It’s March So Here’s the Best Movies of 2021
Who says March is too early?
If there’s one thing I like, it’s lists. That’s why I do Top 5 Tuesdays and that’s why I’m already yapping about the finest flicks of 2021. A popular sentiment that I saw throughout the internet in 2020 was that there weren’t many great movies. I disagreed with that and while I haven’t seen it yet in 2021–likely because it’s still early–I expect it to eventually appear.
Good news: 2021 has been a good year so far, especially if you count cheaters. What are cheaters, you ask? It’s the term that my friend and I use to describe a flick that wasn’t technically released this year but can be counted as having been released this year. Basically what this means is that a movie can travel film festivals of prior years, or get a limited release, but until it gets a wide release then it hasn’t really been “officially” released. This gives films a couple chances to be counted because if I happen to see it during a festival I can count it, or if I see it once it’s more widely available I can also count it. But I only count a film once. I only mention this to avoid the obligatory comment about how such and such wasn’t released in 2021.
With that out of the way, let’s just get on with the show. Since it’s early in the year I’ll just give five, even though a pretty solid ten could be made.
5: Psycho Goreman
Psycho Goreman was a pleasant surprise for me, because ultimately, it showcases the creativity that a good B-Movie should. It has a deceptively clever script that manages to be incredibly dark while also being quite funny. It takes the tropes that are prevalent in the genre and spins them in a really intriguing way.
The action sequences fall victim to the trappings of low-budget filmmaking because they can’t live up to the inventiveness of the script and visuals, but there are only a couple of them and they’re easy to ignore when the rest of the flick is such a thrill ride.
It’s easy to tell that Falling–directed, written and starring Viggo Mortensen–was a passion project. It was directed with a soft touch and soundtracked the same; Viggo himself was really subtle but by the end when the inevitable explosion of emotions came it felt earned.
There’s one caveat to enjoying this, and that’s that it’s exhausting watching the father constantly be an asshole. It was the authorial intent so it was spot on and I really appreciated it, but I suspect others won’t be as drawn into it as I was because it’s so difficult to deal with him sometimes. But if you push yourself through you will hopefully see that it was crucial to the story and would be a lesser film without it.
3: Judas and the Black Messiah
It’s apt to first praise both the Judas and the black messiah, Stanfield and Kaluuya, respectively. It’s hard to really determine which one of them gave the better performance because they are both amazing, and a little bit different. Stanfield covered more emotional ground but Kaluuya was ridiculously effective as the charming leader of a movement. Picking one of them is a good dilemma to have.
Aside from that, while the flick tapered off a bit at a certain point, it never crippled it. It was late enough in the flick that it didn’t matter that much, anyway. Up until that point the tension and the drama was building immensely, compelling me to keep moving forward. Even still, the story was still interesting and that’s my only gripe. The directing, acting and music were all memorable. This will surely rank among the best of the year when all is said and done.
2: Willy’s Wonderland
Complete with an addictive birthday song, Willy’s Wonderland is everything I want from a Nicolas Cage movie presently. He seems to be best these days when he leans into insanity, but it’s not always easy to know when a Cage movie is going to be good or not. Believe me, this one is worth your while if you want a horror comedy with a badass protagonist.
There’s very little in the movie world that gives me as much joy as saying there’s a good Nicolas Cage movie. Hopefully the others that are set to be released this year match this quality; or better yet, surpass it.
1: One Night in Miami
Mining similar territory to Willy’s Wonderland, here is a drama about four legendary black figures convening in a room to discuss the cultural movement of the 1960s and their own lives.
It succeeds because it perfectly captures the essence of what a dialogue heavy flick should be. With four delectable performances and a great script to power them, One Night in Miami accomplished a feat in which I forgot that I was even watching a movie at certain points. The interactions and the words spoken were so organic that I got lost in it. A nuanced display of different perspectives.
Note: Nomadland got a wide release in February and that would have been on this list but I was fortunate enough to see it last year and included it in my best of 2020 list.
He agrees with this list but would like to add I Care a Lot, Malcolm & Marie (even though he constantly took shots at John David Washington in Tenet last year) and Saint Maud.