The 10 best on demand movies of 2021

The 10 best on demand movies of 2021

The year is coming to a close, so we're looking at the very best on demand movies of 2021. We're covering both cinema releases and films that went to streaming services this year because, well, there were plenty of both.

It's worth noting that in most years when it comes to looking at on demand movies of the year, Netflix takes most of the spots.

This year, there's been more of an even playing field as Apple TV+, Disney+, and Amazon Prime all have their own contenders for the spots.

Sure, that means that from now, we may have to get more subscriptions than ever to see the best stuff. But when you've got flicks as good as these, you can't really complain.

Here are our 2021 picks for best on demand movies of the year (going by their release date on the respective platform as distributed in Ireland and the UK).

10 'Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal' (Netflix)

Many will recall the college admissions scandal back in 2019 whereby it emerged that a number of parents, including some high profile names, had bribed universities to have their children accepted into them. 'Operation Varsity Blues' effectively explores how far William Rick Singer's schemes really went and how class played a major factor in what unfolded.

9 'Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry' (Apple TV+)

There are a number of music documentaries out there that feel showy when it comes to the musician at its heart. But everything about 'The World's a Little Blurry' feels genuine, vulnerable, and intimate. As you see Billie hone her craft, spend time with her family, and even reveal some imperfect sides of her personality, you fall in love with her even more than before.

8 'The Mad Women’s Ball' (Amazon Prime)

Mélanie Laurent is best known for playing the cinema owner of 'Inglorious Basterds' and now she's become a talented filmmaker as well as actress. Without a doubt, this is her most provocative and enthralling work yet. The film is set primarily in a women's psychological institution where a patient and head nurse strike up a deal. The feminist preoccupations of the feature are forceful and stirring.

7 'Luca' (Disney+)

Disney opted to skip cinemas with Pixar feature 'Luca', premiering it on Disney+. Even on a smaller screen, the film proves heartfelt, joyous and fun. Two sea monsters spend a summer together impersonating humans, eventually venturing to the town of Portorosso. It's the ultimate summer flick with gorgeous animation, wonderful characters, and a finale that'll leave you with a big lump in your throat.

6 'The Mitchells vs the Machines' (Netflix)

Disney and Pixar are rarely beaten when it comes to animation but 'The Mitchells vs the Machines' (from the producers of 'Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse') has done it for our 2021 best on demand movies. Its story about a family road trip cut short thanks to a tech uprising is as funny as it is touching, fresh as it compelling, and features great vocal performances as well as exhilarating action sci fi sequences.

5 'The Power of the Dog' (Netflix)

Now into the top 5 of our best on demand movies of 2021, 'The Power of the Dog' is the most recent entry on our list. Helmed by Jane Campion, who directed the Palme d'Or winning 'The Piano', don't be surprised if you hear 'The Power of the Dog' around a lot come awards season. Benedict Cumberbatch gives arguably his career best as a rancher who decides to psychologically torment his brother's wife and her son.

4 'The Green Knight' (Amazon Prime)

With its slight arthouse leanings, 'The Green Knight' probably isn't everyone's cup of tea, but no one can deny how beautiful it is, shot for shot. The adaptation on the medieval romance 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' is surprisingly loyal while also incorporating a fascinating exploration of contemporary masculinity. The cast includes Dev Patel, Sean Harris, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton and Barry Keoghan. Each give their all to these bizarre characters, caught up in a world of fantasy and horror.

3 'Summer of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)' (Disney+)

When one thinks of music and the year 1969, Woodstock comes to mind immediately, obviously. Lesser known are the series of free concerts that were hosted in Morris Park in Harlem, which had 300,000 attendees and saw the likes of music legends Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and the Pips, BB King, and more perform. Watching this music documentary, with its never-before-seen footage, is like something out of a dream. It's not just a movie, it's an experience - you'll only get what we mean when you see it for yourself.

2 'Sound of Metal' (Amazon Prime)

'Sound of Metal' is really an extraordinary accomplishment in the sound design aspect of filmmaking, as the soundtrack mirrors the sense of losing one’s hearing that our metal drummer protagonist (brilliantly played by Riz Ahmed) is experiencing. It's a deeply moving story about addiction, recovery and rebuilding as well, and has a life affirming conclusion.

1 'Promising Young Woman' (Sky/NOW)

Where to even start with 'Promising Young Woman'. In this reviewer's opinion, it is hands down the best movie of the year, and has the ability to move you, from laughing to crying to raging, at its dark humour and unblinking honesty. Carrie Mulligan is fantastic and Emerald Fennell's script and directing is in a league of its own. Sharp, original and haunting, everyone should see this movie and talk about it, a lot.