The cold arrives and, with it, the lists of Best Movies of the year begin to drip that we leave behind. Soon, networks around the world will be placidly covered with tops, more or less requested, that draw the profile that the person who signs them wants to show the world, his “cinephile signature”. On the way to the medal, with golden doors: as every year, the Top that kicks off December (the “Month of the Best”) is published by the legendary magazine Cahiers du cinéma.

It is a top that it does not always agree with what we have seen in Spanish cinemas, since it bases its candidacies only on the premieres of French theaters during the (still) current year. Neither platforms nor festivals: everything in the room. The good health of French cinemas is recognized, so it is not strange to discover among the extras on the list films that in Spain, Either they would not be released, or they would have a purely technical premiere (without associated advertising). For example, in 2020, Gu Xiaogang’s paradigmatic ‘Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains’ was ordered (very authoritative, it was seen in Cannes, but it came only with the D’A), or even the same Best Picture of the year, number 1 in the top: ‘City Hall’, by Frederick Wiseman, which we saw at Festival l’Alternativa but was never traditionally distributed.

Nevertheless, the Cahiers list has traditionally been used as a guarantor to check which films have established themselves as the officially accepted auteur cinema. We are talking, of course, about the French cinephilia and, for lack of competition, also the European one. Take this list as a reference point it may be more or less useful, because tops are in themselves a swampy world, either because of the liquid and always relative nature of its criteria, or because of the pure subjectivity derived from a list that could be subtitled, at street level, as “films that we like”.

What it does illustrate, with mathematical rigor, is the state of French criticism (and no, that is no small feat, because feeds the expectation of major festivals and, therefore, of future distribution, consumption and criticism, on an international level).

What does this year’s list show? Given the small detours that the magazine took in 2020 (include platform movies like ‘Diamonds in the Rough’, crown a documentary), I would dare to point towards a certain conformism, a well-off reiteration of the bases of the author’s plan, the base of the cinephilia “cannoise”. Leos carax and Apichatpong WeerasethakulTherefore, they premiered at Cannes and are classics on the magazine’s podiums, Bruno Dumont repeat regularly on top, Wes anderson and Paul verhoeven they embody the starry side of those foreign authors adopted by the French cinematheque. What would be a Hitchcock, Wow.

Few surprises, perhaps because the year has been so strewn with powerful premieres and there was no room for controversy. It may also simply be from Cahiers himself want to claim a certain new normality of the current movie scene.

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Here, the list of Cahiers for 2021.

1

First Cow, by Kelly Reichardt

It dazzled since its premiere at the Berlinale 2019.

It tells the story of a cook (John magaro) hired by an expedition of fur hunters, in the state of Oregon, in the 1820s. Also that of a mysterious Chinese immigrant (Orion Lee) who flees from men who are after him, and from the growing friendship between the two in hostile territory.

The criticism of Fotogramas: “This western, which portrays, through the historicity of everyday life, how two men support each other and love each other, building a small utopia” (…) “A beautiful and empathetic experience, which explains from the heart the joy they must to feel the archaeologists when they find two skeletons that embrace. “

2

Annette by Leos Carax

Some love it, others hate it. Carax opened Cannes 2021 and won the Best Director Award.

It tells the story of Henry (Adam Driver), a comedian with an exceptional sense of humor, and Ann (Marion cotillard), an internationally renowned singer. In front of the cameras, they form a happy and charming couple. The birth of their first daughter, Annette, a mysterious girl, will change their lives.

The criticism of Fotogramas: “‘Annette’ is not, then, an attempt to internationalize the figure of a typically French author, but the natural destiny of a gaze that, as skeptical as it is romantic, questions the cynicism of these times that we have had to live dissecting the face more sinister show business, narcissistic fame and toxic parenting. ” (…) “‘Annette’ is anything but a comfortable film: abrupt, redundant and pessimistic, it insists on jumping into the abyss without a lifeguard. It is, in a way, an antimusical”.

3

Memory, by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and Weerasethakul’s first film shot outside his country.

A Jessica (Tilda swinton), a British botanist established in Colombia, is awakened one night by a sound like from another world. The protagonist sets out on a journey to the heart of the jungle in search of the origin of this noise that only she seems to hear.

The criticism of Fotogramas: ‘Memoria’ can be seen as a muffled, extremely sober rereading, stripped of any tinsel, of the obsessions of the winner of the Cannes Palme d’Or for ‘Uncle Boonmee remembers his past lives’. “(… ) “In his new work, the author of ‘Cemetery of Splendor’ celebrates the magical and poetic dimension of reality with the same audacity with which Jacquest tati celebrated, from a democratic and inclusive spirit, the omnipresence of humor in the human experience “.

4

Drive My Car, by Ryusuke Hamaguchi

In the screening of its premiere, in Cannes, it caused five minutes of absolute silence inside the Palais. They earned him Best Screenplay and FIPRESCI Award at the Festival and Best International Film in Gotham.

