I have been writing about all of the movies I watch every year for the past few years, and I always find it a fun and low stakes wind-down activity. I made it a New Years resolution to watch 100 movies in 2017. And I did that! Plus one more. Everyone loved it and was proud of me for doing literally one thing I said I was going to do.
In lieu of making a similar resolution this year, I decided to watch a fuck-ton of movies. I ended up watching 148 movies that were new to me. Why not 150? Because I’m tired, leave me alone!! There was obviously no set plan here. I had a vague goal to catch up on classics, which is why I feel like there’s still a ton that came out this past year that I still haven’t seen. It is a choice, I should say, to watch this many movies. Sometimes people ask me “how I do it” (lol), and the answer is: I do not watch a lot of television and also I am lonely. :) But the truth, also, is that it’s possible to watch a lot of movies if you decide to watch a lot of movies. So, let’s talk about these movies.
Spiderman: Homecoming, American Made (j’adore), Star Wars: The Last Jedi (never not thinking about the Justin Theroux cameo), Hostiles (lmao), Phantom Thread (remember this one!?!?!), A Fantastic Woman, Faces Places, God’s Own Country, The Greatest Showman (Owen and I both watched this separately on the same flight when we were traveling this past summer and… we loved it!), The Disaster Artist (NO), and Gaga: Five Foot Two.
I got my Filmstruck subscription at the start of winter hiatus last December, so in a lot of ways, I had intended for 2018 to be my first full year of Filmstruck except for, well, we know what happened there. Still. For nearly eleven months, I enjoyed a number of movies I had embarrassingly never seen before, including:
His Girl Friday, Anchors Aweigh, On The Waterfront, The Bridge On The River Kwai, Some Like It Hot, Cleo From 5 To 7, The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Cabaret (!), Kramer Vs. Kramer, A Room With A View (I wrote about this one back in June for Bright Wall/Dark Room), Dangerous Liaisons (sort of the same movie as The Prestige except instead of magic, it’s fucking), The Player (!!), The War Room (!!! probably my second favorite movie I watched on the platform, and I want to wear every outfit James Carville wears in this doc), Before Sunrise, La Haine, Magnolia, In The Mood For Love (that score!), Y Tu Mama También, Hunger, White Material, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Weekend, Clouds Of Sils Maria, and Cameraperson.
I try to watch just about everything they discuss on Blank Check unless I have literally no interest (it happens! sorry to, uh, Ride With The Devil) or I’ve already seen it and don’t care to revisit. This year’s first time viewings included:
Spielberg series (last year, oops): A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Jude hive)
Verhoeven series: RoboCop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers
James L. Brooks series: Terms Of Endearment, Broadcast News (certainly my favorite non-2018 release of the year and easily one of my new favorite movies of all time!)
Ang Lee series: Eat Drink Man Woman, Sense & Sensibility, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Hulk
Nancy Meyers series: What Women Want, Something’s Gotta Give
Meek’s Cutoff (watched this at 3am after getting a migraine for an entire day and missing an outing to see Phantom Thread that I had planned… weird movie!), Nocturama, Ocean’s Twelve, Ocean’s Thirteen (I wrote about the trilogy for Bright Wall/Dark Room), Mauvais Sang, Boogie Nights (MOLINA), Fantasia 2000, California Split (GOULD), Cold Mountain (Jude hive), Eyes Wide Shut, Little Monsters, Nerve, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Last Picture Show (young Jeff Bridges looks like Ansel Elgort, change my mind), The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II, The Age Of Innocence, Mamma Mia!, A Serious Man (SY ABELMAN??), Chelsea Walls, Interview With The Vampire (I, too, am always mad at my one friend), The Talented Mr. Ripley (say it with me: Jude hive), The Witch, Scream, and Moonstruck (look, I had seen it on TV as a high schooler, and let me just say, it’s so much better when you’re an adult who fully understands her attraction to both Nic Cage and Cher).
Okay, with all of that out of the way, let’s talk about…
Last year I was staunch and rude about the fact that 2017 was an unabashedly great year for movies. This year… I’m honestly not sure I can make the same claim. There are movies I loved this past year that don’t come anywhere near my favorites from 2017. But it was also a tricky, weird year for me on a lot of levels, and for movies, as well. Challenging and strange and often somewhat joyless (same). But then weirdly hopeful at times? And also devastating? Anyway, we’re all trying our best, and that’s the end of that. Let’s rumble.
