Best and Worst Movies That Came Out in 2021

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“Minari” received top praise from critics.

Minari 2

 

“Minari” was widely released in theaters in 2021.

A24

Rotten Tomatoes score: 98%

Summary: With the odds against him, Jacob (Steven Yeun) relocates his wife (Han Ye-ri) and children to Arkansas so that they can start a family farm.

Although the movie first premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January 2020, it wasn’t widely released in theaters until February 2021.

Gentle, charming, and beautifully filmed, “Minari” left critics with well-earned tears.

Carlos Aguilar praised the film for its “endearing cheekiness and affecting virtues” in his review for The Wrap.

“The Mitchells vs. The Machines” was marked as a colorful burst of family fun.

the mitchells vs the machines netflix

 

“The Mitchells vs. The Machines” is an animated Netflix flick.

Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes score: 98%

Summary: Before Katie Mitchell’s (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) first day of college, her parents pile everyone in the car for one last road trip, but their family vacation hits a snag when it coincides with a global robot apocalypse.

Funny, fresh, and filled with inventive animation, “The Mitchells vs. The Machines” got a rush of praise from a variety of critics.

“‘The Mitchells vs. The Machines’ is a movie I’ll keep returning to when I need its welcome, warm-hearted, acerbic-but-never-bitter comedy,” Matt Goldberg wrote for Collider.

Critics welcomed “Pig” as an unexpected gem.

Nicolas Cage sits on the porch sharing a meal with his beloved pet pig in a still from the upcoming thriller "Pig."

 

Nicolas Cage in “Pig.”

Neon

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%

Summary: After a break-in, isolated truffle hunter Robin (Nicolas Cage) leaves his cabin in the Oregon wilderness to find his kidnapped pig.

Film critics said that “Pig” is more than meets the eye and turns a simple narrative into a profound


meditation

on grief and love.

“Quiet, unforced and delicate, ‘Pig’ provides a forum for Nicolas Cage, one of our most dazzling showmen, to get serious and burrow more deeply into his talent than he has in years,” Joshua Rothkopf wrote for Empire.

“Judas and the Black Messiah” earned high praise for its leads.

Judas and the Black Messiah Warner Bros

 

Daniel Kaluuya in “Judas and the Black Messiah.”

Warner Bros.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%

Summary: Set in the late 1960s, “Judas and the Black Messiah” follows William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) after he becomes an FBI informant and turns on Black Panther chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya)

The historical drama received high praise for its electric script and mesmerizing acting performances from Stanfield and Kaluuya, in particular.

“Stanfield and Kaluuya are outstanding in their respective roles, with Kaluuya doing an especially adroit job of capturing Hampton’s innate charisma and soaring speeches,” Ann Hornaday wrote for The Washington Post.

Critics had a lot of love for the family drama “CODA.”

Daniel Durant, Marlee Matlin, and Emilia Jones around a dining room looking at a phone in "CODA"

 

Daniel Durant, Marlee Matlin, and Emilia Jones in “CODA.”

Apple TV+

Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%

Summary: Ruby (Emilia Jones) receives pushback from her deaf parents and brother when she turns away from the family’s fishing business and discovers a newfound passion for singing.

The film earned overwhelmingly positive reception as a heart-warming family drama.

“‘CODA’ is an honest crowd-pleaser — one that gently charms, rather than claws or cloys, its way under your skin,” Jon Frosch wrote for The Hollywood Reporter. “It deserves every happy-tear it wrings.”

Reviewers called “I’m Your Man” a cerebral, moving love story.

Man and woman lying in field of grass staring at each other in "Im your man"

 

Maren Eggert and Dan Stevens in “I’m Your Man.”

Majestic Filmverleih

Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%

Summary: Alma (Maren Eggert) is tasked with testing a new technology in which humans date robot partners but surprises herself when she starts to genuinely fall for her humanoid companion (Dan Stevens).

Critics admired “I’m Your Man” for crafting a beautiful and delicate story from a well-trod genre.

“While ‘I’m Your Man’ is very romantic in its own way, the movie is elevated by pondering not just love but life and our impending relationship to advanced artificial intelligence,” Katie Walsh wrote for the Los Angeles Times.

“Plan B” earned rave reviews for its humor and tenacity.

Two girls looking up at someone over a counter in a drugstore in "plan b"

 

Victoria Moroles and Kuhoo Verma in “Plan B.”

Hulu

Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%

Summary: After a drunken night, sheltered teen Sunny (Kuhoo Verma) and her best friend Lupe (Victoria Moroles) go on a search for the Plan B pill as their time window closes in.

