2021 in Film: Matt’s Favourite Performers of The Year

2021 in Review: Best Performers

It has been a hell of a year and a hell of a year for film. The second year of the ongoing worldwide pandemic has been a bit of a roller coaster, with wave after wave of COVID once changing the film landscape. Theatres re-opened, but people have only really gone back for the biggest blockbuster titles, and even then, the numbers are a bit soft.

That’s not to say that there hasn’t been many a literal ton of films this year, though. I set a new personal record, having seen nearly 180 films released in 2021, and let me tell you that most of them are good!

To break down my favourites a little more this year, I’ll be dividing things up into three lists, one for my favourite performers, one for my favourite films, and one for the best of the rest. There are navigation links at the bottom of each page to the others.

Without any further ado, let’s get started with my favourite performers of the year!

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Review: ‘The Power of the Dog’ features a powerhouse performance from Benedict Cumberbatch


It’s fair to say that Benedict Cumberbatch is perhaps a little over-exposed. Since his big break with Sherlock in 2010, he has appeared in all manner of films, not only in prestige dramas like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Imitation Game, but also in major franchises like Star Trek, The Hobbit, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Despite their varied nature and differing challenges, it feels like all of these roles have blinded us to the simple fact that he is actually an outstanding actor. Not to say that he hasn’t done good work in the past ten years, but rather that we’ve forgotten exactly how good he can be.

Jane Campion is here to remind us of this and that she is one of the best directors working today.

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Review: ‘The Mauritanian’ features a strong central performance stuck in a bog-standard legal drama

The Mauritanian

It’s no secret that the United States has done some terrible things in the wake of the September 11th, 2001 attacks. Nearly 800 people were detained at Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp –which, for the record, remains open still– without due process. They have been subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques”, a bland euphemism for torture. In violation of both international agreements and the united states constitution, these prisoners rights were ignored and their persons abused. The entire affair was –and continues to be– a blight on American history.

The Mauritanian tells the story of one of these people. Mohamedou Ould Salahi (played by Tahar Rahim) was held at Guantanamo for 14 years. His memoir, written while in detention, became the basis for this movie, in which his harrowing story is hiding inside a legal drama we’ve all seen before.

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66th Primetime Emmys: Water Cooler Edition – Sofia Vergara Rotating on a Pedestal

Late Night with Seth Meyers - Season 1

The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards were held on a Monday and a month earlier this year to accommodate both the VMAs and NFL season.  But it’s okay, you’ve seen this show before.  No, really.  Seth Meyers gave a fantastic monologue but beyond that it was pretty much a lot of the same as last year and the year before.  I was so bored that I couldn’t even muster up annoyance at the fact that the President of TV (as Stephen Colbert called him) literally put Sofia Vergara onto a rotating pedestal so that people would have something to look at while he spoke.   Continue reading “66th Primetime Emmys: Water Cooler Edition – Sofia Vergara Rotating on a Pedestal”

Alan Turning Biopic ‘The Imitation Game’ Gets Two Trailers, Lots of Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch / The Imitation Game

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Alan Turing, the father of modern computing. A period piece featuring a great cast and a protagonist who struggles against adversity (more on that in a moment) during World War 2? I think I smell an Oscar contender.

We have not one but two trailers after the jump, one from Weinstein Company in the US and one from Studio Canal in the UK.

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Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit Desolation of Smaug

Peter Jackson is an interesting film maker. A background in indie films, specifically indie horror films, he was raised to the top of the A-List when he successfully pulled off adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s _The Lord of the Rings_ trilogy to the big screen. Those movies are not perfect by any stretch but the books were so rich and full of detail that the theatrical releases actually felt like they were lacking despite being a combined length of over 9 hours.

Now we’re on the second part of his adaptation of _The Hobbit_, the book that preceded the epic trilogy that was _The Lord of the Rings_. That book however is actually pretty short and while it has enough detail to serve the story’s purpose it has nowhere near the depth or scope that the later trilogy does.

Herein lies one of the problems with _The Desolation of Smaug_: You can’t turn a 300 page book into 9 hours of movie without padding the story, and Jackson has padded the story so much, and messed up the pacing so much, that while I don’t think it’s a bad film I also don’t think it’s a great one.

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Review: 12 Years A Slave

12 Years A Slave

Solomon Northup was a free born black man living in Saratoga Springs, New York, in 1841. Known as a talented violin player he was approached that year by two men who identified themselves as entertainers with an offer to accompany them for several performances in New York City. He took the job and thinking it would be a short trip didn’t tell his wife. Once there they convinced him to continue with them to Washington, D.C.

Once in Washington Northup was drugged, stripped of his clothing and identification, and sold into slavery. After 12 years he was freed again and later published a memoir of his experiences. Now Steve McQueen has made a movie out of those memoirs.

It’s a movie you need to see.

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August: Osage County Trailer: Star Studded Cast But Selling The Wrong Movie

August Osage County

_August: Osage County_ is an award winning play. In fact in 2008 it won 5 Tony’s including the award for Best Play. It chronicles the interactions of a semi-estranged family in the wake of a death and funeral. The play –which I’ve seen– is amazing and knowing that it’s not surprising at all that they’ve managed to get so many stars, established and upcoming, on board. And now there’s a new trailer.

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