With my TV shows of the year post I said something which applies to movies too… it’s been a mixed bag. Understandably so, given the pandemic which refuses to end. And yet, we’ve still had good stories to entertain and teach us things.
Here are my favourites from this past year. I’ve split them into the ones I liked a lot (directly below), and ones I liked an acceptable amount (honorable mentions). I’ve also included a bunch I want to see, but I am yet to get around to watching (at the bottom).
Read on, you lucky lot.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Tom Holland’s best performance in the role, in what is director Jon Watts’ best instalment of his Spider-Man trilogy. This is up there with the very best of Marvel, alongside Endgame and Infinity War.
Sound of Metal
This got delayed and came out in the UK in May 2021. It features an astonishingly good performance from Riz Ahmed as a drummer who loses his hearing and has to come to terms with it.
Bob Odenkirk does John Wick, in the best way possible. That would have been my tagline. This man behind this movie was Derek Kolstad, the creator of John Wick.
Raya and the Last Dragon
I admit, this movie surprised me. I don’t know why, but I didn’t expect it to be quite so well put together as it was. The emotional beats hit home, the comedy worked… it was a delight.
Frank Grillo’s Groundhog Day, but with guns. Oh yes. He also gets sexy swordfight training from Michelle Yeoh. This movie was a lot of fun, and gleefully embraced the computer game style.
This is a South Korean space Western which features, oddly, Richard Armitage in a key role. It focuses on a ragtag crew of, well, space pirates, who find themselves protecting a little girl with special powers. It felt quite Firefly, which I enjoyed.
The Mitchells vs the Machines
A dysfunctional family must cut short a road trip to fight a robot apocalypse. From the minds of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the guys behind The Lego Movie and Spider-Man: Into The Spider Verse.
As well as my favourites, there are movies I enjoyed immensely, but perhaps wouldn’t describe as my favourites of the year. Yet they are still worth mentioning as good films.
Scarlett Johansson’s last outing as Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, was a relatively satisfying one. This movie also introduced us to her sister Yelena, played by Florence Pugh.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Expanding the MCU and bringing in other cultural influences was always going to be a good thing. It opens up the kinds of stories you can tell. Shang-Chi did so well. It also gave us Awkwafina.
Nic Cage plays a legendary chef who lives in the woods, until one day someone steals his truffle pig. He heads to find it. This was such an unexpected film. I wanted to love it, but found it slow.
Ah, the much-anticipated Dune from visionary director Denis Villeneuve. It looked beautiful, but the pace and self-indulgence of the languid storytelling meant I struggled with it.
The Green Knight
Another film I sadly have to describe as ‘looked beautiful but not enough happened and thus didn’t engage me emotionally’. Every frame was a piece of art, but that’s all I can say.
The Harder They Fall
This movie had a crazy cast: Idris Elba, Jonathan Majors, Regina King, Zazie Beetz, Lakeith Stanfield and Delroy Lindo. And for me, therein lies the problem. Lingering on your sexy cast but not giving us enough in terms of story, plot, and character left me frustrated.
Wrath of Man
Jason Statham and Guy Ritchie reunite (since Lock, Stock) in this slow burn heist-crime-revenge tale, which felt unlike most Statham movies, and indeed most Guy Ritchie movies.
Marvel tried something different with this epic story about a bunch of immortal being sent to protect Earth at the early days of human civilisation. Entertaining, but not vintage Marvel.
This film got a kicking from critics, yet tried to put a few things on screen we’d not seen before. It had good ideas, it was just a little thin on plot and character. But still relatively watchable, thanks to the two leads: Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley.
Ryan Reynolds has made his movie again. By this I mean, he can’t not be Ryan Reynolds in every role. Here he plays an avatar called ‘Guy’. It’s sweet and enjoyable, and Jodie Comer was fun too.
Not seen, but on my list…
As ever, there are plenty of movies I’ve not yet gotten around to seeing. Here are a few that I keep meaning to check out.
Last Night in Soho
I’m a big fan of Edgar Wright, Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomasin McKenzie. And the trailer for this looked interesting. I want to see Edgar do creepy horror, if that’s what this movie turns out to be.
The French Dispatch
Over the years I fell out of love with director Wes Anderson, yet The Life Aquatic remains one of my favourite movies. The trouble is, he began to lean into his own style too much. That said, I’m curious about this movie, as it’s had good reviews.
No Time To Die
Daniel Craig’s last outing as James Bond is, by all accounts, a rather good one. For some reason I am still yet to see it… oh yeah, the pandemic. That’s why. Anyway, it’s still on my list.
This movie came out in 2020 in the US but took a few more months to come out in the UK, hence making this list. A Korean American family moves to the Ozarks in search of the American dream. It has rave reviews and stats Steven Yeun.
Promising Young Woman
I heard buzz about Emerald Fennell’s directorial debut when it came out, but then it became a movie destined to get lost in my ‘to watch’ list. I’m a fan of Carey Mulligan so still keen to see this.
The Last Duel
Despite director Ridley Scott blaming millennials for not seeing this movie, and despite it being about rape, I’m still curious to watch it. More to see Jodie Comer’s performance, than anything else.
House of Gucci
Despite this not getting middling reviews, it’s another Ridley Scott movie, and he’s still a top tier director. You can’t fault the line-up of actors either… Adam Driver, Lady Gaga, Al Pacino….