Barack Obama Shares Favourite 2021 Films and Books

Barack Obama

Former U.S. president Barack Obama recently took to Instagram to share some of his favourite films and books from 2021 — a tradition he began when he was in office. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Former U.S. president Barack Obama has named The Last Duel and West Side Story as two of his favourite films of the year.

Every year, the former leader releases his list of favourite films, TV shows and books on social media, and he kept up the tradition on Thursday, when he shared his top movies of 2021.

Despite being a box office flop, Ridley Scott’s medieval epic The Last Duel made the cut, as well as Steven Spielberg’s new adaptation of West Side Story and Paul Schrader’s The Card Counter.

Barack Obama
Photo: Instagram/Barack Obama


His list featured a number of films expected to be major Academy Award contenders, including Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth and Rebecca Hall’s Passing. Judas and the Black Messiah, which features on the list, was released in February and won two Oscars at the 2021 ceremony.

The rundown also includes a documentary — Summer of Soul — and three foreign-language films — Drive My Car, The Worst Person in the World and Quo Vadis, Aida?

The list is rounded out by Mike Mills’ C’mon, C’mon, the Western flick Old Henry, and Nicolas Cage’s indie revenge drama Pig.

“Each of these films tells a powerful story, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did,” Obama wrote beside his list.

He also invited his followers to send him their recommendations, writing, “Since these are works I have actually listened to, watched, or read, I’m sure I’ve missed some worthy stuff. So if you have your own recommendations to share, I’ll add them to the stack of books and movies I hope to catch up on over the holidays!”



Barack Obama’s Favourite 2021 Reads


The former president also perused his bookshelves and shared a list of reads that left “a lasting impression” on him in 2021.

The 13-item list, which covers a variety of genres, includes two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle. The New York Times bestseller follows furniture salesman Ray Carney as he’s pulled into Harlem’s criminal underground by his cousin Freddie after a botched hotel heist.

Barack Obama
Photo: Instagram/BarackObama


The list also includes Crying in H Mart by Korean American musician Michelle Zauner, who writes of her experience growing up as one of the few Asian Americans at her school in Eugene, Ore., the painful loss of her mother and how she forged her own identity. While it’s the singer-songwriter’s first book, the memoir is an expansion of an essay of the same name she wrote for The New Yorker in 2018.

Obama’s roundup dips into the non-fiction genre with Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Andrea Elliott’s Invisible Child, which tells the story of Dasani Coates, a child living in a Brooklyn homeless shelter who appeared on the front page of the New York Times for five straight days in 2013. The book is the culmination of nearly a decade of reporting, following Coates as she balances her siblings’ care and her own aspirations while facing the realities of inequality in the American city.

Scroll down for a look at the rest of Obama’s 2021 picks:

Matrix by Lauren Groff

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith

These Precious Days by Ann Patchett

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang

—Andrew Wright