As 2021 draws to a close and film fans draw up their Top Ten lists, they might stop and wonder, "What could I have missed?", or indeed "What films flew under the shadow of No Time to Die and Dune that might deserve a place on my prestigious yearly list that my social media followers eagerly await and use to inform their viewing over Christmas?". While the above individual may indeed be delusional, they certainly have a point - what might they have missed? So here it is, ten great films that came out in 2021 well worth tracking down.

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Shadow in the Cloud

It's 1943 and Chloe Moretz is Maude, a flight officer hitching a ride on a bomber plane to transport a top secret package, she’s instantly greeted with misogyny and derisiveness by the plane’s crew and forced into the ball turret at the base of the plane. It’s there she sees that the plane carrying her precious cargo is under attack from a creature. A creature that we see very little of in cinema, other than two notable exceptions - it’s a gremlin. Now she must convince the crew that they’re in danger - or stop the thing. This film is pure over the top fun, verging on ridiculous but always entertaining.

Available on Amazon Prime

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Palm Springs

Some concepts are so good they’re worth re-exploring, and plenty of films and TV shows have taken the Groundhog Day time-loop idea in some great and not-so-great directions. Easily one of the best takes is Palm Springs. At a wedding in a luxury venue we meet Nyles (Andy Samberg); disengaged and drunk, he connects with Sarah (Cristin Milioti). It’s revealed that Nyles is in a time loop and living this wedding day over and over again and to make things even more complicated, he accidently brings Sarah into the loop... and so begins the most unconventional and funniest rom com we’ve seen in a long time.

Available on Amazon Prime

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Herself

Originally planned for a release in 2020 after an incredible reception at Sundance, this delightful Irish film just didn’t get the attention it deserved when it finally arrived on the big screen. Kin’s Clare Dunne co-writes and stars as Sandra, a mother escaping an abusive partner with her two daughters. Sandra desperately needs a place to call home, and finds herself building a house in her employer’s expansive garden. Full of charming performances that’ll pull on every single heartstring you have.

Coming to a streaming service soon

The Columnist

This dark Dutch comedy takes on a scourge of the modern age: online trolls. Columnist Femke Boot (Katja Herbers) is struggling to finish her novel but keeps getting distracted by an endless stream of online abuse and death threats. When Femke discovers her noisy neighbour is one of her trolls, she decides to murder him. From there, the death rackets up as Femke tracks down more and more of her online abusers as her personal life falls apart. A very funny and unpredictable tale.

Available on All 4, Google TV and Sky Store

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Zola

The first film based on a Twitter thread (and it won't be the last). Back in 2015 exotic dancer Aziah Wells (aka Zola) treated her Twitter followers to an epic 148-tweet story of how she met a fellow dancer who got her caught up in an unbelievable story of murder, sex and social media. Aziah told the story so well it caught the attention of some film producers - and here we are. The film serves the Twitter thread well, matching every beat of this crazy story. When it diverts from the thread, it does so hilariously in a Reddit post from another character's point of view. Stylish, slick, fun and funny, this one will have you smiling throughout.

Available on Apple TV, Google TV and Sky Store

Pig

Audiences were hoping for "John Wick with a pig" but what we got was a much more sombre affair. Nicholas Cage tones it way down in his portrayal of Rob, a prestigious retired chef who now lives in recluse as a truffle hunter aided by his prized foraging pig. When the aforementioned porker is snatched, he recruits the help of his "truffle agent" Amir (Nat Wolff) to accompany him to Portland, where he uses his cunning, strength and infamy in the restaurant world to find out what happened to his beloved pig. A sweet and sad love letter to fine cuisine.

Available on Volta, Rakuten TV, Sky Store and Apple TV

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The Beta Test

Indie film darling Jim Cummings (Thunder Road) once again nails it, writing, directing and starring in this strange little film. Jordan (Cummings) is and engaged low level Hollywood agent who receives a mysterious letter inviting him to an anonymous, no strings attached sexual encounter - he ticks his "preferences" and RSVPs. What follows is an odyssey of paranoia, lying and digital data. What starts out as an intriguing offer turns into something much more sinister...

Available on Google TV and Rakuten TV.

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The Nest

This Irish co-production really deserved a lot more attention. Set in 1980’s, Jude Law is Rory, an English husband and father living as a trader in New York. Career-wise, he believes he’s reached a dead end in America and he convinces his wife Allison (Carrie Coon) to relocate back to Britain so he can return to the firm of a former employer. The family ups sticks and moves into a massive mansion, with no expense spared in their new life. Until, of course, it all falls apart… A sickeningly unsettling film with incredible performances that wallow in cringeworthy tension.

Coming to a streaming service soon

The Night House

The always incredible Rebecca Hall really owns this little horror film. Beth (Hall) is a teacher who has suddenly found herself a widow under extremely tragic circumstances. As she struggles with her grief in the lakeside home her husband built, she finds herself haunted by visions that reveal a lot more about her husband and what drove him to suicide. A suspenseful horror which doesn’t rely on jump scares but still has possibly the best jump scare of the year. Watch it in the dark.

Available on Disney Plus

Shiva Baby

The debut film from 25-year-old writer-director Emma Seligman mostly takes place at a shiva (mourning event in Judaism) where we find college senior Danielle (Rachel Sennott) with her overbearing parents who want their daughter to organise her life. To her surprise, the married man who she has been seeing (and taking money off) turns up with his wife. What follows is an extended exercise in awkwardness and anxiety, as Danielle learns more about the life of her secret lover while attempting to keep her meddling parents in the dark. Clever, funny and horribly mortifying, it’s great.

Available on Apple TV and Mubi.