It’s been a hot second since I’ve found myself going through as many ups and downs, in terms of the entertainment I consume, as I did in 2021. The producers behind most of the franchises I enjoy, or new movies I was looking forward to, must have decided to hold a competition behind the scenes, seeing who could release the worst product. At the top of the bad from last year were the atrocities of The Suicide Squad, Infinite, and Godzilla vs. Kong.
On the other side of the coin, through a year that I like to refer to as “The Yucks,” there were some pretty great movies and shows. Since the Oscars have had such low ratings and literally haven’t had a host for 4 years now, I thought I’d take a stab at it, hosting my own version of an award show. There are not going to be like 50 million categories just so we’re all on the same page. Without further introduction, these are what I felt was the best the entertainment world had to offer in 2021.
Best Made-For-TV Movie
Winner: Steve Franks – Psych 3: This is Gus
Honestly, there’s not really a lot to talk about with this one, I’m just impressed that for a 3rd movie, its script actually treats the characters with respect and doesn’t try and destroy them. It’s really funny and takes the story in new directions that expand on what the original show stood for. Also, seeing this cast back on-screen together is always something special.
Dave Filoni – The Bad Batch
Winner: Christian Linke, Alex Yee – Arcane
Based on the game League of Legends, which I literally know nothing about, Arcane finds a way to tell an awesome story that engrosses you with every second. The story is told through 3 different perspectives, giving enough time on each storyline to be properly fleshed out, and knows just the right times to weave into other parts of the world. The main character Vi stands out and is incredibly well-written, but every character is great. I only started watching it because I’d heard from people online that it was really good and, for once, I’m glad I listened.
Best Limited Series
Jonathan IgIa, Rhys Thomas – Hawkeye
Kari Skogland – The Falcon and the Winter Solider
Winner: Mike Flanagan – Midnight Mass
I’m gonna keep my thoughts on this short, as I went into Mass knowing nothing, and think you should do the same. Every time I thought I knew where this story was headed, the genius script went somewhere completely different, yet completely warranted. It’s not going to work for everyone, as there are large portions of episodes where characters monologue off one another. If you’re looking for a captivating thinking man’s story, look no further than Midnight Mass.
Jacques Jouffret – Joe Bell
Linus Sandgren – No Time To Die
Winner: Patrick Scola – Pig
Pig stands out as more than just another Nic Cage film. Rather than being a film that pokes fun at, or even ripping off, films like John Wick, with Cage’s character seeking revenge over an animal, it uses this story to portray themes of loss, regret, and even asks the question; Is there a line where redemption is no longer possible? These themes are presented best through Pig’s cinematography. It’s a film where almost every shot could be framed and tell its own story. There are few modern movies where if you turn the sound off you could easily follow the story and, due to its impressive camerawork, Pig is one of those films.
Most Memorable Moment
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes Fight – Willy’s Wonderland
“Who’s gonna say it? I’m not gonna say it.” – Zack Snyder’s Justice League
Winner: Bond’s Sacrifice – No Time To Die
No Time To Die is full of awesome action sequences that naturally move the story forward, and blend well with the overall themes of the film. With every James Bond there comes a time to pass the torch, what was so great about having Bond sacrifice himself was that it not only worked for his character development, the overall story but again, tied the idea of changing actors into the plot. This is an idea that makes stories such as Bioshock, or even Avengers: Endgame so timeless and unforgettable. Predictable or not, this moment will always stand out in Bond and Cinema history.
Biggest Surprise Feature
Winner: Johannes Roberts – Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Really, I just made this category up as an excuse to talk about this movie. I have only played about 20 minutes of the demo to Resident Evil: 2 Remake, and that’s about all knew about the games before going into this film, but I was really surprised. The story was interesting, the camera work was cool, over the course of the movie I cared about the main characters, and the action was all really fun. I can’t wait for this to come out on Blu-Ray so I can be welcomed back into Raccoon City.
Best Feature That No One Really Talked About, But I Still Enjoyed
John Lee Hancock – The Little Things
Tom McCarthy – Stillwater
Winner: Lisa Joy – Reminiscence
A film that stars Hugh Jackman, and only has 1 or 2 actions sequences is not an everyday thing. The story takes time to develop the relationship that Jackman and co-star Rebecca Ferguson share, and the mystery of who Ferguson’s character is, that’s the main focus of the plot. Its visual style and costume design are very ‘reminiscent’ of Blade Runner, but that’s not a bad thing, and the story doesn’t rely on ideas from other properties to have its own voice. Reminiscence is no doubt a slow burn, but what it has to say about nostalgia, and the impact small moments can change us in meaningful ways make this a mystery worth figuring out.
Best Feature of 2021
Michael Sarnoski – Pig
Edgar Wright – Last Night in Soho
Kevin Lewis – Willy’s Wonderland
Winner: Cary Joji Fukunaga – No Time To Die
Literally, the only thing I don’t like about this movie is how little time is given to developing the villain, I absolutely love everything else. This was not only a near-perfect James Bond story but also has some of the best action in the franchise. (Nearly) Every character was well developed, the long runtime was earned, and the score only backs all these things up. OH MY GOSH, THE SCORE IS FANTASTIC. I will sorely miss Daniel Craig as Bond, and clearly so will the producers of the series. To me, there are 3 things that make a great blockbuster; Character, Action, Story. No Time To Die excels in all these categories and even more.