Lists · Movie Reviews

Top 5 Friday: Best Movies of 2021 So Far

Happy Friday, folks! Oh boy it’s been a tough old week. The UK weather gave us one final, freak heatwave that’s over now, and my little girl is having a hard time. She was born a few weeks after the school cut off so loads of her friends at pre-school left at the end of summer to start proper school, and she won’t start until next September. I feel so sorry for her.

But you’re not here for my rambles, are you? You’re here because it’s Friday, it’s time for another Top 5 list and this week I’m bringing you what I feel have been the best movies of the year so far. Yes, we’re well past the halfway point of the year, but the last quarter is when all the hard-hitter movies come out so this top 5 will doubtless look completely different by the end of the year.

So here you go, my Top 5 Movies of 2021 So Far!

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#5 Oxygen – Well, this little Netflix release took me by complete surprise. I didn’t even know of it’s existence until it was there one day on my home screen. I’m so glad I gave it the chance though! If you’ve ever seen Ryan Reynolds in Buried (2010), then this is like the Sci-Fi version of that. Very claustrophobic, not relaxing in the slightest but it hooked me straight away and the twists and turns all surprised me.

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#4 The Suicide Squad – If you told me at the start of 2021 that I’d be putting The Suicide Squad in a ‘Best of’ list, I would have laughed at you. Firstly because at the time it felt like we would never be getting big releases in cinemas, but secondly because, well…we all saw the first one, didn’t we? The reboot/sequel/whatever it is surpassed the 2016 version in every single away, apart from the soundtrack maybe. They’re both great but the original soundtrack was killer.

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#3 Vivo – I’m still riding the Vivo hype train, listening to the soundtrack every single day, so just know that it took a lot for me to be sensible and not make this my number 1. Maybe it’s not the best animated movie out there (it isn’t even the only one in this list!) but I appreciate a family story and I’m a sucker for a musical, especially written and performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Give it a go if you haven’t already, it’s on Netflix and while I can’t guarantee you’ll love it, I bet it’ll make you smile.

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#2 Free Guy – I thought Ryan Reynolds was going to swoop in at the end of 2020 and save the day with Free Guy but the Delta variant had other ideas, and Free Guy got pushed back again into 2021. To say it was worth the wait is an understatement. I was expecting something generic and full of references, but something I would enjoy regardless and it ended up being so much more than that. It’s funnier than I ever thought it could be, and at it’s core it’s also a really great romcom!

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#1 The Mitchells vs. The Machines – Still haven’t forgiven the name change, Connected was a perfect name. This is actually the only movie of the year so far I’ve given a full 5 stars to. Sony Animation are on a winning streak right now and I’m excited to see what they do next. The Mitchells vs. The Machines has such a great story at it’s heart, and somehow crosses into several genres without becoming too muddled. I’ve always appreciated animated movies so this will no doubt still be in my Top 10 at the end of the year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if something knocks it off the top spot.

Lists

Top 5 Friday: Vivo Soundtrack

Welcome to the start of a series I’d like to try to keep up with. I get a bit of a creative spark for list making every now and again but committing to a schedule is just tough when life likes to throw hurdles at you all the time. So I can’t promise you a Top 5 list every Friday, but today certainly won’t be the only one!

After watching Vivo (2021) on Netflix this week, I’ve fallen in love with the soundtrack by Lin-Manuel Miranda and I’ve listened to it countless times already. Rather than subject my husband and three-year-old to listening to it on repeat while I tell them all my favourite lines, I thought I’d bore you instead with a ranked Top 5 songs from the movie! Here we go…

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#5 Inside Your Heart

“And the world will soon adore you
As I learn to live without you
Every melody is for you
Every song I write about you”

This is the song that is the reason for the movie, the song that Vivo and Gabi are trying to deliver. It should probably be the best song of them all, so I guess it’s a testament to the rest of the soundtrack when it’s only my number 5.

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#4 One Of A Kind

“You and I, we are one of a kind
Keeping time, every time”

This is the opening number, and it really sets the tone for the rest of the movie. There’s only one other musical that had me grinning from ear to ear in the very first song, and that was La La Land (2016), so there’s an idea of how much I enjoyed Vivo.

