Bombast, Tension, Political Discourse, and a Dash of Good Humor Make up this Eclectic List.

With the usual disclaimers that I haven’t seen everything yet, especially certain films that are gaining all sorts of accolades (West Side Story, Drive my Car, et. al.), here’s my list for my favorite films of 2021.

10. The Mitchells vs. the Machines

An absolute delight. Wild and chaotic, but still heartfelt.

9. In The Heights

Noah Catala, Gregory Diaz IV, Corey Hawkins, and Anthony Ramos head to the pool in IN THE HEIGHTS (2021)

Colorful, vibrant, energetic, and joyous. It’s everything a movie musical should be. 2021 was the year I came to realize there should be more dance in cinema.

8. Judas and the Black Messiah

Yeah, this movie did officially come out in 2021, remember? Anchored by powerful performances from Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield, this movie has remained vivid in my memory over all these very long months.

7. No Sudden Move

Another Soderbergh exercise in style. Ah, but what style, coupled with a fantastic cast filled with some of my favorite actors. Smart and fleet.

6. Benedetta

Paul Verhoeven directs a movie about lesbian nuns? Sign me up! This film is everything you’d expect from such a titillating premise, and yet it is so much more. Is Benedetta really a conduit for God, or is she just bullshitting everyone, or is God using her bullshit for a higher purpose? 

5. Dune

If anyone could pull off an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel, it would be Denis Villeneuve.

4. The Green Knight

A hotly anticipated movie for me ever since I first heard about it what seems like years ago. David Lowery’s phantasmagorical and allegorical take on an Arthurian legend did not disappoint.

3. Pig

The Academy Award for best Actor in Supporting Role should go to the pig. 

2. The Power of the Dog

Jane Campion’s first feature film since 2014. Exploring themes similar to the ones from The Piano, this film depicts emotional warfare between a cruel rancher (Benedict Cumberbatch) and a woman recently married into the family (Kirsten Dunst), and caught in between is the woman’s  son (Kodi Smit-McPhee). This film does for banjos what… well, what Deliverance did for banjos. Banjos should hire an advocacy group.

1. The Card Counter

Another film in Paul Schrader’s ‘God’s Lonely Journalling Man’ series. This one is Oscar Isaac’s professional gambler, named William Tell, and a  former guard at Abu Ghraib. Tell is approached by a young man (Tye Sheridan), the son of another guard, with a plot to kidnap and torture their former Commanding Officer (Willem Dafoe). Maybe if Tell can turn this young man from his violent path, Tell might find some manner of redemption for himself. Gripping and tense.

Honorable Mentions: Summer of Soul, No Time to Die, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Godzilla vs Kong, The Suicide Squad, Jakob’s Wife, Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar