Here we go!
Happy New Year! 2022 is here. Which means it's finally time to end my look back on this year in movies. And, of course, this is the big one. Every single movie I saw in 2021, ranked. With the exception of Boss Level, the Fear Street movies, Free Guy, and Don't Look Up, I have reviewed every single one of these movies. If you want my full in-depth thoughts, check out my reviews. But, yeah, I saw forty-one movies in 2021. I didn't get around to seeing No Time to Die, so I couldn't include that. But here it is, guys! This is it. After today, there will be a small break in content. I will be releasing my most anticipated movies and TV shows of 2022 in the next few days and I will get a review of Cobra Kai out, but I'm gonna take a little bit of a break. Since No Way Home, it's been non-stop, so I need to take some time off. But, here you go! Every single 2021 movie I saw, ranked.
Tom & Jerry / Raya and the Last Dragon / Coming 2 America / Boss Level / Zack Snyder's Justice League / The Courier / Godzilla vs. Kong / Mortal Kombat / The Mitchells vs. the Machines / Spiral: From the Book of Saw / The Woman in the Window / Cruella / A Quiet Place Part II / In the Heights / Luca / F9 / Fear Street Part One: 1994 / The Boss Baby: Family Business / Black Widow / Fear Street Part Two: 1978 / Fear Street Part Three: 1666 / Space Jam: A New Legacy / Jungle Cruise / The Suicide Squad / Free Guy / Reminiscence / Candyman / Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings / Malignant / Dear Evan Hansen / Venom: Let There Be Carnage / Halloween Kills / Dune / Last Night in Soho / Eternals / King Richard / Encanto / Ghostbusters: Afterlife / West Side Story / Spider-Man: No Way Home / Don't Look Up
41. Space Jam: A New Legacy
The first Space Jam is fun, family entertainment. The second one is one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my life. If you are a teenager, go watch this movie with a bunch of your obnoxious friends. It will be great. But this movie is filled with some of the most unlikable protagonists, some of the cringiest dialogue, and some of the worst appeal to modern audiences I have ever seen. I give it the benefit of the doubt: it's not trying to be fine art. It's trying to entertain. But it thinks that modern audiences want modern movies. Have you ever wanted to see a basketball game with LeBron James and the Looney Tunes where the scoring doesn't matter and you have no idea what's going on because it's like a video game? Have you ever wanted to see Porky Pig rap? Me neither. But now we have it. I cannot express my hatred for this movie more than I already have. It's so bad. But it's also really fun because of how bad it is.
40. Tom & Jerry
Well, we have a Tom & Jerry live-action film now. Is it as fun as the squabbling duo's short cartoons that you would watch on Friday night before you go to bed? No. As a matter of fact, it's the opposite of fun. While kids might enjoy Tom and Jerry's hijinx, this miserable movie actually tries to have a story and good characters. It fails at both. We have a cast of unlikable and weird people played by actors that are not at the top of their game. Instead of focusing on Tom and Jerry, they focus on the gross humans. This movie fails at every aspect of filmmaking, but there is a scene with Tom and Jerry in a hotel that I enjoyed, so it isn't in last place.
I have never seen a Fast & Furious movie, and, after watching F9, I don't really want to watch any other movies in this franchise. This film started off as a decent action film that had its fair share of fun moments, but as the movie progressed, it spiraled out of control. From terrible performances, cringy dialogue, flat characters, and simply non-sensical storytelling, F9 can barely be called a movie. This is almost so bad it's good. Now, the franchise is aware that it is ridiculous and over-the-top, but this goes so far over the line to a point where the self-aware humor and big blockbuster set pieces can't save it.
38. Jungle Cruise
Jungle Cruise was a movie that I thought was actually going to be good. I was wrong. The chemistry between The Rock and Emily Blunt was fantastic, but everything else pretty much sucked. The third act was a dumpster fire. The story was generic. The villains were painful. This movie had potential to be a fun Disney adventure story that maybe even lived up to Pirates of the Caribbean, but with a garbage story and CGI splattered all over the place, Jungle Cruise was not good at all.