Night Is Short, Walk On Girl
Overwhelming. Good score, though.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
Pretty funny that I saw this the same day I spent a fraction of brunch explaining that the first female animated character I was attracted to was the Bonnie Hunt-voiced spider in A Bug’s Life, because the new Doc Ock is, uh, something to consider!
Avengers: Infinity War
I saw this for $4 at a small theater in Southwest Michigan, and that’s the most amount of money anyone should have had to pay to see it.
Ant-Man And The Wasp
Has any one movie ever had less dramatic stakes?
I walked out of this being like, “well, this has got to be one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, everyone is acting like they’re in a different movie, the wigs are abysmal, did someone put a gun to Jenny Slate, did Tom Hardy write this script,” and so on and so forth, and then it got to a point where every time I described Venom to someone, I made it sound like one of the best movies of the year? Tom Hardy is really “on one” in this. Remember when he jumps in the lobster tank? I think it might be extremely good, sorry.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Hahaha, can you believe this was the first movie I saw in 2018? Anyway, it’s surprisingly not bad, and I’m happy for whatever paycheck Walton Goggins got for the ten minutes of this that he’s in.
The Cloverfield Paradox
[spits on the ground]
Women can do anything! They even can be outfits!
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
I guess here is where I slot this, though part of me really does believe it ought to be in my top ten. A total joy from start to finish, and I think the emotional stakes are extremely well-executed for “what it is.” Not enough credit has been given to Lily James, who binds the whole thing together without batting an eye. Not a doubt it my mind it’s one of the best performances of the year. Colin Firth is great too. I get so choked up during the end credits when the young versions of the characters dance with the old versions of the characters. Like wouldn’t it be crazy if your old self could dance with your young self? Am I broken?? It doesn’t matter. I loved it!
Soapy and not nearly as good as my impression of Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg going, “Nor is freedom………… your honor.” (Available on request.)
Three Identical Strangers
Unfortunately I cannot figure out who I texted “okay the three identical strangers thicc” to.
Easily my favorite documentary of the year. I’ll never stop thinking about Honnold telling his girlfriend that she alone is not a reason for him to “maximize [his] lifespan.” I have writing forthcoming on this movie in 2019.
Tiresome. At first in a good way, then in a bad way.
Minding The Gap
The thing about when I say something rude and flippant like, “are men okay?” is that deep down I really hope and want for them to be. (The best documentary I saw this year, if I’m being truthful.)
Lean On Pete
I love Andrew Haigh and I loved when I saw 45 Years and had to walk around the block several times after I got out of that movie, but this… did… very little for me. It’s funny that Chloe Sevigny played a “chill jockey” this year and we don’t talk about it at all.
Objectively superior to Lean On Pete, but I did myself a big disservice seeing these two movies a week apart. Midway through this, I was just like, “I can’t do this shit.” One day I’ll rewatch, I’m sure, and feel much affection for it. It’s a very, very beautiful movie. The other thing I’ll say is that I saw this in the little theater at The Music Box the same day they were screening Eighth Grade, and Bo Burnham was nervously pacing across the lobby just as The Rider got out.
This is a 2019 release, so I’ll be brief: it rules!
Essentially a gorgeously crafted version of a movie I’m more or less tired of seeing. I love Carey Mulligan, in general, of course, but so wholeheartedly in this. It’s a joy to watch her face move on the big screen. The tragedy of being a mother but not wanting to be a mother and yet loving your child all the same is a profound one. Loved how this one was shot also.
Fun to see a 19th century novel’s structure on a movie, but like most 19th century novels I find myself liking the parts more than the sum.
Sort of like, “what if a Joe Swanberg movie took place in Paris?” so I loved it and hated it in equal measure.
Asako I & II
Too long, but up until I realized it was too long, very good.
Of everything I saw in 2018, this is the one movie I feel it’s imperative to see again. I came out of it lukewarm––love, love, loved the music and felt so profoundly irritated by the couple––but I’ve only grown fonder of it with distance. I think altogether too often about Wiktor referring to Zula as “the woman of my life.” The woman of my life! Fml. I have to see it again.
