Here’s my last 2021 Top Ten list. Seems a little pointless as I missed 99% of the cinema releases, so this list is pretty much only the stuff that was released to U.K. streaming services in 2021. And the majority of those were extremely disappointing. Luckily, there were several released in December that have made my top ten, so at least we got some decent ones at the very end.
I don’t include documentaries with movies as they aren’t really the same thing & it would be difficult to know where to rank them. So I’ll just include a mention of two I really enjoyed in 2021: The Beatles: Get Back & Who Are You, Charlie Brown?.
Tried in December to catch up on the shitloads of 2021 films I missed. Missed everything in the cinema & the 2021 leftovers on services that I missed didn’t look that great anyway so it’s likely I’ll never bother with those now (but I do wish I’d seen The Green Knight). So I’m calling it a year & just posting a disappointing Top Ten Movies Of The Year list later this week. At least I saw loads of fantastic pre-2021 movies this year so that will be a Top Ten list too.
*Edit to add: I watched The Green Knight last night so added a quick review below. Spoiler: I thought it SUCKED!
Here’s everything I watched in December…
MOVIES WATCHED IN DECEMBER (ranked best to worst):
– Don’t Look Up – Liked this a lot & am glad I managed to finish my year on this one. Thought it was a pretty clever & scarily accurate satire of this fucked up world we’re now living in. It gave me some good laughs & it had fun performances from all the big name stars in it. I managed to quickly review it in full at the link yesterday. – 7.5/10
– The Lost Daughter – Quickly reviewed this yesterday as well as I also liked this film a lot. Great end to 2021 on Netflix with these two! Olivia Colman & Jessie Buckley were both very good at portraying the difficulties of motherhood and sometimes wanting more out of life. There’s a growing sense of tension through the whole movie that I thought was handled really well. Great directorial debut from Maggie Gyllenhaal. – 7.5/10
– Encanto – Already reviewed this last week. Enjoyed this one although it’s not exactly up there with Disney’s all-time best. What I liked: the main girl (Mirabel) was likeable (and I liked her dress and, as a glasses wearer, her funky glasses), the different magical powers each family member had were fun, I liked the cute little cousin who was due to get his own power & the cousin who could hear everything, and the overall message about the importance of family was good. The weakest thing? Unfortunately, that was maybe Lin-Manuel Miranda’s songs plus I suppose the animation style wasn’t my favorite but it was still a lovely looking film (I prefer the older, classic Disney animation style). I still really enjoyed Encanto although it hasn’t instantly grabbed me like a lot of other Disney & Pixar films have. It would maybe grow on me after a rewatch. – 7/10
– Ron’s Gone Wrong – Reviewed this as well. There’s not much I love more in movies than adorable robots. I’m always a sucker for a cute robot! WALL-E is my favorite Pixar movie & R2-D2 is my favorite Star Wars character so this movie was clearly one I was eager to see.
I liked it! It’s not a perfect film. Ron is definitely what makes this film work. The other characters are fine but none of them really stand out like Ron the robot. The grandma is fun & the main boy’s friendship with Ron was really sweet but the cute robot in a movie like this is always going to steal the show. I also really liked the message in this film & thought the film had a pretty brave bittersweet ending. – 7/10
– Tokyo Godfathers – I started watching this anime film years ago but for whatever reason I never finished it so, as it’s set on Christmas Eve & as it’s recently been added to Netflix, I figured it was time to finally finish it at Christmastime. Because I’ve clearly been too lazy in all this time to just get up off my ass & play my DVD of it.
It’s a fun film with three strong characters who lovingly bicker a lot & a cute baby that they find. Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis: “On Christmas Eve, three homeless people living on the streets of Tokyo discover a newborn baby among the trash and set out to find its parents.”
