This Sunday, the 94th annual Acadamy Awards will grace your TV screen and with them, another cycle of film achievement comes to a close. Among the night’s nominees, the Acadamy rightfully recognised some of the best genre films of the year in various categories. But this slideshow isn’t about them.
And if you haven’t seen those nominated for this weekend’s Oscars, you should, here’s a list:
- The Mitchells vs. The Machines
- Don’t Look Up
- Raya and the Last Dragon
- No Time to Die
- Spider-Man: No Way Home
- Nightmare Alley
- Free Guy
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
These are all great! But we’re going to celebrate the great genre films of 2021 that aren’t going to be mentioned on stage in Hollywood this weekend. Films with gory animated violence, songs about seagulls, souls competing in the afterlife and more. If you’re looking for good Oscar counter-programming with a genre spin, here’s the list.
Regular Gizmodo readers might be scratching their heads at this one, pun fully intended. You see James Wan’s delightful, the bonkers horror film was listed as among the WORST on our end of the year list, despite me personally campaigning for it to be on the BEST side. Well, the then-editor pulled rank because she hated it, but she’s since left the site so now I can tell you how amazing and wild this movie is!! Take that, Jill! [Editor’s note: Apologies to our beloved Jill Pantozzi, but them’s the rules. – J.W.]
The Spine of Night
“Imagine a fantasy with the scope and scale of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings or HBO’s Game of Thrones, but animated, extra violent, and clocking in at a cool 90 minutes. Well, you don’t have to imagine it: it’s called The Spine of Night and it’s one of the sickest, coolest, most mind-bending animated films we’ve seen in years.” – From our review of The Spine of Night.
“Nine Days is about the place people go before they’re born. A place where you learn about what it means to be alive and, if selected, get to experience it yourself — and the people choosing have issues of their own. It’s a simple, profound piece of world-building that sets the stage for not just a compelling story, but larger discussions outside the theatre about free will, the nature of existence, and the meaning of life.” – from our review of Nine Days.
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
If Austin Powers wasn’t a super spy, but two middle-aged women from Nebraska, he would be Barb and Star. While on the surface the movie seems just like a goofy comedy, the actual plot revolves around a supervillain planning to kill millions with deadly bugs. It’s so ridiculous and yet is beyond hilarious and entertaining.
The Green Knight
Dev Patel stars in this trippy, lush tale of a man who sets off on a quest to change his destiny, by fighting a mythical warrior simply called the Green Knight. It’s a movie that will suck you in with its gorgeous filmmaking and leave you thinking with its bold choices.
In the Earth
“Made during a pandemic, with a fictional pandemic slithering around a story that taps into both the spiritual powers of nature and the mental effects of isolation, In the Earth uniquely captures the mood we’ve been clawing our way through for nearly a year now. It’s freaky, but it feels alarmingly relatable too.” – from our review of In the Earth.
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched
“Even after three-plus hours of information and spooky eye candy, Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched will leave you wanting more — but that’s not a knock against it. Rather, it’ll absolutely make you want to start watching all the films it discusses in such reverent terms so that you can get lost in your own world of pagan conspiracies, eerie artifacts, harvest rituals, and dark ancient knowledge.” – from our review of Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched.
“With its oversized characters played by an array of comedic actors…there’s a danger that Werewolves Within could end up being overly campy. Fortunately, the film stays committed to its spooky atmospherics (including a bit of gore) to keep things from getting completely farcical — and since the plot is so familiar, the fun performances end up being the movie’s biggest attraction anyway. That doesn’t mean the script isn’t clever, though; it knows it’s filled with tropes and it also knows you know it’s filled with tropes, and the little breadcrumbs it sprinkles throughout its dialogue (one word: “snowshoes”) end up paying off big-time as Werewolves Within reaches its conclusion.” – from our review of Werewolves Within.
“Belle may hold a simple, perhaps even naïve, faith in its heart for a better tomorrow for our online worlds, but the dogged commitment to looking towards that future with hope is an ultimately charming one. Belle a bright pop of warm, beautiful colour in a bleak midwinter of theatrical releases that is welcomed, no matter how simple and familiar it might feel.” – from our review of Belle.
Fear Street Trilogy
Three movies, three weeks, one story. That was the plan earlier this year with Netflix’s adaptation of RL Stine’s Fear Street books, and the result was an energetic, creepy, mystery horror trilogy that’s not to be forgotten. The cast shines, the story delivers, and you get three movies for the price of one.
Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.