Sunday, March 20, 2022

The Top Ten Films of 2021.

Much to my disappointment, movies have started being released in theaters again. As I now refuse to leave my house for any reason; I convinced myself to wait until Licorice Pizza, Parallel Mothers and West Side Story were released on streaming before finalizing this list. Spoiler Alert: West Side Story was somehow the best movie of that group, but I'm still going to compare it to the time Gus Van Sant remade Psycho with Vince Vaughn. Critics don't agree with me because they're too nervous to scold legends, but 2021 was the year of big misses by big directors. Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza), Pedro Almodovar (Parallel Mothers), and Guillermo del Toro (Nightmare Alley) should all be ashamed of their 2021 films. Joel Coen made a very pretty version of Macbeth but's still Macbeth. Ridley Scott's The Last Duel was actually good, but its quality is overshadowed by my need to mock him for being angry that no one went to see his 100 million dollar medieval rape movie. Unfortunately, we didn't get a movie from Denis Villenueve this year, but he did release a pretty good two and a half hour trailer for Dune. At least we were able to rely on the never-changing Wes Anderson, who once again released the exact same movie he's been making over and over again for the last ten years.

But as always, I found some films I liked. Maybe you'll like them too. Four and two halves of them are  in English for those of you who can't read. Before we get to the top ten, let's talk about my should-have-been fan-favorite Oscar vote, and give the annual reminder that all animated movies and documentaries are good, so I didn't bother watching them.

The Greatest Bad-On-Purpose Movie - Malignant

I won't spoil the beautiful content, but if you haven't seen Malignant by now, I need to give you a little clue. This "horror" movie is clearly a joke—and it's a hilarious one—but it takes almost the whole movie to realize you're not actually watching a poorly-done version of The Conjuring. The bad dialogue, ridiculous scenarios, and almost every establishing shot in this movie are actually hilarious, but it's not apparent until the third act goes insane that James Wan has been playing an elaborate prank on us this whole time. It doesn't make the list because the misleading buildup prevents it from being the masterpiece it could be, but it's also the only movie that I finished and immediately texted everyone I know (this is like four people) that they needed to watch it. I almost didn't watch Malignant myself because I didn't feel the need to see another run-of-the-mill horror movie, but I can absolutely assure you that it is something completely different. 

10. I'm Your Man

It's 2022 and we somehow haven't developed robot husbands yet, but at least we've started making movies about them. While most of us accept that Dan Stevens is the perfect man; here he plays a robot developed to be our main character's perfect life partner—and she's not convinced. Alma is a somewhat anti-romantic workaholic who agrees to take part in the Robot Lover test program in order to fund her research. She tries to largely ignore her new robot boyfriend at first, but no one puts robot Dan Stevens in a corner; and she finds herself slowly succumbing to his charms. It's not a sweeping Nicholas Sparks romance, but it's an enjoyable romantic comedy that flirts with bigger questions about love, relationships, and whether it's ethical to bang machines. Imagine Black Mirror if it had more than one episode that didn't end horrifically. I'm Your Man is available on Hulu; and it is in German because Dan Stevens apparently speaks every language. 

9. Titane

I didn't intentionally put two movies about having sex with machines back to back, but maybe that's a sign of the times we're living in. You may have heard of Titane as that crazy French movie where a murderer has sex with and is impregnated by a car; but I'm here to let you know that this is only the first fifteen minutes of the movie. Titane is actually a movie about a murderer who gets impregnated by a car and then pretends to be the long-lost son of a lonely firefighter. It may open with explosive weirdness, but it quickly settles into an awkward accidental-family drama fixated on grief and human connection. Don't get me wrong—it is weird the whole time—but if you accept the laws of its universe, it's pretty straight-forward. Sure Titane's body starts leaking motor oil, but at least there's not a singing lady in the radiator. If you're feeling adventurous, Titane is available on Hulu, your new go-to streaming platform for human/machine romances.


