20 votes

What were the best movies you watched this year?

Any movie you watched this year counts — not just 2021 releases.

What were the best movies you watched this year, and what made them so good?

33 comments

  1. [6]
    cloud_loud
    (edited )
    Link
    In the beginning of the year I embarked on a journey of watching a shit ton of classic movies. I watched a lot of short films from the pre-feature era, as well as movies from the 30s through the...

    In the beginning of the year I embarked on a journey of watching a shit ton of classic movies. I watched a lot of short films from the pre-feature era, as well as movies from the 30s through the 70s. According to letterboxd I watched 578 movies this year (so far). Here are some of the best ones I watched:

    Bringing Up Baby (1938) - My new favorite movie. I’ve always loved romantic comedies so it made sense that I would love what prefaced them: Screwballs. Such a great, fun movie that I can watch a hundred times.

    It Happened One Night (1934) - part of my Best Picture marathon. Definitely a highlight, it’s sweet and adorable. Directed by one of the greats Frank Capra.

    You Can’t Take It With You (1938) - Another Frank Capra Best Picture winner.

    Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939) - Another Frank Capra movie, a powerful indictment of political powers that is still relevant to date.

    Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1929) - A silent film that is considered one of the best movies of all time. It is the only winner for the academy award for “Best Unique and Artistic Picture.”

    The Awful Truth (1937) - Another screwball, really funny.

    Gone With The Wind (1939) - Four hours just flew by.

    Top Hat (1935) and The Gay Divorcee (1934) - Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers, I watched all of their movies and these were my favorites.

    All That Heaven Allows (1955) - A beautiful love story between a younger man and an older woman.

    Vertigo (1958) - Masterpiece

    Rear Window (1954) - Masterpiece

    Rope (1948) - Another Hitchcock Masterpiece this time it makes it look like it was all in one take.

    An American in Paris (1951) - Gene Kelly was an insanely talented man.

    Pygmalion (1938) and My Fair Lady (1964) - Both are the same story and both are absolutely fantastic.

    The Graduate (1967) - So so so so good.

    Easy Rider (1969) - The start of New Hollywood.

    The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) - A musical where every single word is sung, it’s also the main inspiration for La La Land.

    Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962) - French New Wave movie about a woman waiting for two hours to get her results back to see if she has cancer.

    Aloha, Bobby and Rose (1975) - An indie movie from the 70s which was a box office hit at the time but has now largely been forgotten. Basically an accidental Bonnie and Clyde with a lot of Elton John music.

    Sleeper (1973) - Holy shit this movie was funny as fuck.

    Paper Moon (1973) - Road trip movie that is heartwarming and funny.

    American Graffiti (1973) - The best movie George Lucas ever made.

    Boss Ni**** (1974) - Blaxploitation Western that was a huge inspiration for D’jango Unchained.

    The Beguiled (1971) - Clint Eastwood seduces a bunch of women.

    MASH (1970) - Plame D’or winner and the first Robert Altman movie I ever watched.

    The Honeymoon Killers (1970) - Great B-movie.

    Love Story (1970) - Sweet and heartbreaking.

    Stardust Memories (1980), Radio Days (1987), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) - call me problematic but Woody Allen is a great filmmaker.

    Unforgiven (1992) - Clint Eastwood Best Picture Winner

    Million Dollar Baby (2004) - I’m sorry but Clint Eastwood knows how to make a movie.

    Sense and Sensibility (1995) and Brokeback Mountain (2005) - Two Ang Lee movies that should have won Best Picture.

    Chicago (2002): So much fun! I was surprised by how much I liked it.

    And I think that’s all I got in me to type, but I have watched so many movies this year and I hope to keep it up next year!

    7 votes
    1. [2]
      deckard
      Link Parent
      Tons of great stuff here. I caught Bringing Up Baby on Criterion Channel this year and it was so much fun. And I think I'm going to rewatch The Graduate soon since I finish college in May. One of...

      Tons of great stuff here. I caught Bringing Up Baby on Criterion Channel this year and it was so much fun. And I think I'm going to rewatch The Graduate soon since I finish college in May. One of my high school teachers showed us it senior year and I loved it.

      Also, 578 is seriously impressive! You must have a lot of free time and/or dedication. My letterboxd says I have 117 this year, which is down from previous years.

      1 vote
      1. cloud_loud
        Link Parent
        I definitely had a lot of free time in the beginning of the year. Up until the summer really. It was nice. Just watching movie after movie after movie. I decided that I wasn’t gonna have this time...

