101 Dalmatians films (aka Movies 2021)

  • Written by: Marko Samastur
  • Published on:
  • Category: Catchall

We saw 101 films last year, which still feels mind-boggling to me. We started even more, but gave up on 3 of them. Life is too short to persevere through movies or books you don’t like.

This year I expect to watch fewer films. Not because 100 is impossible to repeat, but I hope visual media will take a smaller slice of our lives. Then again, I’ve just subscribed to Mubi.

That’s not to say I regret seeing them. There were few duds and so many I liked. Clicking on movie titles will reveal my brief impressions of them and I already opened my favourite ones. Selection could easily be different, certainly larger and probably would be if I did it some other day.

List of 100 movies makes this almost certainly the longest post I’ve written on this website even with (very) brief impressions. Enough words then and here’s the list:

  1. Lady Macbeth (imdb)
    I wouldn't start 2021 if I was aware of its source material and wasn't under the wrong impression that it is a kind of Shakespeare adaptation. What at first looks like a story of female empowerment becomes progressively crueler and redeem-less. Florence Pugh is superb though in her breakout role.
  2. In den Gängen (In the Aisles) (imdb)
    A bittersweet look at lives of blue-collar workers in German supermarket. A subtle, moving film.
  3. Zimna wojna (Cold War) (imdb)
    A beautiful masterpiece from Pawlikowski. It's as close to perfection as films get and deserves multiple viewings.
  4. Black Bear (imdb)
    A split opinion in our household, but I liked it and its surprises even though I also think distressing scenes in last third of a movie could be shorter.
  5. i'm thinking of ending things (imdb)
    A challenging to decipher, but thought provoking movie beautifully shot by Lukasz Zal with an excellent cast with Jessie Buckley amazing performance.
  6. Diplomatie (Diplomacy) (imdb)
    One of the marks of a good movie is that you are on edge even though you know what the end will be. Based on a play so it's a great choice for those of us who enjoy "talking" movies.
  7. Undir trénu (Under the Tree) (imdb)
    Another movie described as comedy or comic by ill-adjusted critics. It's really a dark drama of neighbour quarrelling with escalating effects on both family. Well made even if the events are fairly predictable.
  8. Return to Montauk (imdb)
    Failed to meet even our low expectations and gave up on it somewhere in the middle.
  9. 羅生門 (Rashomon) (imdb)
    I wouldn't mind if some of the fights were shorter, but it is otherwise as good as it ever was and highly recommended repeated viewing.
  10. Ahlat Agaci (The Wild Pear Tree) (imdb)
    A Nuri Bilge Ceylan movie. It is probably the most talky drama of his with wonderful performances. Can't recommend enough.
  11. Mot naturen (Out of Nature) (imdb)
    An internal monologue of a man on a hike experiencing mid-life crisis.
  12. In & Of Itself (imdb)
    A recording of a show made by Derek DelGaudio that is both surprising and thought-provoking examination of identity.
  13. The Right Stuff (imdb)
    Worse than I remembered. Full of male bravado that gets in a way of an interesting story largely unexplored.
  14. Uzak (Distant) (imdb)
    Another movie by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, a study of loneliness and frustration from inability to humanly connect. Sad, moving, profound and deserving of every accolade it received.
  15. Bab el hadid (Cairo Station) (imdb)
    A real surprise. The story itself is a bit thin and predictable, but the pay-off is really in characters which includes the station itself and their inherent humanity. Astonishing that it could be made then and not surprising that public in Egypt found it scandalous.
  16. Dolor y gloria (Pain & Glory) (imdb)
    I just love this semi-autobiographical film by Almodóvar about an ageing director facing ill-health and decline of his powers. Tender, witty and beautiful to look at.
  17. White Material (imdb)
    I can see why Haneke is a fan of Claire Denis. A story about a white coffee farmer and her family in an unnamed African country torn by violent conflict at both delivers what one would expect and still surprise and shock you consistently. A complex, beautifully made movie that is rewarding more than enjoyable.
  18. A Serious Man (imdb)
    I forgot I've seen this movie until Déjà vu feeling got too strong. I'm sure I liked it then just as much as I did now which is a lot.
  19. La stanza del figlio (The Son's Room) (imdb)
    My favourite movie by Nanni Moretti that will especially resonate with those of us who have suddenly lost somebody close. A beautifully developed story of a happy family going through a sudden trauma and finding healing from unexpected source.
  20. Capitaine Conan (Captain Conan) (imdb)
    A great movie examining what happens to soldiers once armistice is signed and their honed skills become a liability. Even more so when caught in a limbo of less known part of history when the won WWI was not quite over for many of them yet. Gripping, sad and thought provoking.
