So it’s come to that time of the year when we do our annual Best and Worst 2021 films . That the first half of the year saw cinemas closed meant that that a number of big movies we would have loved to see on the big screen notably Godzilla v Kong , a film made for IMAX surely, ended up on streaming on our TV’s. But once lockdown had been lifted and cinemas reopened there was a flood of long awaited films some delayed by over two years were finally coming to the big screen
Here’s our choice Best and Worst 2021 films and by that we probably mean the ones we enjoyed watching the most. So let’s start off with our best…….
Coming out of the blue was Bull a film we expected to be a formulaic revenge thriller. From writer- director Paul Andrew Williams the film sees a low level crime family enforcer Bull played by a frighteningly all to convincing Neil Maskell matched by an equally terrifyingly immoral ex-boss Norm (David Hayman). Absent from his home town for 10 years Bull suddenly returns looking for his beloved son he lost custody to in a bitter divorce and seeks vengeance on the men he holds responsible for double crossing him. Shockingly brutal the film fully deserved its 18 certificate but its grimy low budget origins compounded the films violence and its ending is wholly unexpected. The film deserved a far wider release and is well worth seeking out. Read our review HERE……we also interviewed Tamsin Outhwaite about the film.
So if there’s any director that can do sci-fi seriously its Dennis Villeneuve. Having proved himself with Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 he was the obvious choice to take on the epic scale of Frank Herbert’s giant novel and he handled it with aplomb. There was a lot riding on this after the catastrophe of David Lynch’s version in 1984 (reviewed HERE) and it was a gamble for the studio granting the project a huge budget for what would only be half the novel leaving it on a cliff hanger for a sequel that would complete the story but might not be made if the film bombed. With an impressive cast led by Timothee Chalomet and stunningly photographed production design the story would follow a noble family entrusted with protecting a planet and its assets. Dune took in themes of colonialism and environmentalism which are as relevant today as they were back in the mid 1960’s when the book was written. Dune was magnificent and met with critical acclaim and the second part has now been greenlit. Read our review HERE
HOUSE OF GUCCI
Whilst Ridley Scott has two films released within weeks of one another (The Last Duel was the other) it was House of Gucci that we were all keen to see. Having assembled a stellar cast that included Al Pacino, Adam Driver, Jeremy Irons, Jared Leto it was really Lady Gaga’s film proving that her turn as a dramatic actress in A Star is Born was no one off . It’s true story of the assassination of Maurizio Gucci ordered by his wife seems too incredible but it made compelling viewing with all the family rivalry of the Godfather. It was another epic film and director Scott has hinted at an even longer version for Home Ent release and is surely an awards contender if only for Lady Gaga. Read our review HERE
NO TIME TO DIE
Delayed for over eighteen months this was the first major blockbuster to move its release date when the global lockdown hit. Daniel Craig’s final outing as Bond was much anticipated and rumours of a troubled production did not bode well. We need not have worried. The longest Bond film to date it benefitted from a good story embracing of the Times Up movement with the female roles far more than just eye candy with a two kick ass roles notably for Ana de Armas who we wanted to see much more. Bond’s short lived retirement sees him persuaded back into service and in pursuit of a villain with a deadly new technology. A decent story line saw a married Bond shunning his lady loving ways for a short lived quiet retirement that was obviously never going to happen but it is THAT ending which had everyone talking. A brilliantly bold move that came out of nowhere and no with audiences watching and thinking , ‘They’re not , are they?’ and then, ‘How do they follow that?’ it left Craig going out on a high and leaving anyone taking over the role and an unenviable task. Read our review HERE
That ‘older man on a mission’ movie starting with Liam Nesson’s ‘Taken’ was taken a step further with Nobody with the unlikely casting of Bob Odenkirk as an ex-government covert operative with a special set of skills that resurface when his house gets burgled. It’s the beginning of a balls to the wall brutal battering of baddies as he goes after a Russian mob boss. ‘Nobody’ was immense fun and Odenkirk revelled in the role with furious fights that get an airing firstly on a bus as he wipes down his dusty skills and his muscle memory refuses to let him forget the one man fighting force he used to be. Nobody deserved to do better box office but whilst we await John Wick 4 this was a worthy stand in. Read our piece about the battle on the bus HERE
A Netflix film this was a far gentler outing than our previous choices set in a different gentler era. The Dig saw Ralph Fiennes as an amateur yet brilliant archaeologist hired by the lady of the manor played by Carey Mulligan. With a cast that also included Lily James, Johnny Flynn in supporting roles in an utterly engaging tale and a longing for gentler times. Read our review HERE
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
Here, Carey Mulligan again proving that she is one of the premiere actresses working today in a markedly different role from that which she played in The Dig. Working in a coffee shop she was a student who dropped out of college after the suicide of her best friend, a suicide bought on by the college concerned more in upholding its own institutional reputation than the safety of its female students. Traumatized by the events Cassandra seeks out for vengeance for her friend in the most astonishing way that challenges every man watching. Winning an Oscar for her excellent script by Emerald Fennel who also directed the film whilst heavily pregnant too it is a gut punch to any man with a disregard for women and a belief that to its OK to take advantage of vulnerable women. It was a klaxon call to for any man ignoring what #TimesUp movement has achieved. Read how the film fought its way onto screen HERE
And so inevitably as a counter part to the best we have to take a look at the worst films of 2021 and we start with…..
