Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Top 20 Movies of 2018

Unoriginal opening sentence wherein I express the belief that 2018 was a pretty good year for cinema, but not as great as 2017. Standard-issue follow-up statement relaying how this overwhelming number of good films made it difficult to narrow down my favorite titles into a manageable list of 20. Vaguely patronizing mention of the self-imposed "rule" that was applied during the creation of said list ("Must be titles that had a theatrical or VOD release in the U.S. during 2018"). Paragraph closes with a bit of whinging about how I've not yet seen A STAR IS BORN, THE FAVOURITE, SHOPLIFTERS, or SUSPIRIA and am thus unable to factor them into the list below.





20. YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE


what it's about:  A traumatized veteran tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, his nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening.

what it's "really" about:  Your trauma doesn't have to define you.

standout moment:  Joe takes out guards through the brothel, seen through security footage, scored by Rosie & The Originals' "Angel Baby."


19. FIRST REFORMED


what it's about:  A minister of a small congregation in upstate New York grapples with mounting despair brought on by tragedy, worldly concerns, and a tormented past.

what it's "really" about:  Climate change is "complicated."

standout moment:  Floating couple.


18. BURNING


what it's about:  Jong-su bumps into a girl who used to live in the same neighborhood as him, who asks him to look after her cat while on a trip to Africa. When back, she introduces Ben, a mysterious guy she met there, whom confesses to Jong-su his secret hobby.

what it's "really" about:  Class warfare.

standout moment:  Haemi's dance during sunset.


17. A QUIET PLACE


what it's about:  In a post-apocalyptic world, a family is forced to live in silence while hiding from monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing.

what it's "really" about:  The horrors of parenthood.

standout moment:  The mom tries to not make any noise while giving birth in a bathtub.


16. ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE


what it's about:  A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven at Christmas, forcing Anna and her friends to fight, slash, and sing their way to survival, facing the undead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones.

what it's "really" about:  Being a teenager is hard, even during the apocalypse.

standout moment:  It's cheating to say all the musical numbers, so I'll go with the encounter with a zombie snowman.


15. THE WORLD IS YOURS


what it's about:  A small-time dealer dreams of another life but can't afford it. To escape, he must accept one last job involving Spain, drugs, the Illuminati, and his overbearing mother.

what it's "really" about:  It's never too late to stop being a mama's boy.

standout moment:  Toto's "Africa" sung by a group of Scottish drunks.


14. BODIED


what it's about:  A progressive graduate student finds success and sparks outrage when his interest in battle rap as a thesis subject becomes a competitive obsession.

what it's "really" about:  No matter how noble your intentions are, don't be an asshole about it.

standout moment:  "Haha, white people."


13. UPGRADE


what it's about:  Set in the near-future, technology controls nearly all aspects of life. But when Grey, a self-identified technophobe, has his world turned upside down, his only hope for revenge is an experimental computer chip implant called Stem.

what it's "really" about:  Hey Alexa, set a reminder to never trust computers.

standout moment:  The first time Stem takes over and fights for Grey.


12. HEREDITARY


what it's about:  After the family matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begins to unravel dark secrets.

what it's "really" about:  Your family will be the death of you.

standout moment:  Mom blows up at her son during family dinner.


11. LOWLIFE


what it's about:  The sordid lives of an addict, an ex-con, and a luchador collide when an organ harvesting caper goes very, very wrong.

what it's "really" about:  Don't judge a book by its cover, or a man by the swastika tattoo on his face. You don't know his struggle.

standout moment:  The luchador leaves his legacy.


10. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR


what it's about:  The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

what it's "really" about: Always aim for the head.

standout moment:  The ending. Duh. Let's all bask in it before it gets undone in 2019.


9. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT


what it's about:  Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong.

what it's "really" about:  One day, Tom Cruise will die filming one of these movies.

standout moment:  Agent Walker reloads his arms.


8.  FIRST MAN


what it's about:  A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the moon.

what it's "really" about:  The moon is good place to have a cry.

standout moment:  The crater.


