The GateCrashers Top 10 Films of 2021

Did your favorite make the list? Read on to find out!

If you love film, there’s an almost certain guarantee that come the end of the year you’ll end up making a Top 10 ranking of the best films released that year. Maybe you’ll do so on Letterboxd, maybe not. But this year we decided to gather 12 of GateCrashers’ biggest film lovers to submit their personal Top 10 lists and using some very complicated math (1st Place = 20 Points, 2nd Place = 18 Points, etc.), create the official GateCrashers Top 10 Films of 2021.

With that, let’s dig into the list and read what some of our film lovers had to say about these wonderful films. 

10. West Side Story

dir. Steven Spielberg

In his first musical, Steven Spielberg is the most energetic he’s ever been. Not only do the characters and stories feel fully fleshed out (even terrible person Ansel Elgort is admittedly good here) but the city itself feels like its own character. The city feels ALIVE in a way that no other adaptation has done before. Spielberg brings an energy and liveliness that I haven’t seen from him in many years. Rachel Zegler and Mike Faist are the absolute standouts here. Both bring a magnetic charm to their performances, mesmerizing you from the minute they appear. Truly one of the most joyful experiences I’ve had in a theater this year. – Jon

9. The Power of the Dog

dir. Jane Campion

After a very long wait, Jane Campion returns to the big screen. This time she tells the story of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Phill Burbank, a ranch farmer who refuses to move forward with a changing world. It’s an absolute masterclass across the board with slow-building tension that keeps you on edge. Cumberbatch is a menacing and gripping presence, but the real trick of the film is when Campion reveals his true vulnerability. The Power of the Dog is a masterful work of art that examines masculinity in a changing world. It’s my absolute favorite film of the year and I’m holding out hope that it sweeps the Oscars next year. – Jordan

8. The Suicide Squad

dir. James Gunn

DC Comics’ strength, for me, comes from their weirdos and outcasts. There are so many villains and heroes who are sometimes so sad that you just want them to find somewhere they belong. Despite the gore, violence, and shady political dealings, The Suicide Squad captures group dynamics you can only find in DC properties. A group of oddballs team up to do the dealings of the most badass character, Amanda Waller, before they have to make a choice of what they stand for. Also, John Cena says “dope as fuck” at one point so…film of the year. – Dan

7. The Last Duel

dir. Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott continues his career-long look at the grotesque nature of masculinity with this sordid tale of rape culture, perception, and cruelty. The Last Duel is one of the most heart-poundingly bitter films of a year full of bitter movies about the state of the world. Scott takes no prisoners in his tale of toxic men who believe themselves to be good men. All the while, the woman they covet like a gilded turd is left to fend for herself against the mediocre men she is saddled with. – Sean

6. Spider-Man: No Way Home

dir. Jon Watts

My new favorite live-action Spider-Man film, No Way Home, is a fun and emotional movie that overcomes the common “too many villains” problem Spider-Man movies tend to face and balances the return of five of Spidey’s most iconic cinematic foes in a story that keeps the focus on Peter himself. It manages to deliver on 20 years of nostalgia while still standing on its own, which is never shown more than the fantastic score by Michael Giacchino who combines his previous Spider-Man work beautifully with that of Danny Elfman and James Horner. With Tom Holland giving his best Spidey performance yet and the glorious return of Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin being everything you could hope for, Spider-Man: No Way Home manages to stand out in a year packed full of comic book movies. – Adam

5. tick, tick… BOOM

dir. Lin-Manuel Miranda

The directorial debut of Lin Manuel Miranda was my favorite musical released this year. Andrew Garfield gives an achingly honest portrayal as Jonathan Larson, the creator of musical powerhouse RENT. Prior to his tragic and untimely death, Larson himself penned tick, tick… BOOM as a semi-autobiographical one-man show that dramatized his own life as he attempts to make a name for himself in the New York City theatre community, while simultaneously questioning whether he should be in another line of work. In this intimate portrait of a man struggling to create something of worth, you can feel the pressure Jonathan is under to meet his potential before time runs out. Garfield blows everyone away with his performance and leaves me hoping his work is acknowledged with an Oscar nod in the new year. It would be well deserved. As for Miranda, he shows a keen eye and skill behind the camera for his first feature film. From toe-tapping to heartbreaking, there was no film quite like it this year. – Ashley

4. Dune

dir. Denis Villeneuve

This is not only a great adaptation of a book that by most standards is unadaptable, but a great movie in its own right. Denis Villeneuve has made one of the best visual experiences of the year, every frame is beautiful, and the production submerges you into its world. Everything in this movie feels big: the ships, the creatures, the cities, and even the characters. Villeneuve builds upon Frank Herbert’s wold building to give the audience a sci-fi journey they will never forget. It’s easy to see why Dune is one of the best movies of the year, and why most are looking forward to Part Two. – Cass

3. The Green Knight

dir. David Lowery

The Green Knight was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. I grew up reading children’s versions of Arthurian legends and, while it isn’t adapted here, Gawain is the main character of one of my favorite childhood stories, The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle. In The Green Knight, director David Lowery adapts the story of Sir Gawain’s (Dev Patel) yuletide game with the Green Knight, here portrayed as a Green Man played by Ralph Ineson. The game is simple, Gawain will be allowed to strike the Green Knight with his axe, but in return, the Green Knight will strike Gawain in the exact same place in one year. Admittedly, the story is not so much the star as the atmosphere that Lowery and the production team created. If I had to pick one film that had the best production design of the year it would be this one. – Reagan

2. Spencer

dir. Pablo Larraín

A film I have thought about every day since I first saw it two months ago. Set over the Christmas holidays, this fable follows Princess Diana as she comes to the decision to leave the Royal Family. Spencer shows these events in a way unlike any other biopic. This is thanks to Pablo Larraín’s unique eye for focusing on the person at the heart of events, rather than the events happening around the person, as is far too often the case. And Larraín’s vision for who the Princess of Wales was would not have been possible without a career-best performance by Kristen Stewart. Every single second of this film is filled with emotion and compassion for Diana, while holding the Royal Family and their archaic tradition in disgust. Expect an Oscar win from Kristen Stewart come awards season. – Ethan

1. Inside

dir. Bo Burnham

2021 fucking sucked, and this was the closest thing to an apology from the universe that I could find. Burnham became our transformative messiah attempting to lead us out of our own despair, but as the tape continued to roll, was quickly dragged down with us. Every song left a lasting impression or a tear-inducing panic, depending on your level of comfort with impending doom. As a Bo fan since the early days of YouTube, I cannot recall another comedian who has had such range, and an ability to connect directly to my deepest fears and insecurities. This wasn’t just the film of 2021, this was 2021 as a film. If you would have told me a year ago, that we would be dealing with the same fucking mess, my light at the end of the tunnel would be this special. So, here’s to the apocalypse, but at least Bo is on the turntables. – RJ

All that’s left is to thank all of our wonderful contributors for taking part in the making of our official Top 10 Films of 2021 and to show off their personal picks for Film of the Year:

  • Adam – Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • Amir – Drive My Car
  • Cass – The Green Knight
  • Dan – Pig
  • Eliza – Encanto
  • Ethan – Spencer
  • Jon – Inside
  • Jordan – The Power of the Dog
  • Reagan – The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  • RJ & Ashley – Inside
  • Sean – Evangelion 3.0+1.0
  • Thomas – Spencer

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