Movies I Watched in 2021 (Part 1)

This year, I decided to write down every movie I watched for the first time in 2021. It didn’t have to be a new film, just one I had never seen before and watched in its entirety. I watch a lot of movies, but I’ve never kept track in this way before. I’ve watched six movies that were new To Me so far, so thought I would list them and briefly talk about each one. Don’t expect anything indie or underground in this list–I’ll inevitably watch movies like that later this year, but I haven’t gotten there just yet.

Wonder Woman 1984: I think this was generally enjoyable, but not as good as the first Wonder Woman. Looking back I think the main issue was focus. The new characters were interesting, but even when they overlapped, it felt like separate storylines. I also think there should have been more fallout from the storyline with Steve Trevor, but generally I think he was the best part of the movie. Chris Pine is always great. Overall I always enjoy a superhero movie, but I don’t know if I would call this one particularly memorable, especially in comparison to the first film.

Tenet: This is the latest Christopher Nolan movie, and I had heard mixed reviews before I watched. Upon watching, I do understand why. It’s a very cool and interesting concept, but it needs a LOT of set up. The concept needs so much set up that the REASON that the concept is happening felt almost secondary? I don’t think it really came together before the second half for me personally. That said, the cast is fantastic. I always love Robert Pattinson and find him very magnetic on screen, John David Washington is wonderful and deserves all the praise he gets, and Elizabeth Debicki was definitely a standout. The visuals were also very cool and I would have loved to see those on the big screen. Overall not my fave Nolan movie, and I wish the first half was less muddled, but still an interesting watch.

Scoob: This is the most recent cartoon movie in the Scooby Doo franchise. While I actively sought out the other two movies, this is one that just happened to be available for free, my dad wanted to watch, Zac Efron voices Fred, so I sat down to watch it. It was alright! It was a light fun cartoon caper. The voice acting was all good, and the animation and story was generally fun. It made me laugh. If you’ve ever enjoyed a Scooby Doo movie, you’ll probably like this.

The Dig: Now for something completely different; this film is a British Netflix movie starring Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes based on a true story about the 1939 archaeological excavation of Sutton Hoo. And I loved it. I cannot express how beautifully done this movie was. It could be quiet and serious and contained, and the acting performances felt so real and genuine. I really felt for these characters and understood their experiences and the parameters of their world. I cried at the end. Just beautiful.

Birds of Prey (and the fantabulous emancipation of one Harley Quinn): Along with The Dig, this is my favourite movie on this list. They are very very different movies, but I contain multitudes. I feel like this movie was exactly what I wanted and what I didn’t even know I wanted from a Harley Quinn movie. It was hilarious, it was dark, every character felt both over the top and real at the same time, the action sequences were fun, the aesthetic was fantastic. It was quite stylized which I love. I was really invested and laughing the entire time. I don’t understand why this movie is so underappreciated. Is it because people dislike DC movies? Is it because men are terrible? Is it because the marketing was poor? I don’t know, but I’m a big fan.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before: Always and Forever: This is the third and final in the series of Netflix teen rom coms based on well loved YA novels which I have not actually read. I’m a bit older than the target demographic. But you know what? I really enjoyed it. I think the first movie in the series is still the best one, but this was a good one. It gave me a lot of nostalgia not just for high school but for that feeling of confusion and transition. I know these are generally pretty “fluffy” and often predictable movies, which is what they get criticized for, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It was a nice watch after I had a headache all day, the aesthetic was nice, the characters were cute, and the pop music in the background was catchy.

That’s all for the year so far! In between I have watched some movies I have already seen and some TV shows, but those do not belong on this list. The second part of this will probably turn up in a month or two, depending how many movies I watch during that time.

Reading “The UnHoneymooners”

While watching some book review YouTube videos searching for new books to read, I came across “The Unhoneymooners” by Christina Lauren several times. It was getting good reviews, and sounded fun, so I decided to order it from Chapters/Indigo (along with a pair of cozy reading socks).

The basic premise is that due to a series of coincidences and unfortunate events, the lead character, Olive, ends up going on a trip that was supposed to have been her twin sister’s honeymoon along with a man she doesn’t get along with–Ethan, the best man and brother of her sister’s new husband. The two jet off to Maui together despite their animosity because they both want a free Hawaiian vacation, hijinks ensue, and, obviously, they fall for each other.

