The NBR is the National Board Of Review. Established in 1909, the committee picks 10 movies (usually) that they deem the best of the calendar year. One of the movies they select for their list is elevated to the movie of the year.

I have made it a mission of mine to complete as many NBR lists for as many years as possible. It is a slow and grueling process, but we are getting there. If you are curious in the lists, there is a fabulous Wikipedia page they has everything you need. I also have a tab on my Stanko Movie List – Google Sheets.

Below are the movies (listed in alphabetical order) that NBR deemed the best of 2021.

  • Belfast
  • Don’t Look Up
  • Dune
  • King Richard
  • Licorice Pizza
  • The last Duel
  • Nightmare Alley
  • Red Rocket
  • The Tragedy Of Macbeth
  • West Side Story

Licorice Pizza was named the 2021 NBR movie of the year.

My Rankings Of the 2021 NBR Top Movies

10. Don’t Look Up

Don’t Look Up is a mess of a movie. It has a fuck ton of people in it, but famous faces don’t make for outstanding results. Leonardo DiCaprio gives his least impressive performance in years but it was nice to see Jennifer Lawrence back in the big-movie fold. Don’t Look Up is preachy, weirdly edited and supremely unforgettable for a Best Picture nominee.

9. Red Rocket

While I had a really hard time watching Red Rocket, there is no denying that it is a well made movie. I can not stop thinking about how this movie made me feel, which maybe means I was too harsh on it too begin with?

Red Rocket is the perfect example of a movie I respect, don’t like, would never watch again, but would still recommend to people.


8. King Richard

I would love to see the numbers of King Richard on streaming platforms before and after The Oscars. It probably had a peak right after The Slap, but now it is almost forgotten?

The fact of the matter is that the movie is very good, and Will Smith is very good, but very good is its limit. This is a very good sports movie and one that the whole family can see. I still think Jon Bernthal is the best part of the movie.

7. West Side Story

The Romeo & Juliet part of West Side Story still irks me every time. I do not like the story. What I do like is outstanding visuals and top notch acting. Steven Spielberg is maybe the only person to be able to pull off a remake of this movie. He nailed it. And I am ecstatic that Ariana DeBose was introduced into my life. She is a distinct young talent that will be rising the ranks alongside Rachel Zelger.

6. Belfast

This one is about the story, and the visuals. Kenneth Branagh continued his roller coaster career with this seven-category nominated picture. Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds were both outstanding in their short time on the screen and each were nominated for supporting roles.

It’s the story of different generations experiencing a traumatic event that interpreting it differently. The idea of staying in your hometown no matter what or leaving it longingly in your rearview window is a difficult thing to put onto screen.

5. Nightmare Alley

Nightmare Alley is very good, and then the ending takes it over to the next level. I still remember my reaction when Bradley Cooper does his fantastic facial acting. It is truly outstanding stuff.

Guillermo Del Toro is a vibes connoisseur and the aesthetic during the beginning of Nightmare Alley sucks you in immediately. And the therapy sessions (well mind-battles) between Blanchett & Cooper is outstanding stuff.

4. The Last Duel

Why did The Last Duel get slept on so badly? Was it because it was a box office bomb? This Ridley Scott story is unique the way it is told, and it is filled with some damn good performances. Ben Affleck is living his best life, and Jodie Cromer is legit great in the most important role.

Perhaps the audience is very niche. It is a period piece drama with extreme violence. Tough to find a mass appeal for that now a days. Braveheart (1995) had a simple story to tell; good vs. evil. The Last Duel is for sure a bit more complicated.

3. Licorice Pizza

Licorice Pizza was named the best movie of the year by NBR. It is not my number one, but damn it is really good. Alana Haim is a revelation as the sexy cool Alana, and her relationship with Gary is wonderfully weird.

Somehow, someway, Licorice Pizza made me buy into a super wide age gap relationship between two very different individuals. Thank you Paul Thomas Anderson.

2. The Tragedy Of Macbeth

The Tragedy Of Macbeth got mentioned at work the other day and I immediately screamed out “SHADOWS!”

This movie looks remarkable. It looks so god damn unique. It is menacing. It is piercing. It’s supreme simplicity forces the audience to pay attention.

Oh, and Denzel Washington is absolutely dynamite. This movie surprised me the most of all on the list, and I would recommend it to everyone.

1. Dune

Dune controlled my world for a year. I read the book, dove into the lore, watched too many YouTube videos and even created flashcards. Dune is adult Star Wars and it is so god damn beautiful.

Denis Villeneuve is working on his pet project and it’s beautiful. Hans Zimmer creates a soundtrack that is wholly unique. It is a deep world with lore that could go for days. And now with Dune: Part Two coming out later this year, yes get me all excited.

Ranking NBR’s Top Movies From 2014
Ranking NBR’s Top Movies From 2015
Rankings NBR’s Top Movies From 2021

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