28 February 2019
Every year, I try to see as many new release films as I can. The idea is to see them between January 1st and December 31st but those pesky last-December releases and super limited runs usually mean I’m still seeking out a few titles into the new year (I’ll come clean- it took me like a month and a half to get through Roma, I finally finished it ten minutes ago). I rank everything as I go so that, when it’s all said and done, I can publish a list the completely encapsulates my experience of the year in film (even if it took me a little extra time to get to them all, every movie on this list hit wide, or its widest, release within the confines of 2018). The Oscars were this weekend so now’s the time if there ever was a time to look back on the rocky, ridiculous year that was 2018 and the absurd (admittedly subjective but you know it’s true) fact that all the ‘bad’ movies were good and all the ‘good’ movies were terrible.
Standard Disclaimer So You Don’t Yell At Me:
This Is Not A List Of the Best Films Of the Year. This is not a definitive ranking based on some sort of arbitrary but generally agreed upon criteria for “quality”. Though my opinion is swayed by artistic merit, it’s not completely defined by it and I do not care at all if your cinematography is brilliant if none of your characters are worth rooting for. I like what I like. Sometimes that’s a brilliantly made film, sometimes it’s a decent adaptation of something I already love, sometimes it’s the Backstreet Boys documentary (actually, I was really disappointed in the Backstreet Boys documentary but we’ve already talked about this). I think criticism is most effective when readers seek out writers who share their taste rather than expecting all critics to reach some sort of group-think consensus on what’s “best”. So I’m telling you what I liked most (and what I liked least, and what I thought of everything in between) in 2018, subjectively, because subjective is all any of us can ever really be.
Okay, here we go:
1. The Favourite
This was the only truly great film in the Oscars race this year but it’s a real doozy. Yorgos Lanthimos has always been a fascinating stylist with a great eye for casting and and impeccable taste in unexpected stories but it’s incredible the heights to which he soars when collaborating with screenwriters rather than toiling alone. Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara’s dialogue is some of the sharpest comedy ever filmed and their story is rich, compelling, and beautifully infuriating. The cast- especially the leading trio (yes, leading, none of this “supporting” nonsense, they’re in it together)- is sublime. The costumes and set dressing are extraordinary, the music delicious, the cinematography wall-art-worthy. It was a bad year for movies but it provided arguably the best movie in years.
I’ve loved Anton Yelchin since the first time I ever saw Anton Yelchin (2007, Charlie Bartlett). This masterpiece is the last time I’ll ever see Anton Yelchin. Filming wrapped just two weeks before he died in 2016 and that legacy will never not be a part of Thoroughbreds. He’s wonderful as a local drug dealer who gets caught up in two teenage girls’ plan to murder one of their step fathers but, emotional as it is to see the final performance of someone who had so much left in him, it’s Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy and Cory Finley who make this film the complex noir triumph that it is. Written and directed by Finley, Thoroughbreds is brilliantly constructed with intoxicating dialogue and fascinating characters. Cooke and Taylor-Joy are transfixing as childhood friends navigating their evolving moral limits. Finley has no previous credits to his name but this is the kind of calling card that can unlock an enormous career.
3. Support the Girls
I’d heard vaguely about this Regina Hall indie but, like everyone, didn’t try hard enough to seek it out upon release. Then, I swear to god, I saw it on Obama’s year-end favourites list and decided I had to see it afterall (the man has taste and is bizarrely prolific in his consumption). It’s fantastic. Andrew Bujalski’s script is sharp, fun, and heartfelt, and Regina Hall’s leading performance is to die for. The wonderful Haley Lu Richardson is the other MVP, as Haley Lu Richardson tends to be, giving a pitch perfect performance walking like five tricky lines at once. You know you didn’t see it; fix that.
Lower film on this list are better films than this one. But Dumplin’ took a shot square at my heart and didn’t miss by a millimeter. Sweet, heartfelt, and deeply nuanced in a way it absolutely could have gotten away with not being, this Netflix gem had me bawling from minute 3 and smiling for hours after. The entire ensemble cast is incredible but highlights for me were Odedya Rush making her mark in a role that could very easily be overshadowed, erstwhile Tracy Turnblad Maddie Baillio aka the most adorable woman on the planet, and Jennifer Aniston whom I will love forever but also genuinely think should have been in the Oscar race for the complex restraint she played as the title character’s former pageant queen mom who is well-meaning but hurtful and misunderstood and underestimated and overestimated and refreshingly just as many things as her protagonist daughter.
