Emma Clarendon takes a look back at some of her favourite films to have been released in 2021…

Spencer: while I was initially sceptical about the need for a film about Princess Diana, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by Pablo Larraín’s film. Having previously directed Jackie (about of course the former First Lady), he seems to have a real understanding of how to frame these female personalities when they are going through severe difficulties in their life in a sensitive and thoughtful way. Of course nobody really outside the Royal family and the servants would perhaps know what really happened that Christmas at Sandringham the film focuses on but its understated qualities highlights the feelings of isolation that Princess Diana feels. At its core though, this is a film about Kristen Stewart’s performance – her mannerisms and performance is wonderfully insightful and compelling to watch from start to finish.

Audrey: More Than an Icon: at the beginning of the year I watched this fascinating documentary film covering the life of Audrey Hepburn. Stylishly put together, while it didn’t reveal anything new information wise, it was lovely to hear her speaking and seeing clips of interviews that I had never seen before and it felt like this was a film that was trying to show a truer side to her rather than simply being a beloved film star or fashion icon. It succeeded in revealing Audrey as a person and feels like a lovely tribute to her.

Last Night in Soho: It has been a long time since a film has lingered so long in my mind after it has finished but this incredibly put together film by Edgar Wright uses style to draw the audience in and a chilling plot to keep the audience gripped from start to finish. This is a film that ends up in a completely different place to where it started – and is certainly worth watching before I give anything else away!

The Harder They Fall: now I’m not normally a fan of Western films – I feel as though (like many film genres) that there have been so many of a similar style or plotline that they become less enjoyable. But this one by  Jeymes Samuel really pushes boundaries and flips the whole genre on its head which is why it impressed me so much. Yes it has a Quentin Tarantino vibe about it in terms of the graphic nature of the violence it shows but it is a smart and bold offering with plenty of outstanding performances – not least Regina King. We were lucky to attend the press conference with the cast talking about the film – check out the videos on our Youtube channel here.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: when I first saw this film, I was instantly blown away by all of the performances on display including that of Viola Davis and  Chadwick Boseman. But equally, it is a film that shows just how well a theatrical play can translate onto the big screen – particularly when it is directed with great artistic flair. I don’t need to say any more about it because the quality of this film speaks for itself.

Firebird: having watched this film as part of the BFI Flare Festival in the early part of 2021, I found the emotional impact of the film of this film so very powerful. Based on a true story,tells the story of a complex love story between Sergey, pilot Roman and Sergey’s childhood friend Luisa. Sensitively filmed, and based on the memoirs of Sergey Fetisov – there are many moments in this story that truly break the heart and linger in the mind long after the film has finished.

Cruella: I have to say that Emma Stone utterly surprised me in this – showing so many different layers to this character and how she ended up the way she did. It is a film that is filled with style and glamour (on many different levels) and is for me one of the best films to explore a villain from a different perspective that Disney have released. It offers real insight and a detailed story that captures the attention.

By Emma Clarendon