Words: Giulia Lombardo
Finally, 2021 has come to an end: it has been a very challenging year for all of us, through the pandemic and real difficult times. However, luckily the movie industry hasn’t stopped, and it has fulfilled – once again – its main objective, which is taking us into another dimension and setting us free from what is haunting us in the real world. So, here is a short list of the movies that have excelled in doing this for us this year.
1. The Hand Of God
The beautiful, complicated, intriguing, sometimes insidious, yet enchanting and fascinating Naples, through the eyes of a typical – THE typical – Italian family: a very close husband-and-wife relationship and their three kids, surrounded – as it always happens in every Italian family – by all their relatives. ‘The Hand Of God’ – the new autobiographical film by Paolo Sorrentino and one of the most promising candidates as a 2022 Oscars nominee – is really all about that: the picture of the typical Italian family in the 1980s, through its struggles, extreme joy, happy moments – the appearance of Diego Maradona is key – and tragedies. The incredible delivery of this movie is surely due to the breathtaking photography and shots that showcase the beautiful landscapes that Naples presents. Furthermore, the actors (including teenager Filippo Scotti as Fabio Schisa) deliver a very pure and credible representation of who their characters are in a real-life scenario, making it all even more magical and captivating.
Very faithful to Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi novel, ‘Dune’ by Denis Villeneuve was everyone’s topic of interest, maybe for all the fans of the original 1984 version, or maybe because of its star-studded cast, including Timothée Chalamet – playing the iconic lead character Paul Atreides – Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa, Oscar Isaac and many more. Chalamet did an amazing job in giving a new life to Paul, who, as the maturing son of Duke Leto Atreides and Lady Jessica, expresses self-awareness, and finds some painful answers to questions that have tormented him for his whole life. Finding himself, Paul’s journey starts as a seed, created with a purpose, but with an unpredictable growth, that penetrates in depth, spreads, transforms and modifies the surrounding territory.
3. The Power of The Dog
Initially, it was hard to say if Jane Campion’s ‘The Power of The Dog’ was going to be welcomed by critics and the general public, because this film (as previous works of the New Zealand director) once again explore the murky limits between desire and violence, and playing with the ways they either fit in or run against social conventions. One thing is for sure, what made this psychological Western one of the best ones of 2021 is the fact that the director has not lacked courage, audacity and consistency in bringing to the big screen one of the most famous novels by Thomas Savage. Certainly a powerful, original work, which lives on metaphors and contrasts, doubts and a violence that is more in words, looks and faces than in the body of the protagonists. Above all, dominates an extraordinary and outstanding Benedict Cumberbatch, who succeeded in portraying the essence of Savage’s work, who condensed into it his childhood and youth, and his terrible experience with a closed, hard, misogynous environment.
4. Malcolm & Marie
Everything happens in a night. A night of extreme realness, rawness and transparency between two lovers. The whole film consists of very animated comparisons and discussions that the couple will process with extreme realness, making us feel like we’re not watching a movie, but witnessing a couple fight. He (John David Washington) is a director returning from the triumphant before his last film, she (Zendaya) is his girlfriend with an unrealistic past as an actress. They talk, they scream, they kiss, they fight, they make up. And then again. ‘Malcolm & Marie’ is a story about love in all its contradictions and shades, but it is also a story about the Hollywood industry and an amused and fierce portrait of film critics and a reflection on race. Zendaya and Washington successfully portrayed two charismatic characters, sometimes too strong and, a moment later, too weak, defenseless, protagonists of an intense film that reflects on that very thin line that separates love and need, and feeling and habit.
5. Spider-Man: No Way Home
An incredible, I N C R E D I B L E movie, to end the year with your favourite friendly neighborhood Spider-Man coming back with a bang. Pure excitement, heartbreak, suffering and extreme adventure. Tom Holland and his two partners, Zendaya and Jacob Batalon, did exceptionally good, never failing our expectations. After following Holland’s evolution as Peter Parker, this third Spider-Man movie also brings a real maturity for this character, that takes realistic and dramatic tones but – even if we can sense our beloved Peter Parker growing – does not lose the hilarious, goofy and comic strip, lighting up the struggle Peter as most people his age go through when finding themselves, living problems, situations and traumas. Okay, I am particularly emotional about this, but – aside from the amazing performance from the actors and the incredible storyline – what stuck the most for me about this movie is knowing an “end” that, also knows of “beginning”.