Let’s not waste any more time. I saw so many movies last year, plus a whole bunch still to catch up on, but if I delayed these reviews any longer I’m gonna end up not covering them at all and I’d feel super guilty about it so…here ya go!

Yeah. That feels like a totally cogent intro…


A fantastic cast and an intriguing premise can’t save this dystopian noir mystery from getting off the ground. It’s really telling when offhand details about the societal collapse and war that led to this water-damaged future are far more fascinating than the actual plot, but it leads to Reminiscence feeling like a bad episode of an otherwise solid TV show. As hard as it tries to differentiate itself, it really is just Inception but with memories in place of dreams; apt, considering it was written and directed by Christopher Nolan’s sister-in-law. Only real reason to watch it is for Thandiwe Newton, who consistently steals the show in a way that makes you wish the movie was about her instead. 5/10

The Night House

Note to Ari Aster: this is how you make a horror movie about depression and suicidal ideation. Rebecca Hall has never been better in this deconstructive twist of both psychological horror and haunted house tales, creating a chilling mystery that leaves you guessing until the end…and long after too. Whilst the ambiguity of what’s really going on adds a lot to the suspense for much of the story, as well as it mostly just being in service to discussing grief and trauma, but there’s a few too many dropped threads and tangents to make it feel totally cohesive. Still, Hall’s haunting performance makes it more than worth the watch, and the fact the filmmakers behind this are now tackling the Hellraiser reboot gives me confidence that they’ll nail the core of Clive Barker’s most famous work. 7/10


Can we please just ban James Corden from appearing in musicals now? Please? I mean, he’s not in this one that much, but he did produce it and so it really is his fault more than anyone. There’s certainly nothing wrong with yet another live-action Cinderella movie, and this one does try to set itself apart in a lot of promising ways, but the execution is absolutely dreadful in nearly every way. Despite its extravagant sets and costumes, the whole production feels cheap and the direction is of an incredibly poor standard for a musical; Kay Cannon may have written the Pitch Perfect movies, but she sure didn’t direct them and that’s obvious here. Camilla Cabello feels completely miscast and she’s not a strong enough actor to make herself even slightly convincing in the lead, the film absolutely wastes much of its cast of British comedians (seriously, how do you make James Acaster unappealing?), and even with his tiny role Corden is more than irksome enough; only Billy Porter and Doc Brown come out of this looking any good. If that viral video of Corden humping on a guy’s car wasn’t enough to scare you away from this movie, allow my words to confirm it: it’s really, really bad. Also, who decided to let Pierce Brosnan sing again? What did we do to deserve that? 2/10

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

Most of the Conjuring spin-offs have never risen above OK, but the mainline series was always what held the whole enterprise together and that can mainly be owed to James Wan. Well, he was too busy making the batshit glory that is Malignant, so instead this third main instalment ultimately feels like a workmanlike spin-off that happens to star Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. More than ever, the real-life inspiration feels just like window dressing to another generic exorcism flick, and Michael Chaves just utterly lacks the gonzo style of Wan to make it all tick. Still, Wilson and Farmiga are as engaging as ever, there are a few well-handled sequences here and there, and I’m always happy to see John Noble in anything, so it’s far from a total wash. If you’re invested in the franchise or just want some easy scares, it’s a fine but forgettable Friday night rental. 6/10

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Remember that movie The Prom from the other year? Yeah, this is basically that, but the good version. Bringing the hit West End musical to the silver screen, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a fun and timely musical about being yourself, defying the norm, and looking bloody good while doing it. Whilst Richard E. Grant constantly threatens to steal the show as the veteran queen Loco Chanelle, with his number “This Was Me” being the emotional highlight of the film, it’s young Max Harwood as the titular Jamie who ultimately makes the whole production work. There are plenty of hackneyed moments and forced conflicts, but it’s all so breezy and enjoyable that it’s hard to care if it’s a little trite. 7.5/10

Those Who Wish Me Dead

Taylor Sheridan’s last directorial effort Wind River was a marvellous hidden gem back in 2017, so it’s great to see him get another shot behind the camera, but this Western-influenced thriller is unfortunately a little lacklustre. Angelina Jolie is easily its strongest asset, playing the lead role of a traumatised smokejumper with a compassionate but bitter disposition, and there’s some decent supporting work from the likes of Aiden Gillen and Jon Bernthal. However, the storytelling is muddled and far too understated for a plot with apparent larger consequences, the pacing is all over the place, and as thrilling as the climax is at points, the horrendous flame effects turn what is otherwise a beautiful and grounded film into a cheap CG fest. 6/10

