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With cinemas emerging from their annus horribilis that was 2020, there were glimmers of hope for the projected image throughout 2021.
From blockbuster releases like No Time To Die and Dune and award-winning wonders such as The Father and Minari, to straight-to-streaming gems like Nomadland and Sound of Metal, there really was something for every taste over the last twelve months.
Yahoo Entertainment UK polled its film-loving contributors for their favourite films that were released in the UK during 2021 (in cinemas or straight to streaming), and these ten movies were the ones that rose to the top.
10: The Lost Daughter
Written and directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal (making her feature directing debut) The Lost Daughter was snapped up by Netflix after receiving huge critical acclaim on the festival circuit. Oscar-winner Olivia Colman — who appears in two films on this list — gives another fine performance in this moving study of what it means to be a mother.
The Lost Daughter is in UK cinemas from 17 December, and streaming on Netflix from 31 December.
Chloé Zhao made Oscar history when she became the first woman of colour to with the Academy Award for Best Directing at the start of 2021 with Nomadland. It stars Frances McDormand as a woman who takes to the road to find a new way of life among the displaced seasonal workers of the US gig economy. Honest, moving, and elegiac, Nomadland marked out Zhao as a filmmaking force to be reckoned with.
Nomadland is available to stream on Star on Disney+.
8: Another Round
Stefan Pape: Few films have made me smile so emphatically as Another Round did, and yet managed to be grounded by a strangely profound undercurrent. Any film that can make you want a pint and never want to drink again, at the exact same time, deserves some credit.
7: Promising Young Woman
Like The Lost Daughter, Promising Young Woman was the directorial debut of an actor-turned-filmmaker, this time from The Crown star Emerald Fennell. Fennell won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for her stylish and gripping tale of revenge and female empowerment, which stars Carey Mulligan as medical school dropout who is out for revenge.
Written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung, this semi-autobiographical film was a hit during awards season, and it's not hard to see why. This delicately paced story about a Korean family who move to the countryside to find a new life among nature is moving, funny, and life-affirming.
5: No Time To Die
Steve O'Brien: Daniel Craig’s final film as 007 was worth the agonising 18 month wait. It was both the most traditional Bond movie we’ve seen in 20 years and the most radical and pioneering we've had since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
No Time To Die is still in cinemas and available to rent on digital now, and will arrive on DVD, Blu-ray, 4K UHD and digital on 20 December.
4: The Father
Olivia Colman's second appearance on this list of the best films of 2021 comes in Florian Zeller's devastatingly moving portrait of a man (Sir Anthony Hopkins) losing his grip on reality through the onset of dementia. Colman appears as his daughter Anne in this disorienting and award-winning drama.
The Father is available to rent or buy on digital now.
Denis Villeneuve finally cracked Dune. Armed with an impressive arsenal of visual and special effects, a mind-blowing Hans Zimmer score, and the best ensemble cast of 2021, the French-Canadian filmmaker delivered an eye-popping visual feast that demanded multiple IMAX viewings. A sequel was promptly greenlit in order for Villeneuve to get working on Part Deux.
Dune is available to rent or buy on digital now. Own it on Digital Download from 17 January, or on 4K UHD, Blu-Ray, DVD and VOD from 31 January.
2: Sound of Metal
Riz Ahmed earned his first ever Oscar nomination as Reuben, a drummer who loses his hearing, in this moving drama that finally arrived in UK cinemas in May, 2021. Ahmed gives a career-best performance in this evocative exploration of hearing loss, that never talks down about its subject, casting many deaf performers in crucial roles.
Sound of Metal is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
1: The Power of the Dog
Linda Marric - Jane Campion has once again outdone herself. Her stripped-down storytelling style and striking visual composition shine through this truly outstanding adaptation. Although not presenting the classic unreliable narrator trope per se, it is a film that is able to pull the rug from underneath its audience in the most extraordinary fashion. Simply stunning.
The Power of the Dog is now streaming on Netflix.
Thanks to: Tom Beasley, Simon Bland, Mark Harrison, Rebecca Lewis, Clarisse Loughrey, Linda Marric, Brian McIver, Steve O'Brien, Stefan Pape,
Watch a trailer for The Power of the Dog