ENJOY THE MOVIES
The 2022 Sundance Film Festival wrapped up last week after a series of virtual premieres. Now it's time to present our annual Best of the Fest list. I was able to catch a total of 60 films this year (my full list on Letterboxd), watching online from home (to stay safe and save some money). This is my 16th year in a row covering Sundance, and this fest still has a special place in my heart. I am always excited about the films and filmmakers they bring. I am presenting one big list of my 10 favorite films - a mix of docs and features. All of these below are worth watching, and I highly recommend seeking them out whenever they show up at your local cinema. I am glad Sundance has continued to do their best with a film festival even in this crazy times during an ongoing pandemic, because we all need good cinema like this. Below are my favorites, the films that connected with me and have remained on my mind all the way through the 10 days of the festival.
It's January again, which means it's time for another Sundance Film Festival. The original plan for 2022 was to host a hybrid event - with the usual in-person screenings in Park City, Utah as well as online screenings. But they had to cancel the in-person event again thanks to the pandemic, returning to an entirely virtual / online event like last year. (Along with a few satellite screenings in select cities around the country.) This is our 16th year in a row covering this film festival; I'm always looking forward to returning and watching all the new films premiering at Sundance. Out of the 83 films showing at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, I've picked 10 films that I'm looking forward to seeing the most. To keep things well balanced, I've chosen 5 feature films and 5 documentaries from the line-up. There's a few gems in the line-up already. As usual with Sundance, you never can really tell what'll good or bad before the fest kicks off, but here's my picks anyway.
"The mystery of life isn't a problem to solve, but a reality to experience." Another year, another Top 10. After watching over 460 films throughout 2021 (yes I was keeping track on Letterboxd!) it's time to share my final selection of My Top 10 Favorite Films of 2021. I try to watch as much as I can and give myself time to catch up with any extra films at the end of the year, but I also want to make sure I don't forget about some of my favorites from earlier in the year. 2021 was an invigorating and exciting year - with so many ups and downs. But as always, I'm lucky to have a chance to discover terrific films. this year in cinema took us on journeys to far away places, distant planets, as well as to mountaintops and valleys and deserts around this planet. I'm a sucker for visuals and style; the better a movie looks, the more I enjoy it. But I also need to feel the emotions, and when a good one really gets to me, that's the kind of film that sticks with me all year.
"So may we start?" Here we go again! One of the annual must-see best of the year lists is a video countdown made by my colleague David Ehrlich (follow him @davidehrlich). He counts down his 25 best films of the year in a video edited together with footage and music from the films. It's one of the best ways to look back at the year, including footage from films beyond the 25 that made his list. (If you haven't seen Annette yet, get on that stat!) David's Top 25 of 2021 is as diverse as always, and you will likely discover a number of great films from this video. A handful of my favorites are featured as well, including The Power of the Dog, In the Heights, Titane (yes!!), and The Worst Person in the World (this exceptional Norwegian film about a woman's relationships). Year after year, this is a must watch video for any and every movie lover out there.
With the year almost over, it's time to look back and highlight some favorites from the world of movies. Our writer Ethan Anderton used to publish his list of the Best Official Movie Posters, but I'm taking over and will return to highlighting some of my favorite designs. Below is my personal selection of 10 Favorite Movie Posters from 2021. These aren't necessarily the "best" rather they're my own favorites that stuck with me. I'm clearly attracted to color and striking designs, something that looks unique and is evocative. I also think it's important for a poster to capture the vibe of the film, and not just look cool though it's different from how the film feels. That's an important part of poster design. Just slapping any generic photo on a poster is dull and lazy, but creating art, making something vivid - that's what I love the most. Check them out below.
"I wasted time, and now doth time waste me." We have officially launched our 2023 Release Schedule page (being added to the button bar once we jam our way into the New Year), featuring listings throughout the year 2023 now that we're days away from sliding into 2022. This is our annual release update, to keep everyone informed about release dates in 2022 and 2023 looking ahead. We always launch the next calendar at the end of each year, and only update two years out as it gets seriously sketchy beyond that. Earlier this year, we announced that the schedule has some changes regarding additional listings of VOD/streaming releases, as well as a clear indicator of which films will be opening in theaters. It seems the industry has settled into a 45-day theatrical window, for now, and will continue pumping content into all the streaming services: led by Disney+, Netflix, Prime Video, HBO Max, with Paramount+ & Discovery+ also on the rise.
