Palace Cinemas Wrapped
Our most memorable viewing moments from 2021.
As we move quickly towards to the New Year, we thought we’d take a brief moment to look back at our favourite and most viewed films of 2021. Here are our top 5!
#5 The Father
Did we spend the entire film sobbing uncontrollably? Yes. Were we absolutely blown away by Anthony Hopkins performance? Big yes. Anthony Hopkins was awarded Best Actor at the 2021 Oscars for his performance in The Father and it isn’t hard to see why. Heartbreaking and beautifully made, The Father is a sincere and ingenious film about the disorienting experience of dementia. Cleverly manipulating time, character and perspective, Christopher Hampton’s on-screen adaptation brings Florian Zeller’s masterful stage play to life on screen. Hopkins plays Anthony, a cantankerous and charming widower who lives in London and receives regular visits from his daughter Anne, played by the formidable Olivia Colman. We experience, alongside Anthony, the incremental deterioration of his condition, with time slipping and looping, characters morphing into one another and settings changing without warning. Amidst the terror and confusion this causes, we see flashes of Anthony as his old self – laughing, flirting and making outlandish claims (at one point mischievously asserting he is a retired tap dancer), that make us fall head over heels for him. Hopkins‘ final climactic speech is easily one of the greatest monologues in cinema history, reducing us to a bubbling mess of tears as we see the inevitable, cruel reality of a disempowering disease.
“I feel as if I’m losing all my leaves… The branches and the wind and the rain. I don’t know what’s happening anymore”
#4 Promising Young Woman
Hell, hath no fury like a woman scorned. Carey Mulligan proves this in a big way, setting the screen ablaze with a superb performance as Cassie: a wickedly smart woman whose life has come to a standstill. We meet Cassie drunk and slumped in a bar, skirt bunched up, her hair a mess, as three sleazy men eye her down. The ‘nicest’ of the bunch approaches and offers her a ride home, however, we soon end up in his apartment with him attempting to make his way into her pants despite her drunken protests. In a sudden flip, Cassie snaps to attention, dropping the drunk act and fixing the man with a seething glare, “I said what are you doing?” she repeats as the man looks up, horrified. What follows is a collision of grief and rage as Cassie embarks on a one-woman vigilante mission to avenge the loss of her best friend, who was assaulted in college. The film boasts sensationally nuanced supporting characters, including Bo Burnham as a textbook ‘nice guy’, Alison Brie as a painfully ignorant school friend and Lavern Cox as a well-intentioned voice of reason. Writer and director Emerald Fennell’s feature debut is expertly distilled from an era of pain, providing a blistering social commentary of the female experience as the script segues between hilarious rom-com and dark drama. Mulligan is ferocious and brimming with vengeance, giving the performance of a lifetime as Cassie.
“Every week, I go to a club, and every week, I act like I am too drunk and stand. And every f***ing week, a nice guy comes over to see if I’m okay.”
Nomadland comes in as our most decorated film at the 2021 Oscars, winning Best Director, Best Actress & Best Picture, and rightly so because this film is simply a masterpiece. Chloé Zhao’s docufictional hybrid is a gentle and compassionate take on the American soul and Nomad lifestyle. Frances McDormand stars as Fern, a woman in her 60s who is forced to seek work interstate in a secondhand van after her small town is financially crippled by the Great Recession and a mine closure. The film follows Fern’s journey like a poem, drifting between day-to-day instances of beauty and challenges with humility and earnestness. McDormand occupies the role of Fern entirely, finding an extraordinarily powerful presence in a relatively ‘unordinary’ woman. The film’s cinematography is equally beautiful, with Joshua James Richard expertly capturing the large open landscapes of middle America. Nomadland is sparse in dialogue but full of soul, celebrating those from different kinds of lifestyles and walks of life, but who all share a deep-rooted sense of humanity and kinship.
“No, I’m not homeless. I’m just houseless. Not the same thing, right?”
#2 The Dry
Somewhere in the hot, harsh, drought-ridden outback of regional Victoria, a federal police agent returns to his childhood town to attend a tragic funeral. Eric Bana stars in a gripping murder-mystery thriller, adapted from the best-selling novel by Jane Harper. The Dry is pacey, plot-driven and oozing with tension, showcasing a small-town community ripped apart by ghosts of the past and the harsh Australian elements. We quickly learn that the town of Kiewarra is a tinderbox – something Aaron Faulk (Bana) is all too aware of – and as disturbing truths unfold things get searing hot. The Dry oscillates smoothly between past and present, with director Robert Connolly continually revealing the devastating transformation of a natural landscape hardened by drought – as well as the evolution of characters across time. Eric Bana is commanding in a career-best performance, peeling back the layers of a decade long mystery-onion in a compelling and thrilling feature.
“When you’ve been lying about something for so long it becomes second nature”
#1 No Time To Die
It feels appropriate that the thrilling end to the Daniel Craig era of Bond, No Time To Die, comes in as our #1 film of the year. Craig exits with a bang in his final instalment of a 15-year tenure as James Bond, with a zesty script from Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Phoebe Waller-Bridge bringing newfound pathos, drama, camp comedy and heartbreak to the world of 007. Director Cary Fukunaga offers us a more sensitive and romantic Bond, delving deep into his relationship with Dr Madeleine Swann, played by Léa Seydoux (who also has a few tricks up her sleeve). Once more the fate of the world is threatened by mass biochemical warfare and an unlucky Bond is at risk of redundancy, with a new 007 (Lashana Lynch) stepping onto the scene at M16. No Time To Die is packed with action-packed chase scenes, high-tech gadgets, death-defying stunts and a surprising amount of brevity and self-awareness. The film is a triumphant finish to a legendary reign, and we can only thank Daniel Craig for his loyal service as cinema’s most beloved spy. License to say goodbye to Bond? Regretfully, granted.
“Do you know what time it is? Time to die.”
Despite the year’s setbacks and challenges, the heart of the film and entertainment industry beats stronger than ever. We’d like to thank our loyal patrons and movie-goers nationwide for their continued support during these times, and we look to the future with excitement for what’s to come.
Happy New Year,