Am I the only one that felt like 2021 was just 2020 on repeat? Thank whatever gods may be for the movies to help us all cope. In no particular order, here are my favorites for this year. There is a little something for everyone, so enjoy!
1. Flee (Director: Jonas Poher Rasmussen):
As a lover of animation, I am in awe of how “Flee” expands and deepens the power of the art as a means of narration. It left me breathless in its emotional impact and I am so grateful for the bravery of Jonas Poher Rasmussen and especially, Amin Nawabi for telling this story the way they chose to tell it.
2. The Mitchells vs the Machines (Directors: Michael Rianda, Jeff Rowe):
For any parent a little mystified by the interests and talents of their offspring, “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” is a bittersweet look at encouraging children to pursue their passions. As hilarious as it is poignant, “The Mitchells” proves that kids educate their parents as much as vice versa, if not more so. And everyone knows velociraptors are awesome-RAWR!
3. MASS (Director: Fran Kranz):
Relentless in its exploration of grief, accountability, and the horror of the inexplicable, “Mass” never lets the viewer catch their breath. Jason Isaacs is riveting but Ann Dowd will leave you ugly sobbing in her portrayal of a mother at a loss to explain or atone for the tragedy she has been swept up into. The script crackles with emotion and the cinematography brings an almost claustrophobic intensity to the dialog. Unforgettable.
4. Power of the Dog (Director: Jane Campion):
On everyone’s best film list this year I’m sure, and well deserved. Every aspect of filmmaking is brought together in perfect balance by director Jane Campion. From the score by Jonny Greenwood to the knockout performances by the entire cast, this is a gem worth the long wait since her last feature film. Kodi Smit-McPhee is outstanding in his seemingly quiet, compliant portrayal of a young man trying to protect his emotionally fragile mother (brilliant Kirsten Dunst.) And that ending!
5. Introducing, Selma Blair (Rachel Fleit):
What do you do when you receive a diagnosis that your body is in progressive and irreversible decline? Selma Blair shows more courage, grace, humor, and strength in the face of just such a horrific disease than most of us will ever know. Raw and unflinching in its depiction of her fight for hope, Director Rachel Fleit brings out the mischievous playfulness of Blair as well as her devotion to her young son. Uplifting and devastating at the same time, it will make you feel as if the actress is a close friend that needs protecting.
Summer of Soul
Writing with Fire
The Spark Brothers
In the Heights
Tick, Tick, Boom