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Movies & TV

16th Dec 2021

The 10 best movies of 2021

Rory Cashin

best movies 2021

Bring on the arguments.

Before you say anything, yes, we know 2021 isn’t over yet.

There is a chance that Spider-Man: No Way Home or The Matrix Resurrections or Snakes On A Plane VII (we wish that was real) could all be amazing and completely disrupt this list, and if that turns out to be the case, we’re very sorry.

But from the first 350 or so days of 2021, these are the 10 best (in no particular order!) movies released in Ireland.

Watch our countdown in full right here:

Or you can read our list right here:

1. A Quiet Place Part II

John Krasinski played with the audience’s own fear of making any noise during particularly scary scenes during the original movie, so trust him to double down on that approach with the sequel.

The family has splintered, with Emily Blunt trying to keep her newborn alive, while Cillian Murphy hunts down the last remnants of hope for the future of humanity.

Both bigger and more intimate than the first one, this is exactly what you’re supposed to do with scary movie sequels.

2. Palm Springs

As comedians go, Andy Samberg is oddly underrated.

Despite fronting one of the most-loved sitcoms on TV, his big screen outings have featured some proper gems (Hot Rod, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping) that have been almost completely overlooked.

The pandemic had the same impact on Palm Springs, as he’s paired with the hilarious Cristin Milioti in this sci-fi-infused version of Groundhog Day.

You wouldn’t think existentialism, nihilism and questions of fate and love would be so funny, but here we are.

3. The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Initially due to arrive in cinemas, the pandemic forced this gem to become a Netflix premiere in April, and to be honest, no other movie in 2021 came close to its level of pure entertaining bliss.

The initially rote idea of a device-addicted family forced to work together to take down evil AI is flipped into a consistently hilarious, visually-astounding animated comedy.

Endlessly rewatchable, endlessly quotable, and guaranteed to have your family fighting over which bit is actually the best bit until you all decide to watch it again.

4. Promising Young Woman

A scathing, scalpel-sharp comedy about sex, gender, misogyny and assault.

Writer/director Emerald Fennell gifted Carey Mulligan with a screen-burning role: one-part Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, one-part dating myth, 100% righteous rage against the men of the world.

Guaranteed to get under the skin of a certain breed of so-called “nice guys”, the supporting cast all bring their A-game, including Bo Burnham (more of him later…) as the man who might be able to assist in a re-evaluation of the entire male gender.

5. Dune

It wasn’t really a great year for blockbusters, was it?

The MCU entries ranged from “only good” to “only okay”, while No Time To Die and Fast and Furious 9 didn’t leave much of a mark.

One big-budget epic did break through the cloud of mediocrity, though – Dune.

Denis Villeneuve assembled a most attractive cast for this humungous sci-fi family drama. A visual and aural masterpiece, and one of the few IMAX must-watches of 2021.

6. Zola

Never heard of it? Don’t worry, not many people have.

A pitch-black comedy based on a true story told across 148 tweets in 2015, Zola follows a waitress (Taylour Paige) who heads to Florida alongside a stripper (Riley Keough) with the promise of making a quick buck at the clubs there.

It soon descends into a manic tale of prostitution, murder and blackmail, while never being anything less than breathlessly entertaining and very often laugh-out-loud funny. Seek it out ASAP.

7. Another Round

Leonardo DiCaprio is already in talks to headline the English-language remake of this Best International Feature Film Oscar-winning drama, which is probably about as great of a seal-of-approval as you could ask for.

The story of four teachers (including Mads Mikkelsen, once again reminding us how phenomenal an actor he is) who take part in a social experiment – consuming alcohol every single day to see what impact it has on their personal and professional lives.

What sounds like the set-up for a Will Ferrell comedy plays out as an intellectual crisis about the lengths we’re willing to go to just to find a little more happiness.

8. Nobody

Fun. Remember fun? Remember having a good time?

Don’t worry if the word merely triggers a distant echo of a memory of a good time long-passed, because this frantic, barely 90-minute-long action thriller will bring it all rushing back.

If you can imagine John Wick but with Better Call Saul star Bob Odenkirk in the role of the semi-retired assassin, then you’re pretty much on the right track.

9. Bo Burnham: Inside

Is it a movie? Is it an art project? Is it a complete and total emotional breakdown disguised as a stand-up comedy special?

It feels like a cheat to say “Yes, all three!”, but to be fair, Bo Burnham’s mindblowingly creative Inside doesn’t play by the rules; from the still-very-catchy songs to the “Ouch, that stings” realism of his jokes about isolation, ageing, creative despair and dying alone.

So…. LOL?

10. King Richard

There is nothing exceptional about King Richard, except for the fact that every single aspect of it is very, very, very, very good.

As biopics go, it doesn’t push the envelope, but the contents of the envelope, from the performances, the cinematography, the score (and Beyonce’s song!), the screenplay… every element is as good as can possibly be.

Not everything needs to scorch the world in a blaze of originality – sometimes just being great is good enough.

Let us know your favourites flicks of 2021 in the comments too…

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