The film industry ends 2021 celebrating the irrefutable box office success of “Spiderman No Way Home”, production of Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios that surpassed one billion in record time.
What is important to note is that this is totally an anomaly. This year continued to be one of experiments to deal with the impact of the pandemic. Upon reaching the end of it, a concrete conclusion has not yet been reached of what exactly is the best form of distribution: retain the exclusivity of the experience in theaters or do it simultaneously on digital platforms.
What can be said with certainty is that the trend of recent years has continued. Blockbuster productions that seek mass support continue to dominate the theatrical space, while films that seek to continue pushing the artistic limits of this medium have had to settle for limited alternate avenues.
Although the reality of this panorama is uncertain, what can be celebrated when doing the exercise of listing what for this server are the best ten films of the year 2021, is that the art of this medium continues to evolve.
1. “Licorice Pizza”
(Available in Fine Arts)– This fun trip to California’s San Fernando Valley in the 1970s features a unique spontaneous energy that alternates between sardonic comedy and romantic meditation. Paul Thomas Anderson reaffirms his masterful handling of the medium by creating a romance that manages to be realistic while fully indulging in the notion of living happily ever after with your soul mate.
2. “Tick, Tick … Boom!”
(Available on Netflix)– Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut is a voltage of expressionist creativity like no other this year. This is a film full of love. Love for all the possibilities of the film medium and for all the creative freedoms that come with working on a musical for the big screen. At the center of all this is Andrew Garfield, as playwright Jonathan Larson before reaching his full artistic potential, giving the best performance of his career.
3. “Free guy”
(Available on DVD, BR and rental platforms) – The top box office film on this list completely challenges the notion that commercial offerings from Hollywood studios have nothing to say. This film, which uses the world of videogames to generate action sequences and exalt the comedic talent of Ryan Reynolds, is also given the task of making concrete and successful statements about creativity and how mental health is affected when living In a routine that is fueled by fear
4. “The Mitchells vs The Machines”
(Available on Netflix)– Every frame in this wonderful animated offer is overloaded with creativity. With a lot of flair and an agile modern language, this production manages to be an ode to family togetherness while satirizing and paying tribute to the most abused conventions of Hollywood commercial films.
(Available in Video On Demand) – This adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel stands out as the most ambitious film offering of the year. Denis Villeneuve’s cinematographic canvas is so broad that it evokes the days when studios produced films like “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962). The production transports you to a world never seen before, with dazzling panoramas and full and deep dramatic development.
6. “The Power of the Dog”
(Available on Netflix) – With a subtle and devastating temper, director Jane Campion uses the classic canvas of a western to create a drama where patriarchy manages to victimize all of its central characters. As impressive as the nuances of Kirsten Dunst and Benedict Cumberbacht’s performances are, the film and the twist in its last section work because of the way the director manages to turn the innocence of Kodi Smit-McPhee into a young man whose masculinity is constantly attacked, into a lethal weapon.
7. “Gardenias Perfume”
In addition to the impressive artistic mettle of the direction of Macha Colón in his first feature film, the most striking thing about this Puerto Rican film is how it manages to create poetry of countless contrasts and contradictions within our daily lives. By placing the viewer in the shoes of the protagonist, who begins the film with the loss of her husband, the filmmaker manages to experience how prejudice and compassion coexist and how the grief of a loss can be the portal to unexpected happiness.
8. “Nightmare Alley”
(Premieres January 5 in Puerto Rico) – Guillermo del Toro throws himself fully into the conventions of “film noir”, with Bradley Cooper as his antihero and Cate Blanchett making the most of the archetype of the “femme fatale”. The result is the film with the most oppressive atmosphere of the year, which further heightens the impact of the Mexican filmmaker’s hypnotic visuals.
(Available on Netflix)– In her debut feature, Rebeca Hall uses cinematography and production design with the dexterity of a veteran. The result is a film that immerses the viewer in what appears to be a historical document of a conflict from the past while the audiovisual language and the excellent performances of the cast, led by Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga, illustrate all the ways in which related prejudices race continue to undermine our society.
(Available on Disney Plus)– Whoever continues to insist that creativity in Pixar animated films is over, we say “SILENCE BRUNO!” Each frame of this film is a precious expressionist painting saturated with color and with a magic that invites the viewer to want to exist permanently in this universe that shows a small town on the southern coast of Italy that has as part of its folklore legends of strange creatures from the depths of the ocean.