Nathan and I rarely disagree about film. This post though is probably the most fitting for the name of our blog. Fair warning: Nathan has seen a lot more films than me this year. And I also have not seen If Beale Street Could Talk (fingers crossed we can soon!). That is probably about the only thing I haven’t seen that would cause any changes to this list.
Unlike Nathan’s list, mine will be ranked. This was a strong year in film, but even now when I think over everything I want to include on this list, some of these films stand out more than others and I feel they deserve to be ranked higher. So, let’s get started!
10.) Black Panther:
This is probably the most enjoyable film Marvel has produced yet. On top of the diverse cast, the story was just so much deeper than your typical superhero origin story. Honestly, it is the first Marvel movie I have seen in which I was excited for the sequel by the time we had finished the movie. It was a well told story with an awesome cast. Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan really made this film their own.
9.) Three Identical Strangers:
This is such a heartbreaking story. The entire time I was watching it, I had to keep reminding myself that this was a real story and these were real people. A system meant to help these families failed them royally. The documentary does a great job of balancing the systemic errors that led to this dramatic outcome with the personal tales of the people who have suffered as a result.
It’s no secret that I would go to the ends of the Earth for this woman. This documentary was really informative. I have always respected Ruth Bader Ginsburg for her politics. But this film does a really good job of exploring how she got to where she is and her career leading up to her stint on the Supreme Court. Even as someone who thought she knew everything there was to learn about RBG, I learned a lot and gained even more respect for her as a politician and as a human being.
7.) The Ballad of Buster Scruggs:
The Coen brothers really did it again with this one. It was delightfully absurd, full of songs worthy of praise, and so unique in its story telling. The structure is just as interesting as the cast of characters. While none of the stories told are connected, they do follow a similar theme that really makes you think about your own mortality.
6.) Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
I was not a PBS kid growing up. I have never seen any episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. However, that did not take away from this viewing experience. This documentary did a great job of painting a picture of who Fred Rogers was both on and off the screen while at the same time really showing how groundbreaking this television show was for its time.
5.) First Reformed:
While I personally did not enjoy the ending of this film, that does not stop me from appreciating the story telling and amazing performances it contains. The story was unique and Ethan Hawke gave one of the best performances of the year.
4.) A Star is Born:
Having never seen any of the other renditions of this story, I don’t have much to compare it to. However, this film really lived up to its hype. I think Bradley Cooper has a real shot at a Best Director Oscar nomination, if not a win, this year. Cooper and Lady Gaga gave amazing performances and had a chemistry that ranks among the best for couples in musicals. Also, I have listened to the soundtrack approximately one million times since seeing this film.
It is hard to believe that this story has not been told before now. It’s a story that is more than relevant today. While the events that inspired the script happened in the 1970s, Spike Lee does an awesome job at making a lot of connections to our current state of affairs. That, paired with amazing performances by John David Washington and Adam Driver, make this film one of the best of the year.
2.) Minding the Gap:
While on the face this film is about a group of friends who bonded over skateboarding while growing up together, it is about so much more than that. Set in Rockford, Illinois, about 30 miles east of my hometown, this film really hit close to home for me. I have seen this film play out first hand. Families deal with domestic violence, are economically trapped as all of the good jobs flee to larger cities across the world and struggle to make a better life for their children. This is still a film I think about often and in terms of my own life and the lives of the people that I love.
This movie gets the number one spot on my list this year for a lot of different reasons. Probably the most important is that even though the story is told in a different language, it’s a film that could almost be entirely understood based on the visuals. I read the subtitles, but you could follow almost everything that happens in Roma just by focusing on the images. They break cultural barriers in such a way that the story hits home for anyone and everyone.
I am not going to lie, I really assumed this film was going to be a shit show. But it ended up defying my expectations in a lot of different ways. First of all, the way it was shot was really awesome. Everything was seen through screens. Honestly, when I first saw the trailer it made me a little motion sick, but it is something you adapt to quickly. Also, the story was great. It was full of twists, turns, and unexpected plot points throughout. This probably isn’t a film you will watch over and over again just because once you know the ending I can’t imagine it is as satisfying a second time. But, it is still definitely worth the watch!
2.) Mary Poppins Returns:
When I first read about this film, I was staunchly opposed. I can truly say though that it surprised me in so many ways. The story was nostalgic without being too derivative, Emily Blunt delivered the performance of a lifetime in her portrayal as Mary Poppins, and the supporting cast was also amazing. I did have some issues with this film in terms of writing and music, but in terms of a sequel I really don’t think anything could have topped this.
3.) Beautiful Boy:
This was such a heartbreaking film to watch. It was unique in the perspective that it was told from. Often times, films about addicts are told from the perspective of the addict themselves. However, this film approaches it from the perspective of the addict’s father. The performances by Timothee Chalamet and Steve Carrell were great, the script was well written, and it really offered some perspective into the family dynamics of such a situation.
4.) The Wife:
I have never seen a film that has made me turn against one half of a couple so quickly. Glenn Close gave an amazing performance as a woman trying to figure out the state of her life after living in her husband’s shadow for so long. The script was wonderfully written, the performances were great, and I feel that a lot of women will identify with this story.
5.) Love, Simon:
More stories like this need to be written. Like right this second. I am an emotional person to begin with, but the end of this movie made me sob like a baby who’s blankie was taken away at nap time. It was such a beautifully written script that so many kids today can relate to. The representation alone was enough to get it onto this list.