Aliens are real maybe probably and people are starting to see other human being again! But let’s get to what REALLY matters: 2021 has been so jampacked with tasty entertainment that I couldn’t help but tell all my special friends on the internet about brilliant movies like Psycho Goreman and groundbreaking new TV shows like Invincible.
TV Miniseries; Disney+ – 9 Episodes
When Wandavision debuted on Disney+ earlier this year, Marvel Studios fans had been practically starving for ANYTHING to come from that universe. The people were in love, before quickly turning on the show for not introducing a hundred new and familiar stars from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. No Mr. Fantastic, no Dr. Strange – just pure creative splendor in a series that dared to break the traditional format of all other franchises leading up to this show. Wandavision was magical. My family could not wait to devour every episode that debuted on Friday and it brought back the watercooler conversations that I hadn’t seen since shows like Breaking Bad concluded.
The layers of mystery are peeled back from episode to episode, which are also themed like classic TV genres. We start in the campy 50’s complete with laugh track and work our way up to a showdown that felt just as big and action packed as any Marvel Studios feature length film. Paul Bettany has never been better and Elizabeth Olsen is going to be starring in a ton of her own movies going forward. I loved the series – I don’t know if it needs to be continued in any way, and that’s fine by me. Could this have been a 2.5 hour movie instead? No. Unlike Falcon and The Winter Soldier, which suffered from some of the bloat and filler, Wandavision was made for the episodic format and I hope future Marvel shows took a lot of notes from showrunner Jacqueline Schaeffer.
#9. Solar Opposites
TV Series; Season 2; Hulu – 8 Episodes
Justin Roiland and Mike McMahan were practically daring Hulu to put them on a creative leash during their wild ass and completely unhinged second season of Solar Opposites. Characters now break the 4th wall, much like another fan favorite creation of Roiland’s from the depths of Adult Swim and the series absolutely prides itself on being in the same universe thematically as the world’s most famous adult animated series: Rick and Morty. These things would lead the casual fan to accept Solar Opposites much like how Family Guy fans can accept American Dad for what it is – TOLERABLE AND NOTHING MORE.
WRONG! Solar Opposites is something more. Something special and weird and insanely dark even for an adult animated show. If you were a fan of ‘THE WALL’ from season one (a shrunken society of human prisoners living inside the alien children’s closet) then you’re going to LOVE what they do with that storyline in season two. It absolutely steals the show from the actual aliens themselves and if you aren’t freaking out during the live birth event inside a PEZ dispenser which is BEING ACTIVATED, then get the Hell out.
Movie; Available to Rent on VOD
Better call Bob Odenkirk, Doc Brown and RZA to kick that ass real quick, because I need a sequel to ‘Nobody’ ASAP. Hardcore Henry director Ilya Naishuller has created something very special here with an action film featuring an unexpected hero the likes of which we haven’t seen since we first saw what old ass Liam Neeson was capable of in ‘Taken’. There’s a lot of really cool mythology to unpack in a very short and action packed film like ‘Nobody’, but we get just enough backstory to believe in the insane capabilities that these characters have.
Bob Odenkirk has been a critical darling for years now thanks to his work on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, but if you were to tell me that he was about to become an action star the likes of which rivals John Wick himself, I would have probably believed you… Because we have Aliens now. But seriously, did anyone think Odenkirk was capable of turning into the most believable badass of 2021? Hell no. But cheers to ‘Nobody’ and cheers to seeing Christopher Lloyd kill people with shotguns. It’s about time!
#7. RuPaul’s Drag Race
TV Series; Season 13; VH1 – 16 Episodes
Rupaul’s Drag Race is the Queen of all reality television. Forget Survivor or Big Brother or The Bachelor – all of that crap: bow down to the boldest and most entertaining competition series of all time. Season 13 of Rupaul’s Drag Race was filmed at the height of the COVID 19 pandemic and even though the series was stripped down in many ways, it also delivered one of the best seasons yet with a cast of Drag Queens that will no doubt be popping up on many ALL STARS seasons for years to come. If you thought your favorite TV series was intense, wait till you see how one contestant performs WITH AN OSTOMY BAG. What? Yeah I know.