Oh, god. Eternals. The first MCU movie ever to be negative on Rotten Tomatoes. And for good reason. This movie felt like the sequel to a movie we never saw. Which means almost all of the Eternals were underdeveloped. The film tried to shove as much stuff as possible into this story. Flashbacks tried to give us a backstory, but a messy narrative just held this one back. Also, the villains of this movie (excluding Ikaris) were big CGI monsters. I love the MCU to death, but Kevin Feige just did not hit the mark on this one.
36. Coming 2 America
Coming to America is my personal favorite Eddie Murphy film, but I was never really excited for this movie. The trailer was okay, but decades-after sequels never do well. And Coming 2 America was no exception. Instead of doing something different, Coming 2 America repeats all the jokes from Coming to America with actors and characters that you don't like. There were a few lines that made me laugh. The barbershop guys are still amazing. The plot is a mess, the tone is a mess...it's a mess of a movie.
35. The Woman in the Window
The Woman in the Window is a great novel. Unfortunately, Joe Wright directs a bland adaptation of the book that does not utilize it's great cast. Sure, Amy Adams is very good. It does have its moments of thrills and tension, but it follows the book step-by-step in this boring, flat way. I absolutely despised the villain and his goofy actor. This is, sadly, a bad movie. I wish it was good, but a flurry of underdeveloped characters and an awkward first half makes for a misfire on every level.
34. Last Night in Soho
I can appreciate Last Night in Soho, because it is an incredibly unique and wonderfully crazy movie, but I did not enjoy this film at all. It's not a fun horror movie. It is brutal. It's centers around prostitution and domestic abuse, which is not enjoyable to watch at all. The third act has a nice plot twist, but it eventually goes non-sensical and crazy. By the end of the movieEdgar Wright makes this movie with more craft than ever, but I can't ever re-watch Last Night in Soho. It's an emotionally draining movie that has a few good scenes, but falls apart in the end, making for a disappointing but beautiful movie.
33. Fear Street: Part Two-1978
The Fear Street movies were a little bit of a weird phenomenon inside of 2021. The gimmick of releasing a movie trilogy like a three-part miniseries was cool, but they were all kind of hte same quality-wise, so I lumped them together. They do kind of have a TV-like quality to them. Had they been theatrically released, I wouldn't have been nearly as positive on them, but as Netflix originals, they were okay. 1978 was the worst of the bunch. I thought that this movie dipped into a territory that was way too dark and gruesome, where all the fun was sucked out of it. I do think that Sadie Sink and Emily Rudd were fantastic and our lead characters were good. It just went a little bit too dark and too scary for my taste.
32. Fear Street: Part Three-1666
Right in front of 1978 is Fear Street: Part Three - 1666. This is a fine conclusion to the trilogy. Instead of leaning into the slasher genre as the first two movies did, 1666 gave us a supernatural horror film that felt very much like The VVitch from a few year back. And that just didn't fit in with the trilogy. I liked the twist reveal of the villain and I think that Sarah Fier is a good character, but this movie tried and failed to execute the old-timey setting. The ending was my favorite part of the movie. I liked how it paid everything off. I just can't say I really enjoyed the actual 1666 part.
31. Fear Street: Part One-1994
For me, I liked 1994 the best. It paid homage to some of my favorite horror movies like Scream and Halloween. I thought that the history of the Shadyside killers was cool. For me, this was the most thrilling of the Fear Street movies. It was the most entertaining, and the second scariest. I definitely didn't love it. Once again, it's not a quality movie. It has a TV-like quality to it, but I like horror movies, so this was good enough for me. I liked it much better than both 1978 and 1666, which is not an opinion shared by most people.
30. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
I don't know where to start with Shang-Chi. I was so excited for this movie. New MCU heroes always get me hyped. And this movie got stellar reviews. I will start with the good: the Mandarin is one of the best villains ever. He was menacing and powerful, but also clearly cared about his family. His sacrifice at the end of the movie was a great resolution to his arc. I want to see more of Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, and I think we will, because this movie was a major success. But this movie suffers from being an MCU movie. It has to have the forced humor and one-liners. It has to have a huge CGI battle at the end. Instead of making this a personal story about Shang-Chi and Wenwu, this movie ended with a big CGI dragon fighting a big CGI demon. I want to pull my hair out. This movie did so many things so right. But it also did so many things so wrong. And while I initially went positive, I don't know if I stand by that. I wish I loved this movie. But I just didn't.
