2021 was a rinse and repeat kind of year thanks to the ongoing pandemic. Karla and I didn’t come close to topping 2020s total of 456 movies watched but we did see more new movies in a theater than the year before. I’m hoping that 2022 brings things back a little closer to years past, or at least a more balanced theatrical blend of old and new.
Let’s kick things off with a look at those 2021 statistics.
How many films did I watch in 2021?
Action: 14 (down from 20)
Animated: 25 (down from 37)
Comedy: 54 (down from 146)
Documentary: 31 (up from 12)
Drama: 11 (down from 17)
Fantasy/Horror/Sci-Fi: 161 (down from 178)
Musical: 6 (down from 7)
Mystery/Thriller: 33 (down from 39)
War/Western: 1 (same as last year)
Total films watched: 336 (Down from last year’s all-time high of 456 but close to 2018, as well as 2009, the first year I started keeping track of these totals for fun.)
Movies Watched in a Movie Theater: 7 (7 new and 0 old) – Sadly, no old films this year due to the cancellation of the 2021 Kansas Silent Film Festival (it went virtual) and only one live Cinema a Go-Go event, which we didn’t attend. The 2022 Kansas Silent Film Festival is scheduled for late February but our attending doesn’t seem likely, at least as of right now.
Now, it’s time for the official best-of-the-best and worst-of-the-worst. As with any list, they’re subjective to my viewing experience and mood at the time. I’ll provide thoughts on some of the films, others will just speak for themselves.
Top Movies Seen in a Movie Theater
1. Shang-Chi: Legend of the Ten Rings – Karla and I both really enjoyed this one. While I wish it had been more like the original 70s comic, it was a fun, mystical adventure that left us wanting to see more of the character.
2. 007: No Time to Die – I’ve seen every Bond flick in a theater since Moonraker (1979), so this was an absolute must to see this year. I wasn’t disappointed and thought it was a wonderful send-off for Daniel Craig. I really enjoyed the various homages to the franchise, especially the inclusion of the music of Louis Armstrong. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending but it didn’t ruin the overall experience.
3. The King’s Man – This was definitely better than the last film, which we both enjoyed, and a worthy entry in the series. I loved the time period, as well as the somewhat more subdued action and historical inclusions. We both want to see more of these new characters.
4. Black Widow – While I did enjoy it, it seemed as if we should have seen this years ago and definitely before she died on screen. That said, a decent entry in the Marvel franchise but a little lackluster considering some of the superior Disney+ series that came out this year.
5. The Suicide Squad – Okay, I enjoyed the bat shit craziness, over-the-top violence and inclusion of (spoiler) Starro. It is one of the more fun DC films in recent memory. That said, this probably wouldn’t have made the top ten in a regular year.
Note: We missed seeing The Eternals, Ghostbusters: Afterlife and, most importantly, Spider-Man: No Way Home. However, the first new movie of 2022 will be Spider-Man, so expect that to be on 2022s list.
Worst Movies Seen in a Movie Theater
1. Spiral – My first movie in a theater in over a year, so it was at least fun in that aspect. However, this was by far the weakest entry in the Saw franchise. Samuel Jackson phoned it in and the story was way too predictable.
2. Old – This would have made a better 20-minute episode of The Twilight Zone or entry in an anthology. There simply wasn’t enough here for a full-length movie and the twist at the end wasn’t anywhere close to surprising.
Top New Movies Seen on Home Media for the First Time
Any movie in this category has to have come out in either 2021 or 2020 and been seen on any form of home media (physical or streaming).
1. Soul (2020) – One of the best films Karla and I have seen in the last several years. We loved the music, the story and the message. Highly recommended!
2. Dune: Part One (2021) – While I wasn’t blown away by it as I had hoped, I still really enjoyed it and it left me wanting more. I only wish the wait wasn’t going to be three years.
3. News of the World (2020) – This one surprised me as it was a great western and a very touching story. I wish it had been seen by more people. It seems like it got lost in the pandemic shuffle.
4. Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) – I wanted to like this one more than I did but it was still a lot of fun. It deserved to be watched theatrically.
5. 8-Bit Christmas (2021) – This one definitely surprised me. The trailer looked like fun and the movie didn’t disappoint. A modern-day retelling of A Christmas Story that worked on a nostalgic level. However, the ending really touched me in a very emotional way that caught me off-guard. This has been added to the annual Christmas movie list.
6. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021) – The weakest in the franchise to date but still fun to watch. That said, it might be time to let the series rest for a while.
7. Finch (2021) – A fairly formulaic post-apocalypse flick that was elevated by the presence of Tom Hanks. Overall, a fun flick but most likely a forgettable one.
Top Ten Movies Seen on Home Media for the First Time
This category is the same as previous years except that it covers any film from 2019 or older.
1. Kwaidan (1964) – Finally saw this after owning it for years and I was blown away. It’s visually stunning and highly recommended.
