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The Movie Waffler’s 50 Best Movies of 2021

Our favourite movies of 2021.

It's the end of yet another year, and time once again for us to look back on our favourite movies to appear before our eyeballs over the past 12 months. Load up your To Watch list, as we've got 50 movies we urge you to see.




50. Second Spring
We said "Watching director Andy Kelleher’s character study of a middle-aged woman succumbing to a rare brain condition which manifests in uncivil social interactions, may well make you a little paranoid about the state of your own mental health." Read our review




49. There Is No Evil
We said "There Is No Evil offers pristine and deeply human filmmaking. Rasoulof’s impassioned rhetoric is communicated through detailed character portrayal and a layered rendition of a flawed country." Read our review




48. Deadly Cuts
We said "A silly, funny and irresistibly warm-hearted film. Never mind a bit off the back and sides, I’m wondering how I will ever remove the wall to wall grin which Deadly Cuts has styled me with." Read our review




47. The Fallout
We said "The Fallout tells a remarkable story about an important modern subject through amazing character work, topped off by the most crucial ending it could have conceived." Read our review




46. Cocoon
We said "What makes Cocoon such a sincere pleasure is its affection for its subject matter, warts and all." Read our review




45. Inexorable
We said "What's most interesting about the film is its self-awareness of the genre sandbox it's playing in." Read our review




44. RK/RKAY
We said "RK/RKAY is a film that wears its cinephilia loud and proud and offers an interesting perspective on artistic frustrations." Read our review




43. Riders of Justice
We said "Whoever said revenge is a dish best served cold didn't have Riders of Justice in mind. Jensen takes the revenge thriller template and delivers one of the most warm-hearted movies you'll see all year." Read our review




42. Lapsis
We said "Although Lapsis works as a social critique it is successfully wrapped inside a well-paced and very watchable sci-fi parable." Read our review




41. Lola and the Sea
We said "With reports that Transphobic hate crimes are on the rise, Lola and the Sea is a film made vital by its social context." Read our review




40. Poppy Field
We said "Anyone who believes "don’t ask, don’t tell" isn't a harmful way to live would do well to watch Jebeleanu's film and see how such a mentality really affects those forced to live under such stifling conditions." Read our review




39. Zana
We said "In the fragmented culture of Kosovo, Kastrati seems to suggest, fringe beliefs and archaic misunderstandings proliferate within the cracks." Read our review




38. The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao
We said "The film posits that the women are individually sapped by their estrangement, that sisterhood is a necessary bulwark against the crushing male supremacism of 1950s Rio." Read our review




37. The Exception
We said "In this MeToo era we've seen quite a few movies explore the idea of women being gaslit by men, so it's refreshing to see women as the antagonists in such a scenario." Read our review




36. Gaza Mon Amour
We said "Gaza Mon Amour is a beautiful film, with its elemental power drawn from the lived-in qualities of the performers, the comfortable and deeply affecting verisimilitude which the film creates, exuding warmth and emotion from the white dust and broken concrete of its setting." Read our review




35. Pig
We said "A reminder that behind the madness and the memes, Nicolas Cage is a fine actor." Read our review




34. Shiva Baby
We said "It's the very specific Jewish humour that makes Shiva Baby so much fun, that ability to find a silver lining, or sometimes a cloud, in every scenario." Read our review




33. Carmen & Lola
We said "The depiction of young, possibly doomed love (which, let’s face it, most young love is) has a moving verisimilitude which transcends the given context." Read our review




32. The Pit
We said "This is a depiction of a town afraid of itself, fatally suspicious of each other, and turning a blind eye to exactly the wrong sorts of social ills." Read our review




31. Freaky
We said "The horror-comedy sub-genre has given us some of the dumbest, most cynical movies imaginable, but Landon appears to have nailed what makes these two flavours go together – an appreciation and respect for both forms." Read our review




30. Cowboys
We said "As a domestic drama lovingly painted within frontiersman wide-frames, and with its deliberately old fashioned milieu offering centre stage to a contemporary cultural issue, the film is a winning combination of seemingly incongruous styles and ideas." Read our review




29. Caveat
We said "If it opens like an adaptation of some lost Poe tale, or a late addition to BBC's 'Ghost Stories at Christmas' canon, Caveat climaxes in EC Comics fashion, with a final twist deserving of its own lurid splash page." Read our review




28. The Djinn
We said "In this age of helicopter parenting and molly-coddled kids, it's refreshing to see a movie that dares to inflict horrors - of both our own world and other dimensions - on a child without coming across as mean-spirited." Read our review




27. Threshold
We said "Using limited means, Robinson and Young have crafted an engaging horror story that focusses on the one element so often overlooked by low budget practitioners of the genre – the people at its centre." Read our review




26. Spencer
We said "Spencer is surprisingly cinematic for a biopic of an Anglo-Saxon princess, but for all of Larrain's pulling from the horror genre and Knight's scabrous dialogue, the film ultimately rests on the bare shoulders of Stewart." Read our review




