What was on your 2021 watchlist? Did any of your favorites come to a heartwarming, heartbreaking, or unfinished ending? Are some going to carry on into your watchlist of this year and beyond? Well, that is certainly the case for me. So, with Netflix’s Death to 2021 saying a comedic goodbye to a “cinematic” year, it’s time to recap the works that touched our hearts and made us want (though they didn’t always give us) more.
The Best of 2021
Move to Heaven
(Series: 1 Season, 10 Episodes)
In one of the most touching, heartwarming, and reflective K-dramas of this year, trauma cleaner Han Geuru (Tang Joon Sang) follows in his deceased father’s footsteps to understand what the deceased wished to say and leave behind alongside his uncle, Cho Sanggu (Lee Jeehoon), and neighbor, Yoon Namu (Hong Seung Hee). “Move to Heaven” manages to explore the complex beauty of human relationships while simultaneously addressing homophobia, poverty, elderly mistreatment, adoption, disabilities, disorders, loss, and more. And despite 2021 being a year full of grief for many, including myself, due to Coronavirus, I (and many others) found comfort in this drama and reflected on life in a healthy manner. Hence, the drama, due to its commendable acting and plotline, received many awards and a rating of 9.2 on MyDramaList. And with that Lee Re (a child actress that often works with Tang Joon Sang) cameo in the final episode, many fans are hoping for a season two. Yet, only time will tell if “Move to Heaven” will continue on, so if you haven’t already, I recommend grabbing a box of tissues and a bowl of ice cream when watching season one.
(Series: 3 Seasons, 24 Episodes)
Quirky, educational, and comedic. “Sex Education” continues to captivate the audience with its fun acting, humor, and representation of the coming-of-age experience. So, if you’re ever in the mood for a laugh or to feel understood as a confused teenager or young adult, then this is the show for you!
(Series: 1 Season, 9 Episodes)
While this show was not my personal cup of tea, no one can deny the impact of “Squid Game” during 2021. As it clung to the #1 spot on Netflix for several weeks, “Squid Game” explored class, friendship, power, and greed. Each game grabbed the viewers’ attention as they waited to see who would win the money in the end. This elaborate production blew up to such extremes that popular creators such as Mr. Beast created their own renditions. However, considering the show’s somewhat disappointing ending for some, the public has been discussing whether or not a season two or another extension of the show will be in the works during 2022.
(Series: 6 Seasons, 77 Episodes)
“Bojack Horseman” keeps it real and entertains all at the same time. As Bojack continues to be his most intense critic as he constantly screws up, many have taken a liking to him. Some find him relatable whereas others are shocked that people actually justify his behavior which leads to fan discussion that has kept the show alive for six seasons so far. On top of that, the show remains glaringly blunt yet humorous with some amazing musical numbers here and there. So if you ever need to laugh, cry, or sing about something in your life, I’m sure there is a “Bojack Horseman” episode readily available for you to stream!
Tick, Tick… Boom!
Although somewhat overshadowed by “Spiderman: No Way Home” (in terms of Andrew Garfield’s recent works), “Tick, Tick…Boom!” showcases the Jonathan Larson story and yet another skill of Garfield, singing. His ability to encapsulate Larson’s energy and style of singing was magnificently executed in this musical film. Plus, with co-stars Joshua Henry, Alexandra Shipp, Vanessa Hudgens, and Robin de Jesús, each rendition of the original Larson songs (my personal favorites being “Come to Your Senses” and “Johnny Can’t Decide”) were truly touching to hear. And for the musical fans out there, the Hamilton cast cameos were a nice touch. Thus, to have new songs to add to your playlist and a movie to add to your watchlist, check this film out if you haven’t yet!
Lin Manuel-Miranda has done it yet again. “Vivo” takes us viewers on a journey of love, friendship, and music. As we learn to bounce to the beat of our own drum, we follow a kinkajou as it seeks to deliver a love song for its old friend. Despite being somewhat predictable, the animation, characters, and music were more than enough to keep people engaged. This film is so sweet that it is perfect to watch with your family or even with a bunch of friends!
Fear Street Trilogy
The “Fear Street” trilogy was thrilling for R.L Stine readers and slasher film genre enthusiasts. With notable actors from childhood and the nostalgia from the novels, this trilogy had many anticipating the next week for the next movie release. And while my favorite is “Fear Street 1978 (Part 2),” the discourse among fans about which was the best further increased its overall popularity. So although the third part concluded the trilogy, the public is open to new R.L Stine-based films in the future.
Featuring Gal Gadot, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Ryan Reynolds, “Red Notice” was action-packed and absolutely comical. From the unexpected Ed Sheeran cameo to the constant plot twist, it was thrilling to see this movie that was planned for theatrical release and ended up being acquired by Netflix and only staying in theaters for a week become the most-watched Netflix movie ever. That said, this movie was filled with charm and was delightful to watch with the entire family and a bucket of popcorn.
