65 Best Movies of 2021 Top New 2021 Films to Stream Now

A quiet and slow-burning mediation on life, love, and the interconnectedness of people, The Double Life of Veronique is moving and mysterious. It also features one of those scores that is heartbreakingly melancholy (but also incredibly beautiful). It will have you searching to see if you have your own doppelgänger out there somewhere. A lot of directors have stylistic quirks, and Steven Spielberg’s is that he loves to show you characters reacting to something before he shows you what they’re reacting to (go back and watch any of his movies, you’ll see it). Watching Laura Dern’s and Sam Neil’s faces reacting to a nature reserve filled with living, breathing dinosaurs before you see them yourself just encapsulates the mix of joy, wonder, and excitement that makes this movie so great.

Naturally, many sports movies appeal to sports fans because of their focus on the joys and heartbreak of the game—but if you’re not into sports, there’s not as much to draw you in. Not true with the 1988 drama Eight Men Out, which is both an exceptional sports movie and a thoroughly engrossing historical drama. Centered on the real-life 1919 “Black Sox” scandal that saw several members of the Chicago White Sox conspire to throw the World Series, Eight Men Out is a great period piece told by an incredible cast, even if you couldn’t care less about baseball. Starting from the most ingenious, trailer-perfect line of dialogue ever (“No one can be told what the Matrix is, you have to see it for yourself”), The Matrix arrived on the scene at the turn of the century and changed action movies forever. A twisted dystopian tale about a computer hacker (Keanu Reeves) who begins to doubt the realness of the “real world” and is taken on an insane cyber adventure through a robot-controlled world, it introduced “bullet time”—a slow-mo effect that would be endlessly imitated ever since.

Any family is going to have some dysfunction—especially when trapped in an automobile together—but ultimately their squabbles feel unimportant when the purpose of their journey is revealed. Park Chan-wook is a director’s director—an auteur who is regularly lauded by the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Spike Lee (who had the temerity to mount his own version of Oldboy a decade after Chan-wook’s film shook viewers). While he’s known for his keen ability to turn acts of extreme violence into beautiful movie moments, one might argue that Decision to Leave is the auteur’s tamest effort.

  • This movie was known for a long time as “The Bicycle Thief,” a title that turned out to be a slight mistranslation.
  • If one thing unites the 10 disparate choices on my list — which ranges from an old-fashioned French costume drama to an Afrofuturist science-fiction musical, with a couple of documentaries in the mix — it is that critical spirit.
  • Toy Story clearly established that it wasn’t just a technical animation marvel—it’s a poignant story about identity and nostalgia.

When the son accidentally kills himself during an autoerotic asphyxiation incident, the man forges a suicide note that causes everyone to reevaluate his son and makes him an unwitting local celebrity. You don’t want to root for him (or for anyone in this movie, really), but Williams is magnetic and engaging and the story unfolds in wildly unpredictable ways. Night on Earth is made up of five short stories—each one taking place in a cab at the same time in different cities around the world.

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Sure, you can say it’s about a sweet and childlike Parisian woman who enjoys helping out her friends and neighbors, and you’d be correct, but that tells you absolutely nothing about the strange, cartoonish, and hilarious journey this movie is. A sort-of rom-com with surreal, fantastical elements and a bizarre (but funny) sense of humor, this movie is like an exotic French dessert. You have no idea how it was made or what’s in it, but you still think about how good it was years later. Director Wong Kar-wai has a filmography that could be a film course in and of itself. A genre-hopping (and convention-bending) maverick, he’s jumped from traditional wuxia films (fantastical tales of martial arts heroes) to eccentric urban dramas like Chungking Express (also worth seeing).

While you’re at it, make sure to check out these hit books being made into movies this year. So, yes, more people will likely watch “The Power of the Dog,” the latest from Jane Campion, than any other film in her decades-long career because it’s on Netflix. And you should watch it whether at home or, if you can, in a theater. But I’m grateful that I’ve seen it several times projected in theaters.

Rather, it’s a means of shaking up the conventional wisdom, introducing different perspectives on how greatness is defined and sparking passionate debate among the readership. This wasn’t the result of any kind of “out with the old, in with the new” intention. In some cases — Scorsese, Spike, Godard — we felt their best work was pre-21st century. In Spielberg’s case, there were several films that had love (including Minority Report and West Side Story), but none that united all six of us in full-throated enthusiasm. In other cases, as in Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby, Malick’s The New World and The Tree of Life, and Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, there were ardent supporters but also just-as-ardent detractors. A Chinese immigrant (Michelle Yeoh) is struggling to connect with her husband (Ke Huy Quan) and her adult daughter (Stephanie Hsu) all while trying to pass a tax audit.

The revelations that follow are of a semi-oblique sort, the better to cast an eerie pall that never tips over into exposition-heavy leadenness. Grief and guilt are an identical monster in this disquieting thriller, which gets suspenseful mileage out of shrewd perspective-manipulating imagery and skillful pacing. Most of all, though, it benefits from Hall, whose superb turn as the devastated Beth is equal parts solemn and seething, vulnerable and fierce, unstable and assured. Natalie Morales’ Plan B is a refreshingly candid and open-minded celebration of pro-choice teen sex and friendship, but the real draw of this abortion-themed comedy is its potent humor.

Ridley Scott’s finest 2021 feature, The Last Duel fashions a real-life tale into a Rashomon-style drama that, it turns out, is less concerned with the unknowability of truth than with history’s habitual negation of female perspectives. Based on Eric Jager’s book, Scott’s 14th-century French story is about the alleged rape of Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer) by Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver), and the efforts of Marguerite’s husband Sir Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) to bring Jacques to justice for his crime. Scott also makes sure to deliver the warfare goods, both in early battles that demonstrate Jean’s fighting prowess, and in a climactic showdown whose viciousness speaks to the ugly machismo at the heart of this tale.

Bob Odenkirk takes one hell of a beating in Nobody–and, per a joke made by his Hutch Mansell, you should see the other guys. Yet a lack of novelty is hardly necessary in light of Odenkirk’s masterful performance as a man brought low by self-deception and, consequently, resurrected by facing his inherent angry identity. Odenkirk’s ability to handle the barrage of brutal set pieces thrown his way is itself part of this affair’s conceit, and yet once he proves his action-movie mettle, the proceedings lose none of their verve, delivering gory mayhem with a tongue planted firmly in cheek. The late participation of Christopher Lloyd and RZA only boosts the goofy charm of this R-rated romp, which goes for broke–and breaks a lot of bones in the process–to amusingly ferocious ends. Clint Eastwood’s movies are almost always best when they star their director. Back in the literal saddle for the first time in decades, the Hollywood legend’s latest finds him playing a broken-down ex-rodeo star named Milo who, to repay a debt to his former boss (Dwight Yoakam), travels to Mexico to retrieve the young man’s son Rafo (Eduardo Minett).

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