29. Venom: Let There Be Carnage
I really don't like the first Venom. Let There Be Carnage was a vast improvement over the first movie. I loved Woody Harrelson as Cletus Kasady and Tom Hardy was still very fun to watch. Venom himself was kind of unlikable and I was disappointed with Carnage, but the movie moved fast enough and had better action than the first. Shriek was a terrible character played by a strangely terrible Naomie Harris, who I usually like. The thing that puts this movie this high is the after-credits. At the time that I am writing this paragraph, No Way Home has not come out, so I don't know if Venom was in it, but I am excited to see if he is. If he isn't, then I am excited to see him face off against Spider-Man in the future.
28. The Courier
The Courier seemed like it was going to be the next Argo. While Benedict Cumberbatch was fantastic, I don't think that this is a good story to adapt to the screen. Greville Wynne is a very interesting person, but his story is not a happy one. It doesn't have a satisfying ending at all, and that's where I think this movie falters. Dominic Cooke directed the crap out of this movie. His direction was great. The central performance was really good, too. But the story is just not one that should've been adapted into a movie.
27. Godzilla vs. Kong
The popcorn movie of the century, Godzilla vs. Kong sees two cinematic icons face off against each other in a wildly entertaining movie that doesn't care about characters or story...at all. The only thing that this movie has going for it is the titular battle. And the titular battle is a great one. Every time Godzilla and King Kong punch each other in the face, it's exciting. I liked the inclusion of Mechagodzilla as the antagonist and the two monsters eventually teaming up to take down the bigger threat. Is this a quality movie? Ha. No. But it's a fun piece of trash that I will have a good time re-watching.
26. Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Ghostbusters: Afterlife nailed the vibe of the first Ghostbusters movie. I dug the fan service. I thought it was fun as hell. But this movie was also able to stand apart from its predecessor by having its own dynamic characters and a more emotional arc that has not been present in any Ghostbusters films. It plays it very safe with the fan service and follows the story of the first movie pretty much beat by beat, but otherwise, it was a decent entry in this series. Hopefully, there can be a fourth Ghostbusters film and we can see this incredible franchise continue on.
I thought Reminiscence was going to be the next cool sci-fi movie, like Inception or The Matrix. It wasn't. I loved the concept of this movie, and I think it was explored really well. But a boring romance and a horribly underwhelming villain reveal make this movie pretty frustrating. I really liked some things about Reminiscence. It was close to being great, but a few major things just made it a muddled noir sci-fi thriller. I like Hugh Jackman and I like science fiction, so I liked Reminiscence. But it could've been great. And it really wasn't.
Malignant is another pretty quiet movie. It was dropped in early September, which is kind of a dumping ground for movies. I was surprised that Warner Bros. didn't promote this film more, because James Wan is a world-class horror director that is responsible for Saw and The Conjuring. But I watched Malignant when it dropped on HBO Max, and I was entertained by a bonkers horror movie that goes for everything. Wan does a great job with his direction, giving us some great jump scares and a truly nightmarish twist at the end. This movie is complete insanity and is definitely fifteen minutes too long. It won't be for everyone. But I was okay with this film.
Luca is not a popular movie. Disney made this a Disney+ exclusive release last minute, and so it was kind of forgotten about by most people. It's a totally fine movie. Not even close to top-tier Pixar, but it had a great dynamic between the central three characters. It was a cool concept that had relatively small stakes. The side characters (the villain and the parents) were painful to watch. In my opinion, this movie would've worked better as a TV series. But it was perfectly mediocre as a movie.
