The best movies of 2021!By Matthew Martin| January 6, 2022 Movie Blogs After 2020 brought Covid shakeups across cinemas the world over, movie lovers entered into 2021 with expectations that were only slightly higher than the year before. Covid was still rampant and the pandemic’s effect on films was seen not only in theater attendance but in the constant reshuffling of release dates. All of this added up to some disappointing box office numbers. For most of the year, a “good” box office return was seen as something in the 100-200 million dollar range (worldwide). That’s a staggeringly low number. Just two years earlier a 200 million dollar movie was considered a very good domestic return, with the expectation that it would double that amount once worldwide numbers came in. Huge movies like comic book films were expected to open between 100-200 million dollars, and now we’re looking at that number as the total amount. Black Widow failed to make 400 million worldwide. Eternals only barely inched over that milestone. Is there any reason to think, had the pandemic never happened, those movies wouldn’t have hit those numbers domestically (and double that amount worldwide)? Were it not for Spider-Man blowing away everything that came before it (in the pandemic era) we might be looking ahead to 2022 with thoughts of cinema being a dying medium. Now it’s seen as a place where the biggest movies can still have pre-pandemic numbers, provided the stars align. There’s hope yet for the movie house. But let’s not (yet) look ahead to 2022; let’s consider the biggest and best films to come out in the year that just ended. I didn’t get to see as many movies in 2021 as I had hoped to, and certainly, your tastes and mine will never line up exactly, but still, here is my top ten list of films I loved the most in 2021… THE HONORABLE MENTION 10. GET BACK Does it count as a movie? It’s long enough to have been a twelve-episode season, and there was probably enough footage left on the cutting room floor for another twelve episodes after that. It’s a three-part documentary that works as a single, seamless (long) examination of music’s most influential band. I loved it for what it was, but I don’t know if it’s fair to judge it alongside the other “movies” on this list. I couldn’t make a ranking of my favorites and not include it, however (it was probably my second-most favorite thing I watched this year), so giving it an honorable mention is the least I can do. As I said in my review… 10/10 – Time does not permit me the chance to sing the praises of Billy Preston’s contribution to the sessions, nor to the humor prevalent throughout, nor to the absolutely sublime moment in part two, where Paul just creates Get Back out of thin air, and so many more great moments. This was an eight-hour event that I can’t wait to watch all over again. It’s a must-see for fans of the band. THE REALLY GOOD ONES 9. NO TIME TO DIE 007 The final Bond film for actor Daniel Craig, whose grittier and more grounded take on the character was seen as a breath of fresh air when it debuted way back in 2006. Due to the film’s many delays, Craig ended up being the actor who played Bond the longest, surpassing Roger Moore. Though Moore had more films under his belt, his movies grew increasingly sillier, especially as the actor’s age became more apparent. Craig is certainly not the same man he was 15 years ago but his Bond is just as slick and lethal as ever. His final outing provides something no other Bond has ever had before: Closure. As I said in my review… 9/10 – No Time to Die does an excellent job sending Daniel Craig out with a win. There are flaws to be found, but they do not detract from the overall “experience” of watching cinema’s greatest secret agent do his thing. 8. LUCA Pixar’s latest film is perhaps the studio’s most unassuming in their catalogue. I had no great expectations for it when I sat down to watch, but by the end, I couldn’t help but love how pleasant and delightful the whole of it was. As I said in my review… 9/10 – Is Luca Pixar at its best? No, but it’s Pixar at its “comfort foodiest.” It’s not going to blow you away, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find much you didn’t love about it, either. 7. ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE My initial review of the theatrical cut of Justice League was a too-generous 7/10. It was clear even then that the studio took the opportunity to strip away as much of Snyder’s influence on the project as they could and the result was a tonal mess of a movie. So what does it look like when the exiled director is given the footage back and allowed to release it his way? Amazingly, it’s a movie that is in some ways the same film and in others something totally different. The end result is one of the most grandiose cinematic experiences I’ve enjoyed in a long time. As I said in my review… 9/10 – Zack Snyder’s Justice League, as a four-hour epic, is a brilliant depiction of mythological titans battling it out for supremacy in the confines of the modern world. As a production, it is the ultimate vindication for one of the most maligned blockbuster directors working today. 