Marie gives us Top 10(ish) of 2021
Like many people I’m sure, my cinema-going in 2021 was severely curtailed (yet again) by the ongoing pandemic. I ventured out to the arms of my trusty and sensibly-restricted art-house cinema a handful of times – usually picking an early, mid-week screening to avoid crowds – but bearing in mind my own personal circumstances, I chose to avoid screenings and cinemas where it was likely to be crowded or mask-free.
The result is that I have inevitably missed a swathe of films which, under other circumstances, might have had a shot at making this list. So if your favourite isn’t here, it could either be that I didn’t like it or more likely, that I haven’t seen it yet.
Relying on streaming outlets then has meant that my viewing in 2021 was perhaps a little less mainstream that would normally be the case. And that, in turn, has resulted in an even more eclectic selection for my end-of-year favourites. In addition, the caprices of international release dates mean that my first opportunity to see something may have come in the last 12 months where other parts of the world saw it in 2020; or perhaps I’ve seen something that others won’t be able to access until later in 2022.
Hopefully, this list might offer a few ideas for films to seek out over the coming months, and if I’ve written about the film for The Movie Isle, it will be linked so that you can read more. So without further ado … let’s start at number 10.
10 – The Lost Daughter
This one snuck in on New Year’s Eve as it dropped on Netflix just in time for a 2021 list – it also means I probably haven’t quite pinned down my appreciation for it yet and it may have risen higher with a longer time to mull it over.
What I am immediately full of admiration for though is Maggie Gyllenhaal’s writing and direction. For a first feature it is amazingly assured; I guess having Olivia Colman at the centre is going to help, but even a great performance such as this is at the mercy of the director, and Gyllenhaal nails it. There’s no denying that it is an uncomfortable watch and that its commentary on aspects of being a mother may be difficult for some to absorb but, as with her acting choices, Maggie Gyllenhaal does not shy away from the tricky subject matter, and we are all beneficiaries.
One of the first films I saw in 2021, Emerald Fennell’s feature debut was certainly a talking point for many. Fennell’s collaboration with Carey Mulligan produced an intentionally uncomfortable and challenging story of predatory male behaviour, of justice, and of revenge.