THE Films of 2021
(Good Films Released This Year)
Shadow in the Cloud
Part “Memphis Belle” (1990)… Part “Locke” (2013)… Part “Sucker Punch” (2011)… This insane, adbsurd film somehow manages to pull it all together and makes for a relentlessly entertaining thrill ride and one of the best surprises in years. Chloë Grace Moretz is outstanding as the mysterious stowaway aboard a 1943 WWII bomber plane. Prepare yourself for utter cinematic lunacy… in the best way imaginable.
9.3 / 10
Anthony Hopkins delivers what has to be the most emotionally devastating performance of the year as “The Father”. Olivia Colman and Olivia Williams play the same character, the daughter, to a man who is suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. It may not be a joyful film… but it is a crushing analysis of the end-of-life issues that await us all to some degree. Pencil in another Oscar for Hopkins.
9.0 / 10
The White Tiger (IND)
The comparisons to “Slumdog Millionaire” will inevitably arise because the film is set in India, and it is about a poor young man on his journey to success. However, this film doesn’t reach those heights because it lacks emotion, and it doesn’t have the panache of Danny Boyle’s masterpiece. Nevertheless, it is a consistently interesting and entertaining story of a servant’s awakening to the real world.
8.1 / 10
What starts off as a fascinating peek into the gross injustice of Guantanamo Bay, soon dwindles into a slightly formulaic true-story biopic about one of the tortured prisoners who spent 12 years inside. The film is well-intentioned, but slightly self-congratulatory and uncinematic. The central performances carry the project.
7.3 / 10
Doug Liman takes full advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic and films a socially distanced story about a failing relationship and a small-time heist plot. The movie has a refreshing simplicity to it and the two central performances are impressive. Perhaps, it starts to come off the rails with the silliness toward the end. However, it is an easy watch.
7.2 / 10
I Care a Lot
The first hour of this film is so good that it manages to carry the ridiculous implausibility of its second hour to a satisfactory conclusion. If it had not tried to become “Mission: Impossible” and stayed confined to the small-time grift of elderly care abuse, this would have been one of the best films of the year. However, like the characters in the film, the writer / director gets greedy, and pays for it.
7.0 / 10
This film is marketed as a sci-fi, altered reality adventure. It isn’t. “Bliss” is a drug-induced hallucination from the perspective of a man who has lost touch with reality and fallen in love with an enabler. This is his struggle to regain his sobriety and reconnect with his estranged daughter. The film is a bit messy and the acting is simply passable… However, it is fresh and inventive, and it moves along swiftly.
6.8 / 10
This is a ludicrous “Groundhog Day”/ “Edge of Tomorrow” style action flick starring Frank Grillo, Mel Gibson and Naomi Watts. Its inherent absurdity only works because it doesn’t take itself at all seriously. The movie is directed without an ounce of cinematic nutrition… instead relying on fatty, greasy, tasty stupidity laden with ketchup and mayo.
6.3 / 10
A reasonably well made, paint-by-numbers, cold-war espionage flick with a solid cast. There are no real complaints about this true story, but it all feels a tad stale and has the look of something we have all seen before. It is professionally presented, but slightly forgettable.
6.2 / 10
(Forgettable Films in the Middle of the Pack)
Night in Paradise (KOR)
For the bulk of its running time, this Korean gangster thriller sets a tone that promises a poetic and subtle conclusion. Unfortunately, the final third lands with the delicacy of a sledgehammer to the skull. The two central performances deserved a more intelligent screenplay.
5.8 / 10
Melanie Laurent awakes trapped inside a cryogenic chamber. Her memory is almost erased. She has no idea why she is there. It is a familiar cinematic premise. The film finds a handful of interesting ideas within its own limitations. Laurent is very good. I just wish I cared more. It just feels like a cold exercise in screenwriting.
5.7 / 10
The Little Things
With a cast of Denzel Washington, Jared Leto and Rami Malek, you’d expect this serial-killer, police-procedural to be a gripping mystery. Instead, the final third of the film meanders into strange unnecessary directions. It tries too hard to be about something more than what it is. The last thirty minutes disappoints a decent set-up.
5.5 / 10
An intriguing, claustrophobic premise propels this sci-fi thriller. It is well shot and features solid performances all around. Unfortunately, the film is mired in self-serious moral quandaries. It all leads up to a final third that thinks of itself as a lot more profound than it actually is.
