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MUBI's Favorite Films of 2021

MUBI's team of curators choose their favorite film premieres and home viewing of 2021.
Anaïs Lebrun, Daniel Kasman, Chiara Marañón
Revisiting last year's introduction when putting together 2021's favorites, it is with a shock to realize how little has changed in the wildly disrupted world of cinema under the shroud of the pandemic. The urge to copy-and-paste the whole shebang is quite tempting indeed.
What can we say about this year, 2021? We got a little more used to long-term instability. Cinemas and festivals re-opened, only for some to close again. We, like many, ventured carefully out into the world to finally see films again with audiences, all kinds: nervous ones, uproarious ones, spartan ones, and delighted ones. It was an experience both anxious and joyous. We also doubled down on the challenges, but also the pleasures, of home viewing: of virtual cinemas and virtual festivals, of straight to streaming premieres, of trying to capture a social joy in semi-isolation by connecting with others over experiences shared and disparate.
The long and short of it is this: The cinematic experience is shapeshifting before and with us, most certainly. Equally true is how wonderful contemporary cinema is. This year provided a deluge, a bounty of great movies. Trimming our lists was no simple task when so much beauty filled our screens, big and (more often) small. Cinema is being made with vigor, loveliness, and extreme relevancy. If last year the precarity of the shared communal theatrical experience, and of artists and workers' abilities to create, appeared a crisis, this year, while no such crises have been averted, it is overwhelmingly clear that the great magic of cinema is as strong as ever.

Daniel Kasman
Home Viewing
Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar (Josh Greenbaum, US)
Chameleon Street (Wendell B. Harris, Jr., 1990)
Chess of the Wind (Mohammad Reza Aslani, 1976)
The Death of David Cronenberg (Caitlin Cronenberg & David Cronenberg, Canada)
earthearthearth (Daïchi Saïto, Canada)
The Empty Man (David Prior, 2020)
Faya Dayi (Jessica Beshir, Ethiopia/US)
Fifth Avenue Girl (Gregory La Cava, 1939)
France (Bruno Dumont, France)
Iguana (Monte Hellman, 1988)
Limbo (Cheang Soi, Hong Kong)
Monster Hunter (Paul W.S. Anderson, 2020)
Pebbles (P.S. Vinothraj, India)
Polycephaly in D (Michael Robinson, US)
Sankofa (Haile Gerima, 1993)
The Souvenir Part II (Joanna  Hogg, UK)
Still Life (Sohrab Shahid Saless, 1974)
The Very Thought of You (Delmer Daves, 1944)
We Were Strangers (John Huston, 1949)
What Do We See We Look at the Sky? (Alexandre Koberidze, Georgia)
Cinema Viewing
Belle (Mamoru Hosoda, Japan)
Drive My Car (Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Japan)
Lamentations (Nathaniel Dorsky, US)
Memoria (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Colombia)
La spiaggia (Alberto Lattuada, 1954)
Zeros and Ones (Abel Ferrara, US)
Anaïs Lebrun
1. Petite maman (Céline Sciamma, France)
2. Zola (Janicza Bravo, US)
3. The Green Knight (David Lowery, US)
4. Train Again (Peter Tscherkassky, Austria)
5. Candyman (Nia DaCosta, US)
6. Compartment No.6 (Juho Kuosmanen,  Finland)
7. Belle (Mamoru Hosoda, Japan)
8. Four Roads (Alice Rohrwacher, Italy)
9. Il Buco (Michelangelo Frammartino, Italy)
10. How To with John Wilson, S1E6, "How to Cook the Perfect Risotto" (John Wilson, US)
Chiara Marañón
Home Viewing
Azor (Andreas Fontana, Switzerland)
Burning an Illusion (Menelik Shabazz, 1981)
Cow Lowing Among Ruins (Ramón Lluís Bande, 2020)
El Gran Movimiento (Kiro Russo, Bolivia)
Haruhara San’s Recorder (Kyoshi Sugita, Japan)
Housekeeping (Bill Forsyth, 1987)
Ornamental Hairpin (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1941)
Petite maman (Céline Sciamma, France)
Ste. Anne (Rhayne Vermette, Canada)
The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet (Ana Katz, Argentina)
The Girl (Márta Mészáros, 1968)
The Girl and the Spider (Ramon Zürcher, Silvan Zürcher, Switzerland)
What Will Summer Bring (Ignacio Ceroi, Argentina)
Cinema Viewing
A Night of Knowing Nothing (Payal Kapadia, India)
Ali in Wonderland (Djourha Abouda, Alain Bonnamy, 1975)
ear for eye (debbie tucker green, UK)
I Remember Mama (George Stevens, 1948)
Memoria (Apichatpong Wheerasetakul, Colombia)
Merrily We Go to Hell (Dorothy Arzner, 1932)
Only Yesterday (John M. Stahl, 1933)
Sambizanga (Sarah Maldoror, 1972)
The Card Counter (Paul Schrader, US)
The Souvenir Part II (Joanna Hogg, UK)
Train Again (Peter Tscherkassky, Austria)
Who's Stopping Us (Jonás Trueba, Spain)  
Yearning (Mikio Naruse, 1964)

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