        I definitely had a lot of free time in the beginning of the year. Up until the summer really. It was nice. Just watching movie after movie after movie. I decided that I wasn’t gonna have this time again so I wanted to watch as much as I could.

        2 votes
    2. tomf
      Link Parent
      I went through a Blaxploitation phase a few years ago. So many gems in the genre. If you like mild horror that isn't scary or anything, J.D.'s Revenge is definitely worth a watch.

      I went through a Blaxploitation phase a few years ago. So many gems in the genre. If you like mild horror that isn't scary or anything, J.D.'s Revenge is definitely worth a watch.

      1 vote
    3. [2]
      Akir
      Link Parent
      My Fair Lady is probably the best motion picture adaptations of a musical of all times. Though I'm kind of hoping that this new West Side Story ends up surpassing it.

      My Fair Lady is probably the best motion picture adaptations of a musical of all times.

      Though I'm kind of hoping that this new West Side Story ends up surpassing it.

      1 vote
      1. cloud_loud
        Link Parent
        I loved the new West Side Story

        I loved the new West Side Story

        1 vote
  2. kyotja
    Link
    I might come back and add some more later, but the best moved I watched this year was: The Dark and the Wicked - Perhaps it's simply because I subjected myself to so many sub-par horror movies in...

    I might come back and add some more later, but the best moved I watched this year was:

    The Dark and the Wicked - Perhaps it's simply because I subjected myself to so many sub-par horror movies in quarantine, but this one really stood out from among the others I watched this year. The overarching plot is fine but where this one really shines is in the sound design and the masterful ebb and flow of the tension in the atmosphere, how the tensions builds and then dissipates only to suddenly crescendo moments later. Not exactly a groundbreaking film, but watching this one with the lights off and the wind blowing outside, this scary movie actually scared me; I can't remember the last time that happened, and I loved it. A must watch if you enjoy subjecting yourself to such things.

    6 votes
  3. [11]
    deckard
    Link
    Here are three I loved, ordered by when I watched, not preference: Can't Get You Out of My Head (2021) -- This is an eight hour documentary that bills itself as a "an emotional history of the...

    Here are three I loved, ordered by when I watched, not preference:

    Can't Get You Out of My Head (2021) -- This is an eight hour documentary that bills itself as a "an emotional history of the modern world." Its director, Adam Curtis, basically assembles a ton of archival footage along with some awesome music and narrates his thesis about shifting global power structures in the twentieth century. He has a very particular stye, and it's not for everyone. But if you want to hear a British man theorize about Mao Zedong's lover set to an Aphex Twin song, this is the documentary for you. Also might want to check out his earlier (and shorter) HyperNormalisation (2016).

    In the Mouth of Madness (1995) -- I've been a fan of John Carpenter for a while, but hadn't gotten around to seeing this one until I watched it on Halloween. It's a bonkers portrait of an insurance investigator who goes insane while searching for a popular horror novelist (a Stephen King stand-in) who goes missing. Apparently it takes a lot of inspiration from Lovecraft, but I haven't read his books so I cannot confirm or deny. It's a little out there, but Carpenter's practical effects and general knack for getting under your skin are turned up to eleven.

    Under the Silver Lake (2018) -- Andrew Garfield is a sort of conspiracy theorist nut who wanders around solving a mystery and getting pulled into a crazy rabbit hole of underground societies. Making sense of it all maybe isn't the points so much as enjoying the path to get there. It kind of reminded me of PTA's Inherent Vice. There are allegedly a some coded messages hidden throughout the movie by the filmmakers. Maybe I'll catch some of them when I inevitably rewatch.

    5 votes
    1. [5]
      Echinops
      Link Parent
      I also enjoyed (if you can call it that with Curtis) the Century of the Self. All of his stuff is very harrowing but incredibly insightful. It leaves a lasting impression to say the least. As for...

      I also enjoyed (if you can call it that with Curtis) the Century of the Self. All of his stuff is very harrowing but incredibly insightful. It leaves a lasting impression to say the least.

      As for In the Mouth of Madness, having read all of Lovecraft it is an amazing homage to his writing while retaining Carpenter's own vision. It really is a treat to watch knowing Lovecraft's work and Carpenter's work. It can be considered a part of Carpenter's informal apocalypse trilogy, the other two being The Thing and Prince of Darkness.

      4 votes
      1. [4]
        deckard
        Link Parent
        Any good work in particular to start with Lovecraft?

        Any good work in particular to start with Lovecraft?

        2 votes
        1. Echinops
          Link Parent
          I'd simply pick a compilation book of his short stories and start reading them blind. They're all typically really great. If you're a movie buff, you can try Colour Out of Space and then watch the...

