2021 was an epic year for the silver screen, not to mention the incredible release of at least five Marvel Cinematic Universe movies this year.
Even during a worldwide pandemic, 2021 still managed to bring us a handful of excellent movies which definitely raised the bar for the next few years.
Before we get into the top 10 collection, let’s mention a few of the runner-ups to the top tier list of masterpieces.
This movie was not at all what anyone expected.
It was an oddball choice of movie for Nicholas Cage, but somehow managed to be a more vulnerable role for the actor.
The moral of the story: never steal a man’s prize pig.
- “The Green Knight”
The Arthurian age gets revisited with this new adaptation of the poem “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”.
This movie was well-crafted, especially considering it was inspired by the original poem, which surrounds the stubborn nephew of King Arthur, Sir Gawain, and his mission of tracking down the Green Knight.
Everything about this movie is symbolic. Make sure your mind is turning its gears and you’re paying attention—otherwise you’ll miss a big part of the plot.
Oh dear Princess Diana, how the world misses you.
“Spencer” recreated the tragic life of Princess Diana on screen, including the factually-based backstage look of her faulty marriage to Prince Charles of Wales.
Kristen Stewart played this role phenomenally, and Pablo Larraín brought Diana’s life to the big screen to show the world of what she really went through, from her struggles with suicide, bulimia and her horrid marriage on the verge of divorce.
The tragedy which plays out on the screen is a bit hard to watch throughout the movie, but it opens up the truth to Princess Diana’s past.
Now, let’s jump right into the top picks.
- “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”
This is only the first Marvel movie of a few on the list, but “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is not one to be forgotten so easily.
Like every Marvel movie, there is always action, and “Shang-Chi” is no exception.
It has comedy, secrets, friendship … and 10 rings which give you god-like powers and make you immortal?
So maybe this MCU movie is a bit different. Nonetheless, seeing the original Shang-Chi comic book character come to life on the big screen was everything and more for Marvel fans.
Not to mention the cultural importance this movie brought for the Asian community. The MCU brought empowerment to Asian men on screen with this new hero, which was yet another reason for its high-ranking.
Plus, who doesn’t love a plot where a superhero hides his identity?
- “A Quiet Place II”
John Krasinski is almost unbeatable when it comes to directing.
Everyone was loving the first movie’s plot line and character dynamics, but the second movie just about knocked the story out of the park.
Even if you’re not a big thriller fan, this movie still has a special something to it.
Obviously, there’s a couple jump scares and whatnot, but the tensions no longer lie between the aliens and the humans. Instead, we see a whole new side of how humans treat each other during an alien apocalypse.
And it’s not very pretty.
Now this is a real horror film. Proceed with caution.
This “Candyman” was an unofficial sequel for the original 1992 film, and fans seemed to really enjoy the connection. The subtle references and use of recurring actors blasts all the fans of the original back to the past.
Nonetheless, it still acts as a wonderful standalone and it still will scare the socks off of anyone who watches it.
- “West Side Story”
Ansel Elgort and Ariana DeBose. Do I have to say anything more?
A high school romance in New York City is all tragicomedy romance fans rom-com fans could ask for. Not to mention it’s also a musical.
There’s gangs, there’s music, there’s dancing, there’s tears and there’s romance.
Grab your tissues, plant yourself on the couch and embrace the 1950’s with this Steven Spielberg film.
- “Tick, Tick … Boom!”
Who knew Andrew Garfield could sing? We remember the Vanessa Hudgens times from the “High School Musical” franchise, but Andrew Garfield?
This man can apparently do it all.
Not to mention this is another phenomenal musical directed by musical genre icon Lin-Manuel Miranda.
It was heartbreaking to see the autobiographical play of Johnathan Larson’s tragedy on the big screen, but it was an important story to tell and excellently done.
- “Black Widow”
Finally, the one avenger who never got her own movie—Black Widow, ladies and gentlemen.
The entire movie surrounds the life of Natasha Romanoff and how she grew up in the program which creates Black Widows—secret female super spies for the Russian government. The audience sees a whole new side to the hero in all black and gets a taste of a certain blonde who plays Natasha’s sister, Yelena.
Obviously, it’s a Marvel movie, so there’s going to be action, drama and battle scenes. However, there’s also a familial appeal and a boatload of comedy, especially from Yelena, who just may have stolen the hearts of all Natasha’s fans out there.
This film was the greatest celebration of Natasha’s story in the Avengers.
- “In the Heights”
What is with the musicals this year?
Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of “Hamilton”, produced yet another incredible musical surrounding the life of a loving Latino community in Washington Heights, New York.
The music … incredible. The drama … unstoppable. The love … cry-worthy.
Plus, Miranda is the king of musicals, so you can’t go wrong with this one.
- “Don’t Look Up”
This movie had the most random collection of famous actors anyone has ever seen … but somehow it was absolutely phenomenal.
The plotline was intense and absolutely terrifying, but it was also a great movie to pee yourself from laughing so hard.
Somehow a plot which should’ve scared the world into hiding managed to turn a horror show into something wildly entertaining.
Timothée Chalamet’s line about “fingerling potatoes” was probably the best part.
Frank Herbert’s massive novel series “Dune” has racked up millions of fans since its publication in 1965, but no one has ever been able to perfect the series into a movie.
David Lynch tried in 1984 with the film “Dune”, but the ratings were simply anticlimactic. John Harrison also tried in 2000 to create a TV mini series of “Dune”, which didn’t receive much love or recognition from its reviewers.
But no prior adaptations compare to the new 2021 “Dune”, directed by Denis Villeneuve. The way Villeneuve sewed together the plot of “Dune” and mimicked the characters just as precisely as Herbert had described them was unbeatable by any other standard.
Undertaking the demanding responsibility of adapting this book series full of new technology, in-depth politics and creative world-building is no easy feat.
Well, then there’s the bonus of seeing Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya together in one film. What more is there to want?
- “Spider-Man: No Way Home”
Is there really any reason needed here for this film to be number one?
“No Way Home” may have been one of the most iconic Marvel movies fans have ever seen.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet, spoiler alert … Toby Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland create the most iconic trio the MCU has ever seen.
Not to mention the revival of the stories of past villains and the incredible side plot of Doctor Strange trying to stop Peter Parker from altering the Multiverse.
The movie was a mess, but in the best possible way, and there is not another film from 2021 which tops it … it may even be one of the best picks for Marvel fans for a long while.
Overall, has anyone ever seen such an iconic selection of film? These are movies that will definitely be chosen for awards and will continuously be reflected on for years to come.
A round of applause for the beauty of these cinematic masterpieces.
Jaedyn Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jaedyn_young3.