Monday, January 03, 2022

My Ten Favorite New-to-Me Movies of 2021

It's that time of year when the world tells everyone who will listen just what they fell in love with over the past twelve months.  I already shared my top ten lists for books on my book blog, so it's high time I share my movie list too, eh?  Here are the ten movies I liked best of all the movies I watched for the first time in 2021.



1. Calcutta (1947).  A wary pilot (Alan Ladd) gets mixed up with a dewy-eyed dame (Gail Russell) who was engaged to his recently-murdered best friend.  One of Ladd's best noir outings, and the first of his movies to hit the top of one of my end-of-year lists!  Can you believe that?!?

2. Knives Out (2019).  A wealthy mystery author (Christopher Plummer) dies, and everyone in his large and weird family (Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, et. al.) suspects everyone else of having killed him.  Only an enigmatic private detective (Daniel Craig, whose southern accent is not as bad as I was led to believe) has any inkling of the truth for a long time.  My husband and I were so wrapped up in this movie that we watched the whole thing after our kids went to bed one night, staying up until midnight (very late, for us) to finish it.

3. Letters to Juliet (2010).  A lonely girl (Amanda Seyfried) on a pre-wedding trip to Italy gets caught up in a little band of women who answer love-advice-seeking letters written to Shakespeare's fictional Juliet.  She ends up helping answer a decades-old letter, which leads an elderly woman (Vanessa Redgrave) to arrive in Italy seeking her long-lost love (Franco Nero).  My favorite thing is that I grew up watching Redgrave and Nero play Guinevere and Lancelot in Camelot (1967), and they're a couple in real life too, so seeing them together again here is just marvelous.

4. Against All Flags (1952).  A roguish naval officer (Errol Flynn) pretends to be a pirate in order to infiltrate a pirate stronghold, only to find himself falling for a strong-willed, lemon-tongued Pirate Captain (Maureen O'Hara).  Jolly good fun.

5. Since You Went Away (1944).  A mother (Claudette Colbert) stays home and cares for her daughters while her husband is away fighting WWII.  I wish I'd seen this when I was in my Joseph Cotten phase because he is just yummy here.  Not that I still don't have a soft spot for him, because I do, but... you know what I mean.

6. Little Women (1949).  Meg (Janet Leigh), Jo (June Allyson), Beth (Margaret O'Brien), and Amy (Elizabeth Taylor) March do some growing up during the American Civil War with help from their mother (Mary Astor), their next-door neighbor (Peter Lawford), and a kindly German professor (Rossano Brazzi).  Probably never going to be my favorite version of this story, but I really liked Allyson and O'Brien in particular.  Again, wish I'd seen this when I was going through my Peter Lawford phase because he's at his most charming in this.

7. The Moonstone (1996).  A young woman (Keeley Hawes) receives a fabulous jewel for her eighteenth birthday, but it disappears, and she suspects the man she loves (Greg Wise) of having stolen it to pay off gambling debts.  I was kind of disappointed by the 2016 BBC version, so I sought this one out, and I'm so glad I did!  Much better.

8. No Time to Die (2021).  James Bond (Daniel Craig) grows up.

9. Chicago Deadline (1949).  A news reporter (Alan Ladd) finds a girl (Donna Reed) dead in a cheap rooming house, finds her address book before the police do, and goes around trying to figure out what her life was like and why she died so he can write an article about her.  It's pretty noir, but not deeply dark.

10. News of the World (2020).  A man (Tom Hanks) who travels around reading the news aloud to people in small, far-flung Texas settlements takes on the job to delivering a child (Helena Zengel) back to her family.  She's been rescued from her Kiowa captors, but she'd lived with them for so long she only speaks Kiowa anymore, and she's obviously got a lot of trauma in her past.  So does he, and the two bond during the journey.  I like stories of found families, lost and damaged people helping each other heal, and westerns, so... yeah, totally dug this movie.

27 comments:

  1. Must add News of the World and Calcutta (can't believe I haven't seen this) to my list.

    I was out when the hubby watched Knives Out. When I arrived home he watched it all over again just so we could share the experience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Paddy, I think you will like both of those!

