Best British Movies of 2021 and What to Look Forward to Next Year
Though it’s been a year that has been disturbed, though not entirely curtailed, by COVID-19, there has been plenty to enjoy with regards to British cinematic releases. While 2020 saw many productions postponed or pulled completely, 2021 has been mercifully less affected by the pandemic.
The releases, some via streaming services and others direct to the big screen (and in some cases a bit of both), were fewer and farther between, but there have still been some astonishingly good movies released, and we’ve drawn up a few that we really enjoyed.
No Time to Die
The latest and last, James Bond iteration fronted by Daniel Craig is a bombastic return to form following the somewhat subdued Spectre. Craig is, of course, superb in the role as the battered, bruised, and frankly worn-out Bond who must once again stop a madman from destroying the planet.
On this occasion, the evil mastermind comes in the form of oscar-winning Rami Malek (he of Freddie Mercury fame), and he puts in a solid performance as the thoroughly maniacal Safin. With James Bond films, you know precisely what you are going to get, in a good way, and this instalment (the 25th in the series, if you discount those not officially part of the canon) doesn’t fail to deliver when it comes to set pieces and brooding action.
Last Night In Soho
Edgar Wright is one of the most dependable British directors around, and his latest effort centers around a murder mystery that takes place in swinging 60s London. This horror/thriller is clearly an effort by Wright to capture some elements of films he’s been influenced by, and it works very well indeed.
Anna Taylor-Joy, who you may have seen most recently as the Chess prodigy in The Queen’s Gambit, is fantastic in her role as Sandie, as is Matt Smith as Jack. The concept and twist of the plot are well manufactured, and the premise is solid, and it’s another excellent film from the man who brought us the Cornetto Trilogy, Scott Pilgrim and Baby Driver.
This is something of a love letter to Kenneth Branagh’s childhood in Northern Ireland, and we love that footage is shot in black and white, which certainly adds to the evocative nature of the production.
A star-studded cast pulls off a very warm production that is set in Belfast during a very troubling time, but nonetheless, the movie doesn’t seek to make this the centre of the film, with Branagh doing a fine job of juxtaposing the family life of the central character against the visceral violence of the time. Jamie Dornan puts in perhaps his best performance while Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds almost steal the show with their antics. Jude Hill, as Buddy, is also something of a revelation.
This production is something of a scaled-down affair, perhaps due to it being a Netflix release, but it’s one that offers a great deal. Ralph Fiennes puts in a solid, understated, and empathetic performance as Basil Brown, something of an amateur archaeologist who helps out on a dig that turns up a massive find in a quiet corner of Suffolk.
Carey Mulligan stars as the landowner on whose property the discovery is made, while Lily James appears in a supporting cast that is as strong and reliable as both lead characters are portrayed. It’s a film that is subtle in its artistry and features some stunning cinematography that helps to make the landscape a strong supporting character of its own.
There are also a number of upcoming British releases to look forward to.
The King’s Man
This is something of an origin story and the third instalment of Matthew Vaughn’s movies in the Kingsman franchise. Ralph Fiennes, again, stars among a massively impressive cast in what promises to be a rollicking spy drama.
Rhys Ifans, Tom Hollander, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Gemma Arterton, Daniel Bruhl, and Djimon Hounsou also star in this period action thriller that was actually due for release back in late 2019.
Death on the Nile
Another Kenneth Branagh movie, this adaptation of the Agatha Christie classic, is set for an early 2022 release and comes five years after Branagh directed and starred in the similarly well-known Hercule Poirot novel/film, Murder on the Orient Express.
It’s another film that’s been held back due to coronavirus issues but is sure to be a big success once it’s released. Supporting Branagh is an all-star cast that includes Wonder Woman Gal Gadot, Arnie Hammer, Annette Bening, and Russell Brand.
Downton Abbey: A New Era
It seems that the Downton Abbey train continues steaming on. After the end of the ludicrously successful TV show, the makers decided to release a film, and the 2019 movie that followed was a box office success.
So it was inevitable that a sequel would be forthcoming, and so it has proven. Downton Abbey: A New Era will almost certainly prove a success, such is the love with which a captivated audience holds the cast of characters, eager to find out where their respective stories lead.