My top 30 films of 2021

This year I watched 305 movies, 185 of them for the first time – and of those, here are my top 30. But first, some random awards:

Best film about a hat
Tie between Ikiru (Kurosawa 1952) and Miller’s Crossing (Coen brothers 1990)

Best Liam Neeson film that doesn’t actually have Liam Neeson in it and refuses to be a Liam Neeson film in other ways, too
Tie between Riders of Justice (Jensen 2020) and Pig (Sarnoski 2021)

Most unexpected tear-jerker
Gamera the Brave (Tasaki 2005)

Sandiest film
Dune, part one (Villeneuve 2021)

Best line stolen from Black Dynamite
Dune, part one (Villeneuve 2021) ‘I am smiling’

Most gratuitous and interminable use of slow motion
Dune, part one (Villeneuve 2021)

Highest sound and fury to signifying nothing ratio
Dune, part one (Villeneuve 2021), which is quite an achievement in a year in which I also saw Tenet and Shutter Island.

Oddest film suggested by a student
The Greasy Strangler (Hosking 2016)

Best film set inside a volcano
Skyfire (West 2019)

Worst film set inside a volcano
Skyfire (West 2019)

Best film about zombie sushi
Deddo sushi/Dead Sushi (Iguchi 2012)

Worst return to horror by a British director who made his name directing horror
Tie between The Banishing (Smith 2020) and The Reckoning (Marshall 2020)

Best performance by a CGI pirate cat chef
Monster Hunter (Anderson 2020)

Most unexpected appearance of the skulltopus
Zhong guo chao ren/The Super Infra-Man (Hua 1975)

My top 30
Adams æbler/Adam’s Apples (Anders Thomas Jensen 2005)
Le bonheur (Agnès Varda 1965)
Censor (Prano Bailey-Bond 2021)
Chiisaki yûsha-tachi: Gamera/Gamera the Brave (Tasaki Ryuta 2005)
Dare mo shiranai/Nobody Knows (Koreeda Hirokazu 2004)
Druk/Another Round (Thomas Vinterberg 2020)
Edvard Munch (Peter Watkins 1974)
Le fantôme du Moulin Rouge/The Phantom of the Moulin Rouge (Rene Clair 1925)
Gospodjica Mendi/Miss Mend, parts one, two and three (Boris Barnet and Fyodor Otsep 1926)
The Greasy Strangler (Jim Hosking 2016)
Harlan County U.S.A. (Barbara Kopple 1976)
Héraðið/The County (Grímur Hákonarson 2019)
Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa 1952)
In the Earth (Ben Wheatley 2021)
Jazz on a Summer’s Day (Bert Stern 1959)
Judas and the Black Messiah (Shaka King 2021)
Napoleon (Abel Gance 1927)
The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent 2018)
Pig (Michael Sarnoski 2021)
Pokot/Spoor (Agnieszka Holland 2017)
Possessor (Brandon Cronenberg 2020)
Relic (Natalie Erika James 2020)
Retfaerdighedens ryttere/Riders of Justice (Anders Thomas Jensen 2020)
Saint Maud (Rose Glass 2019)
Sátántangó (Béla Tarr 1994)
The Story of a Three Day Pass (Melvin Van Peebles 1967)
Summer of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson 2021)
Ums tägliche Brot/Hunger in Waldenburg (Phil Jutzi 1929)
Varieté (E.A. Dupont 1925)
Zhong guo chao ren/The Super Infra-Man (Shan Hua 1975)

And for anyone interested, here’s the full list of 305
2.0 (Shankar 2018)
(Federico Fellini 1963)
1917 (Sam Mendes 2019)
2040 (Damon Gameau 2019)