      I don't blame your husband. I'm definitely planning to add Knives Out to my collection, because I really want to rewatch it already, and I'm pretty sure it's on I'll pull off the shelf from time to time. I hear they're making a sequel, and I'm really hoping they name it something fun like Knives In and not something lame like Knives Out 2.

      Delete
  2. So stoked that Letters to Juliet made your top three! Man, I love that movie.

    That version of The Moonstone is still on my to-watch list; I started it once and never got around to finishing it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Olivia, I had to run out and get a copy, I liked Letters to Juliet so much! Very, very good.

      I hope you can watch all of this Moonstone sometimes because it's definitely a fun one :-)

      Delete
  3. I've got to put some of those older ones and the Tom Hanks ones on my list and rewatch that Little Women.

    I'm about to start my first Wilkie Collins (only been on my radar the last few years), so I'd need to read The Moonstone first, I didn't even know there were movies.

    I tried Letters to Juliet a few years back but honestly was bored and didn't end up trying to pay attention. Which is why maybe I could try it again . . . ? Since I'm not sure I gave it a fair enough chance and so many people like it.

    Knives Out on the other hand wouldn't touch again, couldn't stand it or just about anyone (or The Accent) in it plus have a phobia of vomiting. It almost felt to me that it was taking the Princess Bride (which I also can't stand) approach to mysteries.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Livia, I only read my first Wilkie Collins about a year ago too. And Moonstone is his only novel I've read so far. I quite liked it, but it's got a really interesting flavor. More humorous than I expected.

      Letters to Juliet felt like kind of a throwback to classic '60s romance movies, definitely slower paced than the modern kind. Maybe if you think of that way, you'd get into it easier?

      Oooh, a phobia of vomiting would definitely make Knives Out problematic. Interesting that it felt like Princess Bride to you -- to me, it felt like Clue mixed with The Royal Tannenbaums. I like Clue, didn't really care about Tannenbaums one way or the other, but really dug Knives Out.

      Delete
  4. T'is the season for the 2021 movie lists. I just posted mine a few days ago too, though I could only come up with five. I haven't seen a single one of these movies on your list all the way through. I think this makes the first year ever that that has happened! I did start Knives Out once, when it was first on Prime, but gave up shortly into it, recognizing that even Daniel Craig was not enough for me to want to finish it. I am glad it worked so well for you guys, though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DKoren, yup, 'tis the season. I saw yours, read part of it, got interrupted... and will finish it... soon? Blame the snow ;-)

      Knives Out would drive you batty. Don't torture yourself.

      Delete
  5. Looks like I have some must-see movies to add to my list, including Knives Out and Letters to Juliet. I've seen 5 of your movies, though, which I think is pretty good!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mom, well, you can watch them at my house next time you're here! Remind me!

      We watched two of these together, so that definitely gives you a boost :-D

      Delete
  6. The new Moonstone was SUCH a letdown... and yes, the older one is much more engaging. :P

    I just got News of the World from the library! I remember you liking it! I'll let you know what I think. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ETA: Just finished News of the World. First, I love Tom Hanks. That needs said. He's just such a pleasant actor. Second, I loved 90% of it. The part I didn't love involved horses dying. :P I was angry about that for a while, and it almost ruined the experience for me, but the ending was so good, I forgive it the crime all westerns inevitably force upon me -- the death of poor innocent horses.

      Delete
    2. Charity, the new Moonstone was just... too tame? I liked most of the cast, but the guy playing Franklin Blake was a like a little, scared puppy. All wrong.

      Mmm, I love Tom Hanks too. So easy to root for. Yeah, the part with the horses dying was hard, for sure. But not treated lightly, as if it didn't matter, which I appreciated.

      I actually can't think of that many westerns where horses die. Okay, a handful. The Searchers, Man from Snowy River, this, and True Grit are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head.

      Delete
    3. I feel like a lot of more recent costume dramas are kind of... bland. Maybe because the new crop of actors is "meh," whereas some of the older ones had some punch to them. The Moonstone has never been a favorite of mine, but the new one underwhelmed me.

