How is it possible that 2021 is almost over? As wild as that seems, it is indeed the case, which means it’s time to reflect on all the things that brought us joy over the course of the year.
From memes to TV shows, pop culture moments and more, we’ll be rounding up the best of the best from the entertainment world, and we’re starting with movies.
It was undoubtedly a tricky year for cinema as COVID kept doing its thing and forcing parts of the world in and out of lockdown. 2021 saw the release of some long (and I mean long) awaited titles while others got pushed back, yet again.
Despite the hurdles, there were some truly great films that came out this year — both in cinemas and on streaming — so I decided to ask my team which ones they loved best and also share my own highlights. Here’s what we each had to say.
In the Heights — Lyndsey, Entertainment Editor
I was lucky enough to see In the Heights when it first debuted on Broadway and with Lin-Manuel Miranda as Usnavi. I loved the music, the dancing, the characters, the costumes and the story of living in a big city, yet feeling trapped in a small town.
For all of these reasons and more, I was so keen to see the film adaptation and so disappointed it got delayed due to COVID.
As it turns out, it was more than worth the wait. Jon M. Chu did the most brilliant job of bringing Miranda’s story to life and celebrating the beauty and resilience of the Washington Heights community.
This film had me sobbing from start to finish, homesick for New York and eternally thankful that we have Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brilliant mind to bring these universal yet specific stories to life.
Encanto — Basmah Qazi, Entertainment Producer
“I watched Encanto ahead of its December 2 release (as I was interviewing the directors) and I LOVED it!
“The movie, despite being aimed at children, was so relatable and touched on some really important topics. I laughed and I cried, and it made me so happy to see Colombian people being represented on the big screen.”
Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings — pretty much the whole team
It seemed everyone on our team who saw Shang-Chi had praise for the Marvel blockbuster. The film was indeed a huge deal as it was the first-ever movie in the MCU to feature an Asian superhero lead (Simu Liu), and it absolutely shattered box office expectations.
Our Agency Partnerships Executive Kevin Armendariz said, “it was a great kung fu/martial arts movie that was shot beautifully. The story made sense and wasn’t rushed, plus it was actually pretty funny, worked well as a standalone film and didn’t rely too heavily on connecting to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Great representation too.”
Free Guy — Valentina Todoroksa, Managing Editor
“I really loved Free Guy. I enjoyed the metaphor of the background character becoming the main character and even though there was a lot of action (being set inside a video game), I appreciated the feel-good element.
“I love Ryan Reynolds and I was honestly singing Mariah Carey’s ‘Fantasy’ for days afterwards.”
F9 — Ange Law, Commercial Content and Shopping Editor and Alana Young, Gaming Producer, POPSUGAR
“It was so ridiculous (even more than usual) and even though outer space terrifies me, I still really loved the silliness of it all,” said Ange Law. “Also, the nod to Paul Walker at the end had me bawling my eyes out for a full five minutes afterwards. The familia trumps all in the end.”
Adds Alana Young, “+10000. It was very bad but I loved it.”
The Tomorrow War (Amazon) — Natasha Bazika, Lifestyle Producer, Thrillist
“I loved that there were so many twists and turns. It was a movie I couldn’t predict, which is a good movie in my book. Chris Pratt has come so far since Parks and Recreation.
Luca — Ange Law, Commercial Content and Shopping Editor
“I loved Luca. It was just such a sweet animated movie about two little sea monsters who are trying to live with the humans and have all of the adventures the children get to have — I could cry just thinking about it.
It was also set in a small town on the Italian Riviera that I visited a few years ago and so it had that lovely nostalgic element for me, too. Plus, the female lead in the movie is a total firecracker, so I automatically loved her and this movie.”