The AFI Awards: Here’s AFI’s list of the Top Movies from 2021

Getting in on the latest and greatest movies in 2021 was a real pleasure for most after a difficult 2020. Just the ability to get into the theatre to enjoy real big-screen action was a relief following a year of isolation from entertainment venues. Now the American Film Institute has released its choices for top movies from 2021. The AFI’s list is a truly stellar movie entertainment lineup.

The AFI’s selection committee is a jury of industry professionals including film professionals, critics, and academics. They have their finger on the pulse of what is going on inside the industry, and the selection for 2021 is quite diverse. The list of films comes from some of the powerhouses in film production including Netflix, Apple TV, and HBO Max, all with multiple nominations. There are also powerful independent studio selections and several special awards to the festival hit “Belfast ” from Kenneth Branagh from the U.K. “Summer of Soul ” a Searchlight documentary also known as, “When the Revolution Could Not be Televised” and Netflix’s hit “Squid Game,” a South Korean film also received special awards.

The chosen film’s 10 directors include 8 men and 2 women. According to “Indi Wire,” the directors will be honored on January 7, 2022, when they all gather at the Four Seasons in an intimate award ceremony. In a remarkable back-to-back win, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who captured a special award in 2021 with the movie adaptation of the Broadway show “Hamilton” got the nod as a rookie feature film director with “Tick, Tick…Boom!” Two more relatively new directors come to the table in 2021: Sian Heder and Reinaldo Marcus Green. The field is rounded out with stellar veteran directors Denis Villeneuve, Jane Campion, Adam McKay, Joel Coen, Paul Thomas Anderson, Guillermo del Toro and Steven Spielberg. There were a couple of notable surprises left out of the running for the 2021 awards. Film news aficionados may be shocked that Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter” didn’t make the cut for the top 10, along with “Being the Ricardos,” from veteran Aaron Sorkin.

The selected field of films was diverse in its scope as well. Big blockbusters and small dramas combined to create the AFI list for top movies in 2021. Viewers will find movies that are ranked in top dollars such as “Dune”, viewer choices such as “King Richard,” and small films such as “CODA” in this field of films. The AFI states that the films are “culturally and artistically representative of this year’s most significant achievements in the art of the moving image.”

The AFI’s Top Movies of 2021

“CODA” is the coming-of-age drama from Apple TV+ that captured audiences with its endearing tone following the only hearing member of a deaf family, Ruby, as she grows up in an unusual family situation.

“Don’t Look Up” from Netflix is an apocalyptic satire about a couple of astronomers who take up a media tour to alert the world to a catastrophic comet aimed at taking out the Earth.

“Dune” is a classic movie hit set on a mining planet where warring families fight for control.

“King Richard” from HBO Max hits the list with their real-life drama about the father turned tennis coach who used self-taught methods and raw determination to propel his daughters Serena and Venus to tennis superstardom. It’s a feel-good movie with important messages, and one that includes notable performances from many cast members, not the least of which is the incredible Will Smith as Richard Williams.

“Licorice Pizza” is the Paul Thomas-directed dramedy taking place in the early 1970s and follows San Fernando Valley couple Gary Valentine and Alana Kane through a path of love. The Cast includes Alana Haim, Bradley Cooper, and Cooper Hoffman.

“Nightmare Alley” is the selection from fan-favorite director Guillermo del Toro. It is a spine-tingling thriller about a manipulative carnival clairvoyant who meets up with an equally dangerous psychiatrist.

“The Power of the Dog” is another Netflix selection. It is a Western drama about two brothers dealing with life and relationships on their vast ranch.

“Tick, Tick…Boom!” is a powerful drama following Jonathan Larson, a playwright facing his 30th birthday, and finding himself taking stock of his failures and success along the way, not knowing his untimely death is in his near future.

“The Tragedy of Macbeth” is a retelling of the classic Shakespearean play. Filmed in stunning black and white, it provides the stark backdrop to a knock-out performance by Denzel Washington and fellow cast members Corey Hawkins and Frances McDormand.

“West Side Story” is another new adaptation of a classic favorite. Its predecessor, the 1961 musical, was the Best Picture winner, and now the 1950’s feature follows the forbidden couple through the gang-divided New York City. The movie is Stephen Spielberg’s adaptation and it is a blended balance of source material from the original and new twists that give it its own life.

Film fans should be happy with the AFI’s selections and may even find a few that they missed out on. These movies are a definite “need to see” for anyone who hasn’t had the chance to see them in the theater.

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