Best Nollywood films of the year [Pulse Picks 2021]

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Th year spotted quite a number of impressive development deals, productions but not so much buzz for the box office as most anticipated productions opted for straight to stream releases.

With only a few days to the end of 2021, here is a list of the top films that gave Nollywood fans something to cheer about:

The Niyi Akinmolayan directed sports-themed comedy struck cinema gold shortly after premiering in April. However, its spot as one of the top films of the year is much more than about its N131 million box office earnings.

With ‘Prophetess’, Anthill Productions and Filmone explored an analysis-worthy marketing strategy. Prior to its release, the production companies opted for traditional marketing; with street rallies, handbills, posters and all the great stuff we rarely see in Nollywood.

An interesting point to note is how the film’s theme contributed to its success. ‘Prophetess’ follows the story of a prophetess whose bogus football prediction lands her in more trouble than she bargains. It’s a film about regular people with relatable situations and football; all comic elements that the average Nigerian cinema-goer wants to see.

Bolanle Austen Peters’ team once again saves the industry with a statement film with a socially conscious theme.

‘Collision Course’ is set around a young musician whose life takes a drastic turn after an encounter with police officers.

Shot in the wake of the tragic #EndSARS protests, the story explores police brutality, then goes a little further by also putting forward a case for the men in black themselves.

If you missed this year’s AFRIFF, then you might have to wait for a yet to be confirmed date for the theatrical or VOD release of ‘Collision Course’ as so far, it’s only screened at the festival.

Nearly four years after ‘Picture Perfect’, filmmaker Biodun Stephen chose April 2021 to finally offer fans a much-anticipated spin-off (a series continuing the romantic comedy is available on streaming platform IrokoTV).

The film’s remarkable impact during its cinema run came as no surprise as it crossed all the Ts for cinemagoers.

Starring Timini Egbuson in the lead role alongside Bimbo Ademoye, Tina Mba, Bolanle Ninalowo among others, the film’s story is set around a spoiled brat who falls in love with a bread seller much to the chagrin of his elitist mother.

Lovers of non-slapstick Nollywood films will agree that they will have to rely on the CJs, Makamas and Omonuas of the industry for something different and exciting.

A quick survey will prove that only a handful of film enthusiasts know anything about anthology films which is what first strikes one’s attention with ‘Juju Stories’.

The three-part anthology film directed by CJ Obasi, Abba Makama, and Michael Omonua drifts from the norm, introducing the unusual.

Following its Halloween theatrical release in 12 African countries, the film screened to positive reviews in Nigeria at the just concluded AFRIFF.

Starring Timini Egbuson, Paul Utomi, Nengi Adoki, ‘Juju Stories’ explores black magic aka juju in contemporary Lagos.

Mildred Okwo’s film noir finally made it to the big screens this year after a long wait. The film starring The Voice Nigeria alumnus Nonso Bassey and Nollywood royalty Rita Dominic received highflying reviews from critics and film enthusiasts (just not the cinema-goers, if its box office numbers are anything to go by).

The crime thriller follows the story of a young stockbroker caught in the sexual web of a femme fatale. ‘La Femme Anjola’ got multiple nominations at this year’s AMAA.

Veteran filmmaker, Tunde Kelani, returned in 2021 to reclaim his place as one of the best filmmakers the industry has ever produced and with ‘Ayinla’, the message was resounding.

The non-biopic film based on the final moments of iconic Apala singer Ayinla Omowura won hearts for much more than its nostalgic elements. From performance to production design, the film once again elaborately reminds everyone of Kelani’s filmmaking standard, one that is rarely rivalled in the industry.

Chuko and Arie Esiri’s ‘Eyimofe’ (This is my Desire) takes the spot of the most talked about and awarded film of the year. With a 100% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes, the film unarguably made a huge impression especially internationally.

Locally, its cinema reception was not as impressive as hoped, but the film went on to emerge as the second most nominated film at this year’s AMAA and scooped four awards.

‘Eyimofe’ follows the stories of Mofe, a factory technician, and Rosa, a hairdresser, and their separate quests to escape to a better life away from home.

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