Best films of 2021 (at the half way stage)

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Professional horse shoe straightener
What are the best films of 2021 (released where you live) so far?

I'd probably go:

1. Nomadland
2. Quo Vadis, Aida?
3. After Love
4. Beginning
5. Sound of Metal
6. Dear Comrades
7. Limbo
8. Shiva Baby
9. Apples
10. Song without a Name

Then an honourable mention for: The Father, Minari, Surge, The Killing of Two Lovers, Censor, Oxygen, Bo Burnham Inside, The Woman who Ran.

Still many, many films yet to see.



Minari and Sound of Metal would be higher ranked than Nomadland to me, I fond it pretentious and basically misery porn, had little to say in my opinion, they made what people wanted to watch, successful Oscar bait. The Father was also not my thing, I enjoy the film and whatnot, but, that's it. It reminds me of Amour, I also though was not that great. I also liked Siberia, that's another film I watched. I rarely watch the films when they come out, just when I like the director, I let time do it's justice and only then spend the two hours watching it. I also watched The Little Things because of the casting, the title and Denzel quote was certainly from The Shoelace Poem by Charles Bukowski. One of the worst films Denzel ever did, in my opinion.



Professional horse shoe straightener
Nomadland to me, I fond it pretentious and basically misery porn, had little to say in my opinion, they made what people wanted to watch, successful Oscar bait.
Jeez, I wouldn't recommend you watch 'Beginning' then, if you thought Nomadland was miserable! I thought it was beautiful but hey ho. Really can't see what is 'oscar bait' about Nomadland. If anything it's completely anti-oscar in the traditional sense. It's questioning the current state of people to live properly in America. Compare that to something like La La Land which is backslapping Los Angeles oscar fare. They are completely different.

Plus, all of Chloe Zhao's films have been similar - small communities in rural USA learning to cope with their own demons, shot beautifully. And they're all great.



There's a review in Letterboxd that I saw recently that I couldn't top not even in one hundred years trying.

Take a look. I can't add a thing, not even if I wanted to.

But I liked the cinematography and all, although I think Leonardo Simőes work in Vitalina Varela is I don't know how many times greater, not to mention the movie itself, when such a film doesn't even gets to the Oscars in a age racism and the role of women in our society is so much discussed, a film with such depth, vulnerability, honesty, integrity comes along and everyone looks the other way, it's actually the easiest most comercial film Pedro ever did. But they're different films, I don't want to get into that.

I still think Nomadland was Oscar bait, it's what our existential worldwide community that believe the human goal is to collect experiences like Pokémon's that's now attempting to return to the roots and neglecting achievement wanted. I mean, I even agree with them, but I know when someone is getting in my brain.



Guy who likes movies
Judas and the Black Messiah
In the Heights
Nobody
Inside
Barb and Star go to Vista del Mar
Malcolm and Marie
Fatherhood
Luca
Raya and the last Dragon
The Mitchells vs the Machines



Welcome to the human race...
Really haven't been bothering with new releases lately (or really taking much stock in figuring out which 2020 releases technically count as 2021 releases, though there are a few on my current list). As it stands, this is how my mid-year top 10 looks:

1. Zack Snyder's Justice League
2. Nobody
3. Judas and the Black Messiah
4. The Mitchells vs. the Machines
5. F9
6. Luca
7. Skies of Lebanon
8. The Calming
9. The Dry
10. Army of the Dead
__________________
I really just want you all angry and confused the whole time.



Professional horse shoe straightener
There's a review in Letterboxd that I saw recently that I couldn't top not even in one hundred years trying.

Take a look. I can't add a thing, not even if I wanted to.
What an outstandingly large steaming pile of bull that review is. If 'the bare minimum of quality' is getting non actors to perform like Zhao consistently does, then I really need to see some higher quality films, because they must be extraordinary.

Can't wait to watch Vitalina Varela by the way, been on my list for sometime.

Have you got 2021 top 10?



Professional horse shoe straightener
There's a review in Letterboxd that I saw recently that I couldn't top not even in one hundred years trying.

Take a look. I can't add a thing, not even if I wanted to.
Also, that reviewer's favourite films are 'Miami Vice' and 'Conan the Barbarian', so it could be the case that his taste doesn't match that of others. Which is perfectly fine.



