As Hollywood continues its systemic eradication of the mid-budget movie, most of what remains is micro-budget indies and mega-budget blockbusters. Some incredibly talented filmmakers managed to make the best of an increasingly binary industry in 2021.
The 10 best shows of 2021.
2020 saw an unprecedented number of titles delayed to 2021 and 2022 in response to COVID-19. Bond, Black Widow, and a host of other films that don’t feature European superspies were pushed to greener ($$) pastures. What remained was a surprisingly robust group of movies.
Santa Monica-based game developer Naughty Dog released The Last of Us in a nearly unrecognizable world in 2013. President Obama’s second term provided a backdrop of optimism—a serendipitous juxtaposition for austere art. Players controlled Joel (Troy Baker), the survivor of a zombie outbreak, as he trekked across the country with Ellie (Ashley Johnson), a girl immune to the pathogen. Joel and Ellie journeyed from Boston to Salt Lake City to deliver Ellie to a medical team that could turn her antibodies into a cure.
2020 was abysmal across the board. Well, except for television, of course. Because the one thing we all needed was more television.
The end of a console generation usually signals a wave of indelible experiences. After years of learning a system’s capabilities, resourceful game developers craft the console’s grandiose swan songs.
Disney, the IP empire behind Marvel, Star Wars, and remakes of its own animated classics, was responsible for an asinine, unprecedented 80 percent of box office hits in 2019. The dominance of a single multimedia conglomerate is counter to the oligopoly that we’ve grown accustomed to in the entertainment industry (and, broadly speaking, the United States).
With stars like Mahershala Ali, Toni Collette, and Meryl Streep slumming it on the small screen, 2019 was another year dominated by miniseries, anthologies, and bite-sized seasons. Although a handful of new faces were able to enter the collective consciousness, the year’s best work came from familiar names and shows.
“Top heavy” may end up being the best descriptor for cinema in 2018. It was a better year than average at the movies, but the crème de la crème made it truly memorable. A black-and-white foreign film about the women who raise us, a documentary about skateboarding and more, and a live-action, animated bear elevated 2018.
Whether you like exploring story-rich environments as prisoners on the lam, immersing yourself in a role-playing game developed in-part by a powerhouse Japanese animation studio, or singing sea shanties with your friends on the hunt for buried treasure, 2018 truly offered something for everyone. 2018’s varied slate of games stood out to me as the most diverse field in recent memory, and yet, I can’t remember a year where the Game of the Year winner was so clear-cut.