Tuesday, February 1st, 2022 at 7:17 pm
We did it folks! We survived another crazy year, that had a few high moments as well as a few not so great moments. We were back in theaters (sort of), and then Omnicron variant hit, and we are still in theaters, although perhaps with a little hesitation. With my handy A-List status at my local AMC theater, I was able to increase the number of new movies I saw in 2021 to 53 (I hit 42 in 2020). What did I learn this year? Well, I missed the theater experience, thankfully I had a great experience with one of the movies in my top ten list. Streaming continues to be a dominant force; some movies don’t necessarily need to be seen on a big screen, but still plenty new releases were enhanced by going to the theaters again. For 2020, I got a little crazy and added a +1 to my Top Ten list, because I had a hard time with picking the movie to grab that #10 spot. It did happen again this year, so I just wanted to give a quick shout-out to my honorable mention, Mortal Kombat. It finally gave us the R-rated version with all of the violence and gore, with a story that was lacking at many angles, but not all movies need to be Oscar winners. So with no further delay, let’s get to my Top Ten Movies of 2021.
#10: Godzilla vs Kong
All you have to do is look at the title of this one to see why it made my top ten list. I loved the recent Godzilla movies and enjoyed Kong: Skull Island, and over the years we had numerous teases of a possible meeting of these two monsters. And Godzilla vs Kong delivered on that aspect, offering up a few battles between the two before they teamed up to face the final boss. As with most of these movies, one of my biggest complaints is the focus on the humans more than the monsters. I could care less about the humans, just give me more kaiju battles. The story trails off a little towards the end as they bring up some inner earth storylines, perhaps we can get a crossover with that show on NBC. While I was able to see this in theaters, sadly I don’t think it was on a real IMAX screen, but it was much better than watching on my TV via HBOMax.
#9: Justice League: The Snyder Cut
And speaking of HBOMax, my next movie was reportedly a major reason the number of subscriptions increased to the streaming serving in March. I thought the theatrical version of this movie was OK, but had some major issues in certain aspects, which could be due to the change in directors from Zack Snyder to Joss Whedon and all of the drama that followed with that. There was a surge on the Internet to get this version released, and we all wondered if it actually even existed. Well, we sort of got an answer, because we did finally get Snyder’s cut of this film, but it took some re-shoots and lots of money from Warner Bros. for it to happen. And in the end what we got was a 4-hour epic, which was thankfully broken into various chapters, as I am sure most of us watched it in parts at first. I am pretty sure I eventually did sit down and watch it in one sitting and it was able to keep my attention for the whole time. Pretty much every storyline in the theatrical release got some extra screen time, including our bad guy, which only enhanced his story. In the end, each person can decide if this was worth it in the end, or if the means as to how we got there were a little too extreme at moments. If you have been reading my top ten lists the past few years, there seems to end up being a few themes each year, and with two movies into my top ten, we have our first theme of the day: HBOMax. Who knows what is next for this series, will we get a sequel or a spin-off down the road?
#8: Spider-Man: No Way Home
As a big movie fan, one who usually goes to a lot of movies each year, the one thing I have been missing these past few years during the ongoing pandemic is the full theatrical experience. Well with my #8 movie of the year, Spider-Man: No Way Home, I was able to finally get that great feeling back. It was a sold-out screening and we have some cheering at various points in the film and it just put a big smile on my face, granted it was covered up by my mask. I won’t go into great detail as to why I enjoyed the movie, as I know there are still people out there who haven’t seen it yet and there is no judgment from me. I walked out of this one really enjoying it, but the more I thought about it my love was depleting. It was still a good movie overall, but I think another Spider-Man movie did a better job of going Into the Spider-verse. There are some great possible sequels and/or spinoffs that we may get from this movie, but we also have a few questions which I am guessing we may get a few answers to in the next Doctor Strange film. I am still amazed at the number of people who still leave as soon as the movie ends, and don’t stick around for the end credit scenes. I was not happy with what happens in the first one, don’t like the direction they are going, but there could be a way to fix it, we shall see. And I was surprised that we got a full teaser trailer for the next Marvel movie, that was something different. And next up we get our second theme of the list, Zendaya.
Zendaya is back again on my list in my #7 movie of the year Dune, and HBOMax (which streamed the film) once again comes into play as well. I saw this visual masterpiece on the big screen, where I was overwhelmed by both the visuals and sound. I am looking forward to watching this again, I have the Blu-ray ordered and can’t wait to watch this one again, with subtitles to help with those moments. I have enjoyed many of the movies from this director Denis Villeneuve, some even making the top of my list for that year. It is hard not to get drawn into his films, as he does such a wonderful job of drawing you into this world and making it feel real, hitting a few of your senses along the way. The IMAX theater was literally shaking throughout the movie. And as I am thinking about this movie, we can also add star Jason Momoa to the ever-growing list of trends for this list, as he also appeared in Justice League as Aquaman.
#6: The Suicide Squad
And as the top ten lists continues, HBOMax is really making a case for why you should subscribe to them. Granted this may change next year, but with the pandemic continuing, it’s anyone’s guess at this moment. For the most part I enjoyed the previous Suicide Squad and Harley Quinn movies, they had their moments but also had some issues. But when we were told that James Gunn was going to be directing this one, you could say I was really looking forward to seeing his take on the franchise. And as you can tell by where this lies on my list, it hit all of the things that I enjoy in his movies. Once again we had a great Harley moment during her escape, and also had a few breakout stars in this movie as well. One was John Cena, who got getting his own spin-off series on HBOMax this year, and to add to the list of trends this year, you can’t forget about Polka Dot Man, played by David Dastmalchian, who pretty much steals the scene every time he is on camera and is also in Dune, in a completely different role.
