photo: Jake Hills (via Unsplash)
Ethan Warren:
  1. Nine Days
  2. Licorice Pizza
  3. C’Mon C’Mon
  4. Red Rocket
  5. The Power of the Dog
  6. The Humans
  7. The Card Counter
  8. The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun
  9. The Tragedy of Macbeth
  10. Drive My Car
  11. The Velvet Underground
  12. The Mitchells vs the Machines
  13. Annette
  14. Venom: Let There Be Carnage
  15. Lamb
Veronica Fitzpatrick:

Best backless dress: The Nest (Durkin, 2020)

Film I’d most like to see in a cinema in 2022: Heat (Mann, 1995)

Best entrée to a summer of erotic thrillers: 9 ½ Weeks (Lyne, 1996)

Best smoke shotgun: The Worst Person in the World (Trier, 2021), NYFF

Most charismatic film screening, full: Wild at Heart (Lynch, 1990), Film Forum

Best humping: Annette (Leos Carax, 2021)

Best performance, pt. 1: Kristen Stewart playing candlelit truth-or-dare, Spencer (Larraín, 2021)

Best performance, pt. 2: the episode of Mare of Easttown where Evan Peters acts drunk

Best cinematic Xanax: Terrace House: Tokyo

Most charismatic film screening, sparse: Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Coppola, 1992), MoMI

Best “silences”: Drive My Car (Hamaguchi, 2021)

Best unlikely sci-fi melodrama: The Lake House (Agresti, 2006)

Elizabeth Cantwell:

Top Five from This Year: 

  1. The Green Knight
  2. The Humans
  3. The Power of the Dog
  4. Val
  5. Licorice Pizza

Top Five First Watches, Non- 2021 Edition:

  1. Inland Empire (2006)
  2. Sunset Boulevard (1950) 
  3. Memories of Murder (2003) 
  4. Sorcerer (1977) 
  5. Thief (1981) 
Fran Hoepfner:
  1. souvenir part ii 
  2. memoria 
  3. titanic 
  4. body double 
  5. the beatles: get back 
  6. revanche 
  7. the heartbreak kid 
  8. erin brockovich
  9. girlfriends 
  10. days of heaven
Chad Perman:
  1. Get Back
  2. C’Mon C’Mon
  3. Licorice Pizza
  4. The Power of the Dog
  5. The French Dispatch
  6. Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar
  7. The Humans
  8. Nine Days
  9. The Velvet Underground
  10. Shiva Baby
Travis Woods:

​​THE BEST DOUBLE FEATURE OF 2021:
Titane (dir. Julia Ducournau) / The Matrix Resurrections (dir. Lana Wachowski)

“Here inside, I like the metal/ Don’t you?”
–Gary Numan, “Metal”

A lithe, serpentine body, its once-broken skull stitched together with a metal plate, violently air-fucking atop the sleek metal chassis of a hotrod at an autoshow, the greased undercarriage of the vehicle dripping wet and splashing oil with every rhythmic thrust of the dancer’s body against it, an atomically carnal act harnessed and exploited to sell a car.

A pale, muscular body, pockmarked with metal portals that are fucked deep with tentacled cables, suspended in a roseate sludge, unmoving and a half-century unmoved after being resurrected from death itself, a galvanizing miracle of physiological rebirth reduced and exploited to fuel a fantasy world and hold captive the prisoners of it.

Both bodies power fantasias of unreality, simulacras of happiness in the forms of a car that will complete you, or a banal world within which you can fit in. Both bodies as cages, trapping the minds inside with a lattice of meat and metal, minds confused and minds lost in an avalanche of pills and fucking and murderous fugue states before finally risking brutal, wrenching acts of biological revolution to free themselves.

Whether it’s by fucking a car and carrying its chromium child to term, or loosing one’s mind and body from a leather-slicked and sunglassed version of Plato’s Cave, both Titane and The Matrix Resurrections chronicle the same journey of characters whose minds sense an inherent mismatch with the worlds their bodies occupy, the hellish pain and cost of that journey, and the reconciliations and transcendence that may be possible with the peace and union of flesh and metal, of love and self-sacrifice. 

Both films watch in horror and wonder as their protagonists encounter love they are fearful to accept, battering their bodies over and over to solve the maddening equation of what it means to be a sentient being trapped within a cage of sinew and blood, and the haunting ecstasy that erupts from true connection with another who feels the same:

Whether an androgynous and metal-plated serial killer who finds love in the arms of a steroid-jacked father figure and the rumbling of the oiled infant within her, or a popmyth-crusted savior addicted to mind-crumbling meds and who faintly remembers that the touch of a beloved woman’s fingers against his own would be worth living and dying for, Titane and The Matrix Resurrections are a bifurcated vision—one sleek and neon-throbbed arthouse horror, one a rumbling, IP-motored popcorn blockbuster—of the hell it is to be human, and the heaven it is find the love and acceptance that binds us. Like their characters, this shockingly sensuous and achingly machine-hard double feature is messily human, horny, ugly, and profound, all as they join together into One to tell their story of metal babies helping one another find home.