The Last Duel

The first of two Ridley Scott films this year, The Last Duel’s long runtime and grim subject matter may make it a difficult watch, but if you’re in the right mindset this is a brutal and highly effective historical drama that explores gender dynamics and egomania in a way that’s depressingly still topical. Matt Damon and Adam Driver give strong performances as the former allies turned bitter rivals, whilst Ben Affleck puts in a memorably pompous show as the debaucherous Count Pierre, but this film ultimately belongs to Jodie Comer and her devastating role as Marguerite. The script by Nicole Holofcener and Damon & Affleck is also wonderfully constructed, using a Rashomon-style structure that recontextualises and renews each scene as we see the events from three separate perspectives, all leading to the titular duel that is as biting as it is vicious. If you missed this one in theatres and can stomach its more trigger-worthy moments, do yourself a favour and catch up. 9/10

Red Notice

The most expensive and successful Netflix original film yet, watching Red Notice is like watching the feature-length version of a fake movie inside another movie; it’s cliched, over-the-top, and plays out like a parody of itself. Whilst Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds are two of the most charismatic actors working in Hollywood today, their charms ultimately cancel each other out as they charmless bicker for over two hours, whilst Gal Gadot feels horribly miscast as the main villain. It has all the pizzaz and style you’d want from a big action movie, but it all feels so calculated and unreal that it might as well have been written and directed by the same algorithm that decides what’s next in your Netflix queue. Apparently, we’re getting two more of these. Yay, sarcastic joy! 5/10

tick, tick… BOOM!

Andrew Garfield delivers what may be the defining performance of his career as the man who would go on to create Rent in this fraught but hopeful musical drama directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The life and lyrics of Jonathan Larson leap onto the screen with a nervous exuberance that make you want to dance but also may induce a panic attack, all buoyed along by the phenomenal cast that also includes Robin de Jesus, Alexandra Shipp and Vanessa Hudgens; it’s like Uncut Gems with jazz hands. As a struggling writer approaching my 30s without any major success to speak of myself, this one hit home pretty hard but was also an incredibly satisfying kick up the backside to keep going, and one I’m sure I’ll revisit whenever I need to remind myself to keep going because you never know how much longer you’ve got. Miranda had a phenomenal year in 2021, and whilst I prefer both Encanto and In the Heights to tick, tick… BOOM!, this is one that would have snagged the gold in a far less competitive year. 8.5/10

Home Sweet Home Alone

Yeah, this…this is pretty bad. The plot is a meandering mess, the characters are underdeveloped and/or unlikable, the comedy is all based on awkwardness and excessively violent slapstick, and it seems to think just playing the Home Alone theme is enough to make it heartwarming without, you know, actually doing anything but pay lip service to the concept. Archie Yates is clearly a good young actor, but his Max comes off as a selfish and arrogant twerp, whilst the story spends too much time focused on Rob Delaney and Ellie Kemper as this entry’s equivalent to Harry & Marv, and making the burglars sympathetic is just flatly missing the point. Ailsing Bea is totally underutilised in the role that was the emotional centre of the original, whilst great comedic talents like Keenan Thompson, Pete Holmes and Chris Parnell are wasted on cameos. In stronger and more creative hands, this could have been at least some harmless fun, but instead this just feels like a 90 minute SNL skit without a good punchline. 2.5/10

House of Gucci

Whenever Ridley Scott puts out two movies in a year, usually one is good and the other…not so much. For 2021, despite receiving far more attention, it’s House of Gucci that ends up being the far weaker of the two. Swinging between camp melodrama and sophisticated family politics, it can’t decide if it wants to be The Godfather or The Wolf of Wall Street, and its hodgepodge middle-ground approach makes it a disappointment on both fronts. Lady Gaga is admittedly phenomenal as Patrizia Reggiani, mainly because she is the only actor who is able to bounce between its tonal extremes without looking ridiculous. Adam Driver and Al Pacino are pretty good too, but Jared Leto’s performance is such an absolute travesty that he threatens to derail the entire production. He disappears into the character, yes, but he’s a laughable stereotype who’s more cringeworthy than funny or interesting. It’s far from an intolerable watch, but there are very few surprises and it has a bit of a damp squib ending. Also, the needle drops are pretty gratuitous and all over the place; when “Faith” by George Michael started randomly playing over a wedding, I thought the cinema speakers were on the blink. 5/10

