As we all know, the last two years have been excruciating for the Movie industry as a whole…as the films we were anticipating seeing the most, kept getting pushed back again and again for release, in hopes that the dreaded COVID-19 would somehow cease.
And as we brace for another variant to raise its ugly head, we pray that our beloved movie theaters will have the stamina to survive, as we head out to see those yearly BLOCKBUSTERS, that have to be seen on a the biggest screen you can find!
And as the Streaming services have once again made movies that are as good as, if not better than, what is being released by the major studios, we march onward, waiting to catch movies with exceptional star-power or storylines that make us happy to be viewing them.
And now, the time has finally arrived for me to share with you my picks for the TOP 10 FILMS of 2021, and if they’re not still in theaters, then I’m telling you where to go to catch them on your streaming services too!
THE TOP 10 FILMS OF 2021
10. DUNE – PG-13 – (Warner Brothers / HBO MAX)
As remakes go…this one is totally exceptional, as we venture back into Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel, and we see whether Father or Son, will be left to protect the most vital element in the galaxy! With exceptional performances by Timothee’ Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin and my favorite intergalactic warrior, Jason Momoa, DUNE is a cinematic masterpiece that you don’t want to miss, as this is only 1/2 of the sand-obsessed joy ride that Director Denis Villeneuve is taking us on…with DUNE PART 2 planned for release on October 23, 2022!
9. TICK, TICK…BOOM! – PG-13 – (NETFLIX) – Streaming NOW!
Andrew Garfield gives another award worthy performance, playing this autobiographical role of playwright Jonathan Larson. Perfectly crafted in every way, this part musical, part real-life story will make you long to live the life of a struggling playwright…well, maybe not, but it will bring you to appreciate the creative genius that lies in alot of us, and the hopes that we will find that inner calling, long before we arrive at our last birthday on this earth! With performances by Alexandra Shipp, Bradley Whitford, Vanessa Hudgens, Judith Light and Joshua Henry, but make no mistake, 95% of this film is all Garfield, tick, tick…Boom! is another musical that you don’t want to miss, before award season arrives later this week.
8. NO TIME TO DIE – PG-13 (Universal Studios) – you can view this film on Amazon Prime, Apple, Xfinity, DirecTV, Google Play, Spectrum and Vudu
As Daniel Craig’s “swan song”, playing Bond, James Bond, and one of the most anticipated movies of 2021, as it was pushed back again and again, due to COVID-19, this one ended up being sooooo worth the wait, as 007 gave us the opportunity to see “his softer side”, and as the I’m still reeling from it’s blockbuster ending, this is one of those films this year, that anyone, and everyone must take the 2 hrs and 43 mins to see….
7. WEST SIDE STORY – PG-13 – (20th Century Studios) – Presently playing at theaters all over St. Louis, including AMC Esquire 7, Chase Park Plaza Cinema, and the Waterloo Cinema on the Illinois side too.
This remake of the 1961 Classic, under the direction of that little known Director, you know, you might have heard of him, Steven Spielberg, made my heart leap with joy, as unlike a lot of the critics out there that ripped it apart, I was one of the few that thought that Ansel Elgort,as Tony and newcomer Rachel Zegler, as Maria, were sheer magic on screen. I also loved Ariana DeBose as Anita (her dancing was timeless) and David Alvarez as Bernardo too. But the most exceptional role on screen if you ask me, was seeing Rita Moreno as Valentina, playing Tony’s mentor and protector, as it was as if 60 years hadn’t flown by at all, seeing her on screen. West SIde Story is one of the most beautiful cinematic masterpieces to behold this year, and as a lover of musicals that must be seen no other way to than on the big screen, luckily it’s still playing here locally 🙂
6. THE TENDER BAR – R – (Amazon ORIGINAL) – Available for viewing at Marcus Ronnies Cine, Landmark’s Plaza Frontenac Cinema or Marcus Chesterfield Galaxy 14 Cine – Available for viewing on Amazon Prime on Friday January 7th
Directed by George Clooney and based on the best-selling memoir of J.R. Moehringer, this one will give you a gut punch too along the way, as you watch J.R. find his way growing up with the assistance of his Uncle Charlie (played perfectly by Ben Affleck, as he gives yet another exceptional performance on screen) and all of Uncle Charlie’s buddies, who are belly up the bar each and every night at Uncle Charlie’s establishment. Filled with additional noteworthy performances by Tye Sheridan as J.R., Christopher Lloyd as the grandfather and Lily Rabe as the single-mother, trying to keep everyone alive…this touching film is also a definite MUST SEE!