7. MANDY


what it's about:  The enchanted lives of a couple in a secluded forest are brutally shattered by a nightmarish hippie cult and their demon-biker henchmen, propelling a man into a spiraling, surreal rampage of vengeance.

what it's "really" about:  Rage Cage is the best Cage.

standout moment:  Chainsaw duel.


6. ANNIHILATION


what it's about:  A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition into a mysterious zone where the laws of nature don't apply.

what it's "really" about:  Death is the road to awe.

standout moment:  The mutant bear.


5. REVENGE


what it's about:  Never take your mistress on an annual guys' getaway, especially one devoted to hunting, a violent lesson for three wealthy married men.

what it's "really" about:  Guys, don't take "bros before hoes" so seriously.

standout moment:  The circular chase.


4. THOROUGHBREDS


what it's about:  Two upper-class teenage girls in suburban Connecticut rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. Together, they hatch a plan to solve both of their problems, no matter what the cost.

what it's "really" about:  The Technique.

standout moment:  "You have a creepy friend."


3. PADDINGTON 2


what it's about:  Paddington, now happily settled with the Brown family and a popular member of the local community, picks up a series of odd jobs to buy the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy's 100th birthday, only for the gift to be stolen.

what it's "really" about:  Prison reformation.

standout moment:  Window cleaning.


2. EIGHTH GRADE


what it's about:  An introverted teenage girl tries to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth grade year before leaving to start high school.

what it's "really" about:  The horrors of being in middle school. The horrors of all your insecurities and anxieties being amplified by social media. The horrors of raising a teenage daughter.

standout moment:  "Do I make you sad?"


1. SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE


what it's about:  Miles Morales becomes the Spider-Man of his reality and crosses paths with his counterparts from other dimensions to stop a threat to all reality.

what it's "really" about:  Anyone can be Spider-Man.

standout moment:  Miles dons his official Spider-Man costume for the first time and swings through New York.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Fantastic Fest 2018 - Day 4

I finally got to watch a Korean film at the fest that's Korean-themed for this year, on the final day no less. Also got to see a Chinese film, so I went out with an Asian bang. Hmm, that sounds weird.

Movie 1:  SHADOW


I haven't seen THE GREAT WALL, but it's probably safe to say this is Zhang Yimou's triumphant return to the wuxia genre that he helped introduce to the West along with Ang Lee... or is it? The first 2/3 of the film is pretty much a historical drama with a healthy dose of political intrigue. But once you get to the last act, swords and umbrellas(?!) start clashing in a typically glorious fashion that you're used to seeing from Zhang. The look of the film is amazing -- the muted black and white (and grey) colors, the beautiful costume design, and the impeccable production design. Again, not at all unexpected if you've seen HERO and THE HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS. Welcome back, Mr. Zhang.

Movie 2:  BURNING


I'm sure there are many layers to this movie that I'm currently struggling to comprehend; all I know is, I liked it. A lot. I need another viewing or two before I can form a more coherent thought on this. Also, this is Steven Yeun's best role and performance.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Fantastic Fest 2018 - Day 3

Movie 1:  WEREWOLF


PSA: This is not a werewolf movie. What starts out as a Holocaust drama somehow turns into a thriller inside an abandoned mansion, then ends in an unexpected way that was better than how I imagined it would go. A pleasant surprise of the fest so far.


Movie 2:  UNDER THE SILVER LAKE


This wasn't what I expected from David Robert Mitchell as a followup to IT FOLLOWS. But that's probably what people said about that movie, after he debuted with THE MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER. He's not sticking with one genre. This is one weird ass movie. There's a lot of Hitchcock and noir here, and it very much reminded me of INHERENT VICE. Like that film, there's a lot to unpack, and it will require multiple viewings to find more clues to the overall story. Right now, it's a little too scattershot and messy for me. Oh, but that one SPIDER-MAN gag was really good.

Movie 3:  ONE CUT OF THE DEAD


The first 30 minutes are kinda painful to sit through, but the rest of the film manages to elevate that first act into something great. Not going to say anything else because the fun is in the surprising way this movie unfolds and adds to what you've seen before. Just remember to hold steady for those first 30 minutes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Fantastic Fest 2018 - Day 2

I didn't see any bad movies today!

