Continuing my look at the films currently making up slots 11 through 50 on my 2021 list, today I’m focusing on a grab bag of titles from the comedy, family, documentary, sci-fi and horror genres.
My opinions of these movies, and all the movies I’ve mentioned this week, vary widely, but I can say that at the very least I recommend seeing all of them. Tomorrow, I will cover some movies that fall on the other side of the ledger.
In alphabetical order…
Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar
The year’s funniest movie, and one I believe will climb my list with another viewing. The writing and acting team of Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo have delivered a bawdy, absurdist fairy tale centered around a pair of terminally chipper best friends. Jamie Dornan’s work here is arguably better than his award-winning turn in Belfast.
Emma Stone has never not been wonderful, and she gives this Disney villain origin story some genuine pathos and a spark of demented wit.
Don’t Look Up
Too long, a bit heavy-handed in its messaging, and over-edited the way all Adam McKay’s films are, but genuinely hilarious in its best moments.
The Electrical Life of Louis Wain
Benedict Cumberbatch had a hell of a year, not least due to his charming turn in this sad, romantic true story about a man who saw the world a little bit differently.
I dedicated a whole week to this movie’s songs for a reason. The best Disney musical since Moana.
National treasure Tom Hanks plays against a dog and a robot and manages to make you care about all three of them.
A “minor” Pixar effort that turned out to sit just below the studio’s top tier for me. Come for the beautiful animation of the Italian countryside, stay for the lovely depiction of an adolescent sea monster friendship (that can easily be read as a metaphor for coming out, despite what the filmmakers said publicly).
James Wan’s trippy horror movie had the best villain reveal in years. Way more “WTF!” than jump-scary, this film was a blast even for a non-horror fan like me.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines
A wacky, inventive animated family comedy that blends a wildly imaginative sci-fi premise with genuine emotion.
Too long and too slow, which is a shame, because there’s a lot to like in Guillermo Del Toro’s film noir about a conman who gets in over his head.
A Quiet Place Part II
A thrilling follow-up to writer/director John Krasinski’s unlikely smash. This one introduces a heroic Cillian Murphy, for once not the scariest thing in a movie, and gives an even meatier part to young Millicent Simmonds.
This documentary about the rescue of a Thai soccer team from deep within a flooded cave is riveting and suspenseful even if you know the outcome ahead of time.
Fell at the speed of sound
Ridin’ against all odds, but soon against ourselves
You haunted every memory
With no goodbyes, all bad for me
Your pride put out the fire in our flames
Then just one look is all it takes
I feel your eyes, they’re locked on every part of me
And then my dumb heart says
Just look up
There is no place to hide
True love doesn’t die
It holds on tight and never lets you go
Just look up
You cannot deny the signs
What you’ve waited for
Don’t wait no more
It’s right up above you
Just look up
Know I let you down, a nigga can’t deny it (uh-huh)
And there’s so much I could lose it and, yes, that matters (yeah)
I’ve been dealin’ with madness (yo)
Wasn’t the man you needed (hmm)
You dealin’ with sadness, truthfully, it’s all on me (hmm)
And I’m sorry, my love (uh, uh)
I’ma heal your heart, I’ll hold it in my hand (ooh, yeah)
Time is oh so precious, we don’t really have much left now (ooh)
Take my hand, baby (yeah), never leave you, Riley
Look up, what he’s really trying to say
Is get your head out of your ass
Listen to the goddamn qualified scientists
We really fucked it up, fucked it up this time
It’s so close, I can feel the heat big time
And you can act like everything is alright
But this is probably happening in real time
Celebrate or cry or pray, whatever it takes
To get you through the mess we made
‘Cause tomorrow may never come
Just look up
Turn off that shit-box News
‘Cause you’re about to die soon everybody
Ooh, I, oh, I
Here it comes
I’m so glad I’m here with you forever
In your arms
I am surprised to see Encanto not in your top 10.
I really enjoyed most of the movies you mentioned here. A few I haven’t seen But I think Cruella, Don’t look up, Finch, and The Rescue were some of my favorites this year. Was not a fan of Nightmare Alley.
I can’t believe I’ve yet to see The Rescue! I’d forgotten it was available. Loved Finch and The Mitchell’s vs the Machines most of this group of great movies.