Thursday 23 December 2021

2021 in Review: Top 10 Movies

The movie industry had suffered a crushing blow last year as a result of the pandemic, which led to a number of movies underperforming at the box office, and others still getting delayed. So at the start of 2021, I was simply hoping for the best when I'd published my list of most anticipated films for the year. Looking back on that list now, I am pleased to note that only one of those films had been pushed further into 2022. For those curious, that film is Morbius, which is currently slated for a January 28th release.

To accommodate the uncertain times, most studios had flirted with the idea of day-and-date release dates for their movies. Or in the case of Warner Bros, wholeheartedly adopted it, a decision that ended up hurting their box office prospects more often than not. But the fact that Spider-Man: No Way Home could gross over $600 million in the opening weekend of its global rollout (sans China) shows just how far we've come since those early days. The recovery is still ongoing though, but here are just a few of the great movies that helped get us to where we are right now this past year.

10. Godzilla vs Kong

While TENET had been originally positioned as the film to get moviegoers back into theaters, it wasn't until we got Godzilla vs Kong earlier this year that moviegoing received the kickstart it was so desperately in need of. It was the first tentpole release that simply demanded to be seen on the big screen, and it helps that the movie itself did not disappoint, delivering on its promise of showing the titular Titans duking it out.

9. Free Guy

Ryan Reynolds is one of Hollywood's most bankable stars right now and he was in not one but three high-profile action movies this year. Of all three films though, Free Guy is easily the best one, a science fiction comedy in which he plays a run-of-the-mill video game NPC that becomes sentient. His charisma was once again on full display and the film itself was a fun thrill ride of a rollercoaster with plenty of heart.

8. Judas and the Black Messiah

With a total of six Oscar nominations under its belt (two of which it had taken home at the prestigious ceremony earlier in the year), Judas and the Black Messiah is easily one of the best films released in 2021. The film was carried by a pair of standout performances from both Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield, as well as an overall solid execution across the board, which is something we only get to see in the very best biopics.

7. Dune

Following a year-long delay, Dune finally hit theaters and HBO Max in October of 2021 with all the grandness one has come to expect from the works of director Denis Villeneuve. His latest sci-fi epic is an adaptation of the eponymous book series by Frank Herbert, covering the events of the first half of the very first book. It was a book I'd grown up loving as a kid and the movie certainly did the source material justice in more ways than one. The second half can't come soon enough.

6. Spider-Man: No Way Home

Spider-Man: No Way Home was without a doubt the biggest film of 2021. No other movie had that level of hype leading up to its release, nor was there one that delivered the goods as thoroughly. The MCU might have appeared to have peaked with Avengers: Endgame back in 2019, but films like these serve as proof that there is still plenty of gas left in the tank. The Spider-Man fan in me could easily see this film topping this list. But I had to put my fandom and recency bias aside, and give the other solid movies we got this year their due.

5. The Mitchells vs The Machines

Netflix might have been home to some of the year's biggest duds (a film like Thunder Force immediately comes to mind), but it was also home to one of the brightest gems. I am talking about The Mitchells vs. The Machine, a computer-animated film by Sony Pictures Animation that was sold to the streamer during the height of the pandemic. And going by its all-round stellar reviews and reception, the sci-fi comedy is sure to be a frontruner for the Best Animated Film award at the Oscars next year.

4. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Kevin Feige and crew proved in 2021 that the MCU was still full of surprises, with shows like WandaVision and Loki (both of which were featured on my list of favorite TV shows for the year). But I don't believe none were as pleasant as Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The film was a love letter to old-timey Chinese martial arts movies and the wuxia genre as a whole, but it was the wholesomeness of the love story at its core that make it one of my best movies of the year.

3. The Green Knight

The Green Knight is an adaptation of the 14th-century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. And anyone who knows anything about my background as a writer should already know my affinity for Arthurian Legend (I'd written 6 books based on some of that legend after all). So I was of course immediately endeared by the very concept of The Green Knight and was stunned by just how brilliant its execution had proven. I've pretty much already done all the gushing I can do for the film in my glowing review, so all I'll add to that is this is a must-watch by anyone that values film as art. It is an endlessly beautiful piece of filmmaking that was lovingly crafted by David Lowery, and it shows.

2. The Suicide Squad

Following the lackluster reception of David Ayer's Suicide Squad in 2016, the prospects of a sequel had seemed somewhat slim to nonexistent. So you can imagine my surprise and excitement when it was first announced that the MCU's very own James Gunn would be taking another stab at Task Force X. The resultant movie has the director's signature style all over it, with over-the-top antics and an overall bonkers chain of events that was never anything but fun to watch. It's a shame the movie didn't do better at the box office, but at least we still have the Peacemaker TV show to look forward to on HBO Max.

1. A Quiet Place Part II

After holding the distinction of being my most anticipated movie for two years in a row, I finally got to see A Quiet Place Part II this past year and it was amazing. The first movie had blown my expectations out of the water, with its tale of a family's survival against impossible odds. And with my love of post-apocalyptic fiction, the film had grown to become my favorite movie for 2018. That nail scene alone was reason enough for it to beat out the likes of Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War in doing so.

So the fact that the second film not only manages to match the first for sheer thrills, but also expands upon its overall lore and universe without falling into the trap of over explaining everything is an accomplishment that shouldn't be taken lightly. John Krasinki's has shown a mastery of the art of building tension and dread, and it was refreshing to sit in a theater full of people where we all held our collective breaths as the monsters closed in on our heroes. That is the stuff that cinemas were made for, and A Quiet Place Part II delivered it in spades.


  1. Only one of those I haven't seen. Definitely put Suicide Squad at or near top.

    1. Nice. And yeah, The Suicide Squad was one of the biggest standouts this year.

  2. Can't believe Spider-Man: No Way Home is at number 6 😥. I think it deserves to be in top 5

    1. To be honest, I almost had it in my Top 3 at one point. But that was mostly due to recency bias, and upon further reflection, I found that I'd enjoyed those 5 movies more. Still an awesome movie though. 😊