CODA is the story of two deaf parents who neglect their hearing daughter's aspirations of becoming a singer because they rely on her slave labor in order to function in hearing society. It's actually a really wholesome movie about a girl torn between helping her family and pursuing her dreams, but I can't allow myself to think about the logistics of it for too long or I start ranting. After signing up for high school choir because she saw a boy she likes sign up, Ruby sings in front of a hearing person for the first time and apparently is so good that her teacher starts grooming her to apply to music school. I'll forgive that implausible amount of raw talent as I'm distracted by adorable scenes of Ruby helping her very sarcastic parents attend doctors appointments and start a rebellion in the fishing community, but that doesn't stop me from being frustrated by the fact that her family isn't legally allowed to fish without a hearing person on their boat, so they can clearly only work for maybe two hours before she has to go to school? I assume they've been breaking maritime law for decades. Despite my problems with the plausibility, and the fact that some of the emotional scenes border on manipulative—the scenes still work. Overall, CODA is a feel-good movie about a unique family, and you probably won't hate it unless you're more bitter than I am. CODA is available on Apple TV, as it was too wholesome for Hulu.

7. Nobody

Would you like to watch Bob Odenkirk make wisecracks and beat people up? Nobody is really that simple. Bob Odenkirk plays a normal guy who goes on a rampage after home intruders steal his daughter's kitty-kat bracelet. Then he beats up some gangsters for being rude on a bus and accidentally finds himself shooting his way through a wave of mobsters. Nobody isn't going to make you feel feelings or contemplate your existence, but sometimes I like to watch people shoot guns and make wisecracks after watching five biopics in a row. So if you're still reeling from The Eyes of Tammy Faye, maybe head over to HBO Max and watch Bob Odenkirk do a John Wick impression.

6. Zola

It says a lot about my respect for A24's offerings when they convince me to watch a movie based on a Twitter thread. I may have been traumatized by Eighth Grade, but I at least appreciate their choices and Zola doesn't disappoint. I wouldn't peg a movie about two strippers going on a road trip as my cup of tea—but that song from Hustle and Flow is still stuck in my head, so who am I to judge? Zola does a great job of referencing it's Twitter-thread source material without beating you over the head with it, and ends up being a Spring Breakers type road trip movie with equally crazy characters but also an actual plot. The characters are put in several situations that should be disturbing or scary, but all of these scenes end up being much funnier than traumatizing, and I'm hoping for a spinoff for the character of Derrek, who has very complicated feelings about his girlfriend grinding on other dudes. Zola is currently available on Showtime, but the spinoff hasn't arrived yet.

5. Riders of Justice

You'll have to forgive me for including two action-revenge comedies on one list, but we have to play the hand we're dealt, and I enjoyed watching Mads Mikkelsen shoot guns even more than Bob Odenkirk's foray into violence. Riders of Justice is simultaneously darker and funnier than Nobody, and the humor is supported largely by the quirky computer nerds that accompany the very serious Mads on his quest for justice after his wife is murdered in a terrorist attack. It also explores grief more responsibly than you would expect from a movie where a Danish Seth Rogan is one of Mads Mikkelson's sidekicks. You can watch Riders of Justice on Hulu, which I should apparently finally subscribe to.

4. Minari

I told you in the 2020 list that you'd see Minari here. It may have come out over a year ago, but I still remember this Korean grandma spitballin' one-liners and drinking Mountain Dew. Like CODA, it's an outlier on this list because no one gets shot or has sex with a car, but we all know the best movies are quiet dramas with developed characters—when they're actually done right. Minari follows a Korean-American family that moves to Arkansas in the 1980's. As they attempt to develop their farm, they bring in the previously referenced smart-talking Grandma who steals the show by mocking and bonding with the children. They struggle with money and interact with awkward white people, but ultimately the film is about a family of well-developed characters bonding and searching for the American Dream in an era where that dream still existed. Minari is currently available on Showtime.

