2021 was a good year for movies… I think. I didn’t see a lot of ‘em. There was a window where I felt safe going to the movies. Heck, there was a day last summer where I went to a mall to see a movie and neither the theater or mall required a mask. Not because they were being negligent, because people thought masks weren’t necessary anymore. It always feels like two steps forward and one step back with COVID. Or maybe that’s one step forward, two steps back?
Fortunately, there were solid releases on streaming. How fun was that HBO Max same-day release stunt? I’m missing that already. How else would I have had the opportunity to see such classic as Space Jam: New Legacy or Mortal Kombat (in my underwear.)
There’s a lot I haven’t seen yet that I know would be on this list. Licorice Pizza and West Side Story for sure. A few others on streaming I wish I’d made time for like CODA and Summit of the Gods. And a couple I have no idea how to watch, The Worst Person in the World and Petite Maman.
Because this list feels incomplete to me, I decided to at least make it fun for myself. Instead of the usual paragraph after paragraph of plot recap and half-assed analysis, I’ve made checklists for each movie. Bite size pieces of plot recap and half-assed analysis for each movie. Did I devise this plan out of laziness? Sort of. But I think it’ll be fun. Let’s give it a shot.
Drive My Car
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
✓ Oscar Isaac explaining how card counting works (with numbers on screen)
✓ A John Carpenter-style synth score by one of the guys from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
✓ Oscar Isaac covering all his furniture in sheets to make it look like prison.
✓ Psychedelic fisheye lens flashbacks.
✓ Tye Sheridan is actually good.
✓ Willem Dafoe as an asshole.
✓ Oscar Isaac and Tiffany Haddish gettin’ hot and heavy
✓ A Card player named Mr. USA who chants, “USA! USA!” after he wins hands.
✓ 77 minutes!
✓ Rachel Sennott in a breakout performance.
✓ Uncomfortable !
✓ Polly Draper saying: “You look like Gwyneth Paltrow on food stamps—and not in a good way.”
✓ Fred Melamed. Consummate pro.
✓ Scariest movie of the year.
✓ Uruguayan Slasher where a killer picks off movie-goers at a Montevideo theater in 1993.
✓ The main character, Ana (Luciana Grass), is a projectionist.
✓ It rains outside the theater the whole movie.
✓ The killer cuts out people’s eyes.
✓ A crappy Frankenstein movie is being projected in the background for the whole duration.
✓ A John Carpenter-style synth score.
✓ Eyeball eating.
✓Alexia (Agathe Rousselle), a showgirl/murderer has sex with a car and becomes pregnant.
✓ Pretending to be a lost teen boy and then being taken in by a kind but sad firefighter.
✓ A slow dance to “She’s Not There”
✓ Grisly makeup effects involving skin, metal, and motor oil.
✓ Julia Ducournau. The new David Cronenberg.
✓ Fun for the whole family
✓ Sea monsters (Luca and Alberto) that look like people when they go on land but turn back when they get wet.
✓ A triathlon that involves; swimming, bicycling, and eating pasta.
✓ Big Studio Ghibli energy.
✓ Trenette Al Pesto
✓ Sacha Baron Cohen as a scary anglerfish-man.
✓ Makes me cry.
✓ Nicolage Cage mumbling.
✓ A cute pig.
✓ Sumptuous food closeups,
✓ Underground fighting league.
✓ Scenic shots of Portland, Oregon.
✓ A scene where Nicolas Cage makes a former prep cook feel like an idiot.
✓ “Fuck Seattle” lol.
✓ Super sad.
✓ Sweeping desert vistas.
✓ MA MAN, Duncan Idaho.
✓ The Fat Baron takes a bath in mud/oil/chocolate.
✓ Sardaukar throat-singing.
✓ Big ass worms.
✓ Having two Oscar Isaac films on my list.
✓ Zendaya is Chani.
✓ Came from twitter.
✓ Taylour Paige spending a month as an actual stripper to prepare.
✓ Lots of tweet sounds.
✓ White-trash Riley Keough saying “I fuck with Jesus.”
✓ Vintage 16 mm photography from Ari Wegner (who also shot The Power of the Dog).
✓ Nicholas Braun playing the dirtbag version of Greg from Succession.
✓ Colman Domingo switching back and forth between seductive and sinister.
✓ A montage of “unique” looking penises.
✓ Securing the rights to NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye”.
✓ The ugly beauty of Texas City.
✓ Mostly non-professional actors.
✓ Everybody calls any kind of soda “Coke”.
✓ Suzanna Son as “Strawberry”.
✓ Reference to a Fast and Furious porn parody.
✓ Simon Rex running through the streets naked. Dong on full display.
✓ Looks like Shadow of the Colossus.
✓ Ralph Ineson in tree makeup with a huge axe!
✓ Sean Harris speaking in barely audible whispers.
✓ A flaming crown.
✓ Trippin’ on shrooms.
✓ A ghost.
✓ Alicia Vikander in dual roles.
✓ A talking Fox.
✓ Christmas Classic.
✓ Hell of an ending. Thoughtful. Bittersweet. Powerful.
Stay safe everybody!