John Waters is one of the fiercest voices in cinema. His daringly independent heart and soul brings a unique perspective and reminds us that film, like all art, is a subjective medium, and should be celebrated as such.

Waters' yearly list is something to look forward to because it usually points me toward titles I have not heard about and broadens my horizons. 

So let's take a look at this auteur's list and a few quotes about each film from him. You can read his list with detailed notes on ArtForum.

Here's the summary! 

What Does John Waters Think Are the Best Movies of 2021? 

1. ANNETTE (Leos Carax) 

"The best movie of the year is an insane, over-the-top, and thankfully self-indulgent Sparks Brothers musical about an angry macho performance artist, his opera-diva girlfriend, and their daughter, who is somehow born a puppet."


"Wait till you see Nina Simone—never angrier! She’ll kick your ass and so will this movie."

3. VORTEX (Gaspar Noé) 

"The director’s most humane and unironic yet scarily claustrophobic feel-bad drama about death is filmed in split-screen Duo-Vision, so be prepared for twice the disturbing power of his other cinematic shockers." 

4. FRANCE (Bruno Dumont) 

"This psychological study of a fictitious popular female newscaster may start out conventionally, but the assured director’s long pauses and cruel plot twists quickly turn a quasi attack on the media..." 

5. THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOY IN THE WORLD (Kristina Lindström, Kristian Petri)  

"This harrowing documentary explores the perils of teen stardom for the kid who got the part and went from being the most beautiful to the most fucked up."

6. MANDIBLES (Quentin Dupieux) 

"The stupidest art film of the also one of the funniest and most charming."

7. RED ROCKET (Sean Baker) 

"The male gaze comes out of today’s PC closet in an incredibly well-cast tale of a washed-up hetero male porn star who goes back to his meth-head ex-wife and mother-in-law in Texas to start a new dysfunctional life."


"If Ingmar Bergman came back from beyond the grave today to direct Shakespeare on film, this is what it would look like." 

9. SAINT-NARCISSE (Bruce LaBruce)

"Catholic, sexy, and oh so deviantly devout."

10. THE ONANIA CLUB (Tom Six) 

"Often wrongheaded but sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, it has been rejected by film distributors worldwide. All I can say is that the movie sure as hell delivers."