Adams æbler/Adam’s Apples (Anders Thomas Jensen 2005)
Adaptation. (Spike Jonze 2002)
The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl (Robert Rodriguez 2005)
Agatha and the Midnight Murders (Joe Stephenson 2020)
Ahiru to kamo no koinrokkâ/The Foreign Duck, the Native Duck and God in a Coin Locker (Nakamura Yoshihiro 2007)
All Cheerleaders Die (Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson 2013)
Anonymous (Roland Emmerich 2011)
Antebellum (Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz 2020)
L’argent (Robert Bresson 1983)
Aruitemo auritemo/Still Walking (Koreeda Hirokazu 2006)
The Astronaut Farmer (Michael Polish 2006)
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (Jay Roach 1997)
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (Jay Roach 1999)
Austin Powers in Goldmember (Jay Roach 2002)
Ava (Tate Taylor 2020)

Badge 373 (Howard W. Koch 1973)
Bait (Mark Jenkins 2019)
Bait (Mark Jenkins 2019)
The Banishing (Christopher Smith 2020)
Ban wo chuang tian ya/Wild Search (Ringo Lam 1989)
Before I Go To Sleep (Rowan Joffe 2014)
De behandeling/The Treatment (Hans Herbots 2014)
Belly (Hype Williams 1998)
Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy Blaché (Pamela B. Green 2018)
The Big Clock (John Farrow 1948)
The Big Heat (Fritz Lang 1953)
The Big Sleep (Howard Hawks 1946)
Bill & Ted Face the Music (Dean Parisot 2020)
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (Dario Argento 1970)
Black Dynamite (Scott Sanders 2009)
BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee 2018)
Black Widow (Cate Shortland 2021)
Blood for Dracula (Paul Morrisey 1974)
Blue Collar (Paul Schrader 1978)
Boesman and Lena (John Berry 2000)
Le bonheur (Agnès Varda 1965)
Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn 1967)
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Awakening (Daniel Haller 1979)
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Planet of the Slave Girls (Michael Caffey 1979)
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Time of the Hawk (Vincent McEveety 1981)
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Journey to Oasis (Daniel Haller 1981)

Candyman (Bernard Rose 1992)
Candyman (Nia DaCosta 2021)
Car Wash (Michael Schulz 1976)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Richard Brooks 1958)
Censor (Prano Bailey-Bond 2021)
Censor (Prano Bailey-Bond 2021)
Chak De! India (Shimit Amin 2007)
The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (Fred Schepisi 1978)
Chelovek s kino-apparatom/Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov 1929)
Chiisaki yûsha-tachi: Gamera/Gamera the Brave (Tasaki Ryuta 2005)
Child’s Play (Lars Klevberg 2019)
The Comedy of Terrors (Jacques Tourneur 1963)
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (Watanabe Shin’ichirô, Okamura Tensai, Okiura Hiroyuki 2001)
Crimson Peak (Guillermo del Toro 2015)
Cypher (Vincenzo Natali 2002)
Cyrano de Bergerac (Augusto Genina 1925)

Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150AD (Gordon Flemyng 1966)
Dare mo shiranai/Nobody Knows (Koreeda Hirokazu 2004)
The Dark (Justin P. Lange 2018)
Dead of Night (Cavalcanti, Crichton and Dearden 1945)
Death of Me (Darren Lynn Bousman 2020)
The Death of Stalin (Armando Iannucci 2017)
Deathtrap (Sidney Lumet 1982)
Death Was a Passenger (Theodore Zichy 1958)
Deddo sushi/Dead Sushi (Iguchi Noboru 2012)
Doctor Sleep (Mike Flanagan 2019)
Doctor Who and the Daleks (Gordon Flemyng 1965)
Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder 1944)
Druk/Another Round (Thomas Vinterberg 2020)
Duck Soup (Leo McCarey 1933)
Dune, part one (Denis Villeneuve 2021)

The Eagle (Clarence Brown 1925)
Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg 2007)
Edvard Munch (Peter Watkins 1974)
The Errand (Nigel Finch 1980)
Equilibrium (Kurt Wimmer 2002)
Event Horizon (Paul W.S. Anderson 1997)
Évolution (Lucile Hadzihalilovic 2015)
Évolution (Lucile Hadzihalilovic 2015)

