So, I skipped last year. Sorry about that!
Here's the 2019 post: https://www.themanadrain.com/topic/3058/best-films-of-2019/
Here's the full list of 2021 releases: https://www.firstshowing.net/schedule2021/
I saw an astonishing 42 films released in 2021, way above the number I saw in the preceding half decade.
Here are my top 10, counting down to my favorite:
This was thoroughly entertaining from start to finish, with strong performances throughout. This was a remarkable story and a remarkable film about an American Icon (not the father).
This was a phenomenal and surprisingly engaging film about international negotiations. I enjoyed every minute.
This was an extremely fun romp, and one of the better Liam Neeson films. I loved it.
For most of the year, this was in my top 3, but a bunch of late entries surged ahead of this. This was a memorable film with a strong theme and a powerful effect. I gave it 4 stars (out of 5).
Spiderman: No Way Home
You'll notice that the Tom Holland Spider-man films get high marks from me, and this was probably the best entry! I still maintain that Tom Holland is too "cool" to be an effective Peter Parker, but the films he is in are the best. This was a truly remarkable film. 4/5 stars
Bruised by and with Hale Berry
I have a soft spot for the Rocky Films, and this was the female Rocky, but with probably the best sound track I heard this past year. 4/5 stars
- The Last Duel by Ridley Scott
This was a film that lingered with me days after watching it. If you haven't seen it, it's incredible on many levels. It's about politics, misogyny, religion, etc. GREAT film. And it had me on the edge of my seat until the very end.
- Don't Look Up
The best satire of the last few years. This film will also linger in your head for days. It's basically an allegory of the harms of extreme polarization, and it sadly hits the mark.
- Zack Snyder's Justice League
I really thought this was a phenomenal film, and it washed out the terrible memory and bad taste that the previous Justice League film had left. The performances were heartfelt and the plot was personal and touching. This was the work of an auteur, and I don't care what anyone has to say about it. I gave it 4.5/5 stars
- West Side Story by Steven Spielberg
The only 5-star film I gave this year.
I'm a sucker for West Side Story, and this film solved most of the problems of the original, including by re-centering Latin and Puerto Rican characters and culture.
This was a masterful film by a master of the medium. That's all I could think while watching it.
Here's the complete list of my rankings for 2021 films from best to worst (yes, I only gave The Power of Dog 1.5 stars).
And, since we missed the 2020 list, here is my 2020 lists:
I felt that 2020 had more 5-star films, but 2021 had a lot more in the 4 star range.