Hi. I’m Jeremy. You may have seen me around this website on occasion. You may have seen me on a local film set. You may have also seen me at the theater.
Speaking of, we got movie theaters back! Hoorah! It’s been wonderful slowly getting that sense of community and spectacle back into our lives again. As much as things have changed over the last two years, it’s nice to go back to that old comfortable aura of sitting in a large and dark space, letting a cinematic experience immerse you. Feels good man.
A quick shout out to all the films that I did not get around to seeing that had the potential to make my list like The Tragedy of Macbeth, The Power of the Dog, One Shot, and West Side Story.
The honorable mentions:
Judas and the Black Messiah, The Paper Tigers, Bad Trip (this was also on my 2020 list while it legitimately came out this year, and it’s also still that good!), Raging Fire, Benedetta, Riders of Justice, Wrath of Man, Red Rocket, The Matrix Resurrections, The Green Knight, and New York Ninja
On to the top 10!
The Card Counter
Paul Schrader continues his hot streak of lost and lonely men coming to terms with their own haunted past. Truly a wonderfully nuanced story of veteran trauma, continuously proving that Paul Schrader is still one of the best to ever put words to a screenplay.
Drive My Car
This is one of those that you have to let wash over you over time. Drive My Car is long and deliberately paced, but also an incredibly immersive and emotionally rewarding experience about processing grief, and love, and finding meaning in the art you create for yourself and others.
Phil Tippett’s stop motion creations have always had a specific charm on me, from the ATATs in Empire to the ED-209 in Robocop. Their specific movements and flashes of personality within their faceless structures signaled a specific artistic flourish. I knew that creature was a Tippett creature. With Mad God, we are treated to an entire WORLD Tippett extracted out of his own mind 30 years in the making and it is truly inspiring. It's a total face-melting collage of brutal and breathtaking stop motion imagery.
The Empty Man
The Empty Man deserves more love and attention than it is currently getting. A two and a half-hour horror feature that’s primarily built on atmosphere, mystery, and mythology, there’s really nothing quite like it in the modern horror landscape. After its terrific opening (26 minutes until the title card!) it took me a while to get into its specific wavelength, but once I finally clicked, I clicked hard. The Empty Man was one of my earliest watches of 2021 and it has not left my head since.
Dune: Part One
With the constant onslaught of CGI-reliant blockbusters being thrown at us at a blistering rate, it’s so easy for us to take the art form of computerized visual effects for granted. For Dune to come along and bring back that sense of wonder, scale, and awe into a high-budget affair is commendable. Story Screen’s favorite Canadian Denis Villeneuve turns a dense text, believed to be unfilmable for 50 years (not for the lack of trying), into a palpable and gorgeous world that’s so easy to be hypnotized by. Desert power indeed.
I had initially written off Malignant from its early advertisements. I had assumed James Wan was cashing in on the current Neo Giallo trend, but in actuality, Warner Brothers just had no idea how to market this beast of a film. Malignant is one such beast. Saying any more will ruin the surprise it has in store for you, but once you do seek it out, you may not quite be ready for the rug it pulls out from under you.
The Last Duel Film is an exquisite form of visual art in terms of showcasing subjective perspective (I’ve written about this in the past with Gone Girl ) and this idea is explored in such an effective and bleak manner in The Last Duel. You are presented with a story of an unspeakable act from three different perspectives. The details shift, there are changes in the most subtle of places. A simple glance in one perspective has a completely different context in another. The Last Duel is a powerful grasp and showcase of direction, performance, tone, and editing. Bravo.
Titane is a dizzying whirlwind of violence, debauchery, sex, fire, love, and, well…cars. Julia Ducournau sharpens her unique sense of style and pace utilizing aspects of New French Extremity, and body horror reminiscent of Cronenberg (both of them) to create a surprisingly touching story of two profoundly disturbed people finding comfort and peace within each other. Titane is a tremendous and original watch.
Pig “They don’t care about you, none of them. They don’t even know you because you haven’t shown them. Every day you wake up and there’ll be less of you. You live your life for them and they don’t even see you. You don’t even see yourself. We don’t get a lot of things to really care about.” One of our finest living actors, Nicolas Cage, starring as one of the best-written characters he’s ever played, in one of his best and quietest performances he’s ever done. A film as appetizing as the cooking it displays. One of the best films about revenge I’ve ever seen.
I’m admittedly a tad late to the PTA party, but Licorice Pizza simply dazzled me. It feels like hazy and nostalgic memories directly extracted from the brain and put to the screen. A film of pure energy and momentum not exactly about love, but the desperation to feel loved. Every time Cooper Hoffman had a mannerism that reminded me of his late father, I held back tears. Licorice Pizza gave me such a rush of joy, excitement, and heart that I can’t help but crown it at the very top.
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Jeremy is younger than he looks, and has passionately studied the art and craft of filmmaking for as long as he can remember. He is currently a freelance wedding videographer and is also heavily involved in Competitive Fighting Games. You can follow him on Instagram @prof_k.o