Scott Hardie | December 14, 2021
It's that time of year again. Voting is now open for the best films of 2021, and will close at midnight on the night of December 31.

What film most surprised you this year?

Evie Totty | December 14, 2021
Oh Shang-Chi for sure. My expectations were low, mostly because there was some controversy surrounding it in the summer (I forgot what it was, though - something with the actor).

I'm waiting for Spider-Man and The Matrix, but there are several films I would have liked to have seen and...just forgot to do so (like The French Dispatch and The Last Duel).

Hopefully I'll remember to see House of Gucci this week...

Scott Hardie | December 31, 2021
I forgot to come back and answer my own question! The movie surprise of the year for me had to be Ghostbusters: Afterlife. See, I really liked the last one five years ago, and I resented what felt to me like a big dumb misogynist culture-war controversy over it. (I remember debating it here, in a blog and a discussion.) And the studio was clearly cowed by the angry fans online, so, judging from early reviews, they seemed to produce this 2021 film as the exact opposite of the 2015 film: Reverent instead of flippant, heartfelt instead of silly, and family-friendly instead of you know, actually funny. It still had a female lead in Mckenna Grace, but (I'm trying to avoid spoilers) it carefully positioned her as an extension instead of a replacement. Whereas the 2015 film earned a high score from critics and a low score from audiences, the 2021 film earned the reverse, seeming to indicate that the cowardly studio and the shitty angry fans got what they wanted. I worried that letting the other side of the debate "win" would lead to more shitty films and fewer roles for women and so on, but more immediately, I just worried that Afterlife was going to be dreadful, because I had tickets! I was dragged to it when family visited, and I expected it to be serious and dull and a solid "it sucked" review, but it did not suck. In fact, I enjoyed it quite a bit. It's not Citizen Kane or anything, but it's entertaining and hit all the right emotional buttons for me, so I consider it a success at what it was trying to be. I was wrong to be so cynical. I'm pleased to call it one of the best movies of the year that I saw.

Anyway, just a reminder: Voting closes automatically tonight at midnight, so fill out and/or finalize your ballot by then!

Evie Totty | December 31, 2021
I filled out my ballot, but I haven't seen what *they* say are the best films this year (West Side Story, Belfast, Licorice Pizza, House of Gucci...). I saw The Power of the Dog - and it was excellent, but no time to give a review (same with Encanto and others). I'm halfway through The French Dispatch.

I just feel like this year (and probably last year, too) should have asterisks because we didn't really get an opportunity to see more films. I would probably still have voted Spider-Man as my favorite, but the rest of the list? I can confidently say that it would be different.

Scott Hardie | December 31, 2021
I wouldn't be opposed to reading a quick one-sentence or even one-word review of some of those if it would improve your ballot and if you felt like submitting them. But this thing ending on New Years Eve every year doesn't lend itself well to last-minute changes, unfortunately.

I'd love to see Licorice Pizza if it was an option. I'm on the fence about The Power of the Dog: Knowing some of its revelations already, I have no doubt of its immense power, but the more that I hear about Benedict Cumberbatch's frighteningly intense portrayal of a misanthropic asshole, the less that I want to spend any time watching it.

I used to call this feature "The Ten Best Movies of the Year That I Saw," to acknowledge my inability to catch up with prestigious titles in the final weeks of the year. Maybe I should restore those three words to the current version. I have thought about a living ballot in which we can forever go back and edit our ballots after a year ends, but who would put that much work into keeping their ballot accurate, who would pay attention to the minute changes, and how would we remember old movies well enough to evaluate them against newly-seen movies from the same past year? :-\

Scott Hardie | January 1, 2022
I am pleased with our collective list this year. Besides the usual predictable glut of superhero films, it's a real grab-bag of horror, comedy, musical, sci-fi, and drama. Hollywood is having as weird of a year as the rest of us.

I almost went with Erik and picked In the Heights as the best of the year, but there's just no denying the giddy joy of invention that drives Spider-Man: No Way Home all the way through. Of the two, it's the one that I'm sure I'll remember more fondly and more often in years to come. And it's tempting to write off superhero movies as mere entertainment next to weightier films like Nomadland or The Power of the Dog, but No Way Home experimented with and commented on concepts about intellectual property and fan relationships with culture (pop art is still art), while Shang-Chi used its unique position to talk about racial representation (and misrepresentation) in media, including by its own production company, so I wouldn't say that they are without artistic merit too.

Thank you all for participating, as always!

Evie Totty | January 2, 2022
I'm on the fence about The Power of the Dog: Knowing some of its revelations already, I have no doubt of its immense power, but the more that I hear about Benedict Cumberbatch's frighteningly intense portrayal of a misanthropic asshole, the less that I want to spend any time watching it.

I'm not sure I'm following. Are you not wanting to see him portray one for fear it may taint your view of him or do you not want to see the character? And I'm not sure what you have heard, either.

But let me say this: the abuse this character dishes out is all verbal IIRC. He's just a socially powerful man in 1903 and he knows it, thus allowing him to be a jackass to anyone.

I used to call this feature "The Ten Best Movies of the Year That I Saw,"

The Menu Option reads Best Movies of the Year. Perhaps "The Best Movies We Saw This Year"

And as far as a living ballot - I'm not *quite* sure I'm following what you mean, but it sounds like too much trouble.

Part of the problem is literally "Awards Season" - all the so-called best movies are put out in such a small window of time, and normally many aren't even released wide until after the beginning of the year.

And honestly, I didn't even realize you'd meant "that we'd seen" (though it definitely answers my question as to why Nomadland was on your list).

Evie Totty | January 2, 2022
Aaaand this is a note to myself so I can get reviews in for the rest of my 2021 movies.

As I was looking tbrough the list, I was sad that I'd left out Cruella, definitely one of the best movies released last year.

Scott Hardie | January 2, 2022
Power of the Dog: I meant that Cumberbatch's character is an asshole and I don't want to spend two hours in the company of an asshole. I go out of my way to avoid people like that in real life, so it's hard to talk myself into watching a movie about them, even a good one.

Living ballot: I meant that the voting would never truly close, and that you could continue revising your ballot forever. That just doesn't hold the same appeal to me, but maybe I just haven't ever really considered it.

Awards season: I hear you! It's why I insist on dating a film according to its widest release date, since so many "prestige" films don't reach viewers like us until late winter or spring. That still leaves us little time to see Christmas-week releases, but a line has to be drawn somewhere.

Keeping track of films seen: I'm glad that you have a system for remembering too. :-) I'm pretty good about reviewing a movie within 24 hours of seeing it (and the annual ballot remembers everything I reviewed), but even if I wasn't, I'm also pretty good about rating everything in IMDb, and I could pull that data as needed. In fact, IMDb helps me sort my ballot at the end of the year, since its ten-point rating is more precise than TMR's three-point rating, and it's helpful for comparing my contemporary reaction to a semi-forgotten early-year film against something more recent.

Evie Totty | January 2, 2022
LOL I don't have a system, that's why I missed some films!

I'll have to bother to make an IMDB account, lol.

I understand what you mean about Power. I can't add anything without spoiling though. I hope you change you mind so we can discuss. I will add a spoiler review though.

And I feel like the balloting system is fine the way it is. :)

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