We’ve taken a leaf out of Santa’s book, and have decided to reflect on the films of the year by determining which ones have been ‘good/nice’ and which ones have been downright naughty/bad. All of the team have put forward three films on their nice list and three for their naughty lists, giving their reasons why certain films have made the right or the wrong impression. So, grab a mince-pie and some egg nog and join us to examine the lists. Ho, ho, ho!
Never Look Away
Never Look Away is a sprawling epic of the cathartic power of art, as both an individual and a nation seek to heal from the trauma of twentieth century German history. It stars arguably three of the most in-demand German actors (Tom Schilling, Sebastian Koch, and Paula Beer) who bring the story to life. What makes Never Look Away so remarkable is its ability to use one man and one family’s story to address a much larger and cultural tragedy.
Damsel went under the radar for a lot of people, but it’s actually quite an interesting and subversive film that has a lot of things to say underneath its eccentric veneer. It features one of 2018’s most impressive misdirects as the entire narrative takes a wild swing and tonal shift about halfway through, changing drastically what the story is actually about. It may not be for everyone but there are riches to be found for those willing to give it a chance.
First Man is a movie that I honestly can’t even believe that I need to defend right now. Its sort of a shame that La La Land won so many awards and this one hasn’t gotten much attention, because I think that when we look back we’ll wonder why everyone slept on First Man, the story of a quietly grief-stricken man willing to fly a ship made out of tinfoil into the sky just to get away. Ryan Gosling has rarely been better and Claire Foy takes the stereotypical role of the concerned spouse and smashes it with a hammer.
A Faithful Man
Honestly, what a weird movie. A guy’s girlfriend leaves him for his best friend. Then he lies in wait for like ten years until his best friend tragically dies and he can weasel his way back into the picture, only to discover that his best friend’s little sister has been in love with him since she was like 8 so he also starts sleeping with her? What?
Ready Player One
I was told to keep this brief, which is a shame because I have a lot of thoughts about this movie. Ready Player One is a celebration of everything that’s wrong with popular culture, the holier than thou attitudes of the self-appointed gatekeepers who judge someone else’s worthiness to engage with the insular nerd community. Mary Rylance does his best but this was one film this year that I found legitimately infuriating.
This might not be quite fair, but I’m including Beautiful Boy on my list. Not because its bad, but because I wanted it to be so much better. The performances are good but the narrative isn’t as compelling as it should be because Beautiful Boy never quite decides whose story it wants to tell: the father’s or the son’s? So it tries to do both, and doesn’t do either justice.