6. THE SUICIDE SQUAD All the stars aligned perfectly for Warner Bros. and James Gunn with the making of The Suicide Squad. The studio had a property that needed a director who could handle an irreverent cast of comic book misfits and James Gunn needed a studio that would let him make another movie about an irreverent cast of comic book misfits. The original Suicide Squad was a disaster of a film. This one? *chef’s kiss* As I said in my review… 9/10 – As humorous as it was unpredictable, The Suicide Squad is a ton of fun for everyone who loves R-rated comic book movies that cut loose in all the most gruesomely fun ways. THE GREATS 5. DUNE It’s only “part one” but even with only half the story told here, what Denis Villeneuve does with what we’re shown is focus on the thing that makes the Herbert novel so remarkable: Dune is a cynical deconstruction of Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. That much might not be apparent in this movie, which focuses on the rise of the “hero” (Paul), but enough seeds are planted here for the upcoming sequel to take things to an even greater level (and make this one even better in hindsight). As said, this is only half the story, but it’s an absolutely beautifully made half, all the same. As I said in my review… 9/10 – Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is a beautiful and intriguing adaptation of the first part of the influential epic and one that lovers of epic cinema ought to embrace. 4. THE FRENCH DISPATCH This is the only movie on the list I didn’t get to review upon release (due to Covid restrictions). Nevertheless, I cannot fail to include it now. Wes Anderson‘s latest invitation into his eccentric filmmaking style is a film I waited for with more anticipation than all but one other movie on this list (the top entry). True to the director, the story (fractured into pieces though they are) is small in stakes but told as though it’s the most riveting thing happening in the world at the moment. The joy of a Wes Anderson movie is found in watching how each scene is meticulously crafted, and in listening to the slightly off-kilter, almost theatrical dialogue being recited by some of the best actors of the day. It’s not my favorite Anderson film (Grand Budapest still holds that honor) but it’s in the upper echelon and a sign that the director’s creative juices have no hint of running low. As said, I didn’t get to review the movie in full, but if I had, The French Dispatch would have received a 9/10. 3. A QUIET PLACE 2 The original horror film was one of my biggest surprises in 2018. It was fast, intense, frightening, clever, and moving. A lot of horror movies can nail the first film. Then come the sequels, where everything instantly becomes derivative and dumb. Despite that reputation, I had high hopes for A Quiet Place 2. Little did I know the movie would not only meet them but exceed them. It might just be the best horror sequel ever made. As I said in my review… 10/10 – I can’t praise the job John Krasinski did in bringing this movie to life. A Quiet Place (Part II) will go down as a horror sequel that shines as brightly as its excellently original. 2. SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME No Way Home is a love letter to Spider-Man movies. It’s easily the biggest, boldest, most fan-servicey film since Avengers: Endgame, and though the stakes were never quite as high here as they were in Endgame, the overall epic scale of it all elevated it to heights few comic book movies have ever reached. Looking back on it now, having seen it a few times, I can say it’s not a perfect movie, but it’s too much fun and made with too much love not to adore. As I said in my review… 10/10 – Easily one of the best comic book movies ever, No Way Home is the kind of film the kid-version of me would never believe could happen. That it happened and managed to be a marvelously well-made film is just icing on top. MY FAVORITE 1. THE GREEN KNIGHT My favorite movie of 2021 is the film I’ve been waiting to see since ninth grade. Ever since I first started reading Arthurian literature in high school I have wanted to see films based in that world. A few here and there have been made, but none until now were done with the sobriety, gravitas, and hint of horror that is found in the writings of Thomas Malory, Geoffrey of Monmouth, or T.H. White. While the movie took minor liberties with the telling of the tale of the Green Knight, it retained the mood and the spirit of the tale perfectly, and that—combined with the incredible visual flair—is what I loved the most about it. As I said in my review… 10/10 – The Green Knight is a beautiful film that interprets the age-old tale remarkably faithfully while adding a layer of mystery and subtlety to make modern audiences delight. These are my favorite movies of 2021. What about you? Leave your list in the comments below!