5. Hearts Beat Fast
6. Juliet, Naked
This Nick Hornby adaptation is lovely and honest and balanced in a way that totally caught me off guard. It’s a sharp critique of fandom culture (there’s a scene in a media studies class where The Wire is contextualized within Greek mythology and my entire university experience/entire life conversing with intellectual millennial men flashed before my eyes) but then Chris O’Dowd gives this extraordinary speech that spins the film’s perspective around and makes room for conflicting ideas to both be valid. That’s not easy to do nor is it something most narratives bother to do. Extra points for perfect casting.
7. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
A masterpiece of character work that will likely go down as the dramatic highpoint of Melissa McCarthy’s career.
8. If Beale Street Could Talk
9. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
10. Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town
This delicate LA travelogue is a series of vignettes as the never-not-captivating Mackenzie Davis makes her way across town to somewhere she should not go and along the way is waylaid by some extraordinary single-scene performers including a sublime Carrie Coon and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it dreamboat turn for LaKeith Stanfield.
11. The Spy Who Dumped Me
A genuine, positive, believable female friendship is the grounding force of this silly comedy that has no business being this good. There’s incredible music from the Bach Double to the Pink Panther theme, the weirdest faux-cameo on film this year, a great gun control joke, Ivanna Sakhno as a hitwoman so captivating she could easily headline her own action thriller, and an illuminating throughline about the all-too-common criticism of women as being either “too much” or “not enough” (the one who’s not enough gets the guy, of course, but we have to walk before we can run). My favourite action comedy since The Heat and my favourite big studio comedy in a year when the big studio comedies were bizarrely all pretty good.
12. Candy Jar
13. Outside In
14. Sorry to Bother You
15. Instant Family
My other favourite studio comedy this year, Instant Family looked so stupid (Mark Wahlberg may be my least favourite actor in Hollywood) but it was so funny and fresh and heartfelt I could barely stand it. A totally unexpected gem.
16. Eighth Grade
The filmmakers behind this beautifully crafted and emotional biography take seriously the fact that they are telling a visual storyteller’s story using a visual storytelling medium, pressing the documentary genre to visual heights without losing sight of the focused, human character piece the film really is beneath its necessary flair. Lee Alexander McQueen is not an easy figure to root for and the film grapples with that alienating nature and takes the viewer on a journey towards empathy through understanding. In a highwater year for blockbuster documentaries, McQueen is a singular achievement.
Alex Garland’s brain is a really cool place and Annihilation takes us a step further into it than we’ve ever gone before. A badass team of female scientists investigate a strange alien “shimmer” that’s overtaken parts of America- it’s a little bit Heart of Darkness, a little bit The Abyss, a little bit classic horror and a little bit Arrival if that movie had been much better. One of the most beautifully production designed things I’ve ever seen with some stellar supporting performances (hells yes, Gina Rodriguez!), Annihilation is surprising, creative, intense and intelligent. I don’t know what more you could want.
21. The Front Runner
It drags a little in the back half but the frenetic energy and insightful messiness with which this totally overlooked film captures the campaign trail is thrilling.
22. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Would die for Lily James.
23. Paddington 2
25. Irreplaceable You
This lovely, quiet, heartbreaking Netflix indie sports an extraordinary cast led by the incredible Gugu Mbatha-Raw who should be cast in way more things. A support group attended by Christopher Walken, Kate McKinnon and Steve Coogan, a Merritt Wever cameo as an aquarium tour guide, Jackie Weaver, Brian Tyree Henry without whom I’m not sure 2018 would have even happened, and Timothy Simons in a completely wonderful low-key role as a chemo nurse. What a world.
26. 6 Balloons
We need to talk about Dave Franco more.
27. Love, Simon
The Never Been Kissed + You’ve Got Mail ending and Bleachers-heavy soundtrack (featuring our friend Banners!) made this a real winner for me. Nick Robinson is such a dreamboat leading man and my heart has belonged to Greg Berlanti since his WB days. It’s cheesy and formulaic but cheering for Love, Simon was the easiest thing in the world.
28. Black Panther
The young people casting is perfect in this delightful comedy that refreshingly treats its teenagers like full, complex people for whom there is no one right thing to do. Let’s have all teenage boy love interests be as kind-as-defining-quality as “chef”.