          I'd simply pick a compilation book of his short stories and start reading them blind. They're all typically really great. If you're a movie buff, you can try Colour Out of Space and then watch the Nike Cage adapation! That's a great 2 for and the story is short enough to finish in an afternoon. He doesn't really have long stories.

          4 votes
        2. arghdos
          Link Parent
          I mean, At the Mountains of Madness is a solid choice. Call of Cthulhu and other stories has a solid selection of his short stories as well.

          I mean, At the Mountains of Madness is a solid choice. Call of Cthulhu and other stories has a solid selection of his short stories as well.

          2 votes
        3. lou
          Link Parent
          All suggestions are good. I nominate The Outsider.

          All suggestions are good. I nominate The Outsider.

          2 votes
    2. [2]
      cloud_loud
      Link Parent
      I watched Under The Silver Lake (which didn’t actually come out until 2019 because of the constant delays) two years ago, and I still haven’t decided if I liked it or not.

      I watched Under The Silver Lake (which didn’t actually come out until 2019 because of the constant delays) two years ago, and I still haven’t decided if I liked it or not.

      3 votes
      1. deckard
        Link Parent
        It's definitely something I'd have to watch again, but I always love when a movie confuses me a little bit or resists classification.

        It's definitely something I'd have to watch again, but I always love when a movie confuses me a little bit or resists classification.

        2 votes
    3. [3]
      tomf
      Link Parent
      The Inherent Vice book is worth a read, if you liked it. There are a few sites that document most/all of the hidden messages in UTSL. Its pretty neat.

      The Inherent Vice book is worth a read, if you liked it.

      There are a few sites that document most/all of the hidden messages in UTSL. Its pretty neat.

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        deckard
        Link Parent
        I've been meaning to read some Pynchon for a while. Do you think Inherent Vice is a good starting point?

        I've been meaning to read some Pynchon for a while. Do you think Inherent Vice is a good starting point?

        3 votes
        1. tomf
          Link Parent
          well, it’s all I’ve read from him so far — but yeah, I don’t see why not. it’ll be nice to have the visuals from the film in mind, too. I think I’ll also work my way through his writing. I really...

          well, it’s all I’ve read from him so far — but yeah, I don’t see why not. it’ll be nice to have the visuals from the film in mind, too.

          I think I’ll also work my way through his writing. I really liked it.

          2 votes
  4. beanie
    Link
    Mutual Appreciation - Amazing script and acting. It's on my top 5 favorite movies. Biutiful - I loved the magical realism in this one. It talked about the tough reality of knowing you're going to...

    Mutual Appreciation - Amazing script and acting. It's on my top 5 favorite movies.

    Biutiful - I loved the magical realism in this one. It talked about the tough reality of knowing you're going to die and leave those who depend on you behind. (ahem, Javier Bardem.)

    The Day He Arrives - Book chon bang hyang - This movie won't be for everyone. It's about a writer experimenting with a handful of scenes. It repeats that handful of scenes with tweaked staging/ players/ lines.

    An Elephant Sitting Still - Top 5 favorite movies. Last movie Hu Bo (writer, director, editor) finished before committing suicide.

    Embrace Of The Serpent - El abrazo de la serpiente - The story line of how excess is sickening.

    Ixcanul - strong female leads, a beautiful - heartbreaking story of an indigenous youth.

    Anything from Frederick Wiseman - I love his documentaries, very "fly on the wall" feel.

    4 votes
  5. meatrocket
    Link
    I had the pleasure of taking a German film course at university this past semester, and I saw some excellent films. My two favorites are: The Wall / Die Wand: Based on a 20th century novel of the...

    I had the pleasure of taking a German film course at university this past semester, and I saw some excellent films. My two favorites are:

    The Wall / Die Wand: Based on a 20th century novel of the same name. A woman goes to a hunting lodge in the Swiss Alps for a retreat when, inexplicably, an invisible and impenetrable barrier surrounds the area on her first night there, and so she must come to terms with her solitude and with living in nature. Breathtaking cinematography, drawing inspiration from the traditions of both the Heimatsfilm and the Robinsonade, but twisting those formulas nicely.

    The Edge of Heaven / Auf der anderen Seite: Fatih Akin's beautiful-yet-tragic story of German-Turkish transnationalism. The legendary Hanna Schygulla is brilliant in her supporting role, but every performance in this film is excellent.

