Archive | year-end favorites RSS feed for this section

Wrapping Up a Decade at the Movies with 20 Favorite Films

10 Dec

Favorite movies of the decadeJust in case you haven’t heard, we’re now at the end of another decade. Which means it’s time to take stock not just of the year that’s closing, but the nine previous years, too, and what the major highlights and trends were.

Any decade recap in my world has to include a top-movies list. It’s a bit of a herculean task, to be sure, given that, by my math, I saw an average of 71 movies every year of this decade. (My single-year high was 85, a total I reached twice.) If all goes according to plan, I’ll close out the 2010s having seen 715 films.

That’s right: Seven hundred and fifteen films. It’s crazy, I know.

So yes, that creates a bit of a challenge when it comes to narrowing down the list to just a few “favorites.” Continue reading

The Best Movies of 2018 Scaled New Heights

13 Dec

We’re definitely living in a time of resistance (political and otherwise), so it feels like my favorite films of 2018 arrived at the perfect time. Indeed, this year, the best movies I saw pushed back in their own ways against the forces that have been trying to minimize, marginalize, silence, and reduce the impact of those who actually make us great. They are a collection that celebrates diversity, inclusion, truth, familial bonds, our obligations to the world around us, risk-taking, and great storytelling. They are films that will stay with us. And their influence will be felt long after the calendar turns the page to another year.

Which is not to say that every one of this year’s releases had the state-of-the-state on their minds. After all, 2018 was also the year of movies like Game Night, Uncle Drew, and, especially, Tag, three comedies that were better than they had any right to be. It was the year that Michael Myers (the silent killer), the Incredibles, and Mary Poppins all returned to the big screen after long absences, as if not a day (or subpar sequel) had gone by. Yes, of course, Mike Myers the actor was back, too, in Bohemian Rhapsody. There were plenty of superhero movies this year, and that includes not one but two movies about Ruth Bader Ginsberg. In fact, speaking of RBG, documentaries about a variety of subjects were legit box-office hits. And one movie, A Quiet Place, even got people in theaters to stop talking and eating popcorn for two hours. A miracle!

Suffice it to say, 2018 was a memorable year for the movies. Of the nearly 85 films I saw (see below for a full list), these are the ones that had the biggest impact on me and left the most lasting impression. Continue reading

In a Meh Year for Movies, These Releases Won the Battle

7 Jan

So, 2017 was a funny year for the movies.

Not funny ha ha, but more like, it was just a meh year overall. With few exceptions, many of the movies I saw were good, not great. And it wasn’t just me: There appears to be little consensus across critics groups and award nominations so far because of it.

To that end, movies like Get Out and Call Me By Your Name I liked but didn’t love. (In the latter case, I thought Armie Hammer was miscast.) Same with Wonder Woman, which I liked but didn’t think was even the best superhero movie of the year. And on the flip side, movies I did really like, you won’t necessarily see on other top 10 lists. And some would never make my list in another, better year. Continue reading

Everybody Wanted Some Good Movies in 2016!!

27 Dec

everybody-wants-someEvery year around this time, movie watchers put on end-of-the-year goggles and delight in the riches that come with awards season movie releases.

Funny thing is, it wasn’t so long ago that many of those same people (myself included) were bemoaning the lack of quality releases this year. For example, in September, in a column on the sorry state of movies, Boston Globe critic Ty Burr actually wrote, “Someday we may look back on 2016 as the year the movies died.” Ouch. (And this was less than a year after Spotlight, a fantastic movie about a group of dogged Boston Globe reporters, won all kinds of awards, including the Oscar for Best Picture.)

There was also a great video by a YouTuber who calls himself the Nerdwriter about the epidemic of “passable” movies.

To be sure, neither Ty or the Nerdwriter — or the multiple other critics who wrote similar columns — was wrong. Much of 2016 did feel seriously lacking in great cinematic pleasure.

And yet, here we are. Continue reading

Putting the Spotlight on My Favorite Movies of 2015

29 Dec

jurassic-worldWhat a great year for the movies 2015 was. Yes, I say that every year, because when you’re looking back on your favorite releases, it’s hard not to think positively.

But the fact is, going to the movies brought me a lot of pleasure this year, and not always due to conventionally good films.

To that end, two of the most enjoyable movies I saw, Jurassic World and, especially, San Andreas, delivered exactly what I wanted them to despite (or maybe because of) dubious quality.

Other films were pleasant surprises, like The Peanuts Movie, Ant-Man, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. — and I mention that last film not just because it featured Alicia Vikander’s most adorable, most endearing, and most winning performance of the year.

I saw a lot of excellent documentaries this year, including Sunshine Superman, The Wolfpack, He Named Me Malala, and The Hunting Ground, and I watched as one of my all-time favorite docs, Man on Wire, became a drama: The Walk.

All this is to say, it was fun to be a frequent moviegoer this year. And frequent I was: I saw a total of 85 movies — more than I’ve ever seen in a single year.

Seeing so many movies made it even more of a challenge to narrow them down to my 10 favorites; you’ll notice the ones mentioned above didn’t even make my list. Which ones did make the list? Let’s get to it. Continue reading

The Best Movies of 2014 Were Quite the Present

29 Dec
Photo credit: Fox Searchlight

Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight

The thing about movie trailers — great as they are — is that they get us focused on movies still to come, when what’s currently playing at the multiplex (maybe even on the screen right in front of you) is worthy of attention too. It’s kind of an ironic shame if you like this sort of thing.

That’s especially true now because in 2014, there was plenty to see. There was, for example, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill satirizing ridiculous sequels in 22 Jump Street. Chadwick Boseman bringing James Brown back to life in Get On Up. Matt Damon making a surprise cameo appearance in Interstellar. Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen grappling over who feels more “Agony” in Into the Woods. Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader lip-syncing to Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” in The Skeleton Twins. And of course, Groot getting down to the Jackson 5 in Guardians of the Galaxy.

And then there were the movies themselves. If trailers are about future movies, the movies this year served as quite the present. (Sorry.)

So, before we turn to 2015, a year in which we’ll see Jurassic World, a new Star Wars, and even a dramatic version of the Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire (a.k.a. Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk), among other things, allow me to look back on the films that made going to the movies so much fun this year.

Of the more than 60 movies I saw in 2014, these were my favorites. Continue reading

2013 Was a Lucky Year for the Movies

30 Dec

Inside Llewyn Davis scene2013 was the year Hollywood decided to blow up the White House — not once, but twice.

The year that Johnny Depp’s over-the-top character schtick totally and irreparably jumped the shark.

The year James Franco’s best performance was in a movie about Spring Break depravity, not the Wizard of Oz prequel — or even the movie where he played himself (a version of himself, anyway).

And the year even Bruce Willis didn’t seem to enjoy being a part of yet another Die Hard movie.

Yawn.

So you’d be forgiven if you thought 2013 was a bad year for the movies.

But you’d be wrong.

This was, in fact, one of the best movie years in recent memory, as Hollywood treated us to a bounty of impressive releases. The best of those grappled with important issues, such as racism, the economic climate, what it takes to survive (and thrive), and how tenuous our connections to each other are. They didn’t  provide easy answers or soft commentary, but through a variety of storytelling methods and production values, they entertained us, and in some cases, even inspired us to change our ways.

Of the 66 films I saw this year (!!!), what were the ones that in some cases, literally made me want to stand up and cheer? Here’s my list (with links to my reviews, where they exist). Continue reading