It’s 2019. Which means it’s time to look back at the year that was and the films that were with top lists, notes and stats and more.
Here are the stats that I weighed my lists against:
Total number of films that I saw which were released in 2018: 130
Total number of films I saw that were released in 2017: 33
Total number of first time watches I saw that were released in any other year: 13
My Top 10 First Time Watches of 2017 or earlier ranked:
8. Molly’s Game
7. American Made
5. Your Name
4. The Breadwinner
3. Straight Outa Compton
2. Secret of Kells
1. Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri.
My Top Films Which Were Released in 2018:
20. The Grinch
19. Three Identical Strangers
18. Leave No Trace
17. The Old Man and the Gun
16. Won’t You Be My Neighbor
15. The Sisters Brothers
14. Beautiful Boy
13. Mary Poppins
11. Green Book
10. Ready Player One
9. Can You Ever Forgive Me
7. Isle of Dogs
6. Paddington 2
5. First Man
2. Avengers: Infinity War
1. The Rider
Here is my link to my complete list of films ranked:
Here is a link to a piece I did on the Rider which explains the impact it had on me and why it made my #1 spot. In my next blog when I deal with 2018 on a thematic level I will get a bit more into why it moved from where it was into my number one spot following a good deal of reflection.
My Most Anticipated List of 2018 (compiled last December) and How They Fared:
Here was my list based on my top 12 Most Anticipated:
1. Paddington 2
3. First Man
4. Isle of Dogs
5. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
6. Ready Player One
7. The Sisters-Brothers
8. A Wrinkle in Time
9. Bilal: A new Kind of Hero
10. Please Stand By
11. A Quiet Place
12. The Long Dumb Road
- Quixote never got released and Please Stand By is still not available anywhere near me or on any available platforms as far as I can see.
- 5 are currently in my top 20 of the year (Paddington 2, First Man, Isle of Dogs, The Sisters Brothers, Ready Player One)
- 8 are 4 plus star ratings
- one is making a play for my favorite animated film of the year outside of Isle of Dogs (Bilal)
- One is making a play for my favorite theatrical experience of the year (RPO)
- One is in the contest for most underrated (Wrinkle in Time)
Not to bad overall I would say. The closest thing to a miss for me is Wrinkle In Time, and there are components of that film which I definitely very much appreciated.
SOME POINTS OF INTEREST FROM MY JOURNEY IN FILM OVER THIS PAST YEAR:
With the exception of the bottom five films on my ranked list, all the movies that got three stars or more on my list are films that I enjoyed, touched me and/or have an appreciation for. The way my personal filtering system works means I have a fairly good system for knowing when a film absolutely will not work for me and when it might. Which simply means in a given year I don’t tend to see very many of what I would label “bad” films, subjectively speaking of course, and where I do they tend to be random viewings on a streaming service here or there.
With that in mind, here are some other categories/thoughts/points of interest from my personal list of films overall:
It was the year of…
1. Ethan Hawke
Following his compelling performance in First Reformed, Hawke continued to impress me this year in one of my favorite romantic comedy dramas, Juliet, Naked and my much anticipated Blaze. It’s a wait and see for any awards consideration, but Hawke definitely left his mark on 2018 when it comes to the films I engaged with in 2018.
2. John C. Reilly
The Sisters Brothers was a powerful and oddly revisionist (yet not revisionist) western that not only was one of Reilly’s most exceptional performances, but celebrated one of the most powerful and most compelling cinematic endings I’ve seen in a long while. Meanwhile, Reilly was also hard at work giving life to one of the most genius and creative movie scripts of 2018 through his voice work in Wreck it Ralph, while also getting into serious character acting mode and awards consideration with the much anticipated and still to be released Stan and Ollie.
3. Hailee Steinfeld
The talented actress brought new life to the Transformers franchise, helping to shift it in a slightly fresh and decidedly more emotional direction. She was one of my favorite performances to watch on screen this year, and I am still marveling at how she took her raw talent and absolutely dominated the Blockbuster format. She showed us all how it is done. Couple that with her part in the crowd pleasing Into the Spiderverse and she is no doubt at the top of 2018 conversations.
4. Movies about systemic racism and how to heal it
Blindspotting absolutey floored me. BlacKKKlansman absolutely compelled me. Black Panther left me in awe. Greenbook inspired me. The Hate U Give broke me.
What do all of these films share in common? Setting racism in perspective by setting it into the context of relationships that reach across the lines of black and white by asking us to walk a mile in another persons shoes, in the case of each of these films those shoes being the ongoing and persistent struggle of African Americans in a Country where systemic racism absolutely still exists. If these films can add something to the conversation and push us as a society forward towards even a glimpse of what that means for today and where our responsibility lies “collectively” for helping to heal the divide, it could be an absolutely amazing thing.