This is one of those anime movies that can be a little goofy at times in between some heavy subject matter. It was written & directed by Satoshi Kon, whose other films include Perfect Blue (still need to see that) and Paprika (a very interesting film I should really try to rewatch sometime & actually review as it was one of my Blind Spot movies in 2019). Paprika is the better film of the two I’ve seen but Tokyo Godfathers is perhaps a little more “accessible” & certainly less strange (but I’m a big fan of strange). The characters are the best thing about the movie and I especially liked Hana, who immediately develops a motherly affection for the abandoned baby. It’s a heartwarming & at times heartbreaking film, as are all the best movies set during Christmas. Glad I finally made the time for this one. – 7/10
– Pig – Had to of course see what all the fuss was about on this one so managed to pick up a really cheap DVD of it (£2.99!). Did a full review of this already so I’ll just say that Cage was good in this & the movie explored loneliness & grief in an interesting way. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting but I appreciated its subtlety. A nice break from Crazy Cage, too (although I do enjoy Crazy Cage). – 7/10
– The Unforgivable – Also already reviewed. Bullock’s character has just come out of prison after serving many years for killing a cop when they came to take her much younger sister away from her. It took a while to get into this one & Bullock’s character was pretty unsympathetic to begin with. However, I really liked the end of this one (including something I should’ve seen coming). Also, the film used a fantastic piano version of Radiohead’s Everything In Its Right Place toward the end & I thought it set the mood perfectly. So the film was a bit slow overall & certainly wasn’t perfect but from that bit on it got much better & really did redeem itself at the end. – 6.5/10
– The Last Duel – Reviewed this too (wow – I managed to review more than usual!). I’ll just say I wasn’t really a fan & thought this movie was just okay. The haircuts sucked, the men were all assholes, and Ridley Scott has far better films. Just watch Rashomon instead. – 6/10
– The Power Of The Dog– Another one I reviewed & was very disappointed in unlike all of Film Twitter. This one bored the shit out of me. Sorry! But I did really like the end. Yay! Once I actually realised what had happened and that there was a plan all along, I guess, and I was like “Ohhh… Nice one!”. The ending almost made me rank this just above The Last Duel but the rest of this film was so bloody boring that I guess I’ll keep this one below the mullet duel. – 6/10
– Anna And The Apocalypse – Was talking about Christmas movies on Twitter before Christmas & so many mentioned liking this one that I figured I should check it out. Sadly, this one didn’t really work for me. Luckily, I don’t think any of those Twitter people read my blog! I appreciate its concept. A zombie Christmas musical?! Fantastic! I’m a big zombie movie fan (mostly Romero) so really did think I’d like this. I can’t say I really bought into the characters, although the main girl was fine. I think maybe I was expecting more of a comedy? It’s listed as comedy but it’s certainly no Shaun Of The Dead. I can’t say I remember how any of the songs go, either. Meh. It was a good idea. – 5.5/10
– Red Notice – Damn, this was a bit sucky. Thought it would be a bit more fun with these three big names plus I like them all usually. Sadly, though, this is the first time I thought that Ryan Reynolds was just too Ryan Reynolds. He’s really just playing himself in this. The comedy just fell a bit flat & there was one scene where the background of an arena they were in looked SO dodgy that I said “WTF is up with that background?!” and I’m not someone who tends to notice that sort of stuff usually. Not the worst film of the year but very forgettable. I expect to not remember a thing about it in a year. – 5.5/10
– The Fan (1981) – Got excited when I saw this listed on Talking Pictures TV as I still have a massive crush on Michael Biehn thanks to The Terminator & Aliens. And, my god, such big stars in this with him! Lauren Bacall, James Garner & Maureen Stapleton. Biehn plays a psycho stalker who is obsessed with the big star played by Lauren Bacall. Honestly, though, this movie was pretty damn bad. How embarrassing, especially for Bacall! I can’t say I’d recommend this unless you have a slightly unhealthy obsession with Biehn like I do. So I got mild enjoyment out of this, at least. I do kind of like stalker movies. Play Misty For Me was a much better stalker movie if you like that kind of thing, though. – 5.5/10
