THE BEST MOVIES OF 2021, RANKED BY TOMATOMETER Rotten Tomatoes is collecting every new Certified Fresh movie into one list
Night of the Kings
Tall tales about crime, war, power and survival are layered upon each other in Night of the Kings, Philippe Lacôte’s drama about an Ivory Coast prison ruled by an incarcerated kingpin named Blackbeard (Steve Tientcheu) who, on the night of the blood moon, demands that a new inmate (Bakary Koné) become a “Roman” and spin a yarn that will last until dawn. The ensuing fable that Roman recounts concerns a local gangster whose blind father was counselor to a queen, and who rose to prominence in the aftermath of a revolution—a legend that boasts echoes with the predicament of Roman himself, trapped as he is in a jail where treacherous schemes are afoot. In both the present and in CGI-enhanced flashbacks, Lacôte conjures an atmosphere that mixes stark City of God-style grit (Fernando Meirelles’ 2002 film is even cited as an influence) with dreamy magical realism, the latter augmented by the many men who surround Roman during his oration, acting out his narrated action with dancer-like movements. Harrowing and lyrical, it’s a film about the transformative and redemptive power of storytelling.
The gig economy gets satirized in oblique, mysterious sci-fi fashion in Lapsis, Noah Hutton’s low-fi tale about a futuristic new exploitative industry. Tired of delivering lost airline luggage to its owners, and in need of money for treatment for his brother Jamie (Babe Wise)—who’s suffering from a chronic-fatigue syndrome known as Omnia—Ray (Dean Imperial) joins millions of Americans in laying cable between giant quantum server cubes in the forested Allegheny mountains. Writer/director/editor Hutton provides myriad clever details about the intricate mechanics of cabling without every quite explaining the larger implications of the business, which serves as the MacGuffin powering this tale of worker subjugation at the hands of a monopolistic tech conglomerate. Hutton’s film is like a blend of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil and Ken Loach’s Sorry We Missed You, carefully doling out specifics (and establishing relationships and rebellious plots) while simultaneously leaving answers just out of reach. It’s a balancing act that Hutton pulls off with aplomb, his suggestive widescreen visuals as unnerving as Imperial’s lead performance as desperate-everyman Ray is charismatic.
Acasa, My Home
The Enache family—comprised of father Gică, mother Niculina and their nine kids—live a primitive off-the-grid life in Văcărești, an untamed stretch of wetlands situated right beside sprawling Bucharest. Theirs is an existence of fishing by hand, burning trash, and hiding children from social services. Journalist-turned-documentarian Radu Ciorniciuc’s Acasa, My Home accompanies this unruly clan as they’re forced to integrate into the very civilization Gică rejects after their residential area is earmarked for wildlife-reserve development. Far from a saga about idyllic rural life torn asunder by modernity, this patient and incisive film instead reveals itself to be a story about selfishness and togetherness, conformity and rebellion, and the responsibility parents have for their children, the last of which comes to the fore once Gică’s eldest son Vali begins resenting his father for raising him as an illiterate, unskilled vagabond, even as he follows in his dad’s footsteps. There are no easy answers here, only longing for a happier (if unhealthier) time, and fury over an inheritance of a squandered past and a bleak future.
The conscious and unconscious, and the organic and mechanical, coalesce in Come True, Anthony Scott Burns’ hypnotic sci-fi thriller about an 18-year-old named Sarah (Julia Sarah Stone) who participates in a mysterious sleep study. The doctor running this inquiry is, in fact, watching his subjects’ dreams on grainy black-and-white monitors via wired contraptions and devices, and what he sees are gliding visions through misty, murky landscapes populated by crumbling structures, abyss-like doorways and spectral figures with glowing red eyes. Inspired by the works of David Cronenberg, Philip K. Dick, Stanley Kubrick and Wes Craven (among others), Burns’ sleep paralysis-steeped saga descends into a dark subconscious realm whose inhabitants appear to seek entry into our reality. Whether riding her bike Donnie Darko-style through tranquil suburban neighborhoods, or freaking out while wearing a patch to cover her bleeding eye, Stone embodies Sarah as a loner who’s equally empathetic and enigmatic. The same might be said of the film itself – an oblique, atmospheric tale about the terrors that bind and plague us, and the difficulty of truly understanding the nature, and limits, of our minds and world. THE BEST
Wojnarowicz: F–k You F—– F–ker THE BEST
Acclaimed East Village artist David Wojnarowicz spit politicized fire with every painting, song and piece of writing he produced, and director Chris McKim’s Wojnarowicz: F–k You F-ggot F–ker captures his spirit with piercing urgency. Composed of Wojnarowicz’s home movies, audio recordings and voicemails, as well as collages of his art and snapshots of NYC in the ‘80s and early ‘90s that are embellished with interview snippets from colleagues, lovers, curators and admirers, THE BEST the documentary is a tribute to an outspoken and unconventional (and, at times, controversial) queer firebrand who spoke truth to power right up until his 1992 death from AIDS, which itself became a late focus of both his output and activist energy. Locating the intersection of personal, cultural and political trauma that made him who he was—beginning with an abusive upbringing that he fled at an early age, to his time as a street hustler and, then, a gallery star—McKim’s film is an immersive peek inside the iconoclast’s mind and heart, its eclectic form exuding the mixture of sorrow, warmth and jagged rage that defined Wojnarowicz. ดูหนังออนไลน์