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Favorite Media of 2021

I’m sharing this later than usual, but yes, this year again (following 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020) I’ve compiled a comprehensive and highly subjective list of my favorite media, this time for the year 2021 — that means I limit it to media that was released in 2021, which of course means that there are things that simply don’t make the list because I haven’t yet had a chance to take them in. For every category I start with an alphabetical top 5, followed by honorable mentions. Here we go.

Favorite Games
This year, I again remove the separate mobile games section, since I really didn’t find myself playing a lot of them — if I did any gaming on my phone, it was doing remote play with my Xbox Series S and playing with my Backbone One controller (which I absolutely love). And why is Assassin’s Creed Valhalla there? I really became obsessed with the game in December of 2021 (playing over 100 hours), and since that includes the DLC that was released during the year, I feel it’s warranted to include it.

  • Art of Rally (Xbox Series S)
  • Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (Xbox Series S)
  • Far Cry 6 (Xbox Series S)
  • Forza Horizon 5 (Xbox Series S)
  • The Gunk (Xbox Series S)

Honorable Mentions: Genesis Noir (Xbox Series S), Hextech Mayhem (Nintendo Switch), It Takes Two (Xbox Series S), Psychonauts 2 (Xbox Series S), Riders Republic (Xbox Series S), Ruined King (Nintendo Switch), Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury (Nintendo Switch), The Artful Escape (Xbox Series S), The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Nintendo Switch), Yakuza: Like a Dragon (Xbox Series S)

Favorite Movies
I feel like my top 5 this year is pretty strong, as the latest Bond film was terrific, I think The French Dispatch is the best Wes Anderson film so far, and I think The Summit of the Gods is one of the best films I’ve ever watched. If you want to see most of what I watched over the year along with my ratings and reviews, you can check me on Letterboxd (although I only started using it in May). I’ve also continued to do my year-based movie marathons, so I include top 5s for both 1981 and 1991.

  • No Time to Die
  • The French Dispatch
  • The Harder They Fall
  • The Sparks Brothers
  • The Summit of the Gods

Honorable Mentions: Evangelion 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time, Dune, Jolt, The Green Knight, The Story of Film: A New Generation, The Suicide Squad, Titane

Favorite Movies of 1981

  • Escape from New York
  • For Your Eyes Only
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • The Decline of Western Civilization
  • The Road Warrior (Mad Max 2)

Favorite Movies of 1991

  • Cape Fear
  • Point Break
  • Raise the Red Lantern
  • The Last Boy Scout
  • The Silence of the Lambs

Favorite TV
Yet another great year for TV, and I have a feeling I’ve probably forgotten to include things I really enjoyed. I continue to be a huge fan of AEW wrestling, so those two weekly shows continue to be my favorite thing to watch, but directly behind would be The Beatles’ Get Back documentary, which absolutely mesmerized me. I don’t include it here because it doesn’t seem to fit as a “series,” but my other obsession is F1 racing, and I watched every single race of the 2021 season live.

  • AEW Dynamite/AEW Rampage
  • Arcane
  • Dexter: New Blood
  • The Beatles: Get Back
  • The Book of Boba Fett

Honorable Mentions: City of Ghosts, Cobra Kai, Foundation, Hawkeye, Heels, Loki, Only Murders in the Building, PEN15, Servant, Star Wars: Visions, Ted Lasso, The Last Pirate Kingdom, The Wheel of Time, WandaVision, We Are Lady Parts, What We Do in the Shadows, Yellowjackets

Favorite Web Series
As with last year, my web video content (all from YouTube) is heavily wrestling-related, along with the Formula 1 channel (that I love for the pre-race First Practice and Qualifying highlights), and the excellent Power On, a 6-part documentary about Xbox.

Honorable Mentions: Fake Name No Gimmicks, Whatculture Wrestling

Favorite Music
This is certainly the category where I had the hardest time narrowing it down to a top 5 albums for the year — it could easily have been a top 10. But yes, there’s a lot of music that I enjoyed this year, and my honorable mentions list could easily have been longer, but I tried to keep it down to the stuff I feel like I listened to the most.

  • Asakusa Light (Soichi Terada)
  • Cold Brew (Sam Mehran)
  • Escapades (Gaspard Auge & Justice)
  • First Flight to Tokyo: The Lost 1961 Recordings (Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers)
  • Paradigmes (La Femme)

Honorable Mentions: Another Side of John Coltrane (John Coltrane), Attention (Smaller Hearts), Blood (Juliana Hatfield), Bodies of Water (Moontype), Cheater (Pom Poko), Chering Is Caring (Cher Strauberry), Clang Clang Ho (Cub Scout Bowling Pins), Cozy (Chelmico), Death of a Cheerleader (Pom Pom Squad), Domani (Chip Tanaka), Doomin’ Sun (Bachelor, Jay Som & Palehound), Earth Man Blues (Guided By Voices), Future Past (Duran Duran), Get Up Sequences Part One (The Go! Team), Heaven Beats Iowa (Cub Scout Bowling Pins), It’s Not Them. It Couldn’t Be The. It Is Them! (Guided By Voices), Marriage (Deap Vally), Palladium (April March & Olivia Jean), Pizzicato Five On Demand (Pizzicato Five), Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea – Demos (PJ Harvey), Take the Cake (Packs), Texis (Sleigh Bells), Van Weezer (Weezer), Wink (Chai)

Favorite Podcasts
This is probably the category that stays the most consistent year in, year out, as I tend to listen to the same podcasts, just dropping or adding 1 or 2 each year.

  • AEW Unrestricted
  • All Songs Considered
  • Pop Culture Happy Hour
  • TokyoScope
  • Whatculture Wrestling

Honorable Mentions: Japan by River Cruise, Talk is Jericho

Favorite Comics
Looking at my list, it’s not hugely different from what I had included last year. I also feel like I’m slowly drifting away from monthly series, and I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point I start reading more via trades. As with every year, I do find a lot of interesting non-superhero things (original graphic novels) to read via year-end “best of” lists, so they never get included here because I read them the following year.

  • Batman
  • Decorum
  • Nightwing
  • The Human Target
  • Usagi Yojimbo (regular series and color reprints)

Honorable Mentions: BRZRKR, Geiger, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, Infinite Frontier, James Bond (Agent of Spectre and Himeros), Strange Adventures

Favorite Magazines
I still read a lot of magazines, pretty much all of them digitally via Apple News+, with the two print exceptions being Monocle (which continues to be my favorite title, along with all of its special spinoff publications) and Orange Crush (an indie magazine about pro wrestling).

  • Edge
  • Empire
  • Monocle
  • Orange Crush
  • Total Film

Honorable Mentions: Retro Gamer, SFX

By Jean Snow

Production Services Manager at Ubisoft Shanghai. Before that, half a life spent in Tokyo.