The Best Films of 2021 So Far: A Year of Hidden Gems

It’s only been 69 days since the Oscars. It therefore feels a weird to be picking the best films of 2021 so far. Nevertheless, we’re already halfway there. There are some great little films and even some great big ones…provided one can access them. The challenges of access mean that many of That Shelf's writers have some “2020 films” among their picks for the best films of 2021 so far. Simply put, it was virtually impossible to see many 2020 contenders in 2020 without access to awards screeners. Writers were therefore permitted to be liberal with their eligibility this year.

In many cases, films only went into commercial release in 2021. (Even our collective pick for the best film of…

  • Judas and the Black Messiah
  • The Mitchells vs. The Machines
  • Slaxx
  • Godzilla vs. Kong
  • A Quiet Place Part II
  • Luca
  • Saint Maud
  • In the Earth
  • Mainstream
  • The Father
  • Riders of Justice
  • Minari
  • Nobody
  • Malcolm & Marie
  • Flee
  • Summer of Soul (...or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
  • Quo vadis, Aida?
  • Land
  • Moffie
  • In the Heights
  • Catch the Fair One
  • President
  • Mass
  • Psycho Goreman
  • Little Fish