5. The theater, Big Blockbusters and Independent films
Sometimes the conversation around theater gets confused, but lets be upfront and sure about this- the theater is not dead. In fact, it is breaking records. People still go to the movies when there is something they feel is worth going for. And according to the Box Office there was plenty, both big (Infinity War, Black Panther, Aquaman) and small (A Quiet Place, Eight Grade, Won’t You Be My Neighbour) that made 2018 a stellar year to get out and participate.
The most recognizable theme that stood out for me was…
Perpsective. The loss of it and how to gain it
Films in the conversation for most Underrated/Underseen:
1. Paul, The Apostle (powerful depiction of Paul from the perspective of the end of his life, the time period we probably no least about but that felt incredibly fitting for the cinematic experience).
2. Bilal (The highest rated film in this category, this was a powerful animated film that was not unlike Prince of Egypt in its raw depiction of faith and God and the story of God’s revelation across the lines of our mono-theistic religions. A truly Biblical epic with incredible visual sequences that left me broken, hopeful and inspired. I describe it as Jewish Storytelling that deals with an important figure and narrative in the Muslim Tradition in a way that sheds wonderful light on the shared Judeo-Christian imagery of light and dark, slave and free)
3. Welcome to Marwen (this years The Book of Henry for me, in that it is an original film that tries to do some original things and was desperately and sadly overlooked. One of Carrel’s best performances, and if this film did anything it made me think long after it was over.
4. Mortal Engines (It is sadly dead in the water before it even had a chance to find some legs, but I hold a real affection for this style of film making and thought they did a wonderful job at adapting one of my favorite books. It’s big, and although the YA material doesn’t rise to the same cinematic levels as the visuals, the story beats were there and the potential I thought could have carried it forward into a bright future, if only people had gotten out to see it).
5. Wrinkle in Time (I have a deep affection for the book, and while many derided this film, I feel it got the short end of the stick. Yes, it’s a bit muddied as a film, but the parts that they needed to get right and where the film could have accentuated, particularly the darker moments, I feel like it does really well with. And the complex message of the book I felt arrived intact, which for me said a lot).
Honorable Mentions: My most intriguing match up/battle of the year- Kin and Alpha. Both underappreciated films, with Kin boasting a wonderfully quiet sci- fi story and Alpha a special experience I got to share with my son whom really loves and has a fascination with wolves. Not only were they both visually wonderful, but they stuck with me emotionally
Favorite IMAX or Big Screen Experiences:
First Man (when it breaks open at the end for that final sequence it is unlike anything I have seen before)
Ready Player One (undeniably a visual accomplishment)
Mission Impossible: Fallout (this is what the big screen is made for.
Favorite Horror Film:
The Little Stranger
In a year where Hereditary ruled the roost (and rightly so), it is this small, unassuming story that captured me the most.
The Death of Stalin
Honorable Mention: Game Night
Most Enjoyable Viewing Experience:
Game Night (when a comedy hits with a crowded theater, there is seriously nothing like it.
Honorable Mentions: Christopher Robin (I had the special experience of seeing this with a group of young kids who were absolutely mesmerized by the characters and the story. So much so that their verbal participation broke out into claps and cheers at the end. It brought a real smile to my face and made an important figure from my childhood a truly special experience) and The Mule (My adenture towards seeing this film on a particular afternoon is a longer story involving a few different persons and strangers, but my experience in the film is what stands out here, as I had a chance to talk with an older couple who had never been to the theater in over 15 years. Something about Eastwood inspired them to come out, and they were confused about the process and in the wrong seats (my seat), but that fact allowed me to move over and chat with them about why I love the theater. They were quite amazed that the showing was sold out as they felt no one went to the movies anymore. Afterwards I think they were inspired enough to come back the next week to see Vice. That brought a smile to my face).
Movie I’m most hopeful earns a place in awards season conversation
The Rider (Don’t count it out. There’s a real chance it could gain momentum in some of the serious categories, and deservedly so. My hope that in some fantastic world it could earn a Best Picture nom might still be far fetched but not out of the question.
Honorable Mention: BlacKKKlansman (I predicted this one would gain steam in the awards race and on my personal list, and that appears to the case. I am seriously behind this one making a good run)
MY WISHLIST OF FILMS I STILL NEED TO SEE FROM 2018 THAT COULD CRACK MY TOP LIST
1. Stan and Ollie
2. Free Solo
3. Minding the Gap
4. If Beale Street Could Talk
7. The Front Runner
8. Madeline’s Madeline
11. Vox Lux
13. A Private War
14. American Animals
15. At Eternity’s Gate