#YNaija2021Review: Ayinla, Juju Stories, La Femme Anjola…See the Best Nigerian Films of the Year

From loosely imagined biopics to historical epics, these are the films that kept us glued to screens big and small.

10. Lockdown

Moses Inwang is in triple threat form here, directing, co-producing and co-writing this medical disaster thriller which gathers an all-star cast including Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, Chioma Akpotha and Sola Sobowale amongst others. After a deadly virus with epidemic potential breaks loose, a group of people from diverse backgrounds are huddled in a hospital to see through a compulsory and necessary lockdown process.

9. Fine Wine

Richard Mofe Damijo’s decades long streak of romancing actresses of several generations on screen continues with Fine Wine, an all-too familiar tale of passionate romance and second chances. RMD is Seye George, a lonely elder citizen who falls hard for Kaima (a promising Oge Nwosu), a woman much younger than him. The uncomplicated pleasures of Fine Wine include the sparkling chemistry between the two leads and the subsequent blossoming of their May-December romance.

8. Amina

Izu Ojukwu’s years in making big screen account of Zaria’s iconic warrior queen finally arrived as a Netflix original this year and for him at least, it must have been worth the wait. Netflix recently shared that Amina is the first Nigerian original to dent their global top 10 chart. Lucy Ameh is mostly solid in the titular role of this historical epic. She is supported by the top-notch cinematography as well as Ojukwu’s ambitious commitment to scale.

7. One Lagos Night

Funny, engaging and occasionally clever, One Lagos Night directed by Ekene Som Mekwunye follows two shifty, unemployed friends, Ehiz (Ikponmwosa Gold) and Tayo (Kunle Idowu) who find themselves in over their heads when they decide to rob a deceptively empty house. A crime caper doused in large comic vats, One Lagos Night is more than the sum of its parts as it has some commentary about systemic inequality, insecurity and unchecked capitalism.

6. Breaded Life

A loosely related spinoff of 2016’s solid Picture Perfect, Biodun Stephen’s relentlessly charming fairytale tells the story of a fast-living young man (Timini Egbuson) who wakes up one day to find that the only person in his life that recognizes him is a local bread seller (Bimbo Ademoye). Sparks fly and lessons are learned. In any other hands, Breaded Life could easily have devolved into a basket of cliches but Stephen finds a thoughtful angle that keeps her story refreshing.

5. Swallow

Another year, another Kunle Afolayan Netflix original. And how we have come to depend on them. Swallow is the big screen adaptation of the Sefi Atta novel, a loose and rambling narrative of a young woman, Tolani played by pop singer Niyola (in an impressive debut). Set in eighties Lagos, Swallow tracks the several ways in which Tolani is let down both in her personal relationships and by a crumbling country.

4. La Femme Anjola

Mildred Okwo’s La Femme Anjola has all the delicious elements of the neo-noir genre. The guy is a doofus, the woman is morally bankrupt. Plenty of scenes play out at night and in shady corners, away from the prying eyes of respectable people. And the players exist in an unethical world where good and bad could mean the same thing depending on who you ask. Greed, betrayal and desperation are universal concepts, and La Femme Anjola serves them up in large dollops. How could we resist?

3. Ayinla

A new Tunde Kelani film is a Nollywood event if ever there was one. Same can be said in some way for a Jade Osiberu film. When the two filmmakers, each with their own distinct styles come together on a project, then raise the excitement and quality quotients by a couple of bars. Osiberu produces and Kelani directs a stellar Lateef Adedimeji in this musical inspired by the iconic Apala musician, Ayinla Omowura who enthralled many with his percussion driven grooves and larger than life personality.

2. Juju Stories

With Juju Stories, the Surreal 16 Collective made up of Abba Makama, C.J. Obasi and Michael Omonua present three different riffs on the supernatural and our collective obsession with myths and superstitions. A woman who resorts to love potion to keep her man, a fellow who turns to a tuber of yam after picking money off the ground and a student in thrall of her roommate who may (not) be a witch. These stories are expressed with varying degrees of imagination and show how local stories can be made with heightened aesthetics.

  1. For Maria (Ebun Pataki)

In a confident directorial debut that wears its cinematic influences proudly, Damilola Orimogunje directs Meg Otanwa to a career best performance as Derin, a young first-time mother suffering from post-partum depression. Moody and intentionally claustrophobic, For Maria tackles its theme with bravura frankness and maturity, creating a rich world that lingers long after the haunting final sequence. For Maria leaves you with the impression that you are in the capable hands of a major talent.

Stay glued to our website to check out our End-of-Year Lists everyday from 13th – 24th December 2021.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail