For my fifth year of the Blindspot series, I was relieved to wrap it up (barely) before the end of the year. You would think one movie a month wouldn’t be so hard to fit in, but college inevitably put me behind, only starting on these in April and having to play catch-up in the last few months. Now that that I’ve seen all these films for the first time, I can close out 2021’s Blindspots with my annual ranking before announcing the 2022 list tomorrow.
Like 2020, only one film ended up becoming an instant favorite and winning entry onto my Top 365 movie list. Even so, I still consider this an excellent selection of cinema, with even my bottom-ranked picks having their good points. I’m glad to have finally crossed these films off my to-watch list, especially so I can move on to the next batch.
A little later than I usually like, but here is my start-of-2022 update to THE LIST, my top 365 movie list that first got me started blogging eight years ago and has been revised every year since. Of course, there are technically more than 365 since I group most film series together, as well as a few other pairs of similar films that equate to a tie. Now added are the 15 films listed in my Blogiversary post that I watched for the first time last year and are listed in bold below. Nothing was able to crack the Top 100 this time around, but you’ll find both high and low rankers, including Blindspots and Oscar winners. As always, these are my personal and subjective favorites that can easily change with time, and I welcome both agreement and disagreement.
Not that I expect anyone to notice, but there was some shuffling of the order for several films already on the list. The biggest rise went to the MCU’s Spider-Man series, thanks to the boost of No Way Home bringing it from #213 to #113, and other risers include Treasure Planet, Doc Hollywood, and To Sir, with Love (RIP Sidney Poitier). In contrast, Rogue One and Cars lost some ground, but the biggest loss was suffered by Dunkirk, falling from #293 right off the list entirely. (Still a great film, just not one I’ve had much inclination to see again.) It’s almost become a joke that I always leave Psycho at #365 every year, so I just decided to raise it up a few spots since it’s clearly not going anywhere.
The last few months have been a whirlwind, but I’m finally through with interviews and intense studying. With hopefully more time to relax, I should be able to seek out some great old and new films in the coming year and get back to compiling more lists as well. Thanks again to all readers, likers, followers, commenters, and lovers of film and/or poetry! I truly hope and pray 2022 will be a better year overall than the last two, but either way, we’ll always have movies.
Has it been another year already? Maybe it’s the ongoing pandemic, but it seems like 2021 has flown by in a flurry of studying, work, and the occasional movie. Unfortunately, my review output was the lowest it’s been in my 8 years of blogging (has it really been that long?!), but there was good reason. I know 2021 was a rough year for many, but it was a banner year for my family. Not only did I earn my Bachelor’s Degree, but I got the software job I’ve been working toward for over two years! Now that school is finally behind me, I hope to expand my movie-watching and posting and find more hidden gems.
This year still provided plenty of great films, so it’s time to celebrate my 8th blogiversary with my annual list of favorites. Take note that this isn’t my top films of 2021, though most are from 2021, since I’m always behind on new releases and have surely missed some good ones from award season (patience, please). Instead, these are my Top Twelve films, old and new, that I saw over the last year. There’s a total of 15 List-Worthy films this time around, better than last year’s 12, so I’ll be posting my updated Top 365 Movies list soon enough.
With the mental anguish that comes with removing films from my Top 365 list every year, I feel like I’m getting more and more nitpicky over what qualifies as List-Worthy. Indeed, there were quite a few films this year that might have qualified in prior years but didn’t quite make the cut this time. So I will preface this list with a mention for the quality List Runners-Up that deserve attention, including Make Way for Tomorrow, A Hidden Life, Resistance, Blade Runner 2049, The Lost Battalion, Coming to America, Sunshine on Leith, Raya and the Last Dragon, Notting Hill, Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar, Geronimo: An American Legend, Love and Monsters, Dune, The Matrix Resurrections, Hilda and the Mountain King, and Black Widow (which was supposed to be List-Worthy but has been demoted after more consideration). Plus, the filmed stage performance of Hamilton would probably top this whole list, but, as with documentaries, I can’t quite bring myself to count it as a “movie,” which I know is debatable. And just a quick shout-out to the movie-quality TV shows that also aren’t eligible but still awesome, such as Loki, Hawkeye, and Arcane.
