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Your Year in Films


Devon Malcolm
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It's been a really good one, I think. I figured out that I've watched over 100 released over here this year, and I'd say out of all of them well over half are worth seeing.

Unless Bumblebee and / or Mortal Engines prove to be miraculously good, which seems unlikely, this would be my top 10 for the year:-

1) Blindspotting - It was going to take something special to stop Fallout from being my favourite of this year and this is it. Absolutely delighted I caught this at the cinema or it may have passed me by altogether. It features at least four of the best scenes of the year, Daveed Diggs probably puts in the lead performance of the year, and it treads the fine line between comedy and serious social commentary incredibly well. It's a masterpiece.

2) Mission: Impossible - Fallout - It's always nice to have your expectations met, isn't it. Amazing to think after Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation that I went into this with no nerves that this might not be as good but, y'know, this is even better. It will be under-appreciated because it's a mere action film but this is one of the greatest films of the decade.

3) BlacKkKlansman - The first film since Do the Right Thing that I've loved from Spike Lee. Again, great to have expectations met, this is powerful and funny and could not be better timed. Also, who knew that Steve Buscemi had an identikit brother?

4) To All the Boys I've Loved Before - A really cracking year for high school comedies (along with Lady Bird and Love, Simon among a couple of others) but this one is the smartest of them all and already one of my favourites of this genre too. More like this from Netflix in 2019 would be terrific.

5) Beast - Jessie Buckley with arguably the breakthrough performance of the year in a terrific psychological thriller which grows in my affections the more I think about it. Pleased this got a pretty wide cinema release, hopefully the talents involved will go on to bigger and equally good things.

6) Bad Times at the El Royale - Widely criticised for being a Tarantino knock-off, it isn't. It's a crime film that plays with chronology, that's all. I reckon this one will be viewed a lot more positively in coming years but it's easily one of the films of the year for me. Cynthia Erivo went from nowhere to one of the breakout stars of the year in the space of a couple of months thanks to this and Widows - she's brilliant in both.

7) You Were Never Really Here - Arguably the hardest hitting film of the year, Joaquin Phoenix produces the performance of his career in a stunning thriller that compresses a simple storyline into a running time that doesn't allow you to breathe for much time at any point.

8. American Animals - Bart Layton follows up The Imposter, possibly the best documentary of the decade, with another true life crime film which blurs reality and fiction in a way I've never seen before. Incredibly tense and brilliantly acted by all, it's maybe the best directed film of the year.

9) Leave No Trace - Ben Foster finally gets the lead role and character that fully exploits the talent me and @Scott Malbranque have been pestering everyone about for years. But this tale about a veteran with PTSD living in the wilds is perhaps bossed by Thomasin McKenzie as his daughter.

10) First Reformed - The ending of this maybe the best individual scene of the year but the whole of it is great. I'll gravitate towards anything that sticks a fork in religion but this is thoughtful, devastating and occasionally blackly comic.

Others well worth a mention are The Old Man and the Gun, Sorry to Bother You, Isle of Dogs, Thoroughbreds (this was ridiculously slept on), Annihilation, 1945 (Hungarian WW2 drama), Lucky (Harry Dean Stanton's penultimate film), Incredibles 2 and Love, Simon.

Lovely surprises included Game Night, Tag, The Meg, The Domestics (DTV horror-thriller, really enjoyable), Alpha, Hotel Artemis, The Cured, The House With a Clock in its Walls, The Girl in the Spider's Web, Blockers, Gringo and Goosebumps 2 (no, really).

Massive letdowns were Hold the Dark, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Unsane and The Cloverfield Paradox.

Massive pieces of turd were mother!, Game Over, Man, Escape Plan 2, Mute, Mandy, Sherlock Gnomes, Show Dogs, Phantom Thread, The Ninth Passenger (dreadful DTV horror film with the redhead out of Jack Reacher) and most of all, Assassination Nation.

Edited by Devon Malcolm
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I'll be doing my customary listing of the new releases I've seen this year at some point over Christmas. If I manage to catch Bird Box before then, it should take me up to around 40 which is more than I've managed for many years! I think only one of my top 10 is the same as @Devon Malcolm's, but if I'd seen Blindspotting that probably would have been up there because I do like Daveed Diggs.

