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So we are over halfway through the year 2021, and with big releases coming out I figured why not take a look at the best movies (according) to me (so far) since January. As always, you can find these rankings 24/7, as well as where to stream over 5,000 movies, on MovieRankings.net. To find more info on 2021 movies, just go to FILTER on the site, then select AVERAGE, JEFF D LOWE, or KENJAC under RATINGS, then go down to YEAR and select 2021, then hit APPLY FILTERS. Boom, all the 2021 movies in the database, what they're ranked, trailers, where to watch, and much more.
25) WEREWOLVES WITHIN (82/100): One of the more under-the-radar movies on the list, 'Werewolves Within' is available for rent and one of the better horror comedies in recent memory. A genre that sometimes feels forced, this movie boasts a cast of some hilarious people who get to deliver a damn good comedy script.
24) STILLWATER (82/100): Director Tom McCarthy ('Spotlight', the underrated 'Win Win') is back for the newest Matt Damon movie with 'Stillwater'. While it lands in the Top 25, I have to say that I was a tad let down by the finished product. While I do think the acting is great, and the story elements are there, the way the story plays out just doesn't grab me enough in terms of drama. The best way to describe this movie is that it is just… lacking… something.
23) ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE (82/100): Zack Snyder's 'Justice League' is a grand, epic story that rights all the wrongs of the previous version of the movie. It may be a bit bloated and long, but this logic-defying production from the heart and soul of Snyder should more than satisfy comic book movie fans everywhere. There are a handful of issues that drag the movie down a bit but considering the restraints they had to deal with in re-doing the movie, they got the most out of it as they could.
22) LUCA (83/100): This movie is yet another solid release from Pixar, but the newest movie on Disney+ never breaks through into the studio's signature zone of greatness. For me 'Luca' just took the wrong route with the story and characters, usually, it is the weird (in this case sea creatures) side of things that puts together the most intrigue for Pixar's stories. What they did here seemed almost too "normal" and "safe," much like the much-disliked 'Good Dinosaur' release. The movie had the potential to be great but, instead, ended up just being decent.
21) GODZILLA VS. KONG (83/100): This movie lives up to its promise to deliver on what the title promotes, as the newest sequel brings as much badass monster-fighting action as you'd hope to see. Is the movie high-art? Does it have deep characterization? Script-wise, will this movie blow you away? No, and it's not intended to be any of that, this movie is here to kick some ass, and does just that, and more.
20) THE WHITE TIGER (84/100): For all of the issues Netflix has with many of its original content and movie releases, 'The White Tiger' is a great example of a movie I wish they would have pushed a bit more. It's a drama with a sharp edge, drenched in some satire, but the performance of Adarsh Gourav is what truly makes it stand out.
19) LITTLE FISH (84/100): This is definitely a tough, and quite sad, story that really plays into the darkness that has been the two years, or so, meaning it might not be everyone's cup of tea. But it's worth watching solely for the deeply passionate performances from both Olivia Cooke and Jack O'Connell.
18) I CARE A LOT (84/100): Rosamund Pike shines in ‘I Care A Lot’, a dark comedy thriller littered with unlikeable characters. The critique this movie got from audiences is a big reason as to why I liked it. Personally, the hate-ability of the characters works quite well for me. I don't really need anyone to "root for," so long as the story is compelling enough to engage with. This movie will surely piss people off, but, as I've said since its release, that is sort of the point.
17) A QUIET PLACE PART II (85/100): While I am not in the camp that finds this movie to be better than its predecessor, it was a pleasant surprise to see 'A Quiet Place Part II' succeed in places sequels oftentimes fail. The movie never feels like a retreat of the first, or a story trying to recapture the magic, instead, the filmmakers decided to expand the universe in different ways, all while finding a way to retain the same tension and horror from the original.
16) PALMER (85/100): Emotionally speaking, this movie will absolutely shred you to your core. There is so much passion and heart in this movie, especially its message, but it is all made possible by a cast that really delivers on their performances. Justin Timberlake, Juno Temple (Ted Lasso!), and, especially, Ryder Allen all put forth their best in a movie that will leave a mark on you.
15) FEAR STREET PART 3: 1666 (86/1): See my review on this trilogy at the 9th spot on this list…
14) ZOLA (86/100): This movie is so A24 that it fucking hurts. A story based around a viral moment from new media (Twitter of all places), is the type of release that the studio thrives with. Given the source material, drawing out this story and concept would've likely broken the movie, but the break-neck speed results in an insane ride that is one of the best times you'll have with a movie this year.
13) THE MITCHELLS VS. THE MACHINES (87/100): Another Netflix Original and, once again, another rather large surprise! But when you realize that two of the people behind it are Phil Lord & Chris Miller ('Jump Street' series, 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse'), it begins to make sense. This movie has everything you'd want from an animated release, a fun, high-energy story, with a solid message, good humor, and a very unique and eye-popping animate style.
