New Year Column – Year 2021
The year 2021 follows the restrictive cultural life that 2020 delivered with global lockdowns and closed cinema. Then the vaccine came and watching films in the cinema became more of a free choice. It became something new for sure, but it has an easier approach for exciting moviegoers.
Even by the end of 2021, the normal aptitude for cinema and the movie business has not reached its pivot point, as it was pre-pandemic. It’s still a year that has ravaged the audience of a purely normal cinema year. Although, it has been slightly easier during the fall with films. On top of that, 2021 was also the landmark where the major production companies betted large on home streaming and premium quality, including Disney Plus, HBO Max and Amazon Prime fighting for the right number of eyeballs.
Some of the celebrities that we had to mourn during 2021 are Betty White, Ed Asner, Richard Donner, Robert Downey Sr., Halyna Hutchins, Helen McCrory, and Christopher Plummer. Most tragic is Ms Hutchins, who died during the Rust-film shooting with Alec Baldwin involved.
2021’s Oscars was probably one of the most boring and treacherous editions of the Award Ceremony ever put to place. It’s a tiresome tryout by neglecting the audience a real ceremony, but its true colour to the test with no presenter or no collective mind to structure the program. It usually has a presenter, a theme in a sophisticated and entertaining way. 2021’s edition of the old Award ceremony was instead in a small location, no presenter and gave away the Best Picture next to the last winner.
The odd structure of the program, just because the originally planned presenter had a controversy on Twitter and couldn’t do the job, is probably a losing concept. The Oscars have lately struggled economically with horrifying audience figures. Numbers that they’re fighting with their own creative outlet to make the Oscars something worth watching in the end.
Nomadland won for best picture, Anthony Hopkins won for the Best leading role in The Father. As expected, the ceremony did all the winner’s acceptance speeches in a hybrid way. Frances McDormand won another Oscar for her performance in Nomadland. Otherwise, there were no real surprises among the winners. Pixar won with their Soul, danish Another Round won for Best foreign film. Christopher Nolan’s Tenet won for Best special effects and Best Cinematography was won by Erik Messerschmidt for Mank.
Even in the limited repertoire of movies, from 2020, the big lions were there fighting and losing. But the whole new concept gave away the thrill and excitement beforehand of the announcement of the winner.
Movies have in a way repaired themselves after the many lockdowns that crippled 2020, which has been a relief for many films premiering this year after several delays, postponing and a frustrating audience waiting for their favourite film.
The most talked-about film of the year has without a doubt been No Time To Die which had been delayed for over 1.5 years until it got its premiere. A movie to end Daniel Craig’s run as the British agent and where he got killed off. Another is Dune, a sci-fi epic that delivers almost on the same scale as Star Wars but without the forced Disney charm. Despite the complex world, it became a new interesting franchise to follow under the hand of Denis Villeneuve.
Then came Spider-Man: No Way Home, a film that reconciles 20 years in the making. It connects all Spider-Man trilogy because of a fault that MCU Spider-Man causing a rift and making the multiverse a new unprecedented fact. This movie is the 10th biggest film of all time, the first film of the Spider-Man films to bring home $1 billion dollars on the box office. The remake of West Side Story, by Steven Spielberg, has only brought in a third of the $100-million-dollar budget.
Pixar Luca was one of my personal favourite premiering during the year. A feel-good family film exploring the Italian vacation village in the theme of friendship and family. Black Widow did not deliver, and even if it was anticipated to some level, it didn’t bring in the heart and warmth that elevated MCU like years before. Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It was a movie that was a disappointment right through, just like the fourth The Matrix film. Both sequels didn’t give what was promised and should be judged after that. Last Night in Soho was a film released during 2021 that was decently good, had its surprises but didn’t stick the affording to land as expected. The Korean family drama Minari was a small film, but its visual storytelling captures a sensibility of a different world for Asians in 80s America. Partly an honest working-class portrait with humour, drama, and charm, despite the effortless plot.
Marvel Studios has instead released films, as usual, ramped up with their phases of TV-Series such as WandaVision, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Loki and finishing with Hawkeye. Even Lucasfilm. The Book of Boba Fett had its premiere in late 2021, just before the year closed for good. Marvel’s integrated plans have complicated with these series and even with films like Eternal are connecting to these series in an abstract way. Thanks to the multiverse explored in Loki, the series has connected the films for real this time. There’s even more content on the way.
HBO Succession has brought some success as well with stellar performance but with a weak season up until the climatic of the critically acclaimed drama. But then we’ve Squid Game, compared to other series; this was a crash landing and a frenzy, unlike any other series. A fresh wave of love for the Korean entertainment scene drowned the world with the horror-like death game this series gave. A new addiction for people to enjoy on Netflix turned out to be the event of the year.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League was also a big deal during the year. We didn’t get Stranger Things Season 4, but this is what we got. Nothing new under the sun but a more concrete and clear visual storytelling dealing with the issue the original film had. The series Tiger King got a sequel but to no surprise, it was a non-elevated moment.
Final Space took its last breath during the years of the first month, axing the story after three intensive seasons. It ended on a cliffhanger and as it seems now, it won’t get a deserved to end fans anticipates. Amazons’ superhero The Incredibles shook the ground with a mesmerizing first season from the creative mind of Robert Kirkman; the creator of The Walking Dead. With Steven Yeun and J. K. Simmons lending their voices in the upcoming season, it will be an awesome ride to follow. We can’t either forget the 20th year anniversary of the terror attacks on September 11th, 2001. An intimate story depicting the tragic day in 9/11: One Day in America. A National Geographic docuseries follows the day of medics, firefighters and police officers fighting to survive a day that forever changed the world thanks to archive material filmed that day. Another event is the attack against the Capitol that occurred on Jan 6th, 2021, as the radical groups tried to stop the electoral votes counting in the presidential election of 2020. A year has barely passed since that dramatic day. But it’s worth mentioning HBO’s Four Hours At The Capitol.
Hopefully, this year won’t get as political as the last two years have been with the lockdowns and the restrictions. But as it’s eased thanks to vaccine and immunity, it might get easier to go to the cinema, unless we stream it. Avatar II has premiered in December, but until that day we got The Batman. We got Top Gun 2., Fantastic Beasts 3, Doctor Strange: The Madness of the Multiverse, Thor: Love and Thunder, Black Panther II, Uncharted, Morbius, The Flash, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Babylon, Scream, The Northman, The Mario movie, Death on the Nile, Lightyear. This is to mention a few. As a reflection, it seems to be a lot of game-based movies and a lot of MCU stuff and some Viking-action with The Northman. As 2021 was also the year with a double set-up of reunions for nostalgia and fan service, this could be a new way to attract an audience. In 2022, we should also get a new season of Stranger Things and the anticipated conclusion of Ozark.
A sense of normality has grown in Europe, despite the surge of cases from COVID-19 and with an increased number of hospitalizations. This year will probably deliver for superhero fanatics and those who love wicked and unsettling films that aim to shock and surprise audiences on a global level. But a lot of things are unclear and a slightly misguiding could make the cup fall over, and we’re back to what we once were.