The Best Reviewed Movies of 2021 So Far

With the first quarter of 2021 now behind us, let’s have a look at the films released so far this year that were scored the best of the best by IGN’s critics.But first, a few notes: IGN rates its movies on a scale of 0-10. The “best reviewed” movies listed here all scored 8 or above. The IGN review scale labels any film scored 8 as “great,” 9 as “amazing,” 10 as “masterpiece”. That said, read on for the best movies of 2021 so far — listed in score order — from the documentary about a play version of a beloved film classic, Alien on Stage, to a breakthrough for the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise to Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League and much more…

Best Reviewed Movies of 2021

Alien on Stage

Grade: 8

Read the review: “Whether you’re a theater lover, who aches for playhouses to reopen, a cosplayer who yearns for the return of Comic-Con, or a sci-fi fan who dreams of making an Alien of your own, Alien on Stage is a must-see. Harvey and Kummer are fans who fell hard for this unique production, and so made it their passion project to share it with the wider world. Perhaps in keeping true to the values of its central troupe, they chose not to indulge in the high theatrics of potential failure or possibly snarky hipster takes. Still, I’d have liked to see the filmmakers and their fascination have become more involved in the plot, fleshing out how one weird dream grew into something bigger than a family project, or a community event, or a one-night-only special. As is, this doc scratches at some greater truth about creativity, community, and fan culture, but never quite breaks through to a brilliant conclusion. Nonetheless, Alien on Stage is alive with personality, heart, and humor, making it an out-of-this-world delight.”

Bad Trip

Grade: 8

Read the review: “André and company give a familiar premise fresh verve with an onslaught of outrageous pranks that would do Jackass proud. André and Howrey share crackling chemistry that weaves together the friendship at the film’s core, while heralded scene-stealer Haddish embodies a badass who can make us cackle. Remarkably, the unwitting witnesses to their mayhem are not regarded just as marks, but as co-stars, who pop with one-liners, memorable reactions, and shining humanity. (Hot tip: stay through the credits to see what happened in real life once the pranks were wrapped.) Within all this, Sakurai winks at movie tropes, while recognizing why these predictable plot points are so satisfying. Like other prank-centered comedies (see Borat 1& 2), there is a clunkiness to the construction, where prank sequences are abruptly abandoned to jump to a new scenario. … Ultimately, despite its dead ends, Bad Trip is a ridiculously fun ride.”

Dead Pigs

Grade: 8
Read the review: “A great first feature from Cathy Yan, Dead Pigs paints a vivid backdrop of globalization, wealth inequality, and the anxieties of a dual Eastern and Western existence. With these complexities in mind, it forces its idiosyncratic characters into personal and financial battles which often feel unwinnable.”

Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time

Grade: 8

Read the review: “Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time is a breakthrough for the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise. It takes us to new places, both in terms of locales and emotions we may not typically associate with the series. The rather lengthy 2 hours, 34-minute runtime allows the characters we know and love to move beyond the emotional and interpersonal hangups that previously defined their arcs. The themes of hope and positivity introduced are a welcome change for the franchise, and help give a sense of closure for the characters we’ve come to know and love. A sometimes inscrutable final act overflowing with extremely busy visuals and a never-ending barrage of new in-universe terms is the only major gripe in an otherwise satisfying and life-affirming finale to this beloved series.”

The Fabulous Filipino Brothers

Grade: 8

Read the review: “There’s a lot of ambition and passion in this project, but not everything comes together here. The theme of “love” is loosely threaded, looping in stories of familial duty to romantic fantasy, unapologetic lust, and tender ardor. So, the voiceover is leaned on pretty heavily to stitch together a grand conclusion. Still, the film is undeniably fun, studded with hijinks and some truly jaw-dropping gags. The siblings’ screenplay smartly slides back and forth through time, allowing the pace to be dictated by tone instead of chronology. So while you’re still stunned or chuckling over one bold button, an even wackier set-up saunters in. Over the end credits, family movies show the brothers in their youth, a four-person dance group busting moves in sync and mesmerizing. That teamwork and energy are recaptured in The Fabulous Filipino Brothers, creating a comedy that is warm, outlandish, and entertaining.”

Finding ‘Ohana

Grade: 8
Read the review: “Finding ‘Ohana is a superb entry into the annals of kid-fronted adventure. The familiarity of concept and character welcomes you into the cozy romp of it all but provides surprises and spectacle unique to its Hawaiian environment. There are laughs and thrills aplenty, spiked with a bit of pathos, but not so much to derail the fun.”

I Care A Lot

Grade: 8

Read the review: “You might be surprised how uncomfortable I Care A Lot makes you at the outset, before it steers more into noir territory, or that it doesn’t have much more to say about elder abuse than what it initially dangles in front of you. Overall, though, this contest of wicked wills is a vibrant, penetrating Pandora’s Box of predicaments and likable yet evil central characters, played with satirical skill by Rosamund Pike and Peter Dinklage. Characters who, to varying degrees, the movie does its best to trick you into rooting for – against your better instincts – as they step on whoever they have to to get to the top.”

