This is usually an annual tradition for The Confusing Middle. Because, usually, I see a lot of movies throughout the year. But that didn’t really happen in 2020… for obvious reasons. And since I didn’t see too many movies in that year, I didn’t do a Top 10 at the beginning of last year.
Thankfully, 2021 has allowed us to return to the movie theater… for better or worse. Anyway, I’m glad to say I saw plenty of new movies in the past year. 42, to be exact. Actually… I don’t consider that accurate. For some reason, Flickchart includes Marvel’s Disney+ shows like WandaVision and Hawkeye as inclusive in their rankings.
Keep in mind, this is just a Top 10 based on the movies I got a chance to see in 2021. There are a number of great movies that I just never got around to that may very well have made my list if I had watched them. As it is, here are my picks…
10. Free Guy
I almost feel like this one should come in a little higher on the list. I actually had zero expectations as far as Free Guy and was pleasantly surprised by how great it was. It’s never a bad thing when Ryan Reynolds basically plays himself, giving the movie a great blend of action and comedy. Might be the greatest video game movie ever made… and it’s not even adapting a real game.
I only recently watched this one because it dropped on Disney+, surprisingly soon following its release in theaters. Didn’t even have to pay extra to see it. I’m going to need to watch it again, but after one viewing I loved the music and found myself tearing up at many of the interactions between the members of this magical family.
8. Black Widow
As Marvel movies go, I found this one to be somewhat middle-of-the-road. It wasn’t great… but it wasn’t terrible. My chief complaint is that Natasha seems to be a secondary character in her own movie. And it’s a movie she should have gotten years ago. But I am glad this introduced us to Nat’s sister, Yelena, who has quickly become one of my favorite characters in this fictional universe.
This is a Marvel movie that I thought was fantastic that, for some reason, seemed to get a bad rap among the fans. At least, that’s what it looked like around the internet. Personally, I was fascinated by this chance to explore a side of the MCU that we have not seen before… or only got glimpses of in the past. Though I do admit it was difficult to follow along and stay interested in what was happening in the lives of so many new characters that were being introduced. But I think the creators did a fine job with the complicated story they were trying to tell.
6. Ghostbusters: Afterlife
A perfect blend of something old and something new. I was overcome with nostalgia but was also thrilled with the way they continued the story that carried on from the first two Ghostbusters films. Does it feel a little tired to rehash things using Gozer? Sure… But it was all very well done. And there was a touching moment toward the end that pulls on the old heartstrings.
5. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
This one was just… fun. I mean, it was another Marvel movie that managed to expand the MCU in ways that make sense and tease the future of what may be to come. But I could watch the banter between Simu Liu and Awkwafina all day long. And the fight choreography wasn’t bad, either.
4. The Suicide Squad
This is the Suicide Squad movie that we should have gotten five years ago. This is Suicide Squad we deserve. James Gunn did a brilliant job bringing a newish version of Task Force X to life on the big screen. It just makes me wish, again, that there could be a coherent DC universe.
This is one that improved with a second viewing. I cannot overstate how beautiful this movie looks and makes me wish I had access to a nearby IMAX screen. I’m sure it would have been amazing on the biggest screen available. I still consider myself unfamiliar with Dune, since I never read the source material. But I’m definitely intrigued in where this story will go when we get the inevitable sequel.
2. Zack Snyder’s Justice League
I was never one of those fans crying out for Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League, even though I was absolutely curious as to what his original vision for the movie would have been had tragedy not struck and Warner Bros. brought in Joss Whedon to finish the film. Was a four hour cut necessary? Probably not. But I loved getting a glimpse into what Snyder’s vision for the DCEU could have been.
1. Spider-Man: No Way Home
Of course this is number one. If you’ve seen it, you understand why. Sure, there are a few plot holes that can take away from the experience. But I choose to ignore those and just allow myself to be thoroughly entertained by what is arguably the greatest Spider-Man and/or MCU movie yet.
So that’s my Top 10 list for 2021. Some honorable mentions (meaning movies that definitely probably should have made the list) are: Malignant, West Side Story, and King Richard. Biggest disappointment of the year is a toss up between Halloween Kills and The Matrix Resurrections, the latter of which I really wanted to like… but I just… I don’t know…
What were your favorite movies of the past year? Did any of them make my list? Are you surprised by any movies that didn’t make my list? Let me know what you think down in the comments!