I didn't see his taste, just to review, but I do like Miami Vice, and Collateral, and some other that Michael Mann might have done, expect The Last of the Mohicans, can't see the appeal and I like native cultures stuff.
Can't wait to watch Vitalina Varela by the way, been on my list for sometime.
That's a film that might not appeal to most people, there's some that can watch entertainment stuff and have a blast, and watch thoughtful stuff and also enjoy, depends on the person.



Haven’t seen too many good films in 2021 to be honest.

‘Bad Trip’ was hilarious. Best comedy I’ve seen in a while.

‘Bo Burnham Inside’ was interesting.

‘Army of the Dead’ was alright. Though not as good as I hoped it would be.

Still waiting for James Bond to be released in my country.



Welcome to the human race...
What an outstandingly large steaming pile of bull that review is. If 'the bare minimum of quality' is getting non actors to perform like Zhao consistently does, then I really need to see some higher quality films, because they must be extraordinary.

Can't wait to watch Vitalina Varela by the way, been on my list for sometime.

Have you got 2021 top 10?
She's got a point, though. Getting naturalistic performances out of non-professionals only counts for so much if it's all just texture for some A-list actor's journey so what authenticity they add is arguably compromised as a result (and just begs the question of why this wasn't a straight documentary or even just a docudrama/fiction where the leads were also non-professionals). I liked Nomadland well enough when I saw it (caught an advance screening at the tail end of December so I count it as a 2020 film) but the criticisms I've read since then have weighed on it to the point where I'm reluctant to revisit it and see how it holds up.

Also, that reviewer's favourite films are 'Miami Vice' and 'Conan the Barbarian', so it could be the case that his taste doesn't match that of others. Which is perfectly fine.
This is skipping over how her #1 favourite is a nice respectable foreign arthouse film like Hou Hsiao-hsien's Millennium Mambo. There's even a bunch of five-star ratings for Jia Zhangke films so it's not like she's incapable of liking grounded realistic dramas about economic hardship, just not Nomadland itself.



Professional horse shoe straightener
She's got a point, though. Getting naturalistic performances out of non-professionals only counts for so much if it's all just texture for some A-list actor's journey so what authenticity they add is arguably compromised as a result (and just begs the question of why this wasn't a straight documentary or even just a docudrama/fiction where the leads were also non-professionals).
It wasn't a documentary because Zhao didn't want to make a documentary. She felt she had a story to tell based on a lead character. Have you seen her other films? That's what she does. She has a great formula that really works. 3rd time she does it, it gets a big prize and people get all pissy because it's not the type of film they normally watch. It's really quite funny to read people imploding on the internet over this film.


I liked Nomadland well enough when I saw it (caught an advance screening at the tail end of December so I count it as a 2020 film) but the criticisms I've read since then have weighed on it to the point where I'm reluctant to revisit it and see how it holds up.
Well all I have to say about that is that if your movie watching habits are being dictated by other people's criticisms of movies then good luck to you.


This is skipping over how her #1 favourite is a nice respectable foreign arthouse film like Hou Hsiao-hsien's Millennium Mambo. There's even a bunch of five-star ratings for Jia Zhangke films so it's not like she's incapable of liking grounded realistic dramas about economic hardship, just not Nomadland itself.
Fair point. It's at the point the reviewer calls the film 'worthless' that I gave up. Calling a piece of art that a bunch of people have tirelessly spent months of their lives trying to make work 'worthless', says more about the reviewer than the film.



Welcome to the human race...
It wasn't a documentary because Zhao didn't want to make a documentary. She felt she had a story to tell based on a lead character. Have you seen her other films? That's what she does. She has a great formula that really works. 3rd time she does it, it gets a big prize and people get all pissy because it's not the type of film they normally watch. It's really quite funny to read people imploding on the internet over this film.
Yeah, I've seen Zhao's other features, I'd also argue that part of the formula that makes them work is a lack of professional actors - as talented as McDormand and Strathairn can be in the abstract, their presence in a film like this can be distracting and undermines the idea of it being wholly "anti-Oscar". Besides, I think there's a difference between people disliking Nomadland just for being a slow and ponderous indie that they wouldn't care to watch in the first place and people actually questioning the nuances of its approach to depicting the nomadic lifestyle.

Well all I have to say about that is that if your movie watching habits are being dictated by other people's criticisms of movies then good luck to you.
What's the alternative, ignoring people's criticisms and watching a constant stream of bad films as a result?

