by Jason F. Koenigsberg

In the end it was a pretty bad year for motion pictures. Once all the smoke has cleared and the world slowly starts to leave a pandemic behind only to commence a new world conflict in Eastern Europe, movies and movie theaters specifically are still suffering. Sure it is great for streaming services releasing more content instead of art with big name stars and top directors. Movies from these services win prestigious awards, but unless you’re making movies about a guy wearing a mask with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of special effects, nobody is really going to hike to cinemas and spend their money on an overpriced ticket.

As a matter of fact, the best movie I saw in 2021 was The Last Duel. I was one of the few fortunate enough to see in theaters and it was deemed by the press as a film that marked the end of movies made for R-rated audiences and movies being marketed for adults. No longer can a movie afford to play on the big screen unless it is a remake, reboot, sequel, or has the potential for such and expect to make a lot of money. The days of people waiting in long lines around that go around the corner for movies like The Bodyguard (1992), Gladiator (2000), and The Departed (2006) are ancient history. Maybe that might change but in the near future but with streaming services dominating movies and television and home theaters with big screens make the voyage to cinemas less appealing. Plus, the high prices for movie tickets due to inflation and loss of business are not enticing, especially when most of the new releases do not look appealing. It does not seem promising for brick and mortar movie theaters so they should be thankful for Marvel, DC, and whatever other franchises motivate the general public to leave the comfort of their own homes and spend their money on a movie going experience.

Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel was not even one of the five best films he has directed and it was co-written by its co-stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, the first time they have written a script together since they won the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award for Good Will Hunting (1997). The Last Duel only did a fraction of the business Good Will Hunting earned way back in 1997. Definitive proof that movie habits have changed and if the business wants to stay alive they are going to change with the public. There is not a demand for films like the former or the latter, at least not in cinemas. Even the adult oriented pictures from talented filmmakers failed to impress me. I had high expectations for Licorice Pizza, The Power of the Dog, and Nightmare Alley but found them to be all disappointing on many levels.

My top ten this year skirts closer to mediocrity than ever before with the bottom half containing the third, or fourth best Daniel Craig 007 adventure, a fourth installment of a movie series that wallowed in nostalgia, and the final two spots were basically average biopics anchored by strong award worthy performances from their lead actors that made them worthwhile investments and not utter wastes of time. 2021 may be the worst year altogether for movies since 1983… or possibly even 1966 since 1983 gave us David Cronenberg’s career best year with his one-two punch Videodrome and The Dead Zone, but I digress. I do not think people will be looking back on the crop of 2021 movies as classics that will stand the test of time, but these are the only films that ended up making the cut and stood out.

Best Movies of 2021:

  1. The Last Duel
  2. The French Dispatch
  3. Bendetta
  4. Drive My Car
  5. Dune
  6. Antlers
  7. No Time to Die
  8. The Matrix Resurrections
  9. King Richard
  10. The Eyes of Tammy Faye

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