F9 (Justin Lin 2021)
F9 (Justin Lin 2021)
Fah talai jone/Tears of the Black Tiger (Wisit Sasanatieng 2000)
Fanny och Alexander/Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman 1982)
Fantastic 4 (Josh Trank 2015)
Le fantôme du Moulin Rouge/The Phantom of the Moulin Rouge (Rene Clair 1925)
Fargo (Joel and Ethan Coen 1996)
Fast Five (Justin Lin 2011)
Fighting With My Family (Stephen Merchant 2019)
Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold 2009)
Forbidden Planet (Fred M. Wilcox 1956)
The Forever Purge (Everardo Gout 2021)
Friday (F. Gary Gray 1995)
Fukkatsu no hi/Virus (Fukasaku Kinji 1980)

Gamera 2: Region shurai/Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion (Kaneko Shûsuke 1996)
Gamera 3: Jashin Kakusei/Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (Kaneko Shûsuke 1999)
Gamera daikaijû kuchu kessen/Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (Kaneko Shûsuke 1995)
Gamera tai Daimaju Jaiga/Gamera vs. Jiger (Noriaki Yuasa 1970)
Gamera tai kaijû Jigura/Gamera vs. Zigra (Noriaki Yuasa 1971)
Gemini Man (Ang Lee 2019)
The General (Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton 1926)
Gertrud (Carl Theodor Dryer 1964)
Get Out (Jordan Peele 2017)
Gilda (Charles Vidor 2946)
Gisaengchung/Parasite (Bong Joon Ho 2019)
The Glass Shield Charles Burnett 1994)
Godzilla vs. Kong (Adam Wingard 2021)
Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela/RamLeela (Sanjay Leela Bhansali 2013)
Gospodjica Mendi/Miss Mend, part one (Boris Barnet and Fyodor Otsep 1926)
Gospodjica Mendi/Miss Mend, part two (Boris Barnet and Fyodor Otsep 1926)
Gospodjica Mendi/Miss Mend, part three (Boris Barnet and Fyodor Otsep 1926)
The Graduate (Mike Nichols 1967)
The Greasy Strangler (Jim Hosking 2016)
Greenland (Ric Roman Waugh 2020)
The Green Mile (Frank Darabont 1999)
The Green Knight (David Lowery 2021)
Guan yun chang/The Lost Bladesman (Felix Chong and Alan Mak 2011)

Harlan County U.S.A. (Barbara Kopple 1976)
Harriet (Kasi Lemmons 2017)
The Hate U Give (George Tillman Jr 2018)
Hell and High Water (Sam Fuller 1954)
Héraðið/The County (Grímur Hákonarson 2019)
Her Private Hell (Norman J. Warren 1968)
Hijôsen no onna/Dragnet Girl (Ozu Yaujirô 1933)
Hijôsen no onna/Dragnet Girl (Ozu Yaujirô 1933)
The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Patrick Hughes 2017)
The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (Patrick Hughes 2021)
Honogurai mizu no soko kara/Dark Water (Nakato Hideo 2002)
Hotel Artemis (Drew Pearce 2018)
Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright 2007)
House of Bamboo (Sam Fuller 1955)

Ich seh, Ich seh/Goodnight Mommy (Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz 2014)
Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa 1952)
Inferno (Roy Ward Baker 1953)
Inside Out (Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen 2015)
In the Earth (Ben Wheatley 2021)
In the Earth (Ben Wheatley 2021)
Invasión (Hugo Santiago 1969)
Ip Man: Kung Fu Master (Liming Li 2019)
It’s Love Again (Victor Saville 1936)

Jazz on a Summer’s Day (Bert Stern 1959)
Ji qi xia/Metallic Attraction: Kung Fu Cyborg (Jeffrey Lau 2009)
Jiu Jitsu (Dimitri Logothetis 2020)
Judas and the Black Messiah (Shaka King 2021)
Judas and the Black Messiah (Shaka King 2021)
Judas and the Black Messiah (Shaka King 2021)
Jungle Cruise (Jaume Vollet-Serra 2021)