  21. L'avventura (The Adventure) (imdb)
    A movie I more appreciate than enjoy. Cinematography is spectacular, but the movie held me less after the story leaves the island.
  22. Conte d'automne (Autumn Tale) (imdb)
    Perfectly watchable, but highly overrated. Maybe looks better if you've seen his other seasons movies (I haven't), but although the movie has its delightful moments, the performances and the script just don't click enough for me.
  23. My Dinner with Andre (imdb)
    Odd and engrossing movie that practically requires repeated viewing as two hours of non-stop dialog will keep you preoccupied to really think about many ideas thrown out. Greatly draws from main characters real life and it is difficult if not impossible to tell where real life ends and scripted thoughts begin.
  24. Les quatre cents coups (The 400 Blows) (imdb)
    A touching, wonderful film inspired by Truffaut's difficult youth and love of cinema.
  25. Hors Satan (Outside Satan) (imdb)
    An odd movie with religious motives. Rewarding and thought provoking for few who won't hate it (I didn't).
  26. Unrelated (imdb)
    A Joanna Hogg movie, a subtly crafted look into civilised unhappiness of well-to-do people. Reminds me of her next movie Archipelago.
  27. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (imdb)
    Occasionally funny surreal comedy that mostly doesn't work for me. It would benefit from being significantly shorter. A disappointment.
  28. Palm Springs (imdb)
    Less surreal than the previous movie and one of the funniest, surprising and surprisingly introspective comedy I've seen this millennium. Just great.
  29. Hail the Conquering Hero (imdb)
    Still holds really well and the famous restaurant scene is brilliant (and not just that scene).
  30. Le monde est à toi (The world is yours) (imdb)
  31. 8½ (imdb)
    A movie that demands a second viewing to fully appreciate, but is pretty great even after first. Every frame really is a painting. I would enjoy it more without the sexism though.
  32. Yi Yi (A One and a Two) (imdb)
    I love this bittersweet drama about one family life's choices and regrets.
  33. Die Verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum (The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum) (imdb)
    Kafkaesque conflict between Katharina, caught in events, and system that does not care for her. The movie touches on many issues, but is mainly a condemnation of the West Germany press of the time with questions about absolute freedom of press. Worth seeing.
  34. Lacombe, Lucien (imdb)
    A great unnerving drama of a malcontent opportunistic young man with no convictions and his inevitable fall. At times uneasy to watch, but masterfully and dispassionately told.
  35. Wolkenbruchs wunderliche Reise in die Arme einer Schickse (The Awakening of Motti Wolkenbruch) (imdb)
    A Swiss romantic comedy about an orthodox jewish youth discovering himself while running away from his mother's meddling.Enjoyed it much more than the lot at IMDB.
  36. Downsizing (imdb)
    Different, less intimate, than other recent Payne movies, but I enjoyed it greatly, especially acting by Christoph Waltz and Hong Chau.
  37. Au revoir les enfants (Goodbye, children) (imdb)
    A movie inspired by Malle's childhood memory. Every scene is perfect as it takes you closer to the gut-wrenching ending you hope the story will avoid.
  38. Mænd & høns (Men & Chicken) (imdb)
    I expect many people dislike this weird movie as much as I enjoyed it. More (darkly) funny than expected and superbly turn of everyone involved.
  39. The Dawn Wall (imdb)
    I am the wrong person for these kind of movies as I cannot relate to these kind of achievements. I was moved by the friendship though and fascinated by Tommy's obsession.
  40. Les amants (The Lovers) (imdb)
    Easy to see why it cause scandal in USA when it was released in 1958, but I appreciated it more than enjoyed. A very compelling way to tell an unpersuasive story.
  41. Un dimanche à la campagne (A Sunday in the Country) (imdb)
    An old painter spends a Sunday afternoon with his son's family. A gentle study of a family snf their internal disappointments without much of a plot. Lovely.
  42. The King of Comedy (imdb)
    The only thing I really liked in the movie was Jerry Lewis' performance (not a view shared in our household) and I really dislike the ending which we interpreted differently than many critics.
  43. L'eclisse (The Eclipse) (imdb)
    In a way similar movie and experience to L'avventura. Superb cinematography and nicely constructed, but I like it more intellectually than emotionally. The blackface bit would probably get censored today.
  44. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (imdb)
    The best Edgar Wright movie, probably because the story was not written by him and thematically matches so well with his style. Even more enjoyable if you grew up or just enjoyed computer games made in 80's and 90's.
  45. L'avenir (Things to Come) (imdb)
    A warm and thoughtful drama about dealing with life disappointments.
  46. Mississippi Burning (imdb)
    Aged better than most movies from that period and it is still depressingly relevant today. Super performances from the whole cast.