31. Sierra Burgess is a Loser
32. Crazy Rich Asians
33. A Quiet Place
When some other movie (probably some WWII thing) wins the sound editing Oscar, we’ll know that awards shows really are broken. [Update because I wrote this right after seeing the movie many moths ago: OMG, it was freaking Bohemian Rhapsody. Let’s all revolt]
34. Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse
35. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
This sci-fi indie gets a little lost in its muddled mythology right at the end but is otherwise a tense and involving drama that uses its high concept to tell a grounded emotional story. The reason the mythology is difficult to parse in the end is that the filmmakers smartly chose to yada yada it throughout the rest of the film, focusing instead of their characters’ journeys. I’m not a plot person, so I liked the simplicity of what I’ve come to call the Looper approach to sci-fi. I’m far more interested in the effect the craziness has on people than discovering what made the craziness happen. In this case, screenwriters Gregory Davis, Peter Nickowitz and Bill Oliver extrapolate the broad concept of dissociative personality disorder and consider the idea that two completely different human beings, brothers, could share a body- Jonathan is awake 7am to 7pm and John from 7pm to 7am, both played by the excellent Ansel Elgort with careful subtlety. It’s a messy concept, which is why it doesn’t untangle easily, but it’s fertile storytelling ground for an examination of a dozen different things from jealousy to sexuality to mental illness to codependency to the struggle to find meaning and live a full life. Matt Bomer makes a memorable single-scene appearance but the rest of the supporting cast is really defined by two women- one an ill-defined love interest played by Suki Waterhouse in this Bechdel test failure of a small-cast film, the other a far more interesting Patricia Clarkson as the scientist/pseudo mother figure whose intentions you spend the whole movie trying to suss out.
38. Christopher Robin
39. The Old Man with the Gun
40. Love After Love
Chris O’Dowd is a raging psychopath in this movie (to be clear, I’m pretty sure he’s meant to be a complex, even rootworthy protagonist but unfortunately his outlandish narcissism and genuine grossness get in the way of that). However, if you’re able to look past that one glaring flaw, there’s so much beauty here. Every other performance is gloriously subtle and lived-in (even O’Dowd isn’t bad, his character is just brutally written). Andie MacDowell is particularly sublime as a widow grieving and moving on through sporadic glimpses with no clear narrative arc. That said, MacDowell looks so incredible for her age (60) that I definitely thought she and O’Dowd (a very old 39) were a couple for awhile before realizing they were mother and son, which was definitely an odd lens to cast over the film.
41. Boy Erased
This movie was less emotionally impactful than I was expecting but that doesn’t make it less shocking that it wasn’t in the Oscar conversation. At least Nicole Kidman, who proves once again that we’re always underestimating Nicole Kidman.
42. You Were Never Really Here
Despite its refreshingly curt 90 minute runtime, this tense thriller about a hired gun searching for an abducted girl takes its time. It’s quiet with hardly any dialogue and plenty of gorgeous arty shots and stunning surrealism, all anchored by the kind of Joaquin Phoenix performance we’re all very used to by now but still should appreciate more (stoic, intense, a little odd, packed with detail and depth). I’m not the biggest fan of “killer with a conscience” tropes but on an art level this one’s a stunner and it’s always cool to see a hardcore narrative spun by a female auteur.
43. Deadpool 2
44. Isle of Dogs
45. Mary Queen of Scots
Real shame the extent to which this one got ignored. Some real powerhouse acting on display (to say nothing of the makeup, hair, costumes & set dressing work).
47. Mary Goes Round
This well-acted and personal drama from Canadian filmmaker Molly McGlynn is an excellent indie that deserves to be seen. Hopefully the presence of Aya Cash will trick some Americans into watching it.
48. A Star is Born
The script for this 4th adaptation is bloated and melodramatic but Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut has unexpected visual flair and very expected earnest emotion. His lived-in performance is the rock on which this high-expectations/massive ad-buy film is built and he pulls Lady Gaga and her middling acting skills up with him.
49. Duck Butter
50. First Man
51. A Simple Favor
52. Ocean’s 8
53. Bel Canto
I studied this gorgeous Ann Patchett novel in high school. I remarked on there being a character named Gen Watanabe when at the time Ken Watanabe was really having a big moment mainstream-media-wise, joking that Patchett must not have felt like researching other Japanese names. My teacher was So Mad. But then this movie cast Ken Watanabe as the romantic lead (Gen’s boss) so I feel somehow validated. Anyway, the novel’s intricate character work and sprawling timeline don’t translate well to film and I hate watching dubbed singing so, while still an emotionally impactful story, this slipped surprisingly far down the list.
