The 10 best movies of 2021 and how to stream them

·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment UK
·5-min read
Dune, The Power of the Dog, and No Time To Die all feature in our list of the best films of 2021. (Warner Bros/Netflix/Universal)
Dune, The Power of the Dog, and No Time To Die all feature in our list of the best films of 2021. (Warner Bros/Netflix/Universal)

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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

Olivia Colman in The Lost Daughter (Netflix)

THE LOST DAUGHTER. OLIVIA COLMAN as LEDA. CR: COURTESY OF NETFLIX
Olivia Colman in The Lost Daughter (Netflix)

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.

9: Nomadland

A still from Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures)
A still from Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures)

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

Mads Mikkelsen in a still from Thomas Vinterberg's Another Round. (Studiocanal)
Mads Mikkelsen in a still from Thomas Vinterberg's Another Round. (Studiocanal)

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.

Another Round is available to stream on NOW with a Sky Cinema Membership.

7: Promising Young Woman

Nominated for 6 BAFTAs and 5 Academy Awards® including Best Picture, Emerald Fennell’s incredible debut Promising Young Woman will join the Sky Original film line-up in a partnering with Focus Features and Universal Pictures International to bring the acclaimed film to UK audiences exclusively on Sky Cinema from 16 April.

From ground-breaking Academy Award® nominated writer/director/producer Emerald Fennell (Killing Eve), Promising Young Woman is a bold new vision that has ignited a debate starring Academy Award® Nominee Carey Mulligan as ‘Cassie’; a wickedly smart but singularly focused woman, who in order to overcome events from her past lives a double life by night. Following an unexpected encounter, Cassie is given the chance to right the wrongs of the past.

Joining Carey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go) are Bo Burnham (The Big Sick), Alison Brie (Glow), Connie Britton (Nashville), Adam Brody (Shazam!), Jennifer Coolidge (Legally Blonde), Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black), Max Greenfield (New Girl), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad), Chris Lowell (The Help), Sam Richardson (Veep), Molly Shannon (Never Been Kissed) and Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption). Producers include Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), Tom Ackerley (I, Tonya), Josey McNamara (Dreamland), Ben Browning (Passengers), Ashley Fox (The Courier), Emerald Fennell (Killing Eve). Written and directed by Emerald Fennell.

The highly-anticipated film makes its UK debut following acclaimed wins at the Critics’ Choice Awards and Writers Guild of America for Mulligan’s masterful performance and Fennell’s screenplay, respectfully. With cinemas currently closed in the UK, this exciting partnership will grant access to all in the UK to watch the top box office hit which is among Oscar Best Picture contenders in the US.
Emerald Fennell's debut Promising Young Woman debuted as a Sky Original (Universal Pictures)

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.

Promising Young Woman is available to stream on NOW with a Sky Cinema Membership.

6: Minari

Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Yuh-Jung Youn in Minari (Altitude)
Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Yuh-Jung Youn in Minari (Altitude)

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.

Minari is available to stream on NOW with a Sky Cinema Membership.

5: No Time To Die

No Time To Die hits UK cinemas on 30 September (MGM/Universal Pictures/EON)
No Time To Die hits UK cinemas on 30 September (MGM/Universal Pictures/EON)

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

Anthony Hopkins in The Father (Lionsgate)
Anthony Hopkins in The Father (Lionsgate)

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.

3: Dune

Oscar Isaac in Dune (Warner Bros.)
Oscar Isaac in Dune (Warner Bros.)

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

Sound of Metal is available on Amazon Prime Video from 12 April and released in cinemas from 17 May (Amazon Prime Video)
Sound of Metal is available on Amazon Prime Video from 12 April and released in cinemas from 17 May (Amazon Prime Video)

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

Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Burbank in The Power Of The Dog (Kirsty Griffin/Netflix © 2021)
Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Burbank in The Power Of The Dog (Kirsty Griffin/Netflix © 2021)

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

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