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The 21 Best Films of 2021

Will movie theaters ever back to what they once were? The ongoing (and seemingly never-ending) pandemic tore a hole into the fabric of theatrical exhibition. I streamed more movies this year than any other. A lot of people did. The one constant is this: Whether you watch them on the big screen or on your phone, good films rise to the top. Here go my picks for the best films of 2021. (And some other notes too.) Biggest Disappointments: The Matrix Resurrections Candyman (2021) Don't Look Up Special Citation : Kanye with Special Guest Drake: Free Larry Hoover Benefit Concert Seanne Farmer (director) // Niklas Bildstein Zaar (creative director) Kanye West Free Larry Hoover Concert GIF from Kanye West GIFs Best Needle Drop: "Light House" by Future Islands in Titane Best Supporting Actress : Olga Merediz, In The Heights Best Supporting Actor : Simon Helberg, Annette Best Actress : Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza Best Actor : Alessandro Nivola, The Many Saints of Newark Before w
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Star Wars: Licorice Pizza

  If we were living in the the movie Minority Report , Paul Thomas Anderson 's latest film Licorice Pizza would get arrested for "Precrime." At least in the court of (some) public opinion . Anderson's film -- which I think is pretty great -- has come under criticism for the age gap between its two lead characters (15-year-old Gary and mid-20-something Alana), who go back and forth between friendship and playing flirtatious footsie. At no point in Licorice Pizza do they do anything sexual. Their feelings are sincere and the physical attraction is sometimes there, but it's all never acted on. Does that make the movie immoral? I don't think so. Could Gary and Alana some day end up together? I could see that. And Gary would (presumably) be of age by that point.  This age gap controversy had me thinking about a similar scenario...in George Lucas ' Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace . In the Star Wars films, we know that Queen Padmé Amidala will eventu

Video Essay: Mare of EATStown

  Not since Brad Pitt 's performance as Billy Beane in Moneyball have I been this emotionally invested in what a character was always eating or drinking onscreen.  In HBO's Mare of Easttown , Kate Winslet plays Pennsylvania detective Mare Sheehan. (Winslet is brilliant in the role.) Like Billy Beane, Mare's approach and understanding of her immediate environment or dilemma is translated through what she's consuming; it's as if the food or drinks become company players in her stage drama. And it's not just food either; Mare vapes and smokes too. Anything she consumes becomes important in the moment. My ears are listening to the dialogue and my brain is processing the plot, but my eyes and salivary glands are licking up the drops of condensate beading down her bottles of Rolling Rock.  The foods become so integral to the Mare experience, to the unfurling of her character, that at one point she's even attacked by a full gallon of milk (it's thrown through

Watch: "The Many Saints of Newark: A Joker Story"

  The teaser trailer for The Sopranos prequel film The Many Saints of Newark dropped today and #FilmTwitter has been pointing out how Saints is also being marketed as another Joker -esque origin story (C ruella did the same thing earlier this year).  So I started the editing the two teaser trailers together and there definitely is some tonal overlap. Must be the hairdo. 

Watch: TOM & CHERRY (Mashup trailer of CHERRY and TOM & JERRY)

Two big movie releases are available for streaming this weekend: Tom & Jerry on HBO Max and the Tom Holland -starrer Cherry over at Apple TV+. I couldn't decide which want to watch so I spent my evening editing their trailers together.  This is TOM & CHERRY:

Watch: "Cruella Intentions" (Mashup trailer of "Cruella" and "Cruel Intentions")

The trailer for the new Disney live-action film Cruella dropped last week. While similarities between Cruella and  Joke r have already been highlighted , I thought about another twisted cinematic possibility: what if poor Cruella's traumatic roots could be blamed on Ryan Phillippe ? Picture the plot of the 1999 teen drama Cruel Intentions  but instead of Phillippe's character seducing an unsuspecting Reese Witherspoon  it turned out to be a young  Cruella de Vil ( Emma Stone )...who would eventually turn the tables on everyone and light this bitch up! Check out my mashup trailer,  Cruella Intentions !

Top 20 Films of 2020

For my previous list, I wrote that 2019 had been a "trying year." If I'd only known what 2020 had in store for everyone. The Coronavirus pandemic has changed the world in so many ways. Including how we watch cinema. Films we would normally seek out on the big screen were first experienced on our living room TV screens. Does that change the value of the content? I don't think so. More so than ever, I found myself devouring cinema at a higher rate. I needed movies to keep me from sinking spiritually. And I'm grateful that they were accessible, albeit on my phone, tablet or TV.  The "cinema" lives on. Honorable mentions :  Corpus Christi , The Trip To Greece ,  Capone, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Let Him Go, Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado, His House, A White, White Day, Young Ahmed, The Way Back, The Trial of the Chicago 7, The Invisible Man, Greyhound, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make B