#5: Mitchells vs the Machines
As I was narrowing down my list of top movies for the year, one of the big surprises was that there was no Pixar film on it. As a big fan of Pixar, they have pretty much dominated when it comes to animated movies. But as the past few years have told me, they are no longer the top in that category. Mitchells vs the Machines, released by Sony, caught my eye as soon as I watched the trailer, especially since the previous films from this crew were tops each year they were released. This is a great family flick that has plenty of laughs and heart that I was lucky enough to catch in the theaters for a very limited release, I am guessing for Oscar consideration. It is hard to pick just one moment, because I was reminded of so many great one-liners and visual gags throughout the movie. And you can’t forget about the dog either, which was a meme that lasted the whole year. These guys are on a great streak of great movies, and I hope it never ends.
#4: Last Night In Soho
When Edgar Wright is directing a movie, you know you are in for a ride, and with a memorable soundtrack and excellent utilization of that soundtrack. And with each of his films we get a different type or genre. And with Last Night In Soho we get a thriller/horror film with such a vibrant style and look to it. Many of these scenes are visually burned into my mind, as Wright uses a nice mix of colors to enhance many of the shots. Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomasin McKenzie sharing the leading roles (and also both in movies that were in my top ten in the last few years, Taylor-Joy with Emma and McKenzie with Jojo Rabbit). I look forward to seeing both ladies in more movies in the future. Throw in Matt Smith, my first Doctor in Doctor Who, and this is really a great cast. And of course yet another soundtrack to add to my collection. I was lucky enough to see this one in the theater and am looking forward to seeing this again, as it gets released on Blu-ray in a few weeks. And I look forward to seeing some special features as well, especially in how they shot the film, hopefully it won’t erase too much of the magic.
#3: French Dispatch
Just when you thought Wes Anderson couldn’t be more Wes Anderson, the filmmaker brings us French Dispatch, a collection of wild and crazy stories, each with their own style and plenty of laughs. You get his usual cast of people, along with a few new faces this time around. A few of the stories seem to go along a little too long, but there were also ones that I could see being made into full movies down the road. I love the few times he pans across a full scene, making his actors not move, but some have a hard time keeping still and that just adds to the humor. I feel like I need to further explain why this movie is on my top ten list, but the simplest explanation was my opening sentence about this movie. So please don’t let my lack of words deter you from seeing this one.
#2: In and Of Itself
And as we hit the top two movies of 2021, this is where I had to make a tough choice, as I went back and forth numerous times as to which is going to get my top spot. Considering these both are a little different from your typical movie, both are one-man shows and both are prime examples of stuff we needed this year. I was introduced to In and Of Itself by various podcasts that I listen to while working. This is one of those movies where most would suggest you go in not knowing a lot about it. I did include a trailer above, but I don’t think it really gives anything away, and it does a nice job of giving you just enough to want to watch the whole film. There is always one or two movies in my top ten list that I hope a few people check out and the fact this is on Hulu, makes this easier for everyone to check out. I just hope you liked the journey as much as I did.
I have been a fan of Bo Burnham for quite awhile, it’s very easy for me to pop on one of his specials if I need something playing in the background while doing some stuff around the apartment. Each special has a few catchy songs and some great comedy that will make you laugh, and even think a little. Much like most of us during this pandemic, when lockdown hit, we all had a few struggles along the way as we tried to keep ourselves sane. Along comes Inside, a nice distraction as well as a little something to help us get through our daily struggles. He tackles various subjects in this “special,” taking us on emotional rollercoaster, taking us from deep thoughts to big laughs. This was another one I was able to catch in the theaters, as it also got a limited release. And with some very catchy songs, you can’t help singing along and repeating the lyrics for the next couple of days after each viewing. This may not be one for everyone, as his comedy is hit or miss for most, and this is not your typical stand-up special. The video I posted below is the finale from his last special (which I was able to see in person, on his tour before it was taped) before he took his break (which he talks about in Inside), pay attention to the lyrics towards the end of the song and then remember them as you watch Inside, it’s a nice way to get a little back story to what he was going through. And to make things easier for you, you can watch this one right now, as it, along with a few of Burnham’s other specials, are available to stream on Netlfix. It seems that 2021 was a great year for streaming services.
And there you go, another year of movies, with most of these being focused on various streaming services, which makes it even easier for you to check them out. I have no idea how things will be looking at the end of 2022, will we still be dealing with Covid-19 and will we still be going to see movies in a theater? My A-List membership is active, I am vaccinated, getting my booster soon, and yes I will still be wearing a mask. I really missed the theatrical experience, I was glad I was able to get that for Spider-Man, and I can only hope that happens a few times in 2022. I am hoping to break the 60-movie mark as well this year, and I am off to a quick start so far, with two new movies already watched, and I am planning watching a few during my upcoming stay-cation. It’s usually quiet in January and February in the the theaters, but once again, thank god for the various streaming services I have access to. A few too many perhaps, as I am so far behind on stuff.
If you would like to keep up with what movies I watch during the year, I am on Letterboxd and you can follow me there.