2021 was a tale of two halves. While I had many enjoyable experiences with movies or TV series in the second half of the year, eight of the Top 10 were viewed in the first half. The Top 10 comprised two thrillers, one police procedural, one science fiction movie, two documentaries (very dissimilar), and four general dramas. One documentary (The Dissident) received a perfect score of 10/10. . (Links below are to my reviews.)
The Dissident—flawless, thrilling storytelling by Bryan Fogel, and this in aid of the true story of the Russian blogger chopped up in a Turkish embassy!
Succession Season 3—much anticipated and justifiably so, the third outing for the Murdoch-like billionaire patriarch and his four reprehensible but oh-so-human children is spellbinding. I know some folks can’t get past the awfulness of every damned character but that’s what gives this show its Macbeth-like stature.
The Queen’s Gambit—cool and cerebral, a fine, visually arresting 7-parter about a female American chess champion.
Your Honor—Bryan Cranston in top form, playing a judge covering up for his son, in a series fraught with tension and imbued with moral dilemmas.
Mrs. America—a triumphant acting role by Cate Blanchett, but this dense 9-episode series about seventies’ feminism never misses a beat.
Bosch Season 7—firmly rooted in the police procedural genre, this longstanding series never falters in terms of quality and watchability. If it has now settled into the realm of the comfort watch, the grave, deep performance of Titus Welliver as Detective Harry Bosch ensures it shines.
The Midnight Sky—George Clooney’s masterpiece, an elegiac dystopian sci-fi that entrances.
Staged Season 2—Even more post-ironic and maniacal than the first season, this made-during-lockdown season of eight episodes, about the making of lockdown series, is hilarious.
City on a Hill Season 2—brilliant eight-parter, savage and heartfelt equally, about crime and race in Boston in the nineties
Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World—artfully and respectfully composed, an inspiring look at one year in the life of an inspiring person.