    4 votes
  6. [2]
    autumn
    Link
    Lamb was just my kinda weird, and my partner loves our dog the way the couple loves the lamb in that movie, so it was especially amusing to tease him about it during/after the movie. I recommend...

    Lamb was just my kinda weird, and my partner loves our dog the way the couple loves the lamb in that movie, so it was especially amusing to tease him about it during/after the movie. I recommend not reading anything about it before viewing. It is a bit slow, but the cinematography is beautiful, so I was never bored by it.

    4 votes
    1. Thra11
      Link Parent
      Oooh! I hadn't heard of Lamb before, but as a fan of Icelandic films, Sjón's writing, and slow beautiful cinematography, this could be my kinda weird too...

      Oooh! I hadn't heard of Lamb before, but as a fan of Icelandic films, Sjón's writing, and slow beautiful cinematography, this could be my kinda weird too...

      3 votes
  7. lou
    (edited )
    Link
    I don't watch a lot of movies but I really liked Dune. I watched 1974 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the first time and I really think that's one of the best movies ever made. It's like the most...

    I don't watch a lot of movies but I really liked Dune.

    I watched 1974 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the first time and I really think that's one of the best movies ever made. It's like the most beautiful verse, but the author is Satan. It's as if if Hell gave birth to the most disturbing, yet sublime, poetry. Like watching evil itself. I will never, ever, watch this movie again. But I think the director may be a genius.

    3 votes
  8. Apos
    (edited )
    Link
    My favorite was Tenet. The movie was great but what I was more interested in was the time mechanic. I watched the movie a few times and it gave me such crazy dreams. In one of the dreams I had two...

    My favorite was Tenet. The movie was great but what I was more interested in was the time mechanic. I watched the movie a few times and it gave me such crazy dreams.

    In one of the dreams I had two consciousness. I could literally control myself going forward and backward at the same time in the lucid dream. It was super weird but it made sense while the dream was happening. Like I was two different people with different thoughts at the same time.

    I really hope Tenet gets explored more. Maybe with some sequel or prequel. Or maybe some books. I think there's still a lot of untapped potential with that story.

    3 votes
  9. [6]
    post_below
    Link
    IMO the best movie of 2021 was Tick, Tick... Boom. Lin-Manuel Miranda can't miss apparently. If you're not a fan of musical theatre it may not be for you, but if you are, I challenge you not to...

    IMO the best movie of 2021 was Tick, Tick... Boom.

    Lin-Manuel Miranda can't miss apparently. If you're not a fan of musical theatre it may not be for you, but if you are, I challenge you not to love it.

    3 votes
    1. Bonooru
      Link Parent
      Tick Tick Boom was surprisingly good. I'm seriously miffed that the Superbia song didn't make it into the soundtrack. Why is it that I needed to track down this ridiculous youtube clip to listen...

      Tick Tick Boom was surprisingly good. I'm seriously miffed that the Superbia song didn't make it into the soundtrack. Why is it that I needed to track down this ridiculous youtube clip to listen to the best song in the movie LINK

      2 votes
    2. [4]
      lou
      Link Parent
      What would be the difference between a regular musical film and a musical theater film?

      What would be the difference between a regular musical film and a musical theater film?

      1. [3]
        post_below
        Link Parent
        I don't entirely understand the question, I imagine they would be the same thing. Tick, Tick... Boom is a musical about musical theatre. Both a semi-biography and a love song for the art form at...

        I don't entirely understand the question, I imagine they would be the same thing.

        Tick, Tick... Boom is a musical about musical theatre. Both a semi-biography and a love song for the art form at large.

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          lou
          Link Parent
          I see. I got the impression that the film was similar to musical theater in genre. I enjoy musicals from time to time, but I never watched a musical on stage.

          I see. I got the impression that the film was similar to musical theater in genre. I enjoy musicals from time to time, but I never watched a musical on stage.

          1 vote
          1. post_below
            Link Parent
            There's nothing like a broadway show on stage, everyone should go at least once just for the experience. If you ever get the chance, Book of Mormon is great. Hamilton, of course, is fantastic...

            There's nothing like a broadway show on stage, everyone should go at least once just for the experience. If you ever get the chance, Book of Mormon is great. Hamilton, of course, is fantastic (created by the director of Tick, Tick... Boom). Both are touring.

            2 votes
  10. nothis
    (edited )
    Link
    I saw a lot of movies! What else was there to do? A few highlights: Swiss Army Man (2016) I had this on my list for ages. I guess I kinda was afraid that this was one of these movies that are...