3. Cyrano

I will openly admit to you that the top three films on this list are far and away the ones I care about the most, and that Cyrano is the only film I watched more times than Malignant this year. My final admission is that a musical about a reclusive grump  singing angsty songs written by members of The National is uniquely geared towards me, so your own mileage with Cyrano may vary. But if you're a fan of Peter Dinklage's low grumble and wanting eyes, then enjoy. P. Dinkles plays our titular character, who is hopelessly in love with Roxanne (Haley Bennet), but afraid to tell her because he can't list six feet tall in his Tinder profile. Cyrano is an adaption of the classic 1800's Netflix hit The Half of It, so instead of telling Roxanne how he feels, he writes her love letters on behalf of the much taller Christian, whom Roxanne has decided she loves after seeing him once. But what Haley Bennet really loves: is letters. Like, a lot. Don't worry she doesn't swallow any, that's a different movie. There is more than one scene where Haley Bennett sings about letters while they fly about the room or are sensually rubbed across her face. If you think that's weird and not hilarious, I'd like to point out that this film also contains erotic baking choreography; so learn to enjoy it.
 The pacing of the film is a little off as it bounces around timelines pretty quickly and takes dramatic shifts in tone, but I enjoyed the silliness and seriousness in bursts—even if they didn't always mesh perfectly. You can pay $20 to watch this on Amazon or go see it in a theater if you're one of those weirdos. Or you know, wait two weeks and it'll probably be free somewhere.

2. Pig

If you haven't seen Pig yet, you're forgiven for thinking that this is the third action-revenge film on this list. And while that's the film Pig briefly pretends to be, it inverses that arc completely. Nic Cage starts the film hanging out with his truffle-hunting pig in a remote cabin. When that pig is stolen, he immediately races into the city and starts yelling at people that he wants his pig back. He also spends most of the movie covered in his own blood, so he's rather intimidating. While you might be used to a bloodied Nic Cage bashing heads and shooting demon-possessed Chuck-E-Cheese characters, here he hurts everyone with truth instead of violence—going on memorable rants about how society is fake and stupid and how it's hard to find something you actually love. The best scene of the year is when the blood-covered Nic Cage explains to a high-end restaurant chef that his restaurant is stupid and he'd like his life more if he just opened a pub. The casting of Nicolas Cage was clearly a brilliant, subversive trick; but it's also a reminder that he's still the only member of the Marvel Universe who can steal the Declaration of Independence and make us cry a little. Pig is available on Hulu, who I promise is not paying me to write this article.

1. Nine Days

If you were holding out hope that the number one film of 2021 wouldn't be about a bitter recluse who is disgusted with society, I'm sorry. If it brings you any solace, this character is already dead. Will is a formerly-living person who spends his days documenting the lives of the souls he has selected to experience life. When one of those lives unexpectedly ends, he is tasked with interviewing new souls to fill the vacancy. Only one soul can pass the interview process, and the rest will cease to exist. While many films exploring the meaning of life and the magnitude of existence tend to be unbearable or inaccessible, Nine Days effectively asks its questions without a twenty-minute summary of the universe's creation. As the new souls interact and react to snippets of life, their personalities come into focus and Will slowly eliminates them—his choices heavily influenced by grief and his own negative experiences as a living person. Ultimately, Nine Days is a beautifully crafted film that turns small moments into profound ones, and builds to a more honest and satisfying ending than I ever thought we'd get. Nine Days is currently available on Starz if anyone actually pays for that.