54. Life Itself
Like the thesis Olivia Wilde’s character is writing in this schmaltzy time-and-location-jumping drama, the film jumps off from a lovely, insightful, poetic idea and gets convoluted and cheesy as attempts are made to turn an idea into a story. The first five to twenty minutes of this film, I was sure it would be my favourite of the year. The writing is fresh, funny, and heartfelt, the casting impeccable (I could watch Oscar Isaac and Olivia Wilde fall in love forever) and the structure playful in a Stranger than Fiction-esque way. It reminded me of Dan Fogelman’s early work, his infinitely clever, boldly sweet and irresistibly strange sitcom The Neighbors. By the interminable voice-overed montage that dominates the third act, Fogelman’s fresh and honest voice had regressed to the worst version of itself, the clunky, cheesy, overwrought tear-bait that defines the writer/director’s most famous and worst work by far, his hit NBC drama This Is Us (my least favourite show currently on television; and, again, I say this as a Fogelman fan). This movie made me sad, not because it wanted So Badly to make me sad, but because it could have been brilliant and is instead just fine. When it works it really works but it doesn’t work consistently enough. It is, however, a great reminder that we need to stop taking Antonio Banderas for granted; he’s a treasure.
55. Brand New Old Love
57. Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again
I cried four times during this joyful, tearful, musicful, LilyJamesful romp. I wish they’d cut the Cher stuff that is forced in with a crowbar but, man, what a lovely ride.
I wholly expected to hate this movie but left not just saying “you know what, that was a fun couple of hours” but actually declaring it a really well-made movie. Because it is. It’s got a pretty nearly perfect structure- tightly plotted with strong connecting threads, smart Chekhov’s gun payoffs, and incredible momentum. It’s not balanced on big twists the way most action thrillers are these days, which meant I rarely got the chance to get ahead of the movie and I actually find myself wanting to see it again (good movies aren’t spoilable, I really believe that). The Rock is obviously a Hollywood god for all time and he’s in peak form here with both stunning physical feats and big ole family man heart, but the supporting characters are well-developed too (I particularly liked Byron Mann as a skeptical police inspector and even Neve Campbell’s wife character has agency and a personality and a purpose beyond motivating the hero). Everyone’s motivations actually made sense, for the most part. I hardcore hated Hannah Quinlivan’s bizarre plot-mover of a character with her overly stylishness and pouty rootlessness but she’s literally my one complaint about a movie that truly shocked me by being actually pretty good. I love when that happens.
59. Miracle Season
60. Won’t You Be My Neighbor
I wanted more filmmaking flourish and journalistic depth from this big-hearted documentary.
61. Like Father
62. Life of the Party
Studio comedies were good this year, what can I tell ya. Melissa McCarthy can ground anything and the young cast was spot-on.
65. Game Night
Jesse Plemons, man.
67. Vox Lux
Don’t get mad- the only Alfonso Cuarón movie I’ve ever liked is A Little Princess, which is an absolute masterpiece that I will never get over. This was too long and the main character’s lack of agency annoyed me on a screenwriting level more than provoked me on a political one. It felt navel-gazy, oddly melodramatic, and if any movie needed to be in a movie theatre this year this was it but it somehow ended up on Netflix (small screens, lots of distractions, the ability to pause- disaster).
69. Brampton’s Own
70. On the Basis of Sex
Look, you’re not likely to find a bigger Armie Hammer supporter than me but the amount of focus given to RBG’s husband Marty in this film makes it feel almost satirical.
A dirty cop twist that has absolutely no bearing on the actual plot and seems thrown in because someone realized there wasn’t a twist in the movie is the only really terrible thing in this serviceable vengeance thriller. Revenge is a tired plot-driver but it’s worth it to see Jennifer Garner return to the ass kicking version of herself who first became a star back in that all-time-great Alias pilot.
72. The Seagull
73. Destination Wedding
This movie was so weird. At first it just seemed bad, then it seemed almost satirically bad, then I think I found it profound and what seemed like bad filmmaking was actually a statement about life and art and the nature of love? Maybe? IDK, it was weird. I live-tweeted my viewing experience, head to @MyEntWorld to witness my journey.
74. Green Book
Everyone in this film irritated the hell out of me and that was before it became both over-awarded and a cartoonish symbol of the triumph of white male mediocrity. Pass.
75. The Princess Switch
Do I like Vanessa Hudgens? Sometimes so much, often not at all. She was a hoot here in a dual role in the best of the silly holiday Hallmark-y stuff.
76. Leisure Seeker
77. The Wife
This story was incredibly silly under the guise of profundity and Glenn Close might be my pick for the most overrated actress of her generation (I sat through Sunset Boulevard on Broadway, it still haunts me).