Sing 2

I only have vague memories of watching and mildly enjoying the first Sing, and so even I’m honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed Sing 2. Yeah, it’s cheesy and its musical taste isn’t always to my liking, but it has this infectious energy I can’t quite put my finger on. The story has perhaps a few too many subplots, but the core narrative is on-point and sends a solid message about pursuing your art in spite of what those with power and influence say. The cast are all really going for it (I got to the end credits and was like, “Wait, that was Bono and Halsey in those roles?!”), the animation is a step above the usually safe Illumination style, and at least a few of the musical numbers are genuinely a lot of fun on either a visual or auditory level. Defo a solid recommendation for the kids, but also an entertaining enough one for all the adults in the audience too. 7/10

West Side Story

This new adaptation of the classic musical is honestly about as good as the seminal 1961 film version; better in many aspects, but worse in a few others. Spielberg is perhaps not born to be a musical director, but he shows an impressive hand for a first-timer and Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography is *chef’s kiss*. How did this man make a man standing in a puddle look so beautiful? Rachel Zegler and Ariana DeBose are the easy standouts here and are now easily now the definitive versions of Maria and Anita to me. Mike Faist is a great riff, Brian D’arcy James is an inspired choice for Krupke, but I especially love everything they did to update Anybodys (trans headcanon confirmed!). The real sticking point here is Ansel Elgort. It’s a shame, because I do really like how they’ve reworked Tony as a character to be less wide-eyed and more remorseful guy with a troubled past he can’t seem to get away from, but Elgort’s performance is a bit flat and forgettable; if the writing and direction in his scenes weren’t so strong, it would threaten to tank the whole production. Whether you prefer this one or the ’61 version is going to come down to preference. If you put a gun to my head, I’d go with the original, but there is so much I do love about Spielberg’s that I wish I could combine the best of both to make the ultimate version of this show. 8.5/10

Single All The Way

Well, it’s a Netflix Christmas romantic comedy, but gay. That’s honestly all you really need to know. Speaking not facetiously though, this is a silly but cute little bit of holiday nonsense. The script is incredibly tacky and it’s padded to high heaven and there’s a lot of cringeworthy moments, but what ultimately makes it work are the lead performances from Michael Urie and Philemon Chambers, who remain completely earnest and actually manage to pull off the “will they, won’t they” bit without obviously telegraphing where it’ll go. Also, it’s got Barry Bostwick, Jennifer Coolidge and Kathy Najimy in it; how could any queer at least ironically love this. Sure, if I was to genuinely recommend an LGBT+ Christmas movie, I’d say go for Happiest Season, but this…is OK enough too. 6/10

The Worst Person in the World

I’ve never seen a Joachim Trier film before this one, but watching this has made me want to go back through his whole filmography, because this is such a beautiful yet melancholic portrait of millennial angst. Everyone has either been or known a Julie in their lives, and Renate Reinsve brings her to life with such a relatable amount of dissatisfaction and empathy. Her story is not some grand life-affirming tale of what it means to discover your calling or truly find love, but a meditation on how messy and complicated and honestly underwhelming being an adult is and, to not-so-subtly drop the title, that disappointment can make you feel like the worst person in the world. There’s such a simple beauty to this film that reminds me of Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy, but one that reflects today’s anxieties. An absolute gem. 8.5/10

Dear Evan Hansen

I don’t think I’ve ever empathised with a movie so much whilst simultaneously hating it so much of it. First off, Dear Evan Hansen is frustratingly incompetently staged as a musical film. Most of the numbers are delivered whilst sitting down or standing still with next to no visual flair. The only exceptions are “Sincerely Me” and “You Will Be Found”, which just so happen to be the best songs. Like, if you took away the music and let the characters just say the lyrics as dialogue, not very much would change. That’s a bad sign. And then there’s Evan who, putting aside how unconvincing Ben Platt is in the part both age-wise and acting-wise, is badly portrayed in regards to perspective. I’ve heard he’s got more of a sociopathic anti-hero vibe in the stage show, which makes a lot more sense, but here he’s just a weeping mess who does some really messed-up stuff purely out of anxiety-fuelled politeness? Yeah, that makes him very hard to like even if I relate to some of his mental health struggles. Some of the cast are pretty good, like Kaitlin Dever and Colton Ryan, and whilst Amandla Stenberg is trying they are left with an underdeveloped character does a pretty shitty thing for poorly motivated reasons and gets no real comeuppance. Also, Amy Adams’ character is supposed to be grieving, I know, but she comes off as more deranged than sad; I half-expected to explode into a homicidal rage at some point. So yeah. It’s bad. The only thing is has to be thankful for is that Cinderella exists, thereby not making it the worst musical this year. 3.5/10

