Metacritic Users Pick the Best of 2021

  • Publish Date: January 7, 2022
  • Comments: ↓ 6 user comments

The results of our 12th annual user poll are in ...

Best of 2020For the 12th straight year, we invited Metacritic users to list their favorite movies, TV shows, albums, and videogames of the past calendar year. Over 2,200 of you participated in this year's survey, and the results are tabulated below.

Participants were asked to rank their five favorite titles of 2021 in each category, and we assigned a value of 5 points to each first-place vote, 4 points for second place, and so on down to 1 point for each fifth-place vote.


Denis Villeneuve's new version of Dune, the first of a planned two-part adaptation of the classic sci-fi novel, was the #1 film among Metacritic users over the past year. That title was one of several overlaps between our users' top 15 films and the top 15 titles appearing on critics' year-end lists, though, as always, the orders differed between the two groups. Critics have Dune in fourth place, for example, while their #1 film, The Power of the Dog, was ranked fifth by Metacritic users.

But there was a greater mismatch between user and critic lists this year than in years past—which could be due, in part, to the difficulty in actually seeing many of these films as the pandemic dragged on for another year. In fact, 11 of the critics' top 15 consensus picks did not show up in our users' top 15 selections. Titles highly ranked by critics but not by our users include Japanese drama Drive My Car, documentary Summer of Soul, Steven Spielberg's West Side Story remake, Danish import The Worst Person in the World, and Nicolas Cage drama Pig, among many others. And user selections not showing up on critic lists with regularity include House of Gucci, The Suicide Squad and, most notably, Lamb, an Icelandic thriller starring Noomi Rapace that so far has only appeared on one (out of 265!) critic top-10 lists. Another example is Spider-Man: No Way Home, though the latter is a well-reviewed film that debuted so late in the year that many critics didn't get a chance to see it before publishing their lists.

Best Movie of 2021 as Voted by Metacritic Users
movie still
Movie  Points
1 Dune 2,557 bar
2 Belfast 2,465 bar
3 CODA 1,103 bar
4 Lamb 1,013 bar
5 The Power of the Dog 1,008 bar
6 House of Gucci 978 bar
7 tick, tick...BOOM! 855 bar
8 Spider-Man: No Way Home 823 bar
9 The Green Knight 716 bar
10 The Mitchells vs. The Machines 708 bar
11 The Last Duel 672 bar
12 The Suicide Squad 663 bar
13 In the Heights 607 bar
14 Licorice Pizza 587 bar
15 Zack Snyder's Justice League 583 bar

TV shows

While critics and Metacritic users may have disagreed about 2021's best films, they were definitely on the same page when it came to TV. Not only did both groups agree on the year's best show—the third season of HBO's hit drama Succession—but the makeup of each group's consensus top 15 selections differed by just three titles. User favorites not among the critics' top selections include Netflix's League of Legends series Arcane, the Robert Kirkman animated series Invincible, and Marvel's Loki. Actually, all three of those titles did appear on numerous individual critic lists but landed just outside of the group's overall top 15. And the three critic favorites not qualifying for our users' top 15 were FX's Reservation Dogs (which nearly made the cut), Peacock's We Are Lady Parts, and Apple's For All Mankind.

Best TV Show of 2021 as Voted by Metacritic Users
movie still
Show Points
1 Succession (HBO) 1,404 bar
2 Arcane (Netflix) 805 bar
3 Mare of Easttown (HBO) 682 bar
4 Squid Game (Netflix) 658 bar
5 WandaVision (Disney+) 584 bar
6 Ted Lasso (Apple TV+) 446 bar
7 Loki (Disney+) 432 bar
8 Midnight Mass (Netflix) 381 bar
9 The White Lotus (HBO) 380 bar
10 What We Do in the Shadows (FX) 319 bar
11 Invincible (Prime Video) 297 bar
12 Hacks (HBO Max) 279 bar
13 The Underground Railroad (Prime Video) 250 bar
14 Only Murders in the Building (Hulu) 227 bar
15 It's a Sin (HBO Max) 188 bar


Well, so much for agreement. Metacritic users—at least those who submitted year-end picks—certainly had a different opinion about 2021's best albums than critics did. Only six of the top 15 consensus picks by music critics (including critics' overall #1 selection, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert by Little Simz, and their #2 pick, Tyler the Creator's Call Me If You Get Lost) also cracked our users' top 15. And none of our users' top six picks can be found among the critics' top selections. In fact, our users' #1 overall choice, Keys by Alicia Keys, does not even appear on a single one of the 173 critic top 10 lists we have compiled. Nor does #2 pick Formula of Love: O+T=<3 by K-pop group Twice, though that album, at least, received strong reviews upon its November release. The same can't be said about users' #3 selection, Kanye West's Donda, which ranks among the worst-reviewed major album releases of the year.