78. Meditation Park
79. White Boy Rick
80. Bohemian Rhapsody
I interviewed Rami Malek once. He stared straight into my eyes unblinking for 3 minutes and I think he may have cast some sort of spell because I will never not be rooting for him. He’s great in this film but it’s a bad film, which is insane considering the rich material and genius soundtrack. Just a tip- no movie, whether you want it to be considered prestigious art or not, needs a Wayne’s World reference.
81. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
82. A Wrinkle in Time
83. Mary Poppins
84. Three Identical Strangers
I liked how cinematic this doc was, it has a real sense of style and drives along at a really fun pace. The recreations work well and Bobby & David are very engaging narrators. But, as a piece of reliable non-fiction storytelling, it makes too many massive leaps of logic and I just hate that. All the much-lauded “big twists” are guessable from the trailer and, from there, we enter a world of frankly dangerous speculation. Let’s not.
86. The Death of Stalin
87. Mission: Impossible- Fallout
I loved Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation so much that this beloved instalment of Hollywood’s best action franchise felt a little overrated to me. Still decent, though, and I love the story about Cruise’s broken foot and Cavill’s moustache but the movie doesn’t get credit for its behind-the-scenes fun.
88. The Mercy
89. Ant Man & the Wasp
90. Avengers Infinity War
91. Second Act
92. The Children Act
93. First Reformed
Good performances and really beautiful cinematography can’t save an overwrought script that starts strong and devolves into silliness. Both boring and absurd and I say this as someone who would follow Ethan Hawke to even the weirdest projects.
95. When We First Met
This Netflix rom-com sports clunky exposition and a tired “she was right in front of him the whole time” third act (spoiler alert, I guess, but have you ever seen a rom-com before?) but it’s charmingly executed and sweetly conceived with a refreshing understanding that you can’t do things right without doing a few things wrong and we all mean something to each other even if we can’t love each other. The sidekick friend could use some fleshing out but I appreciated the resistance to dehumanizing the romantic rival and found myself ultimately won over by the movie’s messiness.
96. The Land of Steady Habits
97. The Oath
The action in this absurdist political comedy thriller is so purposefully over-the-top that the honest emotional consequences that are very clearly baked into the story feel unearned. The stakes are so cartoonishly high that they somehow end up feeling low. The ensemble cast is perfectly assembled, though, highlighted by Tiffany Haddish playing a more subtle note than usual.
98. Dog Days
The story of a deeply irritating woman and her brutally dull boyfriend stuck in the middle of the Pacific. The structure is smartly nonlinear and I have a softspot for Sam Claflin but Shailene Woodley grates and it’s her movie.
100. Shock & Awe
Rob Reiner will be my favourite director until the day I die, and I adore James Marsden, but this movie already feels 20 years old.
101. Forever My Girl
103. Set It Up
The fabulous line “guys like girls who like guys who like sports” is the main thing this super-formula rom-com brought to the table in a year of really pretty good rom-coms.
104. In a Relationship
105. The Long Dumb Road
Hannah Fidell made 6 Years, my favourite Netflix indie discovery of all-time (second place: Miss Stevens– go find them both), but this road trip Odd Coupling was too silly for my taste.
106. Beautiful Boy
No disrespect to Timothée Chalamet, who is still probably the best actor of his generation, but this movie is no good. The script is saccharine, the filmmaking is uninsightful, the soundtrack is pure coockoo bananas (Fiddler on the Roof? Why?!), and, most criminally, the real brutality of meth addiction is danced around in favour of keeping Chalamet cute. There are two effective scenes- one in which Maura Tierney chases her stepson in a minivan, effective only because she’s the only character whose inner life isn’t over-explained and Tierney is a master. The second is a high shower sex scene that is mysteriously the only moment of the film with any visual flair or ability to pull us into Nic’s experience. Such a disappointment. Watch 6 Balloons instead if you’re interested in the subject matter. If you just want more Chalamet, may I take a second opportunity in a row to point you towards Miss Stevens.
107. I Feel Pretty
I really liked Rory Scovel as the untraditional love interest in this studio rom-com and I love anytime Michelle Williams looks like she’s having fun (which happens basically never) but the brain-damage-based plot is dreadful and the film gets all mixed up in its ideas, failing to really communicate much of anything in the end. See 2019’s Isn’t It Romantic instead; it’s basically the same thing but also completely different in almost every way.