I’m always curious to hear what other people’s favorites are, so feel free to share what you liked from the last year of movie-watching. Now, on to the Top Twelve!
Practically the definition of a hidden gem, this carried-over Blindspot from last year lured me in with its 100% Rotten Tomatoes score, intrigued me with its 37-minute-long tracking shot, and finally won me over with the constantly inventive comedy of the second half. It may look like a low-budget Japanese zombie flick, but there are layers of meta entertainment under the surface.
11. No Time to Die (2021)
I’ll admit I’m conflicted by this finale to Daniel Craig’s run as James Bond, but it is in line with the more dour tone of recent Bond flicks. Even if it doesn’t have much of a sense of fun, it adds unprecedented depth to Bond’s world-saving efforts and brings a fitting close to the interconnected storyline of the last five films.
The long-delayed sequel to John Krasinski’s breakout horror hit delivered even more of what made the first so good and injected it with a more original storyline. We have to wait longer to see if it gets the conclusion it deserves, but the Quiet Place films are a perfect example of horror tension done right.
9. Violet Evergarden: The Movie (2020)
My heart! The feels! This emotional conclusion to the Violet Evergarden anime series lays on the melodrama pretty thick at times, but it’s all still utterly poignant. With drop-dead gorgeous animation and a tear-jerking plot that can stand on its own, it’s everything I could have wanted in an ending.
8. Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)
Resurrecting classic film franchises has become old hat by now, but Afterlife proved to be that rare cash grab with heart. Transplanting the ghost action to small-town Oklahoma and injecting just the right amount of fan service (some critics disagreed), this final(?) Ghostbusters flick took a page from Stranger Things and made ghost-hunting the kid wish fulfillment it always has been.
While Black Widow and Eternals have gone down in my estimation the more I think of them, Shang-Chi has only gone up. The welcome Asian representation, outstanding martial arts action, and likable protagonists combined into proof that Marvel can still nail an origin story.
6. The Father (2020)
I honestly considered not including this film and keeping it a Runner-Up, simply because it’s a film that hurt to watch. Anthony Hopkins’ Oscar-winning performance as a man suffering from dementia is exceptional, as are the direction and casting that keep the audience guessing what is real, but it also brought back painful memories of my dad’s mental decline. Ultimately, though, I had to give the film its due as List-Worthy.
The only Blindspot from this year to earn a place on this list, My Left Foot is an exemplar of biographical films. It utilizes a bravura, Oscar-winning performance from Daniel Day-Lewis to elucidate the life of a troubled but admirable man, Irish painter Christy Brown, who was almost fully paralyzed by cerebral palsy. Equally praiseworthy is Brenda Fricker’s Oscar-winning role as Christy’s long-suffering mother.
This film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical may have flopped at the box office, like most musicals this year sadly, but it certainly impressed me as a newcomer to his pre-Hamilton hit. What In the Heights lacked in famous star power, it made up for in Hispanic pride, slick choreography, and Jon Chu’s exhilarating direction.
3. Tick, Tick…Boom! (2021)
Lin-Manuel Miranda returns once more, this time with his directorial debut of (surprise, surprise) another musical! Andrew Garfield is marvelous in Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical account of chasing his elusive Broadway dreams, tapping into the latent unease of all twenty- and thirtysomethings still waiting to make their mark on the world, me included.
The best animated film of the year surprisingly didn’t come from Disney or Pixar but Sony, utilizing a similar vibrant animation aesthetic as Into the Spider-Verse. Despite a plot that seems well-worn, the rapid-fire jokes and feel-good family themes meld into a robot apocalypse road trip worth watching again and again.
