Oh goodie, it’s The Blog Complainer’s annual Best Movies of the year list. A list that was a little annoying to make this year as most of the films everyone says were great, turned out to be anything other than that. A disappointing or a complete misfire list would be easier to make than a best of the year list. Luckily in the end I have managed to create a list that I would consider is the best of the year material.
Also, a first for this year and for future lists, I’m going to be do something that I wished I implemented much earlier, but I guess now is better than never. This list will include some movies that may have come out in 2020 in some countries, but for me they were only released in 2021, so they now qualify for this list whereas in past years they would have unfairly missed the cut. This problem only really applies to movies that are held back to help promote the Oscars, which previously took place in February or more recently in April. So movies like Spencer, House of Gucci and Ghostbusters: Afterlife would qualify for the 2022 list, while movies like Nomadland and Minari would be in the 2021 list, except they’re not because they missed the cut. Plus there are always movies that did come out in my country in 2021 but which I haven’t yet seen, such as West Side Story and The Matrix: Resurrections, which if they do make the list I’ll make a little amendment at the bottom of this post.
Anyway as usual there will be a follow up worst of the year list and a Letterboxd ranking list of every movie I saw, but this year there will be another type of list that I’m going to try out, which I hope might become another yearly tradition.
I have quite a list here of movies that I want to mention so let’s get straight to it:
- Dune: Just missed the list, but I still appreciate it for the visual marvel that it is, and I’m very much looking forward to the follow-up.
- Nobody: I watched this only because I wanted to see Saul Goodman as a John Wick like badass. Entertaining action movie, and it probably has the best action scene of the year, when he’s fighting all those guys on that bus.
- The Mauritanian: A solid film that is mainly carried by the interesting subject matter of a man being tortured by the US government, because of a loose connection he has to the 9/11 attacks.
- Luca: This year’s Pixar film doesn’t even try to top Soul, but it’s a fun laid back movie, with great animation and three main characters that are ever so likable.
- The Hand of God: This one is an Italian film, but basically it’s a coming of age movie, with some interesting characters and pretty funny scenes, but was also good at being really tragic in the latter sections.
- Pig: It’s the movie that everyone’s praising, because it’s got a surprisingly good Nicholas Cage performance which me as a true Nic Cage fan could see coming. The film itself was solid although not one of this year’s best.
Right, let’s get to the top 10!
Right the first film on the list is from my home town of Australia, which is a first for these lists. Nitram is loosely based on the real life tragedy of a young man in the mid to late 90’s who has no job, lives with his parents and seems to have some sort of mental disability along with some serious psychological issues. It’s a patient film that does make you feel bad for it’s main character while also slowly teasing how terrifying this guy actually is. It’s a film mainly carried by it’s strong performances from the likes of Essie Davis and Betty Davis, but most importantly Caleb Landry Jones who easily fades into the role of our disturbing lead.
The Last Duel
This is a first, a box office bomb making it onto my best of the year list, but according to Ridley Scott that wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for those meddling millennials on their damn iPhones! As someone who almost classifies as a millennial I have to pretend to be offended by that comment. Anyway, The Last Duel tells an engaging story of three different perspectives on the same event, which leads to one of the last duels in France. None of the stories are depicted as being absolutely true and it was interesting to see the same event being retold slightly differently depending on whose viewpoint it was from. A great performance as always from Adam Driver, but also from Matt Damon, Jodie Comer and Ben Affleck in a very entertaining supporting role. A great movie, that has a really awesome ending that kept me second guessing myself as to how it would conclude.
The only superhero movie to grace my top 25 this year and easily the best of the 2020’s thus far. James Gunn single handedly resurrected the Suicide Squad, in the same vain he made making movies about obscure superheroes cool. The Suicide Squad (a terrible title) was great at not only being funny, but also having an engaging story featuring a lovable cast of misfits where you would actually care if one of them died. It also had some impressive action and violence and a unique visual style that makes this one stand out over the stock superhero movies that came out this year. I attribute the success of this movie to the lack of consistency the DCEU has between their movies, which allowed Gunn the complete freedom in making this one of the best adult superhero comedies I’ve ever seen. Plus I should thank the catalyst of giving Gunn this freedom, that being Disney for that brief drama when they fired him over some old tweets, which allowed Warner Bros to pick him up.
The Mitchells Vs. The Machines
I remember being hesitant to see this one when it was supposed to go to the cinemas under it’s more lame name, Connected. Thankfully Netflix bought the film and called it The Mitchells Vs. The Machines and it’s one of the quirkiest and most unique family animated comedies I’ve seen since The Lego Movie. It’s got the A Goofy Movie like premise, except with the daughter wanting to leave home to get away from her out of touch father, but then you add the rogue AI turned robot invasion angle that captures everyone except this family who end up being humanity’s last hope. It’s a really fun time, with a lot of heart, a rapid fire sense of humour, and the accompaniment of it’s lovely cartoonish animation. The main family themselves also had a good dynamic, although my favourite characters in the movie were these comically dumb robots that end up tagging along with the family towards the middle portion of the film. It also has Olivia Colman playing a villain, and what more could you want!
