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Vocalo’s 5 Standout Films of 2021

Written by on December 29, 2021

Pictured above: Director Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson celebrating documentary “Summer of Soul”‘s six awards at the Sixth Annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021, in Brooklyn, NY. Credit: Diane Bondareff/Invision/AP

After a year without being able to go to the cinema, 2021 was marked an important year for the reopening of movie theaters.

Vocalo’s digital team picked five of our favorite movies released this year. You won’t want to snooze on these!

King Richard

Dir. Reinaldo Marcus Green

Starring: Will Smith, Demi Singleton, Saniyya Sidney

With Will Smith playing the titular role of Richard Williams, the biopic King Richard, which focuses on the beginning of Venus and Serena Williams’ tennis careers, is looking like a strong contender in the next awards season. It’s so easy to get so engrossed in this film, for a second you might forget it’s a real story about two of the world’s most successful tennis players and start to wonder what’s going to happen next.

– Morgan Ciocca

Summer of Soul

Dir. Questlove


Questlove directed this documentary about the Harlem Cultural Festival, a celebration of Black history, culture, music and fashion. Occurring in the summer of 1969, the festival has been overshadowed in the history books by Woodstock. The film showcases the power and artistry of the Harlem Cultural Festival and documents an event that had been undeservedly forgotten by many. With awe-inspiring footage of Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly & The Family Stone, B.B King and many more, Summer of Soul is a time machine back to that iconic year of music.

– Erik Anderson

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain

Dir. Morgan Neville


This was the second film I saw in a theater after they opened back up. Anthony Bourdain is full of life and made the whole theater laugh out loud with his dry humor in the footage they included of him. I know there was a bit of controversy when they used AI to recreate Bourdain’s voice, used to read aloud letters he had written himself but never spoken. Regardless of the ethics surrounding voice recreation, you can’t help but appreciate the way this documentary keeps Bourdain’s work alive.

– Morgan Ciocca


Dir. Liesl Tommy

Starring: Jennifer Hudson, Marlon Wayans, Mary J. Blige

Respect is this year’s acclaimed musical biographical drama starring Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin. Following her rise to stardom from her roots singing in the church choir, this film is based on real events throughout Aretha’s life and career with standout performances from the cast. Definitely worth a watch for a more in-depth look at Aretha’s inspiring story and incredible career.

– Morgan Ciocca

The French Dispatch

Dir. Wes Anderson

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson

Yet another masterpiece by Wes Anderson. Whether you are a journalist, artist or cinema fan, this movie will have you amazed, to say the least. The three-part film gives life to a collection of stories published in the American newspaper “The French Dispatch” through the colorful and characteristic lens of Wes Anderson.

– Milo Keranen

Introduction written by Milo Keranen

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