After a low-profile 2020, the world of cinema is slowly beginning to return to something resembling normal, and while studios are set to unleash their most high-profile completed projects in the coming months, many of 2021's best movies to date have actually been relatively low-key.
The streaming era has certainly democratised filmmaking for independent directors and allowed more movies to get in viewers' hands easier than ever, but the flip-side is that streaming algorithms can result in great movies getting lost in the shuffle.
There are so many movies debuting on streaming services and home video every single week these days that it's impossible to keep up with everything, and so there's a fair chance these great movies ended up passing you by.
From experimental new movies by acclaimed filmmakers to a surprisingly mighty video game adaptation, a criminally underappreciated instant cult classic horror flick, and so on, you absolutely need to know about these fantastic 2021 movies.
A balanced cinematic diet is important, and for every Godzilla vs. Kong, F9, and Black Widow, you'll surely crave a more unassuming genre offering like these remarkable efforts...
10. No Sudden Move
Steven Soderbergh quietly dropped this low-key crime thriller on HBO Max recently, and while far from the swanky thrills of his Ocean's movies, is an agreeably pared-down, deliciously tense effort.
An impressively restrained entry into the "simple heist gone wrong" subgenre, No Sudden Move hangs on every acidic word of scripted dialogue while telling an intentionally convoluted crime yarn that remains gripping even though you might not always know exactly what's going on.
Soderbergh, who once again serves as his own editor and DP, knows his way around a camera better than most filmmakers, and delivers a classy, gorgeously assembled feat of tightly-wound cinema, bolstered by the efforts of a game ensemble including Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, David Harbour, Jon Hamm, Amy Seimetz, Brendan Fraser, Kieran Culkin, Ray Liotta, and Bill Duke.
If you're craving mile-a-minute thrills there are more fitting movies to watch, but if you're in the mood for a deliberate, uncommonly slight crime jaunt, this is a below-the-radar gem in the director's exceptional filmography.