A couple of months ago (ish) it was the end of the year. Following up from this post in 2017, here are the films I saw at the cinema.
- Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri – Very good. It’s a while since I’ve seen it, so can’t remember exactly why but I didn’t think it held together entirely satisfactorily; it seemed a bit flabby in parts. This film spawned 2 Oscars for Acting – Sam Rockwell for Best Supporting (great actor, and entirely deserved), and Francis McDormand for Best Actress. At this point let’s just look at the nominees in that category – Sally Hawkins, Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, Meryl Streep and McDormand. Holy shit that’s a bunch of great performances; any of those (and a couple more, as I’ll mention in February) would’ve deserved the Oscar.
- Molly’s Game – Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut, and it went about as well as that could’ve gone.
- Darkest Hour – Entertaining enough, but it all felt a bit hackneyed. Proves the adage that the Oscars go to the “most”, because Gary Oldman (although good) definitely seemed to be doing the Most Acting thing here. Daniel Day-Lewis should’ve got the Oscar.
- The Post – This was functional, but not stellar. Reading up on it later, the most impressive thing to me was how quickly the project was put together. Such a short timescale could’ve led to a pretty crap film, but in the end it’s perfectly entertaining.
- Coco – Lovely little film.
- Phantom Thread – My film of the year. Saw it a couple of times at the cinema. Bought the blu ray when it came out and seen it a few times since. Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps are excellent (it’s criminal that she wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar). The story is intoxicating. And it’s a Paul Thomas Anderson film, so it looks gorgeous. Just a stunning film.
- The 15:17 to Paris – Not my film of the year. It’s a great story, but it’s drawn out way too long. It also stars the people who did the thing the film portrays. Which is a nice touch, but they can’t act for shit. Sorry guys.
- The Shape of Water – Saw this twice. First time I quite enjoyed it, but on second viewing I didn’t find much more that I hadn’t seen the first time. I mean it’s entertaining, but worthy of the Best Picture Oscar? Nope. Lady Bird, Phantom Thread and Dunkirk – all also nominated – are all much better films.
- I, Tonya – Didn’t know anything about this story before seeing the film. Thought it was very enjoyable.
- Lady Bird – There’s not much I can say about this that hasn’t been said before, so I’ll just say that I thought it full of charm and that I liked it a lot. However, at the end of the screening I overheard the person sitting next to me turn to her friend and say “well that was boring”. Can’t please everyone I guess.
- Game Night – I think I walked out of this. Just meh.
- The Life Aquatic with Steve Zizzou/The Royal Tenenbaums double bill – I’d seen both of these before, but enjoyed watching them again on the big screen.
- You Were Never Really Here – This got great reviews. I thought it was overly pretentious and incredibly dull.
- Unsane – I usually go to the cinema alone, but saw this with a bunch of people who reacted way too much. Irrespective, a pretty good thriller. The whole “filmed on iPhone” thing seems a bit of a gimmick, but it didn’t get in the way of the film so I suppose is quite impressive in a way.
- Isle of Dogs – Wes Anderson has such a specific style, and I think animation really suits that style because it lets you control everything that appears on screen. This was probably one of my films of the year; I enjoyed the exaggerated Japanese-ness, the whole thing looks amazing, and it’s funny. I’ve seen this a few times now and it still makes me laugh.
- Beast – This is an odd little film, that I’d sort of forgotten about until writing this list. Which is unfair, because I really enjoyed it. It’s quite an intense film, and the two central performances are really captivating.
- Ready Player One – I’ll start this by saying that I haven’t read the book, and I know a lot of people who have and were disappointed with the film. I also know people who didn’t read the book, and were also disappointed. So with that said: I loved this film because it’s just fun.
- Ghost Stories – This was odd. The film tells 3 ghost stories, which individually are excellent. But ultimately I thought that the overarching narrative of the film that exists to put those stories in some sort of context is pretty dissatisfying. Just looking at it as a vehicle for those three ghost stories though: horror films don’t generally scare me, but there’s a few scenes in this that I found really chilling.
- Blade Runner (Secret Cinema) – Pay a load of money to go to an old warehouse, full of actors with jarringly unconvincing American accents. Sit on the least comfortable seats ever to watch the badly-projected film in an echoey room while other actors prance around, miming all the lines. Hmph.
- A Quiet Place – Very good. Thankfully everyone in the cinema kept quiet throughout the film, otherwise the effect would’ve been diminished…
- Solo: A Star Wars Story – I remember enjoying this, but I don’t remember the film. So there you go.
I spent most of the month at various racetracks. There were also no good films released in June.
There were also no good films released in July.
In fact, over the summer in general there seemed to be a glut of superhero action dross which were all sequels to 10 other films. I get that a lot of people (a lot of people) like these, but next summer can we please have some films for grown ups?
- Mission Impossible: Fallout – I left after about 20 minutes, when Simon Pegg’s character uttered the line “NO! THINK OF THE GREATER GOOD”. I don’t have the patience to sit through 147 minutes of shitty dialogue like that.
- Puzzle – A really charming little film.
- American Animals – Compare and contrast to The 15:17 to Paris. This also features The Guys Who Did The Thing The Film Is Based On, but here they’re narrating (and, at parts, interacting with their younger selves – played by actors – to basically say: “What the hell do you think you’re doing?“). A very good film.
- A Simple Favour – This was a bit silly, but I think Anna Kendrick is cute so what the hell.
- Crazy Rich Asians – I kinda liked it, but thought it was a bit overly sentimental. Watched it again on a plane recently though and just thought it was pretty good. I think plane wine may have helped.
- Bad Times at the El Royale – Started off strongly, but felt a bit long. If it dropped about 20 minutes this would’ve been a great little film. Funnily enough I seem to find myself saying that a lot about films lately.
- First Man – I’m a big fan of Damien Chazelle, who directed this. It didn’t disappoint. It’s the first spacey film I’ve seen that shows how visceral the act of going to space really is. Or as visceral as I assume it is, anyway; I’ve never been. Considering that the general concept of the Saturn V rocket was “strap a few million litres of rocket fuel to your back, point it at the sky and see what happens”, it’s quite astounding that it’s usually portrayed as something close to serene. The story around Neil Armstrong’s personal life is very well told, and incredible acting from Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy. Can you tell that I liked it?
- A Star is Born – I just couldn’t. Left after 30 minutes and watched Phantom Thread on Blu Ray.
- Widows – Well rated by the critics, but I couldn’t get into it. Felt like it can’t decide what it wants to be; is it a gritty political drama, or a stylish heist flick. The tonal shifts were really irritating. Left after about an hour.
- Bohemian Rhapsody – Okay. The performances were good, but it felt a bit indulgent. Roger Taylor and Brian May were involved in producing this, and I can’t help feeling this would’ve be a more interesting film if they weren’t involved.
- A Star is Born (all the way through this time) – I wanted to go and see something, and this was the best option. Still not a fan, but can’t quite put my finger on why.
- Nothing at the cinema. But I did watch 2001: A Space Odyssey again on Blu Ray. I love this film and could write so much about it, so for now I’ll just point to this which is possibly the best bit of editing in the history of film. From prehistoric apes to spaceflight in one cut which manages to say: “from that, this…”. Proper film making genius. So there you go.
By my count that’s 32 films at the cinema, so 7 down on 2017. From about June the good stuff just seemed to drop away, leaving a lot of less-than-average films with the occasional gem. 2019 has started off on the same foot, so hopefully that improves. I’ll tell you about it next year (more or less).