New from Tarek Fayoumi on Movies with Tarek: Tarek’s Top 10 Films of 2021

2021 was a year where there were still some setbacks in the film industry due to the Covid pandemic. But as the year progressed more films were released and 2021 turned out to be a fun ride with many films that were worth the big screen experience. These are my top ten films of 2021!

Number 1
Licorice Pizza
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, this is a witty and clever comedy that is heartfelt, genuine, and sometimes bizarre. The film stars Cooper Hoffman as Gary Valentine, a boy who is navigating his first love in the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s. The film is a classic, nostalgic and realistic depiction of the challenges of young life and young love. Licorice Pizza reminds us of that life can bring challenges, especially at a young age, but those challenges can be overcome.

Number 2
Drive My Car
Directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, this contemporary film is visually and emotionally enticing. The film felt like a play, with scenes evincing genuine emotions that make the audience feel like they are part of the harrowing, yet triumphant journey of a stage actor and director who loses his wife.

Number 3
Last Night in Soho
Edgar Wright is a director who makes classic films, whether they are action, comedy, drama—or even all three combined. Last Night in Soho is psychological horror film taken to a whole new visual level. The film is set in the Soho area where we meet a beauty school student who has horror dreams of a dazzling jazz singer, and the more she dreams the more she sees from the horrors of the singer’s past.

Number 4 West Side Story
Steven Spielberg brings us a classic that has touched many around the world. West Side Story is the musical sensation of 2021, and it is wonderful and musically invigorating story of the conflicts of gangs and love in a tough New Jersey city. Spielberg’s directing in West Side Story is definitely Oscar worthy.

Number 5
Pig
Nicholas Cage is back with a vengeance, this time in a film where plays a former chef living in the Oregon forest with his truffle-sniffing pig. When someone kidnaps his pig, all bets are off. Pig is directed by Michael Sarnoski, in his directing debut, and Cage is stellar as always.

Number 6
Spencer
Spencer is directed by Pablo Larrain, one of the masters of psychologically strange films. Kristen Stewart plays Diana Spencer, aka Princess Di, who is struggling with mental health issues due to the stressors of the holidays and being married to prince Charles. In this dark drama, Stewart takes the psychological elements of her performance to a disturbing level.

Number 7
No Time to Die
I’m a huge fan of the 007 franchise, so this was a film that I was very eager for, especially since it was on hold for a long time due to Covid. No Time to Die did not disappoint. It’s an intense, monumental and invigorating finale to the bond series with Daniel Craig. It also makes Craig’s mark as one of the most brilliant Bond actors ever. A must see Bond film.

Number 8
Don’t Look Up
This one may seem silly, but I enjoyed this flick directed by Adam McKay. Don’t Look Up is a dark comedy about the world facing catastrophic consequences as a comet is making its way to the earth. With Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as astronomers, and a government that is absent-minded, Don’t Look Up is The Big Short (2015) meets The Day After Tomorrow (2004). Though the premise is deadly serious, this film had me laughing out loud.

Number 9
C’mon C’mon
Mike Mills makes films that are about family and feeling connected with others, and C’mon C’mon is all of that and then some. It is touching, emotional, and upbeat. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix as a journalist who takes his nephew on a journey to show him life outside of Los Angeles. The film makes us want to be grateful for the things we have in life, and it’s a wonderful story of a young person having the courage to come out of his shell.

Number 10
The French Dispatch
My favorite director of all time, Wes Anderson, brings us to another bizarre, crazy world in The French Dispatch. The film is about a newspaper in a fictional French town that is ceasing operations. An all-star ensemble cast including Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and many other witty and brilliant actors, really adds to the fun.

So there you have it—my top ten films for 2021. I hope 2022 brings us many more fun cinematic experiences. I’m also hoping that there is a steady beat of the Oscar buzz this year. See you at the movies in 2022!

I am Tarek Fayoumi of movieswithtarek.com, medium.com, and a member of the Chicago Indie Critics (CIC).

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