Cinemas returned for some of us in 2021, which was great after 2020 left the majority of the world having to watch big-screen movies on laptops and TV screens via new streaming services. A lot of the films that had been continually delayed were also released this year (looking at you No Time To Die), but that isn’t to say you still can’t see the effects of COVID-19 affecting cinema numbers and productions. It is, like anything else in the world. Thankfully, we got to watch many great movies released, and half of our Top 10 list we were able to see on the big screen! 

Here are our picks for the Best Movies of 2021. 

10.) In the Heights (dir: Jon M. Chu)

A loving adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical, In The Heights was a true delight to experience on the big screen. Set in the New York neighbourhood of Washington Heights, we follow Usnavi as he dreams of leaving for his native country of the Dominican Republic but feels committed to his bodega and community.

Featuring a wonderful cast of amazing performers led by Hamilton alum Anthony Ramos, the film makes each of its musical numbers feel special, particularly “96,00” which is a truly beautifully choreographed sequence. Shot on the streets of Washington Heights and filled with colour, In The Heights is a treat for your eyes as well as your ears.

– Ashley Hobley

In The Heights Review

“A beautiful film that will leave your heart feeling full deserves to be watched on the big screen, In The Heights has set the bar for what we can expect from this genre in the future.”

9.) CODA (dir: Sian Heder)

CODA is a beautiful coming age drama that will pull at your heartstrings and just make you feel good. Following Ruby, we see her life with her deaf parents and brother, waking up early to help them on their fishing boat as the only person who can hear. After overcoming her initial fears, she joins the school choir and realises her passion is music, a dream that is at odds with what her family needs from her.

With an amazing cast led by Emilia Jones and featuring deaf actors Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant, and Marlee Matlin, CODA is a truly heartwarming experience that will just as easily make you laugh as move you.

– Ashley Hobley


8.) The Mitchells vs. The Machines (dir: Michael Rianda)

The animation style of The Mitchells vs. the Machines is very much in-line with Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, but this wholely original animated movie brings as much heart and more laughs than that costumed hero flick. 

The Mitchell family and their journey across America in a world taken over by robots are filled with laugh-out-loud moments, but it’s also filled with many heartfelt ones. The relationship between Katie and her father and how it changes throughout the film is fantastic. There’s also a not so subtle message about big tech bros in this film, which feels very relevant. 

– Dylan Blight

The Mitchells vs. The Machines [Blu-ray]

7.) The Father (dir: Florian Zeller)

Based on his own play of the same name, director Florian Zeller makes his film debut with this story of a man dealing with dementia. With amazing performances by Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, The Father at times feels like a sci-fi, time travel mystery with time moving in a non-linear fashion, at other times it feels like a true horror film.

The film balances your empathy for both Anthony, who is trying to make sense of what is going on around him, and his daughter Anne who is struggling to find the balance between looking after her father and having her own life. A heartbreaking depiction of something that is likely happening in homes all over the world.

– Ashley Hobley

6.) Zack Snyder’s Justice League (dir: Zack Snyder)

The story behind Zack Snyder’s Justice League getting to our screens is one of the crazier things to have happened in cinema in recent memory. And when it was released at a mammoth run-time of four hours, there was only going to be questions of, “was it worth it?” The answer for us was yes. 

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a tonally different film to the theatrical cut, but it also has a vision and structure, unlike the original release. It may be messy, it may be long, and it may not be what you want from a DC film, but Snyder knows what he wanted to do with his Justice League film. He continues to tackle how Superman would be viewed in the real world unlike any other Superman filmmakers in the past, giving closure to his ark here, which was deserved. It’s also a beautiful film with a choice to present in a 1.33: 1 cinematic ratio and in 35mm. The only sad part is now that fans have this, we won’t get to see what would have been if this had of released in the first place.

– Dylan Blight


Zack Snyder’s Justice League (4K Ultra HD + Blu-Ray)

5.) Promising Young Woman (dir: Emerald Fennell)

This biting, dark and provocative twist on the revenge genre has stuck with me all these many months later. Carey Mulligan stars as the anti-heroine Cassie who pretends to be drunk at clubs at night to scare the men who try and take advantage of her as a way of dealing with her traumatic past. As she seems to be turning a corner, she finds herself drawn back to the true people behind her pain.

