Finally, we can put 2021 behind us. It’s been a lackluster year for movies, to say the least. However, a few of us have found some gems sprinkled throughout the year, at least enough for us to make some top-five lists. So here they are, our LAST MOVIE OUTPOST Top 5 Movies of 2021.
Let’s hope the best of 2021 will be the worst of 2022. Happy new year!
To be honest, it’s been hard to pick out my top five, purely because there haven’t been that many good movies this year. It was slim pickings.
I do like my horror and I love a slow-paced build-up and this was a combination of the two. A very well-thought-out story with a very satisfying conclusion.
4. The Green Knight
This was so original, beautiful, and just bizarre, but such a thoroughly good watch. The entire story was gripping and the visuals were amazing. I have seen it a few times this year and found something new every time I watched it.
3. Last Night in Soho
I love Edgar Wright and I really enjoyed this throwback to some classic horror movies, as well as to London in the Swinging 60s. The story was really well done, with beautiful editing and photography, and great performances by the entire cast.
2. Spider-Man: No Way Home
I managed to sneak this into my top five just before the end of the year, and what a movie! I am bored with the MCU/superhero movies and I wasn’t expecting much from this, but what Sony did, in the storytelling and how they managed to bring the ‘story’ together, makes it a worthwhile entry. I think it’s a cinematic achievement I won’t be seeing again for a few years. A brilliant piece of work.
I always said that the 1984 version needed an update, and I feel that Denis Villeneuve did an amazing job in creating a completely believable Dune universe. The cast were perfect and the effects were amazing. I have seen this several times now and I cannot wait for the next one. Easily movie of the year for me.
Honorable mentions to Free Guy, No Time to Die, Werewolves Within, and The Suicide Squad.
I have not seen Licorice Pizza yet, but I expect it would be in my top 5.
5. Old Henry
Old Henry, a slow-burn Western with a touch of action movie. A B-movie that does take itself seriously, but not so much that it becomes pretentious. Great shootouts and even some pathos.
What can I even say that hasn’t already been said? The director has never made a bad film.
3. Wrath of Man
Another action revenge film that has everything I like. Shooting, violence, guns. I am a simple man what can I say?
Released on Netflix, it’s just really fun. It is a simple revenge movie. Yes, the main character is a broad, but she isn’t the 90-pound girl beating up 200-pound bodybuilders.
The movie I most enjoyed this year. It isn’t out yet. I got sent a screener copy and I have watched it 5 times already. Another film with the same name is already out this year. Don’t make a mistake. This is not that one.
I usually don’t have my favorites list ready until a couple of months into the New Year. I also don’t go to the theater much anymore. However, with so many movies streaming either day and date, or so soon after theatrical release, it made the whole process easier this year.
5. The Suicide Squad
James Gunn’s dark humor can be hit or miss for me. When it works, it really works. He had to rein it in a lot when making the Guardians of the Galaxy movies thanks to Disney, but it feels like Warner Bros. gave him some space to work with The Suicide Squad.
What Gunn did with this movie, I would like to see more of it with both DC and Marvel. He brought in characters that are largely unknown or forgotten and made them great. That’s part of the appeal of this movie. It is different and it brings “funny” into the DCEU where it has been sorely lacking. It has epic moments in whacky ways that just work. Some of these characters I liked so much that I hated to see them die. Then again, it’s a comic book movie so they could always come back.
Not only is The Suicide Squad in my top five of 2021, but it’s my favorite movie of the DCEU, which to be fair isn’t saying much.
I won’t say much about Censor here, if you’re interested, please check out my review of it.
The movie has an interesting, different take on reality-bending horror movies, blending in fantasy to make the audience wonder what is real. It explores this through the actions of a young woman that watches brutally graphic horror movies and censors them. This is affecting her mental health. When one of the movies she’s assigned to censor starts reminding her of a past event, she goes down a rabbit hole looking for the truth.
It’s a subtle movie but has its twisted moments. In places, it reminds me of The Shining, though that movie is a masterpiece. However, Censor is fascinating in its own right with interesting reminders of the “video nasties” panic from the 80s.
3. No Sudden Move
At the time, I was going to review No Sudden Move for the site but I got busy and it escaped me. For a while, this was at the top of my list of the best movies this year. I hesitate to call this a “heist” movie, although there’s a robbery. No Sudden Move is not all about the robbery though and mostly that works simply as a McGuffin.
