2021: The Lists

Okay, here they are, finally. All those lists I usually post sporadically throughout December, January (and maybe February) in between Oscar stuff. I said I’d get around to it in some form. This is that form. Most of it was done by January 1st, save a couple of performances that took me a bit longer to watch. Really the delay has just been waiting to try to work through all the scores.

I’ve consolidated my lists into what I feel are the essentials, which are: hidden gems from the year, the films that disappointed me/surprised me, favorite performances, favorite documentaries, favorite posters, and of course, favorite scores. They’ll all be presented without comment, because I just don’t feel the need (or have the time and energy) to come up with stuff to say. I liked it all, and I hope you’ll find my opinion trustworthy enough to go watch and/or listen to this stuff yourself if you haven’t already. Plus, odds are you can probably find everything you need in terms of me talking up how much I liked most of these films in my Top Ten list. I think everyone gets the idea by now.

So, without further ado, here’s a bunch of lists of stuff I really liked from this year:

(The Hidden Gems list is basically a consolidation of the underseen and underrated films lists, but is mainly just me saying, ‘Hey, these are all pretty good, you should check them out because most people have no idea they exist or grossly overlooked them and that’s a shame’.)

(Some) Hidden Gems/Underseen Films from 2021

  1. America: The Motion Picture
  2. Blue Bayou
  3. Boiling Point
  4. The Card Counter
  5. Copshop
  6. The Dig
  7. Drunk Bus
  8. The Electrical Life of Louis Wain
  9. The Guilty
  10. I Care a Lot
  11. In and Of Itself
  12. The Last Duel
  13. Mixtape
  14. Nine Days
  15. No Sudden Move
  16. Nobody
  17. The Novice
  18. Our Friend
  19. Pig
  20. Plan B
  21. Psycho Goreman
  22. Riders of Justice
  23. Shadow in the Cloud
  24. Shiva Baby
  25. Supernova
  26. Swan Song (Udo Kier)
  27. Those Who Wish Me Dead
  28. Together Together
  29. Violet
  30. Women Is Losers


The Films of 2021 That Disappointed Me

  1. Antlers
  2. Army of the Dead
  3. Being the Ricardos
  4. Cherry
  5. Crisis
  6. Cruella
  7. Encounter
  8. Godzilla vs. Kong
  9. Halloween Kills
  10. A Journal for Jordan
  11. Locked Down
  12. Respect
  13. Spiral
  14. The Starling
  15. The Woman in the Window


The Films of 2021 That Surprised Me

  1. Army of Thieves
  2. Eternals
  3. Fatherhood
  4. Fear Street Trilogy
  5. Ghostbusters: Afterlife
  6. King Richard
  7. The Matrix Resurrections
  8. Mixtape
  9. Moxie
  10. A Quiet Place Part II
  11. The Suicide Squad
  12. Together Together
  13. Venom: Let There Be Carnage
  14. West Side Story
  15. Wrath of Man


My Favorite Male Lead Performances of 2021

  1. Daniel Craig, No Time to Die
  2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog (and The Electrical Life of Louis Wain)
  3. Matt Damon, The Last Duel
  4. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano
  5. Winston Duke, Nine Days
  6. Colin Firth, Supernova
  7. Andrew Garfield, Tick… Tick… Boom!
  8. Jude Hill, Belfast
  9. Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza
  10. Oscar Isaac, The Card Counter
  11. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
  12. Udo Kier, Swan Song
  13. Anthony Hopkins, The Father
  14. Woody Norman, C’mon C’mon
  15. Simon Rex, Red Rocket
  16. Jason Segal, Our Friend
  17. Will Smith, King Richard
  18. LaKeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah
  19. Jason Statham, Wrath of Man
  20. Stanley Tucci, Supernova


My Favorite Female Lead Performances of 2021

  1. Sandra Bullock, The Unforgivable
  2. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  3. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel
  4. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holliday
  5. Isabelle Fuhrman, The Novice
  6. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci
  7. Mckenna Grace, Ghostbusters: Afterlife
  8. Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza
  9. Rebecca Hall, The Night House
  10. Patti Harrison, Together Together
  11. Emilia Jones, CODA
  12. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
  13. Thomasin McKenzie, Last Night in Soho
  14. Olivia Munn, Violet
  15. Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World
  16. Rachel Sennott, Shiva Baby
  17. Kristen Stewart, Spencer
  18. Honor Swinton Byrne, The Souvenir Part II
  19. Kuhoo Verma, Plan B
  20. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story


