Noovie Editorial: The Top 10 Movies of 2021

Looking for the best of the best? Here, according to the Noovie editorial team, are the top 10 movies of 2021, all available now for your viewing pleasure.

Chuck Walton

By Chuck Walton

The Top 10 Movies of 2021 Dune

© Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection

Movies, and moviegoing, are in a state of flux, due to the pandemic, due to streaming, and just due to the ongoing evolution of content and viewing habits. In our opinion, though, that's a good thing (just shows we are all willing to adapt and evolve). Plus, we also think that instead of shrinking, it means there are new opportunities to watch movies everywhere – including at a theater.

As evidenced by the current massive hit known as "Spider-Man: No Way Home," there's thorough confirmation that audiences will attend a quality major motion picture in a movie theater. It's just that it needs to be a good movie, for one, and also one they want to see in a theater. There's nothing wrong with that at all. It just means that filmmakers and studios need to tell the right stories for all of the different venues and formats.

Plus, the good news is, there are tons of good movies that audiences can discover, in the theater and at home. As the pandemic abates, we think moviegoers will be even more excited to venture out. And with theater rentals now being a thing, who's to say you can't bring back that classic from 1984 that you always wanted to see on a big screen? The possibilities are endless. And to get you started, and to recap the year that was, we present here our 10 best 2021 movies that you should totally see right now.

10 / West Side Story

While it didn't make too many converts at the box office, Steven Spielberg's "West Side Story" is a dazzling achievement. The original's a classic, and in time, we think Spielberg's version will also be viewed that way. The story of conflict between warring gangs, the forbidden romance, the themes of racial and class warfare – the tale from 60+ years ago is still as relevant as ever. Add in the tunes, the performances, and the breathtaking sequences…whether in the weeks to come or later on streaming, this is a timeless tale that deserves its legend status.

West Side Story Poster

West Side Story

PG-13

Musical

December 10, 2021

9 / Pig

At first glance, this Nic Cage indie thriller seems already foretold. A gritty guy in the woods who uses his beloved pet pig to find precious truffles for clients has his animal violently taken away from him. Now he's on the hunt. So it's John Wick with Cage instead of Keanu? Hardly. At every point, this lowkey, slow-burn marvel eschews the predictable for the harder choice. And underneath its formula, there's an unconventional recipe that always takes the left turn. It's an amazing movie, with an absolutely incredible Cage performance – one of the best of his long, wild, and esteemed career.

Pig Poster

Pig

R

Drama

July 16, 2021

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8 / Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

20+ movies and almost a decade and a half on, the MCU continues to impress. "Shang-Chi," featuring the first lead Asian superhero, works wonders as both a fun, funny, original origin tale, and a first-rate showcase for star Simu Liu. It's a worthy addition to the MCU canon, and it's going to be awesome to see how Shang-Chi fits into the larger universe. Also, for theatrical moviegoers, this was the film in 2021 to keep the floodgates open. From its September release on out, the box office steadily climbed…and proved that if you build it…it being a well-made tentpole that people want to see…then they will come.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Poster

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

PG-13

Fantasy

September 3, 2021

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7 / No Time to Die

Daniel Craig and the Bond filmmaking team saved much of their best for his last. "No Time to Die" caps off 15 years of Bond greatness with Craig at the helm. Some might argue that "No Time to Die" takes its time rounding every base to get to home plate. But really, is there any other way to celebrate the actor who many view as the best all-time? By the end, with a final action that many won't see coming, the tears are earned.

No Time to Die Poster

No Time to Die

PG-13

Action

October 8, 2021

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6 / The Green Knight

Adapted from the centuries-old text "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," this intricate and patient telling from filmmaker David Lowery is a cinematic masterpiece that reveals even more on second and third showings. Dev Patel astounds as the wannabe great knight who consistently fails to live up to his billing. Thankfully, he'll be tested and tested again…and maybe…he'll finally earn his stripes.

The Green Knight Poster

The Green Knight

R

Fantasy

July 30, 2021

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5 / Summer of Soul

During the summer of Woodstock, another landmark music festival took place over several weekends called the Harlem Cultural Festival – celebrating Black music, culture, history, and fashion. Somehow, though, ever since 1969, the memories have been largely lost or never remembered. Now, 50+ years later, the footage is available, and history can be appreciated. The performances - from a young Stevie Wonder to an electric Sly and the Family Stone, plus plenty of others - are amazing. Best of all is that now, no one can disregard this festival's importance. It's vital, essential, joyful viewing.

4 / Spider-Man: No Way Home

It's by far the biggest movie of the year - $1 billion plus international and counting. More than $500 million domestic. And when we look back years from now, it may very well be viewed as the movie that saved cinemas. Plus, it is a truly excellent film worth celebrating. It features many surprises and introduces the concept of the multiverse in the most meaningful way yet in a live-action MCU movie. See it on the biggest screen possible with as many (masked and vaccinated) moviegoers as possible. Then, like many who've already experienced it, see it again.

Spider-Man: No Way Home Poster

Spider-Man: No Way Home

PG-13

Action

December 17, 2021

3 / King Richard

One of the films that's been tragically overlooked at cinemas is "King Richard," with Will Smith giving his best performance to date as Richard Williams, the father and mentor to his famous tennis star daughters Serena and Venus Williams. While we're sorry it hasn't done more at the box office, we're happy to promote it, and we're sure that come Oscars time, the King will definitely be remembered.

King Richard Poster

King Richard

PG-13

Biography

November 19, 2021

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2 / Free Guy

"Free Guy" was a surprise in many ways similar to "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse." The previews were just so-so. Ryan Reynolds as his usual, albeit PG-13 rated, smart aleck self, except this time as a clueless guy who doesn't realize he's actually a video game character. The reality, though, is much deeper, smarter, and satisfying. "Free Guy" is the most genuinely joyful and optimistic movie experience of 2021. Despite its commercial leanings, it rightfully should be considered one of the best films of the year. There are many themes at play in this action-sci-fi-drama-comedy, and they're all pulled off with ingenuity and human warmth. As with the legendary "Spider-Verse," it's a movie gift we weren't expecting, and were so grateful to receive.

Free Guy Poster

Free Guy

PG-13

Action

August 13, 2021

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1 / Dune

If there is one movie of 2021 that demands being watched in the best theater possible, and opens up the potential of that space, it is filmmaker Denis Villeneuve's "Dune." This is the definition of awesome cinema. As the first part of Villeneuve's adaptation of Frank Herbert's colossal sci-fi classic, it is also a classic. The vision, the images, the soundscapes, the performances, and the epic scope of "Dune" are literally breathtaking. It's a reminder of what a communal experience at a movie theater can be, and something that can not be fully replicated in the home. And it's commercial filmmaking at its smartest. Early moviegoers were worried that it was only the first half. Thankfully, in 2023, we'll get the second. We won't be surprised if that one ends up being the best film of its year, too.

Dune Poster

Dune

PG-13

Fantasy

October 22, 2021

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Chuck Walton

Chuck is an editor/writer who's worked for NCM, Fandango, Movies.com, MediaTrip, Hollywood.com and Newsweek. His favorite movie is "Jaws." He's definitely a dog guy.

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