I’ve been a fan of this franchise for the past year or so and have quickly devoured EVERY season, spin-off and special that they have ever produced. If you have Crave in Canada – add every Rupaul series to your list and watch one episode a night for the next year. It’s a recipe for happiness that is hard to describe. There’s even a documentary episode from season 13 where they showcased how tough it was to film and it’s one of the coolest episodes of any TV series this year: absolutely a must-see hour of TV for anyone curious how reality shows are functioning in this unstable climate.
#6. TIE: Zack Snyder’s Justice League & Army of The Dead
Movies; Streaming Now on HBO Max & Netflix
Zack Snyder is BACK baby! We finally got to see his insane 4 hour long cut of Justice League, which still blows my mind. I remember watching the Barry Allen rescuing Iris sequence and saying outloud in the room “Joss Whedon should be thrown in jail for cutting this scene.” I still stand by that as cruel as it may be. Snyder’s Justice League may have been a bloated crazyfest but it was MY bloated crazyfest and I loved it. It is hands down better than Whedon’s soulless cut and visually one of the most breathtaking big budget action films ever made. It isn’t perfect but it kicks ass and OH YEAH, we get to see Darkseid for the first time ever in live-action and he does NOT disappoint.
Snyder’s other big release this year is the criminally underrated (yes already, because people are A-Holes) Army of The Dead, which is ON NETFLIX when it could have been released in like 2019 and made 300+ million dollars in theaters – easily. The zombie heist film may have been a half hour too long, but that didn’t stop me from relishing in Snyder’s genius music choices (thank you Richard Cheese on the intro for that Dawn of The Dead 2004 nod) or losing my shit at the zombie king riding an undead horse into battle. I love classic zombies, but I’m ALL IN on the new shit. Snyder has also buried some wild lore into Army of The Dead, setting the stage for future films, a prequel, an animated series – robot zombies are a thing? OK, sign me up sure whatever, just let Snyder do his thing and screw the haters. This movie was FUN.
#5. Resident Alien
TV Series; Season One; SyFy – 10 Episodes
So it looks like Aliens, or the existence of ACTUAL ALIENS, is a hot topic in 2021 since you know, the Pentagon has confirmed that UFO’s are real. That said, Resident Alien, is still a beautiful hidden gem found on a network, that is notorious for cancelling amazing shows in their prime (remember Deadly Class? I still sure as shit do and I’m still mad as Hell over canning that great of a show on a cliffhanger). Well, the Alan Tudyk headlined Resident Alien has broken that cancellation curse and has been renewed for a second season. I’m honestly speechless, because this series was SO GOOD that I just assumed SyFy would kill it as soon as they could.
The small-town setting of Resident Alien is a major part of why the show works so well. Even though this is absolutely Tudyk’s finest work as a leading man (every line is so awkward and painful and jarring and PERFECT), the show is loaded with a wonderful supporting cast who are all just as fascinating as the alien posing as the local town doctor. Based on the comic book from Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse — Resident Alien has taken on new life as a TV show and introduced me to some of the best surprises of 2021, including actor Corey Reynolds who plays the town Sheriff “Big Black”. This dude is a revelation. I see him headlining his own series one day because the guy can’t help but steal every sequence he’s a part of.
#4. The Mitchells Vs The Machines
Movie; Streaming Now on Netflix
I knew that The Mitchells Vs The Machines was going to be special the minute I saw that trailer for ‘Connected’ over a year ago. The movie eventually changed names, dropped on Netflix and absolutely delivered on that preview’s promise of something incredible in spite of all the release hurdles. The year’s best animated movie was created by the Into The Spiderverse team and directed by Mike Rianda (who helped make Gravity Falls the iconic series it is today). I’m a sucker for any sort of post apocalyptic adventure, and this film has all of those elements not typically seen in a family feature.