But seriously, it's not like I refused to watch it completely. I watched it, liked it, then read some negative reviews that made me consider a different perspective on the film (which is what reviews are meant to do if they're composed well enough, even positive ones). I have an Escape From L.A. avatar - clearly, I am no stranger to watching heavily-criticised films if I feel like it.

Fair point. It's at the point the reviewer calls the film 'worthless' that I gave up. Calling a piece of art that a bunch of people have tirelessly spent months of their lives trying to make work 'worthless', says more about the reviewer than the film.
I suppose it would depend on how you define worth (subjectively or objectively). Could you think of the worst film you've ever seen and still argue that it has inherent worth based purely on the fact that people worked on it?



Professional horse shoe straightener
Yeah, I've seen Zhao's other features, I'd also argue that part of the formula that makes them work is a lack of professional actors - as talented as McDormand and Strathairn can be in the abstract, their presence in a film like this can be distracting and undermines the idea of it being wholly "anti-Oscar". Besides, I think there's a difference between people disliking Nomadland just for being a slow and ponderous indie that they wouldn't care to watch in the first place and people actually questioning the nuances of its approach to depicting the nomadic lifestyle.
I take that point. The casting of those 2 in particular was to separate this film from her others and perhaps cast a wider net in terms of appeal and box office. But for me, it in no way detracts from the film. I'm able to separate that. For me, I don't see much criticism in some of these 'reviews', all I see is anger and a lack of objectivity.

What's the alternative, ignoring people's criticisms and watching a constant stream of bad films as a result?
Well no. The alternative is not letting other people's opinions get in the way of a rewatch of a film. I guess it's human nature to take something on board if it makes you take a different perspective on something but your initial instinct was to have another look. Trust that instinct.

I suppose it would depend on how you define worth (subjectively or objectively). Could you think of the worst film you've ever seen and still argue that it has inherent worth based purely on the fact that people worked on it?
Well yes, just because I think something is
it doesn't mean it is worthless. I hated the film 'Upgrade'. Absolutely hated it. But that film has perhaps inspired people to make their own films, inspired people to watch more films, generated money for the producers to make more films etc etc etc which is a very good thing.

Calling someone's work worthless is cheap, unsavoury and extremely insulting.



Well yes, just because I think something is it doesn't mean it is worthless.
Everything is worthless, that's my view, there's things that you decide to put value to, or a community decide to put value into and by doing so, you also put value into. The question would be: How do you assess what has value cinematographically speaking? I think any individual answer would be a wrong answer, that's why there's so many different types of films. How do you assess value would be a better question and harder to answer because it takes a lot of things to consider.

But that film has perhaps inspired people to make their own films, inspired people to watch more films, generated money for the producers to make more films etc etc etc which is a very good thing.
Since I talked so much about Pedro Costa I'll quote something he said more than once in his masterclass: "Please, please, don't make any more films, there's too many already." I don't like Pedro Costa, but I like his films. He tries too hard to be an artist, and talk like an artist, and act like an artist, and if he thought like one he would understand why every single person on earth is a poet that sees the world differently and should create if that's what he wants to. More money into this business? I don't know. Is the quality of the films increasing or decreasing? Is it a money problem?

Calling someone's work worthless is cheap, unsavoury and extremely insulting.
That's the problem when you make things considering other people first. Quoting Nick Nolte in New York Stories: "What the hell difference does it matter what I think? It's yours. I mean you make art because you have to. Cuz you got no choice. It's not about talent. It's about no choice but to do it... you wanna give it up? You give it up, you weren't a real artist to begin with."



Professional horse shoe straightener
Everything is worthless, that's my view, there's things that you decide to put value to, or a community decide to put value into and by doing so, you also put value into. The question would be: How do you assess what has value cinematographically speaking? I think any individual answer would be a wrong answer, that's why there's so many different types of films. How do you assess value would be a better question and harder to answer because it takes a lot of things to consider.


Since I talked so much about Pedro Costa I'll quote something he said more than once in his masterclass: "Please, please, don't make any more films, there's too many already." I don't like Pedro Costa, but I like his films. He tries too hard to be an artist, and talk like an artist, and act like an artist, and if he thought like one he would understand why every single person on earth is a poet that sees the world differently and should create if that's what he wants to. More money into this business? I don't know. Is the quality of the films increasing or decreasing? Is it a money problem?


