Kevin Rakestraw’s Top 10 Films of 2021

If you listened to this week’s podcast you already know what Kevin’s top 10 movies of 2021 are, but in case you missed it or need a refresher here you go. Be sure to check out all of our year-end lists and let us know in the comments what your favorites of 2021 were!

#10 – A DIM VALLEY directed by Brandon Colvin

The film that has stuck with me the most, that I find myself periodically thinking about throughout the year. A great central performance from Robert Longstreet (that also showcases his musical chops), rounded out by a slew of supporting performances from Zach Weintraub, Whitmer Thomas, Rachel McKeon, Rosalie Lowe, and Feathers Wise. Colvin and co. cultivate a refined atmosphere of bittersweet.

#9 – THE POWER OF THE DOG directed by Jane Campion

Superb performances from Cumberbatch and Smit-McPhee in a captiavting character study of opposites in juxtaposition – one man uncomfortable and overcompensating and one that appears to be perpetually ill at ease but is incredibly assured with who he is and what he is capable of achieving. 


A mid-length feature (45 minutes) centered around a receptionist at a suicide hotel that befriends a guest that has been gaming the system. Their relationship develops over the course of one night as the receptionist tries his best to talk her out of suicide with an interesting exploration of motivations and intentions.

#7 – BEGINNING directed by Dea Kulumbegashvili

A methodically-paced slow burn of a woman’s world slowly crumbling apart as she struggles to make sense of her place in the world, as the wife of a Jehovah Witness community leader in a small provincial town that barely tolerates their existence. Ia Sukhitashvili delivers a powerful performance.

#6 – THE PAPER TIGERS directed by Tran Quoc Bao

Probably the absolute most fun I had with a movie this year. An absolute delight featuring great performances and characters, chemistry and camaraderie, and excellent fight choreography. Like a throwback martial arts film without the over-reliance of nostalgia; instead one made by someone that legitimately adores the genre and the immense thrill of a well-choreographed fight sequence.

#5 – LAPSIS directed by Noah Hutton

A small-scale yet still highly impressive sci-fi film with a great lead performance from Dean Imperial as a guy that gets a job in the gig economy pulling cable through the forest connecting large metal cubes for quantum computing.

#4 – I WAS A SIMPLE MAN directed by Christopher Makoto Yogi

A ghost story but not your typical ghost story taking place in the pastoral beauty of the Hawaiian countryside that centers around an elderly man, bedridden and closing in on death, as he’s visited by the ghosts of his past within the memories of his past, grief and regret entwined in the best memories of his life.

Kevin Rakestraw's Top 10 Films of 2021 8
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#3 – DUNE directed by Denis Villeneuve

An incredible spectacle, made possible by an impressive commitment to world-building through world-class production/art design. A film that felt massive in a way that I haven’t experienced in quite some time.

#2 – RED MOON TIDE directed by Lois Patiño

Perhaps the most visually pleasing film of the year. Poetic and haunting all at once as impeccably staged tableaux linger in a beguiling fashion.  

#1 – STE. ANNE directed by Rhayne Vermette

Fleeting moments in a Métis community located in rural Manitoba – dreamlike and ephemeral – are captured on gorgeous 16 mm. Vague and semi-cryptic in a way that is at once deeply compelling but also possesses the ability to lull one with its idle beauty even though there is talk of impending danger.

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