Jason Tan Liwag

Alumnus of the 2021 IFFR Young Film Critics Programme; culture essayist and film critic at CNN Philippines Life and Rappler

For Filipino film critics such as myself, the online and hybrid festivals were a blessing. It opened many doors which were otherwise closed due to our material realities. Of these, the International Film Festival Rotterdam (which I participated in through the Young Film Critics Programme) and the QCinema International Film Festival provided an unparalleled selection of films, an accommodating press office, and unique efforts that attempted to capture the spirit of the onsite events.

This list that I have constructed, which is a mix of short films and feature-length entries, is an attempt at capturing the cinema that excited me, challenged my perceptions of what film can be, and made me miss the theatrical experience at its fullest glory.

Films released in 2021:

  • Big Night (Jun Robles Lana, 2021
  • Bipolar (Queena Li, 2021)
  • Black Rainbow (Zig Dulay, 2021)
  • Come Here (Anocha Suwichakornpong, 2021)
  • Dear to Me (Monica Vanesa Tedja, 2021)
  • Dikit (Gabriela Serrano,2021)
  • Don’t worry, we still hear you (Martika Ramirez Escobar, 2021)
  • 濁水漂流 (Drifting, Jun Li, 2021)
  • Doraibu mai kâ (Drive My Car, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2021)
  • In Loving Memory (of Who We Used to Be) (Vicky Lee, 2021)
  • It’s Raining Frogs Outside (Maria Estela Paiso, 2021)
  • Lemongrass Girl (Pom Bunsermvicha, 2021)
  • On the Job 2: The Missing 8 (Erik Matti, 2021)
  • Petite Maman (Céline Sciamma, 2021)
  • Sol (Joanna Vasquez Arong, 2021)
  • È stata la mano di Dio (The Hand of God, Paolo Sorrentino, 2021)
  • The Year of the Everlasting Storm (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Jafar Panahi, Laura Poitras, David Lowery, Dominga Sotomayor, Anthony Chen, Malik Vitthal, 2021)
  • Verdens verste menneske (The Worst Person in the World, Joachim Trier, 2021)
  • Gûzen to sôzô (Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2021)
  • Kun maupay man it panahon (Whether the Weather is Fine, Carlo Francisco Manatad, 2021)
  • Les Sorcières de l’Orient (The Witches of the Orient, Julien Faraut, 2021)
  • Yuni (Kamila Andini, 2021)

Older films encountered for the first time in 2021:

  • A child dies, a child plays, a woman is born, a woman dies, a bird arrives, a bird flies off (Shireen Seno, 2018)
  • Netemo sametemo (Asako I & II, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2018)
  • Batang West Side (West Side Avenue, Lav Diaz, 2001)
  • Beginning (Dea Kulumbegashvili, 2020)
  • Copie conforme (Certified Copy, Abbas Kiarostami, 2010)
  • Disintegration 93-96 (Miko Revereza, 2017)
  • Distancing (Miko Revereza, 2019)
  • Ghost Like Us (Riar Rizaldi, 2020)
  • 春光乍洩 (Happy Together, Wong Kar-wai, 1997). 
  • Nekem az élet teccik nagyon (I Like Life A Lot, Kati Macskássy 1977)
  • The Man Who Isn’t There and Other Stories of Longing (Trishtan Perez, 2019)
  • Xiao shi de ging ren jie (My Missing Valentine, Yu-Hsun Chen, 2020)
  • News from Home (Chantal Akerman, 1976)
  • Nimic (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2019)
  • Nomadland (Chloe Zhao, 2020)
  • Ola (Mijan Jumalon, 2020)
  • Orbit 50: Letter to My 3 Sons (Kidlat Tahimik, 1992)
  • Shiva Baby (Emma Seligman, 2020)
  • Sunrise in My Mind (Danech San, 2020)
  • Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (Three Years Without God, Mario O’Hara, 1976)
  • Tellurian Drama (Riar Rizaldi, 2020)
  • Domangchin yeoja (The Woman Who Ran, Hong Sang-soo, 2020)

The Hand of God

Tomas Trussow

Canadian cineaste and founder of The Lonely Film Critic

While I have seen plenty of 2021 releases, I do not yet feel I can make a complete list of favourite films that I would be satisfied with. Instead, I would like to offer a selection of older works I watched for the first time this year that helped enlighten me in some way, in the hope that they will enlighten you, too. 