Little Fish: A couple keeps forgetting each other due to COVID that erases your memory.
Limbo: Napoleon Dynamite with Syrian refugees.
Don't Look Up: Make sure you follow Timothee Chalamet on Twitch.
The Outside Story: A comedy about the daunting task of going outside.
Supernova: Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth accept mortality.
Drunk Bus: A college-town bus driver parties and misses his ex-girlfriend.
Tick tick...BOOM!: This made me forgive Andrew Garfield for The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Free Guy: NPC Ryan Reynolds does Ryan Reynolds things which is something most people like.
Benedetta: Lesbian nuns get the stigmata and make sex toys.
Language Lessons: Mark Duplass becomes best friends with his Spanish teacher.
A Quiet Place Part II: It's the same movie except we get Cillian Murphy and a baby this time.
The French Dispatch: I do like Wes Anderson. I just want another Rushmore.
C'mon C'mon: The Joker learns that kids aren't so bad, which is probably a lie.
Red Rocket: Trashy people act trashy to each other.
Judas and the Black Messiah: This. Right here. This is the type of biopic we want.
Last Night in Soho: It's a decent enough movie, just not a good Edgar Wright movie.
Plan B: Your annual abortion/contraception road-trip comedy.
Undine: I'm really glad I never broke up with a Mermaid.
The Mauritanian: America is better at detaining people than Christian Grey.
The Father: Anthony Hopkins and I both forget what this movie is about.
The Dig: Some people dig up their backyard and it's worth watching for some reason.
Our Friend: I wish Jason Segel was my friend.
Vacation Friends: I'm glad John Cena is not my friend.
Never Gonna Snow Again: I have no idea what this was about but I liked it.
Dune: Part One: Timothee of Arabia.
Together Together: Is this literally the first movie about platonic friendship?
Old Henry: If you like Westerns, watch this I guess.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: We got another Marvel character. Thank God.
Wrath of Man: Jason Statham shoots people.
Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time: A possibly insane woman stalks boy she likes.
The Night House: The best horror movie that isn't a prank.
Blue Bayou: America has some stupid policies.
The Last Duel: Adam Driver clearly rapes someone and there's a huge debate over it.
Test Pattern: The Last Duel set in 2021 and made for $99 million dollars less.
Swan Song (Ali): It's like a Black Mirror episode where Mahershala Ali replaces himself with himself.
Mass: Some parents talk about a school shooting. It's a good movie I'll never watch again.
Night in Paradise: A gangster hides out on an island, but his wife isn't killed by a car bomb.


Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar: It is so dumb, but ya'll like Anchorman, so enjoy.
The Lost Daughter: A mean lady steals a child's toy.
Happily: A married couple has been in the honeymoon phase for 15 years and it annoys their friends.
I Care a Lot: She did not, in fact, care.
Eat Wheaties!: Sid gets weird on Facebook trying to prove he knows Elizabeth Banks.
No Sudden Move: It's a Soderbergh movie. That summarizes the film better than any synopsis.
Worth: Ah. Government bureaucracy.
Queenpins: The Woman In the House Across The Street From the Girl With Coupons in Her Garage.
Candyman: A horror movie.
Seance: Simon Barrett also wrote The Guest, so I forgive him that Seance isn't as good.
VHS 94: I unironically like all these movies. Maybe I just like short horror films.
Vicious Fun: A nerd accidentally attends a self-help group for serial killers and tries to fit in.
Cliff Walkers: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Communist.
Night Drive: An Uber driver accidentally gets involved in a series of misadventures.
Space Sweepers: Interstellar trash collectors find a powerful child. So, Star Wars basically.
Black Widow: Marvel movies without dragons aren't as good. It's proven.
Palmer: It's like Red Rocket if the characters were nice.
Werewolves Within: Someone in town is a werewolf. It's silly fun.
Dinner in America: The strangest crush since Dawn Weiner loved Steve.
The Exchange: Cool French bro teaches nerd American kid to be cool and gets accused of terrorism.
The Suicide Squad: You have to admit. It was better than the last one.
The Power of the Dog: It is possible I didn't like this movie only because Kirsten Dunst is the worst.
New Order: The poor people attack the rich people which is always fun.
Major Grom: Plague Doctor: We're probably not allowed to watch this because McCarthyism is in vogue again.
No Man of God: Another Ted Bundy movie that wasn't bad.
Quo Vadis, Aida?: A UN translator tries to keep her family safe during an invasion.
Happy Cleaners: Kind of like Minari but with dry cleaning.
Night of the Kings: These prisoners really like storytime before bed.
King Richard: Will Smith's overacting doesn't ruin this movie.
Eternals: Everyone said this sucked, but it seemed fine despite the lack of dragons.
The Harder They Fall: A high-energy Western. Basically the opposite of Old Henry.
Being the Ricardos: More interesting than it had any business being.
Spiderman: No Way Home: There are multiple Spidermans and the predictable jokes occur.
The Beta Test: Not the best from Jim Cummings, but still better than the efforts of most.
Cry Macho: This movie is probably bad, but I will watch curmudgeonly Clint Eastwood argue with children any time.