The Killing (Stanley Kubrick 1956)
Kings (Deniz Gamze Ergüven 2017)
Kozure Ôkami: ko wo kasha ude kasha tsukamatsuru/Sword of Vengeance (Kenji Misumi 1972)

The Lake (Lindsey C. Vickers 1978)
The Last Winter (Larry Fessenden 2006)
Letter from an Unknown Woman (Max Ophuls 1948)
Der letzte Mann/The Last Laugh (F.W. Murnau 1924)
Lock Your Door (Anthony Gilkinson 1949)

Maciste Alpino (Giovanni Pastrone 1916)
Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller 2015)
Madonna of the Seven Moons (Arthur Crabtree 1945)
Mænd & Høns/Men and Chicken (Anders Thomas Jensen 2015)
The Maltese Falcon (John Huston 1941)
The Maltese Falcon (John Huston 1941)
A Man Called Adam (Leo Penn 1966)
The Man Who Haunted Himself (Basil Dearden 1970)
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (George C. Wolf 2020)
Marathon Man (John Schlesinger 1976)
Marjorie Prime (Michael Almereyda 2017)
Marjorie Prime (Michael Almereyda 2017)
The Masque of the Red Death (Roger Corman 1964)
May (Lucky McKee 2002)
Me and You and Everyone We Know (Miranda July 2005)
Miller’s Crossing  (Joel and Ethan Coen 1990)
Minari (Lee Isaac Chung 2020)
Mongol (Sergei Bodrov 2007)
Monster Hunter (Paul W.S. Anderson 2020)
The More the Merrier (George Stevens 1943)
Mother! (Darren Aronofsky 2017)
Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries: Seasoned Murder (Fiona Banks 2019)

The Naked Kiss (Sam Fuller 1964)
Napoleon (Abel Gance 1927)
The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent 2018)
Nine to Five (Colin Higgins 1980)
Nobody (Ilya Naishuller 2021)
Nomadland (Chloé Zhao 2020)
No Place Like Home (Perry Henzell 1973)
No Time to Die (Cary Joji Fukunaga 2021)

Okja (Bong Joon Ho 2017)
Once A Jolly Swagman (Jack Lee 1948)
The One (James Wong 2001)
Only God Forgives (Nicolas Winding Refn 2013)
Overdrive (Antonio Negret 2017)

Pâfekuto burû/Perfect Blue (Satoshi Kon 1997)
Persona (Ingmar Bergman 1966)
Per un pugno di dollari/A Fistful of Dollars (Sergio Leone 1964)
Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson 2017)
Pig (Michael Sarnoski 2021)
Pillow Talk (Michael Gordon 1959)
La Pointe Courte (Agnès Varda 1955)
Pokot/Spoor (Agnieszka Holland 2017)
Portrait de la jeune fils en feu/Portrait of a Lady On Fire (Céline Sciamma 2019)
Portrait of a Matador (Theodore Zichy 1958)
Possessor (Brandon Cronenberg 2020)
Potiche (François Ozon 2010)
Pressure Point (Hubert Cornfield and Stanley Kramer 1962)
Prisoners (Denis Villeneuve 2013)
Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell 2020)
Prophecy (John Frankenheimer 1979)

Quién sabe?/A Bullet for the General (Damiano Damiani 1967)
A Quiet Place (John Krasinski 2018)
A Quiet Place, Part II (John Krasinski 2020)

Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock 1954)
Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock 1940)
The Reckoning (Neil Marshall 2020)
The Reformation of St Jules (Anthony Gilkinson 1949)
Relic (Natalie Erika James 2020)
Retfaerdighedens ryttere/Riders of Justice (Anders Thomas Jensen 2020)
Ringu/Ring (Nakata Hideo 1998)