  47. Promising Young Woman (imdb)
    I love this movie and it feels undervalued even with mostly positive reviews that often read as searches for a more conventional story. Looking forward to whatever Emerald Fennell creates next.
  48. Y tu mamá también (imdb)
    I enjoyed this movie when it came out and like it even more now as I notice and appreciate the multiple layers of Cuarón's story. A coming of age story that is more than just that.
  49. Loin des hommes (Far from Men) (imdb)
    A north-african western with a Viggo Mortenssen paired well with Reda Kateb based on a story by Camus. Wonderful.
  50. Effie Gray (imdb)
    Didn't live up to my expectations and I'm starting to have doubts about Dakota's talents.
  51. Relatos salvajes (Wild Tales) (imdb)
    Crazy sit-at-the-edge-of-your-chair stories. I especially liked "El más fuerte" and "Hasta que la muerte nos separe"
  52. Colette (imdb)
    90-year-old Colette Marin-Catherine makes her only visit to the German concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora where her brother was killed. Heart-breaking and moving on its own, but what elevates the movie for me even more is the relationship with the young history student.
  53. Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro) (imdb)
    Watched it again together with my wife. Warm and kind, and I loved it as much as the first time. She on the other hand didn't.
  54. Ta'm e guilass (Taste of Cherry) (imdb)
    A man searching for a person, who would be willing to bury him after he kills himself. A mediation on if the life is worth living. I liked it, but would not hold it against those who didn't.
  55. Le boucher (The Butcher) (imdb)
    Exquisitely portrayed the creepiness of the infatuated butcher and interesting look at french rural life in 70's.
  56. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (imdb)
    If you don't like this movie, then there's something wrong with you or your current circumstances.
  57. Bin-jip (3-Iron) (imdb)
    Brilliant movie with multiple persuasive interpretations.
  58. The Girl on the Train (imdb)
    Not sure why it was so panned when it was released. It's a perfectly serviceable popcorn movie.
  59. Kicking and Screaming (imdb)
    Noah Baumbach's first movie. Recognisably his and watchable, but not much more.
  60. Two Distant Strangers (imdb)
    An Oscar award winning short movie best summed up by the title of a similar movie: Groundhog Day for a Black Man. I thought it is well done.
  61. 白日焰火 (Black Coal, Thin Ice) (imdb)
    Rough around the edges thriller, but not stupid or without atmosphere. Not the worst way to spend a couple of hours.
  62. Wetherby (imdb)
    Inscrutable. Undecided.
  63. Ocean's Eleven (imdb)
    There's no depth, but fun throughout and a safe choice to lighten the mood if you're ever down.
  64. Saint Maud (imdb)
    As I am not a horror fan, I was probably predestined not to be fond of this movie. Ended both intrigued and annoyed.
  65. Metropolitan (imdb)
    Tom is an unlikeable pompous prick, but while movie (intentionally) doesn't really go anywhere, it does have quite a few amusing exchanges. Liked it.
  66. The Squid and the Whale (imdb)
    Another Baumbach movie. It's not bad, but personal reasons (unrelated to my family) make it difficult for me to enjoy watching narcissistic self-absorbed parents.
  67. Todos lo saben (Everybody knows) (imdb)
    Has metascore of 68 which makes it grossly underrated.
  68. 圖雅的婚事 (Tuya's Marriage) (imdb)
    Tuya is forced to consider divorcing her injured husband to find a new one who could care for borth. Moving, honest without a false note. A must see.
  69. Her (imdb)
    A better movie than I expected from its premise in large part because of excellent casting.
  70. Paper Man (imdb)
    Not as bad as Rotten Tomatoes and Metascore say, but not really clicking either.
  71. Die Stille nach dem Schuss (The Legend of Rita) (imdb)
    Inge Viett inspired story of idealistic left-wing West German terrorists deflecting to East Germany and living through reunification. My only minor quible with this excellent movie would be its ending, which my wife found fine.
  72. Lazzaro felice (Happy as Lazzaro) (imdb)
    The most astonishing part of this story with obvious parallels to Bible is that it was inspired by true events. Exquisite social allegory worth everyone's time.
  73. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (imdb)
    Wish this was a start of a successful franchise. Interesting and thrilling to the end.
  74. Shiva Baby (imdb)
    Hilarious even when cringey. A blast from beginning to end.
  75. Cruella (imdb)
    Fun and funny prequel to a well-known story with amazing visuals that stops at the right moment to not betray unexpectedly found affection for characters. Hard to see where they'll go from here with the already planned sequel.
  76. Le jeu (Nothing to Hide) (imdb)
    A remake of Italian Perfect Strangers which I haven't seen. Better than expected and I enjoyed all of it except the ending.