– Chaos Walking – Knew this wasn’t meant to be great but I read the book a couple years ago & I really like seeing the movie adaptations of the books I read. Wasn’t a fan of the book, though, so had pretty low expectations for the movie. I think it was adapted fairly well from what I remember of the story but the story isn’t the greatest even though the idea seemed like a good one. A waste of the talent in this. Here’s the IMDb synopsis if you’re curious: “Two unlikely companions embark on a perilous adventure through the badlands of an unexplored planet as they try to escape a dangerous and disorienting reality where all thoughts are seen and heard by everyone.”- 5/10
– The Green Knight – I’m quickly adding this (with no image, as I don’t want a Green Knight image to be what’s displayed on my tweet as it uses the last image added). I just watched it last night thinking “Maybe it’ll be 2021 Top Ten material!” but OH MY GOD IT SUCKED! What a huge waste of time. I know I’ve said this before but I’m never listening to Film Twitter again!!! What a load of pretentious bollocks. I should’ve trusted my instincts when I thought “This is by the guy who did A Ghost Story so it may end up boring as shit just like that one”. God, I think I preferred A Ghost Story! At least that did manage to create a hell of a sense of crushing loneliness. The Green Knight did have some good imagery, which I admit I can be a sucker for, but it had nothing else. Hated it. You’ve wasted my time once again, Film Twitter! – 5/10 (Added half a point for the ridiculous talking fox & the naked lady giants)
Movies Rewatched In December:
– Point Break – LOVE IT! Have loved Keanu Reeves for years & watched this movie SO many times when it came out. So had to stick this one on when it popped up on Netflix even though I’ve seen it shitloads. Keanu is so beautiful in this… Oh, and I love that this kick-ass action film was directed by a woman. – 9/10
– Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs – Put this Disney classic on over the Christmas break. What can I say? I love Disney films & this 1937 film easily stands the test of time as well as all the very best of Disney’s work. I wish the modern Disney films would try to be as timeless but I feel too many “of the moment” jokes get thrown in now, which will date the films years from now. Return to making timeless classics like this one! Oh, and I love the dwarfs. So cute. All the best Disney films have lovable characters like that. – 8/10
– The Muppets Christmas Carol – Managed to rewatch some Christmas favorites with the family. Who doesn’t love the Muppets?! This is a fantastic adaptation of what’s probably the very best Christmas story. – 8/10
– Home Alone – Another Christmas favorite, although the hubby & I like it much more than our daughter does. Our love of John Hughes maybe helps. I think this is a brilliant family film & wish they’d make more family films like this one. – 8/10
– Elf – Elf is silly but is really good fun. Think it’s the last decent Christmas film to be made that still has a classic feel to it, probably thanks to the Rankin/Bass inspired style at the start. – 8/10
Shorts & Miscellaneous:
– Far From The Tree – Assume this was the short meant to be before Encanto so we watched this before it. Nice story about a raccoon being overprotective of its young child. I could relate to that as I’m too overprotective.
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
Watched a lot of TV in December, most of it good.
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– Cobra Kai: S4 – We all binged this in one day! We never binge anything but we were obviously all off work & school. I’ve absolutely loved all of Cobra Kai. The Karate Kid is a favorite & I think they’ve done a brilliant job of combining these ’80s characters with current teens. I can’t believe I have a crush on Johnny Lawrence the bully now! He’s the best thing about the show & I love how he’s stuck in the ’80s & doesn’t understand current teenager-speak. Yes, it’s kind of getting “same old same old” at this point but it’s still loads of fun to watch.
– The Book Of Boba Fett: S1 E1 – Only one episode so far so can’t really judge it yet. The first episode was good & it’s great getting more Star Wars content but I can’t say that episode one has instantly grabbed me the way the end of the first episode of The Mandalorian did.
– Yellowjackets: S1 E1-7 – Thoroughly enjoying this story about a 1996 girls soccer team whose plane crashed, resulting in them apparently having to turn to violence & possibly cannibalism to survive. It’s told in flashbacks & I of course love that the grown up actresses are my age so I’d say this is very Gen X & current teen aimed. Well, Juliet Lewis is about my age & there’s NO WAY she was in high school still in 1996 but whatever (it would be even better if the high school flashbacks were late ’80s/early ’90s). So I’m loving this but I’m the right target audience for it.
