With pandemic restrictions being lifted, we saw 53 movies in a theatrical setting this year, along with 188 others on physical media or through streaming services. Overall, it was another solid year for filmmaking even though we found many of the hyped films to be underwhelming.
While many veteran filmmakers made our top 10 list, we had three feature film debuts this year with The Power, Censor and Saint Maud. This is the most we’ve ever had on our year-ending list. It should be noted that all of these films were directed by women who blew us away with their direction behind the camera. We cannot wait to see what’s next from Corinna Faith, Prano Bailey-Bond and Rose Glass.
As with any list, we have not viewed every film released in 2021, but these were the 10 that stood out above the rest. Like last year, we are only including each film’s synopsis. We hate spoilers and trailers that give everything away. We firmly believe not knowing too much is the best way to view most of these great films.
Disclaimer: This list is based on films we’ve seen as of Dec. 31, 2021. It could be adjusted in the future as we view other films from 2021 in early 2022.
1. Last Night In Soho (directed by Edgar Wright)
SYNOPOSIS: A young girl, passionate about fashion design, is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters her idol, a dazzling wannabe singer. But 1960s London is not what it seems, and time seems to be falling apart with shady consequences.
2. Come True (directed by Anthony Scott Burns)
SYNOPOSIS: Looking for an escape from her recurring nightmares, 18-year-old Sarah submits to a university sleep study, but soon realizes she’s become the conduit to a frightening new discovery.
3. Nightmare Alley (directed by Guillermo del Toro)
SYNOPOSIS: An ambitious young carny with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words hooks up with a female psychiatrist who is even more dangerous than he is.
4. The Power (directed by Corinna Faith)
SYNOPOSIS: London, 1974. As Britain prepares for electrical blackouts to sweep across the country, trainee nurse Val arrives for her first day at the crumbling East London Royal Infirmary. With most of the patients and staff evacuated to another hospital, Val is forced to work the night shift, finding herself in a dark, near empty building. Within these walls lies a deadly secret, forcing Val to face both her own traumatic past and deepest fears.
5. Censor (directed by Prano Bailey-Bond)
SYNOPOSIS: Film censor Enid takes pride in her meticulous work, guarding unsuspecting audiences from the deleterious effects of watching the gore-filled decapitations and eye gougings she pores over. Her sense of duty to protect is amplified by guilt over her inability to recall details of the long-ago disappearance of her sister, recently declared dead in absentia. When Enid is assigned to review a disturbing film from the archive that echoes her hazy childhood memories, she begins to unravel how this eerie work might be tied to her past.
6. Saint Maud (directed by Rose Glass)
SYNOPOSIS: Having recently found God, self-effacing young nurse Maud arrives at a plush home to care for Amanda, a hedonistic dancer left frail from a chronic illness. When a chance encounter with a former colleague throws up hints of a dark past, it becomes clear there is more to sweet Maud than meets the eye.
7. Don’t Look Up (directed by Adam McKay)
SYNOPOSIS: Two low-level astronomers, upon discovering that a meteor will strike the Earth in six months, go on a media tour to try to warn the world but find an unreceptive and unbelieving populace.
8. Nobody (directed by Ilya Naishuller)
SYNOPOSIS: Hutch Mansell, a suburban dad, overlooked husband, nothing neighbor — a “nobody.” When two thieves break into his home one night, Hutch’s unknown long-simmering rage is ignited and propels him on a brutal path that will uncover dark secrets he fought to leave behind.
9. Werewolves Within (directed by Josh Ruben)
SYNOPOSIS: When a proposed pipeline creates hostilities between residents of a small town, a newly-arrived forest ranger must keep the peace after a snowstorm confines the townspeople to an old lodge. But when a mysterious creature begins terrorizing the group, their worst tendencies and prejudices rise to the surface, and it is up to the ranger to keep the residents alive, both from each other and the monster which plagues them.
10. House of Gucci (directed by Ridley Scott)
SYNOPOSIS: The true story of how Patrizia Reggiani plotted to kill her husband Maurizio Gucci, the grandson of renowned fashion designer Guccio Gucci.