“Love Hard” was your typical adorable Christmas movie. It was basically a film you’d expect to see on the Hallmark channel. Yet, what made it generally appealing to the public were the familiar faces. I, for one, was happy to see Darren Barnet (aka Paxton from “Never Have I Ever”) actually acting his age as well as the number of tropes in this movie as I am a sucker for them. Still, the film grew popular in the USA and Costa Rica thanks to director and comedian, Hernán Jiménez, as it was the perfect blend of romance and comedy.
(Series: 4 Seasons, 40 Episodes)
Giving us two seasons within one year, “Cobra Kai” brought back all our childhood favorites (yes, I do understand that I was nowhere near alive when the original “Karate Kid” movies came out) from Kumiko to Yuna to Chozen to Ali to Terry Silver. The nostalgia of “Karate Kid” sequels kicked in thanks to seasons three and four of “Cobra Kai.” That, paired with epic fight scenes that made us break our necks to see them pan out on-screen, is what made the feud between Miyagi-Do, Cobra Kai, and Eagle Fang Karate all the more memorable. And given that season five just finished filming and the cliffhanger of season four, CK fans are anticipating what the Valley has yet in store.
But with all those wins for Netflix streamers, here come the kickers.
The Heartbreaks of 2021
The Karate Kid Trilogy
For the longest time, this trilogy movie series remained on Netflix. So, as a fan of these movies myself, I understood why Netflix decided to remove them, but their timing was extremely poor. In early 2021, months earlier than the release of “Cobra Kai” season four, the three “The Karate Kid” films were set to disappear. So, for fans of Cobra Kai that wanted to relive the nostalgia of “The Karate Kid Part 3″ before the return of Silver, this was more than disappointing. It was simply a bittersweet loss that stung a bit more because Netflix decided to add the Jaden Smith “Karate Kid” and “The Next Karate Kid” in replacement (this is not slander to those films, I love them all).
Julie and the Phantoms
(Series: 1 Season, 9 Episodes)
This 2020 Kenny Ortega production based on the Brazilian “Julie os Fantasmas” had “perfect harmony.” With a couple of song-writing “holograms” (ghosts) that ate some bad hotdogs, and a reignited passion for music, Julie and the Phantoms won the hearts of children, teens, and adults alike. The cliffhanger also had everyone asking questions about what’s to come. The show achieved great success being nominated for 13 Daytime Emmy awards. Yet for some unbeknownst reason, Netflix canceled the show in late 2021, leaving fans devastated. This being canceled and “Jem and the Holograms” being removed by Netflix in the same year was a real blow to those who love a female singer paired with a band of boys no one could touch or see on command. Thus, “Julie and the Phantoms” fans are petitioning the show’s cancellation and hoping Netflix will see through its production or that Disney+ will pick up the show, myself included.
A Walk to Remember
Now as it pertains to “A Walk to Remember,” this movie based on a true story managed to touch the hearts of all who’ve ever seen it. This concurrently heartbreaking and heartwarming love story was both added and taken away from Netflix in 2021. Everything about Mandy Moore’s beautiful voice and the chemistry she produced with Shane West made the movie feel so real. Thus, my soul was crushed by its removal. Also, considering that it’s rare to see relatively older Christian movies on Netflix, I hope to see some new ones will join the streaming site soon.
Strong Woman Do Bong Soon
(Series: 1 Season, 16 Episodes)
Reigning as one of the most popular romance K-dramas ever, “Strong Woman Do Bong Soon” being on Netflix was the sweetest treat. Several K-drama fans adamantly clung to this era of dramas as it has some of the cheesiest, corniest, and sweetest moments ever. Plus, with overflowing chemistry between the main leads, it brought many fans great joy to be able to see it until it was removed.
Spiderman into the Spider-verse
Similar to the removal of “The Karate Kid” trilogy, the removal of “Spiderman into the Spiderverse” was poorly timed given that “Spiderman: No Way Home” was all the buzz at the end of 2021. Conversations about who will play Miles and Gwen in a live-action rendition have reached new heights, so it is unfortunate that this animated spectacle is no longer accessible on the streaming platform.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
A Christmas Classic! The nostalgia, the humor, the holiday feel of it all…Netflix should’ve never taken it off. Given the past two years, it’s fitting that some would feel like the Grinch this past Christmas. So, it’s a tragedy that it was taken off and if anything made the Netflix streamers more Grinch-y.
From novel to film adaptation, “Flipped” is such a loveable film. Bryce and Julie captured both the readers’ and writers’ hearts. Yet, having departed alongside the year 2021, we embark on 2022 with the hopes that Netflix will improve its romance genre selection before streamers are the ones to flip the script on them.
Well, what are your thoughts? What on Netflix captured or broke your heart? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!