Movie 1:  BORDER


This movie goes some places. It's best seen knowing little as possible so I'm going to be vague here. It feels really long, but I just checked and IMDB lists it at 1 hour 41 minutes. Can't be right. It's very slow, and in the end, it didn't really turn out to be my type of movie. But the lead performance by Eva Melander is fantastic. I would still recommend it to the adventurous types, it's worth watching once.

Movie 2:  THE PERFECTION


This movie is bonkers. Part De Palma, part Park Chan-wook, part Aronofsky, and a whole lotta insanity. How are they going to market this movie? My favorite of the festival so far.

Movie 3:  MAY THE DEVIL TAKE YOU


Indonesian EVIL DEAD, but replace all the campy fun parts with family melodrama. Some scares were effective, but not particularly original. And most of the family scenes went way too long, dragging the pace down. I expected a bit more from the co-director of SAFE HAVEN (from V/H/S 2), but it's still solid for what it is.

Movie 4:  THE NIGHT COMES FOR US


Well this was certainly the most violent action film I've seen to date. It's a solid 3 star flick that stands out from the pack with copious amounts of blood and gore. But once it gets to the final fight between Joe Taslim and Iko Uwais, it earns an extra star. This is a step up from HEADSHOT, that's for sure. Alas, I still like THE RAID series more.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Fantastic Fest 2018 - Day 1

I'm back in Austin for my vacation away from everyone I know. Yes, it's bittersweet. No, I don't regret it. Yet.

Movie 1:  CHAINED FOR LIFE


I have a thing for movies about movie-making, especially when they're so clever about it. All in all, I'm not sure I understand what this movie is really "about", but I liked the individual scenes, more when they're a movie within the movie.

Movie 2:  THE WORLD IS YOURS


There are some amazing needle drops in this breezy crime/heist film from France. But even more amazing are the characters -- Vincent Cassel's Henri, who drones on and on about anything and everything -- Bruce, the Scottish drug lord that brings his preteen daughter to a deal -- Isabelle Adjani as the overbearing mother that loves money as much as she loves her son, and so many more -- I'm not sure which is my favorite. I would love to see sequels and spinoffs about any of these characters. This fills the OCEAN'S void rather nicely (no, I didn't forget OCEAN'S 8, I just don't care).

Movie 3:  THE GUILTY



This the best "guy talks on the phone for 90 minutes" movie. Yes, it's better than PHONE BOOTH, BURIED, and LOCKE.

Movie 4:  TUMBBAD

It has a solid premise, but the execution is severely lacking. There are couple of decent moments of horror in "chapter one" regarding the grandmother, but almost none afterwards. It just seems like an overlong TALES FROM THE CRYPT episode from India, and a bad one at that.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Escape from the Thailand Cave - The Movie

So Hollywood is already working on adapting the story of the 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped then rescued from the Tham Luong cave in Thailand. Going by the film industry's dubious history with these kinds of stories, I can picture them going with this cast:

The Coach:  Christian Bale


Boy #1, the hyper one:  Jake Gyllenhaal


Boy #2, the weird one:  Johnny Depp


Boy #3, the shouty one:  Gerard Butler


Boy #4, the quiet one:  Joel Edgerton


Boy #5, the annoying one:  Justin Chatwin


Boy #6, the funny one:  Fisher Stevens


Boy #7, the one that always talks about his sister:  Nikolaj Coster-Waldau


Boy #8, the one that confuses all the other boys:  Tilda Swinton


Boy #9, the one that eats all their food:  Rooney Mara


Boy #10, the one that's always forgotten:  Linda Hunt


Boy #11, the one that insists he's just quarter-Thai:  Emma Stone


Boy #12, the one that turns out to be an alien:  Scarlett Johansson


At least there's someone out there trying to prevent this from happening. Good luck, Mr. Chu.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Shawn James - Through the Valley (ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST)

I decided to try some side projects periodically so I don't forget how to use Adobe Premiere. Here's the first one, a tribute to my favorite western of all time.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

2018 Oscar Nominations and Predictions



The 2018 Oscar nominations were just announced this morning, and as usual, I have some thoughts. (THE SHAPE WATER got 13 nominations?!) I'll go over the major categories and list what I expect will win (what the Academy will pick), should win (what I would pick), WTF is it doing here (how did this get nominated), and snubs (why didn't this get nominated).

