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Top 10 Best Films of 2021

10. West Side Story (2021)

I didn’t think we needed a remake of “West Side Story.” Turns out we needed Steven Spielberg’s remake! I’ll admit, at the start of the film I was thinking “What is happening?” I didn’t appreciate what the choreography was saying right away. But about 15 minutes into the movie, I was hooked. Spielberg created a beautiful musical with a modern-day Romeo and Juliet tale that’s sadly still relevant.

9. Pig

“Pig” is the sleeper hit that has stayed with me since viewing it earlier this year. The film follows a truffle hunter (Nicolas Cage) who lives alone in the Oregonian wilderness, but must return to Portland in search of his beloved, stolen, truffle pig. I didn’t know much going into this movie, but I was quickly reminded of what a talented actor Nicolas Cage is. Even though he’s had some questionable roles, “Pig” solidifies him as one of the greats. I love the simplicity of the story, and the power behind all the performances; especially, Alex Wolff, who plays opposite Cage. You’d expect this film to go full on “John Wick”, but instead it’s more of a subtle human, drama of a man living with regret and grief.  

8. A Hero

Over the years, director Asghar Farhadi has tried to create empathy between audiences and the characters he writes. In his newest film, “A Hero”, we follow Rahim (Amir Jadidi) – A man who was in prison for unpaid debt. During his two-day leave he tries to end his prison time, but things get a little out of hand. “A Hero” is another fantastic piece of work by Farhadi. He continues to keep audiences on the edge of their seat as he constructs an intricate story that powerfully showcases manipulation through social media

7. Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is another notch in the Marvel belt of quality superhero movies with fleshed out characters and heartfelt stories. In this film, Shang Chi has been secretly going by the name Shawn (Simu Liu), and spending most of his time with his best friend, Katy (Awkwafina), as a valet in San Francisco. But when they are unexpectedly attacked by his father’s terrorist organization, the Ten Rings, he is forced to return to his old home, and confront the past he so desperately tried to run away from. The film provides a well-thought-out storyline with an emotional backstory. It stuns visually with its seamless choreography and electrifying special effects. It is also the Asian-inspired action flick audiences have been needing to see as Disney continues to successfully showcase diversity and inclusion in their productions.  

6. Don’t Look Up

When two scientists (Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence) discover a comet will soon destroy the Earth, they try everything they can to warn the world and prevent the destruction. But for some reason, people won’t take it seriously. What was intended to be a social commentary on climate change, happens to also relate to our current pandemic and how society chooses to deal with or ignore a global issue. Director/writer Adam McKay creates a hilarious script featuring an all-star, talented cast. The film is timely, terrifying, and laugh-out-loud funny. It’s a comical cautionary tale everyone should watch. 

5. The Last Duel

I have no idea why this film didn’t get more award attention! Jodie Comer at the very least deserves a nomination. “The Last Duel” is based on a true story set in France during the 14th century. Sir Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) accuses Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) of raping his wife, Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer), and challenges him to a duel to the death. Damon and Ben Affleck reunite to write a gripping tale told from three different perspectives. With their words and Ridley Scott’s masterful vision, “The Last Duel” is a painful, but important reminder of the #MeToo survivors.

4. The Mitchells vs the Machines

“Mitchell’s vs the Machines was one of my early favorites of 2021. It follows Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson), a teenager who has felt like an outcast most of her life and spends a lot of her time making funny videos. She’s lost the bond she once had with her father (Danny McBride), and is looking forward to going away for college. But, in an effort to rebuild their relationship, Katie’s dad plans a last-minute family road trip. Unfortunately, this bumpy ride finds the Mitchells in the middle of a robot apocalypse, and they become humanity’s last hope. “The Mitchells vs. The Machines” is original, clever, funny, touching, and an absolute blast. This is a movie both kids and adults will connect with and enjoy.  Though Katie and her dad have had their arguments, the entire family has drifted apart by burying themselves in their electronics. Katie’s mom, Linda (Maya Rudolph), is obsessed with other families’ online personas; admiring a life she wished she had. And her brother is obsessed with everything dinosaurs. Rick is the only one in the family who hates technology and enjoys more of the outdoors. It’s enough to make you think twice before pulling out your phones when you’re spending time with your family.  

3. Our Friend

Before I gush about this film, I’m sure some of my colleagues are wondering why a movie that qualified for awards in 2020 is on my top 10 list for 2021. Well, I first saw “Our Friend” in January this year and if you check the official US theatrical release date (not TIFF or other festivals), it opened on January 22, 2021. Moving on! “Our Friend” is an incredibly moving, true story that still brings me to tears when I talk about it. Matt (Casey Affleck) and Nicole (Dakota Johnson) are a loving couple with two daughters; but when they discover Nicole has ovarian cancer, they struggle to keep their life together. When their best friend, Dane (Jason Segel) hears of the tragic news, he decides to put his own life on hold and be there for the whole family. As many times as I have seen a story about losing a loved one from cancer, I have never seen one told like this. Even though it seemed as though Dane was helping Matt and Nicole during a difficult time, in actuality, they were saving him. I think we can all relate to feeling as though a friend may not care as much as you do when you’re sick, or when you just want to feel valued. This is a beautiful portrayal of a mutually loving friendship, and the powerful affect it can have on your life.

2. Spider-Man: No Way Home

I can still remember how I felt when I first saw “Spider-Man” (2002) in theaters. I got chills, my jaw dropped a few times, and I could not stop thinking about what I had just seen. As time went on, we got more Spider-Man movies and different Spider-Man actors. I truly enjoyed them all, some more than others. But never did I think I would be treated to such a theatrical experience in 2021. I’m scared to share any details, because for those who have yet to watch, it’s best to know nothing about the plot. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” weaves together decades of characters we loved and hated to honor a true hero. Tom Holland gives his best performance to date. The film is a nostalgic gift to fans as it engages us in laughter, pulls at our heartstrings, revisits the past, and gives us hope for the future.  

1. King Richard

This probably comes as no surprise as I have raved about this movie since I first saw it. I’ve seen it 3 times, and each time I fall more in love with it. “King Richard” breaks the mold of a formulaic sports biopic. There’s a lot to learn from this film. Though it’s about the Williams sisters’ journey to greatness, it’s also a character study on a flawed man. Richard (Will Smith) is overbearing, selfish, and hard-headed. But he’s also humble, kind, and a loving father. Yes, he wants his daughters to go to Wimbledon, but his first priority for them is to do well in school and enjoy being kids. He also teaches them the importance of good sportsmanship and never forgetting where you came from.

The Best of the Rest:

11. Licorice Pizza

12. Cruella

13. Raya and the Last Dragon

14. The Lost Daughter

15. A Quiet Place Part II

16. Lady of the Manor

17. The Novice

18. House of Gucci

19. Mass

20. Language Lessons

Top 5 Worst Films of 2021

5. Without Remorse – Like a bad date with a good looking person.

4. Space Jam: A New Legacy – Do yourself a favor, just re-watch the original film and forget this exists.

3. Things Heard and Seen – What the actual hell?

2. The Comeback Trail – Luckily, for this all-star cast, most people didn’t know this ever came out.

1. Halloween Kills – An all around joke of a movie that wasn’t funny or fun.

Trevor’s Top 10

10. The Green Knight
9. Candyman
8. No Time to Die
7. The Suicide Squad
6. Don’t Look Up
5. King Richard
4. Pig
3. Spider-Man: No Way Home
2. Bo Burnham: Inside
1. Our Friend