The following list are short works, all under an hour, and many are fledgling efforts from careers that became storied over time. What stands out in all of them is their willingness to find meanings outside of conventional formal strictures—blending, blurring, or entirely doing away with oppressive parameters and rendering exciting new sites of experimentation. The Spheeris films also hold a special place in my heart for introducing me to the indelible, inspiring Jenifer Michaels, who ought to be elevated to the status of a trans icon for how visible and open she was about her transition in the early 1970s.

  • Caprice (Joanna Hogg, 1986)
  • Dementia (John Parker, 1955)
  • Hats Off to Hollywood (Penelope Spheeris, 1972)
  • Holidaze, 1994 (George Kuchar, 1994)
  • I Don’t Know (Penelope Spheeris, 1970)
  • Illusions (Julie Dash, 1982)
  • Matzo Maidels (Jenni Olson, Monica Nolan & Julie Dorf, 2003)

It is of vital importance to be as fluent and literate in the history of queer cinema as possible, and I was fortunate enough to immerse myself in a healthy mix of canonical classics and lesser-known works that were no less stirring in their daring frankness. Take Bressan’s film, which is one of the first narrative features to confront the horrors of the AIDS crisis head-on, which then makes for a moving pairing with Epstein and Friedman’s testimonial work about those featured on the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Or Karen Black’s gutsy and honest performance as a Trans woman in Altman’s drama, which seems like a natural complement to Candy Darling’s moving appearance in Nelson’s film over a decade earlier. As one watches more and more queer cinema, one can begin appreciating the silent conversations these films have with one another—allies in arms, documenting lives that had been hidden from the mainstream for so long.

  • Bound (Lilly & Lana Wachowski, 1996)
  • Boys in the Sand (Wakefield Poole, 1971)
  • Buddies (Arthur J. Bressan, Jr., 1985)
  • Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (Robert Altman, 1982)
  • Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman, 1989)
  • Cruising (William Friedkin, 1980)
  • The Living End (Gregg Araki, 1992)
  • Mädchen in Uniform (Girls in Uniform, Leontine Sagan & Carl Froelich, 1931)
  • O Fantasma (Phantom, João Pedro Rodrigues, 2000)
  • Pink Flamingos (John Waters, 1972)
  • Pink Narcissus (James Bidgood, 1971)
  • Some of My Best Friends Are… (Mervyn Nelson, 1971)
  • Taxi zum Klo (Frank Ripploh, 1980)

I group the next films together not to highlight any unifying thematic strands, but because I viewed each one with a close friend (albeit remotely). One of the great joys that we have is sharing cinema in a communal setting; even better is watching a film with someone who will delight in your witty asides and breezy observations. Sometimes a film needs to be brought down to size, while other times it’s okay to revel in the miraculous things it can do and doing all this with a friend can make even the day’s toughest stresses melt away.

  • Bell, Book and Candle (Richard Quine, 1958)
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Francis Ford Coppola, 1992)
  • The Fly (David Cronenberg, 1986)
  • Grease 2 (Patricia Birch, 1982)
  • The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)
  • Remember My Name (Alan Rudolph, 1978)
  • The Silent Partner (Daryl Duke, 1978)
  • Tampopo (Juzo Itami, 1985)

 Every year, there are several films I watch for the sole reason because they were pointed in my direction by people whose taste I could trust. Even films I had known existed prior to 2021, I watched this year due to the unyielding passion of people who were willing to champion them. To which I say: thank you for letting me share in your love, for I now love them, too.

  • Daughters of Darkness (Harry Kümel, 1971)
  • Dr. Caligari (Stephen Sayadian, 1989)
  • Fatal Attraction (Adrian Lyne, 1987)
  • Possession (Andrzej Żuławski, 1981)
  • Teknolust (Lynn Hershman Leeson, 2002)
  • Tommy (Ken Russell, 1975)
  • The Witch Who Came from the Sea (Matt Cimber, 1976)

And here, finally, are a selection of films that stole my heart, gripped me, and, in their own individual ways, inspired me with their resourcefulness.

