Hello Grandville! It is I, your inconsistent film critic who manages to be late even without a deadline! Yeah, I know I slacked off a bit last year. School, life, etc. kept me from writing, but alas, I am back. And what am I here to discuss? My favorite films of last year. Thankfully, I saw more good movies than bad ones this year, so I have plenty of material for this list.
Studio A24 is a group that makes great, original films: from the chilling (Under The Skin and Ex Machina) to the heartfelt (Lady Bird and The Disaster Artist), all of their films would probably never exist anywhere else due to Hollywood’s obsession with potential franchises. And the horrific Hereditary is no exception to their successes. Never since The Shining has a dysfunctional family been this horrific, and the supernatural is only an added bonus. This film sent shivers down my spine constantly, and I even found myself genuinely terrified at many parts. My only complaint? The ending. I don’t want to spoil it, but if you’ve seen Rosemary’s Baby it’ll be all too familiar. Other than that, Hereditary is a perfectly horrific experience.
9. A Quiet Place
Directed by the man who played Jim on The Office (of all people), A Quiet Place is a unique and spectacular film, which almost always utilizes it’s concept in a brilliant way. The film recognises the sacrifice permanent quietness has: the struggles to communicate, the need for rather unique solutions, and even the threats it poses that I personally never even thought of. Quiet Place also contains my favorite monster of the year, which is a major plus. My only complaint with this film is the unnecessary addition of “suspense music”. The point of the film is that it’s unnerving silence, so adding in loud and bombastic music ruins the experience. Other than that, it’s my favorite horror film of the year.
8. Incredibles 2
When a second Incredibles was announced, I was worried if it would end up as a Cars 2 or a Toy Story 2. But when I saw it, I happily realised that it was much more of a Toy Story 2. Many would argue that the previous Incredibles is better, and there definitely is things the original does better (like the villain). But this film brought back everything the world loved about the original: the humor, the heart, the style, and the action. When a film can make a fight scene between a superpowered baby and a raccoon absolutely (unironically) phenomenal, then I’d say it’s destined for greatness.
7. Black Panther
I know what you’re thinking: Black Panther at only number 7?! Well, I did enjoy this film way more than I ever thought I would, but I wouldn’t go as far as calling it the best superhero film ever made, or campaigning to get it a best picture win. But with that being said, Ryan Coogler’s vision of the beloved character gave me everything I ever wanted from a Black Panther movie, and more. The world of Wakanda is perfectly realised, along with the brilliant and thought provoking script. Plus, Michael B. Jordan gives one of the best performances of the year as Killmonger; easily the best villian in a superhero film since Heath Ledger’s Joker.
6. Creed II
Speaking of Michael B. Jordan, let’s talk about his surprisingly overlooked follow-up to one of the best films of his career: Creed II. The original is better, but this sequel stands out in it’s own right. Other than the brilliant choice of an antagonist (and giving Ivan Drago actual humanity), this film feels like a perfect continuation of the original, with some of the most human moments of any film this year. Plus, Stallone shows once again that he’s far from done with his most famous role in another perfect performance as the iconic Italian Stallion. In fact, the franchise still manages to be fresh and heartfelt after over 40 years, and this film only shows that it’s far from done.
5. Avengers: Infinity War
Marvel’s biggest film yet, Infinity War feels like a perfectly realised comic book brought to the big screen. It is also my most rewatched film of the year, and for good reason. It has everything I’ve come to love about the MCU; the characters being as true-to-form as ever, the epic Wakanda battle, and the MCU’s best villain yet, Thanos. Who would’ve thought that this character would’ve sparked so much debate when he was first teased in The Avengers? The MCU has come a long way since Robert Downey Jr. first donned the Iron Man suit, and quite frankly, I can’t wait to see where it goes next.
One of the most tragically overlooked films of the year, Annihilation is a mix of horrific and beautiful on a rotating basis. It is also the most thought-provoking film of the year, with some of the most unique scenes of any film I have ever seen. At times, I almost felt like Stanley Kubrick came back from the dead to make this, but it also contains enough unique qualities to stand out on it’s own. Natalie Portman gives her best performance since Black Swan, and the rest of the supporting cast stands out on their own as well. The Oscars will most likely ignore this one, which is a huge shame. Because as far as I’m concerned, Annihilation may be one of the best science fiction films of the decade.
Spike Lee revived his career big-time with Blackkklansman, and we’re all the better for it. Who else could make a film about infiltrating the KKK funny, suspenseful, action-packed, horrific, and profound on a constantly rotating basis? This little masterpiece of a film also contains some of the best performances of the year: John David Washington lives up to his father’s legacy in a performance that makes Superfly look like a wimp, and Adam Driver perfectly captures his conflicted character in a believable and honest way. I don’t know what hasn’t been said with this film: it truly is a masterpiece. And Oscars, at least consider it for best picture.
2. The Other Side of the Wind
Is this cheating? This film was meant to come out in the 70s, but was left for dead until recently, and restored thanks to several dedicated filmmakers, and finally released to the public this year. So I guess it can be included on my best of the year list. This film is probably best known for the long, grueling process of bringing it to life (with Netflix advertising the documentary based around it more than the film itself), but Orson Welles’ honest portrayal of Hollywood manages to be a landmark of cinema. Is it perfect? No. There are definitely some flaws, but that is mostly because it’s style of filmmaking had not been done much before. But between the technical cracks are some of the best performances of the 70s, a brilliant script that goes from hysterical to heartfelt within seconds (without ever being forced), and Welles’ mastery of his craft make his final film one of his best.
They Shall Not Grow Old
Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen, with each frame dripping with passion from everyone involved. When I first heard of the film, I was extremely excited, albeit cautious. The technology involved was incredible (along with bringing this footage from over 100 years ago to life), but would it overshadow everything else? Would it be a one-trick horse? Thankfully, it never even came close. Peter Jackson’s loyalty to WWI paid off: his masterful use of commentary from over 100 veterans telling their own wartime stories and the restored footage (and newfound audio) tell a story about life in war: the good times, the horrors of battle, and even the times when the enemy didn’t seem that different. I was fortunate to see this in theaters, and I adored every minute of it.