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59 minutes ago, Devon Malcolm said:

 

7) You Were Never Really Here - Arguably the hardest hitting film of the year, Joaquin Phoenix produces the performance of his career in a stunning thriller that compresses a simple storyline into a running time that doesn't allow you to breathe for much time at any point.

 

 

For once I agree with you. I had tears in my eyes watching it. I'll be watching it again soon. Really powerful stuff. 

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1 hour ago, Devon Malcolm said:

)¬†Bad TimesÔĽŅ at the ElÔĽŅ ÔĽŅÔĽŅRoyale

 

1 hour ago, Devon Malcolm said:

You WereÔĽŅ Never ÔĽŅReally ÔĽŅHere

 

1 hour ago, Devon Malcolm said:

)¬†Leave NoÔĽŅ Trace

I'm disappointed that I haven't had a chance to see any of these yet. Hopefully 2019 and either a Netflix or a NOW TV release will give me a chance to catch them. Add to the list of films I've missed are MI: Fallout and Creed II. Both of which I have no doubt will be on one of the above platforms or something similar early next year, but those three in quotes may be more difficult to come accross so I'll keep my eye out for them. 

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2 hours ago, Devon Malcolm said:

10ÔĽŅ) First Reformed¬†- The ending of this maybe the best individual scene of the year but the whole of it is great. I'll gravitate towards anything that sticks a fork in religion but this is thoughtful, devastating and occasionally blackly comic.

I was lucky enough to pop in to the cinema and watch this without knowing anything about it. We just turned up after some food, picked whatever the next showing was and it happened to be this.

A seriously great film. It caught us off guard. It had ever so slight similarities to the first series of Fargo at times, at least in regards to the vibe & black comedy elements. That ending though, gripping, dark & intense. Possibly the film of the year for me.

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12 minutes ago, Devon Malcolm said:

It's excellent. Really should have got a wide release but for some reason* didn't. I love how unpredictable Ethan Hawke is with his project choices.

*superheroes

I was blown away with his performance. And yeah, I think you’re right in regards to it’s mediocre hype. 

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48 minutes ago, Devon Malcolm said:

I can see all of those coming on Netflix or Amazon Prime soon. I think a couple of them were partially commissioned by Amazon actually.

You Were Never Really Here is on Prime, that's where I watched it.  I've managed to add every film I've watched this year on Letterboxd, so I'll be able to see what ones I gave the top ratings to.  However, I've not seen many from this year as I hate going to the cinema.

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1) Avengers: Infinity War

2) Black Panther

3) The Cloverfield Paradox (cheating a bit as this was a Netflix special that I watched from the comfort of my sofa)

4) Solo: A Star Wars Story (total waste of time, this)

This isn't a ranked list, this is all the new movies I saw this year. I'm absolutely rubbish. A decade ago, I would've been at the cinema every other weekend and I would've been buying DVDs by the bucket load. I just don't think modern film is for me anymore.

 

 

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I'm always horrifically behind on films (will use the next month or two to catch up on anything on best of year lists that looks up my street) but yeah Blindspotting was absolutely the best thing I saw that came out this year. Watched it a second time recently and actually knowing the rhythm of the film makes it work in a really cool way (I think the uncertainty of what may happen next is key to the first time you watch it but the second time round the expectations work really well; first time through I was blown away by the technique of how they did the climax, second time it felt really emotionally cathartic).

The Endless knocked my socks of too.  Sci-Fi / horror / story deconstructing / genre defying type thing that has some fantastic ideas and visuals but constantly remains anchored by the character progression and relationship between the leads.  You need to watch Resolution first which isn't as good but thematically very important for what The Endless is saying.

Revenge was possibly the best version of a woman survives something and takes revenge film you could do, the shift in "gaze" of the camera is a really well done technique and the film is filled with distinctive imagery. Also, (Sort of but not at all in the same ballpark) You Were Never Really Here was really quite something.

Found Mandy and Annihilation left me cold, although seems plenty others loved them (also, I don't tend to watch things I'm unlikely to enjoy so those are by no means supposed to be bad films)

Edited by organizedkaos
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I don't watch anywhere near enough films (outside the MCU) to make a meaningful contribution to this thread but I'd be keen to hear your thoughts @Devon Malcolm on A Star Is Born.

The only negative effect of my enjoyment of that one is being implored by a trusted friend to watch the Streisand original.

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11 minutes ago, air_raid said:

I don't watch anywhere near enough films (outside the MCU) to make a meaningful contribution to this thread but I'd be keen to hear your thoughts @Devon Malcolm on A Star Is Born.