  • Gregory’s Girl (Bill Forsyth, 1980)
  • The Heartbreak Kid (Elaine May, 1972)
  • The Incredible Shrinking Man (Jack Arnold, 1957)
  • The Invisible Man (James Whale, 1933)
  • Kind Lady (George B. Seitz, 1935)
  • Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (Albert Lewin, 1951)
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray (Albert Lewin, 1945)
  • The Servant (Joseph Losey, 1963)
  • So This is Paris (Ernst Lubitsch, 1926)
  • St. Louis Blues (Allen Reisner, 1958)

I will end by making note of a physical release I believe to be essential: The Fred Halsted Collection from Altered Innocence (2021). Three landmark works from gay adult film’s heyday are restored in this fantastic set, as well as a work once thought to be lost that was fortuitously located on VHS and digitized. The creators behind the wonderful Ask Any Buddy podcast, as well as several noteworthy scholars, provide a litany of context and historical insight that is amazingly thorough, so that this release ultimately becomes a testament to the importance of preserving this cinematic history before it fades away completely.

Koen Van Daele

Curator working in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Head of Program at Kinodvor.

Annette (Leos Carax, 2020)
Beginning (Dea Kulumbegashvili, 2020)
Des portes et des déserts (Of Gates and of Deserts, Loredana Bianconi, 2021)
Exterminate All the Brutes (Raoul Peck, 2021)
Minamata Mandala (Kazuo Hara, 2020)
Ras vkhedavt, rodesac cas vukurebt? (What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?, Aleksandre Koberidze, 2021)

Doraibu mai kâ (Drive My Car, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, 2021)
Fabian oder Der Gang vor die Hunde (Fabian: Going to the Dogs, Dominik Graf, 2021)
France (Bruno Dumont, 2021)
Herr Bachmann und seine Klasse (Mr Bachmann and His Class, Maria Speth, 2021)
Koko-di koko-da (Johannes Nyholm, 2019)
Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021)
Petite Maman (Céline Sciamma, 2021)
Serre moi fort (Hold Me Tight, Mathieu Amalric, 2021)

Atlantide (Yuri Ancarani, 2021)
Dýrið (Lamb, Valdimar Jóhannsson, 2021)
The First 54 Years – An Abbreviated Manual for Military Occupation (Avi Mograbi, 2021)
Jenayat-e bi deghat (Careless Crime, Shahram Mokri, 2020)
Madres paralelas (Parallel Mothers, Pedro Almodóvar, 2021)
Nos, ili Zagovor Netakih (The Nose or the Conspiracy of Mavericks, Andrey Khrzhanovsky, 2020)
The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion, 2021)
Le prince (Prince, Lisa Bierwirth, 2021)
Three Minutes – A Lengthening (Bianca Stigter, 2021)
Umibe no eigakan Cinema no tamatebako (Labyrinth of Cinema, ÔBAYASHI Nobuhiko, 2020)
Vortex (Gaspar Noé, 2021)

El Agente Topo (The Mole Agent, Maite Alberdi, 2020)
Atlas ptáků  (Bird Atlas, Olmo Omerzu, 2021)
Babardeală cu bucluc sau porno balamuc (Bad Luck Banging or Looney Porn, Radu Jude, 2021)
Benediction (Terence Davies, 2021)
Du som er i himlen (As In Heaven, Tea Lindeburg, 2021)
The French Dispatch (Wes Anderson, 2020)
Futura (Pietro Marcello, Francesco Munzi, Alice Rohrwacher, 2021)
Her Socialist Smile (John Gianvito, 2020)
Hytti nro 6 (Compartment no. 6, Juho Kuosmanen, 2021)
Inexorable (Fabrice Du Welz, 2021)
Les intranquilles (The Restless, Joachim Lafosse, 2021)
Juste un mouvement (Just A Movement, Vincent Meessen, 2021)
Steakhouse (Špela Čadež, 2021)

À pas aveugles (From Where They Stood, Christophe Cognet, 2021)
Benedetta (Paul Verhoeven, 2020)
Cenzorka (107 Mothers, Peter Kerekes, 2021)
A Chiara (Jonas Carpignano, 2021)
Cow (Andrea Arnold, 2019)
Crai nou (Blue Moon, Alina Grigore, 2021)
Gûzen to sôzô (Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, 2021)
Întregalde (Radu Muntean, 2021)
Inventura (Inventory, Darko Sinko, 2021)
Kyô Samurai Musashi (Crazy Samurai Musashi, Yûji Shimomura, 2020)
A Man and a Camera (Guido Hendrikx, 2020)
Marx può aspettare (Marx Can Wait, Marco Bellocchio  2021)
Pejzaži otpora (Landscapes of Resistance, Marta Popivoda, 2021)
Piccolo corpo (Small Body, Laura Samani, 2021)
Retour à Reims (Fragments) (Returning to Reims, Jean-Gabriel Périot, 2021)
Seperti Dendam, Rindu Harus Dibayar Tuntas (Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash, Edwin, 2021)
Spencer (Pablo Larraín, 2021)
Een stadje in Spanje, triptiek (A Small Town in Spain, triptych, Jan Vromman, 2020)

