January – Coco
A film that’s just as beautiful now as it was when it was released. This film is incredibly emotional, but it is also life-affirming. Yes, you’ll cry your eyes out, but you’ll also feel uplifted by the whole thing. Another great thing about it is that it used a mostly Latino cast, they didn’t just hire a lot of white people and get them to do a mildly racist accent. On the downside, apparently, when this was released it was pre-empted with a new short film based on Frozen, which is a somewhat misguided thing to do. This was one of the first films I saw that year, so it could really only go downhill from there.
February – Lady Bird
Or it could get better. This is a personal favourite of mine. I know quite a few people who hate this film, and I get it. It meanders a lot and doesn’t really have a plot. Considering how important story is to me, you’d think I would hate this. But something about this film makes me love it. I think it’s the general tone of it, it’s very warm. It’s basically an Instagram filter placed on polaroid pictures of treasured memories. It makes me nostalgic for a life I never even had, for a time which I didn’t really experience.
March – Blockers
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; it’s incredibly refreshing to see a teen sex comedy from a female perspective. Not many films admit that teenage girls enjoy sex. It’s mostly teenage boys “conquering” girls until they sleep with them. The idea that women can get pleasure from sex is weirdly missing from films (with the exception of two characters; the slut, and the cheating girlfriend/wife), so it is nice to see this film. Also, it’s hilarious, full of great performances all round.
April – A Quiet Place
In 1952 John Cage composed the piece 4’33”. It’s basically: everyone in the orchestra puts their instruments down and do nothing for four minutes, thirty-three seconds. The intention is that it makes people listen to the background noise, to make them aware of the atmospheric sounds around this. This film does that, Because the audience noise was so sporadic, when it did happen it wasn’t annoying, it was scary. That’s what makes this film unique, every time you see it will be different because you’ll have to listen to the background noises around you. They’ll be people uncomfortable who’ll be adjusting their position, which creates noise that scares you, that exact scare will never happen again for any other screening, it’s unique to that one experience. It’s a horror movie with audience participation. I tried watching it on a plane, though, and it didn’t really work.
May – Deadpool 2
This….this was not a good month for me. Most the films released this month that I’d want to see weren’t released at cinemas (How To Talk To Girls At Parties I can understand as was low budget etc, but the cinema showed trailers for Entebbe all the time so how can they not show that?). I prefer this film to the first one, the story is much better for one. I always felt that most of the first film felt like a set-up to the final scene, rather than one continuous story. This felt like a flowing story with a beginning, middle, and end. Plus it also genuinely surprised me, the marketing campaign hid what this film was actually about better than any film I’ve seen (including Endgame). Luckily it did it in a funny way so you didn’t feel annoyed and disappointed. The big downside is TJ Miller is still in it. I would have understood if they reshot his scenes with someone else.
June – Hereditary
The best way I can showcase my feelings about this film is to quote my original review:
It’s been a few days since I watched this. I needed the cool-down period so that I could approach this with the sophistication and slick analytical nature which we are known for. So here goes: WHAT THE COCKING SHIT-FUCK WAS THAT?
I still maintain it’s worthy of the cocking shit fuck. I may have been wrong a few minutes ago when I said Deadpool hid what the film was about the best. This completely misled the audience. Kudos to the film for having the sheer balls to kill what looked like the main character, and so brutally too, I like marketing that works like that, when it deliberately deceives you, but not in a way that you feel cheated, but in a way that it means the story beats come as a complete surprise. It’s the way of saying “okay, now all bets are off” and it throws you off. That’s what you want from this film, you want to be unsettled and to feel like you’re constantly on the backfoot. That sense of unease and uncertainty is essential to a film like this. I love it, but don’t want to watch it again.
July – The Incredibles 2
The first one was Incredible, and this one was Incredible two (I’m so sorry). Everything about this film just works beautifully, the voice-work, the way it looks, the story, it all interacts with each other in the most wonderful way. The story is serviceable, it doesn’t come anywhere near the depth of Toy Story 3, or the heart of Finding Dory, but that doesn’t actually matter. You’re not sitting there thinking “well this story is pedestrian” because the way the film is done you don’t really care, you’re just sitting there amazed at what you see unveiling in front of you. It does what it needs to do, and it does it well. That’s not to say it’s a simple movie, it’s probably the only mass-market animated movie this year that has dealt with the themes this does. Themes of masculinity and feeling worthless because you’re not the one the family depends on, the emasculation that can cause. Was it worth the wait? Kind of. I mean, I’d be annoyed if they said we had to wait 14 years until the next one, but I’d rather they get everything perfect than rush it out. Like A Quiet Place, I watched this on a plane too. Well, I attempted to, the guy sitting next to me was watching it too and he was about 2 minutes ahead of me. I had to stop the film as I knew I would never win that race.
August – Searching
It HAD to be this. It HAD to. This is one of my favourite films, not just of that year, but of all time. A true hidden gem. It’s so good I struggle to talk about it. It does SO much right, and I can’t wait to see it again. *spoilers* even the happy ending doesn’t feel forced or tacked on. Some films are so good they inspire you to make similar films, this film is so good it will kind of make you want to give up as you know you will never touch it. It’s apt that I reviewed this after finishing the Saw series blogs, because that series could learn a lot from this about how to craft a compelling mystery. The film is about a girl who goes missing, and her fathers attempts to find her, but the entire film takes place on computer screens. This has been done before; with Unfriended, which considering I now call that “Unfriended. A.k.a, fuck that film” should show how highly I regarded that film, and my expectations for this. I have a love/hate relationship with “gimmick” films. You know what I mean, the kind where the biggest sell of it isn’t the plot or actors, but the way they made the film. When they’re done well, like Buried (one person in a casket for the entire film), they’re a great piece of film-making, but they have to be great, because if they’re only okay (Unsane), then the fact it’s a gimmick-heavy film works makes it seem worse. Every writer should watch this film, so should every editor. In fact, everyone who wants to get involved in film-making should watch this film, it’s just so damn good.
