Grant Hodges has written 26 reviews for films rated ★★★★★ during 2021.

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    ★★★★★

    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is one of those rare movies I appreciate more and more every time I revisit it. And despite some stellar performances, fantastic directing, and a great soundtrack, I think this appreciation can be narrowed down to one single thing - the screenplay. From the reveal of the movie's tragic backstory via the billboards to the nuance of each one of our leads (where no single one of them is the solitary voice of reason or…

  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    ★★★★★

    I wasn't in love with Portrait while watching, but looking back at it, I can't imagine a better execution of the premise than this. The cinematography is exceptional (regularly evoking the work of Ingmar Bergman), the script is tight (the relationship of Marianne/Heloise beautifully mirroring that of Orpheus/Eurydice - and the abortion subplot tying into the women's lack of autonomy in the era in which they live), the paintings (something of obvious importance in a story like this) are immaculate,…

  • How to Train Your Dragon

    How to Train Your Dragon

    ★★★★★

    I could go on for paragraphs about this thing. But fortunately I made a video essay about it years ago and I don’t have to. If you want my thoughts, just watch that. 

    I probably stand by what I said. I don’t actually know. I don’t want to listen to my own voice and hear what I said. Anyway, it’s a great movie. And aside from the occasionally dated animation, I wouldn’t change a thing.

    5 Stars

  • The Silence of the Lambs

    The Silence of the Lambs

    ★★★★★

    There aren't many films that I would unabashedly call perfect, but if any film deserves such praise, it would definitely be The Silence of the Lambs. Everything in this movie just fucking works. Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins are giving powerhouse performances, Howard Shore's score sets a darkly foreboding atmosphere, and Jonathan Demme is directing with an almost unparalleled level of style and energy (seriously, no one shoots a close-up like him - and his fluid, handheld long-takes ensure that…

  • Secrets & Lies

    Secrets & Lies

    ★★★★★

    This was my first Mike Leigh movie and, I gotta say, if this is what the rest of his filmography is like then I’m in for a real treat. Secrets & Lies is heavy, almost excruciatingly so, but that doesn’t mean what’s here is any less fantastic. In fact, it’s a testament to the film that it manages to make me so anxious (with the final half-hour really feeling like you’re watching a car accident in slow motion). Leigh’s use of…

  • It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

    It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

    ★★★★★

    Much has been said of actors transitioning from comedy to drama. From Robin Williams to Bryan Cranston, from Bob Odenkirk to Steve Carrell, there are no shortage are funny men who have - at one point or another - given a standout dramatic performance. What's much more rare is to see an actor who starts in drama yet successfully transitions to comedy. Even rarer still is the director whose entire filmography consists of dramas steeped in social commentary... and decides…

  • Coco

    Coco

    ★★★★★

    Probably the only movie from the last decade to reach the heights of Pixar’s golden age, Coco is a masterclass in animation, storytelling, and warming my cold, cynical heart. Despite a heavy amount of exposition, the film never gets bogged down in its own mythology - building a truly fun world while also serving to honor the traditions Día de Los Muertos in a unique way. 

    In many ways, it’s hard to even discuss this film without just listing what…

  • 63 Up

    63 Up

    ★★★★★

    I watched this days ago and I'm still trying to find the words to express what it means to me. While not the strongest entry in the Up series (that honor would likely go to either 49 or 56 Up), it's heartbreaking knowing that this may well be the very last time we see any of these people. And though I know this documentary only showed a small fraction of their lives, I'm really going to miss them.

    Much has…

  • Singin' in the Rain

    Singin' in the Rain

    ★★★★★

    Goddamn. I don’t think there’s a single movie made before or since that’s simply had as much fun as Signin’ in the Rain does. The cast is having a blast, nearly every number is a romp, and it somehow manages to be a love letter to Hollywood while at the same time making a complete mockery of it. Sure, the movie does drag a bit in the latter half (“Broadway Melody” is wayyy too long) and the relationship between Don and Kathy is…

  • Little Miss Sunshine

    Little Miss Sunshine

    ★★★★★

    No film is perfect but Little Miss Sunshine comes damn close. The cast, the soundtrack, the cinematography, THE MOST FLAWLESS SCREENPLAY OF ALL TIME… I really can’t describe how much this movie just works. So I’m not gonna try. Just watch it and you’ll understand. 

    5 Stars 

    P.S. Steve Carrell is a fucking daddy in this.

    P.P.S. I’ll forever be sad we didn’t get to see Michael Ardnt’s screenplay for Star Wars Episode VII come to fruition. There’s no way it wouldn’t have been better than what we got with The Force Awakens.

  • The Holy Mountain

    The Holy Mountain

    ★★★★★

    An absurdist critique of our culture's obsession with sex, violence, capitalism, consumerism, Christianity, and more, The Holy Mountain is an acid trip of a film. Add to this commentary some of the most gorgeous cinematography you will ever lay eyes on (as well as an ending that feels right out of a Monty Python sketch) and you have one of my favorite movies of all time.

    I won't pretend the film is perfect. The somewhat repetitive commentary on the nature…

  • The Shining

    The Shining

    ★★★★★

    I finally get it.

    While I’ve always appreciated The Shining for the cultural touchstone that it is, I’ve personally also found it to be a bit of slog (and that’s coming from someone who loves Kubrick’s other work - 2001 included). But tonight I watched the European cut for the first time (a version also edited by Kubrick that excises nearly 30 minutes of extra material) and I gotta say, I find it to be far superior. 

    Yes, the more…