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The Best Films & Movies Of 2021

2021 has been an interesting year for films, to say the least. You can’t really go out to theatres at least during the first half of the year (thanks COVID-19), but cinemas persevered and now they’re showcasing their films in full force. Well, at least they’re not curb-stomped by the advantage taken by streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, with each of them having its own catalogue of films. And it’s not bargain-basement D-list films too; we have stellar international releases and big-budget Hollywood fares populating them.

We have our share of favourite films of the year, be it the blockbuster film, crafty documentaries, and animated fares of either the Western or Eastern variety. Here they are:

Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon A Time

After two sorta recap/reboot Evangelion films with new stuff, and a third film that is arguably more depressing and dark than The End of Evangelion (which is a helluva achievement), director Hideaki Anno takes it home with Evangelion 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon A Time. This anime film bookends the series on a surprisingly positive and uplifting note.

It’s the film that reflects the director’s more happy mental state, as the film is the complete opposite of his “screw all otakus for dissing my work” edict he established back in 1997. Rather, he wraps up everybody’s arc in the best way possible that’s fit for a show featuring mechas, the end times, and a good amount of mindf***ery courtesy of the show’s climactic battle. In short, it’s the ending all Evangelion fans deserve after so long.

Free Guy

Video game tropes: the movie. Somehow or other, we enjoyed every minute of it. Short of having the most unrealistically comical villain, Free Guy is a fun ride thanks to its stars Ryan Reynolds and Jodie Comer, as well the digital world it’s set in. If you ever wonder if a comedy revolving around open-world GTA-like games can pan out, Free Guy is a lesson in how to handle that while having some semblance of a heart inside.

The Green Knight

The Green Knight’s depiction of a possible Arthurian legend (starring Dev Patel as Sir Gawain) rides high thanks to the show’s arresting visuals and art direction. Its story may be pretty basic, but it’s the journey that counts, not the destination. You won’t find better compositions and vistas in most of 2021’s films.

Dune

Speaking of arresting visuals, Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of the first half of the first Dune book is all sorts of beautiful and mesmerizing. Except it comes with a ton of plot and character development, all of it works though it can come off as incredibly detailed to the casual cinema-goer.

No Time To Die

A great send-off to the Daniel Craig 007 series of films. It places just below Casino Royale and Skyfall, but that’s a pretty high bar to aim for.

Another Round

A lovely Danish film about a bunch of teachers who plan to spice up their lives and mundane routine by maintaining their blood alcohol content. How? By regularly drinking and keeping it to 0.05%, making them a lot more creative and relaxed. Another Round examines people’s mid-life crises in the best and most relatable of ways, led by Mad “Death Stranding” Mikkelsen’s portrayal of a teacher struggling with his personal and professional life.

The film is a brilliant cocktail blend of chaotic energy and filming precision from director Thomas Vinterberg. It’s funny, poetic, and dramatic at the right moments, while also being insightful with the subject of alcoholism and man’s attempt at controlling it.

Titane

A very troubled young girl has sex with a car. What follows is a helluva trip from the director behind the coming-of-age and equally-messed-up horror film Raw.

The fact that this is lead Agathe Rousselle’s debut film shows that the production crew has an eye for future talent in the French-Belgium scene. Titane is disturbing and provocative, but meaningfully so. Definitely for those who miss the good old days of David Cronenberg and Takeshi Miike genre films.

Malignant

This horror(?) may not be everyone’s cup of tea thanks to its marketing and whatever the hell the second half of the film is supposed to be. But goshdarnit if it didn’t leave a huge impact on us after the initial viewing. And we have to give prop to James Wan for sticking to his guns in making this film without any compromise whatsoever. The fact that his last film made Warner Bros. enough money to buy a couple of islands helped too.

Malignant starts out as a horror film that pays tribute to Italian giallo films, but then it starts unravelling itself into what could be described as the fun stuff from The Matrix but in a horror setting. One could say that it will turn heads.

Listening To Kenny G

While Kenny G isn’t exactly our favourite jazz musician, this multi-faceted documentary about the legend and his fans/detractors/legacy is a masterful look at love and hate being two sides of the same coin. The film is framed in the most positive and uplifting of ways while not being shy about the man’s criticisms despite his accomplishments. And he takes it in stride, showing that the human behind the talent is just as precious. Props to director Penny Lane for contributing more gems to the HBO music documentary film series.

The Mitchells vs. The Machines

Part commentary on humanity’s reliance on technology, part father-daughter reconnection piece, part fantastical comedy set in a tech apocalypse; all-around fun animated experience from the directors who gave us the LEGO Movies, the Spiderverse film, and Clone High. What’s not to love about 2021’s most energetic all-ages animated film on Netflix?

Tick, Tick… Boom!

There were a bunch of musical films that came out this year, but Tick, Tick… Boom! was arguably the most emotional and unique of them all. It’s the feature film directorial debut of Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, and it features perhaps Andrew Garfield’s best performance this year. The fact that the movie is based on the life of the real Jonathan Larson makes the movie’s emotional and dramatic moments hit even harder.

We definitely won’t be surprised if Andrew Garfield gets nominated for an Oscar for his role in this movie (he’s already nominated for a Golden Globe award as we speak). Yes, he sings in this movie, so if you ever wanted to see a former Spider-Man sing his heart out, Tick, Tick… Boom! is readily available on Netflix at any time.

West Side Story

Is Spielberg’s version better than the 1961 film? That’s up to preference, but personally, the 2021 movie still can’t beat the charm and vibe of the 1961 film. Will Spielberg’s version be as much of an iconic classic? Only time will tell. Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story is a must-watch for movie buffs, especially so if you’ve never watched the 1961 film. It’s a cinematic musical extravaganza that must be experienced at least once in your lifetime, even if you’re not a musical fan.

Spider-Man: No Way Home

We saved the best shows for last, starting with the House of M’s web-headed wizard offering. True, our review may be a knock at content creation around the genre, but we can’t help but be overwhelmed and happy with Sony and Disney’s joint-venture for the webbed wallcrawler’s third MCU headliner outing. It’s fun, it’s emotional at times, and it’s a treat for fans of all things Spider-Man on-screen; that’s all we can say without spoiling all of it. Not even the plothole-filled story and terrible marketing posters can throw our excitement off at how much feel-good and genuine fanservice is laid out here.

The Suicide Squad

2021 also proves that we can have two great comic book films from both Marvel and DC. The latter is represented in hard R-rated fashion with James Gunn’s bloody, hilarious, and surprisingly heartfelt take on Task Force X. You know you’re going to witness something great when the first 15-minutes of the film involves a Nathan Fillion cameo where he detaches his arms to deal with bad guys. Props go to John Cena for his hilarious portrayal of Peacemaker, David Dastmalchian for making us give a s*** about a D-lister villain, and Daniela Melchior for being the actual heart of a literally killer group.

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