Though the pandemic certainly got in the way of many typical movie releases, it has been a relatively good year for the cinema. DC films within Warner Bros. have come back with what I consider to be their best comic book adaptation, Marvel has also come back by taking up thirty percent of all of 2021’s box office returns (The Wrap), and there have been plenty of surprises as well. Before we get started, there are some films that people have told me likely would’ve been favorites, but because personal and pandemic issues arose I couldn’t get around to all of them. I thought it might be fair to give some shoutouts to movies that had some potential to make it on this list. Here’s to Lamb, Judas and the Black Messiah, The Medium, Mass, C’Mon C’Mon, Spencer, Red Rocket, and Cyrano (the last three have more to do with theater availability). Lastly, film is subjective, I’m sure a lot of your favorites won’t be here. These are mine and if you don’t agree… Sorry, I guess.
The Suicide Squad
The Suicide Squad is a fun violent action movie that I’ve watched over five times since it came out. Warner and the DCEU have not only put out James Gunn’s best movie, but it has also put out their best comic book movie. I can’t wait for Gunn’s return to Guardians of the Galaxy, but also what else he will be bringing to DC with the upcoming Peacemaker show and future projects. If you like weirdly violent found family stories, you’ll love The Suicide Squad.
It took me a while to watch Pig. Out of all the movies on this list, it’s the one I watched most recently. What really threw me off was that people misled me about how funny this movie actually is. There’s a strong dry wit that left me chuckling throughout. Beyond the setup for this movie for like for a violent action thriller, but it never becomes that. It’s simply a story about a cook going around and asking about his missing pig. This is a film that I can’t help but feel will be overlooked by the academy during the award season due to its offbeat nature. If I had seen this movie when it first came out, this might be closer to my favorite film of the year. But having only seen it less than a week ago (at the time of writing), I can’t say for sure. With strong performances from Nicolas Cage and Alex Wolff, Pig shouldn’t be missed.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines
I love producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. I also love Gravity Falls. Lastly, I love that Lord and Miller produced a film from some of the staff from Gravity Falls. The Mitchells vs. the Machines will likely be looked over this year because it isn’t Disney and it wasn’t released in theaters. This is unfortunate because not only is this the best-animated movie of the year, it’s the best-animated film released since Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (another Lord and Miller film). Though it will be overlooked, it will certainly go down as a cult classic. Everyone should watch The Mitchells vs. the Machines.
Tick, Tick… Boom!
Based on a great play with a cinematic approach from new-time director Lin-Manuel Miranda, terrific music and story, and a masterful performance from Andrew Garfield. What more could you want? Tick, Tick… Boom! is a fantastic cinematic interpretation of a stage play that embraces cinematic form that so many other play-to-film adaptations forget to do. I love this movie. It would be one of the greatest musicals I’ve seen in a while if it wasn’t for…
West Side Story
When it was announced that Steven Spielberg was doing West Side Story I had some reservations. This is a director that has not made a film I’ve cared about in a long time and he has never done a musical before. Lots of directors tackle musicals without haven done them before, but nothing about Spielberg’s past films have indicated he would be good at such a project. West Side Story is a musical joy told in a cinematic way that it feels like most musical film adaptations forget to do. The cast is excellent, their voices shine through in these classic songs. The camera framing and movement perfectly accompany the fantastic choreography. I’m happy to say that this film far surpasses the original film adaptation and might be my favorite Spielberg movie. Lastly, it’s my favorite movie of the year.