Critics said “Plan B” deftly handles the thorny topic of teenage pregnancy and birth control with humor, heart, and boundless energy.

In a review for Variety, Owen Gleiberman wrote that director Natalie Morales gave the film “an eager, flowing vibrance that’s there from the opening sequence.”

“In the Heights” was praised as a vibrant, joyful musical adaptation.

in the heights warner bros

 

Anthony Ramos and Melissa Barrera in “In the Heights.”

Warner Bros.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%

Summary: Adapted from the Broadway musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda, “In the Heights” follows bodega owner Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) as he dreams of a bigger life, dancing and singing his way through a searing hot summer in Washington Heights.

Critics called “In the Heights” a rousing summer crowd-pleaser with plenty of heart.

“… this vibrant screen adaptation of the Miranda stage musical captures something we’ve largely gone without over the past year: a joyous sense of togetherness,” Justin Chang reviewed for NPR’s “Fresh Air” podcast.

Reviewers were blown away by the vulnerability and creativity of Bo Burnham’s “Inside.”

bo burnham sitting at a piano with sunglasses on in "inside"

 

Bo Burnham in “Inside.”

Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes score: 93%

Summary: Stuck indoors during the pandemic, comedian Bo Burnham crafts a movie that is a mixture of stand-up, musical numbers, and retrospectives on his life so far.

Reviews remarked that Burnham did more with a single setting and limited equipment than most creators accomplish with unlimited budgets.

In his review for IndieWire, Eric Kohn called it a “profound feature-length immersion into the anxieties of a year when the very idea of a ‘comedy special’ sounded like a lost cause.”

Critics said “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” revitalized the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

shang-chi standing in a room full of candles and wearing a read superhero suit

 

Simu Liu in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”

Marvel Studios

Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%

Summary: After leaving his past behind, martial arts master Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) is drawn back to a familiar path when he is approached by the secretive Ten Rings organization.

With a growing collection of films under its belt, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is hard-pressed to wow critics, but “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” earned a flurry of admirers.

Wendy Ide described it in a Guardian review as “one of the freshest Marvel pictures in a long time.”

However, critics felt like the magic of “Dear Evan Hansen” didn’t translate from stage to screen.

ben platt in dear evan hansen standing by lockers.

 

Ben Platt in “Dear Evan Hansen.”

Universal Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 30%

Summary: In this adaptation of the Broadway musical, shy high schooler Evan Hansen (Ben Platt) reluctantly steps into the spotlight after a white lie spirals out of control.

Although the original Tony Award-winning musical mesmerized viewers, most critics felt like the film version was unnecessary and awkwardly disjointed.

“‘Dear Evan Hansen’ is a terrible, misbegotten musical with too little self-awareness to care how out of tune it sounds,” Robert Daniels wrote for Roger Ebert.

“Naked Singularity” showed promise but didn’t stick the landing.

John Boyega in a suit standing at a microphone in "naked singularity"

 

John Boyega in “Naked Singularity.”

Screen Media Films

Rotten Tomatoes score: 26%

Summary: After being disillusioned by the legal system, defense attorney Casi (John Boyega) decides to pull off a multimillionaire robbery.

Infused with sci-fi elements, “Naked Singularity” has originality in spades but lost points with critics when the story devolved into nonsense.

“Maybe [Casi’s] universe is breaking apart; if so, my patience was right behind,” Jeannette Catsoulis wrote for The New York Times.

“The Woman in the Window” failed to impress critics.

amy adams woman in the window

 

Amy Adams in “The Woman in the Window.”

Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes score: 26%

Summary: Anna Fox (Amy Adams), a former child psychologist with acute


agoraphobia

, starts to spiral after she witnesses a deadly crime in the brownstone across the street.

Critics had praise for Adams’ central performance but largely felt like the thriller was a plodding and poor adaptation of the A.J. Finn novel.

Critic Wenlei Ma described it as a “middling, predictable movie that feels like it left most of its personality on the cutting room floor.”

Critics said “Chaos Walking” wasted the potential of its A-list cast.

Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland sitting next to each other in Chaos Walking

 

Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland in “Chaos Walking.”

Lionsgate

Rotten Tomatoes score: 21%

Summary: Based on the namesake trilogy by Patrick Ness, this dystopian thriller follows Todd (Tom Holland) and Viola (Daisy Ridley) as they navigate a near future where all the women have vanished and every man’s thoughts are on full display.