It feels alternately obvious and prosaic to stick this Marvel juggernaut at #1, but I honestly can’t think of a better theater experience or a film that appealed to my inner movie geek more than this one. No Way Home not only wrapped up Tom Holland’s MCU trilogy (for now) with the highest stakes yet but provided closure to Spider-Man films of the past. It’s the best bit of fan service since Endgame, and luckily I’m a fan.
Along with the twelve above, these three films also managed to earn a place on THE LIST:
In the next day or two, I’ll post the latest version of THE LIST, my Top 365 movies list updated with the new additions above. And with an old year behind us and a new one ahead, I just want to take a moment to thank all readers, likers, commenters, and followers, particularly any who are still reading this post to the bottom. You are wonderful for even checking out my humble poetry and movie blog, and I wish the best for all of you in 2022.
Finally, here’s a little lookback at the strong cinematic year that was 2021.
It’s been a while since I posted any Top Twelve lists, but this one is particularly overdue. My lists of favorite movies of the year are usually long after the New Year, when most people post them, just because I typically take longer to watch all the worthwhile films of the year. But in the past, I have at least posted my top songs of the previous year in January, which was foiled in 2020/2021 due to a tight school schedule. Now that I am finally through with school, it’s time to revisit the great musical gifts that 2020 had to offer.
To be quite honest, I consider 2020 a rather weak year for movies but a fantastic one for music. It was hard to pare down the list to a Top Twelve, considering how many other favorites ended up in the Runners-Up. I always find it interesting how my tastes continue to diverge from what is mainstream and popular; only one of these songs ended up in the Billboard Top 10, and you can bet Cardi B and Billie Eilish are nowhere to be found.
As always, there are no doubt songs I’ve missed along the way that I hope to discover at some point. My 2019 list seemed watertight at the time, but it wasn’t until this year that I was introduced to The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” or Mika’s whole My Name Is Michael Holbrook album. Speaking of the latter, I sort of retroactively assess years by the artists I fall in love with, such as Florence and the Machine in 2016, Kygo in 2017, etc. And 2020 continued this trend, making me a huge fan of Mika, Sparks, and The Orion Experience, all of which have been around for years and deserve way more attention. (Sparks did get a documentary this year called The Sparks Brothers, which I hope to review at some point.)
While most of these songs may not have been mainstream hits, I consider all of them modern classics at this point. Hopefully, you readers will agree, but if not, let me know what your favorite songs of 2020 were. It was a tough year for many reasons, but good music can make hard times more bearable and even fun. It takes more searching these days, but I’m always grateful that great tunes like these are still being created.
12. “Can I Believe You” – Fleet Foxes
Dropped on the autumnal equinox with little fanfare, literally the day after being announced, Shore is the latest album from Fleet Foxes, and while I wasn’t very familiar with their previous work, I was blown away with this dreamy folk tour de force. It was hard to pick a favorite among songs like “Quiet Air/Gioia,” “Young Man’s Game,” and “Jara,” but I settled on “Can I Believe You,” the kind of subdued jam that sends you to another plane when you close your eyes while listening.
11. “Lights Go Down” – I Dont Know How But They Found Me
Deriving their name from a Back to the Future quote and their lead singer from Panic! at the Disco, I Dont Know How But They Found Me made an exciting alt rock debut with their Razzmatazz album. Though “Leave Me Alone” and “New Invention” got more exposure, “Lights Go Down” is the clear standout for me. Those instantly memorable synth notes at the beginning give way to a similarly toe-tapping chorus and sax solo that are simply infectious.
10. “Kings & Queens” – Ava Max
Aside from the next song, this is the only other song on the list that I actually heard on the radio. Ava Max could be dismissed as a wannabe Lady Gaga, but I’ve enjoyed her work since “Sweet but Psycho” three years ago. The catchy beat and guitar solo of this anthem of female empowerment meld pop and rock in an effortlessly appealing single.
