From The Mitchells vs the Machines to A Quiet Place Part II, we list down our picks for the best movies of the year so far.
Believe it or not, we are halfway through 2021. With more people getting vaccinated, more cinemas around the world are opening again (and hopefully in the Philippines soon). This also means that more movies are hitting theaters and streaming services. The first half of 2021 in terms of movies is a far cry from the near barren wasteland of the releases during the first half of 2020. The first six months or so of the year have seen a mix of satisfying blockbusters and indie darlings that we may see more of in awards season next year. As we look forward to what the rest of the year has in store for movies, we list down our picks of the best movies of the first half of 2021. Get your watch list ready.
A QUIET PLACE PART II
A Quiet Place Part II had a lot to live up to. The first movie surprised many with its quality and sharp direction by John Krasinski. After the movie’s success, a sequel was announced which excited fans and caused some people to wonder if the filmmakers can catch lightning in a bottle twice. The good news is that they did and A Quiet Place Part II more than lives up to be a worthy sequel.
The movie is set right after the events of the first movie as Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt) and her kids find a new home. Along the way, they encounter a familiar face realize that the monsters aren’t the only thing that they should be afraid of. The sequel manages to expand the lore of the franchise and show us more of the world they live in. Emily Blunt is still great to watch while Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe are given more time to shine in the movie. John Krasinski still knows how to capture those scenes that perfectly blend tension and action. Some of the action scenes are going to have you on the edge of your seat. If you were a fan of the first movie, it’s highly recommended you watch A Quiet Place Part II.
BILLIE EILISH: THE WORLD’S A LITTLE BLURRY
In just a few years, Billie Eilish has exploded to be one of the biggest artists in the world. Her mix of quirky humor, honesty, and addicting songs have won her legions of fans around the world. Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry takes an unfiltered behind the scenes look at the young superstar. The documentary follows Billie as she makes her debut album as well as life on the road and her life in general.
Billie Eilish is one of the most interesting artists today and the documentary manages to capture her uniqueness. You don’t just get to see Billie as the star, but as a human being and dealing with normal problems like struggles with her then-boyfriend. This is probably the most in-depth look of Billie Eilish you’ll see in a while which makes it a compelling viewing experience. Fans and non-fans will find something to enjoy in this Apple TV+ exclusive.
GODZILLA VS. KONG
Godzilla and King Kong are two of the most iconic monsters in cinema history. They have been entertaining audiences for decades. It’s been a dream of fans to see these two titans duke it out on the silver screen. After years of hype and build-up by the modern-day Monsterverse starting in 2014 with Godzilla, we finally got to see both of them fight one another in Godzilla vs. Kong and the results are nothing short of epic.
While the story and human aspect may leave you wanting more, you don’t watch these movies for the story. You watch it for the action and Godzilla vs. Kong more than delivers on that with its epic set pieces and action scenes. The movie smartly lets Godzilla and King Kong be the center of attention and have their prowess go toe to toe with one another. This is the kind of movie that you need to see on the biggest screen possible to fully enjoy the experience. Godzilla vs. Kong gave what needed to be given which makes it one of the best movies of 2021 so far.
IN THE HEIGHTS
One of the most powerful things a movie can do is bring you a sense of joy, make you feel like you were transported into a different place, and just feel good. In The Heights is just one of the handful of movies in 2021 so far that succeeds on this front. Based on the musical of the same name by Lin-Manuel Miranda, In The Heights follows Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), a bodega owner in Washington Heights who is torn between closing his store and retiring to the Dominican Republic or staying in NYC.
In The Heights is a colorful and compelling celebration of life and culture and is the pick-me-up that the world needs right now. The movie is expertly put to screen with strong directing from Jon M. Chu and is filled with outstanding musical numbers that will you want to hum along and tap your toes. All of this is brought together by a joyful and diverse cast (though there is a lack of Afro-Latin representation, which is disappointing) led by the excellent Anthony Ramos. Even if you have never seen or are unaware of the original musical, In The Heights is still an enjoyable experience.
