‘Shiva Baby’: The Best Movie of 2021 That You’ve Never Heard of


Maria Rusche/Shiva Baby

Rachel Sennott stars in the best movie of the year, Shiva Baby

Licorice Pizza was one of the best movies of the year, and also happens to be very Jewish. However, it isn’t even the best Jewish movie of the year. That’s because it’s just so happened that the best movie of the year is very Jewish. The best movie of the year is Shiva Baby. Don’t feel bad about not seeing it. Shiva Baby was never going to be a hit. It was released during COVID, and after a very brief theatrical release, went straight to streaming. But after excellent reviews from critics, the movie is becoming an unlikely indie hit, garnering several awards nominations. 


Shiva Baby is about Danielle, a sugar baby, who runs into her sugar daddy Max at a shiva. Also attending the shiva are Danielle’s parents, her ex-girlfriend, and Max’s wife and child. The film is the directorial debut of Emma Seligman, based on her short film of the same name. It stars Rachel Sennott, who was, and unfortunately, still is, basically unknown. It also features Molly Gordon, who you might know from Booksmart or Good Boys, Fred Melamed, who plays the boss in Wandavision, and Dianna Agron, from Glee.


Shiva Baby is not a movie for the faint of heart. Be prepared for a lot of anxiety, stress and second-hand embarrassment. Danielle makes a lot of mistakes. However, this works in the movie’s favor, because character-focused movies need to have at least one relatable character, and Danielle is an extremely relatable character. While the mistakes you’ve made around your family are probably not as extreme as Danielle’s, everyone should be able to find one error that they themselves have made or could make.


The stress-inducers of the movie also provide relatability. Whether it be trying to navigate a cramped space full of people, escaping an awkward conversation, or losing your phone with sensitive information on it, there is something for everyone. Furthermore, if you are in a rare position where you don’t get stressed by these situations, the sound design in this movie will more than make up for your lack of anxiety. Composer Ariel Marx went with a score reminiscent of slasher horror movies like Psycho, with a lot of sharp violin noises. Furthermore, there is a baby at the titular shiva, and like most infants, it cries incessantly. For people like me who hate the sound of a baby’s wailing, the feelings of stress will only increase.


Shiva Baby is a perfect mix of humor, stress, sweetness, horror, awkwardness, relatability and Jewishness. It came out in a time where even it’s miniscule chances of becoming a hit were dashed. But thanks to a very strong critical reaction, it has become a current and possibly future cult classic. 


Shiva Baby can be watched on HBO Max or most VOD services.