Best in Cinema 2020: Part 2 – Individual Achievement

My list does exclude a few awards season films that are being included due to the extended award season, yet are still 2021 releases. Judas & The Black Messiah, for example, is expected to have a presence at the Oscars this year, but is technically a 2021 film, so expect that to show up round this time next year, but not on this list.

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Best in Cinema 2020: Part 1 – The Films

To say my favourite films of 2020 are a reflection of the 2020 experience would be a whimsically reductive assessment of films made prior to the turning of the calendar and shit-hitting of a fan. But the art we gravitate to, be it book, song, film, whatever, are a reflection of ourselves and our state of mind. Could my picks for best films of 2020 be more of a commentary on how I was internally processing the events of the year? Perhaps. But they’re also just quality films worth checking out.

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Best Movies of 2019: Part 1 – The Films

Best Films of the Year

Parasite

This was the final entry into the list, the last I saw, but I was blown away with how perfect this film is. Bong Joon-Ho has long made interesting think pieces on class disparity, including past Top 10 entries Snowpiercer and Okja, but they haven’t so finely put a bow on it. And to his credit, he never marks a villain or hero in the story, so as not to demonize or lionize one particular class or the other. Bong Joon-Ho expertly crafts his story by attacking the systemic nature of disparity, as opposed to the unwilling participants. We feel for all involved, especially for the tragedy of the Kim family. The film is masterfully edited and brilliantly paced to pull you right in, and while it’s an ensemble piece, Song Kang-ho’s performance as Ki-taek is one of the more careful and nuanced performances of the year, bringing great heart and woe to the Kim patriarch.

Continue reading “Best Movies of 2019: Part 1 – The Films”

Best of 2018 – Film: Part 1 – Films

Best Films of 2018

Best Films of the Year

Black Panther

It would be easy to dismiss this as a pop cultural phenom, a popcorn blockbuster for the masses. It’s Marvel by way of Disney, after all. But Black Panther as a film finally accomplished what comic books had been doing for years: Holding a mirror up to society. For numerous reasons. From nationalism to isolationism to racism. It captured that and ran it through a fantasy filter, but never lost its poignancy. Black Panther is a film for our time. A bloated, visual-effects laden, epic franchise comic book action film, that still manages to say something important, and look absolutely gorgeous doing so. The hero isn’t 100% right, the villain isn’t 100% wrong. This is a brightly-coloured grey area of a film. And it’s beautiful. Best film of 2018? Up there. THE film of 2018? Definitely.

A Quiet Place

If you know me, you know I tend to go genre with my favoured films. The Shape of Water, Arrival, The Witch. Had Black Panther not been the event it was, A Quiet Place would definitely be taking the top spot. It’s a deep contemplation on the anxiety of parenthood, particularly fatherhood. Director/star John Krasinski’s approached this with a lot of care, and we got a weighty monster film that does stick with you once throughout the entire film. You’re afraid to crunch your popcorn, slurp your soda, for fear of giving away their location.

Continue reading “Best of 2018 – Film: Part 1 – Films”

Best Of 2018: The Music

Here’s what moved me in 2018. What got my toes tapping, my head bobbing, my fingers drumming, my lips humming. As in years past, I’ve got my Best Ofs, then a list of honourable mentions. There was a lot to enjoy in music this year. A lot I’m looking forward to

Album Of The Year

Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer

It’s hyper-ambitious to rock a full concept album in R&B, and Janelle just lands it. It’s the perfect album for 2018, with the artist fully and unabashedly owning and celebrating her identity. Monáe’s third album feels as much as a statement of her musicality as it is a statement of her as a person. Finding out after the fact that Prince himself had a hand in crafting the album is a telling factoid that only enhances my enjoyment of the album.

