The Best & Worst of 2021

Nine Days was a little film with big ideas and one of the years best

List compiled by Eddie on 22/12/2021

I think we all were the same in hoping that 2021 was a more “normal” year compared to what occurred in 2020 but sadly this was not to be the case, which meant our film intake suffered because of the ongoing global situation we find ourselves in. 

Thinking positively though, at least 2021 provided us more freedoms than 2020 did with many delayed films of the previous year finally making their way onto our big and small screens, giving us plenty of goodness to consume. 

The industry finds itself in a very intriguing place with viewing habits perhaps changing forever following on from almost two years of Covid affected ways of life but here’s hoping big cinematic films can still find themselves being supported by audiences across the globe to ensure we still get films like Dune to enjoy on the format they were intended to be viewed on. 

Overall 2021’s slate of films was a bit of a mixed bag, there were a number of misses from films we expected more from and a lack of genuine “small films” outside of a select few but there were enough surprises and wins to ensure the year was a big step up from the previous 12 months content wise. 

Below is my summary of the best and worst we endured and enjoyed and all picks are based off Australian release dates so it’s likely some people may’ve seen these films some time ago as the land down under played catch up!

Here’s to a great 2022. 

Happy reading and happy watching!  

10 Best Films of 2021

Bob Odenkirk delivered action goodness in Nobody

10. Nobody 

If someone were to have said to me the years best action film would be a John Wick like comedy hybrid that was lead by a ripped Saul Goodman and a shotgun wielding Doc Brown I would’ve laughed in their face at the mere suggestion of such a crazy statement but low and behold Nobody was an incredibly fun romp that showed a completely different side to star Bob Odenkirk and set in a place a new hopeful franchise to look forward to in the future. 

Read my review here.

9. No Time to Die 

There was a lot of pressure on the final Daniel Craig film to deliver, both due to the nature of its rounding out of an era and also the delays the film faced due to Covid-19 but despite the fact it’s far from perfect, director Cary Joji Fukunaga and his star managed to create an epic send off for Craig that created one of 2021’s best Hollywood blockbusters and one of the more memorable finales of the year too boot.  

Read my review here.

8. The Power of the Dog 

A divisive film no doubt and Netflix’s greatest hope at this coming awards season, Jane Campion’s unnerving western featured a collection of fantastic performances highlighted by a powerful Benedict Cumberbatch turn, creating one of the more unique genre offering’s I’ve seen. Not for everyone, The Power of the Dog is likely to be spoken about for many years yet to come with the film community debating its merits or flaws. 

Read my review here.

7. The Last Duel 

An unfortunate box office disaster, Ridley Scott’s slow but gripping medieval drama tells an important story in an inventive way and features three standout performances from its main cast of Matt Damon, Adam Driver and Jodie Comer. Wonderfully shot and put together, The Last Duel is Ridley Scott’s best film in many a moon, just a shame not enough people went to see it. 

Read my review here.  

6. The Father 

A haunting examination of one’s mind failing them and age catching up with oneself, The Father is stunningly lead by the Oscar winning Anthony Hopkins and announced director Florian Zeller as a force to be reckoned with as he bought his play to life in a captivating way. 

Read my review here. 

Our Friend was a moving drama that featured some of Jason Segal’s best work yet

5. Our Friend 

A film that for various reasons was unable to strike a chord with many mainstream critics and was virtually dumped by its studio to little fanfare, Our Friend is a touching drama based on a true story and features great work from its main cast that included Casey Affleck, Jason Segal and Dakota Johnson. A life affirming tale and one told with a grace and care by director Gabriela Cowperthwaite, Our Friend is the one film from 2021 you probably haven’t seen but absolutely should. 

Read my review here. 

4. Nitram

A haunting and unforgettable Australian film that examines the events leading up to infamous Tasmanian mass murderer Martin Bryant’s terrifying attack at the Port Arthur historical site. Nitram is arguably the best film yet from director Justin Kurzel and features star Caleb Landry Jones’s career best performance in his Cannes Film Festival winning portrayal of Bryant. 

Read my review here. 

3. Pig

A genuine surprise that against all the odds gave its star Nicolas Cage his best role in decades, Pig was the little film that could as it movingly examined grief and loss in the most surprising ways possible. Not at all the film you expect it too be, if you haven’t already given it a chance Pig is a must-see. 

Read my review here. 

2. Dune: Part One

Unquestionably the cinematic experience of the year, Dune is the type of big screen spectacle we don’t get enough of these days as beloved director Denis Villenueve brought his passion project to vivid life with an all round epic that was a sight to behold! Leaving things in a way that makes you hungry for more, it’s exciting to know that more Dune goodness is heading our way in the coming years. 

