Magazine.