Top 10 Movies of 2021


Oliver Folan, Arts and Entertainment Editor '22

10. The Rescue

Synopsis: This film follows the rescue of a Thai soccer team trapped in a cave for 16 days.

The Rescue is an incredibly stress-inducing documentary about caving. The things these men did were beyond remarkable and well worth making a documentary about. It’s currently available on Disney Plus.


9. C’mon C’mon

Synopsis: Johnny and his young nephew forge a tenuous but transformational relationship when they embark on a cross-country trip to see life away from Los Angeles.

C’mon C’mon gave me the most emotionally impactful movie-watching experience I had all year. It’s not a particularly sad film, but it is profoundly beautiful. I couldn’t help but cry while watching this.


8. The Power of the Dog

Synopsis: A domineering rancher responds with mocking cruelty when his brother brings home a new wife and her son until the unexpected comes to pass.

It took me a while to get into The Power of the Dog, but once I understood where the story was going, I completely fell in love with it. Jane Champion directs this film with an unmatched amount of control. It’s such an uncomfortable film that is able to create very intense sequences out of seemingly very little. The screenplay is also masterful in how interesting and tight it managed to be, and I genuinely did not expect where the story was heading. The film is currently on Netflix. I would be very happy if this won best picture at the Oscars.


7. Titane

Synopsis: Following a series of unexplained crimes, a former firefighter is reunited with his son who has been missing for 10 years.

Titane is easily the most challenging film I have seen all year. However, despite this, it also might be the most sincere film I’ve seen all year. If you like cars, then this is the movie for you.


6. Red Rocket

Synopsis: Finding himself down and out in Los Angeles, ex-porn star Mikey Saber decides to crawl back to his hometown of Texas City, Texas, where his estranged wife and mother-in-law are living.

This is the third film I’ve seen from director Sean Baker, and it might just be my favorite of his. Red Rocket paints a very damaging portrait of America that I found to be endlessly fascinating. At first glance, our main “protagonist,” who goes by the name of Mikey Saber, is charming and funny, but the more the audience gets to know about him and the way he acts, the more we come to realize that his man is a narcissistic piece of trash in a country that is systematically working to support him. Mikey is placed in this industrial backdrop where factories seem to surround him everywhere he goes as if the entire world is on his side. This film has gotten a lot of comparisons to Uncut Gems due to the fact that both films are character studies about very scummy people, but unlike Howard Ratter, Mikey Saber is a truly unredeemable person. In many ways, my hatred for this person was what drove my interest in the film. This is mainly due to Simon Rex’s excellent performance as Mikey.


5. Licorice Pizza

Synopsis: Alana Kane and Gary Valentine grow up, run around, and fall in love in California’s San Fernando Valley in the 1970s.

More than any other Paul Thomas Anderson film, Licorice Pizza’s objective is to entertain. It’s a sweet ode to the hangout films of the ’70s, and its structure is incredibly loose, allowing a lot of really fun characters to come and go only for them to never be seen again. The film has this unshakable charm which can be mainly attributed to its two miraculous lead performances. Alana Haim has such an infectious quality that makes it hard to take your eyes off her, and the fact that she didn’t get nominated for best actress at the Oscars is a shame. The same can be said for Copper Hoffman. The film’s screenplay is also on point, and the fact that Paul Thomas Anderson wrote it on a word document is both hilarious and inspiring. My only problem with the film is the way it ends. I liked the final scene, but that final shot felt rushed and I’m not in love with what it implied. Regardless, Licorice Pizza is without a doubt one of my favorite films of the year.


4. Benedetta

Synopsis: In the late 17th century, with plague ravaging the land, Benedetta Carlini joins the convent in Pescia, Tuscany, as a novice. Capable from an early age of performing miracles, Benedetta’s impact on life in the community is immediate and momentous.

Benedetta was perhaps the most fun I had in a theater all year. It’s hilarious, disturbing, and violent, but above all, insanely interesting and thought-provoking. Benedetta is a fascinating film about the hypocrisy of the catholic church in the 17th century, among many other things. Going into it, I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular, which is perhaps why I ended up being so surprised by it. Much like Titane, this will end up not being for everyone, but I loved it nonetheless.


3. The French Dispatch

Synopsis: A love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city that brings to life a collection of stories published in “The French Dispatch.”

I watched The French Dispatch for the second time about a week ago, and I’ve come to the realization that this is yet another masterpiece in the catalog of director Wes Anderson. It’s a near-perfect amalgamation of everything he has done up until this point, and it’s beautiful to watch unfold. There are so many great characters and stories, and Wes takes so many thematic and visual risks that the experience can feel overwhelming. The French Dispatch is a beyond impressive accomplishment and a must-see.


2. Dune

Synopsis: Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people.

Watching Dune on the big screen was one of the year’s biggest pleasures. Stunning cinematography, stunning costumes, stunning score, stunning everything. As far as mainstream action blockbusters go, this is as good as it gets.


1. Bo Burnham: Inside

Synopsis: Comedian Bo Burnham shoots and performs a comedy special over the course of a year, all alone, with no crew or audience.

In Bo Burnham: Inside, Bo Burnham transformed the idea of a comedy-special with this introspective and sad depiction of the feeling of isolation during the early days of covid and quarantining. The songs are hilarious and well-written, and Bo Burnham’s cinematography is genuinely beautiful. There’s a surprising about of emotion and sadness embedded in this film, and I can’t imagine someone not relating in some way to what Bo Burnham goes through in it. In many ways, Bo Burnham plays a character who, much like any other movie character, undergoes an arc over the course of the film. I can’t recommend Bo Burnham: Inside enough; it is on Netflix right now so go watch it.