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Added by MaxL on 31 Dec 2021 12:43

My Top 10 Favourite Movies of 2021

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I haven't read the original comic book series that this two-part animated adaptation is based on, but I am curious to see how it compares. Of the two movies, I slightly prefer Part Two because the pacing is better; instead of an episodic plot structure, it flows a bit more like a three-act narrative. My favourite scene is a flashback that adds to the theme of characters indirectly creating their own enemies: Falcone is a part of Batman's foundation, much like how Gordon planted the seed for Two-Face. Plus, it continues to upend your suspicions every time you think you know the Holiday killer's identity.
MaxL's rating:
People who added this item 281 Average listal rating (203 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7.1
Free Guy (2021)
This is a delightfully fun movie in which Ryan Reynolds plays a video game NPC, simply named Guy, who one day becomes self-aware. It does touch on ideas like artificial intelligence and society's obsession with video games, but its beating heart is action and humour, both of which are handled wonderfully. I especially like how jolly and content Guy initially is with his daily life despite being surrounded by mayhem and carnage; to him, that's perfectly normal. :-) One thing I wasn't expecting was the cameos from actual gaming personalities, including Jacksepticeye, who provide in-universe comments as they watch the MMO game's events unfold.
MaxL's rating:
People who added this item 48 Average listal rating (36 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.7
This drama, driven entirely by the two title characters alone, is intriguingly simple but intense, because their relationship is being strained to the breaking point. The disconnect is apparent right from the first scene. They've just returned from the premiere of Malcolm's movie; he's proud of it, but Marie is clearly unhappy about having attended. Their conversations are captivating in and of themselves, though they do seem pretty scatterbrained; often, the subject comes up for no apparent reason. As well as providing analysis of the two characters, they cover topics like messages in film and how people's interpretations often differ from the writer's intention.
MaxL's rating:
People who added this item 220 Average listal rating (167 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 0
Luca (2021)
Pixar's latest offering seems very derivative of The Little Mermaid at first, but thankfully soon becomes its own thing. The heart of the story is Luca's eagerness to learn and explore new things, and how it affects his relationships with his friends. The animation style during his imagination is a really nice touch. Recalling what I just said about Malcolm & Marie, the filmmakers claim they never intended it as an allegory for homosexuality, but it's still easy to interpret it that way, especially the nature of the betrayal at a certain point. Either way, it's a fun, if not stunningly poignant, coming-of-age drama.
MaxL's rating:
People who added this item 44 Average listal rating (35 ratings) 4.3 IMDB Rating 6.4
I have played Injustice: Gods Among Us, but I haven't read the tie-in comics. Instead of recreating the game's all-out extravaganza, this movie keeps the story much more streamlined, staying within one universe and fleshing out how Superman loses hope, and how his turn to despotism affects the heroes around him. It leads to some riveting ethical discussions. The one thing I don't like is how readily Wonder Woman agrees with Superman's ruthlessness; isn't Diana supposed to be more compassionate than that? But overall, I seem to be in a minority who really liked this movie. Probably more than the game, in fact.
MaxL's rating:
People who added this item 274 Average listal rating (195 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.3
Yes, the long-delayed finale for Daniel Craig's tenure as James Bond. And personally, I think it's a commendable swan song. Its runtime of over two-and-a-half hours may seem excessive, but it's paced so well that I for one barely noticed it. The highlight is an action scene with two contrasting phases: a car chase that turns into a suspenseful hunt in a quiet, misty wood. Its only downfall, for me, is the villain. Granted, he accomplishes a lot, but there's just nothing memorable about his personality or motives. Other than that, it's a worthy series conclusion and definitely one of my favourite Bond movies.
MaxL's rating:
People who added this item 154 Average listal rating (96 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.4
This is a movie that was nominated for the previous year's awards but that I categorise as a 2021 release. I usually find dramas like this hard to comment on, but this one has a very interesting demeanour: it's quiet and sedate, yet it always holds your attention. It's about a Korean family moving to rural America, and each member of the family has their own story to tell. At the centre is the father Jacob's determination to start a farm and the friction it causes with the others. The significance of the title is implied at the very end, but I won't spoil it.
MaxL's rating:
People who added this item 442 Average listal rating (356 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 8.2
It's kind of a live-action version of Into the Spider-Verse โ€“ and, in my opinion, far superior. :-) It's the first MCU Spider-Man movie to acknowledge the character's core philosophy, and also gives the other two live-action iterations one last hurrah. Whereas Homecoming was about Peter trying to prove himself and Far from Home had him just trying to be normal, this story sees him trying to do something decent for his friends, but facing harsh consequences for his decision. It's not perfect, but still a highly enjoyable movie that showcases Tom Holland's Spidey at his best, while also providing closure for two unfinished film series.
MaxL's rating:
People who added this item 106 Average listal rating (78 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 8
CODA (2021)
If you weren't aware, that stands for child of deaf adults. The child (or teenager) in question is Ruby, who feels that her family is keeping her from pursuing her newfound passion for music, but she can't abandon them, partly because they depend on her. It's a compelling dilemma that puts increasing strain on both situations. The best moment is an outstanding editing choice in the third act; I won't say exactly what happens, but let's just say it lets us experience the most important scene in a whole new way. It's an irresistible drama that thoroughly deserves the number two spot on my list.
MaxL's rating:
If you've seen many of my other year-end lists, you'll know that either a Disney/Pixar animated movie or a Marvel one has almost always won the gold medal for several years now. Say what you will about Disney's monopoly on everything, but if they keep giving us movies this good, I'm not complaining! :-) As you can probably guess, this is the movie that earned the five-star rating I mentioned before. Not only is the action brilliantly framed and choreographed, but the humour isn't just cheap jokes; it's used to enhance the believability of the characters and, by extension, the situation. The characters themselves are fascinating, particularly Shaun's father, who's an antagonist with very understandable and even tragic motives. I also love how the intermittent flashbacks gradually develop Shaun's character and add extra weight to his decisions. Even the CGI on the fantastical creatures in the third act looks phenomenally realistic โ€“ far better than the composite shots from earlier in the film, strangely enough. In short, it's so exceedingly funny and exciting that it's one of my top five favourite MCU films, not to mention my undisputed favourite movie of 2021.
MaxL's rating:

Happy New Year's Eve. We've come to the end of 2021, so you know what that means. :-) It's time for me to look back on the year and pick out my ten favourite movies.
So how was the year overall? Well, I got my vaccine and, among the year's movies, saw at least one that I rated five stars; that alone makes it a huge improvement on 2020! :-D Unfortunately, the virus shows no sign of slowing down, so not only will many people's stories be a lot sadder, but it'll probably be a long time before our everyday life returns to what it was two years ago, if at all. For better or worse, this year did at least take a few steps in that direction. Most relevant here is the reopening of cinemas on a more permanent basis โ€“ though still under heavy restrictions, obviously.
If this is your first time reading one of my year-end lists (or if you just need a reminder), let me briefly go over the criteria I set for what qualifies as a 2021 movie. It simply has to have been released for public consumption within the year, be it in cinemas or on a streaming platform. Movies that haven't been seen outside of film festivals don't count, and neither do movies that were released in another country in an earlier year. This year was especially problematic in that regard, because the release schedule towards the end of 2020 was very messy indeed! Several awards contenders weren't released publicly until the early months of the following year, including Nomadland, which may have won Best Picture for 2020, but its earliest non-festival release date makes it a 2021 movie in my book.

So how was 2021's movie output in general? Like I said, unlike 2020, I did at least give one movie a five-star rating, but that's not really indicative of the year's movies as a whole. For obvious reasons, these last couple of years have not been good for movies. There were so many that I found mediocre or at best mildly enjoyable that it severely dulled my overall happiness level and left me pretty despondent. Obviously, other things in life were also contributing to that ennui, but it's pretty depressing when not even the media you consume can bring you much joy. So, let's start talking about the movies released in 2021 that did. :-)
Now, I say this every year, but it's worth mentioning that I haven't seen everything I wanted to. For example, I haven't a chance to see West Side Story. I watched the original in preparation (back when the new one was due to be released last year, admittedly) and wasn't overly impressed, so it's entirely possible that I'll greatly prefer the Spielberg version. Other movies that come highly recommended are Spencer, Titane, The Tragedy of Macbeth, Nightmare Alley, The French Dispatch and The Green Knight.
Like in 2020, the movies on the lower end of the list would never have made it past the runners-up stage on my year-end lists from the previous decade, but this year they happened to be among the ten movies I enjoyed most (another sad indication of how few brilliant movies I've come across lately). So, without further ado, let's finally get to the full list of what those ten were. :-)

Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One
Boss Level
The Harder They Fall
Last Night in Soho
A Quiet Place Part II
Raya and the Last Dragon

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