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Best of 2017 – Film: Part 1 – Films

Best Films Collage Header

10 Best Films of the Year

  1. The Shape of Water
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFYWazblaUA
    It’s no contest. It’s not even a debate that Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is the best film of 2017. It represents, top to bottom, the very best of cinema. Guillermo’s vision is a technical and visual marvel that fully pulls you into this world he’s created, the lives of these characters. To the characters, The Shape of Water boasts a supremely impressive cast who make the world pop. Michael Shannon’s Strickland becomes one of cinema’s all time great villains, Doug Jones is at his monster best, and the true star Sally Hawkins effortlessly carries so much of the film with so little done. A silent performance, she pours every thought, every emotion, into every nod, every gesture, every look. Hawkins is perfect.
  2. Blade Runner 2049
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCcx85zbxz4
    Not to dismiss the rest of the film, because it’s all definitely top 10 material, but the spectacle of Blade Runner 2049 is the headline of the film. The spectacle wouldn’t be near as impressive without the great script and subdued performances, to be fair. But Denis Villeneuve builds upon this world created by Phillip K. Dick and Ridley Scott, and really picks at the over arcing narrative of humanity and what it means to be human, and a lot of that relies on the stunning visual cues, both obvious and subtle. And it’s all built around this really tight mystery the enhanced by the less showy performances from Ryan Gosling, Dave Bautista, Robin Wright, Sylvia Hoeks, Ana de Armas and Harrison Ford, turning in probably his finest performance of his long storied career.
  3. Get Out
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRfnevzM9kQ
    There’s a lot to unpack with this film, but all credit where it’s due, this film would have failed in lesser hands. I don’t think anyone other than Jordan Peele could have made Get OutIt’s a sharp, biting film that will be lost on a lot of audiences. And to be honest, as a white male, a lot of it was lost on me, on my first viewing. Peele’s film speaks to issues and experiences, both large and small scale, that I don’t experience, that I don’t see. It was only after hearing interviews with him where he talks about the deeper meanings behind what he was saying, that the real fear behind the film starts to take shape. Normally a film that requires a study guide doesn’t really do it’s job, but this is a case of it doing its job to an exceedingly high level. It works because it makes us take a long look at what it’s saying. It would have failed without Peele. It would have failed without Daniel Kaluuya’s knowing performance.
  4. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jit3YhGx5pU
    Martin McDonagh’s  Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is perhaps the most un-Coen Coen Brothers film that exists. It keeps the big characters and dark humour, but strips away that very particular Coen cadance. All of this is of course very high praise. It doesn’t come off as a knock-off Coen film, that’s just an easy analogy for people who are unfamiliar with McDonagh’s work, and considering the blank stares I get when I reference In Bruges or Seven Psychopaths, that’s still a lot of people. But for Three Billboards, it’s sold on the power of the two leads, of Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell. They just crush it every step of the way.
  5. The Big Sick
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJmpSMRQhhs
    I don’t want to pin an entire movie on one scene… but there’s a scene in The Big Sick with Kumail Nanjiani, playing himself essentially, that just brings it all down. If you’ve seen the film, you know it, if you haven’t, you’ll know it when you see it. But it really brought the whole thing home for me. That’s what makes this romantic comedy work in all the ways most others don’t. That human element from Kumail and Zoe Kazan and Holly Hunter. You can relate to their story, whether it directly applies wholesale or not, there are elements that pluck the right strings. It’s perfectly written and very well acted.
  6. Dunkirk
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-eMt3SrfFU
    In Dunkirk, we get Christopher Nolan’s most minimalist film, but certainly one of his more intense.
  7. Logan
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Div0iP65aZo
    Logan gives us a double rarity in the world of superhero movies: a mature and frank look at them aging, and a character finale. And it does so beautifully.
  8. Wonder Woman
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSB4wGIdDwo
    What sets Wonder Woman (and also Spider-Man: Homecoming) apart from the rest of the superhero pack, is that they celebrate the joy of being hero experienced by people who want to be heroes. She doesn’t see her duty as a burden. She wants to be a hero. And that’s a refreshing take on heroes.
  9. Baby Driver
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9YZw_X5UzQ
    Edgar Wright’s action/music/comedy Baby Driver is just pure, unadulterated cinematic fun. Is it a popcorn flick trying to be prestige? Is it a prestige flick trying to be popcorn? It’s both. It’s popcorn and prestige.
  10. Okja
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjCebKn4iic
    The fantasy of Okja was wildly fun, with bordering on the cusp of a post-apocalypse. It almost feels like Joon-ho Bong wrote this as a sort of prequel to his 2013 hit Snowpiercer
Continue reading “Best of 2017 – Film: Part 1 – Films”

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