The Power of the Dog

Noel Vera

Best of 2021 in descending order:

14. House of Gucci (Ridley Scott, 2021)
13. Fan Girl (Antoinette Jadaone, 2020)
12. Shin Evangelion Gekijôban (Evangelion 3.0 + 1.0: Thrice Upon a Time, Hideaki Anno, 2021)
11. Zola (Janicza Bravo, 2020)
10. The French Dispatch (Wes Anderson, 2021)
9. Candyman (Nia DaCosta, 2021)
8. West Side Story (Steven Spielberg, 2021)
7. Annette (Leos Carax, 2021)
6. In the Earth (Ben Wheatley, 2021)
5. Titane (Julia DuCornau, 2021)
4. Nightmare Alley (Guillermo del Toro, 2021)
3. The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion, 2021)
2. The Card Counter (Paul Schrader, 2021)
1. Historya ni Ha (History of Ha, Lav Diaz, 2021)

Other films seen in 2021:

Mainstream favorite: The Eternals (Chloe Zhao, 2021)
On Netflix: Lingua Franca (Isabel Sandoval, 2019)
On TCM: Midnight (Mitchell Leisen, 1939) and No Man of Her Own (Mitchell Leisen, 1950)
Restored by ABS CBN: Soltero (Pio de Castro III, 1984)
Found on Facebook: Virgin People (Celso Ad Castillo, 1984)
Found on Mike De Leon’s Citizen Jake Vimeo site: Lupang Pangako (Promised Land, Susana de Guzman, 1949). 

The French Dispatch

Peter Verstraten

Assistant Professor Film and Literary Studies, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Films that I watched in Dutch theatres in 2021, except for numbers 9, 14, 15, 18, 23, 27, 29, 30, 35 and 50. In order of preference:

  1. Dasatskisi (Beginning, Déa Kulumbegashvili, 2020)
  2. The Card Counter (Paul Schrader, 2021)
  3. De Oost (The East, Jim Taihuttu, 2020)
  4. Nr. 10 (Number 10, Alex van Warmerdam, 2021)
  5. La virgen de agosto (The August Virgin, Jonás Trueba, 2019)
  6. Annette (Leos Carax, 2021)
  7. The Souvenir: Part II (Joanna Hogg, 2021)
  8. È stata la mano di Dio (The Hand of God, Paolo Sorrentino, 2021)
  9. Das Vorspiel (The Audition, Ina Weisse, 2019)
  10. Titane (Julia Ducournau, 2021)
  11. Babardeala cu bucluc sau porno balamuc (Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, Radu Jude, 2021)
  12. Les Olympiades, Paris 13e (Paris, 13th District, Jacques Audiard, 2021)
  13. Das Mädchen und die Spinne (The Girl and the Spider, Ramon and Silvan Zürcher, 2021)
  14. Sputnik (Egor Abramenko, 2020)
  15. Historia de lo Oculto (History of the Occult, Cristian Ponce, 2020)
  16. Madres paralelas (Parallel Mothers, Pedro Almodóvar, 2021)
  17. Onoda, 10 000 nuits dans la jungle (Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle, Arthur Harari, 2021)
  18. 南巫 (The Story of Southern Islet, Keat Aun Chong, 2020)
  19. Possessor (Brandon Cronenberg, 2020)
  20. Benedetta (Paul Verhoeven, 2021)
  21. Undine (Christian Petzold, 2020)
  22. Les choses qu’on dit, les choses qu’on fait (The Things We Say, The Things We Do, Emmanuel Mouret, 2020)
  23. Schlaf (Sleep, Michael Venus, 2020)
  24. Gunda (Viktor Kosakovskiy, 2020)
  25. Quo vadis, Aida? (Jasmila Zbanic, 2020)
  26. Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema (Mark Cousins, 2018)
  27. Nuevo Orden (New Order, Michel Franco, 2020)
  28. The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion, 2021)
  29. In the Shadows (Erdem Tepegöz, 2020)
  30. Caveat (Damian Mc Carthy, 2020)
  31. Dorogie tovarishchi (Dear Comrades!, Andrey Konchalovskiy, 2020)
  32. Mandibules (Mandibles, Quentin Dupieux, 2020)
  33. Playlist (Nine Antico, 2021)
  34. Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)
  35. Pieces of a Woman (Kornél Mundruczó, 2020)
  36. Druk (Another Round, Thomas Vinterberg, 2020)
  37. Retfaerdighedens ryttere (Riders of Justice, Anders Thomas Jensen, 2020)
  38. Spencer (Pablo Larraín, 2021)
  39. Petite maman (Céline Sciamma, 2021)
  40. Nomadland (Chloé Zhao, 2020)
  41. The Green Knight (David Lowery, 2021)
  42. De veroordeling (The Judgement, Sander Burger, 2021)
  43. De slag om de Schelde (The Forgotten Battle, Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., 2020)
  44. Do Not Hesitate (Shariff Korver, 2021)
  45. Ghasideyeh gave sefid (Ballad of a White Cow, Maryam Moghadam and Behtash Sanaeeha, 2020)
  46. Cow (Andrea Arnold, 2021)
  47. Un monde (Playground, Laura Wandel, 2021)
  48. Śniegu już nigdy nie bęzie (Never Gonna Snow Again, Malgorzata Szumowska and Michal Englert, 2020) 
  49. Last Night in Soho (Edgar Wright, 2021)
  50. Blutsauger (Bloodsuckers – A Marxist Vampire Comedy, Julian Radlmaier, 2021)