– Hawkeye: S1 E3-6 – Thought this one was fun & liked the characters. WandaVision & Loki were better but I liked this one way more than that boring The Falcon And The Winter Soldier. Are we gonna get another season focused just on Kate Bishop? I’d watch that.
– Chucky: S1 – This was a weird one. At times I thought it was pretty damn good for a slasher TV show & at others I thought it kind of took a shit (mostly with the addition of Jennifer Tilly, although she was fun, and the real life daughter of Brad Dourif). I admit, though, that I only ever saw Child’s Play 1 through 3 so those characters mean nothing to me while fans of those last movies were maybe happy with their appearance. Anyway, this started out quite strong & I thought the bits with the teens were all good & Chucky was entertaining like always. Then it all took a nosedive at the end. Oh well. I still enjoyed the show overall.
– Mare Of Easttown: S1 – I only stuck this on one night as I needed a show to stick on when I’m on my own & bored but it’s not at all the type of thing I tend to go for as I’m weirdly not a crime drama person like everyone else seems to be. I don’t know how I felt about it. I didn’t hate it but, my god, this town was full of assholes & killers & cheaters & just generally a bunch of really unlikeable people. By the end, I really liked Kate Winslet’s character even though she was also very hard to like at times but I think she was fantastic in this role. I also loved her mother, played by Jean Smart, and enjoyed the small funny moments in the show especially between these two characters. The mystery itself was okay but, god, is everyone a pervy piece of shit in this town?! I can see why people liked the show, though. The characters are strong & I’d maybe be interested in seeing them all again in a second season if that’s the plan…?
– Grey’s Anatomy: S18 E4-8 – God this new season is boring. Meh.
– And Just Like That…: S1 E1-5– I’m not exactly a big Sex & The City fan but I did watch them all & thought it was clever at times and enjoyed the friendships even though I could relate to none of the four women whatsofuckingever. This version, though… Ugh. I dunno. It’s pretty desperate so far with some shitty writing. They probably should’ve just left it alone.
– Looking For Alaska: S1 E1 – I read this John Green book so figured I better check out this adaptation. Faithful so far – will see how it goes but I didn’t really love the book anyway.
– Maya And The Three: S1 E1– Watched the first episode as it’s made by the Book Of Life people, which my daughter absolutely loved for about a year of her life. I wasn’t feeling it so doubt I’ll continue with it.
– A Charlie Brown Christmas – Absolute CLASSIC. Perfection. I am a massive Peanuts fan & I adore this. Watch it every Christmas.
– Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer – Another true Christmas classic that I watch every year & also adore. Love that Rankin/Bass style, which they lovingly referenced in the beginning of Elf. They don’t make ’em like they used to! This is also perfection.
– How The Grinch Stole Christmas! – Ditto! Timeless classic! I’m of course talking about the original animated special, not that godawful Jim Carrey movie. Yuck! I’ll especially always love his poor dog Max & those fantastic lyrics to the songs. Absolutely brilliant.
– Game Of Thrones: S1 E1 – Halfway through reading the first book so thought I’d rewatch episode 1. I have to say that, so far from what I remember of the show, it’s extremely faithful to the first book. Loved seeing this again while understanding a bit more & knowing the characters much better now.
– Quantum Leap: S1 E1 – Wish the family would continue this with me, especially as this was a two-episode story… I loved Quantum Leap so have been looking forward to revisiting it. The first scene of episode 1 was far cheesier than I remembered, though! Wow. Thank god it got much much better.
– Malcolm In The Middle: S1 E1– Recommended this to the kid. Think she liked the first episode okay.