September – The House With A Clock In Its Walls
This film is the work of someone who knows what they’re doing, but is toning it down slightly for the younger audience. This is definitely a film for kids, it is a slight horror but it has that warm feeling that you associate with films from the ’80s like ET etc. There’s an air of warm nostalgia to the whole thing that will warm the hearts of fans of those films. It’s incredibly, I don’t know, cosy. Just because it’s a difficult film to dislike, does not mean it’s an easy film to love. It just doesn’t really do much to make you remember it for years to come. The final third almost manages it, with a chaotically fast-paced piece that is logical and weird. The whole film is weird, which makes sense as that’s the message of the film: weird is good, embrace the weirdness. Also; bullies are dickholes.
October – Halloween
I’ve never seen a Halloween film. Well that’s a lie, I might have seen the first one, but when I was like 10 so I wasn’t really paying attention to it. As such my knowledge of the film series is stuff I absorb through pop-culture osmosis. So I know a little bit (He’s called Michael Myers, the third one is unconnected to the rest of the series and was originally meant to be the second one, THAT music etc), but not enough that I feel emotionally connected to. Despite that; I still REALLY enjoyed this. It seems to ignore all but the first one, and is all the better for it. You don’t need to have watched a lot of films to get this, as long as you know the basics of the character you should be fine, actually considering how well scripted this is I don’t even think you’ll need that. It does a great job of bringing you up to speed, explaining what’s haunting certain characters. The downsides of this film; there’s one death which is kind of embarrassing to watch. It’s where Michael Myers stamps on someone’s head, it looks incredibly fake and is almost comical. It breaks the tension completely and takes you out of the moment. There are also issues with the characters. The ones who survive are fine, it’s the ones who die that you don’t really care for. There are some characters with promise who then die before they get to fulfil that promise. And there is a twist which is completely unnecessary and stops mattering after a few minutes, it seems like it is only there because it was the only way they could think of to move the plot from one moment to the next. Luckily the moment that builds up to is superb.
November – Ralph Breaks The Internet
I enjoyed the first movie, it was fun, heartwarming, smart, and funny. It was done by people who had an obvious love for video games, specifically arcade and retro ones. This one……doesn’t really work, for many reasons. Firstly, it kind of feels like a generic movie, not a Wreck It Ralph sequel. The first movie doesn’t seem to come into play much here, it’s not a natural progression and feels like it could have been written featuring any characters. Too many of the jokes veer into “this is a thing, we are referencing the thing, now laugh!” territory. There are some funny moments but they’re few and far between. This wouldn’t matter as much if the script was engaging, but it’s not. It’s incredibly bland, I was actually bored many times throughout this. When it approached what I thought could be an ending I was actually disappointed to be proven wrong. There’s an entire subplot about characters from the first movie starting a family which takes up a grand total of about 3 minutes of screentime. It’s kind of strange as you can tell the film was aiming to be emotionally heavy, and that would have been a good subplot to cut to to relieve tension and provide juxtaposition. It’s way too reminiscent of The Emoji movie for its own good.
December – Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
This film loves the character of Spider-man, you can tell this by the way it mocks him sometimes. It’s like the lego batman movie in that way, it does make fun of previous films, but it’s done with such knowledge and love. This is a different kind of comic book movie, for one thing, it’s REALLY weird. It’s a film for kids that deals with multiverse theory. It’s also incredibly meta, but not too much so. The voice work here is great too. The film-makers didn’t skimp when it came to casting, you’ve got real talent here: Hailee Steinfeld, Lily Tomlin, Nicholas Cage, Liev Schreiber, Kathryn Hahn etc. It also features what has to count as the best and most heartbreaking Stan Lee cameo ever. This is the first film released after his death (not counting the Deadpool 2 re-release), he appears on screen after Spider-man dies and says “I’m going to miss him”. F*cking heartbreaking. The most depressing part of the film, and there’s quite a lot of them, I mean, the original Spider-man gets killed early on, and all the alternate spider-men/pig/women are haunted by a death of someone, they’re defined by guilt about who they could not save. This is the best time to mention the characterisation of the different universe characters; they are all fully-fledged characters with motivations and backstories. This could be a film to launch a franchise.
The animation is some of the best you’ll see, with multiple styles displayed across the film, each incredibly distinct and gorgeous. The fight scenes are done brilliantly too, you never lose track of what’s happening, the final fight, in particular, is a masterpiece of surreal film-making that plays out like a AAA video game boss level. The soundtrack too, is amazing. It really suits the film, the songs are not only great but they go perfectly with the images. It does what a soundtrack should do, it complements the film perfectly. Yeah, I’ve said a lot of good things about this, with good reason, it’s BRILLIANT. The one downside is the flashing lights could cause a seizure, and that really should have been better publicised. Other than that? A great way for me to end the year, and this blog.