I saw a little over 200 films that I’m counting as “2021” films this year. You can see the whole list here. I also had the privilege to attend a few film festivals (online and in person) and saw several wonderful films that won’t be more widely available until next year, so any of those films will count towards next year’s list. I’m not sure there is as strong a theme connecting the films that resonated with me this year as there was last year, but I will say three movies in my top five I saw in the first three months of the calendar year. I love a year when films linger that long. Please remember this is a subjective list. This is what spoke to me. Hopefully something on here speaks to you too!
I hope you are ready for a TON of links because I was incredibly prolific in September! First off, for the Classic Film Collective I recommended Alice Guy-Blaché’s Falling Leaves and wrote a poem about the late Jean-Paul Belmondo. Podcast wise, Billy Ray Brewton joined me to talk Springsteen on Prog Save America, and I made not one, but two appearances on Blake Howard’s Zodiac Chronicle. For my column this month I spoke to Núria Frigola Torrent on her new film The Song of the Butterflies, married directing duo Gita Pullapilly & Aaron Gaudet about Queenpins, Lina Roessler about her debut film Best Sellers, and dancer-turned-director Connie Hochman talks about her debut documentary In Balanchine’s Classroom.
I also covered the Toronto International Film Festival! For The Playlist I reviewed Dear Evan Hansen, Colin In Black and White, Lakewood, The Starling, The Mad Women’s Ball, and Silent Night. For RogerEbert.com I wrote about six African films. Dispatch one: Neptune Frost, Mlungu Wam (Good Madam), and Lingui The Sacred Bonds. Dispatch two: Astel, The Gravedigger’s Wife, and Saloum. For Moviefone I interviewed kate Dolan about her film You Are Not My Mother, Agustina San Martín about her film To Kill The Beast, Camille Griffin about her film Silent Night, Edgar Wright and co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns about their film Last Night In Soho, Justine Bateman about her film Violet, and Anita Rocha Da Silveira about her film Medusa.
But that’s not all! For Nerdist I wrote about my favorite recent depictions of bisexual and pansexual characters in film and television. I made my SlashFilm debut writing about the irresponsible depictions of suicide in Dear Evan Hansen and Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain. For Crooked Marquee I reviewed the delightfully deranged Palme d’or winner Titane. For Moviefone I reviewed the wonderfully queer Venom: Let There Be Carnage. And lastly, I made my InStyle debut profiling The Many Saints of Newark star Alessandro Nivola!
If you’re not completely exhausted (like I am), after the cut you can find everything I watched in September, plus as always a breakdown by decade and a brief sampling of my favorites.
I’m very excited to be bringing Female Filmmaker Friday back! This time, however, it’s back in the form of a podcast. To launch my very first podcast I decided I must start with one of my favorite film directors: Jane Campion! I really love her work and it was so much fun to talk about her filmography with two of my favorite film lovers: Justine Smith and Kristen Sales! I hope you enjoying listening to this conversation as much as I did having it!
Check back in two weeks when Lady P from Flixwise and I discuss the work of Ida Lupino!
I finally watched the equivalent of more than one film a day this month! Most of these were watched on weekends actually, plus quite a few in theaters. It was such a great month filled with cinema for me. A return to form! As always, you can find all the films I watched this month, plus a few highlighted faves, after the cut.
Ruth Barron: Be kind? So what? You don’t think I’m kind.
PJ Waters: *Shakes head no*
Ruth Barron: Oh, God. Now I feel sick. Why didn’t you just write “cruel”?
PJ Waters: Hey, come on.
Ruth Barron: No, you’re right. Be kind. . .that’s the whole point. Thank you. I’m very grateful. That is it, isn’t it? The only thing. The Dalai Lama said it. . .kindness. Do you know what I’m really scared of?
PJ Waters: What?
Ruth Barron: Don’t tell anyone.
PJ Waters: No.
Ruth Barron: Despite all my strong feelings, I’m heartless.
Lately I’ve become more and more frustrated with the various “best ever” lists that have been released because they rarely feature films by women, or if they do it’s usually one or two films. I think this is more a reflection of those who are polled for these kinds of lists, as well as a compounding of history on itself. For so long films by men have made up the bulk of the film canon and I think people are afraid to add new films to these revered lists. I also think many people haven’t seen very many films by women, or if they have it’s always the same handful of films. In an attempt to create a better, more inclusive list of great films by women, I polled over 500 critics, filmmakers, bloggers, historians, professors and casual film viewers, asking them to tell me what films directed (or co-directed) by women are essential viewing. Some people only responded with as little as five votes, others submitted hundreds of films. In the end, I received over 7,000 votes for 1,100+ different films. After tallying up this data, with ties factored in, I then had a list of 103 essential films directed by women.