COMING 2 AMERICA
Eddie Murphy was a cinematic Colossus standing astride the world box office. But that was the 1980’s with film like Beverly Hills Cop, Trading Places, Coming to America and even his filmed stand up shows Delirious and Raw did well at the box office. So when news broke that a sequel to Coming To America would be made fans were keen to see him revisit the multiple roles that he played to hilarious effect. That original director John Landis was not helming the film was a concern and the poorly punning title was another bad omen but there was enough love for the film for fans to want to see him hopefully back on comedic form having focussed on some admittedly impressive dramatic straight roles. Comedy fans would be left disappointed. The sequel which saw his monarch Prince Akeen search for his long lost son back in America should have produced far more funny set pieces than what was seen. Murphy almost takes a back seat seemingly happy to let others do their thing whilst he watched. Coming 2 America had been intended for cinema release but with the pandemic meaning the future of cinema and seating capacity being unsure the studio sold it to Amazon streaming for a reputed $125m. Jeff Bezos must surely be wishing he’d sent the film into space. Read our review HERE
Now Jonathan Sothcott may not be a household name but as a British producer he has an eye for casting household names whose careers are not what they were. In that respect his films have included actors ranging from Ian Ogilvy, Julian Glover, Steven Berkoff, Craig Fairbrass, Phil Davis, Sean Pertwee, Alan Ford and even Mark Hamill. It’s always great to see these actors on the big screen again but unfortunately the scripts don’t live up to the talent and Nemesis was one such film. Billy Murray is an underworld mob boss who finds his past catching up with him in murderous style. Again it’s got a decent cast with Julian Glover, Nick Moran and the excellent Frank Harper ( the only genuinely convincing villain in Lock Stock and Two Shooting Barrels). As Bull showed it doesn’t matter if a film is low budget it’s all about story and Nemesis just doesn’t convince. We do like what Jonathan Sothcott does and as a producer his output is prolific and we hope that sooner rather than late he’ll get the breakout hit he deserves but Nemesis is not that film. Read our review HERE
DANNY. LEGEND. GOD.
Now we’re big fans of Sasha Baron Cohen and his first Borat film was a master class in improv comedy and he took himself into ever more dangerous scenarios with the follow up film Bruno. But what his character led films do prove is that it’s clearly not as easy as he makes it look and his recent Home Ent release of the Borat sequel showed just how much thought goes into his films with scenarios and for the more provocative scenes even having to plan how to escape when a bunch of Trump supporting, firearm toting rednecks saw him fleeing to the back of a van and being driven away at speed. However ‘Danny. Legend. God’ takes that character improv scenario and shows how excruciatingly awful it can be when it fails. And ‘Danny. Legend. God’ fails again and again and again in every scene of it’s 106 minute running time. Starring Dimo Alexiev in the lead role he plays a corrupt city councillor (is there any other type?) followed by a documentary team filming his day to day work. Bored of what they want to film Danny turns the tables and takes over the making of the film and getting them to film his corrupt dealings and dragging the team into dangerous situations with life threatening potential. An immensely dislikeable central character its first problem is that nothing is at all funny and here it only compounds matters in an over long and bloated and ultimately boring film. If anything the film serves as a guide for anyone wanting to make a film in the genre as to what not to do. Read our review HERE
DO YOU AGREE? HAVE WE MISSED OUT ANY FILMS? LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW…….