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The Digital Pix - our favourite movies of 2021

2021 is somehow nearly over so here are The Digital Fix team's favourite movies of the year

We’re not quite sure how but 2021 is nearly over. It’s been quite a year here at The Digital Fix. We relaunched the website, hired a new whole team, and watched a lot of incredible movies and TV series. So as we say goodbye to 2021, we thought it would be good fun to look back on the year and pick… or pix… our favourite films of the year.

Every member of The Digital Fix staff has had the opportunity to give their top five films of the year and explain why they loved these movies. It’s quite a list, there’s everything on here from vehicle-based erotica to the new Spider-Man movie, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

After all, if there’s one thing that unites us, it’s our passion for cinema and the art of filmmaking. We love celebrating movies both big and small. So here’s to our favourite movies of 2021 and also to you, dear reader; thanks for sticking with us through this slightly strange year, and we can’t wait to show you what we’ve planned for 2022.

Titane/Belle/ Censor

Emma’s movie pix of the year

Titane – It’s moody, graphically gory, and unique… Oh yeah, and it revolves around a serial killer getting impregnated by a car. I dare you to name something that sounds as wild or entertaining as that.

Titane is easily one of this year’s best movies for me thanks to its imagery, metaphorically packed (and a bit nutty) story, and last but not least, the stellar lead performance by acting newcomer Agathe Rousselle.

DuneDune was probably the most impressive film of the year for me, period. Based on Frank Herbert’s novel of the same name, it’s an excellent example of adaptation for the big screen done right.

Denis Villeneuve’s world-building and ability to condense the epic sci-fi saga into a script that captures attention for over two hours is a sight I can’t recommend enough.

Witness me! Best action movies

Belle – Mamoru Hosoda’s animation Belle is one of those rare movies where technology’s benefits in communication and ability to bring people together are illuminated instead of criticised.

Weaving in a touching human-focused story about trauma, banging music, and friendship, Belle, is a colourful spectacle that genuinely speaks to our times by using 2D and 3D animation.

Censor – As a huge fan of psychological horror movies, there is no way Censor wouldn’t have made my top picks. Its concept of the censorship of video nasties intertwined with obsession and false memories is strikingly original.

The movie really puts a spin on the typical horror movie formula involving a woman’s deteriorating psyche that we’ve seen become increasingly popular in recent years. From its sleek writing to its haunting atmosphere, Censor hits all the right horror notes.

Judas and the Black Messiah – Inspired by true events, Judas and the Black Messiah follows two important figures in the Black Panther Party’s history and how they suffered state-sanctioned injustice.

The story hits home, and Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield, as its leads, are just phenomenal. This movie’s pacing is great, and its script highlights that above all else, here were a group of men and women fighting for their community and lives when no one else would.

Psycho Goreman/Dune/ Mad God

Anto’s Movie Pix of the year

The Mitchells Vs The Machines – Social media is bad, but also good, in Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe’s family road-trip turned quest to avert the apocalypse. Fanciful when it wants to be, occasionally droll, its celebration of technology as a creative gateway that should be embraced is refreshing and heartwarming.

Dune – Denis Villeneuve adapts the unadaptable in an epic, dream-like blockbuster that doesn’t so much transport you to Arrakis as engulf you with the endless desert. Sure, the conclusion could be
smoother, but knowing when to stop is a thing Dune custodians should exercise more.

The Souvenir Part II – Joanna Hogg’s quasi-autobiographical sequel stands on its own merit as a bittersweet, occasionally rose-tinted retreading of tragedy and loss. Honor Swinton Byrne is wonderfully unassuming as Julie, a film student filtering seismic shock through her final project, and keep an eye out for Richard Ayoade, who’s hardly ever been better cast.

Bold new world: Best science fiction movies

PG: Psycho Goreman – Power Rangers, but for adults who want the costumes and effects with added blood, nihilism, and occasional giant brain slug. Memes for days in this send-up and celebration of our indefatigable hunger for rehashes of the ’80s and ’90s that’s as rewatchable as any of its forebears.

Mad God – A dark, twisted tour through a dilapidated world congealing in its own body horror and endless misery. Phil Tippett’s masterpiece either gives you wide-eyed glee or has you wondering what kind of weirdo enjoys this crap – I loved it.

The Souvenir Part 2/ House of Gucci/Power of the Dog

Fiona’s movie Pix of the year

The Souvenir Part II – Joanna Hogg’s sublime follow-up to her semi-autobiographical masterpiece from 2019. The meta layers become increasingly complex as Julie (Honor Swinton-Byrne) makes a personal film about the events of The Souvenir Part I.

The Power of the Dog – Jane Campion’s first film in a decade is an astonishing examination of masculinity in the old West. Cumberbatch as we’ve never seen him is undone by Kodi Smit-McPhee. Stunning cinematography and score.

The Green Knight – David Lowery’s take on the medieval epic poem stars Dev Patel as the antithesis of someone who embodies the knightly virtues. Stunning cinematography and score.

A knightly quest! Best fantasy movies 

House of Gucci – Ridley Scott’s bombastic take on the real-life events that unravelled the Gucci family is a melodrama of the highest order. The fashion! The accents! A great time at the movies!

Cyrano – 2021 has thankfully seen the return of the movie musical. Have they been any good? Mostly, no. But Joe Wright has swept in at the last minute to save the day with this gorgeous romantic theatrical delight. Peter Dinklage is marvellous.

Toms pix

Tom’s Movie Pix of the year

Spider-Man: No Way Home – Incredibly confident and a wonderful celebration of 20 years of Spider-Man, No Way Home shouldn’t have worked, and yet it did.

A lot of that comes down to a mad, messy, multiversal plot which allows it to do things you wouldn’t have thought possible in live-action.

In The Heights – An explosion of Puerto Rican joy, In The Heights takes Lin Manuel Miranda’s magical musical and elevates it to… well, new heights.

Boasting winning performances from a likeable cast, incredible songs, and an unforgettable abuela, no film made me smile more this year than In The Heights.

Green Knight – Arthurian mythology meets slightly pretentious folk horror? Sign me up. This atmospheric retelling of the 14th-century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is more about atmosphere than action but remain eminently watchable.

Dev Patel does most of the heavy lifting as he trudges through Arthur’s decaying kingdom, but don’t sleep on Andrew Droz Palermo’s breathtaking eye for a visual.

Dune – A true epic Denis Villeneuve’s Dune manages the unenviable task of both introducing an audience to Frank Herbert’s sprawling science fiction universe while keeping it entertaining enough for general audiences to enjoy.

We should never have doubted Villeneuve, though, who managed to deliver one of the most mesmeric movies of the year.

The Mitchells Vs the Machines – For my money, Sony Pictures Animation is the most exciting animation studio working in Hollywood right now.

This year they released the frantic, frenetic, and fantastic Mitchells Versus the Machines, which tugged on the old heartstrings while remaining incredibly entertaining.