9. “Dynamite” – BTS
Yes, this is the monster hit that topped the Billboard Hot 100 and set multiple Guinness world records, and with good reason. Since I typically spurn rap, I wasn’t much of a fan of BTS before, and it’s perhaps a little ironic that their first English-language hit and the song that won me over was written by someone else. But who could resist this exuberant pop smash, making full use of the K-pop juggernaut’s energy and harmonies and somehow landing a spot on Rolling Stone’s updated list of the Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It’s a perfect summer hit.
8. “Need Each Other” – TWRP, featuring Planet Booty
I missed out on featuring TWRP’s “Starlight Brigade” on my list of 2018 songs (since I only discovered them in 2019), but I am glad to not repeat that oversight here. The costumed Canadian band once more killed it with their Over the Top album, and while “Black Swan” seemed like the obvious choice, I had to pick “Need Each Other,” a funk-fueled collab that extols the feelings of community and mutual love that were most needed during the pandemic’s worst days.
7. “Daniel, You’re Still a Child” – Declan McKenna
Not only do I love the inventive green-screen music video, but Declan McKenna’s “Daniel, You’re Still a Child” is an eminently sing-alongable jam that never gets old, even if I don’t fully understand the potentially dark meaning of the lyrics. I could have also gone with “The Key to Life on Earth” or “Beautiful Faces,” since the whole Zeroes album rocks, but “Daniel” is the real stand-out.
6. “A Good Song Never Dies” – Saint Motel
I don’t dislike Billie Eilish’s theme song for No Time to Die, but this song proves beyond a doubt that Saint Motel needs to do a James Bond theme. “A Good Song Never Dies” already sounds like one, and the horns and bassline have swaggering style to spare. It also makes them the only returning band from my 2019 list, further cementing them as one of my favorites and one of the most underrated groups out there. Special mention for “Preach.”
5. “My God” – The Killers, feat. Weyes Blood
Through most of the year, I was sure that “Caution,” the lead single from Imploding the Mirage, would be The Killers’ obvious entry on my list, but then I heard “My God.” This anthem of catharsis is The Killers at their best, and Weyes Blood’s pure voice during the bridge gives me chills every time. Special mention for “Lightning Fields” as well.
4. “All That” – Sparks
Last year was the year I discovered Sparks, the duo that have been making fantastic, quirk-filled music for over fifty years with nowhere near the acclaim they deserve. They’re still going strong with the album A Steady Drip, Drip Drip, with “All That” being the best. With its wistful, nostalgic lyrics and clapped beat, it sounds like both the culmination of a long career and a classic that’s been around for years. With Edgar Wright’s recent documentary about the Mael brothers, I’m glad Sparks is getting more attention. Special mention for “Self-Effacing” and “Left Out in the Cold.”
3. “My Rajneesh” – Sufjan Stevens
In 2020, I also gained a greater appreciation for the poetic delicacy of Sufjan Stevens. While the year saw a whole album from the auteur, with great songs like “Video Game,” “America,” and “Tell Me You Love Me,” the highlight somehow didn’t make it on the album. The B-side of “America” and running for 10 minutes, “My Rajneesh” is an endlessly inventive meditation on spirituality encapsulating his odd artistry. The extended fadeout is a bit anticlimactic, but the high points are glorious.
2. “Someday” – Kygo, with Zac Brown
And Kygo once more returns to the list, having scored #4 for the 2017 list and #3 for the 2018 list. (I guess he keeps going up.) While many artists held live remote concerts during the lockdowns, Kygo’s Golden Hour festival was a highlight of them all. With my dad’s passing still in my mind, “Someday”’s hopeful themes of missing someone just spoke to me, and the combination of country and tropical house is a perfectly catchy combination to boot. Special mention to “Lose Somebody” and “Broken Glass.”
1. “Before We Drift Away” – Nothing But Thieves
Honestly, I was really torn on which song would snag the top spot, since any of the top 5 could have won that honor. But when listening to all of them in sequence, the building momentum of this one became self-evident. Starting dreamy and peaceful, the mounting strings and drums erupting into the chorus take it to another level of sublime pop rock. “Before We Drift Away” wasn’t even a single, but I love it dearly, and it kills me that Nothing But Thieves is still largely unknown in the U.S. Special mention for “Moral Panic” and “Is Everybody Going Crazy?”