It was supposed to be a simple robbery for a small group of criminals until it all goes off the rails. Then they have to try and keep it together while discovering what’s really going on. There’s double and triple crossing, backstabbing, and murder. All the ingredients of a great movie. It also takes place in the 1950s which gives it a great neo-noir atmosphere, something that I can never get enough of.
If there’s anything that I’ve learned from post-apocalyptic movies and video games it’s that there is peril around every corner.
Finch has a pretty straightforward, simplistic plot. Tom Hanks creates a robot with AI to take care of a dog. The end. Well, not quite. There is more to it than that. Hanks’ character uploads over 90% of all known information to the robot, in order for it to be able to think and act for itself, but there are gaps. This is partly due to them having to hurry to leave their safe haven due to an incoming electrical storm.
Finch is a touching movie, something you don’t often see in post-apocalyptic movies. That alone was pretty refreshing to see. Watching the interaction of Hanks, the robot and the dog along with their trials and tribulations is great.
I came into Dune completely ignorant to it. I’ve never read the books and I’ve never watched the movie from the 80s. I don’t know how it never made it on my radar, with how much I like 80s sci-fi and action.
I found the movie absolutely intriguing. It’s exactly what I wanted from the newest Star Wars movies, including the prequels. Dune has a lot of politics, but it’s never boring. It can be a little overwhelming if you’re like me and coming in completely fresh. I assume if you’re a fan of the books, you have a much better understanding of what’s going on.
I will say this, not knowing was a big part of what made Dune so interesting to me. I enjoyed learning about what they were doing, how it all worked.
Also, the atmosphere and visuals were amazingly beautiful. The gear, the weapons, and the vehicles were all great. I loved the firefly-esque flying machines. The acting was great, it was well cast. The movie is so packed full of information that I’m glad they are doing two movies. The one thing I did learn about the 1984 adaption was that it tried to pack too much into a single movie.
Dune is fantastic sci-fi and makes me nostalgic for the sci-fi movies of the past. I can’t wait to see the second movie.
5. The Green Knight
A new take on an old story, this movie is artistic and really up its own ass a bit. I know that sounds like I didn’t like it and I admit, there’s more respect than entertainment going on. Still, even though the movie was work, it was thought-provoking and stuck with me longer than I expected. Add to that some truly gorgeous camera work and production design and you got yourself one impressive achievement. It’s not for everyone but surely it deserves some more recognition than that vile The Shape Of Water bullshit?
4. Last Night In Soho
Edgar RIGHT, amirite? Ok, bad puns aside, Edgar Wright seems to always make mini masterpieces and this was no different. While many of his movies lack repeat value, you have to always love the care and attention to detail he puts into them. In the spirit of Baby Driver and divesting himself more and more from his Cornetto roots, he continues to make really well-done movies.
I know he’s a bit of an acquired taste, mostly due to the viewer’s preferences. He’s not a 4 quadrant movie type of guy. So even for me, not everything is gold (Scott Pilgrim can suck it. There I said it!) But more often than not he puts out something that isn’t like everything else and Last Night In Soho is no exception, a wonderfully twisty murder mystery.
3. Free Guy
This movie is almost a throwback. Sure, it has slick special effects and there’s probably a little of just about every movie or property you love in it. Quite frankly it should be an absolute mess but by remembering to stick to story and character development, this silly little Ryan Reynolds movie turned out to be one of my absolute favorites this year. Well done.
What if you made John Wick but took out everything that made it slick? You get Nobody with Better Call Saul actor Bob Odenkirk. That’s not a criticism, by the way. The slickness in John Wick is what makes it fun but this is a whole different take on the “man on a mission” trope and it works just fine. Much like Bruce Willis redefined our idea of action star, Bob Odenkirk takes it one step further by being as about as “everyman” as one can get. It works on just about every level so give it a shot if you haven’t already.
What can I say about Dune that everyone else hasn’t? It was taking a fairly opaque and dense piece of literature and adapting it in a way that was understandable and yet still intelligent. A prime example of not dumbing it down and having some faith in your audience, and yet not making it so slavish to the source material that you end up with another John Carter. Well done Denis! What don’t I like about it? It wasn’t finished! Hurry up with part 2!
For an honorable mention, try Frank Grillo’s Boss Level, part Groundhog Day, part Die Hard, and all entertaining.
So that’s what we thought. What do you think? What are your top movies of this year?