Film Feature: The 10 Best Films of 2021, By Patrick McDonald

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CHICAGO – Are we there yet? Another pandemic year, 2021, somewhat affected the cinema world, but many films that had been delayed finally saw the light of screen, and one true blockbuster was had for the industry (kudos to Spidey). Around mid-year, the critics and public went back to the theaters, and this 10 BEST list is a hybrid of in-person and online viewings.

So begins my* list of the 10 BEST FILMS OF 2021, on a hopeful note. Hoping that this current viral surge will be our last, and we will come back fully and in person moving forward, as a wish for the world. *THE Über Critic, Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com, WBGR-FM & WSSR-FM

I’m formatting this 10 BEST differently this year, to reflect the on-air reviews I do weekly on WBGR-FM (Monroe, Wisconsin, Thursdays at 8:35am) and WSSR-FM (Joliet, Illinois, Fridays at 4:35pm). Each of the 10 BEST will be in the on-air or audio format for your listening pleasure.

I begin by ranking the 25th film favorites through the 11th, with the option to click on the highlighted titles for reviews or associated interviews… 25th - ARLO THE ALLIGATOR BOY (old school 2D animation with an inclusive message while having fun), 24th - KING RICHARD (Will Smith gives his best performance in a balanced story of Venus & Serena Williams), 23rd - STILLWATER (surprisingly excellent and low key fish-out-of-water American story), 22nd - SUMMER OF SOUL (music concert celebration), 21st - THE SPARKS BROTHERS (great and surprising rock doc), 20th - PRAY AWAY (first of 3-part interview w/director Kristine Stolakis), 19th - WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD (wonderful and uncomfortable relationship film), 18th - TITANE (like something you’ve never seen before), 17th - I’M YOUR MAN (a poignant robot story), 16th - THE GREEN KNIGHT (a knight’s tale with a sense of its own morality), 15th - EYES OF TAMMY FAYE (a killer ending and performance by Jessica Chastain), 14th - THE LOST DAUGHTER (creates a forum for motherhood), 13th - RED ROCKET (Simon Rex has something something in his pocket), 12th - THE NOVICE (interview with lead actor and director) and 11th THE SOUVENIR PART II (one of the more soulful cinematic interpretations of life).

The 2021 Best for genre films … Animated it’s ARLO THE ALLIGATOR BOY (see above), for Documentary it’s ASCENSION (see below), for Best Foreign Language Film it’s WHEEL OF FORTUNE & FANTASY (see below), and for Superhero it’s SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

As far as the list below, the order is based on the vibrancy of the initial experience in viewing it, I consider all the films tied for the top spot. Below each review will be the reason for its designation plus where to watch it now, and any associative interview or article where applicable. Let’s get to it …

StarASCENSION

Ascen
Ascension
Photo credit: MTV Documentary Films






Why a 10 BEST for 2021? An artistic and cinematic journey into modern China, especially as it applies to the ‘Chinese Dream.’ Available on Paramount +

Click here for an interview with director Jessica Kingdon of “Ascension.”

StarCODA

“CODA"
CODA
Photo credit: Apple TV+






Why a 10 BEST for 2021? Admirable for the way it build the story to a top level emotional climax. Available on APPLE TV+

Click here for CODA named Best Film at the Sundance Film Festival.

StarTHE POWER OF THE DOG

“PowerDog"
The Power of the Dog
Photo credit: Netflix






Why a 10 BEST for 2021? Taking the BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN themes a step further, it provides empathy for vivid characters. Available on Netflix.

StarANNETTE

“Anet"
Annette
Photo credit: Amazon Studio






Why a 10 BEST for 2021? The most originally framed film of the year, combining music from the Sparks Brothers with a sly satire on fame, with poignant symbolism in the conclusion. Available on Amazon Prime Video.

StarLAST NIGHT IN SOHO

“Soho"
Last Night in Soho
Photo credit: Neon






Why a 10 BEST for 2021? Viewed the 1960s – one of the most romantically skewered eras in history – through the lens of social realities and exquisite production design. Groovy. Available through Video On Demand.

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