Critics felt “Chaos Walking” squandered Holland and Ridley’s potential on an unremarkable book adaptation.

“The film might lure in fans with its star-studded cast, but pacing issues and a lack of conviction make it fall flat,” Therese Lacson wrote for the Beat.

“Die in a Gunfight” was received as a flashy action movie with little payoff.

Diego Boneta and Alexandra Daddario sitting holding hands in "die in a gunfight"

 

Diego Boneta and Alexandra Daddario in “Die in a Gunfight.”

Lionsgate

Rotten Tomatoes score: 17%

Summary: In an updated retelling of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” Ben (Diego Boneta) and Mary (Alexandra Daddario) fall in love despite descending from two families that have a centuries-long feud.

Critics largely agreed that once the initial fun wore off, “Die in a Gunfight” didn’t have much to offer viewers below the surface.

“The film tries so hard to be slick, but its efforts are both unoriginal and painfully amateurish,” Beatrice Loayza reviewed for The New York Times.

Most reviewers said that “Infinite” was too silly to take seriously.

infinite paramount movie

 

Mark Wahlberg in “Infinite.”

Paramount

Rotten Tomatoes score: 16%

Summary: Evan McCauley (Mark Wahlberg) has struggled with memory issues his whole life, but he soon realizes his condition might point to something deeper when he’s approached by a secret society that believes in reincarnation.

Despite having an interesting premise, “Infinite” failed to live up to its potential.

Critic Dominic Griffin called it “woefully miscast, too derivative, and not nearly exciting enough to overcome its fundamental blandness.”

“Breaking News in Yuba County” failed to yield big laughs.

Mila Kunis and Allison Janney standing in a doorway looking concerned in "Breaking News in Yuba County"

 

Mila Kunis and Allison Janney in “Breaking News in Yuba County”

United Artists Releasing

Rotten Tomatoes score: 11%

Summary: Chaos erupts in a small Kentucky town when mild-mannered Sue (Allison Janney) claims her husband (Matthew Modine) was kidnapped.

Although the film set out to be a witty dark comedy, critics said that the humor missed the mark.

“Not even a cast including heavyweights like Allison Janney, Wanda Sykes, and Regina Hall can save ‘Breaking News in Yuba County,’ a sloppy, mean-spirited attempt at dark satire,” Jade Budowski reviewed for Decider.

Critics found nothing redeemable in the edgy thriller “Habit.”

women dressed as nuns sitting in a field having a picnic in "habit"

 

Bella Thorne stars in “Habit.”

Lionsgate

Rotten Tomatoes score: 6%

Summary: Los Angeles party girl Mads (Bella Thorne) is forced to disguise herself as a nun when the drug lord (Gavin Rossdale) she works for is killed in cold blood.

Critics gave the subversive thriller bad marks across the board, saying that the cringe humor fell flat without a viable plot.

In a review for Pajiba, Roxana Hadadi wrote that the film “feels like an array of ‘bad taste’ choices made simply because they are ‘in bad taste'” which ultimately “falls flat when the movie has so little to say about any of it.”

The self-described thriller “Vanquish” nearly put critics to sleep.

ruby rose in a white jacket looking concerned in vanquish

 

Ruby Rose in “Vanquish.”

Lionsgate

Rotten Tomatoes score: 5%

Summary: Although Victoria (Ruby Rose) has long since retired from the Russian drug game, she is dragged back in when a former cop (Morgan Freeman) holds her daughter hostage and forces her to use her talents to his advantage.

According to critics, “Vanquish” earned poor reviews for its lazy storytelling, cardboard characters, and lacking action sequences.

Critic Kevin Ibbotson-Wight described the thriller as a “deathly dull, visually repulsive, and stylistically bereft stinker that lacks even the good grace to be unintentionally hilarious.”

“Cosmic Sin” was written off as a convoluted space opera.

bruce willis in an orange space suit in cosmic sin

 

Bruce Willis in “Cosmic Sin.”

Saban Capital Group

Rotten Tomatoes score: 3%

Summary: In the year 2524, retired military officer James Ford (Bruce Willis) teams up with general Ryle (Frank Grillo) to help defend human soldiers on a colonized planet.

Between an underwhelming acting performance from Willis and an overly complicated narrative, “Cosmic Sin” was little more than a dud.

“‘Cosmic Sin’ is 88 minutes of convoluted nonsense that can’t decide if it is a straightforward sci-fi action flick or a serious treatise on the complex and murky ethics of warfare,” wrote critic Sara Michelle Fetters.

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