While my preferred viewing medium is television, I also spent many hours in 2021 watching movies. I streamed new movies, revisited old favorites and even made a return to movie theaters (for Black Widow).
TOP 10 of 2021
Little Women (2019) – This high-wattage cast made for an enjoyable first experience with this classic tale.
Out of Sight* (1998) – amazing cast on their way up, snappy script and engaging story come together in an ultimate rewatchable that sparks every time George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez share the screen.
Dirty Dancing (1987) – An over-the-top sexy, romantic coming of age story that is required viewing for musical lovers (despite the inclusion of modern music)
Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020) – The culmination of the animated DC universe went out with a bang, giving us a wild ride with real stakes and great character interplay
Coming to America * (1988) – A screwball comedy that moves quickly, has memorable quotes and a dynamite cast.
Fast & Furious 6 (2013) – This movie has everything – a MacGuffin driving the story, amnesia, a tank, cars driving on to planes, a death in the family and the best villain of the series.
When Harry met Sally (1989) – a perfect romantic comedy.
House of Gucci (2021) – A star-studded melodrama with tons of scenery chewing that will have you chuckling for nearly three hours if you don’t take it too seriously.
Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) – The perfect blend of nostalgia and new storytelling, with heart, laughs and action scenes that you can follow and appreciate.
This is Spinal Tap (1984) – Feels like the smartest movie ever.
The rest of the list…
The Philadelphia Story (1940) – A preposterous romantic comedy that didn’t really click with me, even though I enjoyed seeing the Mt. Rushmore of Hollywood share the screen.
Chinatown (1974) – Would it be sacrilegious to say I prefer LA Confidential?
The Little Things (2021) – Jared Leto steals this boring whodunit that isn’t worth watching.
Groundhog’s Day* (1993) – a tour de force performance from Bill Murray in this high-concept romantic comedy that gets better upon repeat viewings.
Toy Story* (1995) – a perfect movie? (Seen it too many times to include in this year’s top 10)
Doctor Strange* (2016) – Creative visual storytelling contributes to one of the best origin stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Charlie’s Angels (2019) – Fun performances from Kristen Stewart and Ella Balinska prop up a flashy action flick with conventional set pieces.
Belushi (2020) – The tragic rise and fall of John Belushi is excellently captured with personal interviews from the 80s, creative cartoons and voice work by Bill Hader.
King of Staten Island (2020) – Stopped after 20 minutes. Pete Davidson isn’t my cup of tea.
Point Break (1991) – A ridiculous movie with a ridiculous ending that doesn’t hold up 30 years later.
Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) – Half Fred Hampton biopic (the better half) and half The Departed makes for a disjointed experience, which results in a collection of moving scenes that don’t necessarily belong in the same movie.
Justice League Dark (2017) – Lame cartoon that lost my attention.
Superman: Red Son (2020) – This twist on the classic superhero story doesn’t have as much to say as the recent Watchmen series, but it’s still refreshing.
The Death of Superman (2018) – Too much time is spent with the climactic action set piece, and not enough time is spent with the interesting, human interactions in this ambitious cartoon.
Reign of the Supermen (2019) – Elements of an interesting whodunnit are littered across this otherwise predictable cartoon that benefits from the elevation of random characters.
Batman: Hush (2019) – Despite an underwhelming central mystery, this cartoon crackles thanks to the evolving relationship between Batman and Catwoman.
Spider-Man far from Home * (2019) – A winning performance from Jake Gyllenhaal elevates this charming, creative coming book movie that is among the best of the genre.
Dr. Strangelove * (1963) – A hilarious satire about the Cold War that strikes far too close to home for comfort, even today. (Seen it too many times to include in top 10)
48 Hours (1982) – This exaggerated cop drama would be laughably bad if it wasn’t for the presence of Eddie Murphy, who is charming and makes all the other pieces fit.
Bowfinger *(1999) – While tonally dated, this cult favorite is an easy watch that keeps you smiling.
Da 5 Bloods (2020) – An interesting conceit that, in execution, is an over-the-top stage play that reminds me of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) -Tthere is no reason for this mess to exist. If you need a justice league fix, watch a cartoon on HBO Max.
The Midnight Sky (2020) – A predictable high-concept, post-apocalyptic space story that is light on plot.
One Night in Miami (2020) – The four leads are captivating as they come to grips with the roles they want to play in the world.
Promising Young Woman (2020) – A gut-wrenching spotlight on date rape, with a Hollywood ending that makes it a notch below storytelling like “I May Destroy You.”
Godzilla vs Kong (2021) – Well that was dumb.
New Mutants (2020) – Come for the comic book and horror mash up, but leave quickly because it’s not very good.