Carrie Courogen:

Licorice Pizza

C’mon C’mon

Bergman Island

After Hours (shh pretend I’m not admitting I hadn’t seen this until now but a friend led me to believe it was a scary movie and I am a baby and when I realized it WASN’T and that she had KEPT ME from watching this extremely my shit movie sooner….unforgivable.)

Yentl

Housekeeping

Opening Night

Shiva Baby

Minari

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar

Honorable mentions:

Here Today (solely because it was first new movie I saw in a theater post-vax that I pounded a box of warm pinot grigio and bawled my eyes out during even though it is objectively not good)

French Exit (technically 2020 was my first watch but it was a 2021 release/I watched it again theatrically then??? IDK!)

Spencer Williams:

1. Drive My Car
2. C’mon C’mon
3. The Souvenir II
4. Spencer
5. The Worst Person in the World
6. Licorice Pizza
7. The Power of the Dog
8. Lamb
9. Prayers for the Stolen
10. Together, Together

Kelsey Ford:

Favorite first-time watches this year:

Happy Together

Drive My Car

The Green Knight

The Night House

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!

The Bird With Crystal Plumage

Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar

Zola

The Empty Man

Purple Noon

Another Round

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair

Sydney Urbanek:

The first-time views that made the biggest impression on me (in order of viewing):

Love You Till Tuesday (1969)

On the Rocks (2020)

Minari (2020)

Yentl (1983)

Sound of Metal (2019)

Barbarella (1968)

Tina (2021)

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

In the Cut (2003)                                                                                                         

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994)

Luca (2021)

How Green Was My Valley (1941)

Gloria (1980)

Moonstruck (1987)

La Piscine (1969)

Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles (2021)

star-crossed (2021)

Listening to Kenny G (2021)

If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power (2021)

Body Double (1984)

Kellie Herson:
  1. Dog Day Afternoon: Furious at myself for not watching this sooner; it’s my new all-time favorite Pacino performance (a piping hot take, I know).
  2. Never Rarely Sometimes Always: Cannot discuss my emotional response to this film without putting myself at risk of landing on a watchlist.
  3. Shiva Baby: Polly Draper and Fred Melamed are a top-tier entry in the If You Could Pick Your Parents game.
  4. It’s Complicated: One of the sunnier entries in the Horror Films for Children of Divorce canon.
  5. Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar: Scratches the high concept yet extremely stupid comedy itch like you wouldn’t believe.

Honorable Mention: Dave (1993). I have seen snippets of this movie on cable and the HBO Max “Leaving This Month” section inspired me to watch it in full. I spent the entire time spiraling while trying to imagine what would happen if this movie were released today. 

Frank Falisi:

fav 2021ers

  1. The Matrix Resurrections (dir. Lana Wachowski)
  2. The Power of the Dog (dir. Jane Campion)
  3. West Side Story (dir. Steven Spielberg)
  4. The Velvet Underground (dir. Todd Haynes)
  5. Old (dir. M. Night Shyamalan)
  6. The Souvenir Part II (dir. Joanna Hogg)
  7. Drive My Car (dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi)
  8. Zack Snyder’s Justice League
  9. Titane (dir. Julia Ducournau)
  10. Get Back (dir. Peter Jackson)

fav first watches – NOT 2021

  1. American Dream (dir. Barbara Kopple)
  2. The Clock (dir. Vincente Minnelli)
  3. Days of Heaven (dir. Terrence Malick)
  4. Empathy (dir. Jessica Dunn Rovinelli
  5. Female Trouble (dir. John Waters)
  6. How Green Was My Valley (dir. John Ford)
  7. Love Streams (dir. John Cassavetes)
  8. Matinee (dir. Joe Dante)
  9. One From the Heart (dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
  10. Topsy-Turvy (dir. Mike Leigh)
Sarah Welch-Larson:

Favorite first watches, both old and new, as a series of questions.

The Seventh Seal (1957)
Now that you are aware of your own mortality, what is it that you will do with your life?

C’mon C’mon (2021)
What are the memories that shape you?

The Insider (1999)
How important is the truth to you?

The Wages of Fear (1953)
What are you running from? What are you running to? Is it worth it?

Pig (2021)
What do you truly care about, more than anything in the world?

Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
What would you give up in order to preserve the thing you care most about?

Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
Can you tell the truth about yourself?

Licorice Pizza (2021)
What are you running from? Who are you running to?

The Matrix Resurrections (2021)
What are the stories that define you? Can they be rewritten?

The Green Knight (2021)
Now that you are aware of your own mortality, what is it that you will do with your life?