Hello, and welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG's "Movie Talk", where I talk about everything film-related. It's that time of year once again, ladies and gentlemen. 2021 is reaching its end, and we're already looking forward to 2022. That means it's time for me to count down my ten favorite films of the year. As usual, there were a ton of movies released both in theaters and on streaming services that I enjoyed, more so than others, but only ten of them are perfect enough to make it onto my list. I'm also going to include a couple of films that were released last year before expanding wide in 2021. The question is, which ones will be on my top ten list? As usual, this is my personal top ten list. Some of you may agree with my choices, and others may not. That's the magic of having opinions. Also, I want to apologize in advance for not being able to see all of the movies that came out recently before making this list, including "Nightmare Alley", "The Power of the Dog", and "Don't Look Up". I heard many good things about them, but I couldn't find the right time to watch them. Don't worry. I'm still planning on reviewing them soon. If you want to know more about why I adored the films on my list, you can search for them on my "2021 Reviews" page. With that in mind, let's not waste any more time. Let's get to the countdown!
Let's start the countdown with the recent adaptation of the popular Broadway musical, courtesy of Mr. Steven Spielberg himself. "West Side Story" was a remarkable experience from start to finish in my eyes. Not just because it was my first exposure to the source material, it's also because it's a superbly-directed and highly engaging musical that honors the narrative and themes. The only reasons it's sitting at the bottom of my list were its beefy length and Ansel Elgort's average performance as Tony. Other than that, it's a thought-provoking and tragic love story that boasts significantly from its cast, Spielberg's old-fashioned style, Leonard Bernstein's score, and lively musical numbers. Unfortunately, it's one of the recent movie musicals that sadly went unnoticed due to its underperformance at the box office. Hopefully, it'll get more attention once the Oscars roll in.
After bringing "Blade Runner" back to the big screen, acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve is back to revise another science-fiction epic from our childhoods, and boy was it a grand one. Not only was "Dune" a significant improvement over David Lynch's 1984 adaptation, but it was also a well-crafted and majestically immersive first half of Frank Herbert's novel. Its cast was engaging, the technical aspects were incredible regarding the scope, and Hans Zimmer's score was delightful. If you want another reason why Villeneuve is a great filmmaker, watch this fantastic movie. I hope he continues that success with next year's sequel.
Since it acquired 20th Century Fox, Disney has been having plenty of issues connecting audiences to the former's recent titles regarding the box office. My number eight pick, however, managed to be an exception. "Free Guy" can be seen as an entertaining piece of escapism from director Shawn Levy, but it is also a hilarious and thoughtful allegory about life. Ryan Reynolds delivered one of his best performances in his career, its satirized humor was balanced well with its heartfelt moments and visuals, and Levy's direction was lively and effortful. It may not reach the high score, but it earned enough points for me to place it on my list.
2021 saw three Sony Pictures Animation films being released on Netflix due to the pandemic: "The Mitchells vs. the Machines", "Wish Dragon", and "Vivo". These three films continue the animation studio's quest to compete with Disney and DreamWorks with stellar results. But only one was able to rise above the rest, and that is "The Mitchells vs. the Machines", my seventh favorite film of 2021. I usually put a Disney film in my top ten list just like I did every other year, but like "Into the Spider-Verse", this film managed to be great enough to earn its place on my list. While I did enjoy "Wish Dragon" and "Vivo", "The Mitchells vs. the Machines" was top-tier animation gold regarding its visual uniqueness and storytelling. It's incredibly entertaining, intelligently hilarious, and heartwarmingly relatable. From its delightful voice cast to its imaginative animation, the film gleefully celebrates the power of weirdness and a connection more reliable than the internet.