108. Happy Anniversary
109. I Think We’re Alone Now
110. Little Italy
This movie is very bad and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I’m so happy rom-coms are back at such full force. We need rom-coms. Even bad ones like this with clunky dialogue and forced acting and plots so terrible they’re somehow both derivative and non-existent. Hayden Christensen’s accent is a lowpoint in cinematic history, as is his “I’m Italian, I swear!” black hair dye. But, hey, it was cute and Andrea Martin was wonderful and I really like Alyssa Milano.
This film is in desperate need of restraint. It’s so crazy over-dramatic but then also completely self-serious in the least entertaining combination possible. Daniel Kaluuya is fantastic, as are Cynthia Erivo’s biceps, Colin Farrell’s crazy Chicago accent, that cute dog, and Elizabeth Debicki who gives a breakout performance that does not deserve to be so thoroughly overshadowed by Viola Davis in all her worst HTGAWM habits. Ugh. Calm down, Steve McQueen! (and also Gillian Flynn but I’ve told her to calm down before and she does not appear to be listening).
112. The Kissing Booth
113. Golden Exits
My least favourite film genre is “navel-gazing indies made by nerdy white men who were clearly heavily influenced by Woody Allen as teenagers ”. So, Golden Exits… it looks pretty (it’s one of those movies that’s shot on film for no reason other than its creator’s nostalgia and self importance) but the writing is flowery and deeply unlikeable and the direction turns a strong cast (Lily Rabe!) into a group of the most criminal over-emoters. It’s more annoying than bad, which is just the worst.
This is for a brand of nerd that I am not.
115. Midnight Sun
A Walk to Remember but without the interesting first act and instead of cancer it’s some dumb shit.
116. A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding
117. The Holiday Calendar
118. The Week Of
We’re all pretty much in agreement that Chris Rock is in every way funnier than Adam Sandler, right? Well, he plays second fiddle in this dumb Father of the Bride ripoff that eeks out some charming emotion in the end but is mostly just a slew of dated hijinks and fratty humour way too focused on the Sandlerness of it all.
119. The Little Stranger
120. Show Dogs
121. Book Club
122. Night School
123. The First Purge
124. The Bookshop
Most boring movie in the world. The villains are total cartoons devoid of any recognizable humanity. The sound mixing is an affront to filmmaking.
125. Welcome to Marwen
For months, I cried every single time I saw this trailer. It looked so good. But this shit was creepy and I hated every single non-Janelle-Monáe second of it (Janelle Monáe is in like 10 seconds of the movie). The female cast here is Incredible (Merritt Wever is one of my favourite humans) but the more I see of Steve Carell post-Office, the more convinced I am that he was just perfectly cast in that one incredibly well-written role. He was in three Oscar-bait films this year and was bad in all of them. Especially this one, where he plays a truly icky man with no boundaries who reduces the women in his life to absurd caricatures then puts those caricatures on a figurative pedestal and literal public display (without their permission btw). The filmmakers seem so homophobically concerned with counterbalancing the character’s crossdressing (a facet of the true story that suggests it could have maybe been a really interesting film in other hands) that they lean dramatically into his love of “dames”, which made my skin crawl. Poor Merritt Wever is, of course, as always, the consolation prize in the end. I almost threw something at the screen.
126. Here & Now
This SJP indie is incredibly irritating. It’s schmaltzy and faux-artistic, self-indulgent and entitled yet totally commonplace. It is just like its main character, a singer celebrating 25 years in the industry on the day she’s diagnosed with terminal cancer. She then proceeds to wander around New York (it’s like a character in the film! Please, we’ve seen Sarah Jessica Parker wander around New York before), run into some people she knows (Renée Zellweger, is that you? Good to see you, friend! Wish it was under any other circumstances), and totally neglect the people who have her back (mostly Common who should put up with less of her shit as her steadfast manager/friend but also her not-that-terrible mom and her incredibly patient ex and the drummer she’s sleeping with who seems cool too). It’s maybe the worst movie I saw this year. You should never watch it.
127. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Gridelwald
I love and support Eddie Redmayne, Ezra Miller, Jude Law, and a bunch of other people who are tragically in this movie (Zoe Kravitz is actually pretty good in it, no one else is allowed to be). But this movie shouldn’t exist. Its plot is ridiculous, its dialogue is trite, its world building is lazy, the whole thing is a fan-bait cash grab that’s tying up wonderful actors (and also Johnny Depp, the most punchable face in Hollywood). Give us our Redmayne back and back off the most beloved mythology of my generation, just let it lie.