And that concludes yet another yearly song countdown. Better late than never, right? What did you think of my list? Let me know whether you agree with my musical tastes or think I’ve been locked down for too long, and be sure to share your own favorites from 2020 as well. It may have been a crappy year, but at least there was great music to help us all through. As always, below is my long list of runners-up, continuing the countdown in order (#13, #14, etc.), so hopefully you’ll find some new favorites among my list as well.
“Medicine Man” and the rest of the Lush Life album – The Orion Experience
“Thank You”, “Phoenix”, and “Symphony” – Sheppard
“The Gate” and “The Door” – Caroline Polachek
“Say Something” and “Magic” – Kylie Minogue
“Bummerland” – AJR
“Crocodile Tears”, feat. Jens Hult and “Nights Like That”, feat. Georgia Ku – BUNT.
“Lost in Yesterday” and “Why Won’t They Talk to Me?” – Tame Impala
“No Ordinary” – Labrinth
“Lost in Paradise” – ALI, feat. Aklo
“Night Crawling,” “Golden G String,” and “Plastic Hearts” – Miley Cyrus
Love Goes album and “The Lighthouse Keeper” – Sam Smith
“Physical,” “Break My Heart,” and “Levitating”, – Dua Lipa
“Think about Things” – Daði Freyr
“Changes” and “Modern Loneliness” – Lauv
“Bury Us” – The Naked and Famous
“In Your Eyes” – The Weeknd
“All Eyes on You”, “Forever Alone”, and “Godsent” – Smash Into Pieces
“La Vita Nuova” – Christine and the Queens, ft. Caroline Polachek
“Moonshine” and “Pluma” – Caravan Palace
“It’s All So Incredibly Loud” and “Heat Waves” – Glass Animals
“Zombie Prom” and “Oh My God” – Kaiser Chiefs
“Why Try” and “Nominated” – Ginger Root
“Papa” – Scott Helman
“Synthian” and “Gave Up on Us” – NINA
“Gold” and “Last Night on Earth” – Paloma Faith
“Le Coeur Holiday”, feat. Soprano, and “Belle D’Estate” – MIKA
“Box in My Head” and rest of The Symbol Remains album – Blue Oyster Cult
“In Your Eyes” – Robin Schulz, feat. Alida
“Husavik” – from the movie Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
“Everyone Changes” feat. Gabrielle Aplin, “Sometimes”, and “Wherever You Are” – Kodaline
“Head & Heart” – Joel Corry x MNEK
“And It Breaks My Heart” and “Who You Lovin” – LÉON
“Maybe I” – Seven Billion Dots
“Higher” – Bishop Briggs
“Chinatown” – Bleachers, ft. Bruce Springsteen
“Headphones”, “19,” and “Irony” – FAITH
“I’ll Get By” and “Born in California” – Avi Kaplan
“Comeback” – Carly Rae Jepson, ft. Bleachers
“Dancing in the Dark” – Frank Walker
“Rosenrot” – Faun
“All My Love” – Elderbrook
“Who I Am” and “Prover” – Milet
“Gravity” and “Acacia” – Bump of Chicken
“Heaven on My Mind” – Becky Hill & Sigala
“Blood Bonds” and “Paranoia” – Nathan Wagner
“Under the Sun” – Bakermat
“Sign” – Roosevelt
“Lucid” and “Paradisin’” – Rina Sawayama
“Losing My Mind”, “Roman Empire”, and “Can You Feel the Sun” – Missio
“Break Up Song” and “Happiness” – Little Mix
“幸せのシャナナ” – BRADIO
“Young and Restless” – SIAMES
“Many Roads” and “Need You,” feat. Madge – Chaos Chaos
“Light the Light” – RADWIMPS
“I Think There’s Something You Should Know” – The 1975
“Rescue Dog” – Train
“Sunburn”, “Animal”, “Can’t Wait”, and “Drunk” – The Living Tombstone
“Superlove” – Royal Republic
“I Don’t Know What We’re Talking About” – NSP
“The Movies” and “You Should Probably Just Hang Up” – Nightly
“Fools” – ufo ufo
“Keep Me Light” – Tall Heights
“Animal” and “Hate You” – Jim Yosef x RIELL
