Golden Cages 2021: Best Documentary

[2021 has mercifully ended, which means it’s that time of the year again when the Flixist staff gathers around for our 2021 Golden Cages! Every year we honor the best, and worst, that cinema has to offer, and with cinemas opening up again, we had many films to consider for each category! So read on dear reader, to see what the correct answers are to which movies were truly stand-out films last year!]

The Beatles: Get Back is not a movie. There! I said it! Classifying motion-pictures can be tricky in the age of streaming and “prestige television,” mini-series, and “specials.” What does it all mean? Well, lemme whisper some words of wisdom: It means nothing. Such would be the argument presented by Peter Jackson and his crew of genius technicians on Get Back, a restorative and absolutely gob-smacking peek into the Fab Four’s recording sessions in January 1969, ahead of the iconic rooftop concert and the release of Abbey Road and Let it Be.

More than just a music doc, Get Back is the proof Beatles maniacs (I) can submit for anyone who might not “get” The Beatles. The four of them, George Harrison quiet and contemplative and Ringo keeping the tense atmosphere light, are all such natural, endearing entertainers. Get Back, an absolute technical marvel parsing down some 60 hours of footage and over 100 hours of audio, is a snapshot of an artistic and cultural phenomenon of unprecedented proportions (love ’em or loathe ’em, the lads are crucial and vital history) in their waning years. Yet, where filmmaker Michale Lindsay-Hogg’s 1970 doc Let it Be has characterized these sessions as signs of impending split–and sure, The Beatles broke up, Get Back is 100-proof fun and creative energy. It’s sort of hilarious to see Paul McCartney kinda hunker down, casually say “What do you think of this one?.” and then rattle off “Let it Be” or parts of the Abbey Road medley, inventing this landmark music before our eyes like it’s nothing.

Get Back might still leave Beatles-indifferent people a little tired by the long and winding road of it all, but surely the vibrancy of Jackson and his team’s composition is worth marveling at. Get Back also came out at an interesting time for Americans, over the Thanksgiving weekend in three parts. Drunk on food and nostalgia amidst these nightmare years of the pandemic, surely the tune of leaving the doc rolling as an atmosphere-generator, an epic good time of tunes and good humor, even amidst the turmoil the band faced, was something of a comfort for many.