Ranking The 10 Best Films Covered On ComicBookMovie.Com In 2021

Ranking The 10 Best Films Covered On ComicBookMovie.Com In 2021

We've posted a few best of the year lists at this stage, but this latest countdown won't just focus on movies based on comic books! Here, we rank the ten best film covered on CBM in 2021...

As 2021 draws to a close, it's time to take a look back over what actually turned out to be a pretty good year for movies all things considered. This latest "best of" list won't just focus on comic book-based features, however.

As you know, we also cover sci-fi, fantasy, horror, action, and other genres if they have some connective CBM tissue, and many of best movie of the past 12 months fall into those categories.

Have a read through and let us know what you think, and please share your own lists in the comments. Happy new year from all of us at ComicBookMovie.com!

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Raya and The Last Dragon

Raya and the Last Dragon-Sisu 21 by GiuseppeDiRosso on DeviantArt

We'll start with a movie that's starting to feel a little underappreciated as we close out the year, Raya and the Last Dragon.

Set in the fragmented fantasy world of Kumandra, the movie follows a young warrior named Raya as she attempts to track down Sisu (the titular last dragon) in order to free her father by vanquishing evil creatures known as Druun who have turned most of the land's inhabitants into stone.

Raya is a charming, captivating tale with outstanding visuals and a terrific voice cast. Its themes of championing hope and unity over fear and dissension may seem simplistic, but strong, well-defined characters ensure that the the message is no less powerfully delivered. This was Disney's best offering of 2021, and the Mouse House's most purely enjoyable animated adventures in quite some time.

The Harder They Fall

Jonathan Majors on The Harder They Fall twist, sequel possibilities | EW.com

A more recent 2021 release that seemed to fly under a lot of radars is Jeymes Samuel's outstanding Revisionist Western, The Harder The Fall.

Featuring a superb, all-Black cast that includes Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, the story follows Nat Love (Majors) as he sets out to avenge the death of his father by gunning down rival outlaw Rufus Buck (Elba). Samuel and co-writer Boaz Yakin won't be winning any points for originality, and one could argue that THTF gets away with a certain amount of style over substance, but what style! Guns blaze, blood flies, and the blistering soundtrack (also one of the best of the year, incidentally) blares as Love and Buck inch ever closet to their inevitable confrontation.

Well-worn premise aside, The Harder The Fall is as sharp and exciting a film as you're likely to see this year or any other.

A Quiet Place Part II

A Quiet Place Part 2': Film Review – The Hollywood Reporter

There were concerns that A Quiet Place Part II was being developed purely to capitalize on the massive success of the first movie, but writer/director John Krasinski proved that he had no intention of simply rehashing the original by crafting a sequel that was every bit as innovative and nail-bitingly taut.

Like its predecessor, AQPPII can be unbearably tense, and Krasinski outdoes himself with several nerve-shredding set-pieces. While some filmmakers might have been tempted to expand the scope of the story (more on the aliens, the military response etc), Krasinski wisely chooses to keep his focus on the characters and their individual struggles. This does sometimes mean we tread over familiar ground, but it also allows the impressive cast more time to shine.

A Quiet Place Part II is not without its problems, but Krasinski managed to deliver a genuinely scary, emotionally satisfying follow-up to one of the best horror films of the past few years.

The Night House

The Night House Movie Explained: Where does Beth go in her sleep?

The second of three horror flicks (it's been a good year for 'em!) on this list is David Bruckner's unsettling chiller, The Night House.

The story follows a woman named Beth (Rebecca Hall) who is mourning the sudden death of her husband Owen (Evan Jonigkeit) just a few days prior. Left shell-shocked by Owen's seemingly inexplicable decision to take his own life, Beth begins to hear strange noises in the lakeside home he built for them, and becomes convinced that her husband's ghost is trying to communicate. 

It's a familiar set-up, but director David Bruckner (The Signal, The Ritual) and his writers Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowsk have no interest in telling a simple haunted house story. While things do go bump in the night (house), the film is more concerned with exploring themes of grief, guilt, and healing. It also happens to be bloody terrifying.

The Night House is a chilling, thoughtful film with a superb lead performance from Hall. The ending may disappoint those looking for more definitive answers, but is no less powerful as a meditation on what it takes to move on and live when all you want to do is lie down and join the one you lost.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Shang-Chi 2 Reportedly In Development At Marvel Studios

The first superhero movie to make the list is Destin Daniel Cretton's relentlessly entertaining Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings.