22. Mortal Kombat
I wasn't even going to watch Mortal Kombat. I don't like video game movies, because they usually suck. Mortal Kombat is not a good movie by any means. But there are some pretty fun moments. And Scorpion and Sub-Zero were legitimately fantastic characters. The action was stellar. The kills were brutal. And the finale of this film was great. It was cringy. Most of the acting was bad. Most of the characters were bad. But the entertainment value of Mortal Kombat and the possibility of seeing more fo Scorpion and Sub-Zero make me want a sequel.
I know people loved Dune. And while I appreciate it, I can't say I loved it. It was a solid movie. On a technical level, this is a near perfect movie. The sets, costumes, effects, cinematography, and direction were top-notch. The cast is stuffed with incredible talent. This is a high quality movie. For me, I didn't quite have the patience for this movie. I loved the politics and world-building of this universe, but it builds and builds and builds, but has no pay off. Of course, this is only a problem now. When Dune: Part Two comes out, that won't be an issue. But I just think this movie was too slow with no payoff for me to put it higher. When the action happened, I loved it. When we delved into the mythology of Dune, I loved it. Otherwise, I was relatively mixed on it.
Ah, Candyman. I'm very sad that I have to put this movie here. Jordan Peele is one of my favorite people working in Hollywood, and Candyman is one of my favorite horror movie villains, so when I heard that the two of them were teaming up, I went bananas. The trailers looked right up my alley, and I was ready for a super scary movie that had a deeper message with some social commentary. That is not what I got. I got a psychological horror film that shoved it's social commentary in the spotlight. A great director and a great lead actor cannot replace the absence of Tony Todd's presence as the titular villain. The trailers for this movie, while great, showed way too much. I knew exactly where this movie was going because of the trailers and even the poster. While this paragraph is negative, I was positive on Candyman. I stand by that. It's a decent horror flick, even if the end result was very disappointing.
19. The Boss Baby: Family Business
If you read my most surprising list, this was number one. I expected to hate this movie. I took my 9-year-old cousin to go see it, thinking it was going to be hot garbage, but that was not the case. This was a very solid movie. It may not be super high on this list, but I really liked Family Business. It wasn't full of fart jokes and immature humor. It made me laugh as well as my cousin. The story had a heartwarming layer to it while also expanding the Boss Baby world in a pretty fun way. The villain and story were way too dark for a kid's movie, but otherwise, this movie was good. Not great, obviously. Not one of the best films of the year. But if you have a family, throw this on one night. It's an enjoyable movie.
18. Black Widow
After two very long, MCU-less years, Black Widow took the biggest franchise of all time back to the big screen with a fun little spy thriller. What I loved about this movie was the personal battle that Natasha was fighting. It made for a pretty mature and pretty complex Marvel movie. Yelena Belova is an incredible character that I cannot wait to see more of. I adored Florence Pugh and hope she gets the spotlight in future MCU projects. The thing I can't shake about this movie is that it shouldn't have been released in 2021. This movie should've come out between Civil War and Infinity War. Also, Taskmaster was super disappointing. Otherwise, this was a fun, if somewhat meaningless, addition to the MCU.
17. Free Guy
Ryan Reynolds starred as the naive and hilarious Guy in one of the most fun movies of the year. This movie combines The Matrix, The Truman Show, Ready Player One, and a tiny bit of Jurassic Park. I thought that the story was done really well. The script for this movie was rock solid. It answered everything you wanted in a satisfying way. There were some really fun cameos and exciting references near the end. Although it was not very original, Free Guy was a very fun, family-friendly action comedy.
16. Dear Evan Hansen
This year was a musical year for movies. With In the Heights, Dear Evan Hansen, and West Side Story, we had three big stage-to-screen adaptations. I still have somewhat mixed feelings on Dear Evan Hansen. Of course, I liked it. I liked it a lot. I cried at this movie, and I have only cried at Avengers: Endgame and Toy Story 4, so this movie did its job when it comes to emotion. The emotional weight of Dear Evan Hansen is its rise and its fall. At points, it gets too dark and too sad to bear. It doesn't have a happy ending. It just continues to punch you in the gut and doesn't let up until the credits roll. That's a good and a bad thing. I love the music and I love the characters. This is a good movie. I just think it's story can be a bit too much at times.