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#3 Running Out Of Time

“We’re out of time, the sun is going down
And when I thought we were done for
My new friend gave us an encore
Let’s reach the shore of this Miami town”

In a family movie like Vivo, we all know our heroes are going to achieve their goal by the time the credits roll, but this song is so fast-paced it gets your heart running! I dare you to listen to it in the car and not get the feeling of panic set in. I had to keep checking my speed!

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#2 My Own Drum

“I bounce to the beat of my own drum
I’m a wow in a world full of ho-hum
I’m a wild young lady
But you know ‘sum?
I’d rather be at home with my own drum”

Gabi is such an amazing character. She stands out in a crowd and isn’t afraid of being true to herself, even if it means making friends is difficult. Her song is loud, brash and so full of life!

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#1 Keep the Beat

“And all I can do when the tank’s run dry
Is see what’s in reserve
And all I can do when the plans break down
Is stay on my feet”

This is the song that inspired the list- if I had the writing ability I’d have just dedicated a whole post to it. It’s a song all about staying strong when the world is crumbling around you, and I just love the lyrics so much. It also incorporates parts from other songs in the movie too which I always find so clever. Definitely my theme song for 2021!

Movie Reviews

Vivo (2021)

vivo-netflix-movie-review-poster-2021Director: Kirk DeMicco

Genre: Family, Animation, Adventure, Musical

Runtime: 95 Minutes

Main Cast: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ynairaly Simo, Zoe Saldana, Juan de Marcos González, Brian Tyree Henry, Gloria Estefan, Michael Rooker, Nicole Byer

Plot: Vivo (Lin-Manuel Miranda), a cute kinkajou with a passion for music, embarks on a mission to deliver a song to the famous musician Marta, written by Vivo’s best friend as a declaration of his love for her.

My Thoughts: I recall seeing the teaser trailer for Vivo a few months ago, I was excited because of Lin-Manuel’s involvement but didn’t follow it’s release, and now it’s here! I’m going to try and write something coherent but it’s going to be blatantly obvious to you how much I loved this movie. Every musical has one shot at hooking you with it’s opening number, and I was grinning from ear to ear in the first minute of Vivo. I just adore Lin-Manuel’s song writing abilities, and he has such an iconic voice. Most musicals I watch have maybe one, two at most songs that I can recall from memory after a first watch, but all of these songs were stuck in my memory.

Vivo is such a fun character, a dedicated friend but too caught up in following a set plan. Then we have Gabi (Ynairaly Simo), a ten-year-old girl with the hair of my DREAMS who bears a lot of similarities to the character of Lilo from Disney’s Lilo & Stitch (2002). She marches to the beat of her own drum (and now that song is on repeat in my head) and stays true to herself, even if that means she’s lonely and struggles to make friends.

The story itself is generic and by the book. It’s an adventure with two unlikely heroes, not friends at first but besties by the end, on a mission that goes wrong at every turn but works out fine in the end. There’s nothing shocking that happens, but when the characters are so loveable, the animation so gorgeous and the songs catchy as hell, it’s easily forgivable. After this and The Mitchells vs The Machines (2021), Sony Animation is on a huge winning streak, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!

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Best Bit: There was so much I loved, but when the songs were the strongest part of the movie it makes sense to pick my favourite musical number. Inside Your Heart should probably be the one that stands out most because of it’s connection to the story, but for me it was Keep the Beat. It was the moment Vivo realised he was going to have to rely on a new friend in the form of Gabi, and it featured a perfect blend of this song and also Gabi’s song previously. Not to mention some of my favourite lyrics ever, “All I can do when the tank runs dry, is see what’s in reserve”.

Worst Bit: We learned early on that Gabi lost her father years ago, but I wasn’t expecting Sony to pull a Disney/Pixar crush of my emotions like this movie did. It was during the race in Miami when Gabi was exasperated with her mother about delivering the song, it had to be done because Andrés never got to say ‘I love you’. I was staring at the screen silently screaming ‘don’t say it, don’t say it’ and then of course Gabi went on to say that she never got to say her last words to her father and NOW I’m crying again just thinking about it!

Fun Trivia: Sony Animation’s third Netflix exclusive film, after The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021) and Wish Dragon (2021). Well, this answers my question about what comes next for Sony Animation. Turns out I already missed a movie of theirs!

My Rating: It’s taking all my willpower not to give this full marks, and I may well return to this review soon and change it but for now, it’s 4 and a half accordions rolling around in a bag like something from a horror movie.

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