That's the problem when you make things considering other people first. Quoting Nick Nolte in New York Stories: "What the hell difference does it matter what I think? It's yours. I mean you make art because you have to. Cuz you got no choice. It's not about talent. It's about no choice but to do it... you wanna give it up? You give it up, you weren't a real artist to begin with."
That's quite a nihilistic post! I've given my opinion on what I believe is the 'value' of making a film. Any film. Any piece of art.

More money into this business? I don't know. Is the quality of the films increasing or decreasing?
I guess we'll have to watch more new films to find out.

Since I talked so much about Pedro Costa I'll quote something he said more than once in his masterclass: "Please, please, don't make any more films, there's too many already."
Why does he keep making films then?



I don't think it's nihilistic, the first sentence probably was, although I just consider it realist.

And the question was not really a question, the quality is decreasing because people have nothing to say, Bergman said that, I'd say the same thing even if he said the opposite, I don't like him very much as well, so. Very rarely something good comes along, and I can say something is good and don't like it, like I can dislike the artist and like what he made and the other way around too. Like I can like entertainment stuff and agree how much it lacks artistic value.

This young directors know all the filming techniques, some even better than the ones who invented them, but having stuff to say? Not even replicating what was already said. I think art is dead or dying, and I don't care one way or the other to be honest, I don't depend on art, some people do, maybe what's killing it or already killed was communication, everyone is like everybody else. We live in the scientific age, everything else can take two steps back, religion, philosophy, whatever you wanna speak about... but that's another discussion I don't want to get into.

I want people to keep making films like they're making them, honestly, if art is anything is what a person thought and did (created) in a particular time/place, whatever we're making is accurate and truthful, let it roll.



While I appreciated both main themes to Nomadland (the protagonist's state of grief and the celebration of the lifestyle of nomads), they felt at odds with each other and didn't come together in a way which I found compelling. Maybe Zhao's intention is for you to question how McDormand's character can remain in a state of grief despite living in what's presented as a peaceful and enjoyable lifestyle, but
WARNING: spoilers below
since her character remained static throughout the film
, I couldn't shake the feeling that these themes would've worked better in separate films. I still think it's good though, and I'll be willing to check out more of the director's films (this is the only one I've seen).



Welcome to the human race...
I take that point. The casting of those 2 in particular was to separate this film from her others and perhaps cast a wider net in terms of appeal and box office. But for me, it in no way detracts from the film. I'm able to separate that. For me, I don't see much criticism in some of these 'reviews', all I see is anger and a lack of objectivity.
The phrase "for me" seems to indicate a lack of objectivity as well, though. It's why I don't really put much faith in the idea of "objective" criticism being inherently better - it'll obviously be annoying if someone bases their criticism on something that can be proven to be factually incorrect, but beyond that I reckon criticism of art is inherently subjective and, as long as you can back yourself up well enough, there's not much point in being concerned with objectivity.

Well no. The alternative is not letting other people's opinions get in the way of a rewatch of a film. I guess it's human nature to take something on board if it makes you take a different perspective on something but your initial instinct was to have another look. Trust that instinct.
I mean, I've already got so much else lined up in terms of unseen films and even other potential rewatches that I'm practically looking for an excuse to hold off on it (especially in the case of something like Nomadland where I would want to wait a while either way just to see how it held up once the immediate hype died down).

Well yes, just because I think something is
it doesn't mean it is worthless. I hated the film 'Upgrade'. Absolutely hated it. But that film has perhaps inspired people to make their own films, inspired people to watch more films, generated money for the producers to make more films etc etc etc which is a very good thing.

Calling someone's work worthless is cheap, unsavoury and extremely insulting.
The flip-side of that is that all these people are liable to make films just like the one I hated so I'd just call it a wash. I know how hard it is to put a film together, but that doesn't mean I can't watch one and think it wasn't worth the effort.



Professional horse shoe straightener
T I know how hard it is to put a film together, but that doesn't mean I can't watch one and think it wasn't worth the effort.
Well each to their own, but I think it's quite a thing to brand someone's work, (which they will inevitably learn huge amounts from (plus the entire crew), and likely be a better artist due to the entire creative process) 'not worth the effort'.

Maybe that's just me. Perhaps it's because I'm in the middle of making a film at the moment, and if someone said that, after all the work I've already put into it it, I'd just think it would be a little insensitive.