Best Picture

  • CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
  • DARKEST HOUR
  • DUNKIRK
  • GET OUT
  • LADY BIRD
  • PHANTOM THREAD
  • THE POST
  • THE SHAPE OF WATER
  • THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
will win:  It's pretty difficult to predict what will win here. Most of these have a solid chance, except for DARKEST HOUR. I'll go with DUNKIRK, which I think has the best chance due to its universal appeal and also having Nolan nominated for Best Director.

should winLADY BIRD, which was my #3 movie of 2017.

WTF is it doing hereDARKEST HOUR, which doesn't really have anything going for it except for Gary Oldman's performance.

snubbedBLADE RUNNER 2049 and mother! The former was a box office flop and the latter was a polarizing movie to say the least, even for critics. But they were #1 and #2 on my list, respectively.

Best Director

  • Christopher Nolan (DUNKIRK)
  • Jordan Peele (GET OUT)
  • Greta Gerwig (LADY BIRD)
  • Paul Thomas Anderson (PHANTOM THREAD)
  • Guillermo del Toro (THE SHAPE OF WATER)
will win:  Guillermo del Toro won the Golden Globe so he's probably the front runner, but I'm going with Christopher Nolan.

should winJordan Peele

WTF is he doing herePaul Thomas Anderson, but only because I have not seen PHANTOM THREAD yet. I'm pretty sure he deserves to be nominated.

snubbedDenis Villeneuve for BLADE RUNNER 2049. He made a sequel to a 35 year old film that improved on the original while staying true to its themes and visuals. I don't think even Ridley Scott could have accomplished that.

Best Actress


  • Sally Hawkins (THE SHAPE OF WATER)
  • Frances McDormand (THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI)
  • Margot Robbie (I, TONYA)
  • Saoirse Ronan (LADY BIRD)
  • Meryl Streep (THE POST)
will win:  Toss up between Frances McDormand and Saoirse Ronan, although I think the critical backlash against THREE BILLBOARDS may help Ronan's chances here.

should winSaoirse Ronan

WTF is she doing hereMeryl Streep, who I'm tired of seeing nominated every single year. Yeah she's great, but she gets nominated for every damn film she's in, whether they're good or not.

snubbedJennifer Lawrence for mother!, who is actually nominated for a Razzie instead. That's ridiculous.


Best Actor


  • Timothée Chalamet (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME)
  • Daniel Day-Lewis (PHANTOM THREAD)
  • Daniel Kaluuya (GET OUT)
  • Gary Oldman (DARKEST HOUR)
  • Denzel Washington (ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ.)
will winGary Oldman, for the standard Oscar-bait role.

should winTimothée Chalamet. I'm not the biggest fan of his movie, but he definitely stood out with his performance.

WTF is he doing hereDenzel Washington. No one saw his movie. Number of those that actually did were offended by his performance of a character on the spectrum.

snubbedJames Franco (THE DISASTER ARTIST), who was probably hurt by the recent allegations of sexual misconduct.

Best Supporting Actress


  • Mary J. Blige (MUDBOUND)
  • Allison Janney (I, TONYA)
  • Lesley Manville (PHANTOM THREAD)
  • Laurie Metcalf (LADY BIRD)
  • Octavia Spencer (THE SHAPE OF WATER)
will win:  Not really sure, but Allison Janney did win the Golden Globe.

should winLaurie Metcalf. I've only seen two films listed here, and she's definitely better than Octavia Spencer.

WTF is she doing here:  Speaking of which, Octavia Spencer. This one is truly a WTF because I thought her character was borderline offensive as a typical black friend to the main protagonist.

snubbedHolly Hunter (THE BIG SICK)

Best Cinematography


  • Roger Deakins (BLADE RUNNER 2049)
  • Bruno Delbonnel (DARKEST HOUR)
  • Hoyte van Hoytema (DUNKIRK)
  • Rachel Morrison (MUDBOUND)
  • Dan Laustsen (THE SHAPE OF WATER)
will winHoyte van Hoytema

should winRoger Deakins. The Academy loves to nominate him but has never actually given him an Oscar. He did phenomenal work on BLADE RUNNER 2049.