Read my review here.  

1. Nine Days 

A unique and moving experience, Nine Days is worth seeking out

A marvellous debut film from director Edson Oda, Nine Days is a high concept film with a beating heart and some truly moving components. The film may require viewers to go along with a core concept that some may struggle to come to grips with but for anyone that is willing to be carried away by Oda’s meditation on what it means to be alive and the human experience, this little film that reaches for the stars will become a transcendent movie watching experience. 

Read my review here.  

10 Worst Films of 2021

The Saw franchise wasn’t able to be saved by Chris Rock’s Spiral

10. Spiral: From the Book of Saw 

Even the most enthusiastic of Saw fans would admit that this once noteworthy horror series should’ve been laid to rest a long time ago but Chris Rock obviously felt differently as he lead a name brand revive that sadly failed to create a reason to exist. Filled with questionable acting, plot developments and some lame traps, Spiral is a non-event and the final nail in Saw’s coffin. 

Read my review here. 

9. The Many Saints of Newark 

A hugely lackluster mobster outing disguised as a Soprano’s film, The Many Saints of Newark failed to hit the noteworthy marks of the hit HBO series and did nothing to offer up a reason as to why it exists outside of a quick wannabe cash grab. 

Read my review here. 

8. Halloween Kills 

Many fans of the long running Halloween franchise had high hopes for what this long awaited sequel to the well-liked 2018 reboot could be but what they were greeted with was a terribly misguided outing that made you wish for the end of this slasher brand once and for all. Featuring one of 2021’s dumbest plot lines, Halloween Kills does nothing but end the good will of anyone still supporting the outings of Michael Myers. 

Read my review here. 

7. Fatherhood

A Netflix original with a lot of potential that gets wasted with some very bad storytelling and some awkward acting turns, Fatherhood has its heart in the right place but this based on a true life dramedy fails to make much of a mark and raises more questions than answers about Kevin Hart’s ability to carry drama films. 

Read my review here. 

6. Don’t Breathe 2 

A sequel nobody asked for and a sequel we really didn’t need, Don’t Breathe 2 works neither as a horror or a thriller as it struggles to find a key ingredient to justify its existence. Here’s hoping this is the last time we get more blind justice from a brand that need not appear again. 

Read my review here. 

Chris Pratt continues to hunt for a good role after the letdown that was The Tomorrow War

5. The Tomorrow War 

This big budget Amazon original has potential too burn and some seemingly intriguing ideas but this is nothing more than a video game light feature that fails to make use of any its cast, ideas, budget or story elements. A hugely boring and totally forgettable outing, only the most forgiving could say The Tomorrow War is a passable film. 

Read my review here. 

4. Infinite 

Much like The Tomorrow War, Infinite is a big budget sci-fi streaming exclusive that on paper appears to be capable of providing some mindlessly entertaining content but instead frustrates and bores with its charmless and unimaginative elements. Lead by a sleepwalking Mark Wahlberg, this Antoine Fuqua effort is a new low for all involved. 

Read my review here. 

3. Red Notice 

A charmless and witless wannabe adventure romp, Red Notice may hold the title of one of the most popular Netflix films of all time but it should be ashamed of itself for being such a generic and lethargic offering. Featuring the worst ensemble performances of the year with the needs to stop Ryan Reynolds, a same old Dwayne Johnson and a struggling Gal Gadot, Red Notice is all that’s wrong with modern blockbusters in the streaming age. 

Read my review here. 

2. Army of the Dead 

There was so much hope for Army of the Dead, hope that it would reignite Zack Snyder’s directing career, start a whole new zombie franchise and give Netflix a big win in original movie stakes but what we got was an against all the odds boring two hour plus zombie outing that has more plot holes than Vegas does poker tables and makes one wonder more than ever before if the Zack Snyder we grew too love is gone forever? 

Read my review here. 

1. The Woman in the Window 

Amy Adam must have been doing some serious self pondering after her Netflix failure The Woman in the Window

In a list of stinkers filled with Netflix offerings, Woman in the Window stands out above them all as Joe Wright and his leading lady Amy Adams struggle to bring A.J Finn’s best selling book to life. A thriller that never thrills and a mystery that never intrigues, Wright’s outing features one of Adams worst ever acting performances and goes down as the biggest turkey of 2021. 

Read my review here. 

Best Director

Denis Villeneuve (Dune) 

Denis Villeneuve has become the king of Sci-Fi over the last few years

Finally getting the chance to make the film he dreamed about making since he was a teenager, the increasingly masterful Denis Villeneuve provided the cinematic spectacle of the year with his epic adaptation of Frank Herbert’s well liked series. Operating at a level over the last 10 years that stakes his claim to be the best director currently working today, the pressure was on Villeneuve to deliver but deliver he did with a film I am sure will continue to find a bigger audience over the next few years. 

