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(Credit: Pete Souza)


Barack Obama names his favourite movies of 2021

The end of any given year is a time of reflection, reconciliation and goodwill, and in the cinematic calendar, it’s a time to catch up on all the films of the past 12 months and rank them from worst to best. We’ve already taken part in the annual tradition, with our top picks of the year going to Memoria, Quo Vadis, Aida? and Drive My Car, whilst Sia’s tragic money-spinner, Music was named 2021’s worst film. 

Two of our long-considered choices also align with the choices of the former President of the USA and avid movie-lover Barack Obama, whose list of 13 films includes Jasmila Žbanić’s Quo Vadis, Aida? as well as Drive My Car from Ryusuke Hamaguchi. Alongside our top picks, Obama has also chosen 11 other classics from the year, proving once again that when it comes to cinema, he is a man of fine taste. 

Naming the likes of Nomadland, Mank and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on his list of 2020 favourites, Obama has once again targeted many of the hopeful Oscar contenders with his 2021 including The Last Duel from Ridley Scott and West Side Story from the iconic Steven Spielberg. His eclectic list also includes Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, a compelling Western romance like no other that swirls with elegant poetry thanks to its excellent lead performances from Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst.

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Seemingly a fan of the western genre, or at least stories of quiet isolation, the 44th US President also went for Old Henry from director Potsy Ponciroli, as well as the curious subtle drama, Pig starring Nicolas Cage and Alex Wolff. As the first black US president of all time, Obama was a revolutionary figure in the history of American politics and his interests in such civil rights stories are also reflected in his film tastes too, opting for Summer of Soul, Passing and Judas and the Black Messiah about the life of the influential Fred Hampton.

The overwhelming takeaway from Obama’s list of 13 films, however, is his love of drama, opting for Paul Schrader’s latest film, The Card Counter, a dark character study starring Oscar Isaac and Willem Dafoe. Paul Schrader is best known for his collaboration with the iconic filmmaker Martin Scorsese for both Taxi Driver and Raging Bull starring the great Robert De Niro

Take a look at the full list of Barack Obama’s favourite films of 2021, below:

Barack Obama’s favourite films of 2021

  • Drive My Car (Ryusuke Hamaguchi)
  • Summer of Soul (Questlove)
  • West Side Story (Steven Spielberg)
  • The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion)
  • Pig (Michael Sarnoski)
  • Passing (Rebecca Hall)
  • The Card Counter (Paul Schrader)
  • Judas and the Black Messiah (Shaka King)
  • Old Henry (Potsy Ponciroli)
  • The Last Duel (Ridley Scott)
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth (Joel Coen)
  • C’mon C’mon (Mike Mills)
  • Quo Vadis, Aida? (Jasmila Žbanić)