15. Don't Look Up
Easily one of the most unique films of the year, Don't Look Up deftly blended Adam McKay's hilarious writing with a sad political subtext. A great ensemble cast and a very solid script make for a satire like no other. When I finished Don't Look Up, I had all kinds of mixed feelings about it, but I've grown to like it more the more I've thought about it. Some elements of the film are very messy, but when you put it in context of the current state of things, it's very interesting. I'm still mixed on this film, because it was both one of the funniest and most entertaining films of the year while also being one of the most depressing.
I didn't expect much of Encanto, but it was a relatively fun and magical Disney movie. It isn't super memorable, but the music was catchy and Mirabel, the main character, had a pretty great arc that was relatable and sad. The movie suffers from a lot of unlikable and self-centered characters as well as some plot convenience, but the infectious joy, beautiful animation, and fun songs make this movie a solid family film.
13. The Mitchells vs. the Machines
People loved The Mitchells vs. the Machines. I didn't, but I certainly liked it. This is a great, unique animated sci-fi adventure. It had a really fun plot and a great dysfunctional family that made for a pretty impactful emotional arc. I'd say without a doubt that this is also the funniest movie of the year. It has a few very big laughs. I didn't dig the structure of this movie, and I think that that really threw me off. That's why I didn't put it higher. But I do think that this will win Best Animated Feature, even though I liked Raya and the Last Dragon more.
12. Spiral: From the Book of Saw
As you will see a few entries down, I am a sucker for thrilling horror movies, even if their Rotten Tomatoes score is in the 30s. I have seen parts of every Saw movie, but I've never watched one all the way through. I saw the trailer for Spiral and was immediately hooked. I wasn't sure Chris Rock would fit inside the Saw movies, but I was so wrong. Not only did this movie boast a great performance from the comedian, but it suggested an intriguing new direction for the Saw franchise. Spiral had great thrills, traps, and a cliffhanger that left me hoping for a sequel. I know most people didn't, but I really dug Spiral.
11. Boss Level
This was one of the 2021 movies I did not review, but if you like fun action movies, go watch Boss Level. This movie is like Groundhog Day mixed with Die Hard. It does the time loop, but with a really fun action blanket laid over it. Frank Grillo stars as the charismatic Roy Pulver in a film that doesn't really care about how schlocky it is: it's sole purpose is to entertain the audience. And entertain it does. It has some really great action and some hilarious one-liners. This is one of the most fun movies of the year. The plot doesn't really hold together all that well, but you can ignore that, because Boss Level is tons of fun. It's streaming on Hulu if you want to go watch it. Please do. It's an hour and a half that will very much worth your time.
10. Zack Snyder's Justice League
I originally liked the first Justice League, but I have soured on it after learning about the awful production. And, now, pretty much no one likes that movie. So Warner Bros. green-lit Snyder's epic, 4-hour version of that film. And the result is 10x better. We get a fleshed out story with a fantastic Justice League and an understandable motive for our villains. The story makes more sense, some of the characters that were previously trash (Cyborg, Flash, Steppenwolf) are now actually good, and the action is cooler. There is still too much CGI and slow-mo, and this movie should not be 4 hours long, but I liked it. I hope we can still see more of Snyder's vision for the DCEU, even though I don't particularly like Man of Steel and Batman v Superman.
I despised the trailers for Cruella. The tone wasn't really clear. The movie looked really dark and really weird. I was thinking about skipping this movie all together. But I decided not to, and watched it one day on Disney+. And I am extremely glad I did not skip it. Emmas Stone and Thompson are an absolute delight to watch on screen together. This serves as a great origin story for everyone's favorite puppy-obsessed villain. It was funny, it was heartfelt, it was entertaining, and it had two great lead actresses that played two great lead characters. Cruella was a solid movie, and definitely one of the better Disney live-action adaptations.
