I’m all for tradition, so it pleases me that this is the second consecutive year that I’m starting a new year by thinking about the best media I consumed in the previous year.
In 2021 I watched 86 films, the most I’ve watched in a year since I was a kid and fired up 101 Dalmatians every day after kindergarten. Here, I offer some spare thoughts about my three favorite released in 2021.
*I’m still pushing through a watchlist that keeps getting longer by the minute so check back in with me around Oscar time for a more completist take on 2021’s films.*
No. 3: Dune
This is a beautiful movie full of great performances, a terrific score, an epic scenarios told with a realist flourish. It looses points because it is only the start of something, but jeez…imagine starting anything as strong as this film starts the Dune lore. I hope you saw this film last year, and I hope you saw it on the largest screen that you could.
No. 2: Drive My Car
Can I interest you in a three-hour film that’s fully in Japanese? I should. This is a filmed adaptation of the eponymous Haruki Murakami story from his 2014 collection, Men Without Women, and it’s just as mysterious, ambiguous, sexy, and creative as its source material. There’s lush Japanese landscapes, beautiful photography of a very unsexy Saab 900, and an deep darkness that pervades everything. The short story is okay, this film is great.
No. 1: Bo Burnham: Inside
As a creature of the internet, I want to create an interesting list unique to me. But I also want to be truthful, which is why I tell you that comedian Bo Burnham’s Inside is the best thing I watched in 2021. Burnham writes, directs, performs, and edits this special about what it was like to exist and create during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m several years younger than Burnham but I also turned 30 during the pandemic and feel much of the same uncertainties and insecurities that Burnham does. It’s a weird time to be alive and even harder to be inside all the time.