I know that it took me forever, but oh well, here it is. There was quite a few movies that I haven’t gotten the chance to see just yet, so this may not be the most definitive list of what I loved this year, but you get the picture. It was a solid year for film (if not for politics and general civil rights, but that’s a different story for another blog), and if this was any indication of how my cinematic-tastes have changed, it’s only going to get better from here. Or weirder. Take your pick. Either way, and without further ado, here’s my picks. Take from them what you will:
10. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missourri
Definitely one of the more controversial movies of the year, but with good reason: It was rough, mean, in-your-face, not afraid to offend, and most importantly, brash. It was also incredibly well-acted and across-the-board and an indication that Martin McDonagh, one of our better screenwriters, is back and here to stay. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait so long for another one from him.
9. It Comes at Night
Another challenging movie that definitely pissed a lot of people off, but once again, with good reason: It wasn’t afraid to go where so very few horror movies do and that’s just bask in its depression and darkness. Sure, questions were left hanging and answers barely came around, but hey, it’s the rare horror movie where it’s less about the scary stuff, and more about the awful and complete distasteful humans we can become when push comes to shove. So yeah, happy stuff.
8. LA 92
My only doc on the list and one I wish more people saw. Even with so many freakin’ documentaries on the L.A. Riots this year, LA 92 somehow surpassed them all, but without really doing all that much; all it did was use archival footage from news-crews, on-the-street-people, and over-head shots from hovering helicopters. Yet, it’s one of the more intense and compelling documentaries I’ve seen in quite some time, that at the end of all the destruction, carnage and mayhem, has a simple message: Why can’t we all just get along?
7. Good Time
To be fair, no, I haven’t re-watched this, which probably means it doesn’t hold-up. But then again, I haven’t re-watched any of the other movies on this list, either, and basing it off of the first-time watch alone. And in that case, Good Time was one of the more intense, thrilling and unpredictable movies I saw this year, with a spell-binding and wild performance from Pattinson, that somehow kept up with the even crazier pace let on by the Safdies. Also, for a movie that’s so much about the muck and grittiness of New York City, it sure does make it look beautiful in all its moodiness.
6. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Screw the trolls and all the haters, the Last Jedi was the best Star Wars movie ever since the Empire Strikes Back. Granted, that may not be saying too much, but when such a mainstream entry into an already huge franchise is able to bring out all sorts of unexpected emotions out of me, it deserves to take the highest praise imaginable. By getting Rian Johnson, Star Wars did right by die-hards and general fans alike, giving us all the best action, excitement, and overall emotion that we’ve all needed so much from this franchise ever since it was first announced. Let’s hope it stays this way.
5. Lady Bird
A coming-of-ager based on the life of someone’s last year in high-school is right up my alley, but somehow, Lady Bird felt a lot different from what I expected. Sure, it was autobiographical and a little nostalgic, but it was also ridiculously sad, sweet, heartfelt, honest, raw, and well-done by all means, that it never felt like it was made with the intentions of bragging or even trying to relate. It was just a simple story about the time when everything is literally about to change, the confusion, the happiness, the dread, and the anxiety that we all felt during that time. Greta Gerwig made this movie for herself, but somehow, we could all connect to it and for that, it was a huge achievement in film-making alone and possibly the best thing she’s ever done (including the movies she’s acted in).
4. God’s Own Country
Just saw this one, so yeah, it may be a little too fresh in my mind, but that said, it’s still a beautiful little darling of a movie. By moving at its own slow pace, not having all that much dialogue, and focusing on the general landscape that surrounds the characters, it somehow found the inner-peace, yet, sadness of everyone living here. It’s a love story, for sure, and definitely a coming-of-ager, but also a movie about realizing where you’re from, where you live, accepting it, moving on, and trying to do the best that you can, with who you can find and suddenly meet. It’s corny, sure, but it still somehow works.
3. Call Me By Your Name
And yet again, another love-story revolving around two men that also works as something of a coming-of-ager, but with so many more heightened emotions, it felt a lot closer to me. It gave off that raw, sometimes confusing feeling of love, not knowing the next best move to make or do, and also, just how to make it clear to that person you have affection for, that you feel that for. It’s a beautiful movie in the way it looks, feels, and is acted, especially with that spit-fire chemistry between Chalamet and Hammer, but it’s so much more than just a simple love-story and for that, it gets the highest-praise.
2. Phantom Thread
Another one that I just recently saw so you’ll excuse my fresh feelings, but still, I will stand by this choice. First of all, it’s the most restrained I’ve seen PT Anderson in awhile, where instead of focusing on camera-trickery and style-points, he just follows the story, the period-setting, and most of all, these brilliant and interesting characters. And it’s a smart idea because with this amazing cast, you can literally do no wrong, especially with Daniel Day-Lewis in what may, or may not be, his final role. I’ll wait and see how that holds up, but if that is indeed the case, he’s going out on an extremely high-note and one that he should most definitely be proud of. As we all should be for having watched him give great performance, after great performance.
1. The Florida Project
It was close, but I had to go with Sean Baker’s latest that is the culmination of his long and wonderful career. In a way, it was a lot like my favorite from last year, American Honey, in that it focused on the portion of American society that we so rarely see in movies, yet, never talked down to them or judged them. It was beautiful, smart, hilarious, sad, disturbing, brutal, and most importantly, passionate. It wants better for these characters, their lives, and what society has mandated for them to do and be for the rest of their lives and it’s something that we, as normal, everyday citizens of this planet, can’t turn a blind-eye to. Without saying too much at all, Baker is demanding that we do something, immediately, so that children like Monee, Scooty, and Jancy, aren’t left by the waist-side because of inattentive parents doing the best that they can, with so very little, but also demanding that we do something for said parents, like Halley and Ashley, who are doing everything that they can to stay good in a world that’s constantly knocking them down and dragging them in the mud. If this is sounding something like a liberal’s fantasy, then so be it, I’m fine with that. It’s why movies like the Florida Project exist and remind us that these people exist in our world, need our assistance, and it’s never too late to try.
That’s how it should be every year, not just when an orange marmalade is running the country.