“Come Over” – Dagny
“Baby It’s You” and “Californian Soil” – London Grammar
“Riots” – Stuck in the Sound
“Someone Else’s Dream” – Absofacto
“Gimme a Minute” and “Stay Gold” – PVRIS
“Seventeen” – Deamn
“Scream Drive Faster” and “Best I Ever Had” – LAUREL
“Change” – Pale Waves
“Tell Me I’m Wrong” – Dwayne Ford, feat. Clara Sorace
“sustain++” – Mili
“homebody” and “hiccup” – Valley
“Wonder” and “Teach Me How To Love” – Shawn Mendes
“Cardigan” – Taylor Swift
“Off My Mind” – Hazel English
“I Saw Love” – Forest Blakk
“Pretty Please” – Jackson Wang and Galantis
“Let’s Love” – David Guetta & Sia
As with past music posts, I want to end my yearly music list with an overdue tribute to the many music artists we lost in 2020, including Neil Peart of Rush, Pop Smoke, David Roback of Mazzy Star, Barbara Martin of The Supremes, Kenny Rogers, Bill Withers, John Prine, Ryo Kawasaki, Florian Schneider of Kraftwerk, Brian Howe of Bad Company, Little Richard, Steve Priest of Sweet, Bonnie Pointer of The Pointer Sisters, Vera Lynn, Charlie Daniels, Ennio Morricone, Regis Philbin, Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac, Malik B. of The Roots, Leon Fleisher, Trini Lopez, Frankie Banali of Quiet Riot, Ronald Bell of Kool & The Gang, Toots Hibbert of Toots & The Maytals, Lee Kerslake and Ken Hensley of Uriah Heep, Tommy DeVito of The Four Seasons, Helen Reddy, Johnny Nash, Eddie Van Halen, Tony Lewis of The Outfield, Alto Reed of Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band, and Charley Pride. May they rest in peace, for they and their music will not be forgotten.
It’s amazing how National Poetry Writing Month feels way too long when in the middle of it and way too short when it’s over. But I can’t deny the sense of accomplishment I feel on the other side, clearing out my backlog of films to review and writing a host of new poems. I felt like I had less time this year to devote to the writing, so I hope the quality didn’t suffer too much. I also find it interesting (and a total coincidence) that my favorite films reviewed were the two animated ones that bookended the month. Sadly, I did miss two days, but I’m surprised I was able to keep up as well as I did. For anyone else who missed a day, here’s a recap listing the films/poems for NaPoWriMo 2021:
A huge thank-you to everyone who read, liked, followed, and commented throughout the month, as well as the NaPoWriMo website that provided so many great daily prompts! I would still write even if it were just for me, but it warms my heart that others out there in cyberspace enjoy it too. I still plan to continue posting, just at a more relaxed schedule. Now I’m looking forward to NaPoWriMo 2022, when I’ll finally be free of school! Until then….
Why waste time? Hot off the heels of completing my 2020 Blindspots, it’s time to move on to a brand new list of twelve movies for 2021. Normally, I would have posted this at the beginning of the year and watched one a month, but I’m sure I can double up a few times before December, especially once I graduate.
As with past years, I attempted to select a varied collection of films I’ve been meaning to see, including a war classic, a Best Picture winner, an anime, a musical, a psychological horror, a sci-fi actioner, and a couple popular comedies. Here’s hoping that 2021’s Blindspot series will expose me to some new favorites!
