Like many in this great nation, I did not get to my local cinema much in 2021; only one film on this list was seen in a theater. Nevertheless, there were many great films available online, and I hope we will all go back to the “old normal” soon – at least in Oregon where I live (everyone else seems to have gone back a long time ago).
Here are my picks for the ten best films of 2021.
1. Coda: It’s not easy to make a film about disabilities without seeming condescending or patronizing. Coda not only succeeds in this regard but emerges as one of the most pro-family films in years.
2. Mass: A a cinematic hurricane in a bottle. Despite being shot with only four actors in a single room, it was the most emotional film of the year.
3. Luca: This was a gorgeous film that gently yet intelligently documents the trials of early boyhood. It also ironically features Jim Gaffigan as his least favorite food, a fish.
4. Summer of Soul: The 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival was often referred to as “black Woodstock” in the press. It would have been better to call Woodstock “the unenlightened, cheap Harlem Cultural Festival.”
5. Dune: This was a stellar adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic novel under the keen eye of Dennis Villeneuve.
6. Nine Days: If you get a chance, see this film just for the novelty. It imagines an application process for new souls to enter Earth and plays with lots of fun philosophical ideas.
7. Paw Patrol: The Movie: Need a fun kids film full of positive values and free of post-modern nonsense? Just yelp for help!
8. Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Greed, and Betrayal: Bob Ross was famous for his afro, soothing voice, and beautiful landscapes. Unfortunately, there were some real corporate shenanigans before his artistic empire.
9. Of Animals and Men: A Polish couple go from a keeper of animals to a keeper of men hiding from the Nazis. A fascinating tale of bravery, faith, and cute otters.
10. Fatherhood: Kevin Hart celebrates the ups and downs of being a dad with humor and grace.
Honorable Mention: Black Widow, Resurrection, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Space Sweepers, and The Woman in the Window
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