  77. The Secret Life of Pets (imdb)
    Hilarious and as enjoyable as we expected. Clearly not a view shared by some humourless people.
  78. Il ladro di merendine (Montalbano: The Snack Thief) (imdb)
    First part in now decades long series of movies about Sicilian police commissioner. Writing is generally bad, but often surprises with small human interactions that otherwise better, but more economically minded series miss. Fun enough for when you mainly want to kill time without much thinking.
  79. The Grand Canyon (imdb)
    To riff on somebody's review: "A very much not totally successful movie." Good enough to kill time, but not to seek out.
  80. Undergods (imdb)
    Darkly humorous connected stories in dystopian world. Loved it!
  81. La voce del violino (Montalbano: The Voice of the Violin) (imdb)
    Another Montalabano movie in very much the same vein. You either like none or all.
  82. La forma dell'acqua (Montalbano: The Shape of Water) (imdb)
    See the previous entry.
  83. La gita a Tindari (Montalbano: Excursion to Tindari) (imdb)
    See the entry before previous one.
  84. Tocco d'artista (Montalbano: The Artist Touch) (imdb)
    See the entry…forget it. Same as previous Montalbano movies and I obviously liked it enough to keep watching them.
  85. Il senso del tatto (Montalbano: The Sense of Touch) (imdb)
    See the previous entry.
  86. Two Lovers (imdb)
    A well-acted romantic drama with an ending I didn't expect. I liked it.
  87. Gli arancini di Montalbano (Montalbano: Montalbano's Croquettes) (imdb)
    Guess what? A Montalbano movie that I didn't see during a week-long binge as most of the others. Different story, but basically same.
  88. No Time to Die (imdb)
    I stopped watching Bond's mainly because of sexism, but was lured back by Phoebe Waller-Bridge's involvement. Not sorry that I did as it is, for me, the best Bond movie of this millennia if not ever, succeeding with being a Bond movie that only kept the good parts and created a few new as well. No idea how they go from here though.
  89. Chronicle (imdb)
    Max Landis is a swine that should be in jail, but he wrote a great superhero-based script dealing with awkwardness of growing up, of inhabiting ones own bodies and learning the impact we have on others. Underrated.
  90. Love Streams (imdb)
    One of those highly regarded movies where I read a bunch of reviews to see what I have missed. I'm not any wiser. I don't mind meandering movies with a lot of dialogs, but Love Steams feels contrived throughout.
  91. Darbareye Elly (About Elly) (imdb)
    A conceptually similar film to Farhadi's later Todos lo saben. A well observed and acted drama of a group of friends and their responses to a seeming accident. Highly recommended.
  92. Reprise (imdb)
    We seeked this one after seeing the trailer for The Worst Person in the World which we couldn't find. Excellent by any standards and especially as the author's first feature length movie.
  93. Oslo, 31. august (imdb)
    A melancholic movie about a day outside of rehab spent by recovering addict, superbly played by Anders Danielsen Lie. Another great movie by Joachim Trier.
  94. Sex, Lies and Videotape (imdb)
    For some reason I remember this movie being heavier than it is. Never boring, delightful and funny.
  95. Enemy (imdb)
    I appreciated it better a day later, once I had time to think it over, but I'm still left being somewhat disappointed, possibly because I don't feel I truly understand its ending scene (or spider theme in general).
  96. Vozvrashchenie (The Return) (imdb)
    A superb story of two brothers going on a mysterious fishing trip with menacing father who returned after a long unexplained absence. Beautifully filmed and told. A must see movie for every film fan.
  97. Brelan d'as (imdb)
    Abandoned during ludicrously bad second story. Netflix should refund our time for this one.
  98. Synonymes (Synonyms) (imdb)
    Couldn't connect to this at all.
  99. Zodiac (imdb)
    Fun even in second viewing and when knowing the result of the hunt for the serial killer. Fincher is a masterful filmmaker.
  100. eXistenZ (imdb)
    Even assuming bad acting is there purposefully it is not a great movie. Full of Cronenberg's afectations asks a question of how will games impact our perception of reality in a way that was as unconvincing and contrived when it came out as it is today.
  101. La dolce vita (imdb)
    Remains timeless classic.
  102. ドライブ・マイ・カー (Drive My Car) (imdb)
    A masterpiece.
  103. Raising Arizona (imdb)
    This is a Coen house so of course we liked this one too. It has aged well, but I suspect a joke in it might be risky these days.
  104. Big Night (imdb)
    I expected a lighter movie and the ending surprised me (so much about the proverbial Chekhov's gun), but I liked it a lot. Would probably still pick a lighter movie to end the year.