Even though the story plays out pretty much as you'd expect (minus a few surprises here and there), it's the performances that really stand out and bring depth to characters who might otherwise come across a tad one-note. Simu Liu gives a star-making turn in the lead, effortlessly balancing Shang's laid-back persona with the darker edge that resurfaces when he's back at his father's side. Awkwafina provides most of the comic relief, but the actress ensures there's a lot more to Katy than the "funny sidekick," and veteran Chinese star Tony Leung is magnetic as the ruthless, but tragic Wenwu, who might be the MCU's most compelling villain yet.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings did stick to the established formula to a degree, but it's imbued with enough passion and creativity to overcome a slightly by-the-numbers origin story blueprint and emerge as one of the MCU's strongest chapters.

My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To

My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To movie review (2021) | Roger Ebert

Some of you might be surprised to see this here - and in such a high position - but Jonathan Cuartas’ devastating debut feature deserves to be recognized as one of the best films of 2021.

My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To follows Dwight (Patrick Fugit), his sister Jessie (Ingrid Sophie Schram) and the lengths they go to in order to provide care for their "sick" younger sibling, Thomas (Owen Campbell). This situation would put a strain on any family, but Tommy's needs are not exactly conventional. As the more pragmatic Jessie resigns herself to do whatever's necessary to keep her little brother alive, Dwight begins to crack under the strain, longing to escape from his nightmarish existence and start a new life.

Cuartas' dialled-back, meditative approach and unwillingness to offer up easy explanations may frustrate those looking for more traditional chills, but make no mistake about it, this is a horror film in the truest sense. Unnerving, thoughtful, and achingly sad, this one will stay with you long after it fades to black.

The Green Knight

The Green Knight movie review (2021) | Roger Ebert

In 4th place, we have David Lowery's beguilingly brilliant The Green Knight.

Based on 14th-century Arthurian legend Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, this mesmerising tale follows Gawain (an excellent Dev Patel) as he embarks on a quest to fulfil his end of a potentially lethal bargain he struck with the mysterious Green Knight the previous Christmas. The film subverts expectations at almost every turn, and those hoping for a more traditional "hero's journey" may be in for a shock. Gawain is not exactly a likeable protagonist, but his desire to be heralded as a great man without actually performing any worthy deeds, while contemptible, only makes him seem more human.

The Green Knight probably won't be to everyone's taste, but there is a lot more going on beneath its visually striking surface than one might assume at first glance.

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Spider-Man No Way Home's runtime confirmed

The most recent movie on this list is obviously still very fresh in everyone's minds, and while some may feel it's been a little overhyped, Spider-Man: No Way Home is dominating the conversation - and the box office - for good reason.

Jon Watts' trilogy-topper came with lofty expectations, but, a few minor missteps aside, Sony Pictures' latest (final?) solo Spidey adventure more than delivered. We're not going to get into the spoilers just in case some of you still haven't managed to see it, but it's safe to say that long-time fans of the webbed-wonder got their money's worth!

No Way Home is a fun, exciting, occasionally intense love letter to Spidey fans past and present, which takes the iconic hero - and The Marvel Cinematic Universe - to some surprising places. If this is the last we see of Tom Holland's web-slinger for a while, it's a more than fitting farewell.

The Suicide Squad

James Gunn's Not-In-The-Suicide-Squad Playlist | Movies | Empire

The Suicide Squad? In second place? Ahead of No Way Home?? Yep.

This is sure to be one of the more divisive entries, but James Gunn's semi-reboot was a blood-soaked blast from start to finish, and just nudged Spidey out to claim the #2 spot. A near pitch-perfect blend of tones and genres, which somehow coalesces to form not only one of the best films of the year, but one of the most purely entertaining comic book movies you're ever likely to see. It is brutally violent at times, but what emerges through the array of flying limbs is a surprisingly tender tribute to camaraderie, and an ode to all the despised and misunderstood creatures out there.

A direct sequel seems unlikely, but it wo be a massive shame if we didn't get to see more of these guys (Peacemaker will return for his HBO Max spinoff in January) in The DCEU moving forward.

Dune

Dune movie review & film summary (2021) | Roger Ebert

And finally, the best movie we covered here on CBM in 2021 is, of course, Dune.

Denis Villeneuve's adaptation is a dense, layered and complex story, but even if you didn't happen to grasp every little facet of the mythology or the potentially confusing prophesies, chances are you were still swept along by the sheer scope of his vision. The filmmaker has always excelled at creating a near palpable tone through sound and visuals, but he outdid himself here, with each meticulously realized moment providing a veritable feast for the senses.

Dune was not your typical studio "blockbuster" by any means, and was all the better for it. Villeneuve crafted an ambitious, contemplative sci-fi epic which could end up being regarded as his most monumental accomplishment. It may not be for everyone, but the film rewarded those who did find themselves fully immersed in this world with a sublime cinematic experience.

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