I’ve clocked a little over 500 movies watched in 2021, with close to 400 of those being 2021 releases. Every year I sit down around this time to put together the best of the best. So today, I share my list of the best movies of 2021.
When I make this list, I hope you find some titles that you have never heard of and seek out to watch them. I love a good independent film made by passionate filmmakers across the globe. It’s hard narrowing it down to 30, but here we go.
Top 30 Movies of 2021
You really thought I wasn’t going to have this one on my list? I love this franchise and I don’t care who knows it. Vin Diesel, call me.
29. Summer of Soul
28. Nightmare Alley
27. The Last Duel
26. A Quiet Place Part II
25. The Manor
Horror Movies are so hit and miss anymore but ever so often a gem comes along like Axelle Carolyn’s The Manor that reminds us Horror movies can be great.
24. The First Wave
23. The Eyes of Tammy Faye
22. The Tender Bar
21. No Time To Die
20. Sound of Violence
Alex Noyer’s script is brilliant. We’ve seen plenty of original ideas of how someone becomes a killer, but Noyer provides a unique and fresh way that is so well told that you find yourself growing more and more attached to our lead. Jasmin Savoy Brown gives a knock-out performance in this film.
19. Funny Face
18. The Card Counter
17. The Harder They Fall
16. No Man of God
15. Old Henry
I saw Old Henry at the Nashville Film Festival and I was floored by every bit of the film. Tim Blake Nelson gave a career-best performance. John Matysiak’s gorgeous cinematography and director Potsy Ponciroli’s vision are impeccable from the ground up. He structured one of the best westerns we’ve seen in years.
Excerpt from my review: Overall, this is hands down one of the best Marvel films to date. It’s full of heart, laughter and a fun ensemble. You always hear about how comic book movies can be copy and paste and sometimes the criticism is warranted, but Eternals stands out on its own in a way that feels like it’s breathing fresh air in this entire universe.
I try not to buy into the hype of movies heading into them, but Spider-Man is one of my favorite superheroes and Tom Holland has been a remarkable Peter/Spidey. The film is one of the best-written comic book movies of all time. It was structured with pure genius, and I felt things I never thought I could feel during a comic book movie. Tom Holland is the goat.
12. King Richard
I could talk about Will Smith’s great performance that will probably win him an Oscar. However, I want to talk about Reinaldo Marcus Green’s direction and Zach Baylin’s writing. We could have seen so many different stories about Venus and Serena Williams, but these two dug into the roots of how they became who they were. The cast is excellent, but I hope the Academy recognizes the other aspects of this film.
11. The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain
Frankie Faison plays Chamberlain in one of the most powerful performances I’ve ever seen. This difficult role was a challenge for many reasons, including, the lengthy dialogue throughout. Faison was inside this apartment for an hour and a half, dealing with a wide range of emotions while bringing this tragedy to life. The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain is one of the most important pieces of film you will watch this year.
10. Shiva Baby
If you are looking for an uncomfortable edge of your seat insane wild ride of a film, Shiva Baby is that movie. Writer/Director Emma Seligman enters the movie world with a groundbreaking film that had one of the best screenplays of the year. Rachel Sennott not being on people’s Best Actress list is a travesty because she deserves to be nominated.
I recently revisited Zola and it reminded me how much I loved the movie. Colman Domingo will be on my list for my final five for Best Supporting Actor as he delivers one of the more charismatic roles within this Pimp that we have ever seen. The other stand-out was Taylour Paige, who knocked the performance of Zola out of the ballpark. I love this movie.
You laugh, love, connect with the tale of these characters, who they are, who they want to become, and understand why kids’ innocence is so important. Everything about this tale is heartwarming, charming and an absolute delight to watch from start to finish.
7. The Lost Daughter
I find this movie filled with incredible little things that make it unique. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut is an absolute home run. I wasn’t expecting this to be this high, but after a rewatch, it belongs here. Dakota, Olivia and Jesse are incredible.
6. Nine Days
Edson Oda presented a beautiful piece of filmmaking that will be remembered for years to come. The script is authentic, original, captivating, and just something that inspires you to want to create something of this nature. For this to be his first feature blows my mind.
A man that has gone from Talledega Nights to The Big Short, Adam McKay is one of the more unique filmmakers of our time. McKay’s latest endeavor is one that takes both sides of a political subject and makes one of the best pure horror-comedies we have ever seen. McKay and company delivered the goods from a strong cast to a perfect score to brilliant editing.
4. The Tragedy of Macbeth
Excerpt from my review: Joel Cohen took a topic that has been done so many times and brought two powerhouse actors to the table and breathed life into Macbeth. Denzel Washington should be in line to win another Oscar as he gives the best performance I’ve seen from any actor this year. Seek this film out!
Spencer is everything everyone had hyped it up to be — and more. Kristen Stewart is one of the best of the decade and Larrain outdoes himself with masterful work behind the lens. He invites us into the heart of Princess Diana.
2. C’Mon C’Mon
If I could pick one film that will be considered this year’s best film in twenty years, C’Mon C’Mon is that movie. How the movie was rolled out was troublesome because many people have not seen it, but the movie is out to rent now and Mike Mills writing/directing is powerful, moving and downright perfect.
I’ve written about this movie more than any other movie this year and it’s because of how amazing it is. It’s four people sitting at a table talking about tragedy. No razzle-dazzle, no unnecessary flashbacks, and no unneeded overbearing score, just four grieving parents making way for four of the best performances you will see this year, maybe any year. Hats off to Fran Kranz, Martha Plimpton, Jason Isaacs, Ann Dowd and Reed Birney. Thank you for reminding me why I love film so much.