December 2021 in Films

Hard to believe 2021 has come to a close, and yet here we are. I’ve been blogging here for twelve years apparently! Starting in 2022 most of my non-paid writing will be moving to my newsletter, so please subscribe to that if you want to keep up with my work. On here I’ll publish my annual Favorite Fifteen Films list and my end of the year wrap-up, and then everything going forward will move to the newsletter.

In terms of writing in December for my column I interviewed Mary Lambert about A Castle For Christmas, Valerie Weiss about Mixtape, Lauren Hadaway about The Novice, Jules Williamson about Off The Rails, and Hannah Marks about Mark, Mary, + Some Other People. For The Playlist I review Nightmare Alley, Harlem S1, and The Unforgivable; I also wrote about Venom: Let There Be Carnage as a guilty pleasure. For the Classic Film Collective I recommended Bell, Book and Candle, and wrote a poem about It’s A Wonderful Life. For RogerEbert.com I interviewed Uzo Aduba about her role in National Champions, shared my Top Ten list, and wrote about Tessa Thompson’s exquisite performance in Passing. I hopped on the Matineecast to talk about The Power of the Dog, Battleship Pretension to talk about Christmas Noir, and NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour to talk about Nightmare Alley. For Crooked Marquee I reviewed Red Rocket and The Lost Daughter. And lastly, I made my Polygon debut discussing under seen X-Mas movies and why so many romances are set on New Year’s Eve.

As always, you can see everything I watched in December after the cut.

  1. El prófugo (The Intruder)
  2. Nightmare Alley (2021)
  3. The Lost Daughter
  4. Procession
  5. Adrienne
  6. Mixtape
  7. Val
  8. Playing with Sharks: The Valerie Taylor Story
  9. È stata la mano di Dio (The Hand of God)
  10. New Year’s Eve
  11. Attica
  12. Limbo (2020)
  13. Let It Be Morning
  14. Les criminels (The Criminals)
  15. Souad
  16. Deserto Particular (Private Desert)
  17. Captains of Za’atari
  18. Off The Rails
  19. National Champions
  20. Verdens verste menneske (The Worst Person in the World)
  21. Dýrið (Lamb)
  22. Babardeala cu bucluc sau porno balamuc (Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn)
  23. Respect
  24. Faya Dayi
  25. Single All the Way
  26. House of Gucci
  27. The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  28. Ailey
  29. Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation
  30. The Unforgivable
  31. Något att minnas (Something To Remember)
  32. The Grand Bizarre
  33. The Novice
  34. Memoria
  35. Inventário de Natal (Christmas Inventory)
  36. Vánocní sen (A Christmas Dream)
  37. The Amusement Park
  38. Ulysse
  39. Hommage à Zgougou (Tribute to Zgougou)
  40. Les 3 boutons
  41. Diary of a Mad Housewife
  42. Mass
  43. Boxing Day (2021)
  44. It’s Such a Beautiful Day
  45. Le Chat du rabbin (The Rabbi’s Cat)
  46. Chico & Rita
  47. Eat A Bowl of Tea
  48. Holler
  49. The Matrix Resurrections
  50. Sin señas particulares (Identifying Features)
  51. Gūzen to sōzō (Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy)
  52. Le Sommet des dieux (The Summit of the Gods)
  53. The Disciple
  54. Cyrano
  55. Ghahreman (A Hero)

1880s: 00
1890s: 00
1900s: 00
1910s: 00
1920s: 00
1930s: 00
1940s: 01
1950s: 00
1960s: 00
1970s: 02
1980s: 02
1990s: 00
2000s: 02
2010s: 06
2020s: 42

The Lost Daughter, 2021 (dir. Maggie Gyllenhaal)

Barely missing my Favorite Fifteen Films list is Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut starring a phenomenal Olivia Colman (she better get a third Oscar nomination for this!!). You can read a much fuller review of the film here. Just stunning stuff.

Adrienne, 2021 (dir. Andy Ostroy)

Another film that didn’t quite make my end of the year list, this loving documentary about murdered filmmaker Adrienne Shelly was made by her husband and released around the 15th anniversary of her death. A tribute to her verve, a scrapbook for their daughter, and a poem of their love found and then suddenly stolen, this is personal filmmaking at its finest.

Hommage à Zgougou, 2002 (dir. Agnès Varda)

The most precious short doc from Varda to her beloved cat, who really was a queen.

Diary of a Mad Housewife, 1970 (dir. Frank Perry)

Frank and Eleanor Perry can do now wrong as far as I can tell. Their films are all bangers. Carrie Snodgress gives a mesmerizing performance as a bedraggled, over educated middle class housewife named Tine married to the world’s worst social climbing megalomaniac (a wonderfully grating Richard Benjamin). When she meets a charming cad of a writer played by Frank Langella in his debut film role you know an affair in imminent, but what makes this so biting is that unfortunately even regular great sex isn’t the cure-all it’s proclaimed to be. It seems middle class malaise is a disease with no easy fix.

Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, 2021 (dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi)

Another film that didn’t quite make my end of the year list, and one of two great films from Ryusuke Hamaguchi out this year along with Drive My Car, this is really three shorts films with a tenuous thematic tether about love and connection. Like its title, there is just a bit of fantasy to them all as the characters learn that fortune isn’t always a good thing. I’m definitely looking forward to diving into Hamaguchi’s earlier work.

Ghahreman (A Hero), 2021 (dir. Asghar Farhadi)

The last film I watched in 2021 and one final film that didn’t quite make my end of the year favorites list, but is well worth seeking out. I’ll be writing a fuller review for Crooked Marquee soon, but for now just keep this on your radar when it gets its wider release in January.

In the coming days look forward to my end of the year wrap-up and my Favorite Fifteen Films posts, and again don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter!

About Marya E. Gates

Cinephile to the max.

Posted on December 31, 2021, in 2021 in Films and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Holy moley, you’re prolific! Wish I had listened to the podcast about Christmas Noir before Xmas. May have to wait till next year now. Lol. (Nah, I’ll listen.)

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