I haven't seen it. Too musical for me. Also, Bradley Cooper.

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15 minutes ago, air_raid said:

The only negative effect of my enjoyment of that one is being implored by a trusted friend to watch the Streisand original.

Streisand and Kristofferson are in the second remake.  The original A Star is Born is from the 30s, with Judy Garland and James Mason starring in the first remake.

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1, You Were Never Really Here - I knew once the credits rolled, and I was sitting in my seat like a burst ball, that I'd probably just witnessed my film of the year. It's a film of such detail and layered consideration that no review can ever really do it justice. You'll be angry, horrified, repulsed, awed and sad, very very sad. I found it so impactful that I've yet to watch it again, not because I'm scared it won't live up to it on repeat viewing, but because I just will come away feeling battered again.
Lynne Ramsay is clearly a bit of a genius and, arguably, the best British director about. Her films are incredibly clever; she's everything someone as surface as Nolan fancies themselves as.
Joaquin Phoenix deserves some award nominations for his part in this too. Every moment of his performance is pure pain. Also, a special mention to Jonny Greenwood who had two of the best film scores, this year. I had not a clue he had a hand in this, going in (in fact, I thought Michael Gira may have had a hand in it), but the score is absolutely stunning - his best since There Will Be Blood. It thumps, it confuses and it sings.

Could be the best film of the 10s.

2, Phantom Thread - Despite what certain nonces think, I found this to be a return to form for Paul Thomas Anderson. There Will Be Blood is without a doubt my favourite 00s films (I've watched it plenty of times), but PTA followed it up with two, at best, middling efforts, so I went into this with dimmed expectations. Of course, trepidation was subsided pretty quickly as I realised I was in for a treat. Visually, it's a stunning bit of filmmaking with there being so much detail involved in the clothes and colours. Again, you've got a Greenwood score that lifts the film tremendously.
Special mention to DDL for a tremendous "last" performance as part vampire, part difficult creative-type.

3, Mission Impossible: Fallout - Let's just get the important stuff out the way, Tom Cruise has one of his finest haircuts ever and it never gets talked about because Henry Cavill and that moustache. Woof. Anyway, it's bloody silly how fun the last 30 minutes of that film are, nothing this year topped that feeling. Tom Cruise being mental enough to do most of his stunts adds another layer to the thrill of it all. Where does Tom go from here? Space, apparently.

4, BlacKkKlansman - I said in the film thread the other day that anyone that makes it through this film and not get teary eyed has issues. I think Spike Lee's films are mainly rubbish, but this is undeniably well done. Charming, funny and incredibly moving. Very unsubtle too, which is a positive.

5, Calibre - The Scottish highlands on film always make me a little weak at the knees, for some reason, but thankfully the meat of the film is genuinely thrilling and another win for Netflix. Wonderfully acted and full of suspense.

6, Beast - I went into this not knowing much about it, only looking to pass a bit of time on a dull Sunday. Pleasingly it turned out to be one of the best films of the year.

7, Leave No Trace - Ben Foster using his talents usually always elevate things. If you've ever been around people or lived with someone with PTSD, you'll appreciate how much Foster nails the character, without ever being preachy. Heart breaking finale.

8, First Reformed - Ethan Hawke is a stamp of quality, these days. He's had quite the year too, with him directing a bit of a masterpiece also (yet to see). Shame no one goes to watch his work. Anyway, he's note perfect as a man finding himself coming unstuck.

9, The Guardians - One of those films that just trickles along at a light pace, but you're delighted for it because it's held together by some tremendous performances and character work. That's not to say it's drama free, of course, far from it, but it's detail is tremendous.

10, Lucky - Harry Dean Stanton's final main starring role is a study of a man trying to come to terms with his limited time left in life. Pathos and humour are always winners and Lucky gets the blend perfectly, which isn't always easy.

I've still got a handful of films to watch that could probably end up in the list (The Old Man & The Gun, American Animals etc), but those are the 10 that come to mind.

Much praise to Glenn Close for her turn in The Wife. While the film has too many issues to crack my top 10, she may very well have created the best performance of the year. Pretty mad how she can convey so much by seemingly doing so little.

Black Panther is incredibly overrated. B-level Marvel.

 

Edited by ColinBollocks
TREMENDOUS!
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