The Oscar Project
We are just a few weeks away from the end of 2021 and it's time to look back at the movies we watched this year and see what ended up as our favorites, least favorites, and maybe look at some surprises. I have put togethers several lists of my top films of the year including my top 10 of 2021, top 10 films I watched for the first time this year that were NOT released this year, and my favorite performances of the year.
I originally planned this as one long post, but decided to break it up, especially since a few of my potential top films of the year have yet to be released. Enjoy enjoy the lists and please feel free to leave a comment below with your favorites of the year!
Biggest Surprises of 2021
I'm going to go a little bit in reverse and start with the "smaller" categories. First up is my biggest surprise of the year and I have two.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines
This heartwarming animated family film released on Netflix in the spring immediately shot to the top of the the watchlist for my kids and I actually fell in love with it as well. At first glance, it feels a bit unconventional, but serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of technology, specifically our over dependence on phones, social media, and the internet in general. Think of it like Terminator, but made for a much younger audience.
I think my favorite part about the film is that the "heroes" are just an average family. They are having trouble connecting with each other as they often end up staring at their phones over dinner. Rugged outdoorsy father Rick (Danny McBride) doesn't understand his artsy daughter Katie (Abbi Jacobson) and decides to take the entire family on a cross country road trip to drop her off at college. They encounter a robot apocalypse initiated by a newly self-aware AI PAL (Olivia Colman) that had originally been developed by a company that has a friendly blue and white color scheme and technie owner named Mark who tries to be cool and hip even in the face of his technology turning on the world. The real world analogs are a bit obvious, but that's what makes it relatable.
Overall, I didn't expect to enjoy the film as much as I did, but as anyone with kids knows, once they find something they like, parents get the chance to watch it over and over, and fortunately this was one I didn't mind watching a few times.
Army of the Dead
I have long claimed to not be a fan of horror movies and zombie movies. I never really get into the gruesome nature of them, but I will admit that my feelings on these genres are changing a bit in the last few years and Army of the Dead helped that this year.
Zack Snyder has a long list of blockbuster hits in his directorial filmography including 300, Watchmen, Man of Steel, and Justice League so it is no surprise that he can deliver big on screen action in a zombie film like this. Granted, this isn't going to land anywhere in my top films of the year, but I was entertained nonetheless. The visuals of the zombie apocalypse that open the film are nothing less than stunning.
Once the main thrust of the film gets going, there isn't much that really surprises, though the zombie tiger is pretty cool. In the end, this film alone isn't enough to completely change my thoughts on zombie films, but working in tandem with the Zombieland films, it can inch me ever more in the direction of accepting this genre and at least being open to checking these films out in the future.
Don't forget to come back tomorrow to find out a few of the biggest disappointments of 2021.
I'm just a film buff who wants to watch great movies. Where else to find the best, than the list of those nominated by the Academy each year?