Best Movies of 2021 – The New York Times

With chilled detachment and meticulous control, this shocking drama tracks a Swiss banker and his wife on a seemingly routine business trip through Argentina in 1980. As they travel about, the juxtaposition between the bourgeois homes they visit and the ever-present military creates an increasingly unnerving tension, culminating in a shattering finale. Here, every polite smile and bland pleasantry is in service to a world of evil. (Streaming on Mubi.)

For decades, Schrader has been telling his favorite story — that of a man alone in a room, alone in his head — to greater and lesser if always interesting effect. Now, with Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish and Willem Dafoe, Schrader tells that tale again, getting into your head with feeling, some scattershot politics, horrific violence and auteurist confidence. (Available on most major platforms)

Every so often, the title character, a Hindustani classical singer (Aditya Modak), rides through the dark night, the voice of a musical guru filling the air and stirring your soul. Our young singer yearns for greatness, but as the years pass and practice never quite makes perfect, the divide between aspiration and reality grows impossibly wider. In a year of wonderful soundtracks, this is the one that soars highest. (Streaming on Netflix.)

This movie, the other of Hamaguchi’s to receive an American release this year, is split into three intricate stories that turn on chance and were, he has said, inspired by Eric Rohmer. Not all of the parts work equally well, but all have moments of beauty and grace along with amazing, complex rivers of words. By the time a character rests a hand on her heart in a rush of feeling, you may find yourself doing the same. (In theaters)

Larraín’s atmospherically perfect (and creepy) drama is at once a blistering takedown of the British monarchy, a blazing psychological portrait and a queasily funny Gothic horror freak-out. If you’re still chuckling and sometimes weeping over that soap opera called “The Crown,” this may wipe off your smile — or just make you roar with laughter. (Available on most major platforms.)

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