WTF is he doing here:  Sorry Bruno Delbonnel, I haven't seen your film.

snubbedSayombhu Mukdeeprom (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME)

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • James Ivory (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME)
  • Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber (THE DISASTER ARTIST)
  • Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green (LOGAN)
  • Aaron Sorkin (MOLLY'S GAME)
  • Virgil Williams and Dee Rees (MUDBOUND)
will win:  Aaron Sorkin is the big name here.

should win:  No clue.

WTF is it doing here:  Look, I saw LOGAN. I liked LOGAN. It doesn't deserve an Oscar for anything.

snubbed:  Can't think of anything.

Best Original Screenplay


  • Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani (THE BIG SICK)
  • Jordan Peele (GET OUT)
  • Greta Gerwig (LADY BIRD)
  • Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor (THE SHAPE OF WATER)
  • Martin McDonagh (THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI)
will win:  I can't decide between Jordan Peele, Greta Gerwig, and Martin McDonagh. Typically, the Academy likes to award this to the movie that gets nominated for other categories but doesn't win them. Movies like MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, DJANGO UNCHAINED, HER, you get the picture. So it will depend on how these nominees do in the other categories that night, but my guts say Jordan Peele will get the Oscar here, while losing the other ones like Best Picture and Best Director.

should winJordan Peele. I need to watch GET OUT again, but I remember being super impressed with the writing -- all the subtle clues and callbacks that payoff later in the film.

WTF is it doing here:  Surprisingly none.

snubbedmother! Don't @ me.

Best Animated Feature Film


  • THE BOSS BABY
  • THE BREADWINNER
  • COCO
  • FERDINAND
  • LOVING VINCENT
will winCOCO. Pixar is always the safe bet.

should winCOCO

WTF is it doing hereTHE BOSS BABY

snubbedA SILENT VOICE, the anime film about a deaf student and the bully that torments her. It didn't quite make my top 20, but it was close.

Best Original Song


  • "Mighty River" (MUDBOUND)
  • "Mystery of Love" (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME)
  • "Remember Me" (COCO)
  • "Stand Up For Something" (MARSHALL)
  • "This Is Me" (THE GREATEST SHOWMAN)
will win:  The Academy usually goes for the safe, audience-friendly pick. That would be "Remember Me."

should win"Mystery of Love" so that Sufjan Stevens can be called an Oscar winner. The song is pretty great too.

WTF is it doing here"Stand Up For Something." Sorry, I don't remember what MARSHALL is.

snubbed"Visions of Gideon" from CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, which I prefer over "Mystery of Love" and I think is used very effectively at the end of the film.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

TOP 20 FILMS OF 2017

Unoriginal opening sentence wherein I express the belief that 2017 was a fantastic year for cinema. Standard-issue follow-up statement relaying how this overwhelming number of great films made it difficult to narrow down my favorite titles into a manageable list of 20. Vaguely patronizing mention of the self-imposed "rule" that was applied during the creation of said list ("Must be titles that had a theatrical or VOD release in the U.S. during 2017"). Paragraph closes with a bit of whinging about how I've not yet seen PHANTOM THREAD, THE POST, or THE DISASTER ARTIST, and am thus unable to factor them into the list below*.





20. LOGAN LUCKY


You tell me Soderbergh made another heist film, I go watch it. At this point I'm convinced he can make these in his sleep.

19. DUNKIRK


A Nolan film with minimal dialogue and exposition, and a ticking time-bomb of a soundtrack. Not my favorite of his, but it's quite good.

18. BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99

Holy shit, Vince Vaughn. I didn't know you had this in you. I mean season 2 of TRUE DETECTIVE showed a glimmer of his viciousness and cold brutality, but this is on another level. I didn't know until now how much I needed to see him going HAM on gangsters, prisoners, and prison guards. And Don Johnson as a sadistic prison warden? Fucking cherry on top.

