[You can read all of the Mercury’s “Top Stories of 2021” here.—eds]
Whether you need a good laugh, a good cry, or a good “what the fuck did I just watch?”, the Mercury’s culture writers have got you covered with this list of nine movies that were our favorites this year.
This unexpected Hulu-released comedy gave me some of the biggest laughs of my year. Think Lady Bird or Booksmart mixed with Superbad: A gross-out teen girl comedy about two high school misfits grappling with crushes, sexuality, drugs, and the oppressive inaccessibility of contraceptives in their small town. Plan B features a cast of relative unknowns, but I think they’re all destined for big things in the comedy world. — BLAIR STENVICK
Despite how much I wanted to cause chaos in the Mercury offices by picking The Green Knight, which may be a close second, I had to go with the Portland-set Pig. It's a genuinely transcendent piece of filmmaking that grapples with loss, love, food, and yes, Nicolas Cage trying to recover his lost truffle pig. The more I learned about the emotion that went into every aspect of this film, the more I’ve found myself in awe of it. It’s a remarkable work of art made with all the care of a three course meal. — CHASE HUTCHINSON
Following in Clue’s footsteps, Werewolves Within is a horror-comedy movie based on the video game of the same name, where a town of quirky residents must discover who among them is the werewolf terrorizing the town. The story’s made more complicated by the proposed pipeline that already divides the town, and neighbors who hold their own secrets. Reminiscent of Knives Out, it was easy for me to fall for this campy, slasher romp that features a genre-star-studded cast. It’s one of those movies you don’t expect to be as entertaining as it is, and is a hit at movie nights. — ALIYA HALL
House of Gucci
Yes, I’ve heard the criticisms of this 2.5+ hour of a movie, and I have to admit that they’re all valid: Jared Leto is annoying, 30 minutes could’ve been trimmed from it, and Ridley Scott’s directing left much to be desired. But guess what? I don’t care about any of that, because House of Gucci is simply a delivery device for Lady Gaga’s performance. She’s riveting, stylish, and downright iconic as Patrizia Gucci from the opening voiceover to the final courtroom sentencing. Seeing this film in theaters the day after Thanksgiving was a treat even more delicious than a plate of leftovers. — BLAIR STENVICK
I have no idea who this movie is for, because it's so exactly my shit that I can't picture it being for anyone else. So you're telling me that the new version of crude oil is a drug that lets you see the future, and that drug is the poop of a giant sandworm? And there's a whole Game-of-Thrones-in-space dynamic of families betraying each other to take control of it? And it's made by my favorite contemporary director? And Zendaya is briefly in it? After the end of democracy, climate change, and the pandemic, my biggest fear was that not enough people would see this movie to get the sequel greenlit. Well, one out of four crises averted ain't bad. — CAMPY DRAPER
The Harder They Fall
First time feature filmmaker Jeymes Samuel blew me away with his feature debut The Harder They Fall. While this won’t be knocking Tombstone off its perch as my favorite Western, Samuel has taken the phrase “style over substance” and turned it into an absolute positive. He cleverly took a roster of A-list Black actors and fit them into a spaghetti-Western style thrill ride. Collectively, they paid homage to the forgotten Black western figures who should have always been mentioned in lore alongside the likes of Billy the Kid and Jesse James. But what sets this movie apart is its dynamic score and banger needle drops, with assistance from executive producer Jay-Z. — RAY GILL, JR.
Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar
This movie was fucking weird. It reminded me of watching Napoleon Dynamite, Austin Powers or Anchorman as a millennial highschooler, in that every line became something I wanted to reference ad-nauseum. I won’t try to explain the plot, because you wouldn’t believe me anyway. Just pop this one on when you’re in the mood to suspend disbelief and laugh at the bizarre antics of Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo. — BLAIR STENVICK
Boys from County Hell
This sophomore effort from Irish director Chris Baugh catapulted me violently backward to the first time I saw Shaun of the Dead. In both films, a gaggle of heavily accented slacker barflies navigate a horror movie landscape faithfully recreated and cleverly reimagined. But it's not the superficial similarities that got me, but rather that exciting alchemy of reverence and renovation. Blood spurts from eyeballs and snakes in rivulets across the floor, at times rising up from the earth itself in a way that feels quintessentially Irish. Gore is employed with flourish and élan, and these boys splatter it with innovative gusto. — BEN COLEMEN
The Green Knight
The story of a young aspiring knight setting out to make good on a regretful yuletide promise. A medieval road trip that will all but certainly result in his death. The Green Knight is an adaptation of a centuries-old Arthurian legend, but the themes of cowardice, bravery, altruism, and egotism at its core are timeless and universal. Dripping with gorgeous symbolic imagery, this film stunned me with its poetic yet simple storytelling. It's the kind of soul-stripping morality tale you wish you could make the trolls in your Twitter mentions go on. — CAMPY DRAPER