The Williams sisters have maintained their success in tennis for years, and it's all thanks to their father. "King Richard" brilliantly showcased Richard Williams' journey through its excellent cast and infectious spirit. Will Smith turned in an incredible performance as Richard. The narrative was thoughtful and full of heart despite its sports biopic formula. The cast's chemistry was as refreshing as the sisters' tennis skills. It's an uplifting and well-directed sports drama that should get Reinaldo Marcus Green more directorial gigs in the future.
The legend of King Arthur has been told through different types of media for many generations. This film offered a new tale that centered on his nephew and his own accomplishment, and the result is undeniably incredible. David Lowery's "The Green Knight" is a visually striking and thought-provoking medieval epic that succeeds in its scope and narrative. However, it can be a slow burn for modern moviegoers due to its runtime and lack of high-stakes action. Regardless, the film was a marvelous piece of medieval cinema regarding its cast, Lowery's filmmaking style, and fantastic technical qualities.
Okay, I know that my number four pick was released in 2020, but I wasn't able to watch the film earlier since it was in a small number of theaters during that time. So I had to wait until next year to witness this critically acclaimed drama for myself. I'm happy to say that the wait was worth it. "Minari" saw writer/director Lee Isaac Chung depict a fictional portrayal of his upbringing in the rural United States. The result is a gorgeous and authentic piece of lifestyle cinema that shows that rural living isn't what it's cracked up to be. Thanks to its splendid cast, Chung's ambitious direction, a remarkable screenplay, and sublime cinematography, the film is an endearing and heartfelt drama that reminds us about the importance of life and family.
This is another movie that came out last year before it expanded wide in 2021. But since I watched it this year, I'm counting it as a 2021 movie. Chloé Zhao's "Nomadland" is another slice-of-life drama that's worth supporting for its authentic storytelling and brilliant filmmaking skills. What made it a bit better than "Minari" in my eyes was that Zhao truly understood the basics of a nomad lifestyle, both the good and the bad. Because of that, it became a sentimental and grounded portrait of people living life on the open road. Of course, it wasn't without its tiny issues with its pacing and repetition. Still, its brilliant cast, Zhao's direction, and gorgeous cinematography made "Nomadland" a beautifully delicate experience that honors those people and showcases Zhao as one of the most ambitious filmmakers to date.
What do you get when you combine Larson's creative struggle with many musical numbers and Lin-Manuel Miranda? You get "Tick, Tick… Boom!", another fantastic musical that explodes with energy, emotion, and songs. Andrew Garfield was undeniably brilliant in his role as Jonathan Larson, and Lin-Manuel Miranda has proved himself to be an impressive director regarding his infectious liveliness. Along with its supporting cast, musical numbers, and compelling storytelling, this is one production that deserves your time.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe started the year on the right foot with a slew of enjoyable streaming shows for Disney+ and a couple of decent films that introduced some new heroes to its audience. So it's a no-brainer to see the franchise attempting to finish the year strong with another crowd-pleasing experience that hopes to rival "Avengers: Endgame". What better way to do that than with our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man? It was a challenging mission to accomplish, but the MCU team managed to pull it off with flying colors. "Spider-Man: No Way Home" not only works as a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Marvel fans, but it also works as an emotionally driven and visually riveting conclusion to the webhead's MCU trilogy. The story was well-balanced with its fan service and blockbuster aspects. The cast was irresistibly charming, the characters were nicely developed, and the direction in its action and drama was handled incredibly well. In addition, it served as an incredible love letter to the people who have followed Spider-Man for years, whether it's from the movies, television, comics, or even video games. It's a fantastic Spider-Man sequel that's also my favorite film of 2021.
There you have it, folks. Those are my ten favorite films of 2021. While it sucks that we're still waiting for things to go back to normal, I'm glad that we had some great movies this year to keep us from going insane. Again, I apologize for not being able to see every film that came out before making this list. That's what happens when I try to balance my movie-going schedule with my personal life. Do you agree or disagree with my list? Let me know in the comments, and stay tuned for the next episode of "Movie Talk", where I share my top ten stinkers of 2021.