The Oscar Project
So far in my Year in Review posts, I've covered surprises and disappointments in films in 2021. I looked at my favorite individual performances and highlighted some of my top short films that I saw this year. For the last several days, I explored my top ten first time watches and now it's time to count down my top ten films of 2021.
Released over the summer as a direct to Disney+ release, Luca came as a refreshing story about Luca and Alberto, two young boys learning to fit in as part of a world where they don't truly belong. As sea monsters, they are extreme outsiders in the small seaside Italian town of Portorosso. The town is "ruled" by an extremely egocentric bully mame Ercole who has cheated his way to winning the annual Portorosso Cup many years in a row.
Alberto and Luca team up with Giulia, the daughter of a local fisherman, in an attempt to win the Cup, a triathlon around and through the town. They plan to use the prize money to purchase their own Vespa scooter and use it to travel the world, living a life of freedom and adventure.
Complicating matters is Alberto's need to work with Giulia's father on his fishing boat, the fact that both Alberto and Luca turn back into sea monsters whenever they touch water, and Luca's parents scouring the town for their son in the lead up to the race.
In the end, Luca is a beautifully made film. Like all Pixar releases, the color palette is striking, from the blues and greens of the underwater world, to the browns, yellows, and oranges of the town. Director Enrico Casarosa is a veteran artist and writer for over 15 years of Pixar features, so he knows the formula and applies it well to this subject matter.
Before I go for today, I wanted to call out a handful of films that didn't quite make the top 10 this year, but were worthy of recognition.
#13. No Time to Die
The final Bond film featuring Daniel Craig in the lead role left a little to be desired, especially compared with some of his other entries in the franchise. That said, this Bond definitely felt updated for the time we live in, including a black woman filling Bond's 007 moniker when he was presumed dead and Bond trying to settle down as a bit of a family man. I'm not sure if Bond's womanizing days are completely over, but it definitely had a different tone than any Bond before it.
#12. The Mitchells vs. the Machines
I mentioned this among my surprises of the year last week, but felt it needed mentioning again here. It is a fun family film, that brings home a good message of standing with your family, even if you don't always get along fully or even understand each other. It is also a cautionary tale about the dangers of technology in our ever more interconnected world.
#11. Shang-Chi: Legend of the Ten Rings
There was only so much space in my top 10 for Marvel films and unfortunately Shang-Chi fell just out of the list. It was a strong debut for the character, and some parts were visually stunning, but it just didn't feel connected to the greater Marvel universe quite yet. I'm sure that will come as we see the characters pop up in other Marvel properties in the next few years, but I couldn't quite elevate this to top ten status.
Don't forget to check back every day through the end of the year for a new film from my top ten each day!
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?