Sabrina (Billy Wilder 1954)
Saint Maud (Rose Glass 2019)
Sanbiki no samurai/Three Outlaw Samurai (Gosha Hideo 1964)
Sátántangó (Béla Tarr 1994)
Sat sau ji wong/Hitman (Wei Tung 1998)
Searching (Aneesh Chaganty 2018)
Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa 1954)
The Sex Victims (Derek Robbins 1973)
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Destin Daniel Cretton 2021)
Sharpe’s Eagle (Tom Clegg 1993)
Sharpe’s Rifles (Tom Clegg 1993)
The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont 1994)
Shirley (Josephine Decker 2020)
Show Boat (James Whale 1936)
Show Boat (George Sidney 1951)
Shurayukihime: Urami koiuta/Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance (Fujita Toshiya 1974)
Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese 2010)
Siu Lam juk kau/Shaolin Soccer (Stephen Chow 2001)
Skyfire (Simon West 2019)
Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder 1959)
Space Cowboys (Clint Eastwood 2000)
Spiral: From the Book of Saw (Darren Lynn Bousman 2021)
Spy Kids (Robert Rodriguez 2001)
Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams (Robert Rodriguez 2002)
Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky 1979)
Stan & Ollie (Jon S. Baird 2018)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Robert Wise 1979)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Nicholas Meyer 1982)
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Leonard Nimoy 1984)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Leonard Nimoy 1986)
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (William Shatner 1989)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Nicholas Meyer 1991)
Star Trek Generations (David Carson 1994)
Star Trek: First Contact (Jonathan Frakes 1996)
Star Trek: Insurrection (Jonathan Frakes 1998)
Star Trek: Nemesis (Stuart Baird 2002)
Stazione Termini (Vittoria De Sica 1953)
Steamboat Round the Bend (John Ford 1935)
Still the Enemy Within (Owen Gower 2014)
The Story of a Three Day Pass (Melvin Van Peebles 1967)
Stranger on the Third Floor (Boris Ingster 1940)
The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (Roger Corman 1967)
The Suicide Squad (James Gunn 2021)
Summer of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson 2021)
Suna no onna/Woman of the Dunes (Hiroshi Teshigahara 1964))
Synchronic (Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead 2019)

Tarzan’s Secret Treasure (Richard Thorpe 1941)
Taste of Fear (Seth Holt 1961)
The Tell-Tale Heart (J.B. Williams 1953)
Tenet (Christopher Nolan 2020)
The Tomorrow War (Chris McKay 2021)
The Tomorrow War (Chris McKay 2021)
Train to Busan: Peninsula (Sang-ho Yeon 2020)
The Transfiguration (Michael O’Shea 2016)
Die Tür/The Door (Anno Saul 2009)
Twenty-Nine (Brian Cummins 1969)
Two-Lane Blacktop (Monte Hellman 1971)

Uchu kaijû Gamera/Gamera: Super Monster (Noriaki Yuasa 1980)
Ums tägliche Brot/Hunger in Waldenburg (Phil Jutzi 1929)
Underwater (William Eubank 2020)
Up Periscope (Gordon Douglas 1959)
Us (Jordan Peele 2019)
Us (Jordan Peele 2019)
Us (Jordan Peele 2019)

Varieté (E.A. Dupont 1925)
Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (Curtis Harrington and Pavel Klushantsev 1965)

Waltzes from Vienna (Alfred Hitchcock 1934)
The Watermelon Woman (Cheryl Dunye 1996)
When A Stranger Calls (Fred Walton 1979)
The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah 1969)
Wild Card (Simon West 2015)
Willy’s Wonderland (Kevin Lewis 2021)
The Witch (Robert Eggers 2015)
Without Remorse (Stefano Sollima 2021)
Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins 2020)
Wrath of Man (Guy Ritchie 2021)
Wrong Turn (Mike P. Nelson 2021)

Yip Man 4/Ip Man 4: The Finale (Wilson Yip 2019)
You Should Have Left (David Koepp 2020)
You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay 2017)

Zatôichi monogatari/The Tale of Zatoichi (Misumi Kenji 1962)
Z for Zachariah (Craig Zobel 2015)
Zhong guo chao ren/The Super Infra-Man (Shan Hua 1975)
Zhong guo chao ren/The Super Infra-Man (Shan Hua 1975)
Zoku Zatôichi monogatari/The Tale of Zatoichi Continues (Kazuo Mori 1962)

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