Ten of the best older films I saw for the first time in 2021:

  1. Padurea spânzuratilor (The Hanged Forest, Liviu Ciulei, 1965)
  2. Zhmurki (Dead Man’s Bluff, Aleksey Balabanov, 2005)
  3. Symphonie pour un massacre (Symphony for a Massacre, Jacques Deray, 1963)
  4. Napló gyermekeimnek (Diary for My Children, Márta Mészáros, 1984)
  5. Korotkie vstrechi (Brief Encounters, Kira Muratova, 1967)
  6. Shatranj-e baad (Chess of the Wind, Mohammad Reza Aslani, 1976) 
  7. Il Demonio (The Demon, Brunello Rondi, 1963)
  8. Hell Drivers (Cy Endfield, 1957)
  9. Nightfall (Jacques Tourneur, 1956)
  10. Gavaznha (The Deer, Musad Kimiai, 1974) 

The Card Counter

Nicholas Vroman

Film Writer at A Page of Madness

Favorite Films seen in 2021 (in no order): 

  • My Mexican Bretzel (Nuria Giménez, 2019)
  • Lúa vermella (Red Moon Tide, Lois Patiño, 2020)
  • Ar Condicionado (Air Conditioner, Fradique, 2020)
  • Taming the Garden (Salomé Jashi, 2021)
  • El Diablo entre las Piernas (Devil Between the Legs, Arturo Ripstein, 2019)
  • Destello bravío (Mighty Flash, Ainhoa Rodríguez, 2021)
  • The Uncertain Detective (Gregg Lachow, 2021)
  • O que arde (Fire Will Come, Oliver Laxe, 2019)
  • The Card Counter (Paul Schrader, 2021)
  • Espíritu sagrado (The Sacred Spirit, Chema García Ibarra, 2021)
  • The Trouble with Being Born (Sandra Wollner, 2020)
  • Odoriko (Yoichiro Okutani, 2020)
  • Dida (Nikola Ilić and Corina Schwingruber Ilić, 2021)

David Walsh

World Socialist Web Site

Shown in movie theaters in North America:

  • The Mauritanian (Kevin Macdonald, 2021)
  • Eyimofe (This Is My Desire, Arie and Chuko Esiri, 2020)
  • Minari (Lee Isaac Chung, 2020)
  • Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello, 2019)
  • Judas and the Black Messiah (Shaka King, 2021)
  • The Viewing Booth (Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, 2019)    

Seen at film festivals:

  • Ha’berech (Ahed’s Knee, Nadav Lapid, 2021)
  • A Leave (Lee Ran-hee, 2020)
  • La caja (The Box, Lorenzo Vigas, 2021)
  • Radiograph of a Family (Firouzeh Khosrovani, 2020)
  • Câmp de maci (Poppy Field, Eugen Jebeleanu, 2020)
  • Attica (Stanley Nelson and Traci Curry, 2021)