Despite all of my guilt and apologies about being late with my 2020 Blindspots, I realized that I actually did manage to see them all in a year’s time. I didn’t review my first until last April, so I guess I did fulfill the challenge in a way.
Anyway, I do always enjoy these Blindspot series, which expose me to a bunch of films I’ve kept on the back burner for too long. As for 2020’s collection, I must admit I was a bit disappointed with at least half of them, in contrast to past years, and only my #1 actually managed to snag a List-Worthy rating. Nevertheless, I am glad to have finally seen them all, and I hope to do the same with other Blindspots as we get further into 2021.
Here then is my ranking of the Blindspots from the past year:
As promised, it’s time to post my latest update of THE LIST, my ultimate top 365 film countdown, which is technically more than 365 since I group sequels and similar films together. There aren’t any huge changes this time, with only thirteen films being added, two of which are being grouped with others. Yet we have both low and high rankers, with one even managing to crack the Top 100. And yes, Psycho still somehow remains firmly ensconced at #365.
As we set out on another year of life and movies and Rhyme and Reason, I want to once again thank everyone who reads and follows this blog of mine and takes any interest in my poetry-movie mash-ups and impulsive list-making. After last year, I don’t know what 2021 has in store, but hopefully it will include lots of great movies to add to this list a year from now, plus easier times all around. May God bless us, every one!
Wow, another year gone, one that I’m sure no one wants to repeat. Good riddance, and welcome to 2021! It has now been seven years since I started this blog, compiling my Top 365 movies on a whim and counting them down with a poem, one a day back in 2014. While my pace has grown more relaxed since then, my love of movies and poetry has only grown, and I’ve continued to discover more and more hidden gems and new releases over the years.
While there have been jokes this year about people having nothing to do but watch Netflix, I have had less free time than ever in 2020 due to working from home and attempting to finish my Bachelor’s degree. Thus, I haven’t watched nearly as many films, which has sadly slowed my reviewing schedule as well. Nevertheless, a select few that I have seen deserve a list here at the end of the year as movies worthy to be added to that Top 365 List I mentioned above. It’s the smallest number I’ve added thus far but just enough for my traditional Top Twelve List. Many of them are holdovers from 2019 while a couple are movies I’ve reevaluated and appreciated more with time.
As always, I want to reiterate that these are List-Worthy films I have seen over the past year, not a ranking specific to 2019 or 2020, and solely based on my personal, changeable opinion. I always run behind on movie-watching, which is why so many 2019 films are here, so I’m sure there are plenty of worthwhile 2020 films I’ll need to catch up on, not to mention all the releases delayed to 2021 due to COVID. Also, I wish to give a special shout-out to the Runner-Up movies who came awfully close to securing a place on the list but didn’t quite make the cut: Ford v Ferrari, Parasite, The Upside, Paddington and Paddington 2, Big Trouble in Little China, The Pride of the Yankees, Runaway Bride,Doctor Sleep, Fast and Furious 6 – 8, Don’t Let Go, The Vast of Night, and Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey.
So what do you think of my top movies seen this year? I welcome recommendations of all kinds, and hopefully I’ll be able to fit more movie-watching into my schedule this year and have more than a scant twelve additions to ring in 2022. Here’s hoping that it will be a better year all around!
Like so many others, I was Frozened out long before the inevitable sequel was announced, but Disney still managed to deliver a mostly satisfying mythic follow-up to its biggest hit of the last decade. Issues with the plot notwithstanding, I enjoyed this second visit to Arendelle almost as much as the first.
11. The Big Year (2011)
I haven’t gotten a chance to review this film yet and defend its placement, but I will. It may not seem like the kind of movie to earn a spot on a favorites list, but this under-the-radar film about bird watchers was a charmer from start to finish. Like Please Stand By last year, it’s a film I just liked, from its great comedic cast to its soundtrack to its subtext about life and obsession.
