The Best Movies of 2021 and Where They Are Streaming
By Bennington Grant
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Since studios have forgone traditional theater releases this past year, many of 2020 and 2021’s best films with blockbuster talent, incredible cinematography and breathtaking performances have gone under the radar. That’s why we put together this list to clue you in on the best releases and exactly which streaming platform you can use to rent, purchase or stream them.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge On The Run (Paramount+)
Paramount+ is here, and it's brought the latest SpongeBob feature film. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge On The Run follows SpongeBob and Patrick as they meet, and subsequently have to rescue, Gary the Snail. The animated movie has an all-star cast that includes Awkwafina, Snoop Dogg, Tiffany Haddish, Keanu Reeves and Danny Trejo. Rotten Tomatoes has certified the film "Fresh" and states it is “a wondrously wacky visit to Bikini Bottom that retains the charm of the original series.”
ET and Paramount+ are both subsidiaries of ViacomCBS.
Raya and The Last Dragon is the latest Disney animated film and can be viewed with premier access on Disney+. It’s about a lone warrior teaming up with the last dragon to save the world of Kumandra from the evil Druun. The gorgeously animated original adventure stars Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina and currently holds a 94 percent Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Judas and the Black Messiah tells the harrowing true story of the FBI’s targeting of young civil rights leader and Black Panther member Fred Hampton. It follows petty criminal Bill O’Neal as he infiltrates the Black Panther party for the FBI in exchange for his freedom. Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield and Dominique Fishback have received critical acclaim for their strong performances. Fishback was nominated for the BAFTA award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Kaluuya has already won Best Supporting Actor at this year's Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards for his role as Hampton.
One Night in Miami... is a fictional account of Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown celebrating Ali’s victory over Sonny Liston. Throughout the night they discuss their massive roles in the Civil Rights Movement and the 1960s in general. Directed by Regina King, the film opened to rave reviews and currently holds a 98 percent Tomatometer score. Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr., who plays Cooke, was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at this year's Oscars and Golden Globes.
Promising Young Woman was recently nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture and a historic Best Director nod for Emerald Fennell. It stars Carey Mulligan, who is up for Best Actress, as a woman who aims to commit a vengeful act on her best friend’s rapist. It also stars Bo Burnham, Alison Brie and Connie Britton. The film holds a 90 percent Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Yellow Rose is a coming-of-age musical drama about an undocumented Filipina girl who tries to make it as a country music star in Texas. Its deft direction and stellar performances from Eva Noblezada create a memorable indie film with a stellar soundtrack. It holds an 87 percent Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Nomadland stars Academy Award-winner Frances McDormand as a woman who leaves her life to travel around the American West. It’s a slow-burn character study that beautifully captures the often forgotten people of America. Nomadland won Best Motion Picture - Drama at the Golden Globes. Its director, Chloé Zhao, became the first Asian woman to win a Golden Globe for Best Director.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday is a biopic about jazz singer Billie Holiday as she is targeted by the Federal Department of Narcotics to bring racial overtones to the war on drugs. For her performance as Holiday, Andra Day won a historic Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama at the 78th Golden Globes.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is a science fiction romantic comedy about a witty teen living the same day over and over again with little deviation until his world is rocked by a mysterious girl living the same loop. It stars Kyle Allen and Kathryn Newton and is Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
Minari is the heartfelt story of a South Korean family immigrating and adjusting to rural America in the 1980s. It’s produced by A24 and stars Steven Yeun. The film opened to rave reviews, earning a 98 percent Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes. It has also received numerous awards including the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival and the Best Foreign Language Film Award at this year’s Golden Globes. For his role, Yeun became the first Asian to be nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards.
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is a comedy written by the two women who brought you Bridesmaids. Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo star as two Midwestern best friends who go on vacation in Vista Del Mar, Florida and are soon caught up in a sinister plot. The movie is bright, silly and ridiculously funny at every twist and turn and is Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
Another Netflix film, I Care A Lot is a black comedy starring Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza González and Dianne West. It is about a court-appointed guardian who takes advantage of elderly people only to get unwittingly involved with a powerful gangster. Rotten Tomatoes marks the film as Certified Fresh.