First of all, that’s not me in that picture. Just in case you don’t know what I look like and you were assuming I went to the theater and had someone snap my oh-so-casual photo. Secondly, this last year was another weird year for movies. And if you still didn’t see a single movie in a theater, that’s okay! One of the gifts the past two years have given us are more movies streaming.
Third, because the world is weird, I didn’t see nearly all the movies I wanted to in 2021. Maybe you can relate? So this post will be a list of my favorite movies from the past year, both in theaters and on a streaming service—but I’ll also tell you about the movies I haven’t seen that I still want to! Let’s go…
My Favorite Movies in the Theater This Year
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: The first Marvel movie of the year had incredible Asian and Asian-American representation and also was a fantastic movie. So fun, so moving, so very fantastic!
- Black Widow: Another Marvel one, and I thought it was great. Low stakes since we know what eventually happens to Natasha, but I’ll forgive it because this movie gave us Yelena.
- Jungle Cruise: Was it great cinema? Maybe not. But did we have a blast watching it? Yup.
- In the Heights: This first musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda was the perfect way to start the summer. I loved it!
- Finding You: Based on a book by one of my favorite novelists, Jenny B. Jones, this romantic comedy was sweet and adorable. Plus, Ireland!
I should probably acknowledge that these five movies are also the ONLY movies I saw in the theater. So take my review with a tiny grain of salt, because it’s possible my delight at being back in the theater colored my opinion of the actual film. But also, I loved these movies.
My Favorite Movies on Streaming This Year
- The Mitchells vs. the Machines (Netflix) – Fun, smart animated movie the whole family will love.
- Flora & Ulysses (Disney+) – Very cute family movie based on a Kate DiCamillo book. Also, superhero squirrel. ’nuff said?
- Free Guy (Disney+) – Ryan Reynolds as a non-player character in a video game saving the world. Creative and great fun!
- 8-Bit Christmas (HBO Max) – Nostalgic and fun holiday movie.
- Cinderella (Amazon Prime) – A feminist re-imagining starring Camilla Cabello and Idina Menzel. Great musical numbers.
- Yes Day (Netflix) – Family hijinks and Jennifer Garner as mom. Very fun and my kids loved it!
- Encanto (Disney+) – I can’t wait to watch this new Disney animated musical again. Beautiful in every way!
I also watched No Time to Die on Prime, a thousand years after my husband and I tried and failed to see it in the theaters half a dozen times. And, I’m not going to lie: I’m glad we didn’t drop the money (or take the risk or spend the time) to see it in the theater. It was so boring my husband and I literally fell asleep and had to finish it the next night. And then when we did, we were thoroughly annoyed by the entire film. So, no big theater loss for us on that one!
The Movies I Can’t Believe I Still Haven’t Seen This Year
- Spider-Man: No Way Home
- Sing 2
- Ride the Eagle and Language Lessons (two indie movies I will stream eventually but haven’t yet)