It's that time of the year again - time to discuss everyone's favorite films of the year, all the best of the best that cinema brought us in 2021. The UK-based film magazine Little White Lies has published their The 30 Best Films of 2021 list, made up of selections from all of the various critics that write for them. Included with this end of the year reveal is a video countdown, edited together by Luís Azevedo (we've featured many of his video essays). This countdown contains footage from all 30 of the great films featured on their list, including many of our faves - Titane, Summer of Soul, Annette, The Lost Daughter, Dune, C'mon C'mon. Even if the films on here aren't your jam, it's still quite lovely to see a visual recap of the last Year in Film. It's always a terrific way to process and admire all we've been graced with as cinephiles over these 12 months. Enjoy the "annual countdown of the year’s finest silver screen offerings. How many have you seen?"
"This task was appointed to you, and if you do not find a way, no one will." On December 19th, 2001, the world of movies changed forever - Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring opened in theaters. The rest is history. To celebrate this 20th anniversary, editor Joel Walden put together this lovely tribute video taking us back to the unforgettable glory of this epic trilogy. It's a must watch for any and every LOTR fan. I LOVE these movies more than I love just about anything else. Watching them in the sold out movie theaters during those three years was a powerful and formative experience for me, and I get seriously emotional just thinking about how beautiful these movies are. There's nothing like them. There never will be. I am sure there are many great tributes out there for this anniversary, but this is one of the best - using some of my favorite quotes and shots edited so nicely. Catch up with Sam & Frodo again below.
Film geeks! This one is for you! A projectionist recently uploaded a video of his work in the projection booth threading a 70mm print of Paul Thomas Anderson's new film Licorice Pizza. The video was shot at the Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn and follows Yves (in POV) as he threads the giant 70mm film reels and prepares them for projection in the cinema. Yay! It's like watching those decadent cooking videos where they make the most incredible food. But with cinema! Ah… the lost art of threading film and running projectors. There are only a few cinemas left that still have film projectors, and even less that are now 70mm-compatible. But people like Yves help keep this art alive! I always like seeing how it all works + how to thread film properly.
"These are not just worthwhile films to see. These are the instances of forgotten films which truly belong within the highest echelon that the art has to offer. This is a celebration of cinema." There is always more to watch! Always. But have you seen these films? Probably not. While every movie website prides itself on finding & highlighting the best films you haven't seen, there's always more. Lost in the mix, forgotten by most, but not by everyone. The Greatest Films You Don't Know is a video essay made by "The Cinema Cartography". They highlight nine great films, and includes a brief intro and discussion about each one (and why they're so special). Out of all of these, I've only ever heard of one before: The Cremator, directed by Czech filmmaker Juraj Herz. I actually was lucky to see this one at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival a few years back during a retrospective. The rest are all new to me! Dive in and learn about cinema history below.
Each year, I am incredibly lucky and privileged to return to the spectacular city of Venice in Italy to attend the Venice Film Festival and catch the latest films premiering there. Venice is over and looking back at the line-up, it's time to present my quick picks of my favorite films from Venice 2021. This was my fifth year in a row back to Venice, I even stopped by last year during the pandemic, and I spent every single day at screenings all day. They always show two new films in the morning, along with lots of other screenings in the evening to catch. In total, I watched 28 films at Venice this year, and while it wasn't the best selection, I'm always glad to have the chance to watch them anyway. The fest kicked off with Pedro Almodóvar's latest, Parallel Mothers (watch the trailer), which I didn't care much for. Then continued on for another 10 days, and I was there right up until the end. You probably already know what I flipped for, but let's recap anyway.
A chat with Adam & Cariño. One of my favorite films of 2021 is this wonderful little gem called Language Lessons, directed by and starring Cuban-American actress / filmmaker Natalie Morales, and co-starring Mark Duplass. I first saw this at the Berlin Film Festival earlier in the year and instantly fell for it, writing a glowing review back in March. I've been raving about it all year, telling everyone else to watch it and enjoy it. I would go so far as to say it's the best pandemic-inspired Zoom-screen film out of any made in the last two years. Mostly because the story is a meaningful story about connection, and it's not just using Zoom as a gimmick. I haven't done any new interviews in a long time, but when I was offered the chance to talk with Natalie and Mark - I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I did this interview the day I arrived in Venice for this year's Venice Film Festival, and I still took the time to chat with them and ask them about making this film.