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(Credit: John Waters)

Film

John Waters' top 10 films of 2021

It’s that time of year again, when fans, critics and filmmakers compile their favourite films of the year and argue over their ranking in a list of the very best ten. Fear not, we’ve done it too, ranking Drive My Car, Quo Vadis, Aida? and Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria as our top picks. Though what about the rest of the cinema industry? How would the likes of camp icon John Waters rank this year of movies? 

As chance would have it, Waters has provided such a list to Artforum magazine, listing an unsurprisingly eclectic collection of films ranging from peculiar documentaries to Oscar-contenders. 

His first choice is from The Human Centipede director Tom Six, with his latest film titled The Onania Club following a secret L.A group of women who get aroused by the misery of others. Calling the film “loathsome” but also “laugh-out-loud funny,” Waters recognised the film’s controversy though embraced it for the very same reason, choosing the film in place of Pedro Almodovar’s Parallel Mothers

Waters’ controversial choice is joined by the more mainstream options of The Tragedy of Macbeth and Red Rocket, two films that will undoubtedly be among the running of Best Picture contenders. In addition, Waters included Saint-Narcisse, directed by Bruce LaBruce, a comedy-drama about a young man’s search for his mother, as the filmmaker stated, the film is “elegantly shot and seamlessly put together”. 

As a lover and supporter of independent cinema, Waters included the French comedy Mandibles which he called “the stupidest art film of the year”, as well as the drama, France starring Léa Seydoux. Two documentaries joined his list too, adding in the depiction of the factual music event the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, Summer of Soul, along with the “harrowing documentary” about Bjorn Andresen, The Most Beautiful Boy in the World. 

Two of his top spots are occupied by a couple of the most pertinent working film directors. The first is Vortex from director Gaspar Noé, a harrowing portrayal of life with dementia that Waters calls, “the director’s most humane and unironic” movie yet. As for his number one spot, this is reserved for Annette by Leos Carax, a wondrous musical starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard that the ‘duke of dirt’, John Waters, called a “nutcase masterpiece”. 

Take a look at the full list of John Water’s top 10 films of 2021, below, with just one of his picks aligning with our top list, Questlove’s impressive documentary Summer of Soul

John Water’s top 10 films of 2021:

  • 10. The Onania Club (Tom Six)
  • 9. Saint-Narcisse (Bruce LaBruce)
  • 8. The Tragedy of Macbeth (Joel Coen)
  • 7. Red Rocket (Sean Baker)
  • 6. Mandibles (Quentin Dupieux)
  • 5. The Most Beautiful Boy in the World (Kristina Lindstrom)
  • 4. France (Bruno Dumont)
  • 3. Vortex (Gaspar Noé)
  • 2. Summer of Soul (Questlove)
  • 1. Annette (Leos Carax)