This year has been a bit hit and miss regarding quality movies. Many of the films that have been released have varied in quality either due to the production being rushed to get a product out to theaters and/or streaming while others were delayed in hopes of making the project as good as possible.
However, 2021 has been a bigger year for movies than 2020, and that is saying something. What follows in a list of this column’s top five must-see movies of the year.
No. 5: "Ghostbusters Afterlife"
This is a true sequel to the 1984 and 1989 originals. It keeps in line with the same tone and quality despite its over-reliance on nostalgia. The visual effects — both digital and practical — and the emotional elements in the story help get rid of the bad taste left in the proverbial mouths of fans unimpressed with the 2016 reboot.
No. 4: "Free Guy"
If you’re wanting to jump into something fresh with pop culture references and looking for free will inside a restrictive digital existence, then skip "Space Jam 2" or the newest "Matrix" film. And if you want a good Ryan Reynolds film, then this is the one for you… it’s funny and heartwarming with the right balance of action and romance.
No. 3: "Spider-Man: No Way Home"
This is THE best MCU movie of the year! It beats out "Black Widow," "Shang-Chi," and "Eternals" across the board. It also helps that the movie skips over the all of the identity politics and unnecessary agendas to tell a fantastic story with actual real-world consequences for the heroes. It also doesn’t hurt that this is the first movie in two years to break $1 billion worldwide.
No. 2: "Cry Macho"
This was a fantastic western directed and starring a competent actor who knows how to make such films even during a pandemic. The story is poignant for its representation of what true masculinity means in an era where being a man is considered “toxic” by association. Definitely one of the best Clint Eastwood movies of all time.
No 1: "The Green Knight"
This is a fantastically-made film that follows the Hero’s Journey to a tee and explores the duality of courage and honor and the cost for such noble pursuits. It is wonderfully acted and has an amazing production design and visual aesthetic. Definitely worth the watch.
There are a few movies that were good but for a variety of reasons didn’t make the cut for this list. Here are the runners up: "Tenet," "Mortal Kombat," "Godzilla vs. Kong," and "No Time To Die."
If you’re interested in getting deeper insights on films in the future, check out the new Filmaniacs podcast that will be launching in mid-January.