Top 2021 movies

While theatrical exhibitions have returned in full force, streaming has further cemented its place in the film industry. Thus, 2021 proved to be a prolific year for movies, with the only thing slowing the immense volume of productions seemingly being coronavirus outbreaks on set. Altogether, audiences had a buffet of options to consume. Of those options, we highly recommend the following films. We’d also love to know about your personal favorites from last year in the comments.

Dune

I’ve heard of the Dune series many times, but I’ve never read the books, nor have I watched the older movie, so I had no expectations going into the new Dune movie released this past fall. After one viewing, I was floored. The character designs, CG effects, sound, and overall production are all top-notch quality befitting of what inevitably will become a huge movie franchise. But the world-building and lore are what instantly hooked me into wanting to know everything about this series. I can’t wait to watch the “Harry Potter-esque” houses duke it out for several movies, and I’m curious what the kid’s prophecy will mean going forward. Even though there was a steep learning curve (especially for an introductory movie) when trying to keep track of who all is in which house and what alliances there are, I am completely hooked in this universe.

— Jeremy Costello

An amazing cinematic experience, I would say Dune is this generation’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The soundtrack, composed by the legendary Hans Zimmer, adds depth to an already solid first part of a duology. Story-wise, the beginning is a bit slow to anyone who is not familiar with the book. But, when it comes to following the book accurately, I would put this right below Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. If you are looking for a great space opera, this is it.

— Patrick Madden

Bo Burnham: Inside

My pick for top movie of 2021 is Bo Burnham: Inside. The contrast between Bo’s portrayal of isolation and deteriorating mental health with the upbeat tunes and witty humor is captivating. Inside is a thought-provoking commentary on the idiosyncrasies of relationships and communication in the digital age. The fact that the entire film was shot in one location with only one character yet remained entertaining throughout is also impressive.

— Ainsley Cotherman

Bo Burnham wrote, produced, filmed, edited, and performed a comedy special over the course of a quarantined year, and maybe even more impressive than that is the fact that it’s a masterpiece. It is personal, gripping, touching, hilarious, and even heartbreaking at times. It’s a special that forces introspection and reminds you that comedy can absolutely be found in tragedy. Bo does such an incredible job making it feel like a stage production that it appears as if dozens of people are behind the scenes, but it is just him doing all the VFX in real time. I can say without a doubt that Inside is, in fact, not just one of my favorites of the past year, but one of my favorites of the past decade and beyond. I believe it is required viewing and have recommended it to everyone.

— Cale Ward

The Power of the Dog

Benedict Cumberbatch as a toxically masculine, insecure cowboy hiding his true identity and Kirsten Dunst as yet another fragile, crumbling woman. This movie is a slow, quiet, grayish burn, and it completely thrilled me! It’s the western tale of subtle power dynamics I didn’t know I needed.

— Maci Murillo

A Quiet Place Part II

I have to admit, I was somewhat leery of how the sequel to actor/director John Krasinski’s 2018 smash-hit thriller might turn out. The original worked so well as a standalone film, and I wasn’t sure if there was a worthwhile story left to be told with those characters in that world. Well, I can confidently say I had nothing to worry about. Krasinski returns to direct in a surprising improvement to the solid foundation laid in the first film. Part II asks “now what?”’ in ways that allow for a sense of dread to creep into the possibilities. The tension often builds to a fever pitch before even getting close to resolving; it was honestly the most frantic viewing experience I’ve had in recent memory, which is a testament to the brilliant visual storytelling, believable acting and fully realized sci-fi setting in this movie.

— Levi Yager

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

It was insane to finally see this movie. All the fans coming together to make this happen was really cool. Four years after the theatrical version came out, it was worth the wait to see Snyder’s vision of Justice League. While it’s not perfect, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is infinitely better than the original; it’s actually a good movie this time.

— Noah Yager

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