Best Streaming Movies 2021

Streaming services continued their dominant ascension with The Power of the Dog, Coda, and The Mitchells vs. the Machines all placing in the top 10 Best Movies overall of 2021. Streaming was  also the place curious and adventurous viewers found worthy documentaries, covering topics ranging from classic rock (The Velvet Underground) and folk tales (Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched) to riots (Attica), athletics (Changing the Game), algorithms (Coded Bias), and politics (Mayor).

The order reflects Tomatometer scores (as of December 31, 2021) after adjustment from our ranking formula, which compensates for variation in the number of reviews when comparing movies or TV shows.

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 111954%
Critics Consensus: Brought to life by a stellar ensemble led by Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog reaffirms writer-director Jane Campion as one of her generation's finest filmmakers.
Synopsis: Severe, pale-eyed, handsome, Phil Burbank is brutally beguiling. All of Phil's romance, power and fragility is trapped in the past... [More]
Directed By: Jane Campion

#2

CODA (2021)
94%

#2
Adjusted Score: 109418%
Critics Consensus: CODA's story offers few surprises, but strong representation and a terrific cast -- led by Emilia Jones' brilliant performance -- bring this coming-of-age story vividly to life.
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Ruby (Emilia Jones) is the sole hearing member of a deaf family -- a CODA, child of deaf adults.... [More]
Directed By: Siân Heder

#3
Adjusted Score: 106678%
Critics Consensus: Eye-catching and energetic, The Mitchells vs. the Machines delivers a funny, feel-good story that the whole family can enjoy.
Synopsis: Young Katie Mitchell embarks on a road trip with her proud parents, younger brother and beloved dog to start her... [More]
Directed By: Mike Rianda

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 103632%
Critics Consensus: The Velvet Underground takes a fittingly idiosyncratic approach to delivering a rock documentary that captures the band as well as its era.
Synopsis: The Velvet Underground created a new sound that changed the world of music, cementing its place as one of rock... [More]
Directed By: Todd Haynes

#5

Luca (2021)
91%

#5
Adjusted Score: 106944%
Critics Consensus: Slight but suffused with infectious joy, the beguiling Luca proves Pixar can play it safe while still charming audiences of all ages.
Synopsis: Set in a beautiful seaside town on the Italian Riviera, Disney and Pixar's original feature film "Luca" is a coming-of-age... [More]
Directed By: Enrico Casarosa

#6

Coded Bias (2020)
100%

#6
Adjusted Score: 101949%
Critics Consensus: Clear, concise, and comprehensive, Coded Bias offers a chilling look at largely unseen side effects of modern society's algorithmic underpinnings.
Synopsis: An exploration into the fallout of MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini's discovery of racial bias in facial recognition algorithms.... [More]
Starring: Joy Buolamwini
Directed By: Shalini Kantayya

#7

Mayor (2020)
100%

#7
Adjusted Score: 101546%
Critics Consensus: A clear-eyed look at an extraordinary subject, Mayor makes essential viewing out of one politician's quest to preserve dignity in the midst of bureaucracy.
Synopsis: A look at the life of Musa Hadid, the charismatic mayor of Palestinian city Ramallah, who aspires to lead the... [More]
Starring: Musa Hadid
Directed By: David Osit

#8

Changing the Game (2019)
100%

#8
Adjusted Score: 101429%
Critics Consensus: Urgent and empathetic, Changing the Game takes an affecting and admirably nuanced look at young transgender athletes.
Synopsis: This intimate story takes us into the lives of three high school athletes from across the US -- all at... [More]
Directed By: Michael Barnett

#9
Adjusted Score: 101948%
Critics Consensus: Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror takes a fascinating deep dive that'll leave like-minded viewers making numerous new additions to their streaming queues.
Synopsis: WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED is the first feature-length documentary on the history of folk horror, exploring the phenomenon from... [More]
Directed By: Kier-La Janisse

