Raul de Leon’s Top 10 Films of 2021

Next up on our year-end extravaganza is Raul! Be sure to let us know what you think of his picks in the comments and check back throughout the week for more lists.

10. No Time to Die (Cary Joji Fukunaga)

Daniel Craig’s last hoorah is his best. No Time to Die is thoroughly entertaining and surprisingly touching. Its super emotional family-centered drama distinguishes itself from all other Bond flicks.

9. Malcolm & Marie (Sam Levinson)

Try to make a film with just one setting and two actors and you’ll likely bore the audience to death. Levinson, Zendaya, and Washington amazingly kept my eyes and ears glued to the screen with a stylized and passionate quarrel between two lovers.

8. Old Henry (Potsi Ponciroli)

Old Henry is charged with classic Western tension and gun battles while thriving in simplicity, fine acting, and fine photography. 

7. The Last Forest (Luiz Bolognesi)

This documentary about a Yanomami village (located in the Amazon rainforest) makes you feel like one of them for a moment. Bolognesi refreshingly allows us to learn about an indigenous people’s way of life, their beliefs, and spirituality strictly from their point of view.

6. The Tragedy of Macbeth (Joel Coen)

Now that’s how you adapt a play! Coen’s latest boasts stunning sets and visuals without digging too deep in the pockets. Denzel does what he does best – act his ass off. 

5. Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson)

A fun romantic comedy that sets itself apart from others with odd characters and awkward situations.  Alana (Alana Haim) and Gary (Cooper Hoffman) are two characters you will not soon forget.

4. Nine Days (Edson Oda)

Oda’s inventive imagining of a beforelife (as opposed to an afterlife) beautifully offers a thorough examination of the human journey. One cannot sit through the film without questioning their values, prejudices, and behavior.

Full Review

3. Dune (Denis Villeneuve)

The film adaptation the book deserves. Grade A production value from top to bottom. If you’re looking for a reason to walk away from streaming and step into a theater, here it is. Villeneuve immerses you into the world of Dune.

2. The Worst Person in the World (Joachim Trier)

Trier’s sincere, laugh-out-loud, rom-com is wonderfully character-driven. Renate Reinsve is so damn believable as Julie, it not only feels like she’s a real person but as if I know her too. 

1. Cliff Walkers (Zhang Yi-Mou)

The most nerve-racking watch since Uncut Gems (2019). Zhang’s first and only spy film kept me at the edge of my seat the whole way through. The consistent falling snow and abundant snow-scapes are a marvel to look at.