The film industry had an interesting arc in 2021. It started out in the middle of a global pandemic which meant films like Judas and the Black Messiah, Tom & Jerry, Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat were released in theaters and HBO Max simultaneously, although some films skipped theaters altogether like Coming 2 America (Prime Video), The Mitchells vs. The Machines (Netflix) and Luca (Disney+). But by fall the Hollywood studios slowly tried to return to normal. Disney released Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings as a theatrical exclusive, and this was followed by theatrically exclusive box office hits like Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, No Time to Die, Encanto and Spider-Man: No Way Home which became the first post-pandemic release to gross a billion dollars. Good news for theater companies who were initially worried about the pandemic driving filmgoers to their computer screens. The allure of streaming is here to stay, but people still love a big screen and a communal experience.
Here is a list of all the best-reviewed scripted movies in 2021, separated by month of release. At the end I will reveal which one is my favorite movie of the year.
White Lie; #Like; The Dig; The Delivered; My Little Sister; 1982; Identifying Features; The White Tiger; Our Friend; PG: Psycho Goreman; Atlantis; You Will Die at Twenty; Breaking Fast; Baby Done; Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time; Finding ‘Ohana; The Night; True Mothers; Dear Comrades!; Beginning; First Blush
Sew the Winter to My Skin; 4×4; Two of Us; 100 Days to Live; Little Fish; The Wanting Mare; Rams; Happy Times; Hurt by Paradise; Sacrifice; Red Dot; Happy Cleaners; Judas and the Black Messiah; Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar; Dead Pigs; Cowboys; Lapsis; The Map of Tiny Perfect Things; Saint Maud; Supernova; I Care a Lot; Days of the Bagnold Summer; Test Pattern; Mafia Inc.; Sin; The Vigil; Night of the Kings; The Obituary of Tunde Johnson
Dementer; Sophie Jones; The Orphanage; Adam; Keep an Eye Out; Quo Vadis, Aida?; Pixie; Raya and the Last Dragon; Bombay Rose; On-Gaku: Our Sound; Come True; The Inheritance; Rose Plays Julie; The Fever; Enforcement; Perfumes; Nobody; The Father; Kuessipan; Funny Face; Godzilla vs. Kong
Concrete Cowboy; Shiva Baby; This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection; The Oak Room; Sugar Daddy; Moffie; The Man Who Sold His Skin; Slalom; Hope; Ajeeb Daastans; Jakob’s Wife; Arlo the Alligator Boy; For the Sake of Vicious; Reefa; Together Together; Bloodthirsty; Wet Season; Tu Me Manques; Touch; Justice Society: World War II; Labyrinth of Cinema; Murder Bury Win; The Mitchells vs. The Machines; About Endlessness; The Disciple; Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yauba – The Movie: Mugen Train; Golden Arm; Percy vs Goliath; The County; Marighella
Painkiller; And Tomorrow the Entire World; The Water Man; Benny Loves You; The Columnist; The Paper Tigers; Paper Spiders; The Unthinkable; Milestone; Pink Skies Ahead; Undergods; Goodbye Honey; In Action; Oxygen; The Get Together; The Djinn; High Ground; Enfant Terrible; There Is No Evil; RK/RKAY; The Man in the Hat; The Killing of Two Lovers; Riders of Justice; Dream Horse; The Dry; The Retreat; Drunk Bus; Spring Blossom; When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit; Two Lottery Tickets; Deliver Us from Evil; A Quiet Place Part II; Plan B; Dementia Part II; Port Authority
Spare Parts; Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Eternal The Movie; The Carnivores; My Tender Matador; Slow Machine; Undine; In the Heights; Holler; Take Me Somewhere Nice; Akilla’s Escape; A Perfect Enemy; La Dosis; Skater Girl; Tragic Jungle; Luca; Censor; Les Nôtres; Sherni; Sweet Thing; Stalker; Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One; Too Late; Sun Children; Werewolves Within; Gaia; My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It Too; I Carry You With Me; God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya; Zola
No Sudden Move; Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway; Fear Street Part One: 1994; Till Death; Black Widow; Fear Street Part Two: 1978; Sublet; Dachra; Fear Street Part Three: 1666; Pig; Trollhunters: Rise of the Titan; Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop; Mandibles; Mama Weed; Charlatan; Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two; The Green Knight; Nine Days; Lorelai; Tailgate; Fully Realized Humans; Never Gonna Snow Again
Vivo; The Suicide Squad; Escape from Mogadishu; Swan Song; Sheep Without a Shepherd; The Swarm; Night Drive; Shirobako: The Movie; Free Guy; Coda; Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time; PAW Patrol: The Movie; The Night House; Wildland; The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf; The Last Matinee; Candyman; Final Set
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings; Wild Indian; The Card Counter; Come from Away; Language Lessons; Nightbooks; Everybody’s Talking About Jamie; Copshop; The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain; Last Night in Rozzie; Saint-Narcisse; The Mad Women’s Ball; My Little Pony: A New Generation
Coming Home in the Dark; Old Henry; No Time to Die; Mass; Operation Hyacinth; Held for Ransom; The Last Duel; Bergman Island; Son of Monarchs; Dune; Ron’s Gone Wrong; The Harder They Fall; No Future; Time Now; Passing; Violet; The Souvenir Part II; Roh
Spencer; The Beta Test; A Cop Movie; 7 Prisoners; Tick, Tick…Boom!; Belfast; Night Raiders; They Say Nothing Stays the Same; Motherly; Sanzaru; The Power of the Dog; Prayers for the Stolen; King Richard; C’mon C’mon; She Paradise; The Feast; Boiling Point; Encanto; The Humans; A Boy Called Christmas; The Summit of the Gods; Licorice Pizza
Flee; Mixtape; Benedetta; West Side Story; Red Rocket; The Hand of God; Spider-Man: No Way Home; Nightmare Alley; The Lost Daughter; Cyrano; The Novice; Repossession; Stand By Me Doraemon 2; The Tragedy of Macbeth; Hilda and the Mountain King
Eli’s Favorite Movie of 2021
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Call me a sucker for the Spider-Verse because I also called Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) my favorite movie of the year. Although this one set in the MCU is somehow even more crazy as Peter Parker (Tom Holland) asks the cosmic wizard Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to alter history so that Mysterio never reveals his identity to the world, but accidentally breaks the multiverse in the process and opens a gateway to Sony’s previous Spider-Man films where characters from the Tobey Maguire films and the Andrew Garfield films invade the MCU. An absolutely crazy premise that is somehow held together with a story that makes sense and is full of heartbreaking drama and funny comedy. It’s actually one of Marvel’s best and most memorable films, which is saying something!