Best Actor

Nicolas Cage (Pig) 

Need reminding that Nicolas Cage can in fact act, Pig is that film

His been somewhat of a laughing stock over the last few decades, in many instances for good reason, but Nicolas Cage reminded us all of the performer that he can be with his masterful turn as the tortured and grieving Rob. A performance filled with little nuances that add up to create one of his very best, Cage’s role in Pig created an unexpected experience that is worth celebrating. Here’s hoping a new career trajectory is now in play for Cage from here on out.   

Best Actress

Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) 

Carey Mulligan was on career best form in Promising Young Woman

An incendiary turn from the Oscar nominated Mulligan, the British actresses turn as the determined Cassandra in Emerald Fennell’s blistering debut is one of the most memorable of the last few years. A role that requires a lot from Mulligan, she’s on point throughout and whether it be confronting her demons or singing along to a Paris Hilton pop jam, Mulligan was the best she’s been since her early years and was deserving of all the praise she received for her performance. 

Read my review here. 

Worst Director

Zack Snyder (Army of the Dead) 

Zack Snyder was all laughs on set of his latest zombie outing but viewers were left with nothing but a feeling of disappointment

His proven before that can deliver big time with the likes of Dawn of the Dead and Watchmen but the hoped for return to form for Zack Snyder never eventuated with his Netflix dud Army of the Dead. A lot of hype followed the film before it was released but the dull and lifeless exercise that was the end product really called into question Snyder’s ability to ever find his mojo again.  

Worst Actor

Anthony Michael Hall (Halloween Kills) 

An horrific performance that will forever be burnt into my subconsciousness

“Evil dies tonight”, a call to arms that Anthony Michael Hall’s Tommy Doyle shouts more than a few times in the unfortunately terrible sequel to 2018’s Halloween is a catchphrase that should translate to “Anthony Michael Hall’s career dies tonight” as he embarrasses himself with far too much screen-time in David Gordon Green’s high profile horror release. Doing a better job sweating than acting, Hall should be ashamed at what he dished up here as a key performance in this franchise killer.  

Worst Actress

Amy Adams (The Woman in the Window) 

It’s not often Amy Adams doesn’t knock it out of the park but she was sadly off note in The Woman in the Window

It pains me to put Amy Adams into a category such as this as usually the beloved actress is a standout in most films she puts her name too but in Joe Wright’s Netflix thriller Adams delivers a career worst turn as the traumatized/house bound Anna Fox. Overacting, looking out of place and genuinely just not gelling with the material she had too work with, Adams is uncharacteristically off the mark in The Woman in the Window, yet another high profile Netflix original that fizzled on arrival.  

3 Underrated Films

Jason Statham was as cool as he gets in Wrath of Man

3. Wrath of Man

It might not be a classic but Guy Ritchie’s old school action thriller with a killer Jason Statham performance is a whole lot of fun. Filled with late 80’s/early 90’s vibes and telling a twisting turning story in a typically savvy Ritchie manner, Wrath of Man is hugely enjoyable and proved once more that Ritchie is king of such crime centred offerings.  

Read my review here. 

2. Our Friend

A moving dramedy based on a true story, Our Friend features a trio of great performances from Casey Affleck, Dakota Johnson and Jason Segal and deserves to be found by a much bigger audience than it released too overseas and direct to video here in Australia. 

1. Nine Days

A memorable and moving debut from director Edson Oda, Nine Days is a little film with a big heart as it explores the joys of life and what it means to be a human being. On the basis of this effort I personally can’t wait to see what Oda does next and look forward to seeing Nine Days find more fans in the years to come. 

3 Overrated Films

Ryan Reynolds needs to take his coffee and wry smile on a long overdue break from movies

3. Free Guy

I can see why people would enjoy Free Guy yet while its not the worst film by any stretch of the imagination there’s a lot of forced qualities to the latest Ryan “I’m just going to do my Deadpool routine again” Reynolds starring box office hit that is neither as funny or heartwarming as it wants you to think that it is. 

Read my review here. 

2. The Tomorrow War

A very poor mans The Edge of Tomorrow, The Tomorrow War feels like a very mediocre video game come to life as its nonsensical story takes hold and Chris Pratt tries his hardest to save a sinking ship. One of the years biggest failures and letdowns.  

1. Luca

Pixar is a brand that has become known to go hand in hand with quality but the colourful Luca produces one of their most forced and forgettable entries yet. It feels as though Pixar’s reputation has saved his film in the critical space but its highly unlikely that anyone ever refers back to a film that has little too say and fails where it tries too. 