Voyagers: Euphoria in space.
Silk Road: The Internet was so much cooler when you just bought drugs on it.
In the Heights: Someone wins like $10 on a lotto ticket and everyone loses their mind.
American Sausage Standoff: Clearly the best title of the year. It's about sausage. And racism.
The Get Together: Some friends get together and normal things happen.
Godzilla vs. Kong: Godzilla fights King Kong. You know what this is. 
No One Gets Out Alive: I recommend female landlords.
The Guilty: This movie is fine. But I already saw it when they made it the first time.
Best Sellers: I do enjoy a grumpy Michael Caine.
The Card Counter: Despite the movie's title, the character plays poker—not Blackjack. I never got over that.
The Tomorrow War: Chris Pratt goes to the future to fight aliens. It's the opposite of Edge of Tomorrow.
Censor: The horror kids love this one.
The Man Who Sold His Skin: This was surprisingly weak for a Best International film nominee.
The Voyeurs: You'll end up watching this for the same reason you watch Euphoria.
Sweat: Instragam influencing is tough and makes you sad.
Passing: The people who like this movie are clearly lying.
Red Notice: Ryan Reynolds does Ryan Reynolds things with his buddy The Rock; who does The Rock things.
Bergman Island: About twenty minutes of this movie is incredible, the rest not so much.
Saint Maud: A religious lady becomes extra religious because of a QAnon thread.
Psycho Goreman: Kids hang out with and take advantage of a dangerous space alien.
I Blame Society: A filmmaker starts committing murders so that her films suck less.
Slaxx: A horror movie about a murderous pair of pants. This really should have been funnier.
Gunpowder Milkshake: The best of the recent Netflix action movies. And by that, I mean it's bad.
Willy's Wonderland: Nicolas Cage says zero words in this movie and just slaughters stuffed animals.
Fried Barry: An alien takes over a human addict's body and experiences a wild night on the town.
The Killing of Two Lovers: Ted from Rectify is sad his wife has a boyfriend.
How it Ends: This is the kind of meandering nonsense we get when everyone spends a year inside.
Rare Beasts: Just like in real life, two awful people start dating and it has mixed entertainment value.
My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell it To: Let the Right One In exists, so we don't need this movie.
Shiva Baby: You'll probably like this if you can handle awkward social encounters better than I can.
Boss Level: A fun, but mindless Edge of Tomorrow.
Lapsis: The final plan of Jeff Bezos.
The Little Things: This movie was so stupid but I saw it so long ago I can't tell you why.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things: Cute kids meet in a time loop but aren't as fun as Jesse Eisenberg. 
Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn: A third of this movie is good.
Silent Night: The bleakest of apocalypse comedies. It needs to be funnier if it's going to be so mean.
The Last Letter from Your Lover: Felicity Jones delivers a letter but no one sings about it.
Zack Snyder's Justice League: A polished turd is still a turd.
Malcolm and Marie: It's impossible to believe that Zendaya has feelings for anyone other than Tom Holland.
Annette: I wanted to love this so much, but it's way too messy. I do love Sparks though.
The Green Knight: We get it. All our heroes are disappointing.
The Vault: Some people steal some stuff and it's boring.
Stillwater: This is definitely not based on a true story, for legal reasons.
Rifkin's Festival: Woody Allen makes another stupid movie.
Best Summer Ever: This movie is super bad, but I feel bad saying it.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage: Good for a few wisecracks.
Spencer: Imagine I made a movie about how sad I get when my Internet goes out and screened it to homeless people.
8-Bit Christmas: Remember when they made good live-action kids movies? This is at least close.
Mortal Kombat: There is blood. That's all you wanted.
Dead Pigs: Some pigs die and people get sad.
The Mad Women's Ball: If I ever meet someone who talks to ghosts, I'm going to believe them.
Runt: A kid gets bullied.
Belfast: There's a war or something and a little kid has a crush on a girl.
Love Hard: Your standard Netflix romcom written by an AI.
The Hand of God: A disappointing Sorrentino film. Watch The Great Beauty instead.
Matrix Resurrections: It's really bad, but it might be on purpose.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife: Hollywood exists only to destroy everything you once loved.
Antlers: This deer is pissed.
Swan Song (Kier): An aging hairdresser wanders around in sweatpants looking for beauty products.
West Side Story: I bet this would have been a great movie in 1961.
Drive My Car: This movie is longer than most road trips and less exciting.
The Tragedy of MacBeth: There are some great shots in this movie that no one should care about.
Copshop: This is actually solid for a mindless Gerard Butler thriller.
Nightmare Alley: A two and a half hour movie that somehow never developed any characters.
House of Gucci: Jared Leto should host the Oscars as Paolo Gucci.
No Time to Die: I think I missed a Daniel Craig James Bond or two, but this has to be the worst one.
Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets: A kid talks to a bird and joins a cult.