Here’s the start of those 2020 movies for some, but not for me, as I mentioned in the intro. Another Round came out so early on in the year that within that time it was nominated for some Crammys and it won Best International Feature at the Oscars. Another Round was an interesting movie about some disinterested middle aged teachers seeing how their days would go if they got a little tipsy every working day. This scenario proves to offer some fun moments, and some dire consequences later on. All of this is captured very well through the four main actors, one of which was Mads Mikkelsen, who now I’m sort of regretting snubbing at my award show. The uplifting ending to the movie is a personal favourite of mine, as I have gone back to revisit it months after initially seeing it.
Promising Young Woman
Top 5 and here come the big guns, starting with Promising Young Woman, which I saw the day before seeing Another Round. A film about a vindictive woman, haunted by a traumatic event that happened to a college friend, while everyone else has moved on and forgotten about it. It was an interesting type of revenge film where you understand the main character’s desire to seek the justice that was never given, but by doing this it will continue to ruin her mental health and any relationships she has built up because of her desire for vengeance. A great psychological thriller helmed by a Crammy winning performance from Carey Mulligan, along with solid writing and some of the best tension filled scenes of the year. The last half hour of the movie is a particular highlight that has stuck with me almost an entire year after seeing it.
Judas and the Black Messiah
Judas and the Black Messiah I was robbed of seeing in cinemas but was fortunate enough to catch it at home just before the Oscars, and this movie lived up to expectations. This one focuses around an FBI informant who has to join the Chicago Black Panther party in order to get close to it’s leader, Fred Hampton, so the FBI can try to dethrone him. (Hence the title of the movie.) A tense movie as the Black Panther party want to improve the lives of the black people within their community, but they’re not afraid to employ violence and murder to achieve these goals, which raises the stakes for our main character. This was the film that gave Daniel Kaluuya his first Oscar, which is rightfully deserved, as he’s one of the best performing today. There are also great performances from the often overlooked Jesse Plemons and Lakeith Stanfield who was also really good as our tortured main character. A very solid movie that builds up nicely to a real tragedy, a real occurrence on this list.
The Green Knight
A movie I caught very late in the year, but I’m glad I managed to see it just in time. The Green Knight is a slow epic journey of a prince travelling across the country to fulfill his side of a dangerous game he had entered, in the name of honour and that other stuff knights believe in. It’s an A24 picture so it looks very pretty with it’s atmospheric cinematography and dark misty production design. It has a rich story, with memorable characters, along with really great performances, especially from our lead, Dev Patel. Plus it’s got some weird stuff too, but not super artsy weird like The Lighthouse or Midsommar, just weird enough that it can still be appreciated and doesn’t detract from the experience.
Encanto! The best Disney property of the year and one of their best animated films in years, if we take Pixar out of the equation. This one really surprised me with how good it truly was, as it’s a colourful delight (especially in the musical sequences) that’s capped off with an endearing main character and interesting story with a lot of emotional drama to keep you interested in where it’s heading. The most surprising thing about this movie is how it enrichens this family by giving songs to side characters that look like they could be nothing more than a punchline in any other kids film. The song about the strong girl who suffers from the pressure of expectations is a particular standout and my favourite, which means a lot when every musical number is a banger. Encanto is a wonderfully charming movie that I very much look forward to seeing again.
This was the best to come out of last year’s Oscar movies and thanks to this new rule I’ve introduced it is eligible to be my favourite of 2021. The Father is about an old man who lives alone in his apartment, refuses assistance from his daughter and anyone else who comes through his door. The film is like a roller coaster as it starts out fairly straightforward, until this old man’s sense of reality starts to falter. The slight change in a character’s role is enough to make us feel as if we’re suffering early signs of dementia, alongside our main character. Florian Zeller the director/writer ended up winning an Oscar for best adapted screenplay, which is highly deserved as this is the most immersive film I’ve experienced all year. Anthony Hopkins also got an Oscar for his career defining performance as the elderly father. It’s a masterful movie that left me feeling absolutely defeated and give me another rewatch and I think this will get onto my all time favourite list.
That’s the end of another best of the year list stay tuned for the worst list tomorrow and the super secret list afterwards. Plus the Crammy nominations next month. This has been The Blog Complainer, signing out.
*Updates to List
02/01/22 – Number 8: West Side Story: I saw this less than hour of publishing the best of list and it was very impressive, as it’s one of the best remakes in modern memory. Spielberg redeems himself for that awful Ready Player One movie and recaptures what made the 1961 West Side Story such a magical experience, while also adding his own original flavour on top of that. It’s also hard to imagine that this is first ever musical as it looks so professional with choreography, the staging of the musical numbers and the impressive vocal performances from actors. It’s unfortunate that I posted this list, before giving this film it’s proper appraisable, but I’m sure I can find other ways to make this right.