My Favorite Male Supporting Performances of 2021

  1. Ben Affleck, The Last Duel
  2. David Alvarez, West Side Story
  3. Jon Bernthal, King Richard
  4. Nicolas Bro, Riders of Justice
  5. Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza
  6. R.J. Cyler, The Harder They Fall
  7. Eugenio Derbez, CODA
  8. Colman Domingo, Zola
  9. Mike Faist, West Side Story
  10. Richard E. Grant, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
  11. Ciaran Hinds, Belfast
  12. Toby Huss, Copshop
  13. Rhys Ifans, The King’s Man
  14. Troy Kotsur, CODA
  15. Alex Lawther, The Last Duel
  16. Jared Leto, House of Gucci
  17. Delroy Lindo, The Harder They Fall
  18. Pineapple Tangaroa, Drunk Bus
  19. Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog
  20. LaKeith Stanfield, The Harder They Fall


My Favorite Female Supporting Performances of 2021

  1. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast
  2. Olivia Colman, The Father
  3. Ana de Armas, No Time to Die
  4. Danielle Deadwyler, The Harder They Fall
  5. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
  6. Judi Dench, Belfast
  7. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog
  8. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard
  9. Harriet Sansom Harris, Licorice Pizza
  10. Gaby Hoffmann, C’mon C’mon
  11. Kathryn Hunter, The Tragedy of Macbeth
  12. Regina King, The Harder They Fall
  13. Marlee Matlin, CODA
  14. Lara McDonnell, Belfast
  15. Rita Moreno, West Side Story
  16. Ruth Negga, Passing
  17. Vinette Robinson, Boiling Point
  18. Saniyya Sidney, King Richard
  19. Suzanna Son, Red Rocket
  20. Harriet Walter, The Last Duel


My Favorite Documentaries of 2021

  1. Ascension
  2. The Beatles: Get Back
  3. The Rescue
  4. Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain
  5. The Sparks Brothers
  6. Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street
  7. Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
  8. Tina
  9. Val
  10. The Velvet Underground


My Favorite Movie Posters of 2021

Honorable Mention: Spiral

50. Die in a Gunfight

49. Infinite

48. Plan B

47. Wrath of Man

46. Gunpowder Milkshake

45. Luca

44. Army of Thieves

43. Old

42. The Eyes of Tammy Faye

41. The Mauritanian

40. Swan Song

39. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

38. Nobody

37. Passing

36. The Little Things

35. National Champions

34. Violet

33. Music

32. Eternals

31. F9

30. Shiva Baby

29. Malcolm and Marie

28. Judas and the Black Messiah

27. The Spine of Night

26. In the Heights

25. Last Night in Soho

24. The Matrix Resurrections

23. Cruella

22. The Night House

21. The Suicide Squad

20. American Skin

19. Summer of Soul

18. Tick… Tick… Boom!


17. The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

16. Black Widow

15. Candyman



14. Venom: Let There Be Carnage

13. No Time to Die

12. Halloween Kills

11. Army of the Dead

10. The Harder They Fall

9. The Tragedy of Macbeth

8. West Side Story

7. The Green Knight

6. The French Dispatch

5. Spencer

4. C’mon C’mon

3. Malignant

2. The Last Duel

1. King Richard


My Favorite Film Scores of 2021

(*I listened to 130 film scores to prepare this list*)

25. F9, Brian Tyler

24. Silent Night, Lorne Balfe

23. No Time to Die, Hans Zimmer

22. Jungle Cruise, James Newton Howard

21. Encanto, Germaine Franco

20. Last Night in Soho, Steven Price

19. The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, Arthur Sharpe

18. The Lost Daughter, Dickon Hinchliffe

17. Nightmare Alley, Nathan Johnson

16. Passing, Devonte Hynes

15. Shadow in the Cloud, Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper

14. Raya and the Last Dragon, James Newton Howard

13. I Care a Lot, Marc Canham

12. Die in a Gunfight, Ian Hultquist

11. Eternals, Ramin Djawadi

Top Ten Film Scores of 2021

10. Dune, Hans Zimmer

9. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Joel P West

8. Cruella, Nicholas Britell

7. The Last Duel, Harry Gregson-Williams

6. Spencer, Jonny Greenwood

5. Luca, Dan Romer


4. Night Teeth, Drum and Lace & Ian Hultquist

3. The French Dispatch, Alexandre Desplat

2. Don’t Look Up, Nicholas Britell

1. Army of Thieves, Hans Zimmer & Steve Mazzaro

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