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Despite not being able to recover from a personal drama, Yusuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima), actor and theater director, agrees to stage the play “Uncle Vania” at a festival in Hiroshima. There, he meets Misaki (Reika kirishima), a reserved young woman who has been assigned to him as a chauffeur. As the journeys go by, the increasing sincerity of their conversations forces them to confront their past.

The criticism of Fotogramas: “A leisurely cinema and a writing of superb elegance. The film invites the viewer to fill in the silences and complete the gazes of the protagonists. As his filmography progresses, Ryusuke Hamaguchi is becoming the closest and most legitimate successor to the cinema of Ingmar bergman. “

5

France, by Bruno Dumont

At Cannes he left a trail of mixed reviews, but Dumont is too common on Cahiers’ charts to be cast for a not-so-good movie.

A famous journalist (Lea Seydoux), juggling his busy career and personal life, has his life turned upside down due to a freak car accident.

That’s what Bruno Dumont told us: “I am not interested in social cinema. I use the grotesque as a window into the human soul. If we dig into our low instincts, we will find something of the cannibal fishermen in the film. And if we look at our more pompous side, surely we will find something of the bourgeois or aristocratic stupidity. Brueghel, when he painted his monstrous beings, he used caricature to explore the extreme essence of the human: violence, platonic love … “

6

The French Chronicle, by Wes Anderson

Benicio del Toro, Frances McDormand, Jeffrey Wright, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Timothée Chalamet, Léa Seydoux, Owen Wilson, Mathieu Amalric, Lyna Khoudri, Steve Park, Bill Murray, Saoirse Ronan … Still? In Cannes again.

It is set in the newsroom of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city and brings to life a collection of stories published in the eponymous magazine, The French Dispatch.

The criticism of Fotogramas: “Deceptively light and feigned frivolous, convulsed in its Cartesianism, fiery from a distance sometimes almost autistic, of a disconcerting moral rectitude when found under layers of pure scenic and narrative caprice, the cinema of Wes anderson find here its rendering not more harmonious but more sensational and memorable. “

7

Boarding !, by Guillaume Brac

Before arriving at our venues, he was in the Albar section of the Gijón Festival.

One warm summer afternoon in Paris, Felix (Eric Nantchouang) meets Alma by chance. They laugh, dance and spend the night in a park. But their time together ends abruptly when she must go on vacation with her family.

The criticism of Fotogramas: “As refreshing as escaping the heatwave with a dip in a frozen river and the antipodes of that mixed bag known as the French comedy of the year.” (…) “An intoxicating summer tale –references to Rohmer are unavoidable– loaded with optimism, good humor, friendship and conviviality. A fable, realistic and shot with a classic and calm tone, always prioritizing the work of its stranger and a magnificent cast, through which vital tribulations go from the passage of time or the chance of relationships to the inevitable social conflicts “.

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8

The Girl and the Spider, by Ramon and Silvan Zürcher

It was in the Official Section of the Valladolid Festival, but where it did receive an award was in Mar del Plata: Best Screenplay.

Lisa is moving out. Mara stays. As boxes are changed and cabinets are built, the chasms begin to open and an emotional roller coaster is set in motion. A film of tragicomic catastrophe. A poetic ballad about change and transience.

Here, the complete list of winners of the Valladolid Festival.

9

The Card Counter, by Paul Schrader

After the desperate ‘El reverendo’, the famous screenwriter of ‘Taxi Driver’ delivered another masterpiece, which earned him the Best Screenplay Award in Valladolid.

William Tell (Oscar Isaac) is a former military and professional poker player. His meticulous life is turned upside down when he is approached by Cirk, a young man who seeks help from Tell to execute his plan of revenge against a military colonel.

The criticism of Fotogramas: “With ‘The Card Counter’, a chronicle on the verge of asceticism of the moral odyssey of a tormented veteran of the Iraq War, [Paul] Schrader confirms that he is living a sort of second youth. “(…)” On the border between the imminence of the end and the possibility of redemption (hand in hand with love for others), where Schrader settles his new and majestic exploration of the soul Human, a cinema of ideas that, navigating on a few minimal narrative elements, intends to arrive, in a few climatic moments, at the purest emotion “.

10

Benedetta, by Paul Verhoeven

It was one of the most applauded shows in the Official Selection of Cannes this year.

In the late 15th century, with a plague ravaging the land, Benedetta Carlini (Virginie Efira) joins the convent of Pescia in Tuscany as a novice. Benedetta, who from a very young age has had the ability to perform miracles, reaches the community and her impact will be immediate and far-reaching.

The criticism of Fotogramas: “A discourse that precisely vindicates the body as a source of pleasure and pain for a revolutionary spirit.” (…) “We do not know if the film is a ‘europudding’ with digital effects of everything to 100 or a very intelligent and idealistic farce about how freedom of thought, with its secrets and lies, can defeat the inquisitorial institutions that pretend It may be both at the same time, and the sum will result in a parodic series B as blatant and sparkling as ‘Starship Troopers.’

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