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Sunday, December 10, 2023

12 Films You Must Watch Before 2021 Ends

Cinema is evolving and with the digital boom, there is no dearth of good content. With theatres opening up in 2021, several major blockbusters like Sooryavanshi and F9 finally saw the light of day.

It has not just been about the ‘escapism’ stories. Hindi cinema presents its first mainstream Transgender romance in Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui. The movie competently proves that societal subjects and entertainment can prove to be a successful formula.

In addition, several movies which already secured OTT deals also presented with some engaging titles such as Pagglait, The Power Of Dog and Encounter, among many others.

With 2021 wrapping up, Filme Shilmy reflects on 12 movies that are worth viewing in cinemas and/or on digital streaming platforms.

Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar 

Helmed by Dibakar Banerjee with Parineeti Chopra and Arjun Kapoor in lead roles, Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar is one of the most gripping films to emerge from the Yash Raj Films production house.

The film revolves around Sandeep Kaur (Chopra), a polished employee at a corporate bank and Pinky Dahiya (Kapoor), a ruthless Haryanavi Police Officer who is on the run from a lethal situation.

After several delays, the film had a small theatrical release in India. It is available to stream on Prime Video.

Sardar Udham

It may not have been shortlisted for an Oscar, but Sardar Udham is the finest work to emerge from Hindi cinema this year. An absolute masterpiece.

The movie is based on the life of Udham Singh (brilliantly played by Vicky Kaushal) a freedom fighter from Punjab who assassinated Michael O’Dwyer in London to avenge the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar.

Directed by Shoojit Sircar, the film can be streamed on Prime Video.

King Richard

Set in the Compton suburbs during the early 1990s, Richard Williams (Will Smith) has his sights set on superstardom for his two young daughters, Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton). Despite having no formal training, the go-getting father has spent years painstakingly teaching his girls the art of tennis at the rundown local courts.

Venus and Serena’s raw talents are undeniable, but there is only so far Richard’s tutelage can take them. What the pair need is the backing of a professional coach and Luckily, Richard has a  78-page plan. He will stop at nothing to guarantee his daughters become world champions.

Reinaldo Marcus Green’s King Richard is an uplifting, humorous and heart-warming picture, which is still running in some cinemas.

The Hand Of God

Paolo Sorrentino’s most personal work to date and Italy’s official submission for the Oscars. It’s been making waves across international film festivals. The visual treat masterpiece is available to stream on Netflix.

The Hand Of God is autobiographical of the director’s own youth and the tragedy of losing his parents as a teenager. Set in 1980s Naples, the film centres on Fabietto Schisa (debutant Filippo Scotti).

Fabietto is an awkward Italian teen whose life and vibrant, eccentric family are suddenly upended — first by the electrifying arrival of soccer legend Diego Maradona, and then by a shocking accident from which Maradona inadvertently saves Fabietto, setting his future in motion.

The Great Indian Kitchen

Minimal dialogues, body language and expressions make The Great Indian Kitchen by Jeo Baby, an unsettling yet alluring picture.

The Malayalam film tells the story of a newlywed woman (Nimisha Sajayan) who struggles to be the submissive wife that her husband (Suraj Venjaramood) and his family expect her to be.

Available to stream on Prime Video, the hard-hitting movie addresses the rampant issue of misogyny and how it is deep-rooted in every aspect of married life. Such a thorny subject told in a cinematically striking way. A must watch!


Spencer is arguably Kristen Stewart’s finest performance yet and among the highly-anticipated movies, which is still running in selected cinemas.

The ‘fable from a true story’ imagines a Christmas weekend at Sandringham in the early 1990s, as an unhappy Princess Diana (Stewart) contemplates saying ‘no’. It proves how even a royal life can be suffocating and does not guarantee emotional security.

Pablo Larraín’s film rises above being a ‘masterpiece’ to raising awareness of rampant topics like Mental Health. Through visual motifs and picturesque cinematography, it stirs the viewer’s soul in a poignant manner.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Ghostbusters has been a nostalgic title for many people who grew up in the 80s and even now, the title song is played at dance parties.

However, Afterlife is a revamp like no other. It shows how a single mother and her two children discover that they have a connection to the original Ghostbusters after moving to a new town.

Directed by Juno‘s Jason Reitman, this supernatural comedy is hilarious and empowers young, brave minds. Plus, the indie feel enhances the narrative’s enigma.

The Suicide Squad

The year has been dominated by superhero blockbusters and The Suicide Squad is dynamite. Its entertainment factor surpasses the 2016 first instalment.

Super-villains: Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), Savant (Michael Rooker), Blackguard (Pete Davidson), Javelin (Flula Borg) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) unite to save humanity.

If you loved Groot from Guardians Of The Galaxy, then you will adore King Shark (Sylvester Stallone) in this movie. The DC flick is now is available to rent or buy on Prime Video.

The Harder They Fall

Netflix’s The Harder They Fall is a revolution, inspired by true figures. It marks the feature debut of director Jeymes Samuel.

When an outlaw (Jonathan Majors) discovers his enemy (Idris Elba) is being released from prison, he reunites his gang to seek revenge.

The revised Western is absolute dynamite to watch on screen. It is an explosion of colours and cutting-edge cinematic tropes. The first Western to have a predominantly black cast, with female characters bound by loyalty to the gun, not love.

Jai Bhim

Jai Bhim powerful, unnerving and intense Tamil film which has received immense acclaim from critics and audiences alike.

It is based on a true incident in 1993, which involves a case fought by Justice K. Chandru, it revolves around the lives of Senggeni (Lijomol Jose) and Rajakannu (K. Manikandan), a couple from the Irular tribe.

Rajakannu gets arrested by the police and goes missing from the police station while Senggeni seeks help from advocate Chandru (Suriya) to seek justice for her husband. Chandru files a habeas corpus case and he refers to the Rajan case to continue further to find the truth.

Last Night In Soho

London is an instrumental character in several films but never seen it represented in such a sinister way. Edgar Wright’s Last Night In Soho is a beguiling but creepy watch.

An aspiring fashion designer (Thomasin McKenzie) is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s, where she encounters a dazzling wannabe singer (Anya Taylor-Joy). However, glamour is not all it appears to be and the dreams of the past start to crack and splinter into something far darker.

The movie re-paints the ‘noir’ genre in a kaleidoscopic way, making it a compelling watch. It is still available to view in cinemas.

Drishyam 2

Mind-boggling is the best way to describe Drishyam 2. Another incredible film to emerge out of Malayalam cinema.

The story takes place six years after the events of Drishyam as a gripping tale of how an investigation threatens a family. Patriarch Will Georgekutty (Mohanlal) goes through any length to save it.

A film that leaves you guessing till the very end, this Jeethu Joseph picture is available on Prime Video. Might be worth catching the first instalment too.

Upcoming major titles 83, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Pushpa, Jersey and The Matrix: Resurrections will be closing 2021 with a bang. One looks forward to seeing what cinema 2022 will offer.

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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