2022 is only a few weeks away and we’re now in what some call the most wonderful time of the year. The time of the year critics, websites and magazines reflect on the year and pick their best films. BFI‘s renowned international film magazine Sight And Sound today revealed their best film. Their winner is…Joanna Hogg‘s The Souvenir Part II.
Hogg’s glorious follow up to THE SOUVENIR which won the award in 2019, she is also the first female director to top the poll twice. The sequel stars Honor Swinton Byrne, alongside Richard Ayoade, Tilda Swinton, Jaygann Ayeh and Harris Dickinson in this semi-autobiographical portrait of the birth of a filmmaker. This bittersweet film, rich with Hogg’s typically incisive understanding of people.
Second place in this year’s film poll is Céline Sciamma’s PETITE MAMAN, a mysterious and delicate exploration of childhood and grief which follows eight-year-old Nelly as she deals with the death of her grandmother and befriends a little girl in a nearby forest. The first of two entries in this year’s top ten for director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, DRIVE MY CAR comes in third place; this beautiful and haunting melodrama of grief and secrets is based on a short story of the same name by Haruki Murakami and won the awards for Best Screenplay and the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes.
After last year’s poll featured much fewer foreign-language films than usual (perhaps reflecting fewer opportunities for critics to see a broad-range of foreign-language films at festivals in 2020), the 2021 poll has seen a reversal of that shift. There are a wealth of films from international talent in the top ten, including 5 non-English language films and a further 2 films from stalwarts of world cinema making their English language debuts. The return of the festival circuit after over a year of lockdowns and uncertainty has once again allowed critics to see a huge variety of work, with many films that took top prizes at Festivals such as Cannes, Berlin, Sundance and Venice making it into the top ten. It is not surprising that the pandemic’s impact can also be felt in the subject matter this year’s top three, with all dealing with grief.
Sight and Sound’s top 10 films of 2021 are:
1. THE SOUVENIR PART II (Dir. Joanna Hogg) [review]
2. PETITE MAMAN (Dir. Céline Sciamma) [review]
3. DRIVE MY CAR (Dir. Ryûsuke Hamaguchi)
4. MEMORIA (Dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
5. TITANE (Dir. Julia Ducournau)
6. THE POWER OF THE DOG (Dir. Jane Campion)
7. WHAT DO WE SEE WHEN WE LOOK AT THE SKY? (Dir. Aleksandre Koberidze)
8. SUMMER OF SOUL (…OR, WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED) (Dir. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson)
9. ANNETTE (Dir. Leos Carax) [review]
10. WHEEL OF FORTUNE AND FANTASY (Dir. Ryûsuke Hamaguchi)
The new edition also revealed their Best TV Series of 2021. Top of the TV Series poll is the poignant creation from Doctor Who scribe Russell T. Davies, IT’S A SIN (BBC) followed by THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD (AMAZON PRIME) created and directed by visionary director Barry Jenkins and based on the 2016 Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name by Colson Whitehead. Rounding out the top three is MARE OF EASTTOWN (HBO) featuring a transformative performance from Kate Winslet as a Philadelphia police detective investigating the recent murder of a teenage mother.
Sight and Sound’s top 10 TV Series of 2021 are:
1. IT’S A SIN (Channel 4) [review]
2. THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD (AMAZON PRIME)
3. MARE OF EASTTOWN (HBO)
4. THE NORTH WATER (BBC)
5. TIME (BBC)
6. SUCCESSION Season 3 (HBO)
7. THE WHITE LOTUS (HBO)
8. SQUID GAME (Netflix)
9. WANDAVISION (DISNEY+) [review]
10. ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING (HULU / DISNEY+)
IT’S A SIN was created by acclaimed writer Russell T Davies and portrayed an evocative, personal time capsule of an 1980s London beset by the AIDS crisis. Featuring powerful performances from the entire cast including Olly Alexander, Keeley Hawes, Omari Douglas and Lydia West, the show was a poignant and important love letter to 1980s gay culture.
Sight and Sound Editor in Chief Mike Williams said: “Congratulations to Joanna Hogg for topping our poll for a second time, becoming the first female director to do that. The list that she heads is wide-ranging and colourfully international, and it’s exciting to see such a plurality of voices being represented – proof if it were needed that while the pandemic may have impacted on the way we watch films, it’s not dimmed the brilliance of the people that make them. The Souvenir Part II is a powerful and personal film about the art, love and struggle of filmmaking as much as a story about grief and identity, and in a year where so much talk has been about the struggles and recoveries of the industry, its victory feels particularly apt.”
Sight and Sound’s Best Films of the Year sees over 100 international critics, programmers and academics who contribute to the magazine voting for their top ten films from the year. The full results are available online today and the full Top 50 is published in Sight and Sound’s Winter issue, available digitally on Monday 6th December and on newsstands from Thursday 9th December.