The Spin’s Top Ten Films of 2021


Well, the Oscars are tonight, so I thought it time to share my long gestating Top Ten list from 2021. The pandemic and parenting have made film watching harder, though somehow I was able see The Paw Patrol Movie (which just narrowly missed a spot on the list) at least fifteen times. 1917 is still the last film I saw in a theater and it feels like that was back in 1917. Long gone are the days of me being first in line on opening night. But thankfully streaming services have kept me up to speed (at my own speed), though with limited time, I need to be very selective in my viewing.

A few of these films were pleasant surprises (Nightmare Alley) while others I knew I would love given the pedigree (Dune, Licorice Pizza). The ones that resonated most, oddly, were shot in black and white, with the film of the year, Passing, making the choice for obvious symbolic reasons.

Without further adieu…The Spin’s Top Ten Films of 2021:

  1. Passing – dir. Rebecca Hall
  2. C’mon C’mon – dir. Mike Mills
  3. Nightmare Alley – dir. Guillermo Del Toro
  4. Licorice Pizza – dir. Paul Thomas Anderson
  5. Dune – dir. Denis Villenueve
  6. The Tragedy of Macbeth – dir. Joel Coen
  7. CODA – dir. Sian Heder
  8. The Dig – dir. Simon Stone
  9. House of Gucci – dir. Ridley Scott
  10. The Eyes of Tammy Faye – dir. Michael Showalter

Rankings and reviews by D. H. Schleicher


  1. Dave,

    It seems to me that CODA is the least talked-about of all the Oscar-nominated movies, but I honestly feel it may be my favorite. I watched it on a whim back when it first hit Apple+ and fell in love with it quickly. All the performances were uniformly excellent and the story resonated with me in a way I still can’t quite explain. I really hope more people search this out.

    The only other movie on your list that I’ve seen is DUNE and you already know we agreed whole-heartedly on it. I’m finding it harder and harder to keep up with all the content on streaming services. There’s just so much to watch and only so many hours in the day to watch it.

    I’ve made it back to the theater several times since seeing A QUIET PLACE PART II on Memorial Day. It felt good sitting in the theater and having that massive screen in front of me and surround sound in my ears once again, even though I was wearing a mask and tried to pick a showing where there weren’t many people in it. But my fear is that theatrical moviegoing is on a slow march to irrelevancy, or at least it may end up becoming more of a niche experience, like people who still buy vinyl records instead of CDs or downloading music. I hope that doesn’t become the case. Movie theaters are my happy place.


    • You called it with CODA winning! Let’s not talk about the rest of the telecast…

      I’m looking forward to taking my son to the big screen some day, but I don’t know that I’ll ever return to the theaters with the frequency I used to. It will be interesting to see what role theaters continue to play at large…they seem to be bouncing back. But streaming has really democratized viewing. Perhaps the big screen will be more for the really special events.

  2. As always, an audacious list from you David! I was not a fan of your Numbers 5, 6, 9 or 10, but I respect and understand opinions that counter mine on each. I do love CODA and LICORICE PIZZA, and would myself absolutely have DRIVE MY CAR, THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD, WHAT DO WE SEE WHEN WE LOOK AT THE SKY?, SUMMER OF 85, WEST SIDE STORY and BELFAST, but again this comes down to personal taste and value judgement. Always look forward to your lists.

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