My Favorite Films of the Year
The best films of 2021 according to yours truly, for whatever that's worth.
And before you yell at me, here are some of the highly rated movies I did not see this year: The Dry; Drive My Car; Pig; The Worst Person in the World; Shiva Baby; Judas and the Black Messiah; The Power of the Dog; C'mon C'mon; Passing; Spencer; The Card Counter; Benedetta.
As paint by numbers as The Marksman is, there is a real beauty to its simplicity. While it has plenty of action, there is a sense of sentimentality that is hard not to be charmed by. Liam Neeson delivers a powerful and heartwarming performance, especially when you compare to other low-budget action-thrillers he has headlined. Jacob Perez is also great and his scenes with Neeson are fantastic. Sure, it is predictable and corny as hell, and no, it is not going to win any awards, but it will win over your heart while giving you a short of adrenalin.
No Time to Die
Satisfied, is the best way to describe how I feel about Craig’s final appearance as Bond. It’s certainly got it’s problems, mostly due to leaning into Spectre’s storyline, but overall, it’s an entertaining, worthy, and surprisingly emotional note for Craig to leave on. Even so, I am glad the Daniel Craig era is over.
No Sudden Move
I came late to No Sudden Move but it managed to make a lasting impression on me. As per usual, Steven Soderbergh delivers a great small scaled crime-thriller with memorable characters and some great one-liners. The atmosphere, the costuming, and the setting are just spellbinding. Plus with a cast like Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, David Harbour, Jon Hamm, Amy Seimetz, Brendan Fraser, and Kieran Culkin, Ray Liotta and Bill Duke, what’s not to love? My biggest complaint is the runtime could have been shaved but its forgivable.
News of the World
As a sucker for westerns, Paul Greengrass delivers an entertaining and heartwarming flick that satisfies. Hanks gives a solid performance as always but Helena Zengel is gives an emotion powerhouse of a performance, especially for an actress so young. It also has a great set of cameos I do not want to spoil. Is it corny? Yes. Does it work? Hell yes.
I do not think I have squirmed more in my seat at a movie theatre. Uncomfortable but completely engrossing. It is both hard to explain this movie and how I felt about it. Yes is the film making good? Absolutely. Is the acting good? Yes, very much so. How is the pacing? Really good. Was I entertained? Yes. So, do I think it is good a good move? Yes… maybe…. It is truly a strange film, that I did enjoy (but will probably never want to watch again). Memorable is perhaps the best way to describe Titane.
Zola is a wild movie based off a wild true story. In many ways, it has to be seen to be believed. An unconventional mystery flick with plenty of black comedy, Zola will keep you guessing as much as it will keep you chuckling. Taylour Paige and Riley Keough both shine in their roles, playing off one another in the best ways possible. Colman Domingo is also a menacing stand out. It does loose some stem by the third act, but the finale landed well enough for me. Despite a somewhat lackluster payoff, it is well worth checking out.
Dune is one of those movies that makes the case for the cinematic experience. After seeing Dune three times (once in IMAX, once at home on HBO Max, and once again at a standard cinema), I can safely say this is one of those movies you have to experience. You cannot just watch it at home, no matter how good your TV is or how nice your sound system is. They simply do not compare. While I didn’t love it upon first viewing, it really stuck with me, and the when I saw it again, I found myself looking forward to certain moments more and more. It may not be a spectacular film (as so much of it hangs on the promise of the sequel), but it is a spectacle.
If you are even remotely interested in Val Kilmer’s career, or just how actors work, or how some movies succeed while others bomb, Val is the documentary for you. Not only is it revealing and surprisingly intimate, it’s just a touching piece of documentary film making.
The French Dispatch
What can I say? I am a Wes Anderson fanboy. Sue me. Even so, this movie is just a pure delight. I loved almost every second of it.
The Last Duel
Utterly compelling from start to finish, The Last Duel proves that no one does period epics like Ridley Scott. Told from three perspectives, The Last Duel's he said, he said, and she said narrative is as clever as it is poignant. Not only does it allow for nuance, miscommunication, misunderstanding, and flat out errors in the storytelling, it also allows Damon, Driver, Comer, and Affleck to deliver strikingly different performances. The Last Duel is the first truly 'bold' mainstream film I have seen in a long time.