I’m halfway through reading A Song Of Ice And Fire: Book One – A Game Of Thrones. So don’t expect monthly book reviews while I’m reading these as each will probably take me months to read. Although I may read different books in between each so I don’t wear myself out. I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far, though. It’s just a big damn commitment!!
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Honestly, my main New Year’s resolution is to watch fewer movies for a while. I want to watch better films the next couple of months. Quality over quantity! It’s also exhausting doing these roundup posts with shitloads of films.
It’s stupid but the end of each year almost becomes a bit stressful as I get desperate to finish watching as many of that year’s releases that I can which are available to me. I’m more annoyed than I should be that there are several on services now that I’ve not managed to see yet, although I expect what I’ve not seen of those to be pretty shit anyway. It’s the cinema-only releases that I badly want to see as soon as possible.
I mentioned this last month but these are some of the many 2021 movies that I have yet to see:
Last Night In Soho, Malignant, West Side Story, Quiet Place II, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Licorice Pizza, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Old, The Conjuring, Coda, The Suicide Squad, The Forever Purge, The Father, In The Heights, Spencer, Another Round, Mass, I’m Your Man, Finch, Antlers, Petite Maman, Psycho Goreman, Black Bear, Censor, The Sparks Brothers, Titane, Jungle Cruise, Army Of Thieves, The Tomorrow War, Halloween Kills, Eternals, The Worst Person In The World
Upcoming 2022 Releases That I Want To See:
Across The Spider-Verse, Suzume no tojimari, The Black Phone (Joe Hill fan!), Thor, Top Gun: Maverick, Turning Red, Doctor Strange, Don’t Worry Darling, Nightmare Alley, Lightyear, Minions (Hey, I like those cheeky little dudes!).
Hope I manage to see these by the end of 2022…
Here’s Radiohead since I mentioned it in The Unforgivable.
Directed by Sarah Smith, Jean-Philippe Vine & Octavio E. Rodriguez (co-director)
Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Ed Helms, Justice Smith, Rob Delaney, Kylie Cantrall, Ricardo Hurtado, Olivia Colman
Music by Henry Jackman
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) The story of Barney, an awkward middle-schooler and Ron, his new walking, talking, digitally-connected device. Ron’s malfunctions set against the backdrop of the social media age launch them on a journey to learn about true friendship.
Was surprised to see this pop up on Disney Plus so soon after it was in cinemas but was very happy to be able to see it since there’s not much I love more in movies than adorable robots. I’m always a sucker for a cute robot! WALL-E is my favorite Pixar movie & R2-D2 is my favorite Star Wars character (well, Grogu is giving him a run for his money). So this movie was clearly one I was eager to see.
I liked it! It’s not a perfect film. It’s one of those where I don’t know where to rank it on my year end list I’ll post next week. If I’m honest, I enjoyed it more than Encanto (which I reviewed HERE yesterday) but Encanto is certainly the better film. It doesn’t have a robot in it, though! Ron is definitely what makes this film work. The other characters are fine but none of them really stand out like Ron the robot. The grandma is fun & the main boy’s friendship with Ron was really sweet but the cute robot in a movie like this is always going to steal the show. It was the same with Big Hero 6, although that’s obviously a much stronger film with better characters than this one. But Baymax was what made it so fantastic.
I also really liked the message in this film. As with most animated kids’ films, there’s of course a message (or two) but it’s done subtly & works within the movie. Mainly it’s about friendship but they touch on the evils of social media a bit too. I realise I’m typing this post on a blog, which will auto-tweet to Twitter, but I’m old so I remember the days before all this & I think most of us were much happier then. The movie isn’t at all preachy about any of this, though, which is a big pet peeve of mine. I also thought the film had a pretty brave bittersweet ending.
Oh – Ron also sang a funny song with the grandma which the daughter & I went around singing for the next week whereas I can’t currently remember any songs from Encanto even though we only just watched it a couple of nights ago. It was really cute & I wish Encanto had a similar moment as I really do want to like that one a bit more. Maybe it will grow on me but I know that Ron is already one of the better characters from all the movies I’ve seen in 2021.