Emma (2020) – This was a ton of fun, but I would have rather watched Clueless.
Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal (2021) – The dramatization of wiretaps makes this documentary immensely watchable, but there isn’t much additional meat on the bones to this story.
Dazed and Confused* (1993) – I keep getting older, and this movie stays timeless. (Seen it too many times to be on Top 10)
Everybody wants some *(2016) – A great hang with a really sweet love story in the final act.
13th (2016) – Required viewing for white people who don’t understand systemic racism and want to do a deeper dive than an episode of Last Week Tonight.
Mortal Kombat (2021) – A fun new take on a video game that I didn’t know I needed.
Mank (2020) – It’s fine, but I would have been better off rewatching Citizen Kane.
The White Tiger (2021) – A haunting portrayal of class in Indian that would have worked better as a limited series with more development to capture the sides of this complicated story.
Tenet (2020) – Looks cool. Feels cool. Incomprehensible in real time.
Hustlers (2019) – JLo is captivating, but I could have used more of the journalism narration device.
Rush (2013) – Follows a classic biopic formula and gets elevated by performance from Daniel Bruhl
Miller’s Crossing (1990) – Looks good and sounds good, but I didn’t really feel the stakes and it’s illogical at points.
The Negotiator* (1998) – Enjoyed this more as a pre-teen, but what a cast of familiar faces and great shots of Chicago. Made me want to watch the superior Inside Man.
Looper* (2012) – a fun ride with a unique vision
JFK (1991) – Feels like a self-indulgent mess of overacting and made up storylines.
Fast & Furious presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) – Charming cast, but not much interesting for them to do
Shazam! (2019) – A corny comic book adventure that deviates from traditional playbook with a “Big” inspired hook.
Superman/Shazam!: the return of Black Adam (2010) – Not worth watching.
Doctor Sleep: Director’s Cut (2019) – Interesting premise. The story really moves, perhaps jamming too much in. Like other King properties it has a problematic finish.
The Fast and the Furious * (2001) – The melodramatic start to the franchise with a thousand sequels feels oddly fresh and unique 20 years later.
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) – Tyrese is a revelation in this mostly repetitive sequel.
Fast & Furious (2009) – meh. Not worth watching.
Fast Five (2011) – The perfect amount of nostalgia, mixed with a heist and ridiculousness.
The Tomorrow War (2021) – if you can buy Chris Pratt as a scientist, then I have the movie for you!
The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) – A boring relic that’s only redeeming quality is the introduction of the Han character.
Boys n the Hood (1991) – Ice Cube and Laurence Fishburne are magnetic figures in this sometimes-hokey melodrama.
Married to the Mob (1988) – Aa screwball rom-com that moves quickly and is unlike anything I’ve ever seen (which is good and bad).
Black Widow (2021) – An entertaining contained story that is very funny and not overloaded with CGI.
No Sudden Move (2021) – this mobster/heist movie moves along at an enjoyable clip with snappy dialogue, but the fish eye lens for parts of the movie is disorientating and interesting.
Furious Seven (2015) – the movie moves away from a mildly compelling subplot in exchange for a dumb MacGuffin. The filming accommodations due to the death of Paul Walker are sometimes clunky, but emotionally resonant at the end.
The Fate of the Furious (2017) – Meh.
The Suicide Squad (2021) – Enjoyed myself until the over-the-top final sequence. It’s one of the better DC films.
The Courier (2021) – Benedict Cumberbatch is very appealing as a civilian spy during the Cold War in this adult thriller.
F9 (2021) – aside from a ludicrous trip into outer space and Charlize Theron’s cameo, the most recent installment of this over-the-top adventure series takes itself too seriously, is emotionally underwhelming and can be skipped.
Many Saints of Newark (2021) – An enjoyable mobster movie that is elevated with fantastic references to the original characters (and some that are too much).
Freaky (2020) – A hilarious send up of teen horror films with great performances by Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton.
No Time to Die (2021) – Few bright spots in this overly-long final installment of the Daniel Craig run as Bond, which also has a lackluster big bad.
Dune (2021) – Pretty to look at, but feels like a long – not fleshed out – prologue for another story.
Shang Chi and the Legend of the 10 rings (2021) – A charming street-level comic book movie until the stakes and set pieces escalate.
King Richard (2021) – A heartwarming underdog story that could have benefited from a miniseries format that provided these compelling figures the depth they deserve.
The Matrix * (1999) – Still visually appealing and interested after more than two decades.
Matrix Resurrections (2021) – The fourth (and final?) installment in the series relies too heavily on nostalgia, it doesn’t look good and the pot deviates between incomprehensible and uninteresting. There is a meta commentary to be made about The Matrix and its sequels, but this isn’t it.