A page turns, and before returning to the dark rooms in 2022, return on the films which marked us this year.
This Friday December 31st marks the end of a very special year for the 7th art. After almost six months of closure, theaters had a lot of films in their bags, so the lineup was busy. A look back at the best and the worst of 2021.
Denis Villeneuve was expected at the turn, attacking a work widely considered a monument of science fiction. True creator of imagination, the director finally gives birth to a sumptuous painting that will delight science fiction enthusiasts and neophytes. At the peak of his art, he delivers a cinematic experience in every sense of the word. An adaptation close to perfection that should not be missed this year.
- West Side Story by Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg’s filmography is eclectic, to be sure. However, this is the first time that the filmmaker has tackled the genre of the musical. And what a musical comedy since it offers us a rereading of one of the most famous works. A risky bet, since the film by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins marked generations of Musical enthusiasts. Yet Steven Spielberg achieves a tour de force with his eminently modern reinterpretation of the urban tale. West Side Story is a splendid fable about our polarized societies, about racism and social injustices. Not a single wrong note.
- The Last Duel by Ridley Scott
Ridley Scott has been quite prolific in this year 2021. If House of Gucci made a lot of noise when it came out, we much prefer it The Last Duel. Historical film on the last confrontation “judicial duel”, Ridley Scott’s feature film brilliantly addresses the rape culture of our contemporary society with a narration and a staging that is suddenly brilliant. The actors are not left out, starting with Jodie Cormer who undoubtedly signs here her best performance to date. Matt Damon and Adam Driver complete this masterpiece, which can proudly stand among the best of Ridley Scott’s already very impressive filmography.
It was the phenomenon of this return to the theater. Last May, Chloe Zhao unveiled Nomadland, a social drama that caused a stir around the world. The director, who also worked at Marvel with The Eternals, delivers a melancholy and captivating road movie. An intimate story excellently staged by the filmmaker, sometimes close to documentary. After 3 Billboard: The Vengeance Boards, Frances McDormand once again demonstrates all her interpretive talent. We are not ready to tire of it.
- The Suicide Squad by James Gunn
After a catastrophic first opus, the suicide squad passes in front of James Gunn’s camera. The director of Guardians of the Galaxy completely revisits the recipe from David Ayer’s film, keeping the best ingredients including Margot Robbie who plays Harley Quinn.
Delightful, the film manages to pay tribute to this new team of broken arms and social misfits. A tour de force that we never tire of and which proudly sits in first place in our favorite superheroic productions of the year.
- The French Dispatch by Wes Anderson
Wes Anderson multiplies the masterpieces. The French Dispatch is no exception to the rule, despite a rather disconcerting construction. The director’s latest film shines with its absurd tone, its polished staging (nothing too surprising) and its brilliant cast at all times.
This French social fable, which says a lot about our world, is a wonderful plunge into a dreamlike universe that has nothing to envy to the director’s other successes. The French Dispatch has permanently imprinted itself in our memories.
- The Mitchell’s against the machines by Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe
Sony continues its forays into the animation side, and the magic continues to operate. The film from the producers of Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse is entertainment at all times, much more inventive than the last films of the firm with the big ears. A tender family story, punctuated by references to science fiction. Add some explosive humor to that, and you have arguably the best animated film of the year. Only regret, not to have been able to discover The Mitchell vs. the Machines on the big screen, to fully appreciate its rich visual universe.
- Kaamelott: first part by Alexandre Astier
To say that we were impatiently waiting Kaamelott: First Stream is an understatement. 12 years after having bowed out on the small screen, the series of Alexandre Astier offered its first foray into the cinema. A return of the King – Arthur – particularly successful. Dialogues always so sharp, a staging certainly wise but rather effective and a more bombastic narration, the passage to the large format for Kaamelott represents a tour de force. All that remains is to wait to discover the sequel, which does not yet have a release date. Hopefully it won’t take another ten years.
- Palm springs by Max Barbakow
Released earlier this year on Amazon Prime Video, Palm springs is the must-see romantic comedy this year. Kind of proofreadingAn endless day, the film follows the crazy adventures of a duo stuck in a time loop, during a wedding. A wacky and inventive comedy, which marks by its finesse in the characterization of the characters, and its pronounced taste for trash and a little also for gore.
Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, and JK Simmons are excellent at their respective roles, even when facing far less seasoned and compelling actors. A feast for the eyes, which moves as much as it makes you smile.
- Encanto by Jared Bush, Byron Howard and Charise Castro Smith
Disney regains some of its magic with this fantastic family story. Colorful and visually inspired, the film also benefits from an unstoppable argument to impose itself in our ranking: the music of Lin-Manuel Miranda. The composer and performer, to whom we owe the musical Hamilton. Strolls with exotic sounds that never tire of.
Our Flop 10
- Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage by Andy Serkis
We thought it was impossible, but Venom 2 manages to do worse than the first opus. In front of Andy Serkis’ camera, the symbiote looks grim. Loud and inconsistent, Let There Be Carnage combines odd script and staging. A definitely forgettable hubbub.
- OSS 117: Red Alert in black Africa by Nicolas Bedos
After two opus under the direction of Michel Hazanavicius, OSS now appears in front of the camera of Nicolas Bedos. A change of owner, as intriguing as it is feared. Unfortunately, there is great disappointment at this deceptively daring narrative, which wallows in the escalation of politically incorrect.
- Red Notice by Rawson Marshall Thurber
We did not expect much and yet we are disappointed. Pure consumer product à la Netflix, Red Notice is the emblem of the lack of inventiveness of the platform which recycles classics of the genre. Fast Food Syndrome in the land of red N, we are close to indigestion.
- Reminiscence by Lisa Joy
Lisa Joy, screenwriter of Westworld, signs his first feature film with Reminiscence. An ambitious film, which aims to be a sweet and bitter epic about nostalgia and our relationship to the past. But after a rather effective introduction, the film returns to its last part, multiplying the nonsense and inconsistencies. Despite its inspired staging, the film is quickly forgotten.
- Aya and the witch by Goro Miyazaki
Ghibli signs his first foray into 3D animation with Aya and the witch. Directed by Goro Miyazaki, the film follows the adventures of a young girl adopted by a couple of wizards, as strange as they are frightening. Made of odds and ends, this feature film meets the studio’s ambitions, namely to make a cartoon barely good for viewing on the small screen. If the film’s ending calls for a sequel, one cannot too much ask the studio to stop here.
- Thunder force by Ben Falcone
In 2021, there were plenty of superhero movies this year, but they were all far from unforgettable. However, Thunder force has marked us, by the mediocrity of its story and its staging. We would have liked to have loved it, really. Just for Melissa McCarty and Octavia Spencer. But Ben Falcone’s film multiplies the failures, so much so that it is very difficult to inflict this sad spectacle on yourself until the end. We gave up along the way.
- The origin of the world by Laurent Lafitte
Laurent Lafitte does not only have successes to his credit. As an actor, he nevertheless shone on several occasions, on the stage and in the cinema. His stint behind the camera was therefore more intriguing, especially when he promised to revisit French comedy and filmed theater, with a sly plot on parentage. Unfortunately, the first missed meeting for the filmmaker who (literally) gives birth to long and self-centered entertainment. A therapy that does not manage to take us away, the fault of a chaotic writing and a pronounced taste for heavy valves.
- Wonder-Woman 1984 by Patty Jenkins
After a delightful first opus, Wonder-Woman returned to our screens last January. A particularly awaited film, since it promised to offer redemption to the DCEU, which is still struggling to impose itself in dark rooms. But there, Wonder-Woman 1984 wallows in melodrama and overbidding. The film takes itself too seriously and does not manage to move us as it would like, worse it sometimes becomes laughable.
- Flashback by Caroline Vigneaux
Released at the end of the year on Amazon Prime Video, Flashback promised to revisit history through the prism of feminism. A rather catchy approach, but which never manages to take its full dimension. Caroline Vigneaux’s film is based on a sluggish writing and a propensity to overplay for all the actors who inhabit it. A missed date for comedy and humorist.
See you in 2022 to find out what the 7th art has in store for us, in both these good and bad times. Many feature films are on the program, so we are all ready to face a new year warm in the mythical red armchairs.