Andy’s Look Back At 2021

Our newest committee member, Andy Smith, takes a look back at another unusual year in cinema.

Before we get to the nitty-gritty let me put some context around where my film preferences lie: Here are some of my favourite films, by which I mean films that I would happily watch over and over again, but not on a loop! (in no particular order): Casablanca (1942), Ex Machina (2014), Leon (1994), Dirty Harry (1971), Farmegeddon (2019), Wall-E (2008). I don’t mind a suspense film but I am not a fan of horror or ‘action’ movies. Although Tenet (2020) was simply brilliant… My wife and I always mark a film out of 10 as we leave the cinema – it has to be our instant impression, given without conferring which we then average and record. More that 8 is very good, less than 2 means we probably walked out if we could without disturbing people. 10s are like hen’s teeth.

The first half of 2021 was spent watching films on-line via a 12 inch laptop or DVDs via a projector on to the sitting room wall trying to replicate “The Experience” of the big screen – we even got ice creams in. It was a poor substitute.

From May we were back in cinemas and managed to rack up 20 films between then and the end of the year. Most of them were excellent – only one was poor. So a good strike rate.

The first film was Nomadland – pretty much a 10/10. What an interesting ‘storyline’ fantastic direction (Chloe Zhao), great characters (Frances McDormand, David Strathairn and members of the nomad community), cinematography (Joshua James Reynolds) and social comment.

Frances Mcdormand in Nomadland

Looking down my list the other high scorers are:

  • Sound of Metal – Riz Ahmed was outstanding as a person coming to terms with his enforced change of life.
  • Respect – the biopic of Aretha Franklin
  • The Harder They Fall
  • West Side Story

One film that I was surprised I hadn’t given higher marks was Judas and the Black Messiah – it really was a good film and one which I would happily see again.

I also managed to catch the first half of the digitally remastered Metropolis (1927) complete with string quartet accompaniment at the Harrogate Odeon. What an epic film with so many iconic images. Sadly I wasn’t able to stay for the second half as I had to be up in the small hours of the next morning to go to work.

Several films made me realise how much society had moved on from the 1960s but then I’d read the news and realise that in so many ways we had really not come very far at all. Social divisions, institutional prejudices, corruption and abuse of power are still very much part of our time. Bizarrely, the last film I saw in 2021 was Don’t Look Up which shines a satirical light on the last three of those. It had some laugh out loud moments but might not have been the cheeriest film to end the year on…

 In addition to the films mentioned above here are a few other favourites (and one that didn’t work for me):

  • Most emotional film: Supernova
  • Special mentions:
    • The French Dispatch
    • The Power of the Dog
    • Passing
  • Biggest disappointment: His Name is Greenflake – this was a really interesting story but for some reason just failed to gel with me.

I’m looking forward to 2022 especially the second half of the year when we should be back at the Picture House

Andy Smith

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