'My top 10 films of 2021' - Reviewer lists his favourite movies of the year
- Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh, © 2021 Focus Features / Netflix / © 2019 PROMISING WOMAN.
Blockbuster movies returned to the big screen in 2021, albeit most were delayed from their original release dates.
The coronavirus pandemic caused chaos for schedulers, with films finally arriving when cinemas were allowed to open – and studios felt there would be a big enough audience.
Daniel Craig's final James Bond outing No Time to Die, Fast & Furious 9, and the long-awaited remake of Dune were among those big budget movies to finally hit cinema screens, along with Marvel's latest offerings.
Other films were released on streaming platforms such as Netflix or headed to Sky as Sky Originals.
However, showing there's still a marketplace for event blockbusters at the multiplex, December release Spider-Man: No Way Home – which came too late for our yearly round-up – has already taken over $1billion worldwide at the box office.
Here our film reviewer Paul Steward names his top 10 favourite films of the year.
10. I Care A Lot
Rosamund Pike is at her despicable best as a crooked legal guardian who drains the savings from her elderly wards.
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She meets her match when one victim turns out to be the mother of Peter Dinklage’s unscrupulous mob boss.
Gleefully vicious thriller from director J Blakeson with a caustic vein of black comedy.
9. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Marvel's fourth phase continues with the introduction of Simu Liu as Kung-Fu master Shang-Chi.
Director Destin Daniel Cretton delivers spectacular breakneck action whilst fully respecting the characters' Chinese heritage.
With Liu completely charming in the title role, and the excellent Awkwafina in support, this is as good an origin story as you can get and raises the bar for Marvel’s exciting new phase.
8. Another Round
Mads Mikkelsen shines in this intoxicating Danish drama about the dangers of over indulgence.
Mikkelsen plays Martin, a high school teacher who together with three colleagues begins to consume alcohol on a daily basis, in order to see how it affects their social and professional lives.
Winner of the best international feature at this year's Oscars, Thomas Vinterberg's film is funny and heart-wrenching in equal measure.
After putting a horror spin on the Groundhog Day premise with his film Happy Death Day, writer/director Christopher Landon gives 80s body swap comedy Freaky Friday the same treatment with hilarious results.
Vince Vaughan and Kathryn Newton star as a deranged serial killer and high school student, who swap bodies and have 24 hours to reverse the switch before it becomes permanent.
Uproariously funny and gloriously gory, this is a treat for gore hounds and comedy fans alike.
6. Last Night in Soho
Acclaimed British director Edgar Wright returns with this time-hopping psychological thriller.
Starring Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy, the film tells the story of an aspiring fashion designer who discovers the ability to enter the 1960s.
Wright, directing with his usual verve, switches effortlessly between haunting retro mystery and full on slasher, whilst superbly capturing the vibrant neon colours of Sixties Soho as well as its seedy misogynistic underbelly.
A delightfully tangled time-hopping mystery.
This twisted new horror from Saw director James Wan stars Annabelle Wallis as a girl paralysed by shocking visions of grisly murders that appear to be based in reality.
Featuring the most bizarre twist of the year, Wan opts for a completely straight-faced approach despite the ridiculousness of the premise, with wonderfully demented results.
A film that simply has to be seen to be believed.
4. tick, tick...BOOM!
Featuring a wonderful, awards-worthy performance from Andrew Garfield, Lin Manuel Miranda's vibrant musical follows a promising young theatre director on the cusp of his 30th birthday as he navigates love, friendship and the pressures of New York City life.
Based on the life of RENT creator Jonathan Larson, this is a moving and fitting tribute to the late American composer.
Director Denis Villeneuve adapts the acclaimed Frank Herbert sci-fi novel with astounding results.
Timothée Chalamet leads a star-studded cast as Villeneuve brings his art house sensibilities to a blockbuster audience and expertly turns the notoriously labyrinthine narrative into an atmospheric cinematic epic.
A film that cries out to be seen on the biggest screen possible.
2. The Mitchells vs. The Machines
Danny McBride and Olivia Colman lend their voices to this outrageously entertaining animation from the studio that brought you The Lego Movie.
Following a dysfunctional family, who become humanity’s only hope when their road trip is disrupted by a robot apocalypse, the film is laugh-out-loud funny and brimming with creativity and heart.
1. Promising Young Woman
Winner of the best original screenplay Oscar at the 2021 Academy Awards and featuring a career best performance from Carey Mulligan, Emerald Fennell’s searing debut shines a light on gender politics like never before.
Mulligan is Cassie, an emotionally scarred medical school drop out, living a secret double life.
The razor-sharp script from Fennell is completely deserving of the accolades bestowed upon it.
Full of wit and snappy dialogue, the debut filmmaker brilliantly blends the film's serious subject matter with a vein of dark humour to create a completely unique tale of twisted retribution.