#10

Attica (2021)
98%

#10
Adjusted Score: 100064%
Critics Consensus: Attica revisits the titular riot with intelligence, compassion, and anger, presenting a version of events that honors history as much as it exemplifies the art of documentary filmmaking.
Synopsis: During the summer of 1971, tensions between inmates and guards at the Attica Correctional Facility are at an all-time high.... [More]
Starring: Clarence Jones

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 98702%
Critics Consensus: A tense, terrifying, and all-around outstanding feature debut for its co-directing duo, The Boy Behind the Door should thrill discerning horror fans.
Synopsis: In The Boy Behind the Door, a night of unimaginable terror awaits twelve-year-old Bobby (Lonnie Chavis) and his best friend,... [More]

#12

7 Prisoners (2021)
98%

#12
Adjusted Score: 98603%
Critics Consensus: A hard-hitting drama that feels disconcertingly real, 7 Prisoners blends sharp storytelling with a searing social conscience.
Synopsis: 18-year-old Mateus (Christian Malheiros) hopes to provide a better life for his working-class family in the countryside. Accepting a new... [More]
Directed By: Alexandre Moratto

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 98486%
Critics Consensus: A fascinating tribute to a pioneer as well as an engrossing act of environmental advocacy, Playing with Sharks makes up in enjoyment what it lacks in depth.
Synopsis: Photographer Valerie Taylor becomes a trailblazing advocate for the ocean's most maligned and misunderstood creatures.... [More]
Directed By: Sally Aitken

#14
#14
Adjusted Score: 98222%
Critics Consensus: A blunt yet visceral depiction of society's treatment of the elderly, The Amusement Park sees George A. Romero exploring a different -- yet still chilling -- type of terror.
Synopsis: Recently discovered and restored 46 years after its completion by the George A. Romero Foundation and produced by Suzanne Desrocher-Romero,... [More]
Directed By: George A. Romero

#15

Slaxx (2020)
96%

#15
Adjusted Score: 97990%
Critics Consensus: A slim-cut slice of bizarre horror, Slaxx effectively balances quirk with gore -- and has the good sense to get out before its oddball premise starts showing its seams.
Synopsis: A possessed pair of jeans is brought to life to punish the unscrupulous practices of a trendy clothing company. Shipped... [More]
Directed By: Elza Kephart

#16

Passing (2021)
90%

#16
Adjusted Score: 102879%
Critics Consensus: While Passing's delicate approach has a dampening effect on its story, debuting director Rebecca Hall makes the most of an impressive cast -- and handles thorny themes with impressive dexterity.
Synopsis: In 1920s New York City, a Black woman finds her world upended when her life becomes intertwined with a former... [More]
Directed By: Rebecca Hall

#17

The White Tiger (2021)
91%

#17
Adjusted Score: 100061%
Critics Consensus: Well-acted and beautifully made, The White Tiger distills the strengths of its source material into a grimly compelling drama.
Synopsis: Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourav) narrates his epic and darkly humorous rise from poor villager to successful entrepreneur in modern India.... [More]
Directed By: Ramin Bahrani

#18

Come From Away (2021)
98%

#18
Adjusted Score: 98371%
Critics Consensus: Come from Away sifts through the wreckage of tragedy to find hope -- and the healing power of human connection.
Synopsis: "Come From Away" is the filmed version of the award-winning Broadway musical which tells the story of 7,000 people stranded... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Ashley

#19

No Sudden Move (2021)
92%

#19
Adjusted Score: 99037%
Critics Consensus: While it may not be on par with his best crime capers, No Sudden Move finds Soderbergh on entertainingly familiar ground -- and making the most of an excellent cast.
Synopsis: Set in 1954 Detroit, NO SUDDEN MOVE centers on a group of small-time criminals who are hired to steal what... [More]
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh

#20

The Disciple (2020)
96%

#20
Adjusted Score: 98006%
Critics Consensus: The rare film that captures the passion that drives the mastery of creative pursuits, The Disciple reaffirms writer-director Chaitanya Tamhane as an emerging master of his craft.
Synopsis: A vocalist who has devoted his life to the study of classical Indian music begins to question whether he will... [More]
Directed By: Chaitanya Tamhane

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