5. No Ordinary Man
As popular media continues to ignore trans people, it is important to seek out films about trans experiences. No Ordinary Man is a big step towards better telling trans stories, especially trans-masculine stories.
Bill Tipton was a jazz musician who upon his death was discovered to be assigned female at birth. His family, specifically his wife and son, maintain to this day that they were unaware. The documentary is presented through men auditioning to play Tipton in a new take on the talking-head style of documentary filmmaking present elsewhere.
No Ordinary Man can be uncomfortable at times given the transphobic and homophobic reactions to Billy and the many stories of ignorant behaviour, but it is an important documentary to watch and certainly one of 2021’s most vital films.
Recommended for you: 9 Best Reviewed Films 2021 – The Film Magazine
4. Petite Maman
Céline Sciamma took one of the top spots on my list in 2020 (for Portrait of a Lady on Fire) and her latest film does not disappoint. At an extremely tight 72 minutes, Petite Maman is one of the few films in recent years that I wish was longer.
Petite Maman follows Nelly, a child who has recently lost her grandmother and has returned to her grandmother’s home with her mother and father. Without being too much about grief, the film is much more about female relationships, a key theme in all of Sciamma’s work.
It is a film perhaps best enjoyed by seeing it and experiencing it in the moment, and as such I do not want to give too much away, but with an amazing cast and a tender touch Céline Sciamma has done it again.
Herself follows Sandra (Clare Dunne), a single mother living in a hotel after fleeing her abusive ex. After being placed on a waiting list for housing, she decides to take matters into her own hands and plans to build her own home. With the help of her employers and genuinely caring people in her community she begins to build a new life for herself and her children.
Despite the sometimes questionable music choices, Herself is a gem of a film. It is clearly a movie made and told from a female perspective, and not simply in a Bechdel test way. The mostly female cast and crew is present from start to finish.
Like movies such as Sorry We Missed You, Herself tells the all-too-real story of someone trying to get themselves out a desperate financial situation. It will rip out your heart, throw it on the floor and stamp on it. Bring tissues.