Better late than never– our annual top ten lists for movies we saw in theatres this year. Lots of superheros, some Oscar hopefuls, and a few you might have missed. Enjoy!
- Avengers: Infinity War – Man this could have been such a debacle. With so many characters and actor egos to give their ‘moment’ on screen, it’s amazing Marvel was still able to tell a decent story. I had faith because they’ve never steered me wrong before, and boy did they deliver. This movie was like reading the huge crossovers from the 90s comic books I loved so much. It was always an event when these characters would pop into each other’s stories, and this film was no different. Every character had their moment to shine, and man… that ending. I felt like I’d been punched in the gut walking out of the theatre. Bring on Endgame!
- A Star is Born – I hope this movie wins all of the awards. Bradley Cooper is way overdue for a Best Actor Oscar, although I have a feeling he’ll actually be walking away with Best Director statue instead. He would not look out of place winning both on the night, though. He’s terrific as the washed up country singer who takes Lady Gaga under his wing. Oh, and if Gaga isn’t winning an Oscar this year, I demand a recount. She is perfect as the young up-and-coming starlet. This movie is so bittersweet. You find yourself caring so much for these characters, largely due to the performances of Cooper and Gaga. They own this film, and it is easily the best drama of the year.
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – I’m not sure how Sony did it, but they have managed to make an amazing Spidey film for the first time in over a decade without the help of Marvel Studios. To say this is the best animated film of the year does not do justice to the fact that this is one of the best film of the year period. I loved the animation style, the humour, the music, and the main character of Miles Morales who is engaging and relatable. The other Spider-men were great as well, especially Gwen Stacy and Spider-Ham.
- Black Panther – I think we were all excited to see the continuation of T-Challa’s story after his solid debut in Civil War. I was not expecting to see such a diverse and beautiful world created by director Ryan Coogler. The African roots of the Black Panther character shine through, and the land of Wakanda is almost a character in the movie on its own. Action and humour are probably a given by now in MCU films, but I don’t think anyone was expecting this film to deliver a message about the problems of today the way it did. Oh and how badass is Letitia Wright’s Shuri?
- Blockers – What a great year for comedies. I ummed and ahhed about which comedy I liked more out of this and Game Night, but in the end, Blockers was the clear winner. I loved the comedy, but was much more impressed by the message of young girls growing up and parents eventually having to let them make their own decisions. The big surprise here is John Cena. Not known at all for comedy, he delivers a terrific performance. I can see him on his way to becoming the next Dwayne Johnson.
- Solo – People who boycotted this film because they didn’t like The Last Jedi missed out on a rip-roaring space heist adventure that was incredibly entertaining. Fine, Alden Ehrenreich is not Harrison Ford, but he was never going to be. He does a terrific job in what must have been a very daunting role to play. Also, Donald Glover as Lando is perfection.
- Blackkklansman – There are times in this movie when you really can’t believe that people used to act that way in the 70s. That makes the epilogue showing footage of white supremacists marching in Charlottesville last year even more gut wrenching. We like to think that we have moved on from the KKK, but evidence has shown that we haven’t, which is a pretty terrifying thought. Outside of the incredibly important message this movie has, the performances are amazing, led by Denzel’s son, John David Washington.
- Ralph Breaks the Internet – This long awaited sequel definitely delivered. It was so meta and told a hilarious story about Ralph and his BFF Vanellope discovering the big bad world of the interwebs for the first time. I loved how Disney was willing to not only poke fun at all of our online habits, but also their storied history of characters. The Disney Princess scene is a highlight for sure.
- Vice – You wouldn’t think that a biopic about one of the most ruthless vice presidents of all time would have much humour in it, but it does. Christian Bale gives a terrific performance covered under a tonne of makeup, but it’s the writing and direction of Adam McKay that gives this very heavy topic some much needed light-heartedness. There was much I didn’t know about Dick Cheney, and while this film is likely not 100% accurate, I do feel like I know more now, and am a little scared that this man was once the second most powerful man in the world.