5. BELFAST – FOCUS FEATURES – Still available for viewing at Plaza Frontenac Cinema in St. Louis
This semi-biographical story of Writer/Director Kenneth Branagh is a true treasure to behold, as it takes you the streets of BELFAST and into one working class family families life, as they struggle to all stay together while the Protestant vs. Catholic uprising intensifies circa 1960’s. With an incredible, award worthy performance by young Actor Jude Hill, and exceptional performances too by Caitriona Balfe, Ciaran Hinds, Judi Dench and Jamie Dornan (yes, he does actually give a very convincing performance this time around), Belfast will leave you longing for your own family, and the comforts of the place you call HOME…
4. SPIDERMAN: NO WAY HOME – MARVEL/SONY Studios – Still in Theaters here locally – Including the Lincoln & Edge 5 Theaters –
Raising over a Billion worldwide so-far, and having my favorite Spider-Man, Tom Holland as he gives a much deserved, award worthy performance, which rivals his performance early this year in Apple TV+’s CHERRY, Spiderman: No Way Home, is the epic we were all waiting for, as between the performances and the perfect storyline every step of the way too, this Spiderman has to be seen on the biggest screen you can find, so that you can see for yourself how this one’s brings all your spidey-senses to the surface, and the Spiderman storyline full-circle!
3. LICORICE PIZZA – In theaters NOW, and playing locally at Chase Park Plaza Cinema and Hi-Pointe Cinema in St. Louis
This coming of age romantic dramedie is so brilliantly crafted, it’s a definite MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN while you can, and if you grew up in the 70’s like I did, the nostalgia of this fabulous film is jsut soooo perfect, it is just heavenly to view the whole way through. Starring Alana Haim and Copper Hoffman as the youngsters trying to find themselves, and one another, a perfect cameo from Sean Penn, and the most fabulous 15 minute performance in Bradley Cooper’s illustrious career, this one is going to have you leaving the theater with nothing but a big old smile upon your face, that I promis you 🙂
2. CODA – (Apple TV +) – A Winner at Sundance this year, and I totally agree, CODA will give you all the feels…as you venture into the life of Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones), a teenager who finds herself trapped as the translator for her entire family, as she is the (Child of Deaf Adults = CODA). As her passion for music grows, which is something only she can understand, as her parents Frank (played by Troy Kotsur, and Jackie (Played by Marlee Matlin) struggle with letting their daughter leave the nest to pursue her dreams, and to leave their new Fishing business too, although deaf brother Leo (played by Daniel Durrant), is trying desperately to handle things, so his sister can go live out her own dreams…
Joaquin Phoenix gives another award worthy performance bringing Writer/Director Mike Mills work to the screen asd he plays Johnny, the uncle who steps in to take care of his peculiar nephew Jesse (played by exceptional child actor Woody Norman). This one will tug on all your heart-strings, and then some, as it brings to light the struggles of parenting, as we see through an Uncle’s eyes, and through the exceptional performance by Gaby Hoffman, as she plays a mother struggling to keep her world secure, for herself and her son. You may remember Ms. Hoffman too, from days gone by, as she managed to touch me many moons ago as well as a child actor, in classic films like Field of Dreams (1989), Uncle Buck (1989) and my favorite, playing Jessica in Sleepless in Seattle (1993). And along with these incredible performances throughout, C’MON C’MON takes us into the struggles of being accepted for who you are, and the perils we must face if we have someone that is close to us, struggling with mental illness. This film touched me in so many ways, I had to watch it a second time, just to make sure that I managed to take it all in…
These films hit the mark for me too this year, and it was difficult not to include them in my TOP 10
AMERICAN UNDERDOG – The Kurt Warner Story (Showing in Theaters NOW)
DON’T LOOK UP (Streaming NOW on Netflix)
GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE (Still available for viewing in Theaters locally, you can also Stream now for home viewing on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Vudu, Google Play and YouTube)
LAST NIGHT IN SOHO (Streaming NOW on Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video)
NIGHTMARE ALLEY (SHOWING NOW at O’fallon 15 Cinemas in Illinois, and in theaters all over St. Louis)
CRUELLA (Streaming on Disney+)
THE MITCHELL’S vs. THE MACHINES (Netflix)
A QUIET PLACE II (Paramount +)