      I hated True Grit because they run the horse to death. xD

      It's not just westerns, it's movies with horses in general -- it's Benjamin Martin killing Tavington's horse in The Patriot, it's the horses dying in The Last Duel, it's all the horses dying in War Horse, it's them falling into pits and being killed in ... whatever the name of that western racing film was with Vigo Mortenson... I am just over it. ;)

      Delete
    4. Charity, that's interesting. Maybe a reflection of the current idea that life hundreds of years ago was more stately and genteel and elegant? I run into that all the time and just want to shove history books into people's hands and correct them. Heh.

      I don't like it when a horse gets killed because of a person's stupidity or negligence or meanness. But Little Blackie's death in True Grit is a sacrifice deliberately made by someone who definitely values horses but knows a human life is more important. It's a hard, hard choice in some ways... but not hard at all in other ways.

      I started to watch War Horse once and just had to stop it. It was clearly going to be every kind of awful. Haven't watched Hidalgo either because I don't willingly sign up for heartbreak, thanks anyway ;-)

      Delete
  7. Fabulous list, Rachel! Out of the films I haven't seen on your list, Moonstone, Knives Out, and Chicago Deadline are the ones I'm most excited to see! Thanks for the recommendations :)

    Also, I'd like to invite you to a blogathon I'm hosting in honor of Kim Novak's 89th Birthday. Would love to have you join us! Here's the link if you're interested:

    https://theclassicmoviemuse.wordpress.com/2022/01/04/announcing-the-kim-novak-blogathon-an-89th-birthday-celebration/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed this, Muse! You have some good viewing ahead of you.

      Thanks for the invite! I have only seen Novak in a few things, but I'll see if I can think up something to contribute.

      Delete
  8. Knives Out! I think about that movie all the time as it is one of my favorite mysteries (maybe I want to do a post of top ten for your blogathon? Ah, I can't decide!).

    Yay, Letters to Juliet! My younger sister and I just convinced my older sister to watch it. I didn't think she'd love it because she usually isn't into rom-coms, but I thought she would appreciate the Shakespeare references all the same. I was wrong because she ADORED it!

    Man, I want to see Against All Flags and Little Women! Peter Lawford is one of my FAVORITES so I have wanted to see him as Laurie for AGES! The only thing that turns me off the movie is a blonde Elizabeth Taylor. It just seems so wrong! Did that bother you at all?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chloe, oh my goodness, Knives Out was just so DIFFERENT! I really loved it.

      I think Letters to Juliet is one of those romcoms that's got enough heartfelt stuff going on it doesn't fall into the watch-once-and-forget-it category of romcoms that so many do. So glad you and your sisters love it too!

      Blond Elizabeth Taylor didn't bug me at all. Possibly because her pertness and sort of innocent sassiness really worked for Amy.

      Delete
  9. I heard Knives Out was super good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Katie, Knives Out is kind of spellbindingly good. I have no idea if you'd like it -- you can only trust like 3 people in it -- but you might.

      Delete
  10. Soooo late to commenting on this, but I really want to see No Time to Die now. Just because of that one sentence summary. XD (Also, since watching Defiance, I wouldn't mind seeing Daniel Craig in something else.) Even though I enjoy watching the occasional Bond film, I don't really like Bond himself (pretty much at all :P) (I usually like the actor a lot more than the character). I know what happens in NTTD, and I think I could finally love Bond because of it. <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eva, that's okay -- it's taken me days to reply to blog comments because my weekend was really busy.

      No Time to Die is definitely worth a watch, imho. It's funny -- I lovee every-other-one of Craig's 007 outings. And the others, I have no desire to ever see again.

      Delete
  11. Hi and Happy New Year, love your company in this one... https://weegiemidget.wordpress.com/2021/12/27/wilhelm-scream-blogathon-2022/

    ReplyDelete
  12. Against All Flags (1952) is underrated. I've always liked it! Great list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maniac, I can't believe I hadn't watched it sooner. It is absolutely jolly!

      Delete

Agree or disagree? That is the question...

Comments on old posts are always welcome!

(Rudeness and vulgar language will not be tolerated.)