After the live-media drought of 2020, genre films and television shows made a roaring comback in 2021 even though the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact our lives. As we have learned to deal with the pandemic so have the TV and film industry, which was great news since there was much more films and TV shows for us to enjoy. Here are the ten best films and TV shows of 2021.
10. Superman & Lois
This Arrowverse version of Superman surprised everyone by capturing the essence of the DC superhero while bringing a modern twist of his world and situation. Tyler Hoechlin delivered a sensitive and strong performance as the newest Man of Steel.
9. The Handmaid’s Tale
The fourth season of the dystopian saga of an America under control of religious zealots. This season’s theme was about post-traumatic stress and dealing with rage as the main character escaped to Canada and dealt with the aftermath of her ordeal.
8. Sweet Tooth
This adaptation of the comic book about a road trip undertaken by a hybrid mutant boy and a tortured hunter in the aftermath of a viral apocalypse was a touching adventure. Many decried its cliffhanger season finale but thankfully a second season is coming.
At first glance, Invincible seemed like just another animated knock off of the DC Universe. But the animated adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s comic book quickly asserted it was much more than that due to its ultra-violent tone, adult nature and a fresh take of classic comic book tropes.
6. For All Mankind
The second season of the alternate history TV show further developed a world where the Soviets won the moon race with ramifications in the 1980s. Escalated Cold War tensions between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. served as a chilling backdrop for the show’s characters who were forced to deal with alarming events on Earth and on our moon.
5. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
The second TV show set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) surprised viewers with its exploration of racism, social inequality and hero worship. As well as the burden of living up to the legacy of Captain America and confronting the past. On top of those mertis were all the glorious fight scenes and captivating plot developments, which made The Falcon and the Winter Soldier so winning.
4. Doom Patrol
The quirky bunch of misfit superhumans continued to shock and delight viewers with the third season of the show. While the Doom Patrol members were outrageously funny with their caustic behavior, they touched our hearts with their tragic situations in episodes which were just downright bizarre and existential.
3. What If…?
While not every episode delivered, on the whole, What If…? was an intriguing examination of alternate versions of the MCU in animated form. Some episodes knocked it out of the park with alternate versions of characters and stituations such as a terrifying version of Ultron that put the live-action version to shame and a tragic version of Doctor Strange that might turn up in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Marvel Studios first MCU-set television show, which streamed on Disney +, instantly stood out in a crowded streaming market thanks to its innovative style which was partly a send up of American sitcoms throughout the decades. At the same time, WandaVision kept viewers captivated with its perplexing mysteries and further developments of the MCU.
1. The Expanse
Coming in at the end of the year as the best television program is the sixth and final season of The Expanse. The must-see sci-fi epic about life in the settled worlds in our solar system was notable for its grounded and realistic depictions of life in space, as well as intriguingly complex characters and political situations. The Expanse is already lauded for being of the best sci-fi TV shows and its reputation will grow in years to come.
Foundation; Hawkeye; Into the Night; Lost in Space; Love, Death & Robots; Snowpiercer; Star Trek: Discovery; Star Trek: Prodigy; Star Wars: The Bad Batch; Titans; Tribes of Europa; The Wheel of Time; The Witcher
10. Godzilla Vs Kong
The epic throwdown between two of cinemas greatest giant monsters did not fail to disappoint us! Despite its truncated run time that jettisoned actual story and human characters, the film made up for its flaws with eye-popping visuals and gigantic battle scenes.
9. Don’t Look Up
This is a relevant and satirical film about how modern society reacts to news of an incoming comet that will destroy life on Earth. We see through this scathing indictment how shallow, small-minded and willingly ignorant people can be in light of impeding global danger.
8. TIE: Venom: Let There Be Carnage/Zack Snyder’s Justice League
Superhero/comic-book based films clearly made a comeback in 2021 as seen with these two films.
The sequel to Venom may not be intellectually provocative, but it was loud, violent and fun. Tom Hardy once again gave a funny and charming performance as the hapless Eddie Brock who is forced to co-exist with his violent alien symbiote and face a deadlier and more vicious symbiote.
Meanwhile, director Zack Snyder was finally allowed to present his complete vision for the Justice League film that was radically altered back in 2017. His unabridged version of Justice League was a stunning comic book epic come to life that fully explored many of the film’s characters.
7. A Quiet Place, Part II
This sequel to the sci-fi/horror classic continued to scare us speechless as it further explored a world ravaged by deadly alien creatures that hunt by sound. John Krasinsky once again demonstrated his solid directorial chops with this thrilling sequel to A Quiet Place.
6. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
An exciting and captivating mashup of martial arts and fantasy films was the first bonafide hit in 2021 for Marvel Studios and presented and exciting future for the MCU. The film boasted many exciting fight scenes and a charming performance by Simu Liu as the title hero.
5. Free Guy
Ryan Reynolds was great as non-playable character in a Fortnite-like video game who becomes self aware and sets out to change his programmed life. Along the way he becomes a hero who captures the attention of the game’s other characters and the real world. Free Guy’s other highlights were all the meta references, jokes, action and nods to other video games and film franchises.
4. The Suicide Squad
Director James Gunn’s forray into the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) turned out to be one of the DCEU’s best entries and a vastly superior film to the original Suicide Squad. This was due to the film’s heartfelt misfit supervillains/anit-heroes such as King Shark, Harley Quinn and Bloodsport; as well as Gunn’s outlandish and hysterical directing style.
Tom Hanks as always delivered a topnotch and emotive performance of a dying engineer who builds a robot to care for his dog in a world ravaged by a damaged ozone layer. Essentially a road trip, Finch was elevated by the affable Hanks, his banter with the robot, his warm relationship with his dog, and poignant messages about experiencing life.
Denis Villeneuve’s grand version of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel turned out to be a true cinematic epic that could not fit the entirety of the novel (thankfully a sequel will come out in 2023). This frustrated fans who were otherwised overjoyed that this version of Dune turned out to be the most faithful adaptation of the book. Nonetheless, the film is a beautiful production with thoughtful and complex themes and fleshed out characters in the far future.
1. Spider-Man: No Way Home
The third MCU Spider-Man film turned out to be one of the best superhero films ever made. Even though Spider-Man: No Way Home was a huge spectacle that brought back many characters from Spider-Man’s history it was deeply emotional as Spider-Man/Peter Parker faced his greatest personal crisis. The film was also a touching love letter to the character and fans of all Spider-Man films that celebrated Marvel Comics’ greatest superhero.
Army of the Dead; Black Widow; Encanto; Ghostbusters: Afterlife; Jungle Cruise; Last Night in Soho; Little Fish; Luca; The Matrix Resurrections; Oxygen; Reminiscence; Settlers; Space Sweepers; The Mitchells Vs. the Machines; The Tomorrow War