Image result for the unhoneymooners

The whole book felt very much like a romantic comedy. There was bonding, there was fake dating, there was “there’s only one bed” struggles, there were comedic and non comedic misunderstandings, there was a fiery female lead, there was a hot and smart male lead, there was family, there were lessons! I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had a lot of the classic cliches, but subverted and played with others in fun ways. There was more to the story and to the characters than just their love story, which I enjoyed because it fleshed out both them as individuals, their relationship, and the world they are living in. It was a fun read and I also got emotionally invested.

I have read a lot of romantic comedy-esque books, and I tend to really enjoy them. But often when I talk about loving them, I almost feel the need to get defensive. To say I know they’re often tropey, and they always have a happy ending, but I still love them and enjoy them.

But why the hell do I feel the need to do that?

Why have I internalized this idea that I should apologize for loving romantic comedies, in both film and book form? Why should I apologize for enjoying a happy ending? Why should I feel like I’m doing something wrong by not reading serious or sad or “intellectual” books all the time? What’s wrong with just reading whatever I want to read because I want to read it and I ENJOY it? What makes a romantic comedy story less worthy? What makes a happy ending less worthy?

It doesn’t escape my notice that this kind of story is often written by women and for women and starring women. And of course, both women and men get shamed for reading them. Part of it, of course, is misogyny, and a derision for fiction that is considered “feminine.” Part of it is snobbery, the idea that this kind of story is lesser, is “low art,” is not “intellectually enriching” and therefore not worthy of consumption. It sounds like such an old fashioned idea, I know, but I have seen and heard these opinions being said and perpetuated even very recently.

Honestly? FUCK THAT.

This isn’t me saying you have to love a book like “The Unhoneymooners.” We all love different books. This is me saying to anyone reading this, but also to myself, that there’s nothing shameful in loving that happy ending. There’s no need to defend reading that romantic comedy. A happy, light, fun read can be just as “enriching” as anything else if you are enjoying it and it is bringing happiness into your life. Isn’t that what’s important, in the end?

I talk about Golden Globes nominations because why not

I know the problems with awards shows. I know I often curse the choices made, or the lack of women in certain nominations, or lack of POC, or lack of queer people.

But I still love an awards show. And I MISS awards shows. Even the ones that have been held in the last year just haven’t been the same. And I would know–I watched them all regardless because goddammit, I miss awards shows.

When it comes to awards shows for movies and television, I admit while I have often heard of most of the nominees, I’ve never seen them all. I love TV and I love movies, but these awards shows (especially the Oscars) have a tendency to award certain kinds of films and disregard others (see this excellent YouTube video on the concept of Oscar Bait). Sometimes though, I simply haven’t seen the films or shows yet and end up thoroughly enjoying them whenever I do (examples include: Parasite, Jojo Rabbit, Hidden Figures, The Favourite, and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel for TV, all of which I watched after their awards run). Every year I mean to watch all the nominated films and at least one episode of each the shows, and every year there’s something in the line up I either just cannot bring myself to watch or have no interest in. And so I never do.

While Oscar noms aren’t out yet this year (the ceremony was pushed for obvious reasons), the Golden Globe nominations were announced today. So why not go through them and talk about what I have seen, what I haven’t, what I have heard of, and if I am interested. I won’t bore you with every single performance category, so will stick to the main ones.

Best Motion Picture: Drama

The Father: Vagurely remembered the trailer so went to go rewatch. It looks deeply depressing so I honestly probably won’t watch it. The cast is amazing though so I’m sure it’s good, maybe one day I will watch it if I want to be sad.

Mank: Have yet to watch, but it genuinely looks interesting. I think it’s cool that it’s in black and white. Biopics can be hit and miss but this looks like it was told through an interesting lens.

Nomadland: Had no clue what this was and had to google. Reminds me of books I did not like to read in school. But it has Frances McDormand and as usual I am sure she put in a great performance.

Promising Young Woman: REMIND ME TO WATCH THIS. I have been really interested but just have yet to take the time to sit down and watch. It looks really good and I am amazed I managed to avoid all spoilers.

The Trial of the Chicago 7: LOVE this entire cast. I have also not watched this, which makes me 0/5 in the drama category. Not super surprising honestly.

Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: I didn’t even watch the first one in full. It just gave me too much mass secondhand embarrassment. Props to Sacha Baron Cohen for being in two nominated movies though (he is also in Trial of The Chicago 7)

Hamilton: I may have mentioned once or twice or three times on this blog how much I love Hamilton. It won many Tonys during its musical run for this same original cast, which I think is extremely well deserved. It deserves awards for the speed of Daveed Diggs’ rapping as Lafayette alone. I don’t expect it to take this category but know I love it.

Music: There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this movie, as is expected when a non-autistic person makes a film about autism also starring a non-autistic actress. Haven’t seen it, do not plan to do so.