    I saw a lot of movies! What else was there to do? A few highlights:

    Swiss Army Man (2016) I had this on my list for ages. I guess I kinda was afraid that this was one of these movies that are watched because the elevator pitch is so bonkers (a dark comedy about a castaway hallucinating a corpse to be his friend starring Harry Potter as the corpse) and that the initial gimmick loses its novelty 10 minutes in. But no! They actually pull this through, there's even a proper ending and everything. Great movie, if you're prepared!

    Dune (2021) Dune is fantastic and Denis Villeneuve is my new hero. This and Blade Runner 2049 take some of the hardest sci-fi to do and absolutely nail the end result. He's doing Rendezvous with Rama next, which is literally something I dreamed about. Good time for sci-fi!

    Thirst (2009) There's a secret club of vampire movies that are not just ok but easily some of my favorite movies ever. Thirst might have entered it. It's a Korean movie by Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy).

    The Suicide Squad (2021) This was fun and proof that Disney letting themselves get trolled by literal Twitter nazis was their stupidest move in years.

    Tenet (2020) I finally watched this on a friend's wall-sized projector so it was almost like seeing in a movie theater. Yea, it's fun. I believe almost all Nolan movies are ruined by fridge logic (he loves masking plot holes with too-quick-to-evaluate dialogue as a kind of movie-making sleigh of hand). But you watch this for the spectacle, right? I enjoyed it.

    About Time (2013) I was working through my list of time travel movies and my girlfriend wanted to watch a romantic comedy. So we made a deal. This is one of those time travel movies where logic is out the window but it's funny and sweet (and a bit sad towards the end). Made by the creator of Love, Actually and it shows.

    Palm Springs (2020) Another romantic comedy but zanier. I managed to watch this without knowing the twist which was kinda fun so I won't spoil it.

    Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) Another movie long on my list that I was afraid ruining for myself with too high expectations but it's actually as great as I hoped. The kid is perfectly cast.

    Possessor (2020) This is made by the son of David Cronenberg and boy does he keep up family tradition! Ultra-violent and weird, this mind-control/assassination movie is one of the more intense movie experiences I had this year. Not for the faint of heart.

    Promising Young Woman (2020) Another intense movie but more on the absurdist, darkly comedic side. Basically a revenge story without that feeling of redemption, which is an interesting take.

    Another Round (2020) Anyone remember this XKCD comic? That's the movie version of it. It's probably the most subtle and honest take on alcoholism ever done in movies. Darkly funny, bittersweet, like only the Danes can do it.

    3 votes
  11. Akir
    Link
    As far as quality filmmaking goes, the best movie I saw this year was Shadow. But my favorite movie that came out this year was The Mitchells vs. The Machines. That movie was 10 times better than...

    As far as quality filmmaking goes, the best movie I saw this year was Shadow.

    But my favorite movie that came out this year was The Mitchells vs. The Machines. That movie was 10 times better than it had any right to be. It has style constantly oozing out of it and the way they translated the 2D aesthetics into 3D was handled so well that I think this film is something of a technical landmark that I see is already becoming a new standard for animated feature films.

    But most of the movies that I saw that actually came out in 2021 were kind of dull IMHO.

    2 votes
  12. vegai
    (edited )
    Link
    Cloud Atlas (2012) -- an amazing experience of multiple but connected timelines. I don't think Wachowski is a name that automatically means a good movie, but here they generally speaking pull it...

    Cloud Atlas (2012) -- an amazing experience of multiple but connected timelines. I don't think Wachowski is a name that automatically means a good movie, but here they generally speaking pull it off.

    Top Secret! (1984) -- this was recommended by two rather different movie reviewers: Red Letter Media and the Kill James Bond! podcast. I hadn't seen this before, but had seen many of the previous Abrahams/Zucker/Zucker films -- and I think this is the best one. Non-stop gags, many of them I believe extremely cringy even at the time, but somehow it works. Val Kilmer's first role, and he does some amazing rock'n'roll covers -- best Tutti Frutti I've ever heard.

    Heat (1995) -- Superb heist movie. Great shootouts. Does an amazing trick of making you root for the protagonists even though they're quite totally immoral.

    No Country For Old Men (2007) -- Immensily captivating, interesting characters. Feels like Breaking Bad and especially Better Call Saul owes a lot to this movie.

    Ladyhawke (1985) -- The first fantasy movie I've ever seen, I decided to rewatch it after 30 years. It still holds up pretty well, amazingly, although the soundtrack is just horrible. Fortunately, they mostly stop using it during the latter half of the film.

    Inside (2021) -- Bo Burnham's exceptional comedy/depression set.

    2 votes