Ray & Liz
There’s a shot of a kid loading up a piece of white bread with red cabbage then putting another piece of white bread on top of it, and that’s British realism for you, baby.
Another 2019 release. Goes the fuck off and I loved every second of it. Everyone’s going to go wild for the crazy shit in it and that’s fine, but the opening 20 or so minutes––where it’s just Pattinson and a chubby baby in space––reminded me of the opening act of Wall-E, and I mean that in the best possible way. Probably the best space movie since Interstellar (shut up).
At Eternity’s Gate
I liked this plenty, and I was not fazed by Willem Dafoe’s age so much as I was his voice (“I’m paintin’ here”). One of two perfect Rupert Friend performances this year!
Ready Player One
People did not believe me when I tweeted this, but here’s the proof.
Whatever. I actually kind of liked this. The second act is really good. Sue me!
Best use of a Carly Rae Jepsen song in any movie ever.
They fuck up the ending by letting the boys seem cool and hot and redeemable — and pursuing careers in the arts? hahahaha, shut the fuck up––but I liked a lot of what was here up until that point. Sort of starting to “get” Evan Peters, if nothing else.
A Quiet Place
The hottest thing a man can do is direct a movie that showcases how much better an actor his wife is than him? My two cents.
Adam Driver get an Oscar nomination challenge.
You Were Never Really Here
Very artful! And a great score! I’m sorry to have doubted you, Lynne!!!
Sorry To Bother You
People really love to throw around the word “satire,” huh?
I’m stupid, idk, sorry.
Jude Law has never looked better (or worse), but at what cost?
The Death Of Stalin
The other perfect Rupert Friend performance of the year!
Felt like the hype did it a disservice. Lamorne Morris is so funny in it, though!
Ike?? Barenholtz??? Made me cry???? On a plane???????
Real shades of me “discovering” I was ugly around the age of 10 and crying in the backyard for two hours. Neither liked nor disliked, mostly admired. I’ll be interested to see what Bo makes next.
Green Book for people who like Deadpool. (Does this track?)
Practically dragged my parents to see this with me, and midway through the movie, my dad leaned over to my mom and asked who was laughing so hard and the answer was me.
Set It Up
Crazy Rich Asians
They had ZERO CHEMISTRY! I bought into everything else so purely and enthusiastically, but I absolutely could not cope with the fact that they did not seem like two people in a relationship who legitimately liked each other.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
Agree that what all of us want in this life is for a tall person to 1) ask us questions about ourselves, 2) call us by our last names, and 3) grab our asses when it’s appropriate to.
The Sisters Brothers
Very dull. Loved Riz Ahmed, though!
The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs
Dying is scary, but you and I both know there are better Coen brothers movies about that. Wish I had seen this on the big screen, if nothing else, and I think five years from now I’m going to like it more than I do at the present moment.
The first forty minutes or so are perfect, and then it’s the rest of the movie. Colin Farrell’s Chicago accent is ASMR.
Always a treat to see Patrick Fugit!
Exactly what it says on the box.
I always have to remind myself that Dave Bautista is not CGI.
Unfortunately I found this to be a little too rote in structure and script, and the sex was laughably male gaze-y. (Love the idea of two women sitting eight inches apart from each other and touching the each other’s boobs as foreplay, but I mean, c’mon.) Loved all of Keira’s little outfits though!
The Miseducation Of Cameron Post
I wonder what this would have felt like with a more dynamic actress in the lead role. Still liked it, mostly.
Certainly the only movie this year in which Ansel Elgort plays two different guys living in one Ansel Elgort’s body, but if this is what he was doing instead of finishing his EP, I’m gonna be fucking steamed.
Extremely difficult to stomach for good reason. People throw around the word “brave” like it has no meaning (for example: it is brave of me to link to only two of my own tweets in this), but this is the bravest movie I’ve seen in some time. It’s also the Elizabeth Debicki performance of the year.
Leave No Trace
It sounds like a disservice to say what I remember most about this is the sound mixing, but it is great sound mixing.
A Star Is Born
The first hour is perfect, and the second hour is pretty good. It’s got an innate rewatchability to it that I really admire. Oh, and the flirting. The flirting is aspirational, honestly. I worked very hard for all of Q4 to get someone to touch my nose like that, and no one did, but there are still three more days!