12) NOBODY (87/100): Think about 'John Wick', okay now imagine a slightly worse version of 'John Wick', but with some really well-time and written humor. That's what you get with 'Nobody'! Did I expect this movie to be nearly great? Not really, but this is another successful release that really shouldn't be a shock when you look at the people involved. Few people in Hollywood pack the charm and charisma of Bob Odenkirk, and this vehicle offers up a whole different way for him to thrive.
11) THE COURIER (88/100): Has anyone else seen this movie? No? No. That should change because it is quietly one of the best releases of 2021. 'The Courier' is a high-octane, intense, mystery spy-thriller with Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role. Need I say more?
10) NO SUDDEN MOVE (89/100): Has there ever been a faker retirement than Steven Soderbergh leaving movie making? He's been back for a little while, released some decent movies ('Unsane), some bad movies ('The Laundromat'), and a few in between. But 'No Sudden Move' is a return to what makes him one of my favorite directors. The 'Ocean's Eleven' director took a fucking dynamite cast (INCLUDING BRENDAN FRASER) and put together one of his classic crime-heist-mystery stories that will have you on the edge of your seat from the jump.
09) FEAR STREET PART 2: 1978 (89/100): This whole trilogy needs to be seen on Netflix by everybody, even if horror isn't quite your cup of tea! The best of the bunch 'Part 2' gives off a very old-school "summer camp" horror vibe that feels, in a great way, like the classic horror slashers of the past. The weakest of the bunch is 'Part 1', but I also have 'Part 3' on this list, a movie that is a little over-stuffed, yet completes the trilogy in a fantastic way.
08) RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON (90/100): Disney Animation Studios shows once again that they've pulled right up next to Pixar in terms of excellent animated releases with 'Raya and the Last Dragon'. With stunning visuals, great music, an awesome story, the proof of the studio's ability to really push the envelope of their animated kids' movies is as evident as ever.
07) THE SUICIDE SQUAD (90/100): This movie is an absolutely insane, wild ride that will have you on the edge of your seat until the credits roll. James Gunn's construction of this movie, throwing the audience off its axis while being tossed around be a blast of a story, is what makes this movie work. Would a normal, linear story have played? Yes, the characters are likable, there is a ton of humor, and the R-rated action is fucking crazy, but the creative way in which the story plays out pushes this movie over the top.
06) IN THE HEIGHTS (91/100): With an uplifting story that will have your spirits lifted right through the roof, 'In the Heights' is an excellent musical. Going from the Broadway stage to the big screen is no small task, but it is one Lin Manuel Miranda and co. seem to have perfected with this movie. The charm and up-close-and-personal feeling of a stage performance come through in all of the set pieces and musical performances. This movie is a charm, no doubt about it.
05) NINE DAYS (92/100): My list of top five movies for the year (so far) is packed with three smaller releases that everyone needs to check out. This movie is a fucking tour de force of screenwriting and acting. It's raw, stripped-down, human, and very real, yet takes a more fantastical route to its storytelling and message. The story (A man interviews five unborn souls to determine which one can be given life on Earth.) is much different than anything I've seen in a while and will put a big fat emotional stamp on how you feel by the time the movie ends.
04) PIG (92/100): It's become clear in the last few years that, when given the appropriate script and story to work with, Nic Cage still has it. This has not been any more evident than with his newest release, 'Pig'. Honestly, we may never see Nic Cage act like this again in his career. It's far from over, and he has many movies left, but that is just how good he is in 'Pig'. The story and writing all deliver, but this is a Cage showcase and he deserves some revived Oscars-love for it.
03) THE GREEN KNIGHT (93/100): Oh man, I absolutely love this shit. Speaking of A24, we are back again with another movie that just drips artsy, obnoxious nonsense that I will eat up every fucking time. This movie isn't for everyone (as the audience reviews show), but I was sucked in hook, line, and sinker. It takes a classic Arthurian tale and turns it on its head. This is how you take source material we've seen over and over again for years and turn it into something deeply fresh and compelling. On top of all of that, this movie looks fucking insane. Line up the Oscars right now for anything related to cinematography or costume design.
02) JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH (93/100): Living up to its lofty pre-release hype, 'Judas and the Black Messiah' is a home run right off the bat of incredible performances by both Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield. Seriously, when it comes to acting, this movie may take the cake from the beginning of the year right through to the end. This is one heavy movie that everyone should make sure to see, not just because of the importance (and relevance) of the subject matter, but also because it's just damn good.
01) QUO VADIS, AIDA? (94/100): This movie will have you dripping sweat with how tightly wound up it is in terms of emotion and tension. A Bosnian war film, a big reason why it may be off your radar, the great RearAd put me on to this movie with a few tweets earlier in the year. It is a movie that wears its heart and raw story right on its sleeve, you truly feel everything the filmmakers want you to feel. 'Quo Vadis, Aida?' breaks through any cliches or tired tropes from the war movies you've come to know. Any movie of this stature in terms of war and loss that can help you connect on a personal level with the characters and story is a triumph.
More movie reviews to come, including The Suicide Squad on Monday.
Until next time, enjoy some movies, and make sure to check out MovieRankings.net.