TL;DR – We dip our toes into what Melbourne has to offer.
Disclosure – I paid for all products featured or mentioned here.
PAX Australia & Melbourne Day 1 –
When you work in the games and pop culture space, you hear of the joy that is PAX, but I have never experienced it myself. I had set my sights on visiting it back in 2020, but you know what happened in 2021. But there was hope that 2022 was the year for me. So I booked my tickets back in March and hoped that the world would hold itself together till then and it kind of did. So in today’s and the next couple of Explore-It’s, we will take a look at our time down past the daylight savings divide to a city that has an entirely different seagull-to-pigeon ratio than I have ever seen.
However, before you can explore Melbourne, you need to get there, and since we still do not have any high-speed rail in Australia, it is time to board a plane. Given the time stuck waiting, I thought I would catch up on some reading, and when in doubt, it is Dune time.
However, in this last entry into our Best of 2021 awards, we crown our winner of the Best Film of 2021.
All films are subjective, so our list might look completely different from yours. Also, we didn’t get to see every movie this year, which means we will be only drawing our Top 15 from the 69 films we did get to see, which you can see a list of HERE. You can also click on the titles to go to the full review.
It was also a very odd year for cinema, with many films being postponed or released in non-traditional means. There were also many staggered releases, so we may have films here that were released in 2020 for you but 2021 for us, and there may be some omissions here because we won’t get those films until 2022.
Okay, with that out of the way, let’s dive into the first entry in our list of Best Films of 2021.
One of the benefits of film is that it is a visual medium, which means that it can do in a frame what it might take a book several pages of description to pull off. We see this the most in its ability to build worlds in front of our eyes.
These worlds could be great space operas exploring galaxies, a small period piece that looks back in time, or anything. But when every part of the film is being used to tell a story, you know it is good.
So without further ado, these films showed excellence in Worldbuilding 2021. Be warned that there may be slight spoilers ahead for the films in question. Also, you can click on the titles to go to the full reviews.
One factor that I will always look out for with a film is the musical score. I can get caught in the world of music, as it sits in my head in the days, weeks, months, and even the years that come. There is immense artistry in weaving emotions from music, having us slip into the world that is created, fear the oncoming dread even if we do know why, or rejoice in the triumph of that final victory.
Music charts the cinematic world, it guides us, it can lift us up, and it can crush our souls. This is its power. So without further ado, these are the musical score that moved us in 2021. Be warned that there may be some slight spoilers ahead for the films in question, and if you click on the titles, you will be taken to the full review.
You can use many techniques to help build your world, ground your setting, or give dimensions to your characters. You can use music, you can create elaborate sets, but one of the best ways is the costumes you make.
People instantly judge a character within moments on the screen, and the outfits are an essential part of that first impression. More than this, you can also use costumes as a way of storytelling. What do they say about this world, what do they say about how a character is progressing.
Costumes can build worlds, tell us details we can only see, but also they can make us say ‘hot damn’ look at that beading on that dress, that must have taken hours to do. So without further ado, these are the costumes that made us say ‘hot damn’ in 2021. Be warned that there may be slight spoilers ahead for the films in question. Also, please click on the titles to be taken to the full review.
Cinematography is an art form that can be as bold as a gong crashing after a moment of silence, or as subtle as the tide coming in. It elevates a film to the heights of accolade or turns a movie into a frustrating mess when it misfires.
While at the heart of cinematography is the Director of Photography or Cinematographer, to get something from the script to the final shot takes a whole team of professionals, and it is their talent that we champion today.
So without further ado, these are the moments of cinematography that took our breaths away in 2021. Be warned that there may be some slight spoilers ahead for the films in question. Also, click on the banners/titles to be taken to the full reviews.
TL;DR – A cinematic work of genius and masterclass in literary adaptation
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film
Dune Review –
Few films have filled me full of trepidation and promise, like the prospect of another Dune film. Dune is a book series that means a lot to me, and the miniseries fits in as one of those foundational moments where you discover the joys of filmmaking. Add to this the spectacular run of films from Denis Villeneuve from Sicario, Arrival & Blade Runner 2049, one of which was my top movie in 2016. Look, this is a long way of saying I came into this with very high expectations, and can I say that this film exceeded all of them.
So to set the scene, in an empire that spans the galaxy, the most valuable commodity is The Spice Melange. It extends life, allows intergalactic travel, and can only be found on one planet in the entire galaxy: Arrakis, Dune. The brutal House Harkonnen runs Dune, though its cruel Barron (Stellan Skarsgård) and his nephew Glossu Rabban (Dave Bautista), commonly called “Beast Rabban”. But their time running Arrakis is up, as the Emperor has decreed that House Harkonnen’s mortal Enemies House Atreides, led by Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), manages the planet. All is well, but Leto is fearful for him, his son Paul (Timothée Chalamet) and consort Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). Because while this is a great opportunity, it could also be a trap.