Best Films of the Year 2021

More than ever, I believe that hierarchising movies is doing injustice to them all, including those who are on top. What makes a cinematic experience wonderful is its singularities, not its "qualities" that can be compared, listed, or awarded. Moreover, I saw most of the movies below only once and in many cases it's the first time I see that specific director's work so I might be making a lot of hasty judgments. This arbitrary order (and categorisation) is likely to change every time I see one of them again. Think of the order below as follows: in a hypothetical past where I had a limited amount of time and had to choose, which one I'd prefer to see more? In other words, subjective priorities, rather than tangible hierarchies. Also, the name of the categories — such as "sublime", "great", etc. all stupid words, really — refer to my overall experiences of the films, not to the films themselves. They all have sublimenessess.

What's below isn't a list of the best movies made in 2021, but a list of the new films that are still on the festival circuit or in theatres that I've seen this year. I'd like to think of it as a diary of sorts, which is partly why I rarely go back and change my lists for previous years, even if I feel I was completely wrong about it at the time. I keep the movies I was involved with out of the list. So, here it is, the new movies I liked in 2021:


  • Vitalina Varela / Pedro Costa
  • Memoria / Apichatpong Weerasethakul


  • This Is Not a Burial, It's a Resurrection / Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese
  • First Cow / Kelly Reichardt

Very Good
  • Diários de Otsoga / Maureen Fazendeiro & Miguel Gomes
  • Une place dans ce monde / Emilie Beyssac Cywińska

  • Garderie Nocturne / Moumouni Sanou
  • Serre Moi Fort / Mathieu Amalric 
  • Mank / David Fincher
  • Illusions Perdues / Xavier Giannoli 
  • About Endlessness / Roy Andersson
Memorable screenings of older films in good projection
  • Anticipation of the Night / Stan Brakhage (16mm at L'Archipel thanks to Re:Voir)
  • Chumlum / Ron Rice (16mm at L'Archipel thanks to Re:Voir)
  • Tomboy / Celine Sciamma (35mm at Cinémathèque Française)  
  • The Assassin / Hou Hsiao Hsien (DCP at Cinémathèque Française)


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