- Crazy Rish Asians – I have been watching Fresh off the Boat since it started and easily the best part of that show is the mother, played by Constance Wu. I am delighted to see her finally getting some big screen attention. She is great again in this ode to Asian heritage. This film is funny, but also realistic, as anyone with in-laws can attest to.
Mission: Impossible: Fallout
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – I actually started a group chat at work to discuss how terrible this film was. I never do that. I was so disappointed with Fallen Kingdom, after the first Jurassic World was such a fun ride. I can’t remember too many times when I’ve heard an outpouring of audible groans when characters make decisions like I did during this. The first half of the film, while entertaining, is completely unnecessary and the second half where we get into the world of human cloning is mind numbingly awful. The original film is one of my favourite movies of all time, and it is incredibly disappointing to see that legacy tarnished by this substandard fare.
Predators – This movie had a lot going for it. Shane Black was responsible for some of the best action films of the eighties (Lethal Weapon), and has moved on to directing brilliantly (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Nice Guys, Iron Man 3). If anyone could bring this alien hunter into the new millennium, it was Black. What he delivered was a clunky movie that didn’t know if wanted to be a horror film, action or comedy and gets mish-mashed into all 3, never really succeeding at any of them.
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – I didn’t expect a comic book movie to top my list this year. But then in swung Miles Morales… and Gwen Stacy and Peni Parker and Spider-Man Noir and Peter B. Parker and… well, just go see it in theaters, if you haven’t already.
- Crazy Rich Asians – The book may be so-so, but the screen is where this story really shines. Even if rom-coms aren’t really your thing, there’s a lot to love in this movie.
- Ralph Breaks the Internet – A follow-up to the delightful Wreck-It Ralph made me nervous, but I needn’t have worried. This is a fun movie that perfectly distills everything that makes the internet both wondrous and horrible, with a great message about friendship.
- Ladybird – This one falls into that weird space of being a 2017 film that wasn’t released in Australia until this year. Still, I have to include it in my top ten, because it’s just so great. As an outspoken teen who wished to be anywhere but the California suburbs, Ladybird spoke to me in ways few movies do.
- Black Panther – I honestly had to look up when this was released, because it feels like the MCU has come so far since even February. BP does suffer from some of the same third act problems that plague most superhero films, but that doesn’t diminish how great this movie is.
- A Star is Born – Lady Gaga is probably going to win an Oscar. Bradley Cooper is probably going to win an Oscar. That song is probably going to win an Oscar. Don’t let that put you off, though. This is a tough movie to watch at times, but so worth it.
- The Death of Stalin – The title tells you what to expect (Stalin dies), but things get really interesting from there. This political satire takes a lot of creative license with the timeline, but still manages to capture what it must have felt like to live and work under such an insane and cruel regime.
- Ideal Home – This was a great year for comedies, and this might have been one you missed. It’s a heartwarming story about family with great, well-rounded characters and lovable performances. Stream it on a lazy weekend afternoon and get ready to laugh (and maybe cry).
- American Animals – Based on real life events, this film blends actor-driven storytelling and documentary interviews to tell its unconventional heist story. If you weren’t a MoviePass holder, this one might have passed you by in theaters. Take some time to discover it in the new year.
- Sorry to Bother You – We had to wait patiently until this was released in Australia, but it was worth the wait. This wasn’t a perfect film and is certainly a strange one. It also has killer style and a clear point of view–something many movies lack.
The Shape of Water
My Friend Dahmer
Avengers: Infinity War
The Incredibles 2
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Ready Player One
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – There were so many opportunities to make this an interesting movie, and every single one of them was missed.
Tag– There were some very funny movies released this year. This was not one of them.
The Happytime Murders – This wasn’t one of them either!
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – I really wanted this sequel to be good. It was so terrible. Holding out hope that it will make more sense once we’ve seen the next couple installments, but on its own Grindelwald fails to deliver.
Most “I don’t know if this is good or not” Movie:
Mandy – I saw this on a lark with a friend who had an extra ticket. It’s not a film I would normally seek out on my own, but it was… good? Maybe? I honestly can’t decide. It was visually stunning, and there’s some great Nick Cage screaming if you’re into that.