This year has been an interesting one as the movie industry found different outlets to push out content while movie theaters attempted to get back on their feet. Despite these struggles, it was a fantastic year for cinemas. Looking over my Letterboxd list of movies that I watched over this year, it was not an easy task to narrow down movies over this year down; especially considering I’m adding in films that were pushed out of 2020 as well. So here are my favorite movies of 2021:
Tick, Tick… Boom
I’m not one for musicals but I found such a connection with this movie that it caught me off-guard on how fantastic this movie was. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut about Jonathan Larson trying to navigate the pressures of life as an artist in New York City is fantastic. As an artist, I felt such as connection with this film and the true story it told of a dreamer looking for success. Performances and songs make this film moving, entertaining and beautiful.
Kristen Stewart completely claimed this role as her own, single-handedly entering the Oscar Race for Best Actress with her performance as Princess Diana. Telling a dramatic story over the Christmas holidays, we see Diana struggle with mental health issues so much that the movie treaded the line between a drama and a psychological thriller, making Spencer so much more captivating to hold the audiences attention.
The Green Knight
This fantasy retelling of the medieval story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was masterfully told in this A24 Fantasy-Drama. This adaptation of the 14th century poem is graphically beautiful and an absorbing adventure to keep audiences interested, even if it takes you two tries to watch it. You don’t need to know the poem to become enraptured in the acting, direction, and writing of this fantasy adaptation.
West Side Story
Steven Spielberg accomplished a rare feat in this fresh remake of the Broadway play and the 1961 film by making it his own. The cinematography captures New York City in dazzling fashion and you become interested in these characters, especially Tony, Maria, Anita and Riff. Even though you know how this Shakespeare-inspired story was going to go, it doesn’t make you care any less about what’s going on in the beautiful city of New York in 1958. Don’t try to compare this to the original, but Spielberg’s take might be a classic in its own way.
The Mitchells vs. The Machines
One of the first animated movies from the year found its way into my top movie list about a quirky, dysfunctional family’s road trip to reconnect while trying to fight off the robot apocalypse. What made this movie my favorite out of a stellar year for animation is that this family was not perfect and you can find yourself in any of these family members. All I will say is just watch this movie.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Tom Holland’s third solo film of his Spider-Man trilogy is the most personal and emotional out of the films. I won’t spoil it here because I want all my readers to see it. The highest grossing movie of the pandemic is quite possibly the greatest live action Spider-Man movie ever made. Each generation of fans of the web-slinger will applaud this movie. Marvel delivered and gave us everything we wanted along with breaking our hearts along the way. Marvel Studio has still got it.
A different take on the sport drama focused on the father of Venus and Serena Williams, Richard Williams. Will Smith turned in a commanding performance as a confident and supportive father. Seeing how Richard supported his daughters through each victory and defeat is something that is relatable to anyone who has endured struggles and looked to their parents for support. King Richard reminds audiences that failure and adversity is another step along the way to success.
Fans of open-world roaming games will love this film. One of my surprises of the year, Ryan Reynolds is a bank teller that discovers he’s actually an NPC (non-playable character) in a video game, is hilarious and action-packed. It delivers on the enjoyment and fantastic. A step up from Ready Player One.
Disney delivers a different type of family with a Columbian family with magical powers, focusing on the one member who was never gifted like her relatives. It’s actually a movie that’s more meant for adults when it comes to family expectation while the added colors and music appeal to children as well. It’s a beautifully made animated musical that will have you singing and cheering along.
Quite possibly one of the most unsettling movies I’ve seen in a long time, Shiva Baby tells the story of a college student who runs into her sugar daddy while at a Jewish funeral service with her parents. While there are dark humorous parts that will make you laugh, there are cringeworthy moments that make you feel so uncomfortable but you don’t want to take your eyes away of how our protagonist will survive the funeral service. The single setting of a house that’s populated with family members adds to the suffocating nature of the film and wonderful acting of Rachel Sennott adds to the anxiety that makes you feel emotionally exhausted by the end.
What were some of your favorite movies of the year? Were there any movies that were pushed to this year that you were happy to finally see? Did I miss any?
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