10. Mean Girls (2004)
I’ll be honest: I did not expect to enjoy this movie as much as I did, even while I was watching it. Whenever someone would reference or quote this movie, I got the feeling that I had missed a part of pop culture specific to my generation, and I’m glad to have caught up with this quotable high school satire. Like Heathers, my fondness for the musical version may have something to do with my regard for the film.
Masaaki Yuasa never struck me as a director whose work would appeal to me, but Ride Your Wave caught me off-guard with its deeply felt story of love, loss, and holding on to the past. Fanciful without getting too weird, its sweet romance yields to a gut punch of emotion, and I love anime that can make such a tonal shift successfully.
I had seen 42 before, but it wasn’t till my second watch, after the loss of star Chadwick Boseman, that I truly appreciated it as a top-notch sports biopic. Jackie Robinson’s story is inspiring even without the big-screen treatment, but Boseman and Harrison Ford bring his struggle and success to life wonderfully.
Makoto Shinkai’s follow-up to the megahit Your Name had a tough act to follow, but Weathering with You came close in replicating its predecessor’s mix of fantasy and youthful romance (and rain, lots of rain). The animation is second to none, and the music perfectly complements the beauty of the story.
Like 42, Harriet finally gives an African-American icon their due. Uplifted by a ferociously compelling performance by Cynthia Erivo, this faith-friendly biopic only deepened my admiration for Harriet Tubman as an American hero.
Outside of Hallmark Channel, murder mysteries don’t get enough love on screen these days, but writer-director Rian Johnson succeeded in putting a unique stamp on such material with an all-star cast and a gleefully twisty narrative with subtle social themes. More please!
3. Soul (2020)
Although I only saw Soul yesterday, its status as top-tier Pixar is doubtless. Exploring deep themes of inspiration and the meaning of life in a way more understandable for adults but still accessible to kids is a feat I would expect only from Pixar.
As deserving as Bong Joon-ho was for Parasite, Sam Mendes should have won not just Best Director for 2019 but possibly for the decade. 1917 is a monumental achievement in filmmaking, an artful, immersive war film that seems designed to cater to my love of tracking shots.
Just like La La Land a few years ago, I walked away from last year’s Little Women with a rare glow that few films impart. The acting, the scenery, the period detail, the literary message of encouragement that spoke to me personally, the blend of modern and traditional sensibilities – Greta Gerwig brought everything together beautifully. Likewise, I enjoyed the 1994 version with its equally likable leads and more linear storyline, which is why I’m grouping them together. I never thought of Little Women as a story for me, but I love it dearly now.
So ends another year of movie-watching as another one begins. Keeping with tradition, here are some unofficial awards for the List-Worthy movies, including a few Runners-up as well.
Best opening scene: Furious 7
Best final scene: 1917 (considering it’s the whole last third of the film)
Tomorrow I plan to post my updated Top 365 Movie List, incorporating the additions listed above. I do want to say a special thanks to all readers, likers, followers, commenters, and anyone who happens upon this humble blog of mine. I have no delusions of influence when it comes to blogging. It’s just a fun way of translating my love of movies and poetry to the digital word, and the fact that anyone cares to read those words always brings a smile to my face. Thank you, and I hope and pray for the best for all of us in the new year!
It’s hard to believe that National/Global Poetry Writing Month is already over. It’s always been a great opportunity for creativity and to catch up on my backlog of films to review, but it’s a relief to finish. It’s been a struggle sometimes fitting in time to write amid work and school obligations. (I actually started a college class this month, so that maybe wasn’t the best timing.) Nevertheless, as with past years, I feel an immense sense of satisfaction, having kept up with a poem and movie review a day.
Thank you to the NaPoWriMo website for the daily prompts and to everyone who read, liked, followed, and commented along the way, which helped encourage me to keep going. For anyone who missed a day, here’s a full recap of April’s NaPoWriMo posts:
I’ll continue posting my poem/reviews, of course, but on a much more relaxed schedule. And NaPoWriMo 2021 is only eleven months away now! Here’s hoping the world will be in a better place the next time it rolls around. Thank you again to all readers; stay safe!