Jason Philip Wierzba

Writer and musician in addition to being a programmer at Calgary Cinematheque.
  1. Ha’berech (Ahed’s Knee, Nadav Lapid, 2021)
  2. Doraibu mai kâ (Drive My Car, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2021)
  3. Gûzen to sôzô (Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2021)
  4. Tabi no owari sekai no hajimari (To the Ends of the Earth, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2019)
  5. Introduction (Hong Sang-soo, 2021) 
  6. Memoria (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2021)
  7. Babardeală cu bucluc sau porno balamuc (Bad Luck Banging or Looney Porn, Radu Jude, 2021)
  8. Isabella (Matías Piñeiro, 2020)
  9. Jiao qu de niao (Suburban Birds, Sheng Qiu, 2018)
  10. Archipelago (Félix Dufour-Laperrière, 2021) 
  11. Medusa (Anita Rocha da Silveira, 2021)
  12. Zola (Janicza Bravo, 2020)
  13. Hands That Bind (Kyle Armstrong, 2021)
  14. Mogul Mowgli (Bassam Tariq, 2020)
  15. Four Roads (Alice Rohrwacher, 2021) 
  16. Genus Pan (Lav Diaz, 2020)
  17. Playdurizm (Gem Deger, 2020)
  18. A Month of Single Frames (Lynne Sachs, 2019) 
  19. The French Dispatch (Wes Anderson, 2021)
  20. Cryptozoo (Dash Shaw, 2021) 

Appendix/Monkeyshines: A major gift and a major achievement was visiting James Benning’s exhibition PLACE (2021), at neugerriemschneider Gallery. I also managed to catch Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Jason Reitman, 2021)—also known as Ghostbusters: Legacy – at Kino Central. Oh, and the first film I ever saw at the Cinémathèque française was Providence (Alain Resnais, 1977). Providence is an old favourite, though I’m confident I’d only ever seen it previously on VHS cassette. Salle Henri Langlois, third row, a little to stage right. Here I wear much more the foppish face mask of the flâneur; I dream the dreams of a Delacroix…

Christopher Witty

Writer, Cinephile.

For me, like so many others, 2021 has been a strange year, made stranger still by moving in late 2020 from one country (the U.K.) to another (France), and then back again in August 2021. Due to this, my viewing has been both sporadic and eclectic; living in a foreign country and left without a streaming service for relatively long periods of time, I have picked up DVDs almost at random wherever I can or found myself trawling YouTube in the hope that my search for the film I want to watch will lead to other undiscovered gems (it invariably did). 

Two highlights have been buying Criterion’s 2009 DVD release of Nikkatsu Noir, and watching films recommended through Instagram’s #noirvember page; a welcome communal vibe that gave cinephiles a platform to share their appreciation of film noir. Since having access again to Amazon and Netflix, I have discovered Federico Fellini for the first time, the films of Youssef Chahine, and some of the releases I missed whilst overseas. I also watched two great Australian produced documentaries on the film industry: Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks (Serge Ou, 2019) and Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (Mark Hartley, 2014). Looking back over this list of films (not including those I’ve seen before), I can map my journey from the past year. Looking back again in twenty years’ time, I expect some of these will resonate in the way films from childhood did.

Films released in 2021:

  • The Dig (Simon Stone, 2021)
  • The Green Knight (David Lowery, 2021)
  • The Harder They Fall (Jeymes Samuel, 2021)
  • The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion, 2021)
  • Sound of Metal (Darius Marder, 2019)
  • Quo Vadis, Aida? (Jasmila Žbanić, 2020)

Other films listed chronologically as I watched them for the first time in 2021:

  • Otona no miru ehon – Umarete wa mita keredo (I Was Born, But…,Yasujiro Ozu, 1932)
  • Bande à part (Band of Outsiders, Jean-Luc Godard, 1964)
  • L’armée des ombres (Army of Shadows, Jean-Pierre Melville, 1969)
  • La règle du jeu (The Rules of the Game, Jean Renoir, 1939)
  • La grande illusion (Jean Renoir, 1937)
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things (Charlie Kaufman, 2020)
  • The Beguiled (Sofia Coppola, 2017)
  • A Ghost Story (David Lowery, 2017)
  • Bāb al-Ḥadīd (Cairo Station, Youssef Chahine, 1958)
  • Ṣira’ Fī al-Wādī (The Blazing Sun, Youssef Chahine, 1954)
  • Al-Ard (The Land, Youssef Chahine, 1969)
  • Detour (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1945)
  • The Great Dictator (Charlie Chaplin, 1940)
  • Limelight (Charlie Chaplin, 1952)
  • Da 5 Bloods (Spike Lee, 2020)
  • Wadjda (Haifaa al-Mansour, 2013)
  • Fahrenheit 451 (Francois Truffaut, 1966)
  • Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017)
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much (Alfred Hitchcock, 1934)
  • Mandy (Panos Cosmatos, 2018)
  • Zatōichi monogatari/The Tale of Zatoichi (Kenji Misumi, 1962)
  • Roma citta aperta (Rome, Open City, Roberto Rosselini, 1945)
  • Mank (David Fincher, 2020)
  • Q – The Winged Serpent (Larry Cohen, 1982)
  • The Stuff (Larry Cohen, 1985)
  • Logan Lucky (Steven Soderbergh, 2017)
  • The Old Dark House (James Whale, 1932)
  • Sweet Country (Warwick Thornton, 2017)
  • Mugen no jūnin (Blade of the Immortal, Takashi Miike, 2017)
  • Kiss of Death (Henry Hathaway, 1947)
  • Yangguang Puzhao (A Sun, Chung Mong-Hong, 2019)
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Aaron Sorkin, 2020)
  • Det sjunde inseglet (The Seventh Seal, Ingmar Bergman, 1957)
  • Hors la vie (Out of Life, Maroun Bagdadi, 1991)
  • Nightfall (Jacques Tourneur, 1956)
  • A Boy and His Dog (L.Q. Jones, 1975)
  • It Follows (David Robert Mitchell, 2014)
  • Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)
  • Dredd (Pete Travis, 2012)
  • Us (Jordan Peele, 2019)
  • Wild Bill (Dexter Fletcher, 2011)
  • Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)
  • Ma (Tate Taylor, 2019)
  • The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)
  • Stan and Ollie (Jon S. Baird, 2018)
  • A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater, 2006)
  • Babettes Gæstebud (Babette’s Feast, Gabriel Axel, 1987)
  • Brick (Rian Johnson, 2005)
  • Ore wa matteru ze (I Am Waiting, Koreyoshi Kurahara, 1957)
  • Sabita naifu (Rusty Knife, Toshio Masuda, 1958)
  • Jūsangō taihisen yori: Sono gosōsha o nerae (Take Aim at the Police Van, Seijun Suzuki, 1960)
  • Kenjū zankoku monogatari (Cruel Gun Story,Takumi Furukawa, 1964)
  • Koruto wa Ore no Pasupōto (A Colt is My Passport,Takashi Nomura, 1967)
  • Carnival of Souls (Herk Harvey, 1962)
  • Sankofa (Haile Gerima, 1993)
  • Tōkyō nagaremono (Tokyo Drifter, Seijun Suzuki, 1966)
  • Janghwa, Hongryeon (A Tale of Two Sisters, Kim Jee-woon, 2003)
  • The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)
  • The Woman in Black (Herbert Wise, 1989)
  • Spellbound (Alfred Hitchcock, 1945)
  • Cry of the City (Robert Siodmak, 1948)
  • The Naked City (Jules Dassin, 1948)
  • The Lady from Shanghai (Orson Welles, 1947)
  • Fallen Angel (Otto Preminger, 1945)
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends (Otto Preminger, 1950)
  • Mouchette (Robert Bresson, 1967)
  • Dead Reckoning (John Cromwell, 1947)
  • I Wake Up Screaming (Bruce Humberstone, 1941)
  • The Lodger (John Brahm, 1944)
  • Hangover Square (John Brahm, 1945)
  • Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
  • I vitelloni (Federico Fellini, 1953)
  • La strada (The Road, Federico Fellini, 1954)
  • J’ai perdu mon corps (I Lost My Body, Jérémy Clapin, 2019)
  • Le notti di Cabiria (Nights of Cabiria, Federico Fellini, 1957)
  • Snowpiercer (Bong Joon-ho, 2014)
  • La dolce Vita (Federico Fellini, 1960)
  • Predestination (Michael and Peter Spierig, 2014)
  • O Matador (The Killer, Marcelo Galvão, 2017)
  • 81/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963)
  • The Piano (Jane Campion, 1993)
  • Saint Maud (Rose Glass, 2020)
  • Les Misérables (Ladj Ly, 2019)
  • Gokseong (The Wailing, Na Hong-jin, 2016)

Sound of Metal

Barbara Wurm

Teaches literature and film at Humboldt University and worksin the selection committees of Berlinale and Goeast Film Festival.

