Even though Hollywood is notorious for saving the “best” movies for the latter half of the year, there are plenty of gems to enjoy before next year’s awards season rollout — from film festival dramedies (Shiva Baby) to blockbuster animated features (Raya and the Last Dragon) to critically-acclaimed shorts (The Human Voice).
Thanks to the pandemic, which forced Hollywood to halt production and postpone premieres, this year’s movie release schedule has been unusual, to say the least — and many films on this list were completed (and seen and reviewed by critics) well before their U.S. debuts. One feature included below, Judas and the Black Messiah, was even eligible for awards contention in the 2020 cycle, even though it wasn’t released in the U.S. until February 2021. Several others, like Zola and Shiva Baby, were supposed to hit theaters last year, but saw their release dates delayed amid COVID-19. Still more, like The Human Voice, were shot (safely) in the midst of the pandemic after the production hiatus.
After last year’s disastrous series of events, these movies are well worth the wait. Below, see the best movies of 2021 — and be sure to bookmark this list, as we’ll be updating it throughout the year.
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