2021 – Things I Enjoyed (to some degree)

Yesterday I listed a bunch of things about 2022 that I’m looking forward to–“shallow” things if you will, such as movies and TV shows.

Not wanting 2021 to feel left out, now we’ll also list similarly shallow things that the year gave us that I watched and mostly enjoyed. Twenty-one things specifically, in a rough countdown style…

There may be a few spoilers here if there are things you haven’t seen yet.

21. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

By far the worst comic book / superhero / sci-fi thing I saw this year. I include it on the countdown because it’s so easy to place, and because watching it was still something I wanted to do each week. But it’s got so many storytelling problems that in spite of its earnestness and good action staging, I’d never call it good. I’m still grateful for it though because it gives me something that’s easy to make fun of.

20. Space Jam: A New Legacy

Yup, I saw Space Jam: A New Legacy. And I saw it in the theatres. It was a choice between that and Jungle Cruise. You can judge me for my choice all you want. Space Jam: A New Legacy is a pretty dumb movie, but it gave me some more of the Warner Bros. characters that I enjoy and a fun cameo by Michael B. Jordan. And it was less annoying than Falcon and Winter Soldier.

19. The Eternals

The Eternals wasn’t bad but it was too crowded to be engaging and too high-minded to be truly fun. Still, the concepts were interesting and I’m at least a bit curious to see where it’s going.

18. Black Widow

I think this movie sets the record for how many exploding cars someone can be in and still survive. It’s a silly story but still pretty enjoyable, and it was nice to see Scarlet Johansson in the title part one last time.

17. Only Murders in the Building

An interesting take on a mystery story, this dramatic-comedy starring Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez was a winner for me.

16. Endeavour

Speaking of mysteries, the eighth (and final?) season of Endeavour came out this year. The stories are not always perfect but I love the performances and characterizations by Shaun Evans and Roger Allam as young Morse and his boss, DCI Thursday.

15. Loki

Not bad, for sure, but kind of annoying. I liked the characters and some of the surprising places that the show brought us, but the ending felt like story was sacrificed majorly in order to set up future developments. It gave the whole thing a rushed, unnatural feel.

14. The Snyder Cut

Such a strange animal. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is not the movie we would have gotten if the original director had finished the job–it’s the movie we did get when Warner Bros. decided it was worth its time and money allowing Snyder to return to the material and remix it again. Distinctly better than the theatrical cut, but also distinctly weirder, I quite enjoyed it. But then I love the source characters so much that the chance to see another take on them holds a lot of appeal.

13. Star Trek: Lower Decks

Season two hit the streaming services this year, and continued the irreverent but somehow still reverential look at the Star Trek universe that the show had begun in season one. Sometimes it goes a little too far with the “adult content”, but I rate this show higher than either Discovery or Picard at delivering enjoyable Star Trek.

12. WandaVision

I did not think the end of WandaVision, with the whole battle against Agatha, was very good or logical or interesting. But I was highly intrigued and enjoying it a lot before that. I liked the introduction of Monica Rambeau and I’d be all over a spin-off starring Agent Jimmy Woo!

11. Godzilla vs. Kong

It’s not a great movie, precisely, but still might be the best depiction I could hope for where a giant ape punches a giant nuclear lizard in the face.

10. Luca

There is a lot of Disney and Pixar content from this year that I didn’t see, but this is one that I did. It’s a sweet coming-of-age fantasy film that we enjoyed as a family.

9. Ryan George on Youtube

Full disclosure, I’m having a hard time coming up with 21 things. But also full disclosure, Ryan George’s Youtube content–both on his own channel and his Pitch Meeting videos on Screen Rant, made up a lot of my most fun viewing this past year. He’s my favorite guy on the internet at the moment.

8. What If…?

Not every episode was a winner but many were. The series explored what “might have been”, but the real appeal was just the opportunity to see lots of favorite MCU characters doing their thing again, even in remixed situations. The series contains the MCU’s best take on Captain Marvel, and possibly the best take on Black Widow.

7. Doctor Who: Flux

Against all expectations Chris Chibnall managed to tell a really fun and legitimately epic Doctor Who story. It was not perfect by any means, but so much better than the last two seasons.

6. The Mysterious Benedict Society

The characters don’t all look like my imagination of the characters from the book, but they feel right. The show has a quirky and fun style and is suitable for a young audience; it was really enjoyable to watched. The fact that it didn’t quite nail the climactic scene for me was something I could overlook. Tony Hale would make a pretty good Doctor in Doctor Who, if the character could be American. Actually, Benedict shows us that he’d make a pretty good Master as well. (Now I’m actually surprised nobody on Doctor Who has tried to have the Doctor and the Master played by the same actor.)

5. Lost in Space

The third and final season of the rebooted space epic hit and continued the show’s blend of family dynamics with survive-by-your-smarts storytelling. It’s not perfect but I genuinely love these characters so it was great fun to watch. I also liked seeing the story brought to such a definitive conclusion.

4. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

A really fun martial arts superhero film which manages to tell another Marvel origin story and still keep it fresh and exciting. The bus fight is a real highlight and Simu Liu is a wonderfully appealing presence.

3. Hawkeye

By far the MCU Disney+ series that I got the most enjoyment from. Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld are hugely watchable. And even though the last episode was weaker then the rest, the show remained much more consistent than the other live action MCU shows.

2. Dune

I actually found this movie kind of tedious, but I think that’s just because I was so tired at the time I was watching it and I kept drifting off. Really, there’s nothing wrong with it and there is a lot that is right. Good acting and good production design which is otherwordly without just being gross (as in the 1980’s David Lynch version).

1. Spider-Man: No Way Home

A movie that was better than it had any right to be, even with it’s massive storytelling flaws. The moment that a certain wall-crawler hopped through a portal and whipped off his mask to reveal you-know-who is one of the best fan-pleasing bits I’ve seen in a superhero film.

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