Best Album of 2021 as Voted by Metacritic Users
Album/Artist Points
1 Keys by Alicia Keys 1,142 bar
2 Formula of Love: O+T=<3 by Twice 1,083 bar
3 Donda by Kanye West 903 bar
4 The Off-Season by J. Cole 628 bar
5 Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish 526 bar
6 In These Silent Days by Brandi Carlile 523 bar
7 30 by Adele 456 bar
8 Sour by Olivia Rodrigo 412 bar
9 Red (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift 371 bar
10 Call Me If You Get Lost by Tyler, The Creator 360 bar
11 King's Disease II by Nas 334 bar
12 Blue Weekend by Wolf Alice 333 bar
13 Sometimes I Might Be Introvert by Little Simz 316 bar
14 Pink Noise by Laura Mvula 293 bar
15 Montero by Lil Nas X 255 bar


It was the closest race we could remember in the history of our annual user poll, but the PS5 console exclusive time-loop shooter Deathloop finished atop our user selections—by a mere three points over #2 pick, the Xbox console exclusive Halo Infinite. In fact, the race was fairly close among the top five picks, reflecting a year in which numerous games were delayed to 2022, many of the year's best-reviewed titles (see our lists for PS, Xbox, PC, and Switch) were remasters or expansions, and no one game really dominated the conversation. (By comparison, our users had a very clear runaway #1 pick in our previous year's poll.)

Best Video Game of 2021 as Voted by Metacritic Users
Game Points
1 Deathloop
1,299 bar
2 Halo Infinite
1,296 bar
3 Metroid Dread
1,127 bar
4 Forza Horizon 5
1,061 bar
5 It Takes Two
989 bar
6 Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker
898 bar
7 Resident Evil Village
731 bar
8 Psychonauts 2
721 bar
9 Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
582 bar
10 Returnal
515 bar
11 Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy
299 bar
12 Shin Megami Tensei V
224 bar
13 Hitman 3
219 bar
14 Tales of Arise
183 bar
15 Kena: Bridge of Spirits
176 bar

How did you do?

What do you think of the picks made by your fellow users? Let us know in the comments section below, and don't forget to visit our Best of 2021 and sections for complete coverage of the year's best releases.

Comments (6)

  • Reuben-Aust  

    Although Alicia Keys won the user vote, there are only 7 user ratings for the album.

    Moreover, none of her two singles, "Lala (Unlocked)" featuring Swae Lee and "Best of Me", charted except for #25 & 9, respectively, on Billboard's U.S. Adult R&B Songs.

    For that reason, I think a reasonable case can be made that the true winner is Twice's FORMULA OF LOVE: O+T=

  • Eggo_P_Luffy  

    Star Wars: Visions deserves to be on that list.

    As a matter of fact, it deserves as much recognition as most of the shows on the list. The animation that the Japanese studios bring out and its storytelling are some of the reasons why it deserves to be one of the best TV shows of 2021.

  • Jarcon  

    NICE!!! Deathloop is way above all the competition. It only requires intelligent player, not the button masher.

  • dandalis  

    Deathloop winning Best Game category is peak clown world.

  • MrPositiveClint  

    Dune being the #1 movie is a stretch, though I did enjoy it and the cinemotography already has the Oscar locked up I'm sure. Wasn't the 2nd season of the Witcher released in 2021? Shocked that's not on the tv list. Getting ready to watch Arcane! Can't wait to play both Deathloop and Halo Infinite! All of those music selections are pop music except Wolf Alice, which is amazing by the way.

  • AvuvuDennis  

    Alicia Keys' new album is spectacular. Well deserved win.

    Glad to see Belfast and especially LAMB making the Top 5 Films of the year. Both equally great films.

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