It was a busy year, for reasons no one on the Internet needs remembering. The version of me that could watch 75+ new movies in a year is gone, long gone. The version that actually was around for first weekends of blockbusters and date movies, and had time to watch movies on planes — he’s still kicking.
Stuff I still need (or “need”) to see: I, Tonya; Call Me By Your Name; Phantom Thread; The Florida Project; Coco; The Post. (No, there was no special premiere for all Post employees. There were several DC screenings and I wasn’t invited to any, NOT THAT I’M BITTER.)
- Get Out
Everything about this worked for me — the enraging villains, the social commentary, the goofy friend and his cop-out ending.
- Lady Bird
Greta Gerwig can do no wrong.
- I, Daniel Blake
Prime Ken Loach, the sort of white-knuckle class war drama that nobody else can make without getting accused of ripping off Ken Loach.
- Blade Runner 2049
Too long, and a few too many sops to the genre (why does the evil replicant hench-lady crush the memory stick instead of using it to see what K’s been up to? Oh, because she’s evil), but so gorgeous to look at. I am a sucker for world-building, and the work done here to take the decaying world of “Blade Runner” and make it decay further for 30 years was fantastic. Six months later I still can see those grey acres of wriggling “protein farms.”
- The Big Sick
If Judd Apatow wants to keep handing the keys to younger comedians with good stories, fine by me. Half winning, relatable rom-com, half painful culture clash, and all of it works.
It’s a good war movie, what else do you people want?
The kind of superhero movie that justifies the genre — though I’d say that about “Deadpool,” too, revealing how bad my taste is. I wasn’t sold on the X-Men comics being part of the movie’s reality, and it was a little on-the-nose to watch an ailing Hugh Jackman fight a brainless clone of Hugh Jackman at pivotal moments. But I haven’t felt this tense during a movie in years, and haven’t said “fuck!” as much in public as I did during moments when Logan and Lore brutally murdered the hapless henchmen who kept coming after them.
- Baby Driver
Too long, especially since Edgar Wright has effectively made fun of the “you think he’s dead, no wait he’s back, no he’s dead, but what’s this” climax. The absence of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost means a lot less to sit with and quote back to your friends when it’s over. But extremely fun while you’re watching.
- The Disaster Artist
- The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
I for one embrace our Gerwig-Baumbach overlords.
- Spider-Man: Homecoming
- Thor: Ragnarok
- The Shape of Water
- Oasis: Supersonic
- The Founder
- The Lovers
- Logan Lucky
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
- I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore
- Beatriz at Dinner
Extremely effective, if a little stage-bound, drama about clueless rich white people interacting with the underclass. One thing that stuck with me was how Salma Hayek was shot — not as the bombshell letting her hair fall over her decolletage, but as a short, savvy woman loomed over by arrogant no-nothings. Also contains one of my favorite performances of the year — David Warshofsky as a tightly-strung suck-up to John Lithgow’s clearly amoral real estate tycoon.
- A Ghost Story
- T2: Trainspotting
- I Am Not Your Negro
- Wonder Woman
Far too long, but the World War I battle scenes make up for it.
- The Lost City of Z
- Darkest Hour
- The LEGO Batman Movie
- The Beguiled
- Kong: Skull Island
- Alien: Covenant
- Table 19
Harmless and effective Duplass brother dramedy about a bunch of misfits who find happiness at a wedding no one wanted them to attend. Extremely ropey at times, but I shed an actual tear at the end of it, so respect must be paid.
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi
It’s fine. The best parts add something new to the canon — Carrie Poppins! The worst parts make me dread how Star Wars movies will be part of our rote holiday tradition until Disney stops making money on them.
- Justice League
- A United Kingdom
The kind of story that you can’t believe nobody’s adapted yet — as South Africa implemented apartheid, a black king of Botswana took a white, English wife, and was banned from returning to his country for years as diplomats alternately schemed and crapped themselves. It’s all very well told, but in a movie-of-the-week way. Also, how many more times do we have to watch Clement Attlee get owned in British historical drama? The man created the modern welfare state, and we have to watch him make incompetent grabs for power (“The Crown”) and cynically do the bidding of racists to acquire uranium (this movie).
- War for the Planet of the Apes
These movies just leave me cold, and I guess I’m the only one.
- It Comes At Night
Answering the question, at last: What would a post-apocalyptic drama look like if Terrence Malick directed it? The answer: Half tense, half pretty dull and un-engaging. Director Trey Edward Shults has now made two very Malick-y movies that offer a semi-interesting spin on an established genre. Good for him, I guess!
- King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
- The Fate of the Furious
- Cars 3
- Free Fire
“What if we spent an entire movie on just one shoot-out” is an idea that made sense to way too many producers and actors.
“Ghost World” is feeling more and more like a fluke — the rest of Daniel Clowes’s wince-inducing slice-of-life comedies do not work when transferred from page to screen. Lots goes wrong here — Judy Greer as the cute neighbor who will obviously set things right drains the misery out of the script — but probably the best example of what’s lost in translation is a scene in which Woody Harrelson’s titular misanthope sits and watches a tree lose its leaves. In the comic, it was a one-page gag; in the movie, it’s shot like one of those Qatsi movies, all shutter-speed and emotional string sections.
- The House
There are moments when the comic actors are really grooving, and you wonder why critics said this was a formless mess. Then you get to the third act and it’s a formless mess.
- Ghost in the Shell
Boy, this one wasn’t helped by the existence of “Blade Runner 2049.”