In every Cuarón, I see something on screen I’ve never seen before. This is no exception.
Should probably be in my top ten, if I’m being honest with myself. Who’s your favorite shoplifter??? Mine is (correctly) the mom.
Happy As Lazzarro
Wish I had seen this in a movie theater.
Visually astounding, and easily, easily, EASILY the score of the year. The whole thing escalates perfectly. Just when you think you’re out of the woods, you realize you even haven’t gone in yet. The third act is fucking crackerjack: scary and bizarre and gorgeous and quietly heartbreaking. It gave me nightmares (plural!) and I’m grateful for it.
We’re all at the whims of either writers or rich people. Pick your poison!!!!! Also, here is what it felt like to watch Kalamazoo College alum Steven Yeun in this movie:
I desperately did not want to succumb to the hype for this one. I never caught it when it was in theaters and wound up watching on a plane towards the end of one of the most emotionally tumultuous summers of my life and… it was perfect. Every scene I was like, “oh, this is my favorite scene.” I rewatched it the other week to see if maybe I overshot my affection the first time around, and thankfully no. Fuck “it’s great for a children’s movie,” it’s great as a movie movie. Heartfelt and sincere and deeply, deeply funny. Without a doubt the funniest movie of the year! The whole last act pays off every single joke they set up in the opening fifteen minutes! I’m very serious about the fact that Hugh Grant should get an Oscar nomination! If you remain in doubt, let me tell you: the plot of the movie is that the BEAR goes to JAIL! What a ride!
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
“With Can You Ever Forgive Me?, I felt like, why are we not telling stories about women like this? Why don’t we allow characters like this to be seen on our television screen? Why are we obsessed with beauty and youth and a certain type of woman, and we don’t let women like this have their due?”
There’s so much I love and respect about this movie, but I can’t help but feel warmth and gratitude for a queer movie that’s not about coming out and not about relationships (or at least not romantic ones, not really). There is such a dearth of movies about women, let alone queer women, let alone older queer women, let alone mean, rude, sardonic, alcoholic queer women writers. I mean, fuck! Lee Israel was a fucking piece of work, and I’m glad we got a chance to see it. Also… I cannot be blasé about this… give Richard E. Grant the Oscar.
Mission: Impossible — Fallout
you (moron, normal-looking): I love in the bathroom fight scene when Henry Cavill pumps his arms like they are guns
me: (grad school, surprisingly attractive if the angle is right): I love in the bathroom fight scene when approximately one minute later, after Cavill has been incapacitated, Tom Cruise rolls his eyes before having to get up and tackle a guy to the ground, because sometimes it is extremely annoying to have to do your job which is constantly moving in the direction of your death, also I have writing forthcoming on this one in January
Let The Sunshine In
This was one of the last movies I saw in Chicago before I moved. Caught it at Music Box, of course, just by myself on a whim. Walked home alone in the rain. Perhaps the last movie that should ever be made about heterosexuality, and proof that Denis is genius for being able to craft a scene set to “At Last” that feels that magical. Often in just one sentence it manages to be both devastating and optimistic. And how refreshing it is to have a self-assured woman who cries all the fucking time. Anyway. The only upside to being single is maybe (––hopefully!) you fall in love again. Something to remember.
I simply love all of my rude friends so much!!!! :’)
If Beale Street Could Talk
Lush and dense and sad and tough and beautiful. Not a weak performance in sight, even the little ones. Felt like I held my breath the whole damn movie. Very special.
Support The Girls
“Don’t you dare feel bad about yourself. And don’t you dare feel bad about us for losing our shitty jobs. There’s lots of other shitty jobs out there, including this one.”
“Courage is the solution to despair. Reason provides no answers. I can’t know what the future will bring. We have to choose despite uncertainty. Wisdom is holding two contradictory truths in our mind, simultaneously. Hope and despair. A life without despair is a life without hope. Holding these two ideas in our head is life itself.”
On first watch, I thought this was the bleakest thing I’d seen in my whole life. On the rewatch, one of the most hopeful. Is that fucked up? The ending moves me beyond words. The two truths Schrader poses: God is real, but the world ends anyway. (If nothing else, kissing is salvation.)
full ranked list on Letterboxd // see you in 2019, xo.