Read my review here. 

Australian Film of the Year

Nitram

A haunting Australian film, Nitram was the years best local product

A haunting experience and a return to form for director Justin Kurzel, Nitram is a tough film to watch but its incredibly well made and acted and will likely go down as one of the premiere local releases of the last decade. 

Biggest Disappointment

Army of the Dead

Las Vegas and zombies couldn’t save The Army of the Dead from its terrible final product

Zack Snyder and zombies, that last time this combination was on offer we got the great Dawn of the Dead remake but sadly all the hype, solid promotion and hoped for return to form for Snyder never eventuated in this cruelly long and lacking blockbuster. A complete waste of a great idea and set up, Army of the Dead may have been the final nail in the coffin of the once promising career of Snyder the director. 

Biggest Surprise

Pig

No one expected Pig to be the memorable and moving drama it ended up being

I don’t think I was the only one expecting a B-grade Nic Cage movie that could be summed up as Taken with hooves but Pig was anything but. A moving study of grief and mourning, Pig came out of no where to provide a gut-punch emotional roller coaster and gift Nicolas Cage with his best role in many a moon. 

Best Poster

Far cooler than the film it was advertising, this neon soaked poster suggested a fun zombie filled trip to Vegas and while that never eventuated, at least the poster was a success. 

Worst Poster

Well the poster is certainly red tying it in with the title of the film its advertising but Red Notice’s boring poster is about as bland as you could’ve asked for and acts as a sufficient warning sign to anyone heading into the film expecting anything exciting. 

Best Trailer

Nitram

Using a key Judy Davis monologue from the film, Nitram’s highly effective and captivating trailer is the exact type of trailer we don’t see enough of today. Not showing the whole plot and giving little away about the film itself, its refreshing to watch such a promotional effort. 

Worst Trailer

Dear Evan Hansen

If you had to describe Dear Evan Hansen’s trailer in one word it could only be, creepy. There’s something seriously unnatural and off putting about seeing Ben Platt’s school student Evan going about his business when in fact in real life Platt close to 30 years of age. Even without this off putting element the Hallmark vibe of the trailer to this box office dud is sure to have turned many off giving it a chance. 

Top 3 Scenes of 2021 (SPOILERS)

A tension riddled opening take is a highlight of Pieces of a Woman

3. Opening Segment (Pieces of a Woman)

Starting out with an extended 24 minute single shot scene of a childbirth that turns into something tragic, Pieces of a Woman made an early impression that while not sustained throughout the film ensured that this powerful drama was not soon to be forgotten. 

Read my review here. 

2. The Cabin Confrontation (Promising Young Woman)

Leading to one of the most horrific on screen deaths you’d care to remember, Promising Young Woman’s intense sequence where Cassie confronts the long time target of her revenge mission is about as white knuckle and shocking as a film can get. 

1. Bond’s Last Stand (No Time to Die)

A heart racing sequence of events leads up to Daniel Craig’s and James Bond’s final moments with Bond’s final minutes on our screens becoming powerful stuff that combines decades worth of public affection and Craig’s time in the role of his career to deliver an emotionally stirring segment that provides one of the years most cinematic segments. Whatever ones thoughts are about No Time to Die overall, the effectiveness of its characters exit is brilliantly staged.  

What were your highs and lows of 2021 film wise? Let me know in the comments below!

P.S – This will be the last post on Jordan and Eddie for 2021. See you all in 2022! 

8 responses to “The Best & Worst of 2021

  1. Excellent work to bring this all together – “Red Notice” is a terrible waste of $200m of Netflix/our money – exemplifying everything that is bad in modern movie (content) making – enjoy your break

  2. That’s a nice list. On mine, no “Time to die” , no “Nobody” (cause I haven’t seen it yet), and no “Pig” (for the same reason). But sure, there is “The Power of the Dog”, and “The last duel”, and of course “Dune”. We’re on the same planet dear Eddie.

  3. Very interesting lists. Innovative to comment on trailers etc. Not seen all your top ten but the only one I would disagree on is Power of the Dog. Thankfully, I managed to avoid the bulk of the stinkers. Nobody was brilliant I thought. Not so taken by Dune as most others. Interestingly, many Saints of Newark has done incredibly well on streaming. I enjoyed Free Guy but agree with you the Bond scene was the year’s knock-out, totally unexpected and very moving. Silenced the audience that’s for sure.

      • Came as a complete surprise to me. My first instinct was – how dare they? But once the shock wore off it seemed the ideal way to go out. of course, it could all turn out to be a dream if Daniel fancies another whopping pay day.

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