Summer movies finally came back in 2021 after taking the year off in 2020. As always, there were some flops and some hits. While most people watched and discussed the big blockbusters like Black Widow, Jungle Cruise, and The Suicide Squad, there are plenty of other films that deserved more popularity.
Many of these films skipped theaters and went straight to streaming or VOD. Some did go to theaters but didn’t have the star power or blockbuster appeal to attract a wide audience. So, before the summer movie season wraps up, here is a list of some movies you might have missed, but should definitely check out.
This movie came as a complete surprise as it’s a premise that could have been absolutely terrible in the hands of the wrong person. Till Death stars Megan Fox as a woman stuck in a loveless marriage. On their anniversary, the couple goes out to a remote cabin in the midst of a blizzard. Fox wakes up in the morning handcuffed to her dead husband and things become even worse when two burglars arrive.
This movie is an absolute showcase for Fox, who gives her best performance in a while. Much of the film is just her roaming the house with her dead, heavy husband strapped to her. Honestly, these scenes are the most captivating as we watch a desperate woman trying to find any way to get him off and escape this situation. Unfortunately, the second half does suffer when the burglars show up, as it becomes riddled with cliches seen in thriller films. However, for what it is, it’s very intense and keeps you invested throughout its entirety.
If there was an award for the best movie based on a Twitter thread, Zola would win (although by default). Zola takes a viral Twitter thread and turns it into a dark, twisted comedy/drama. Taylour Paige stars as Zola, a Florida woman who joins Stefani (Riley Keough) for a weekend of stripping to earn some cash. However, as the journey escalates, Zola realizes that Stefani isn’t who she says she is and their getaway turns into a nightmare vacation of debauchery and crime.
This movie is absolutely insane and the fact that it’s mostly true is even crazier. There are aspects of the story that are left out, but what’s here is genuinely disturbing and the movie keeps intensifying. It’s only 90 minutes, but it has tremendous pacing and never slows down. Go read the actual Twitter thread and decide if this sounds like something you’d be interested in.
CODA stands for Child of Deaf Adults and this movie represents that in a fascinating way. Emilia Jones plays a high school girl who is the only hearing member of a deaf family. When not in school, she works with her family on their fishing boat and is also their interpreter. She realizes she has a talent for singing and comes to a crossroads between following her passion and being loyal to her family.
This movie is absolutely heartwarming. It earned raves at Sundance and it’s clear why. The entire cast is fantastic and it’s great to see actual deaf actors utilizing their own experience for this role. Another highlight is Eugenio Derbez, who plays the music teacher that encourages Jones to pursue her dream. The plot can be predictable at times, but it’s executed so perfectly that it doesn’t become an issue. It’s streaming on Apple TV+ now, so check it out if you want to smile, laugh, and possibly cry.
Batman: The Long Halloween: Part 1 & 2
The Long Halloween is considered by many to be one of the best Batman comic book stories. This two-part animated film adaptation brings the story to life in a great way. They’re not action-packed superhero adventures like many other DC animated films, but its story is incredibly intriguing. A new killer known as “Holiday” murders members of the Falcone and Maroni mobs on each holiday throughout the calendar year.
These murders bring up various suspects including many of Batman’s most notorious villains. This story shows Batman’s skills as a detective, an aspect we haven’t seen to full effect in Batman movies. We also see the tragic rise and fall of Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel) as he goes from successful District Attorney to the twisted Two-Face. If a murder-mystery starring Batman and his large cast of villains sounds intriguing, then definitely check this out.
The Green Knight
Director David Lowery’s adaptation of the medieval poem “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” is a breathtaking fantasy journey in the era of King Arthur. The film stars Dev Patel as Sir Gawain, King Arthur’s (Sean Harris) nephew who is looking for a way to become a knight of honor. One day, a tree-like knight appears and challenges a knight to a game: Gawain will strike the green knight, however, in one year, the knight must seek out the Green Knight to receive the same blow.
The Green Knight isn’t about the story. It’s more focused on Gawain’s journey through the kingdom. He faces lots of peril and many fantastical elements like ghosts and giants. The cinematography from Andrew Droz Palermo is absolutely stunning and creates an incredible atmosphere. This is an A24 film, so many could be turned off by its artsy style and slow pace, but it’s simply a journey worth experiencing.
What a crazy movie. Streaming now on Prime video, Annette is directed by Leos Carax, the film stars Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard and Simon Helberg in a bizarre rock opera. Driver and Cotillard play a celebrity couple who welcome a remarkable daughter to the world. After that, the plot begins to evolve into a thriller with crime and chaos in abundance.
Similar to Les Miserables, the dialogue is mostly sung and sung pretty well for the most part. Cotillard and Helberg are excellent, but Driver completely steals the show. Driver doesn’t have a great voice, but he acts so well that he makes it work. The music comes from Sparks who have created a soundtrack that is able to combine both magical whimsy and morbid dread.
Carax makes so many experimental choices that it has you questioning whether it works or not. This movie will not be for everyone, however, this movie will be memorable. Whether you end up liking this movie or not, it’ll certainly give you things to talk about. Annette is risky, and while not every decision works, it’s hard to not respect this movie for taking chances.
Fatherhood premiered Father’s Day weekend and is really the perfect movie for that. It salutes the jobs fathers do, especially single parents. Kevin Hart plays Matthew, a father whose wife passed away shortly after childbirth. As he raises his daughter, Matthew discovers all of the happiness and difficulties that come with being a parent.
This is easily one of the best performances from Hart. He doesn’t do his typical schtick and delivers many emotional scenes. Hart is also joined by a great cast including Alfre Woodard and Lil Rel Howery. The film is streaming on Netflix now and it’s a great movie to watch with your family. You’ll get some laughs and possibly be moved by its overwhelming sweetness.
No Sudden Move
It’s wild that director Steven Soderbergh delivers another crime-heist film and no one’s talking about it. It may be because it went straight to HBO Max, but it deserves more attention. Don Cheadle and Benicio, the bull are hired to complete a heist for a mystery client. When the heist goes wrong, the search for the mystery client leads the two on a mission that intertwines with the city’s most notorious criminals.
No Sudden Move has an all-star cast that also includes Brendan Fraser, Jon Hamm, David Harbour, Julia Fox, and Kieran Culkin. The movie starts slow, but kicks into high gear once the heist begins. The plot has so many twists and turns that’ll keep you engaged from beginning to end. This is Soderbergh at his finest.
This may win the award for biggest surprise of 2021. Nicolas cage plays a truffle farmer who uses a truffle-hunting pig to help his business. He lives in a remote cabin with his pig being his only companion. When his pig is stolen, Cage goes on a search in the city to retrieve his pig.
The concept here sounds like a revenge-thriller where Cage goes crazy, but it’s not that at all. Pig is an exploration of grief, isolation, and the desire for success. Cage shines here, delivering a stellar performance as an isolated man who’s returning to a society in which he was once a prestigious member. Pig will be slow for many who are expecting Cage to go crazy, but if you go in expecting an emotional drama, Pig ends up being an incredibly rewarding watch.
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