Judas and the Black Messiah

Grade: 8
Read the review: “The insecurities of informant Bill O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield) make for an uneasy platform, upon which director Shaka King places the weighty presence of Panther leader Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), who delivers fiery speeches on par with Hollywood’s most powerful orations. Driven by its performances, and smuggling revolutionary politics into “award season” prestige, Judas and the Black Messiah makes for a powerful (if at times dramatically rickety) retelling of a violent chapter of US history.”


Grade: 8
Read the review: “David is Lee Isaac Chung’s childhood self-insert. He is the audience’s window both into Chung’s memories and into his anxieties as a child of two worlds who never feels fully at home in either one. But more than just a retrospective of himself (and his relationship with his sprightly grandmother), Minari feels like Chung gazing into the past to recognize and empathize with the kind of hardships and sacrifices his immigrant parents had to endure. In the process, he creates a riveting drama about hope, family, and the difficulties of change.”


Grade: 8
Read the review: “‘Bob Odenkirk: Action Hero’ definitely wasn’t something I expected in my life when this year started, but it turns out it’s exactly what was missing. His role here allows the actor another fascinating turn in an acting career fairly filled with them. Yes, it’s gruesome and violent, but it’s also wickedly funny and surprisingly poignant. And while those Keanu comparisons are always going to be there, Nobody easily holds a candle to Wick.”

PG: Psycho Goreman

Grade: 8
Read the review: “PG: Psycho Goreman is campy, ridiculous, and low-budget, and it absolutely owns it. With fantastically old-school practical creature effects, grindhouse sensitivities, a surprisingly emotional core, and a rap song recapping the plot that plays over the closing credits, this gory satire of ‘80s and ‘90s kids films pulls at the heartstrings before ripping them out and eating them for breakfast.”

Raya and the Last Dragon

Grade: 8
Read the review: “Raya and the Last Dragon is a beautifully animated, action-packed hero’s journey, and a great next evolution of Disney’s modern-day princess films. Where princesses like Moana and Elsa spent their films learning to trust in their powers, Disney’s first Southeast Asian princess Raya is already an excellent fighter, capable of besting even the strongest of warriors (including her nemesis and fellow princess Namaari). This gives the film space to focus on themes of trust, and the importance of finding a support system of friends and family, as well as truly tackling concepts like grief — the thematic mainstays of Disney’s princess films that haven’t always been adequately explored.”

Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror

Grade: 8

Read the review: “‘This is a rare festival release that actually benefits from the at-home presentation, as audiences can actually pause and make a list of the hundreds of films they should definitely check out after the documentary. Though it’s hard to recommend this film to people without at least a passing interest in folk horror or folklore, those who stick with Woodlands Dark will find an expansive, practical, entertaining history lesson in a popular yet ill-defined subgenre of horror and come out the other side with a newfound appreciation for it.”

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Grade: 8
Read the Review: “Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a surprise vindication for the director and the fans that believed in his vision. With a mature approach to its superhero drama, better-realized antagonists, and improved action, Snyder’s version of Justice League saves the movie from the dustbin of history, something that likely only could’ve happened on a streaming platform like HBO Max. Though not every addition feels totally necessary, and some new visual effects stick out as unpolished, it’s hard to overstate how much more enjoyable this version of Justice League is.”

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar

Grade: 9
Read the review: “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is extraordinary because – like its fluffy-haired heroines – it makes no apologies for what it is. Mumolo and Wiig have created a story that is proudly deranged, setups that are savagely silly, and centered all that around two delightfully daffy caricatures of middle-aged women that feel fresh yet familiar. In the playful mugging of Star or the funny fretting of Barb, we might recognize family members, friends, neighbors, or even – in jolting moments – ourselves. And this unrepentantly silly comedy says that’s okay! Barb and Star might be ridiculous but they are also wonderful, warm, and happy. And their film not only celebrates that but also gives us an addictive taste of what is to be Barb and Star at Vista Del Mar.”

Derek DelGaudio’s In and Of Itself

Grade: 9
Read the review: “Derek DelGaudio’s In and Of Itself is a beautiful, powerful performance that employs art, illusion, storytelling, and its own audience to explore aspects of identity, isolation, and our own desperate drive to figure out who we are as individuals. There’s nothing quite like it, which, as goes the uniqueness of humanity, is the point.”

The Vigil

Grade: 9
Read the review: “Intense and atmospheric, Keith Thomas’ The Vigil invigorates demonic horror by centering on Jewish traditions, especially those concerning death. Part haunted house, part tech thriller, and entirely grounded by Dave Davis’ harrowing performance, the film never loses sight of questions of cultural identity, and the ways it intersects with personal and collective trauma.”

The Father

Grade: 10
Read the review: “The Father is a devastating masterwork by first-time director Florian Zeller, based on his play Le Père. The film follows an old man with dementia (Anthony Hopkins) and manipulates its editing and set design until you can longer trust your perceptions — much like its main character. It features career-best work from all involved, including Hopkins, as a man trying desperately to cling to his old life, and Olivia Colman as his daughter, who cares for him at great personal cost.”What are the best movies you’ve seen so far this year? Let’s discuss in the comments!


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