Top Ten Films of 2021

This is a list of the best films of 2021. There are many like it, but this one is mine. It is a little late, but pay it no mind. The film industry in 2021, like 2020, was still impacted somewhat by the COVID-19 Pandemic, though obviously not as much as 2020 was. It was a year that, to me, showed a lot of problems for the theater industry, as it was starting to look like film fans had become comfortable waiting for films to hit streaming services rather than to see them in theaters. Because exactly what films became hits last year? Like others have noted, they were pretty much all franchise films. In a way, it feels like HBO Max may have made it easy for American audiences to let go of the moviegoing experience, but, hopefully, the movie theaters will thrive again soon.


  • Why isn’t this or that movie on the list?
    – Well, you know, either I just didn’t like it as much as you did, or I just haven’t seen it yet. You can’t see everything, and, unfortunately, every movie isn’t released at the same time everywhere. So, I haven’t seen films like Drive My Car or The Worst Person in the World yet, even though I really want to. Perhaps I’ll update the list in the future once I see them.
  • Wait, didn’t this or that movie come out in 2020?
    – Here’s the thing, like I explained in my 2020-list, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences changed the eligibility rules for the 93rd Academy Awards, which meant that some films that I would classify as 2021 films were nominated (or even awarded Oscars) at the same ceremony that was supposed to celebrate 2020 films. For example, I think of films like Nomadland, Minari, The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, and Promising Young Woman as 2021 films.

Honorable Mention – Bo Burnham’s INSIDE

Still Image from Bo Burnham’s ‘Inside’ — Available on Netflix now.

“Burnham has ultimately illustrated how loneliness and the absence of human interaction as a result of necessary social distancing can stifle you. It is probably the first truly great artistic response to the pandemic that I have seen. It is an unbelievable and unforgettable encapsulation of this past year, as well as of how depression can have an impact on creative minds and their endeavours. I don’t care if you call it a movie, a documentary, a comedy special, or whatever, but you absolutely should watch it once you’re in the right headspace. Don’t skip it, because this is the first masterpiece of 2021.”

Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of Inside.

#10 – No Time to Die – Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga

Daniel Craig as James Bond and Ana de Armas as Paloma in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s NO TIME TO DIE — Photo: Nicola Dove / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios / Universal Pictures.

“Though both overlong and overstuffed (it cannot escape its 163 minute long runtime), Cary Joji Fukunaga’s No Time To Die is a loving spy epic and an emotional conclusion to the ongoing story that fans have followed since Daniel Craig took on the iconic role. As a film, No Time To Die is arguably the best send-off any actor playing Bond has ever had.”

Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of No Time to Die.

#9 – Judas and the Black Messiah – Directed by Shaka King

Daniel Kaluuya (center) as ‘Fred Hampton’ in JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH — Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures.

“Shaka King’s sophomore outing is absolutely a must-watch film that is deservedly earning plaudits and accolades far and wide. It is a devastating film about the methods some people will use to quiet the strongest and most important voices of a generation, about the people fooled into doing the dirtywork, as well as about the importance of standing together as one.”

Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of Judas and the Black Messiah.

#8 – Spider-Man: No Way Home – Directed by Jon Watts

MJ (played by Zendaya) and Peter Parker/Spider-Man (played by Tom Holland) trying to escape the public eye in Spider-Man: No Way Home — Photo: Matt Kennedy / Sony Pictures.

“Granted, the film is somewhat crowded and occasionally busy (and I do have some minor editing nitpicks), but what really makes this massive, overwhelming crossover event film work is that it has its heart in the right place.”

Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of Spider-Man: No Way Home.

#7 – West Side Story – Directed by Steven Spielberg

The Jets, The Sharks, and Tony & Maria in Spielberg’s West Side Story – Photo: 20th Century Studios.

“So, did we need it? We didn’t, but, to be honest, I also don’t think that matters in the grand scheme of things. What matters is that one of America’s greatest filmmakers has remade a terrific musical with his West Side Story, which is technically superb, old school, and awe-inspiring. I loved it more than I thought I would.”

Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of West Side Story.

#6 – Flugt (Int. Title: Flee) – Directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen

Amin in Flugt/Flee — Photo: NEON / Participant.

“Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s animated documentary Flugt is an enlightening, evocative, and eye-opening film about a refugee and his identity — leaving it behind to survive and trying to reclaim it later in life. It is both a beautiful, heartbreaking, and harrowing film and probably my pick for the best documentary of 2021.”

Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of Flugt.

#5 – Pig – Directed by Michael Sarnoski

Nicolas Cage as Robin Feld with his titular companion in PIG — Photo: David Reamer / NEON.

“Michael Sarnoski’s Pig is one of, if not, the best directorial debut of 2021. It is a surprisingly thoughtful and meditative drama. Sarnoski’s debut is a deconstruction of the expected revenge-film genre that highlights the familiarity of such films before Sarnoski’s film flips the genre on its head to deliver a tender, deliberately paced, and soft-spoken film that is more about existentialism than getting justice. Perhaps the best way to sum up my feelings about this film is to use the popular and surprisingly fitting slang term, chef’s kiss. My compliments to the chef.”

Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of Pig.

#4 – The Power of the Dog – Directed by Jane Campion

Benedict Cumberbatch and Kodi Smit-McPhee in Jane Campion’s THE POWER OF THE DOG — Photo: Netflix.

“It is a film that may test audiences’ patience, but it is also a film that you should give a chance. It is more than just the film the first hour tells you that it is. Without saying too much, I will say that it reminded me somewhat of Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, which also starred Kirsten Dunst, but I also think that Campion’s The Power of the Dog is a much better film. In fact, it is one of the best films of the year.”

Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of The Power of the Dog.

#3 – The Green Knight – Directed by David Lowery

The titular character in David Lowery’s THE GREEN KNIGHT — Photo: A24.

“Unforgettable and confidently made, David Lowery’s The Green Knight is an extraordinary tale of heroism and temptation. It is, like I suggested, a medieval Christmas epic about chivalry, as well as existentialism. It may be slow, but if you give it time to wash over you, I really do believe that this film has something that should not be missed. I think it’s easily one of the best films of 2021, as well as one of the best fantasy films of the last decade.”

Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of The Green Knight.

#2 – The Father – Directed by Florian Zeller

Sir Anthony Hopkins in Florian Zeller’s THE FATHER — Photo: Sean Gleason / Sony Pictures Classics.

“Florian Zeller’s directorial debut is simply an extraordinary, heartbreaking, and, frankly, terrifying performance-driven psychological drama. It deserves all the praise it has been getting.”

Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of The Father.

#1 – Dune – Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Josh Brolin, left, as Gurney Halleck and Timothée Chalamet, right, as Paul Atreides in Denis Villeneuve’s DUNE — Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures / Legendary Pictures.

“Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part One welcomes you to an intricate and awe-inspiring science-fiction universe brought to life via epic visuals, a menacing score and startling sound work, and an A-list cast dedicated to Villeneuve’s faithful adaptation. Although it is breathtaking, hair-raising, and immersive, this technical achievement is also deliberately paced and incomplete. I fear that it may test the patience of science-fiction neophytes but it will impress aficionados. It was right up my alley, so I can only hope that it finds the type of audience it needs to allow for the sequel it is dependent on to be made. To those people that also fear that Warner Bros. may not greenlight a sequel, I say that we must not fear. Because fear is the mind-killer.”

Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen, from my review of Dune.

– Article Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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