5.2 / 10
I watched this primarily to get a glimpse of Irene in her feature acting debut. The film is cute, but slight. Irene is really good, and assuredly has a fantastic secondary career ahead of her. I wish the film delved a little deeper. I wanted more character development. I wanted more food porn. I wanted more drama. Unfortunately, not much is on the line.
4.8 / 10
Split into five sections, with a central narrative tying them together, this film feels a tad disjointed. Each section has a separate director… and each is named after a specific phobia. “Robophobia” & “Hoplophobia” are the two best sections. The others leave room for improvement. Camilla Belle, makes her directorial debut with the latter of those two… and she shows tremendous cinematic control and storytelling.
4.5 / 10
(Movies That Just Didn’t Work on Any Level)
Is it possible to be in favor of everything a film stands for… but think the way it stands is cheesy and lame? “Moxie” is an after-school special with the most diverse, inclusive and woke cast imaginable. While, technically, it is right about all the issues, the screenplay is so on-the-nose that it will give you a nose-ache. It isn’t as deep as it thinks it is.
3.5 / 10
With “The Marksman”, Liam Neeson branches out and plays a bad-ass who takes on a gang of thugs in order to protect someone. You might as well call this film “Taken 8”. The lack of originality is so cynical, that they even directly lift the famous “he will find you and he will kill you” line… practically verbatim… while on the phone!!! This is an instantly forgettable movie with generic stereotype characters and a cloned plot that should embarrass Neeson and everyone involved.
2.5 / 10
Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse
This is lazy movie-making. Jam packed with clichés, and riddled with poor performances and stock characters, this movie fails to generate one moment of excitement or tension. Some might be tempted to give it a pass, because it arrives on Amazon Prime near the end of a global pandemic that has seen a dearth of action entertainment on the big screens. I didn’t believe a moment of it. Poor casting. Cheap looking sets. A script intended for Dolph Lundgren in 1988.
2.4 / 10
The underrated Olga Kurylenko isn’t given much to do in this low-budget, low-stakes, action-revenge plot. The fault lies in a 74-minute running time and a story that seems to skip a handful of meaningful and necessary scenes. It all feels so empty and simplistic.
2.2 / 10
Coming 2 America
There is exactly one laugh-out-loud moment in this weak-sauce 30-year-old sequel. Essentially, you can expect some greatest-hits call-backs along with a tacked on woke message… much along the same lines as the “Bill & Ted” sequel from 2020. Lame and tired.
1.7 / 10
Below Zero (SPA)
“Con-Air” on wheels, in the snow. You know what kind of movie you are in for when the highly dangerous inmates’ cells can be unlocked from the inside by sticking an arm through the handcuff hole to reach the deadbolt. It is every bit as dumb as “Con-Air” without any of the star-power or budget.
1.6 / 10
The Worst of the year
(Hate-Filled Pieces of Crap)
A European version of the “Ocean’s Eleven” style of film… Only this one makes the Clooney heist look like a walk in the park. The jaw-dropping absurdity of this plot would insult the intelligence of a 7-year old dog. At no point does this film ever resemble real life or real drama. It is an exercise in teenage screenwriting 101.
1.4 / 10
Godzilla vs. Kong
Make no mistake, this is an animated movie. Sure, there are some actual humans screaming “Oh My God!” at green-screens. However, this movie is just filled with ones and zeros punching each other, while tens of thousands of digital humans are slaughtered against the backdrop of a ludicrous plot that would make a seven-year-old roll their eyes. The extraordinarily expensive special effects look cheap. Simple minds will guffaw at the spectacle.
1.2 / 10
A low-rent “John Wick” rip-off with absolutely none of the cinematic panache or thrills of Keanu Reeves’ franchise. Odenkirk fails to deliver a character that we can believe is capable of such single-handed destruction. The supporting cast is riddled with clichés. “Nobody” is a cheap nothing… lacking cool… lacking joy… lacking thought.
0.9 / 10
Red Dot (SWE)
A vile humans hunting humans plot, with despicable people on both sides of the sniper rifle. The only three creatures in the film who die are an innocent child, a beautiful dog and the black girlfriend who was only guilty of being a bitch. The people who live are all murderous sickos. This is a morally reprehensible film… amateurish and horrid.
0.3 / 10
Yes… There is a Section Lower than the Worst Movies of the Year!
I Present a List of Films That I Absolutely Refuse to Watch… (Because I am a Pretentious Film Snob).