My order of films (category 1 … released for the first time in 2021) follows the idea of a somewhat interactive (formerly called dialectical maybe) trajectory and is thus far from a hierarchical setting. This year of universal lockdown offered haunting filmmaking indeed, as if cinema needed to display its extraordinary capacity in long breathtaking. Popping up from a world of emptiness, many of the few events of common screenings which I was lucky enough to experience ‘physically’, brought along utter joy, I found, and quite a bunch of gestures and words for the record … Category 2 (older films), as has become a sad habit over the last couple of years, I dedicate to those who took off to another world … hopefully a more peaceful one.

Cinema beyond Eternity:

Story of My Wife (Enyedi Ildikó, 2021)
Illusions perdues (Lost Illusions, Xavier Giannoli, 2021)
Serre moi fort (Hold Me Tight, Mathieu Amalric, 2021)
Medea (Aleksandr Zeldovič, 2021)
Ras vkhedavt, rodesac cas vukurebt? (What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?, Alexandre Koberidze, 2021)
The Card Counter (Paul Schrader, 2021)
The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal, 2021)
Benedetta (Paul Verhoeven, 2021)
Il buco (The Hole, Michelangelo Frammartino, 2021)
Tralala (Arnaud and Jean-Marie Larrieu, 2021)
Genderation (Monika Treut, 2021)

Cinema beyond Testosterone:

A Chiara (To Chiara, Jonas Carpignano, 2021)
Freaks Out (Gabriele Mainetti, 2021)
Old Henry (Potsy Ponciroli, 2021)
On the Job: The Missing 8 (Erik Matti, 2021)
Limbo (Soi Cheang, 2021)
The Last Duel (Sir Ridley Scott, 2021)
Censor (Prano Bailey-Bond, 2021)
Competencia oficial (Official Competition, Gastón Duprat, Mariano Cohn, 2021)
Stop-Zemlia (Kateryna Gornostai, 2021)
A Kid’s Flick (Nikita Lavretski, 2021)
OSS 117: Alerte Rouge en Afrique Noire (OSS 117 Red alert in black Africa, Nicolas Bedos, 2021)

Cinema beyond Enlightenment:

Fabian oder Der Gang vor die Hunde (Fabian: Going to the Dogs, Dominik Graf, 2021)
Nous (We, Alice Diop, 2021)
Azor (Andreas Fontana, 2021)
Herr Bachmann und seine Klasse (Mr. Bachmann and His Class, Maria Speth, 2021)
Exterminate All the Brutes (Raoul Peck, 2021)
House Arrest (Aleksey German Jr., 2021)
Hygiène sociale (Social Hygiene, Denis Côté 2021)
Babardeala cu bucluc sau porno balamuc (Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, Radu Jude, 2021)
Wesele (Wedding Day, Wojciech Smarzowski, 2021)
Mr. Landsbergis (Sergei Loznitsa, 2021)
Qui rido io (The king of Laughter, Mario Martone, 2021)

Eternal Flames:

Melvin Peebles: Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971)
Jean-Paul Belmondo: Un singe en hiver (A Monkey in Winter, Henri Verneuil, 1962)
Phil Spector: Dirty Dancing (Emile Ardolino, 1987)
Bertrand Tavernier: Un dimanche à la campagne (A Sunday in the Country, 1984)
Tamara Trampe: Meine Mutter, ein Krieg und ich (My Mother, a War and Me, 2014)
Sergei Soloviev: Anna Karenina (2009)
Peter Patzak: Zerschossene Träume (Shattered Dreams, 1976)
Jean-Pierre Bacri: On connaît la chanson (Same Old Song, Alain Resnais, 1997)
Arved Birnbaum: Das Gelübde (The Vow, Dominik Graf, 2007)
Nina Ruslanova: Poznavaja belyj svet (Getting to Know the Big, Wide World, Kira Muratova, 1978)

The Last Duel

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