Palm Springs: I have been wanting to watch this since it came out but we don’t have Hulu in Canada, for some strange reason. It was recently released on Crave here so it’s on my to-watch list after Promising Young Woman. I love Andy Samberg.

The Prom: This was a surprising one, but I am aware there aren’t as many options for nominations this year due to COVID-19. This was fun and cute and light. It’s a musical and I can never hate a musical. I would not choose it as the winner though.

Best Motion Picture: Animated

The Croods: A New Age: I have seen the trailer for this and I will say I am not the intended demographic and leave it at that.

Onward: I really enjoyed this film. It was cute and charming and really heartwarming. I’m also a big Tom Holland fan and am happy he is having such a successful year.

Over The Moon: I had never heard of it but it looks very cute. Again I think a bit specifically younger skewing.

Soul: This movie is absolutely beautiful both visually and in its plot and message, so I am 100% cheering for it to win. Fantastic. I need to watch it again already even though it gave me an existential crisis and then fixed it again.

Wolfwalkers: I had never heard of it but I looked up the trailer and LOVE the animation style. It looks really good honestly, I will add it to my to watch pile.

Best TV Series, Comedy

Emily in Paris: I watched Emily in Paris. I enjoyed Emily in Paris. It was fun and fluffy and I was obsessed with Emily’s outfits (me and the actress, Lily Collins, are really similar in size, so I just kind of…imagined it all on me). But why on earth is this show nominated?? I’m truly baffled. It’s cute, but I think there are so many other shows in the comedy category that should have taken its place. Especially since this category turned out very white.

The Flight Attendant: This show honestly took me by surprise with how good it was. It was so well written and I really loved the visual choices made in the show. I’m happy that lead Kaley Cuoco was nominated because I think she deserves it for the work done here. Watch it if you haven’t, you will just want to keep going.

The Great: I watched one episode of this show the other day. I love the leads, and I like the basic concept. But as someone who is into Serious Period Pieces, I kind of…wish it was one of those? Or at least slightly more historically accurate? I will probably try another episode though to see how it goes.

Schitt’s Creek: Am I a bad Canadian if I never religiously watched this show? I’ve watched a few episodes here and there and always enjoyed it, I just wasn’t watching from the beginning. This show SWEPT the comedy Emmys, so wondering if it will do a repeat.

Tad Lasso: I have heard of it, but have never seen an episode. It’s apparently quite good hearted which is promising. Maybe will check it out.

Best TV Series, Drama

The Crown: Oddly enough I am a period piece lover who…has never watched The Crown. My mom likes it? I heard good things and the acting was very good from episodes I have seen, although sometimes leaned almost a bit too much into impressions.

Lovecraft Country: Anyone who says there isn’t good horror in TV shows hasn’t watched this show. Some of the horror and supernatural elements in some episodes are truly horrific and yet I could not look away. I think the way it handled historical events and combined them with classic film tropes and horror elements was very well done. Loved the musical choices made as well, including old Black spirituals and speeches from activists.

The Mandalorian: I tried so hard to get into this show. I love Star Wars! Pedro Pascal is great! I LOVE SPACE. I LOVE SPACE SO MUCH. But I could not get into it. I’m sorry Space.

Ozark: I’ve seen parts of this show walking into the room while my dad had it on. I don’t think it’s for me, but I like the grey aesthetic and acting looks great.

Ratched: I’m almost surprised I haven’t given into this Ryan Murphy series yet. I just don’t understand why anyone thought we needed background for this particular villainous character? But that’s Ryan Murphy for you.

Best Limited Series or Movie

Normal People: One of the biggest shows of 2020 and I have not watched it and kind of have no interest in doing so. It just doesn’t draw me in. The cast seems very charming though. Love the accents.

Small Axe: I have not watched, but JOHN BOYEGA WAS NOMINATED FOR THIS and I am very happy for him. This also doesn’t particularly draw me in as a show, but I may watch the episode with John.

The Queen’s Gambit: I LOVED THIS SERIES. I know everyone did, but for good reason. This mini series about chess, of all things, managed to keep me riveted the entire time. Anya Taylor-Joy was a big part of that, and I’m so happy she was nominated for this as well as for Emma. The costumes were also magnificent, I love that era in fashion.

The Undoing: Everyone talked about this show while it was airing and I honestly still don’t really know what it’s about. I think there’s a mystery so I will probably watch it eventually.

Unorthodox: Another one that got quite a few nominations at the Emmys, and another one that doesn’t personally appeal to me. I’m sure it’s very good.

Clearly, I have homework to do.