25. Sound of Metal
We said "It is Ahmed’s tight performance which keeps Sound of Metal’s emotional rhythm on point." Read our review




24. The Father
We said "For anyone either approaching old age themselves or with loved ones at such a milestone, The Father is a sobering, difficult watch, more disturbing than any horror movie." Read our review




23. Offseason
We said "This is old school horror, with a fog machine working overtime, mist creeping around tombstones and hanging vines as telephones ring tauntingly in the distance." Read our review




22. The Stylist
We said "Most of the best horror movies take a very simple, even well-worn premise and enliven it with a combination of a creator's personal vision, a gripping central performance and an understanding of the technical tricks that make the genre tick. The Stylist checks all these boxes." Read our review




21. A Dark, Dark Man
We said "It works equally as a gritty crime thriller, a takedown of Kazakh corruption, and a laugh out loud comedy about a man who just wants to get out of his work clothes by six o'clock." Read our review




20. Treasure City
We said "Hungary may be in a sorry state as a society, but Treasure City is the latest of many recent movies that prove the Eastern-European nation boasts one of the continent's most exciting film industries." Read our review




19. Lorelei
We said "Wayland and Dolores could easily have stepped out of a Springsteen song, but they feel wonderfully alive to the viewer, if not to themselves." Read our review




18. A Brixton Tale
We said "A Brixton Tale’s overriding theme is obviously the exploitation of perceived black authenticity via privileged white media, yet the film never patronises us or its representations by drawing  simple binaries." Read our review




17. Dead Pigs
We said "Yan effortlessly trades between character study and plot-driven events while maintaining a cultural specificity to the people and themes she explores, shepherding uniformly excellent performances from her cast that establish the tone of her dramedy." Read our review




16. Cry Macho
We said "The grouchy character Clint played in his seventies and eighties has made way for the happy go lucky nonagenarian of The Mule and Cry Macho. His transition from John Wayne to Walter Brennan continues." Read our review




15. They Say Nothing Stays the Same
We said "Each verdant frame has the prized value of uncut jade, with characters overwhelmed by the fecund and potentially supernatural power of their surroundings." Read our review




14. Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
We said "The great movie characters continue to exist once the credits roll, something that occurs not once but three times within the two hours of Hamaguchi's film." Read our review




13. Bone Cage
We said "The brute force of the film is matched by its raw humanity and deeply sensitive approach to its difficult, tragic characters." Read our review




12. The Killing of Two Lovers
We said "The Hyde of this tale wasn't created by knocking back a potion, but by America's refusal to evolve from its Wild West morality." Read our review




11. Verdict
We said "In the film canon of women enacting retribution for violence, Verdict is a sobering tonic to the cathartic pleasures of rape revenge movies, where sluggish, and obscured due process is almost as painful and beleaguering as the crime itself." Read our review




10. France
We said "Seydoux’s remoteness is essential to France, captivating us even when we are not sure the film deserves our focus, or if the so-so principles warrant close attention." Read our review




9. Fidelity
We said "Our empathy towards Lena is greatly enhanced by a quietly attention-grabbing performance by Gromova, who really sells Lena's frustrations." Read our review




8. Apples
We said "Apples suggests that no matter how rotten things may seem, there's always a fresh apple left in the bowl. Go on, take a bite." Read our review




7. After Love
We said "The great Scanlan, of course, offers a tour de force of emotional subtlety. She is both dignified and desperate, frightened and, at times, even funny." Read our review




6. Malmkrog
We said "The type of topics which modern discourse has ground into the most superficial takes is here given devoted, extended space; the audience simply eavesdrops, compelled to listen to the rising interactions and deepening debates while the hours melt into one another." Read our review




5. Nomadland
We said "Zhao is as poetic a filmmaker as it gets, the closest to a John Ford figure we have today; and like that great American master, she knows where to find poetry in America, in its people and its panoramas." Read our review




4. Gatecrash
We said "It’s not so much that the narrative turns of Gatecrash are surprising, more that the plot developments are destabilisingly strange, unsettlingly leftfield and coolly shocking." Read our review




3. Songs My Brothers Taught Me
We said "Zhao's storytelling is as American as that of Ford, Hawks and Peckinpah. Her stories are populated by the same sort of people – stubborn, rugged individuals who symbolise everything that makes America so equally fascinating and frustrating." Read our review




2. Ham on Rye
We said "Imagine Haddonfield without Michael Myers, Springwood without Freddy Krueger, Lumberton without Frank Booth. Now imagine the teens of those fictional suburbs dealing not with evil men but with the existential dread of encroaching adulthood." Read our review




1. 1982
We said "Mouaness has achieved something of a marvel with his remarkably accomplished debut. He's crafted a story set in a part of the world synonymous with hardship, but from the first frame it's clear he's not interested in our pity." Read our review