8. The Suicide Squad
Speaking of movies no one likes: the first Suicide Squad! After the disaster that that movie was, Warner Bros. made the smart decision to hire James Gunn of Guardians of the Galaxy to direct this movie. And he fixed it up. This movie is fun. It has all the dark humor that James Gunn is known for while also having a relatively good story and a great batch of lively characters. I don't really like the direction they took Harley Quinn in and I think that the villains for most of the movie were pretty bland, but otherwise, this was a great movie that had more of an emotional punch than I was prepared for.
7. King Richard
The most inspiring film of 2021 was King Richard. It executed the usual sports template to utter perfection. The story of Venus Williams and her father is just heart-warming. The Williams family as a whole were great. I cared about them so much. The script and soundtrack to this movie were both top-notch. And, of course, Will Smith gave the performance of his career. If he doesn't win Best Actor, I will boycott the Oscars. And if this movie doesn't get nominated for Best Picture, I will also boycott the Oscars.
6. Raya and the Last Dragon
My personal vote for Best Animated Feature would go to this movie. Raya was a really fun Disney movie that had incredible world-building and one of the most complex villains the Mouse House has ever created. The film was like a combination of Aladdin, Moana, and Mulan, which are all great movies. The themes of this movie were poignant and resonated with me. The relationship between Raya and Namaari was one of the best and most morally complicated relationships ever in an animated movie. Disney was able to provide all the fun and family entertainment that it's known for as well as a more mature hidden message, and I loved that about this movie. It's easily one of the top movies of the year.
5. Halloween Kills
I fully acknowledge that Halloween Kills is not great cinema. But I still think this is a damn good movie. This is the best Michael Myers I have ever seen. Granted, I haven't seen the sequels besides Halloween 2018 and I have not seen the Rob Zombie remake movies, but I still think they can't measure up to the pure evil that this character has become. There is no remorse. There is no humanity. And that's what I loved. Michael Myers is my favorite horror movie villain, and this movie re-affirmed that. I loved the ending and I loved the way that it showed how Myers has affected the entire town of Haddonfield, Illinois. I don't care about the haters. Halloween Kills is loads of fun. And I am so excited for Halloween Ends.
4. In the Heights
In the Heights was the cinematic event of 2021. It has everything you want from a movie: amazing performances, direction, a hopeful and happy story, and just a fun vibe. But what makes this movie top-tier is the amazing song and dance numbers. As I said in my Best Movies of 2021 ranking, this has the best song and dance numbers ever put to the big screen. I absolutely loved this movie. I re-watched it to make sure all of my feelings about the first watch were correct, and indeed they were. This movie is so good.
3. A Quiet Place Part II
I have not seen the first A Quiet Place, so my expectations for this movie were not through the roof. But they will be for Part III. This movie was incredible. John Krasinski's direction is impeccable: from the incredible use of sound to this overwhelming feeling of dread and bleakness, Krasinski handled everything well. This was easily the most intense movie of the year. The camera is placed in the right way to make sure you are always on the edge of your seat. An abrupt ending cannot take away from the masterclass in horror-thriller storytelling that this movie is.
2. West Side Story
Steven Spielberg's West Side Story was a beautiful movie that surprised the crap out of me. I don't really like the original, but Spielberg delivered on all fronts. The songs, performances, cinematography, and story were all fantastic. It was one of the best musical movies ever. I loved almost everything about this film. It's crafted in a way that makes you really care about the characters. It's almost frustrating as you watch this situation escalate and eventually reach a breaking point with the rumble. The emotions came crashing in in the last part of the film, capping off an already amazing movie. It will get nominated for Best Picture, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if it won.
1. Spider-Man: No Way Home
Spider-Man: No Way Home was my most anticipated movie of the year, and it lived up to those expectations. From the fan service to the emotional story to the transformation of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker into the real Spider-Man that we know and love, No Way Home just put a grin on my face from beginning to end. And, of course, the inclusion of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield made for one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had at the theater. I want to campaign for Spider-Man 4 and The Amazing Spider-Man 3. I am also super excited to see more of Tom’s Spider-Man in the MCU. This movie was amazing. I saw it again in theaters to confirm my feelings, and it did. This is one of the best Spider-Man, MCU, and superhero movies of all time.