So, I’ve only seen 19 films in the cinema this year, so easier just to rank them all:
(I started out with 15 … have then added in the ones I forgot about, plus the ones I saw after their cinema release)
1) Love, Simon
For lots of reasons, a film that meant a huge amount to me this year (and in honesty, one I’m still processing a bit in my head). Stories about people like you really matter, and this - for all its superficial simplicity - is the sort of story I’d’ve have loved to have been around when I was Simon’s age.
I saw this at more or less the same time as I saw The Inheritance at the theatre, which is easily my play of the year, and whose themes intersected with this perfectly. (The Inheritance is also top of my list for overall best piece of entertainment I’ve seen this year)
2) Black Panther
Just pips Avengers for the best Marvel film of the year, partly because I saw this in a packed cinema in North London full of people who felt that, just like Love, Simon did for me, they clearly felt this was a story about people like them. Hands down the most enthusiastic, involved, excited and appreciative cinema audience I’ve been part of this year.
3) Avengers: Infinity War
Well, d’uh! Assuming they don’t completely banjax the landing, the accomplishment in steering the Marvel franchise towards this is just colossal. Teenage me geeked out when Infinity Gauntlet first came out … adult me double-geeked (triple-geeked? quadruple-geeked? infinite-geeked?) out over seeing this story, these characters on the big screen and it all just coming together beautifully.
4) The Greatest Showman
This was the first film I saw this year and you know what, I bloody loved it. It knows exactly what it’s doing, it hits all the cliched notes, but it doesn’t matter, it makes no excuses or apologies for it. This was the Victorian era X-Men, with songs, and I’m still singing them in the shower almost a year later.
Possibly my favourite Pixar film, which is saying something.
6) Deadpool 2
Oops, missed this out at first! Almost as much fun as the first.
7) Isle of Dogs
I really wasn’t expecting to be that fussed about this, but absolutely loved it.
8) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
I’m a McDonagh fan … I love how he plays around with ideas and form and expectations. This had its flaws, but amazing acting and compelling. (My favourite McDonagh piece of the year, both writing and acting, goes to Jim Broadbent starring as Hans Christian Andersen in A Very Very Very Dark Matter which is … very dark)
9) A Quiet Place
Genuinely terrifying. Again, flawed, but riveting viewing … and in contrast to Black Panther, the quietest cinema experience I’ve ever had in a full auditorium in my local cinema. You could hear people not breathing.
10) The Post
Slick, competent, interesting, relevant. Eminently watchable.
11) Ant-Man and the Wasp
I did really enjoy this, but definitely one of the lighter instalments. I’m v fond of Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet van Dyne though, and hope the whole family/team are going to be sticking around a bit at least.
12) Bohemian Rhapsody
V mixed feelings on this. Phenomenally watchable, amazing performances (including one of my colleague’s brother as Brian May ), and a killer soundtrack … but … but … it’s very clearly a very particular way of telling the story of Mercury and Queen, dictated by the surviving members of the band, and their version of story jars just a little too much with the real history for me (shifting the timing of his HIV diagnosis so significantly was the point where I lost all sympathy for their revisionist approach)
13) Pacific Rim Uprising
I mean, it’s still giant robots kicking the shit out of huge monsters, what’s not to love? Also, my god, how charismatic is John Boyega? (who would have carried this film on his own by sheer strength of personality alone … and it also continues to show how under-served he is in the Star Wars franchise to be honest. I saw him in stage last year in a version of Woycek and was hugely impressed, and this just confirmed that)
14) The Incredibles II
Watchable, fun at the time, but again, very sequel-y.
Less blown away by this that I’d hoped/expected to be.
I ate popcorn, and it was OK and all but utterly forgettable.
And then the three I was really disappointed in:
17) Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Just flat. Some great potential in its cast, but JK Rowling desperately in need of a script editor now.
18) The Shape of Water
I was really disappointed in this - more style than substance.
19) Darkest Hour
And similarly not impressed with this. Thought it, again, had some outstanding acting performance (Oldman, clearly in a league of his own) … but thought the tone was misjudged.
Might still be a few to juggle in before year’s end.