What I Watched in 2021

Aside from dozens of baseball games, I spent some time watching movies and TV series this year.

The Queens Gambit – A mini series about a young girl who is a chess nerd. Sounds dull but it was very entertaining.

Luther – A British TV series about a detective who can’t seem to play by the rules. Idris Elba plays the title character and he’s brilliant.

Midnight Sky – George Clooney is the last man on earth. Well worth watching.

News of the World – A young girl is kidnapped by the Kiowa. Tom Hanks plays the man who takes her home. Could have been a subplot in Lonesome Dove.

Nomadland – This won best picture in 2020. I found it depressing. A woman travels in her creaky van through the American desert searching for like-minded souls. The visuals reminded me of my 2019 bike trip across Utah and Nevada.

A Man Called Ove – The Swedish movie of the Fredrik Bachman novel. Spot on. Soon to be made into an American movies reportedly starting Tom Hanks as Ove. Don’t wait. Watch this one.

Wandavision – The bizarre mini series centered on the post-blip life of the Scarlet Witch character in the Avengers. Good acting. Truly weird story.

I Care a Lot – Rosamund Pike stars as a woman who bilks the elderly out of their fortunes. I’ll watch her in anything. This was entertaining but depressing.

Britt-Marie Was Here – A woman of a certain age gets divorced and moves away from the city to a small town where she becomes the clueless soccer coach for a bunch of ne’er do wells. Another movie based on a Bachman book. Casting nails every character. Nicely done.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Chadwick Boseman’s last on-screen film. Didn’t do a thing for me.

Mank – The story of how Herman Mankiewicz wrote Citizen Kane. Gary Oldham plays the title character even though it’s obvious that he’s 20 years too old for the part. Interesting for its historical aspect but not worth the time.

Pieces of a Woman – Vanessa Kirby as a woman who loses a baby in childbirth. Well acted but utterly depressing.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier – A Marvel mini series about the new Captain America. It ain’t Shakespeare.

Concrete Cowboy – Inner city Philadelphia black kids ride horses. A snoozer that even Idris Elba couldn’t save.

My Octopus Teacher – A documentary about a diver who makes friends with an octopus. I am not making this up. Can’t wait for the sequel, My Friend the Squid.

Without Remorse – A star vehicle for Michael B. Jordan. A real dud. I forgot the entire film within a day. Watch him in Friday Night Lights instead.

Lupin – A French series about a man who solves crimes by imitating a character in a 1920s series of kids’ books. Somehow it works. Hoping for another season soon.

Loki – Another Marvel miniseries that didn’t work for me. Owen Wilson, whom I don’t much care for, steals every scene he’s in.

McCartney 1-2-3 – Producer Rick Rubin chats with Paul McCartney about his music. Not much new here for me but it had it’s moments. It’s fun to see Rubin going all fan boy over one of his idols.

Black Widow – The solo outing for ScarJo’s Avengers character. Introduces some characters for future Marvel movies. Glad I didn’t shell out $$ for this at the theater.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – The origin story of a new Avenger, Shang-Chi which apparently means Grasshopper in Cantonese. The first half is totally stolen by Awkwafina. The second half is CGI battle porn. Good cast though. Simu Liu nails the lead. Michele Yeoh, Ben Kingsley, and Tony Leung are fun to watch in anything. First movie in a theater (albeit nearly empty) since the before times.

No Time to Die – Daniel Craig’s final outing as Bond. Kind of a big mess but like most Bond movies very entertaining with many nods to the Bond canon including On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (one of my favorites – don’t at me). Ana de Armas steals a big scene. She should get her own action movie franchise.

Worth – The tru-ish story of the team of people who doled out US government money to the families of 9/11 victims. Michael Keaton, Amy Ryan, and Stanley Tucci are all excellent.

Little Women – Greta Gerwig’s version of the Alcott novel. Not my cup of tea but Gerwig is quite a good director. A terrific cast that even includes July Johnson.

Passing – The story of two black sisters one of whom passes for white in the 1920s in New York. Got great reviews but I’ll be damned if I know why. I didn’t believe the “white” woman for an instant.

Into the Wild – Sean Penn’s movie based on the book by John Krakauer. It’s overlong but days later I could not get it out of my head. Lots of terrific performances.

The Power of the Dog – Benedict Cumberbatch as the bad cowboy brother. Jessie Plemons as the good one. Kirsten Dunst and Jodi Smit-McPhee are also excellent. Not bad except that the terrain of the south island of New Zealand ain’t Montana.

14 Peaks – A documentary about a Nepalese climber who bags the 14 tallest peaks in the world in less than six months, an unheard of feat. I was shivering watching this.

Hawkeye – Yet another Marvel miniseries that I thought didn’t work until Florence Pugh (playing the sister of Black Widow) makes her appearance.

Don’t Look Up – Very funny send up of the idiocy of the intersection of national politics and science. Great script and acting.

Jim Gaffigan, Comedy Monster – A one-hour stand up routine that is funny but not one of Gaffigan’s best.

Spiderman – No Way Home – Better title: Spiderman and the Kitchen Sink. Entertaining. Great to see Alfred Molina back as Doc Ock.

The Lost Daughter – Our choice for New Years Eve. What a downer. I’d watch Olivia Colman in anything though.

2 thoughts on “What I Watched in 2021

  1. I have seen a few of these. Queens Gambit, Luther and don’t look up for example. I also read every day and Netflix just released a series by and author I enjoy, “Stay Close” by Harlan Coben.

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