2. Inside Out (2015) – I probably ranked this one higher than it deserves but we both really enjoyed it.
3. Too Many Kisses (1925) – So glad to own this silent movie, which was a lot of fun to watch. The print from the Film Preservation Society looks amazing.
4. Train to Busan (2016) – Crazy fun and one of the better zombie/infected flicks in recent years.
5. The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) – After years of attempting to watch this classic, I finally sat down and didn’t regret it. It’s trippy and a little all over the place but still worth checking out.
6. Sherlock Holmes (1916) – The master detective works better in sound but this was so wonderful to watch after it was missing for so many years.
7. The Beast and the Magic Sword (1983) – I watched a lot of Paul Naschy in 2021 and this was, by far, my favorite.
8. Mill of the Stone Women (1960) – This was a random Shudder viewing that really surprised me. Highly recommended if you’re in the mood for some Euro horror.
9. Auntie Mame (1958) – Not a film I’d usually pick but so glad I watched it. Expanding one’s cinematic horizons often results in some wonderful new discoveries.
10. Viy (1967) – A highly visual and trippy flick that never failed to entertain.
Honorable Mentions: An Angel for Satan (1966) is quite possibly my favorite Barbara Steele movie. Eerie Tales (1919) was a pleasant surprise and fun anthology film.
Top Documentaries Seen on Home Media for the First Time
A new category last year and we definitely gravitated to more documentaries in 2021. We already have a stack lined up for 2022.
1. Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (2010) – It’s criminal that I’ve owned this for more than a decade and never watched it, especially considering Rush is one of our favorite bands. Highly recommended!
2. Carl Laemmle (2019) – We love documentaries on old Hollywood and this one from TCM was another great one.
3. The Melies Mystery (2021) – A fantastic documentary on the great Georges Melies.
4. Jazz on a Summer Day (1958) – A great snapshot of a past time with some great music.
5. Satchmo: The Life of Louis Armstrong (1989) – More great jazz music!
6. Dean Martin: King of Cool (2021) – A little biased towards Dean but still entertaining.
7. Woman in Motion (2021) – A great documentary on Nichelle Nichols but I wished it had a little more focus on her NASA days.
8. The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith (2015) – A fascinating but sad look at a very unique individual.
9. Blood and Flesh: The Reel Life and Ghastly Death of Al Adamson (2019) – Talk about a film documentary talking a turn and becoming a crime drama, this one is bizarre but in a way that you can’t turn away.
10. Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years (2016) – We watched this before Get Back (which isn’t on this list as it really was more of a limited series). Great double feature!
Honorable Mention: Less of a true documentary and more of a very long series of extra and random clips, In Search of Darkness Parts 1 and 2 (2019 and 2020) are a fun watch. Looking forward to part 3 once it’s finished.
Worst Movies Seen on Home Media for the First Time
1. Tenet (2020) – I think I’ve come to the conclusion that recent Christopher Nolan movies are just way too pretentious for my tastes. After Interstellar and Dunkirk, this is a strike three for me.
2. Halloween Kills (2021) – Oh, how I wanted to like this one. I just didn’t enjoy it at all. I get that there is a lot of social commentary happening here but, honestly, that was and is the last thing I want right now in my movies.
3. Spookies (1986) – Oh Joe Bob, why must you do this to me?
4. Army of the Dead (2021) – Okay, I didn’t hate this one but I was a little bored with it overall. And don’t get me started on releasing this movie without fixing the dead pixel issue. That was just lazy filmmaking.
5. Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) – A…very…unnecessarily…long…movie. Some of the restored footage may have improved it overall but it’s just way longer than it needs to be.
Looking ahead to 2022, I hope that the first movie of the year is Spider-Man: No Way Home. As usual, I’m looking forward to all of the new Marvel films, while placing my expectations low for anything from DC. I’m just hopeful for more trips to the theater for both new and old movies. I definitely miss the Kansas Silent Film Festival and Cinema a Go-Go.
That elusive Godzilla Criterion Collection is once again high on the list, along with the Zatoichi series (also on Criterion). I’d also love to finally wrap up our Sherlock Holmes journey. That said, look for a lot of Sherlock on OTR Wednesday in 2022.
In the summer of 2022, we’re going to totally stir things up. After three summers of classic comedies, this year we’re going to outer space and the wonderful world of chapter serials. In June through August, we’re going to dive into Flash Gordon (1936), Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars (1938) and Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940). Don’t worry though as plans are afoot for a special comedy series in July focusing on the short subjects of Thelma Todd.
Jeff and I will start the new year with our 5th anniversary show and we plan to continue to offer up our monthly dose of the Classic Horrors Club Podcast (aside from taking a brief break in February), including our third summer of drive-in adventures in the summer. I’m also looking forward to finally recording a formal movie review with Desmond Reddick after so many years of solo reviews on the Dread Media Podcast.
Happy New Year everyone! Thank you for your ongoing support! 2022 is going to be fantastic year!