And it's time once again for my annual wrap-up of movies that came out this year.
Or, more accurately, a "wrap-up of movies I saw that came out this year." As always, there's a bunch of movies I never saw that would have probably ended up on my list (we'll get to that later). And here we go...
THE TWELVE BEST...
These are my favorite movies from this year that I actually saw.
#1 Black Panther
My two favorite Marvel Comics characters are Doctor Strange and Black Panther. Both got terrific movie adaptations. But Black Panther is next-level greatness that went beyond my every expectation. You can read all about my unabashed love for the movie here, but suffice to say that making T'Challa into the Marvel James Bond and crafting a beautifully-realized African world for him to inhabit makes Black Panther not just a great comic book film... but a great film period.
#2 Avengers: Infinity War
When I first saw Infinity War it was so much... everything... that I left the theater in a daze. There's just too much to take in, and made for a less than perfect experience. But then I watched it on home video... again and again and again... and came to appreciate just how spectacular a job that The Russo Brothers did given all they had to achieve. Now I absolutely love the film, and can't wait for the conclusion in 2019. My original review is here.
#3 Ant Man & The Wasp
The action sequences and humor have been ramped up to eleven, but it's the performances by Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly that make the sequel work so well. And it was a pleasant surprise that they had Ghost as one of the villains, because her power-set is completely different (breaking the "villain has the same powers as the hero" trend that's getting so boring). The whole deus-ex-machina lameness of giving Michelle Pfeiffer magical quantum powers at the end kept the movie from being flawless... but it was darn close.
#4 Deadpool 2
The first Deadpool was a life-affirming love-letter to the character and proof that not all of Fox's X-Men-related movies have to suck ass. I liked the sequel even more. Partly because they just amped up everything that made the first film work... but mostly because they introduced Cable and Domino in a way that had you praying for an X-Force movie. Hilarious, bloody fun.
#5 Love, Simon
The first coming-of-age-love-story with a gay lead character from a major studio was going to be a landmark film regardless of how good it was. Or how terrible. The fact that Love, Simon turned out to be something great is just icing on the cake. One can only hope that more films like this entering mainstream culture becomes a step towards more acceptance and less bullying in our schools. Because isn't high school hard enough? A big shout out to Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel who made for the best movie parents ever.
#6 Mission: Impossible — Fallout
It's a mystery how the Mission: Impossible franchise keeps getting better with each new installment... but it totally does. Fallout is easily my favorite of the lot, filled with mind-boggling stunts, incredible action, and a story that is actually interesting and completely works. I can't believe that I'm dying to see a seventh installment of any movie, but here we are.
#7 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
I've seen plenty of animated comic book movies and TV shows. And while some of them are very good, they never seem to reach the epic level of greatness you would expect. And then Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse comes along and blows the doors off the entire concept. It's visually stunning and has a story that is brimming with heart and humor. More please.
#8 Ocean's 8
While extending the George Clooney franchise with a cast of women is not a terrible idea, it was ripe for disaster if it weren't the right cast of women. Fortunately, they got that part exactly right and everything else fell into place perfectly. Entertaining from start to finish... with a few surprises along the way... I am hopeful that the film makes enough money to get us Ocean's 9 with an even bigger caper to pull off.
#9 Crazy Rich Asians
This is an old, tired story but told in a way that was interesting and fresh. It's also lavish, lush, and beautiful to behold. Fortunately, it didn't 100% rely on making the female protagonist be a total embarrassment in front of her rich boyfriend's family (typical for these things), but merely touched on it. Surprisingly, the standout for me was not Constance Wu (whom I love in Fresh Off the Boat and was excellent as always), but Awkwafina in yet another scene-stealing role (her first being in
#10 The Incredibles 2
I've long felt that The Incredibles was one of the best super-hero movies ever made... and easily the best interpretation of The Fantastic Four to hit the screen. The sequel was fantastic adventure and had more of what made the first one so good... but it also adds layers of complication that kept it from being as good as it could have been. Still, Pixar magic at its finest and a movie I really enjoyed.
#11 Isle of Dogs
It's Wes Anderson, so of course I liked it. And while I appreciate the viewpoint that the entire film is cultural appropriation (stealing from Japanese culture for entertainment value) I don't know that I agree with that. The film very much feels like Anderson just wanted his story to be set in Japan. I am, however, going on record to blast him for cultural insensitivity. I hate hate hated the fact that we had to have the "Tracy Walker" character be yet another white savior in film. Seriously, what the fuck? Why does there always have to be a white hero? The film is set in JAPAN, for heaven's sake. But who leads the fight against injustice?
Last year I dropped Hidden Figures from my Top Twelve because the story of Black women making the moon landings possible was hijacked by Kevin Costner "defeating racism." This kind of crap categorically stupid, and I am sick to death of it. LET. PEOPLE. OF. COLOR. BE. THE. HEROES. OF. THEIR. OWN. DAMN. STORIES! When it came to Isle of Dogs I very nearly dropped it for the same reason. But ultimately I felt it wasn't quite the outrageous blunder that assaulted me when I saw it in the theater. Upon tonight's repeat viewing, this is much more a movie about Akira searching for his lost canine than Tracy's revolution. On top of that, the film is a wonderful, jaw-dropping spectacle to behold (be sure to watch the cast interviews in the Special Features). And yet... holy shit. Enough with this white savior bullshit.
#12 Solo: A Star Wars Story
This is going to be a controversial pick. Partly because it was not a great film... but mostly because it was completely unnecessary. And told a story we honestly didn't need to see. But then again... it did have some good action sequences and a better story than we've seen in any of the shitty prequels (and probably Force Awakens or Last Jedi). Plus? Emilia Clarke and Donald Glover, who were perfect. And I loved L3-37 and Chewie in it.
HAVEN'T SEEN YET, MIGHT HAVE MADE MY LIST...