Opinion: The top ten movies of 2021
Streaming services such as Disney+, HBO Max and Netflix were important for movie fans in 2021 due to the still ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. My review of Raya and the Last Dragon began with a lengthy digression involving the pros and cons of streaming before going into whether it was worth watching (more on that in a bit!). Sing 2 was the only movie I reviewed last year that I actually watched in a theater – the non-theatrical Rock Dog 2 was the only other movie I didn't stream to review, but instead watched on a rented DVD. It feels like 2022 could go either way; I might get to watch movies in theaters more often, or I might not. But that's the future. Right now, we're talking about 2021.
This is a year-end top ten list. If you're at all unclear on what I'm counting or not counting as a "2021 movie", I used to spell it out, but in recent years, I've just linked back to the older lists. One thing to note: though obviously you're on a furry site, this is not specifically a furry list. However, I traditionally name a best furry movie in addition to a best movie, period; for 2021, it was Raya and the Last Dragon. Each title links to IMDB or a Flayrah review, with better descriptions of movies you're unfamiliar with than I can give in this format.
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
So, I reread Frank Herbert's novel last year, at least partially because I knew this movie was coming out. It has a reputation as being unfilmable, but other than older versions having serious problems meeting the challenges of special effects required and the length factor, I don't really get it. Yeah, it's got a lot of lore. But it's also a very dialogue-driven novel where characters talk about what's happening around them.
That's not a slight on this movie. If anything, the movie could easily get bogged down on all the characters explaining things to each other, but it moves along quite well. The thing holding it at this low spot is that it's only half the book's story, meaning technically it's not finished. Part two, whenever that comes, will effect how I feel about part one.
Directed by: Malcolm D. Lee
Even for a furry on a furry site, it feels like I have some explaining to do for this one. I managed to sneak out of having to explain Cats on my list in 2019. Not so lucky this time.
But do I really? Come on guys, it's a Looney Tunes movie. It isn't that hard. Furry wouldn't even exist without them. You take their shorts, sprinkle in some Disney features, add Internet, let it all marinate a while and out pops, well, us. I'm leaving out some nuance, here, but you know I'm right. My only hope is Penelope doesn't get cut for Space Jam 2046.
Directed by: Jane Campion
This movie has a lot going for it, as far as I'm concerned. It's kind of a Western, which is my favorite type of Western. I usually don't groove on straight up Westerns, but the general setting and what can be done outside the box there can definitely entertain me. And this one is definitely doing some things outside the box.
It's a slow burn, but when you figure out what's going on, it does have an impact. If anything, it feels less like a Western, and in some ways like an EC horror comic. There is a bad man, and a hero must arise to save the day. But who and how, well, there's the good part.
Directed by: Tom McCarthy
I guess I'm going to kind of dox myself here, but I actually live in the town that this movie is named after. Though that put it on my radar, that ends up being more of a handicap for the movie, as most of it is set elsewhere. What little there was set in Stillwater, well, let's just say it wasn't in a part of town I'm familiar with.
It's still a movie I enjoyed, with a very good performance by Matt Damon at its center. He's almost invisible in the part, which is impressive from a movie star as recognizable as him. I could definitely see his character as coming from some place like Stillwater.
Directed by: Cary Joji Fukunaga
The twenty-fifth Bond movie took a while to return to theaters, and I have to say, the pause probably helped him out a bit. My mother never forgave George Lazenby for having the nerve to go get married as Bond; I'm sure she would not appreciate some of the story decisions made here. I'm not sure I would have back in 2020. But if you're going to make me wait almost a year and a half – well, you better be making some story decisions.
Daniel Craig's tenure as 007 has been a bit all over the place. I think Casino Royale is Double O…verrated (still salty about the unnecessary "reboot"), Quantum of Solace is somehow worse than its title, and Spectre is great … until its awful third act, but Skyfall is my favorite Bond movie ever. So, No Time To Die being my second favorite of the bunch feels about right.
Directed by: Adam McKay
Stop me if you've heard this one before. An astronomer finds out that a comet big enough to wipe out all life on Earth, besides maybe some cockroaches or something, is heading straight towards Earth. Humanity has months to live, everybody will most likely die horribly, and at the very least, the economy will probably be disrupted. Oh, and it's a comedy, too.
Anyway, Don't Look Up is a satire of things that are happening in the world, using the world's end as a starting point. Which is kind of its own genre at this point. But this is a good entry. Two notes. First, now we've actually had a black U.S. president, to show we're in the future, we have to cast a woman as the top American executive, and second, the bronterocs were cute.
Directed by: Destin Daniel Cretton
Much like No Time To Die, absence does make the heart grow fonder. Before the pandemic, there was a bit of Marvel movie fatigue, not helped very well by the fact that a lot of film buffs were deciding whether or not they could live with liking movies Martin Scorsese didn't, which is still apparently a thing. When I did finally go back to a theater, the first movie I saw was not a Marvel movie, but my mom thought it was (we'll get to that one further down, and also I did not expect my mom to make so many appearances on this list).
Shang-Chi was the Marvel movie (of the possible four) I latched onto this year. I liked the character in what little I read of him in actual comics, I became a fan of Awkwafina all the sudden this year, and the martial arts genre kept the Marvel formula fresh. Plus, as extra bonus points, this movie has magical nine-tailed foxes in it. Space Jam: A New Legacy is on this list. I'm not hard to please.
Directed by: David Lowery
So this is the movie my mom thought was from Marvel. It's not. In her defense, she didn't actually see it, and had only heard the title. If she had seen it, she would have figured out fairly quickly that it was not a Marvel movie. It's so not a Marvel movie, Martin Scorsese might actually like it. I don't really know. Or care.
This is a very weird movie that features a lot of fantastical elements, and then the main character accidentally ingests some hallucinogenic mushrooms. At one point, a wild fox who more or less adopts the main character warns him that his doom is at hand, which is always a positive for the movie, if not the character. I will admit that I was certainly puzzled by aspects of this movie; but I never lost interest, that's for sure.
Directed by: Wes Anderson
If you've payed any attention to my work here at Flayrah, you'll notice that I do have a tendency to praise Wes Anderson. This is his fourth movie to appear on my end of year top ten lists. Since I've began, he's never missed. But The French Dispatch managed to hit closer to home than he usually does.
The French Dispatch is about a small Kansan newspaper, and I've worked in a small Kansan newspaper's newsroom. Okay, not as part of a supplement that is actually headquartered in France, but I get this movie and its attention to the details of journalistic writing. I love that Bill Murray's editor, you know, edits. There's an argument between him and a reporter about the taste of poison salt that is what all this is really about, in the end. You can disagree, of course.
Directed by: Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada
For the second year in a row, my choice for the best furry movie of the year is also my choice for the best movie of the year. I mean, that probably isn't actually all that surprising. My tastes are my tastes, and if I didn't have a taste for furry movies, I probably wouldn't be reviewing furry movies on a furry website, now would I?
When I first saw Raya, I thought it was definitely in contention as a movie that'd make it into my top ten year end list. At the time, I didn't think it'd be number one. So, even though I liked it, it managed to grow on me. It's a really good movie.