Don’t Look Up

Right up front: I absolutely believe and support the message of this film, and am just as frustrated with how the selfish idiocy and capitalistic lust of our world leaders is leading us right towards disaster…but just because I agree with its politics does not mean I think it’s a great movie. Don’t Look Up is honestly just OK. The performances are overall pretty strong, there’s some great gags spread throughout, that one Ariana Grande song is a bop, and as with Adam McKay’s previous satires he does a fantastic job of translating complex topics into easily digestible comedy. That said though, the movie makes its point pretty quickly and then just continues to hammer it home over and over for two hours plus, most of the supporting characters are caricatures so far removed from reality that it stops being biting and starts getting annoying, and its final conclusion is telegraphed a mile away. This could be a movie that ages better with time and distance, but it also just as easily could seem incredibly dated in mere years. Overall, its intentions are too noble to call it a flop, but I still can’t understand how so many awards bodies are slobbering all over it with accolades. Not everything with Leonardo DiCaprio and Meryl Streep in it is immediately Oscar-calibre, folks. 6/10

Till Death

Can we please try and make a Megan Fox renaissance happen? Honestly, this woman really got done dirty simply for the crime of being attractive, starring in some bad movies, and calling out a director in an admittedly tactless but prescient way; c’mon, there’s people in Hollywood who’ve done far worse we’re still making excuses for. But anyway, Till Death is a solid little horror/thriller that shows Fox has solid scream queen chops if Jennifer’s Body hadn’t already made that clear to you. It takes a little too long to get going, but the basic Gerry’s Game-inspired premise is immediately engaging and works in some very tight but gory and satisfying set pieces. If you’re looking for a solid bit of Friday night schlock, you wouldn’t go wrong picking this. 7.5/10

Licorice Pizza

Is this the best Paul Thomas Anderson movie? No, but it’s quite possibly the most Paul Thomas Anderson movie. It’s a movie very much about the journey rather than the destination, and what a wild ride that journey is! Cooper Hoffman is a revelation; he mirrors what made his late great father so charming and fascinating, but he’s still very much his own man. Alana Haim is equally astounding and her love/hate relationship with Hoffman is what keeps the movie going on track even as it keep going off on tangents. Bradley Cooper, Sean Penn and Tom Waits are absolutely nuts in their all-too-brief roles, with Cooper’s performance especially being such a perfect capture of the bizarre lunacy of the very-real Jon Peters. Honestly, just so any side characters just screaming out for movies of their own. They’ve truly created a living, breathing world in this nostalgia-fuelled reimagining of 70s California, and I loved every minute. This is what I wanted from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood! 9/10

Nightmare Alley

Stellar performances, beautiful sets and costumes, stunning cinematography, a moody and gothic atmosphere so thick and creamy you could cut it with a butterknife, grotesque and haunting imagery. There is so much to love about Nightmare Alley…but a movie is nothing without a story, and the story here is easily its weakest element. The first act at the carnival is really solid; a great ode to Todd Browning, as you’d expect from a cinephile like Del Toro. The second act though overstays its welcome and eats into what should be a more beefy climax. The biggest tell? I predicted the ending within the first five minutes. That is never a good sign. It’s a gorgeous movie, and that counts for a lot, but it’s not enough. But goddamn, Cate Blanchett is hot in this! 6/10


If you were disappointed by Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables, I’d highly recommend giving this one a watch because everything that film got wrong, this one gets right. Yes, it has its moments of grit and sadness, but it’s also grand and unabashedly romantic and so full of life, and such a perfect translation of the stage experience to the screen whilst taking advantage of the best of both mediums. Joe Wright’s direction is strong, the aesthetic of the film is exquisite down to the last detail, and the songs by The National are all brimming with emotion and pain, but the real reason to watch this is just for Peter Dinklage and Haley Bennett. These are honestly probably the best performances I’ve ever seen from either of these actors, and the fact Dinklage especially has been snubbed an Oscar nom for this is a crime. Yes, I know he’s swimming in Emmys at this point, but dammit the man deserves at least to be recognised! Whatever. Just go watch it, because it feels like right now nobody is. 8.5/10

Author: Jennifer Heaton

Aspiring screenwriter, film critic, pop culture fanatic and perpetual dreamer.

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