Habit: Sexy ladies pretend to be nuns. It's like Benedetta, but bad.
About Endlessness: Talk about endless.
Here Are the Young Men: I have literally no recollection of this film even after googling the synopsis.
Till Death: Megan Fox runs from some people.
The Nowhere Inn: St. Vincent makes a fake documentary about her tour and it's really dumb.
The Paper Tigers: Old people fight.
Kate: Another Netflix girl shoots thing movie.
Initiation: At least the killer in this movie knows how to avenge rape better than Carey Mulligan does.
The Many Saints of Newark: People liked The Sopranos, so they pretended to make an origin story.
Streamline: A kid gets sad about swimming because he meets his dad.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye: Everything about this movie hurt my soul.
Lamb: Some humans steal a lamb-baby and get weird about it.
North Hollywood: Vince Vaughn might have saved this movie with more rants.
The Wanting Mare: If it weren't for my horse, I wouldn't have spent that year at college.
Mayday: An island full of women kill men and it might be a dream or something.
Come True: A girl can't sleep and gets all upset about it.
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard: Ryan Reynolds does Ryan Reynolds things, but they're not great.
Jolt: Amazon's attempt at the girl action movie. Just license Underworld, thanks.
Days of the Bagnold Summer: Hopefully we can get a real coming-of-age movie in 2022.
Beckett: A really dumb chase movie.
Wolf: Kids in a psych ward make UwU's at each other or something.
Respect: Aretha Franklin is good at singing.
In the Earth: It's the art-film version of The Happening.
Army of the Dead: Zombies and guns.
The Tender Bar: Ben Affleck seems like a nice man.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday: Billie Holiday is good at drinking.
Parallel Mothers: I honestly have no idea what this was attempting to be about.
A Cop Movie: Built on a gimmick, and largely uninteresting.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City: They rebooted a terrible but beloved franchise by making a bad movie.
Licorice Pizza: I think Paul Thomas Anderson exists in a completely different reality than me.
The King's Man: The other Kingsman movies had no business being as good as they were, but this is hot garbage.
Reminscence: Who tricked Hugh Jackman into signing on to this trash heap?
American Night: It tries so hard. Like really hard. And it really fails.
Prisoners of the Ghostland: We're going to give Sono a pass on this failure since he had a heart attack while making it.
Die In a Gunfight: Romeo and Juliet with guns, but not the good kind with Leo.


Old: This is actually hilarious and we all knew it would be this bad.
Halloween Kills: THE SERIES ENDS TONIGHT (I wish).
Anonymous Animals: Some people put on animal heads and make us feel bad for eating meat or something. 

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