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7 December 2021

The best films of 2021

From First Cow to The Father.

By Ryan Gilbey

The New Statesman film critic Ryan Gilbey chooses his top ten movies of the year. 

Quo Vadis, Aida? (Jasmila Žbanić)
A UN translator (the extraordinary Jasna Đuričić) scrambles to save her family in this gripping drama of the Srebrenica genocide.

First Cow (Kelly Reichardt)
Reichardt’s warmly mysterious buddy movie concerns two 19th-century entrepreneurs who earn a buck making cakes with stolen milk.

The Filmmaker’s House (Marc Isaacs)
A homeless Slovakian, a Colombian cleaner, two British builders and a Pakistani neighbour cross paths thanks to documentarist extraordinaire Isaacs.

Drive My Car (Ryusuke Hamaguchi)
This patient, insightful Murakami adaptation follows a theatre director who casts his late wife’s lover in Uncle Vanya.

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Ham on Rye (Tyler Taormina)
An enigmatic first feature that starts out as a nostalgic teen movie before taking a turn for the weird.

Dear Comrades! (Andrei Konchalovsky)
Konchalovsky may be 84 but his anger is undimmed in this account of a real Soviet-era strike that became a massacre.

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The Father (Florian Zeller)
Anthony Hopkins won the Best Actor Oscar for his devastating performance as a man suffering from dementia.

Summer of Soul (Questlove)
Oh, happy day! Footage of the 1969 “Black Woodstock” in Harlem surfaces. Nina Simone and Stevie Wonder knock it out of the park.

The Killing of Two Lovers (Robert Machoian)
This stark portrait of marital breakdown is executed with surgical precision.

Spencer (Pablo Larraín)
Kristen Stewart’s haunted turn as Princess Diana makes this a bonkers but valuable companion piece to Personal Shopper.