Best of 2021: The Crafts

While the pandemic and day-and-day streaming has thrown the theatrical experience in disarray, there were no shortage of illuminating and stunning motion pictures in 2021. The team at Silver Linings Reviews are here to separate the wheat from the chaff and share our favorite elements from films released in 2021.

While we tried to watch as many films as possible (over 200 2021 releases), this list is obviously not exhaustive and is subjective to our own tastes. Be sure to share with us your favorite films of 2021 by using the hashtag #SilverLinings and following us on Twitter!

Best Visual Effects

Nearly every entry on our best visual effects list consists of some sort of gargantuan creature: Godzilla, a wendigo, faceless giants, and a warmongering starfish. However, it’s the sandworms (along with every other visual effect) from Denis Villeneuve’s Dune that leaves one truly awestruck. Also, the movement of the ornithopters (seen above) made spaceships cool again for the first time since Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

  1. Dune
  2. The Green Knight
  3. Suicide Squad
  4. Godzilla Vs. Kong
  5. Antlers
  6. Honorable Mentions: The Matrix Resurrections, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Come True, Swan Song, Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Best Hair & Makeup

The prosthetics and makeup used to develop Psycho Goreman‘s brutal and gory monsters is stunning, especially considering the low-budget nature of the production. Acclaim should also be given to the makeup team behind The Eyes of Tammy Faye for effortlessly transforming Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield into Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker, the iconic televangelist couple.

  1. Psycho Goreman
  2. The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  3. Coming 2 America
  4. Old
  5. Army of the Dead
  6. Honorable Mentions: West Side Story, Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar, The Green Knight, Cruella, The Matrix Resurrections

Best Costume Design

Princess Diana’s and Anita’s dresses are colorful, gorgeous, and period specific. They can’t compete though with Ruth Carter, who crafted over 800 unique costumes for the residents of Zamunda in Coming 2 America. Carter’s designs expand on the style she developed for Black Panther, and is possibly the crowing achievement of her career.

  1. Coming 2 America
  2. Spencer
  3. West Side Story
  4. Cyrano
  5. Psycho Goreman
  6. Honorable Mentions: Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar, The Matrix Resurrections, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Last Night in Soho, Cruella

Best Production Design

While they might be from two entirely different genres, production designs of The French Dispatch and Escape Room: Tournament of Champions are intricately crafted and feel like fully inhabited environments. The French Dispatch gets the slight edge though for making a monochromatic world seem vivid to the eye.

  1. The French Dispatch
  2. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
  3. Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar
  4. Nine Days
  5. Spencer
  6. Honorable Mentions: Last Night in Soho, West Side Story, Dune, Cyrano, Wolf

Best Sound

While all the below films understand how proper sound design can add another dimension to the tone and thematic elements of a movie, Playground is the only one that made us contemplate its usage even after the credits rolled. The cries for help by kids getting bullied that are drowned out by the cacophony on the school yard is heart-breaking and impeccably well-done.

  1. Playground (Un Monde)
  2. The Green Knight
  3. West Side Story
  4. The Novice
  5. C’mon C’mon
  6. Honorable Mentions: Nine Days, The Killing of Two Lovers, A Quiet Place Part II, The Last Duel, Dune

Best Editing

West Side Story brilliantly masks its cuts to highlight the lively choreography of its characters. However, The Last Duel’s editing stands apart for how it subtly differentiates its central narrative depending on each character’s point of view.

  1. The Last Duel
  2. West Side Story
  3. Shiva Baby
  4. A Quiet Place Part II
  5. The Novice
  6. Honorable Mentions: Flee, Spencer, Fauci, Val, Drive My Car

Best Cinematography

All five of our nominees have shots that could belong in an art gallery. In fact, Kaminski captures probably the single best shot of the year when Bernado and Anita’s shadows embrace behind thin pieces of fabric. Claire Mathon though understands Princess Diana’s opulent prison and every one of her shots reflect her beautifully depressed state.

  1. Claire Mathon (Spencer)
  2. Janusz Kaminski (West Side Story)
  3. Claudia Becerril Bulos (Identifying Features)
  4. Ari Wegner (The Power of the Dog)
  5. Sébastien Goepfert (You Will Die At Twenty)
  6. Honorable Mentions: Haris Zambarloukos (Belfast), Matthew Chuang & Ante Cheng (Blue Bayou), Eduard Grau (Passing), Wyatt Garfield (Nine Days), Nick Cooke (Limbo)

Best Score:

Jonny Greenwood’s score may be the most technically composed of the year, with warring jazz and classical beats that mimick the battle between the forward-thinking Princess Diana and the traditional British Royal Family. However, Antonio Pinto’s string heavy score plucks on our heartstrings and is better utilized as a audible motif throughout Nine Days.

  1. Antonio Pinto (Nine Days)
  2. Jonny Greenwood (Spencer)
  3. Robert Chen (Blue Bayou)
  4. Hans Zimmer (No Time to Die)
  5. Amin Bouhafa (You Will Die at Twenty)
  6. Honorable Mentions: Dan Romer (Luca), Daniel Hart (The Green Knight), Ariel Marx (Shiva Baby), Aaron & Bryce Dessner (C’mon C’mon), Hutch Demouilpied (Limbo)

Best Original Song

In another year, anyone of these songs (even the honorable mentions) could be considered a winner for best original song. H.E.R.’s energetic melodies in “Automatic Woman” make it possibly the best pre-fight song since “Gonna Fly Now” from Rocky. Having said that, we recommend listening to our playlist to hear all the terrific tunes the motion pictures gave us this past year.

  1. “Automatic Woman” by H.E.R. (Bruised)
  2. “Be Alive” by Beyoncé (King Richard)
  3. “So May We Start” by Sparks (Annette)
  4. “Edgar’s Song” by Jamie Dornan & Amy Keys (Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar)
  5. “Guns Go Bang” by Kid Cudi & Jay Z (The Harder They Fall)
  6. Honorable Mentions: “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” by Lin Manuel Miranda (Encanto), “Hablo de…” by Gaby Moreno (Language Lessons), “One of a Kind” by Lin Manuel Miranda (Vivo), “We Love Each Other So Much” by Sparks (Annette), “Something to Say” by Aaron & Bryce Dessner (Cyrano)

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