17. THE MERCILESS


Crime drama from Korea? That's a no-brainer, just put me in the seats. Koreans have become the kings of this genre now that Hollywood has stopped making these. Sad for the fans, but at least you're getting them from somewhere. This is a way more entertaining version of DONNIE BRASCO. And the way the story is told through constant flashbacks and jumps through character perspectives keeps the audience on their toes. Each revelation and twist made sense and was consistent for all characters involved. Great acting, dialogue, and editing. Oh, and the slap-fights. Awesome slap-fights.

16. THE BIG SICK

Romcom done right. And having a Pakistani man play the lead? Huge plus. Granted, it's based on Kumail Nanjiani's life so he's playing himself, but you know what I mean.

15. THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

There's some backlash on this movie regarding its characters and themes, but how can anyone dislike a movie where Frances McDormand cunt-punts a highschooler?

14. OKJA

Modern day MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO with Bong Joon-ho's offbeat sensibilities and tonal shifts.

13. TOMORROW I WILL DATE WITH YESTERDAY'S YOU

Remember the love story in BENJAMIN BUTTON? It's like that, but so much better.

12. THOR: RAGNAROK

Marvel films are pretty much comedies at this point, so Disney hiring Taika Waititi to direct this wasn't a complete shock. It's a genius move, because he's a comic genius. This is by far the best THOR film, which isn't high praise, but for the first time I'm excited to see where this character (and his friends) goes next.

11. STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

I'm admittedly not a big STAR WARS guy, but this movie made me feel... things. I can't remember the last time that happened with this franchise, but all credit goes to Rian Johnson for shaking things up. I know some fanboys are up in arms about some of the changes, but dudes, "let the past die."

10. I DON'T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE

That title sums up 2017 perfectly, no?

9. your name.

Animated body-switch dramedy with gorgeous visuals and a well-done story. Even if you hate anime, this is worth watching.

8. GET OUT

I didn't give this a chance until I read all the glowing reviews and it blew up at the box office. It certainly lives up to the hype, and is a fantastic directorial debut for Jordan Peele. Best horror comedy of the year.

7. JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2

Arguably better than the first JOHN WICK. The sequel massively expands on the assassin underworld that was hinted at previously, which allows the Baba Yaga to roam in a bigger playground with an assortment of new players in the mix, including Common, whom I hope to see again in the inevitable third chapter. Please let it be called JOHN WICK MUST DIE.

6. WIND RIVER

Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch spend some time together in Wyoming trying to solve a murder case. Non-hilarity ensues. You know what, I like Jeremy Renner. He's solid in all the stuff I've seen, and he gives one of his best performances here. And Taylor Sheridan is 3 for 3.

5. BABY DRIVER

The best car chase musical I've ever seen. It could only have come from Edgar Wright.

4. THE VILLAINESS

ATOMIC BLONDE: "I'm the female John Wick! My stairwell sequence is the best action scene of the year!"
THE VILLAINESS: "Hold my beer."

3. LADY BIRD 

I've always been a sucker for coming-of-age stories, but not the ones about girls. This changed in 2016 with THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN, and now here's LADY BIRD swooping in on the #3 spot on my list. It's both funny and sad that I relate more to the parents of these stories now. I laughed, I cringed, and I not-quite-cried.

2. mother!

I've never had a panic attack, but I came close to it watching this film (okay not really, it's just hyperbole). As the physical manifestation of Mother Earth, Jennifer Lawrence endures a ton of physical, mental, and emotional stress for 2 hours. I like my allegories loud and obvious, so this was great for me. I still can't believe a major movie studio financed and released a film like this. Somebody at Paramount has brass balls.

1. BLADE RUNNER 2049


Another year, another Ryan Gosling film at #1. But seriously, the sequel that no one asked for and believed in blew me away with astounding visuals and cinematography (when the hell is Roger Deakins getting his Oscar?), fantastic characters, and serious directing chops by Denis Villeneuve. The best sequels are the ones that expand on the ideas of the original film, not just rehash them. THE LAST JEDI, JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2, and BLADE RUNNER 2049 all did that. This film is packed with so many themes and ideas that the least interesting thing about it is that it's a sequel. It easily surpasses the original for me. 

* = Taken almost word-for-word from the opening paragraph of Scott Wampler's article on Birth. Movies. Death. It can't be topped, so why bother?

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Top 20 Movies of 2018

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