Two films shot by NM feature in Roeper’s top 10

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Jonathan Majors, left, and Idris Elba in a scene from “The Harder They Fall”. (David Lee / Netflix)

We like to kick off our annual ‘Best Movies of the Year’ post with a look at some great movies that haven’t lived up to it, and this time around, that list includes:

“Candyman”, “Encanto”, “King Richard”, “The Last Duel”, “Last Night in Soho”, “The Lost Daughter”, “Mass”, “Nightmare Alley”, “The Power of the Dog” and “La Macbeth’s tragedy.

That would make a great Top 10 list – but tough choices have to be made, and when the 2021 cinematic year final credits roll, the following films resonated with me the most.

10. “A Quiet Place, Part II”

Rather than go the streaming route in 2020, writer / director John Krasinski waited a year, then gave us a theatrical release last May – and what a great move, because this near-perfect sequel should be seen in a theater. , where the use of sound can be fully appreciated. (And yes, sound is a MAJOR player in the “Quiet Place” movies.) Beginning with a prologue that served as a prequel, “A Quiet Place II” ingeniously expanded the post-apocalyptic universe, featuring Emily Blunt doing passionate work like a mother who will go to extraordinary lengths to protect her children. It’s one of the best sequels of any genre over the past 10 years.

9. “The more they fall”

Director / co-writer / producer Jeymes Samuel is squarely in the Sergio Leone-meets-Quentin Tarantino zone in this violent, bloody, funny, exhilarating and beautifully interpreted Black Western. “The Harder They Fall,” which was filmed in New Mexico, is full of characters like Rufus Buck and Cherokee Bill who were true 19th century black figures – but the story is 100% fictional, with Jonathan Majors in the spotlight. Head of a play Nat Love, a classic anti-hero who seeks revenge for the murder of his parents. This is a heartbreaking adventure, and I haven’t used the term ‘heartbreak’ in a long time, so you know I mean it.

Angelina Jolie and Finn Little in a scene from “Those Who Wish Me Dead”. (Emerson Miller / Warner Bros. Entertainment)

8. “In the heights”

Director John M. Chu teams up with Lin-Manuel Miranda in this vibrant, open, and beautifully filmed adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical. Located in the multicultural Washington Heights neighborhood in upper Manhattan, “In the Heights” is a generational tale about family, heritage and, of course, love. Anthony Ramos as the owner of Usnavi bodega and Melissa Barrera as Vanessa, who aspires to break into the fashion industry, are the most engaging romantic couple in a 2021 musical on this side of… eh well, another movie appearing on this list.

7. “Old Henri”

Who doesn’t like Tim Blake Nelson a bit? From “Minority Report” to “Syriana” to “The Gray Zone” to “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” and we could list 25 other credits, Nelson has been one of the most trusted actors of his generation – and he gets it without. doubts his career role as the main character in “Old Henry”, the dark and brutal early 20th century western from writer / director Potsy Ponciroli, with Nelson as the main character, a farmer from the Oklahoma Territory who finds himself in the sights of a ruthless group. With the best twist of any movie this year.

6. “Those who want my death”

Actor turned filmmaker Taylor Sheridan is an American treasure as a writer and / or director of brilliant films such as “Sicario”, “Hell or High Water” and “Wind River”, the television series “Yellowstone”, “1883 “and” Mayor of Kingstown “- and the extravagant and wildly entertaining neo-western” Those Who Wish Me Dead “, and yes, it might be overkill to buy Angelina Jolie as a tragedy-haunted smokejumper, but Jolie takes the plunge. in the role and is particularly effective in scenes where she has to protect a 12-year-old (Finn Little) who is the target of a father-son assassin duo. (I told you it was weird.) The movie was shot in New Mexico in 2019.

5. “The card counter”

Oscar Isaac has become one of my favorite actors, because he has a style and approach reminiscent of 1970s Al Pacino, and he’s perfectly portrayed as a closely injured veteran who has a methodical and professional way of playing. at blackjack and poker – his only way to shut up the demons in his head. Writer / director Paul Schrader (writer of “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull”) specializes in searing stories about obsessive loners who are often their worst enemy, and with “The Card Counter” he arguably delivered the best game movie since “Roundnesses.

4. “Pig”

It’s just too easy to joke about all the B-movie roles that Nicolas Cage has accepted in recent years, and at first glance, “Pig” might have seemed like the last in this very long line. After all, Cage plays Rob, a former celebrity chef who now lives in a secluded cabin in the Oregon wilderness with his only friend: his beloved truffle pig. When the precious pig is kidnapped, Rob must return to civilization to try to save it. I know, it sounds crazy, but in the hands of director and co-writer Michael Sarnoski, “Pig” is a mud-spattered Shakespearean drama, with Cage giving a passionate yet beautifully controlled performance that reminds us he can touch greatness. .

3. “History of the West”

A star is born in Rachel Zegler, who makes a bright, warm, strong and memorable Maria in Steven Spielberg’s sensational update to one of the greatest movie (and Broadway) musicals of all time. “West Side Story” is old-fashioned wall-to-wall entertainment, from the lavish and impeccably designed location and sets to expertly crafted choreography to the outstanding cast, including award-winning legendary Rita Moreno Best Supporting Actress for playing Anita in the 1961 film and could earn another Oscar nomination for her radiant work as a new character.

2. “Licorice Pizza”

The great Paul Thomas Anderson delivers one of his most sentimental and sweetest stories with this period piece from the early 1970s featuring incredibly accomplished performances by two newcomers to the big screen: musician Alana Haim in the role of Alana Kane, a 25-year-old woman who longs to escape the mundane traps of her life in the San Fernando Valley, and Cooper Hoffman (son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) as the fantastically named Gary Valentine, an intriguing, dreamy teenager who becomes Alana’s unlikely partner in a number of get-rich-somehow fast-paced schemes, her best friend and possibly more.

1. “Belfast”

Writer / director Kenneth Branagh’s black and white love letter to his childhood in Northern Ireland in the late 1960s is a story of the unrest between Protestants and Catholics and their impact on three generations of a family a worker who does not know of any other existence apart from their close-knit neighborhood in Belfast – but must face the reality of the world which is closing in all around them. Told through the eyes of 9-year-old Buddy (Jude Hill), “Belfast” features solid performances from Jamie Dornan and Caitriona Balfe as Buddy’s parents, and unforgettable work from Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds as greats. Buddy’s parents. It’s the best film of 2021 and is set to win a crate of Oscars.


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