A middle-aged family man, Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk), lives a normal life in suburbia with his family. But one day, he intervenes when a group of guys harasses a girl on a bus, which causes him to be a target of a Russian drug lord. But Hutch isn’t just a regular old man, he’s a deadly killer with a secret past as an assassin for the US government. On paper, Nobody can be mistaken for another John Wick clone. But to do so would be a great disservice to the movie.
While Nobody does gives shades of John Wick, the film stands alone as more of a middle-aged man who goes over the edge. It does however have the same level of quality when it comes to its action scenes and set pieces. It takes a while for the action to start, but when it does, it goes full throttle. The second half of the movie is just excellent action scene after excellent action scene. Bob Odenkirk killed his role as Hutch and plays the unassuming hero perfectly. Nobody is one of the, if not the, best action movies of 2021 so far.
Religion and horror go hand-in-hand, especially when it comes to Christianity. Some of the most iconic horror movies feature religion as one of their central themes. But what happens when religion is the source of the problem, not the solution? That is what Saint Maud revolves around and it does so in an evocative manner. Maud (Morfydd Clark) is a pious nurse who is assigned to take care of Amanda (Jennifer Ehle) a dying choreographer. But while taking care of Amanda, Maud becomes dangerously obsessed with saving her, not just physically, but spiritually as well.
Where Saint Maud shines is how it flips the script on religion in horror movies. In this movie, it’s portrayed as a possible cause for harm, not a solution. It also serves as a commentary on how people use religion to justify extreme actions. All of this is told through an excellent and captivating performance by Morfydd Clark as Maud. The most impressive part is that this is director and writer Rose Glass’s first movie. This dark drama and horror film. stands out as one of the best horror movies of the year so far.
If you want to know how anxiety looks like, watch Shiva Baby. The movie follows Danielle (Rachel Sennott), a college student living in New York. One day, she and her parents attend a Jewish funeral (shiva). There, she runs into her sugar daddy, and things spiral from there. At just 77 minutes long, Shiva Baby is an airtight experience of how anxiety and differences between older generations and new ones mix to create an almost horror movie like experience. Writer and director Emma Seligman impressively makes a Jewish funeral feel like a horror movie with uncomfortable close-ups and claustrophobia.
Seligman also effortlessly follows Danielle’s gradual breakdown that stems from unresolved issues she has with her relationships, her sexuality, her womanhood, and her sense of worth as a member of a traditional and judgmental community. Not to mention that the movie is really funny with some laugh-out-loud moments. Add great performances by the entire cast and Shiva Baby offers one of the best movie-watching experiences of the year so far.
THE MITCHELLS VS THE MACHINES
2021 has given us some great animated movies. Raya and the Last Dragon finally gave Southeast Asian representation while Luca was a fun summer Pixar movie. But The Mitchells vs the Machines takes the crown as the best animated movie of the year so far.
The plot of the movie revolves around Katie (Abbi Jacobson), a soon-to-be film school student. She, her brother, and their parents don’t exactly have the best relationship. The day before she leaves for college, her father tells her that they’ll be driving across America to her school instead of taking a flight. Along the way, a robot apocalypse occurs which causes the Mitchells to be humanity’s last hope.
The Mitchells vs the Machines checks a lot of boxes for a great animated movie. It has great voice acting, a well-written story, satisfying action, timely themes, smooth animation, laughs and jokes that always land, and a killer soundtrack. It’s a movie that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults. Go do yourself a favor and watch this movie if you haven’t yet on Netflix.
Bo Burnham: Inside: Bo Burnham’s best comedy special to date is filled with a banging soundtrack that touches on relevant and important themes.
Love and Monsters: This action-adventure post-apocalyptic monster movie is one of the best the genre has seen in years.
Oxygen: A claustrophobic sci-fi thriller from director Alejandro Aja about a woman who must escape from a cryogenic chamber before her oxygen runs out.
Tina: A well-made documentary about the life of legendary musician Tina Turner.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Zack Snyder’s original 4-hour epic version of Justice League is way better than what came out in theaters in 2017.
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