This is a movie that delivers a wonderful message (several in fact) all while delivering nonstop laughs and repeatable lines that my kids won’t shut up about. The Mitchells Vs The Machines has been quoted so much in my home that you’d think I’d end up hating the film, but I could never hate such a beautiful movie. When a robot questions a poor fellow voiced by Eric Andre, why the human race should be spared — he replies that mankind has the power of love. The artificial intelligence’s response is to savagely kick him in the balls. This movie is perfect.
#3. Bad Trip
Movie; Streaming Now on Netflix
Eric Andre is one of the planet’s most divisive comedians – you either love the dude or you hate to love the dude, but either way Andre and his team pulled off one of the best prank films since the OG Jackass. Bad Trip follows the Sacha Baren Cohen formula of guerilla movie-making, by turning every day people into stars of a movie they have no clue is currently being made around them. The people that Andre, Lil Rel Howery and an insanely terrifying Tiffany Haddish all pull into their narrative are astounding. I’ll also say this – Haddish delivers her BEST performance to date in Bad Trip, playing a criminal who makes the most hardened characters from HBO’S The Wire look tame in comparison.
Bad Trip is a spectacle, loaded with dangerous stunts, hilarious pranks but most importantly it features some of the most genuine and surprising glimpses into humanity that you’ll see all year. You don’t even have to be a fan of Andre’s Adult Swim series to get in the joke either – my wife HATES the Eric Andre show, and even she had a good time with Bad Trip. So maybe there’s more universal appeal here than I initially thought. Either way, enjoy laughing yourself to near death at the homage to WHITE CHICKS. This film would have KILLED in theaters…. Watch with friends if possible.
TV Series; Season One; Amazon Prime – 8 Episodes
The best superhero comic series that I have ever read just so happens to be the best TV series of 2021. Robert Kirkman changed the game forever when they adapted his Walking Dead comic book for AMC. The same thing is happening again over a decade later as Invincible has finally hit our TV’s – in GLORIOUS ANIMATION FORM! The 8 episode debut season feels like a Saturday Morning cartoon from my childhood, until the violence, carnage and adult language kicks in and shocks you to the core. If you were at all squeamish, avoid the season finale which features more mayhem and brutality than damn near every other superhero brawl. The subway train? I mean….. Nightmares. Forever.
Carnage and violence aside, Invincible also made me cry, like a baby. Kirkman may have written his finest lines of dialog ever right here in this comic book and those exact words are spoken by JK Simmons and Steven Yeun in what may be the most emotionally devastating moment of any series or film all year. Invincible is the perfect adaptation, honoring the source material, but expanding and improving upon every element from the comic in the process. Also this show has the most impressive voice cast, probably ever assembled for an animated project. In the history of cartoons. Don’t sleep on Invincible – it is a masterpiece.
#1. Psycho Goreman
Movie; Available Now on Blu-ray/VOD & Streaming on Shudder
Director Steven Kostanski (The Void, Manborg) has unleashed Psycho Goreman upon our world and it will never be the same. Seriously – there is nothing that is more fun, memorable or made with more love and buckets of blood than this Canadian indie film about a space demon on the leash of an unhinged child and her gullible brother. Equal parts Hellraiser and Power Rangers, the film is loaded with practical effects, action and truly amazing characters, but what really shook me and continues to bring me back to the movie time and time again this year? The comedy. Nita Josee Hanna, who plays Mimi, is a STAR. If she isn’t cast in some more major films in the coming years then it will be a crime. Her line delivery rivals Nicolas Cage on his finest and most wacked out day on set. But it’s Adam Brooks’ performance as her father that truly gets me every time. Brooks has so many hilarious lines and sequences that he damn near steals the entire film and this a movie with aliens ripping off people’s heads and children who transform into meaty brain creatures.
Psycho Goreman also spawned a new cinematic classic line with “I do not care for Hunky Boys…. Or do I?” – subsequently turning PG himself into a Gay internet icon. Kostanski has established himself as one of my favorite filmmakers with this gem and I can’t wait to see what his next original project is because the dude has a twisted vision I want to get behind. Now release the full set of CRAZY BALL rules online please!