Seeing her pull of her acts of revenge, like convincing a school dean that Cassie has put her daughter is in a compromising situation, elicit a range of emotions that few other films do. With her debut film, Emerald Fennel has made a stylish visually stunning piece that will have you mesmerized as it plays out.

– Ashley Hobley

4.) Dune (dir: Denis Villeneuve)

Denis Villeneuve‘s Dune is the exact type of film I’ll hold high into the sky as a key example of why cinemas are still needed. I have many on that topic, but I won’t get too distracted. But Dune is a spectacle in the kind of the way my Dad said he would only go to the cinema to watch. The story is grandiose with a large and star-studded cast, the world is large, and most importantly, the film looks and sounds phenomenal in a cinema setting. The planet of Arrakis and the sound dunes are beautiful in a hauntingly never-ending way, and the sandworms are creatures of a size that would rival Godzilla. The film has a scope like none other this year, and Villeneuve continues to prove he has an eye for large scale sci-fi-like none other. I can’t wait until we get the sequel in 2023.

– Dylan Blight


3.) Bo Burnham’s: Inside (Bo Burnham)

Part comedy special, part musical, part sketch show, part mockumentary. Nailing down exactly what Bo Burnham’s Inside is comes secondary to discussing how excellent it is. Unable to do a comedy special in person due to covid, Bo sets about making a comedy special at home. We get some great songs, funny bits and amusing, thought-provoking insights before the toll of working on this project alone, stuck in this room, begins to affect his mental health and attitude to the project. The story that Burnham tells through the special, told through the subject matter of the songs he’s performing to the small behind the scenes pieces were watching, mirrors the experiences a lot of of us had dealing with lockdowns while trying to do something creative. It is truly the perfect encapsulation of all we’ve been through the last few years.

Although it is all shot in one room, Burnham makes one of the most beautiful looking films of the year. With creative use of projectors and lighting, Burnham is able to make that room look different for each song and sketch as well as playing around with aspect ratios and camera movements. Since it’s release Inside has taken on a life of its own, getting a limited cinema release, charting on various music charts, getting his songs covered by Pheobe Bridgers, all off limited marketing and no public appearances from Bo himself. He really over-delivered on the content he promised with this special comedy.

– Ashley Hobley

2.) Another Round (Thomas Vinterberg)

Director Thomas Vinterbeg’s film about alcoholism doesn’t show you something you’re not aware of as no matter your country, and there’s bound to be alcoholism affecting people in different ways. But Another Round is such a memorable film thanks to Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Milang and Lars Anthe as the four friends. They decide to test the theory that being just so slightly intoxicated will improve their brains and make them more efficient. Ultimately what all four men are doing is looking for a giant bandaid to place over the various mid-life issues they’re having at home. 

Through both dramatic moments and laugh-out-loud ones too, the film doesn’t wave its finger in your face and tell you to stop drinking, and neither does it encourage you to drink more. Its final minutes are the cherry on top and the satisfying finishing that elevates the film to another level. 

– Dylan Blight


1.) The Matrix Resurrections (Lana Wachowski)

The most divisive blockbuster sequel in recent years that doesn’t have “Star Wars” somewhere in its title, The Matrix Resurrections, is Lana Wachowski diving headfirst into the rabbit hole and asking the audience how deep they want to go. In a world where most blockbuster sequels seem to be created under the guise of the fans every beck-and-call, their every criticism from the last film taken onboard; films often designed like rollercoasters to elicit screams at the screen in surprise or shock, The Matrix Resurrections was a fresh of breath air. 

The Matrix Resurrections is a film interested in telling a love story between Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) as it looks back on the trilogy of Matrix films and the way cinema has changed since they released. However, Lana isn’t naval glazing and throws criticism in many directions, including the film’s distributor, Warner Bros

You’ll either love or hate The Matrix Resurrections. If you want a film like the first one, this isn’t it, and Lana wasn’t introduced in making that film. This isn’t a return to the roots of the franchise; it’s a giant leap forward and a personal essay all at the same time.

– Dylan Blight

The Matrix Resurrections Review

“Sure to have people talking about The Matrix for years to come and has me excited about the potential to return to this world again in the future.”

The Matrix Trilogy [Blu-ray]

Dylan Blight and Ashley Hobley compiled this Top 10 list. The movies nominated must have had a theatrical release in a cinema, VOD or on a streaming platform within December 27th 2020 – December 27th 2021.