Every year Lyn throws this epic Oscar party, where we compete by choosing the winners and then seeing who gets the most right. It’s super fun, but I always suck at this for two reasons: I usually haven’t seen enough of the films to make an informed decision, and I tend to vote with my heart and not the odds. I really love movies, though, it’s just that while my head thinks I would really enjoy a lot of critically acclaimed films, the truth is that when it comes down to spending time or money on a viewing, I tend to pick something that falls more in the “fun” category. If that makes me low-brow, I’m totes ok with it. So while I am unqualified to accurately predict what the Academy will choose, I am super qualified to tell you which films of last year fit into MY award categories. Ready? Here we go!
FAVORITE OF THE YEAR: Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse
I have loved superheroes my whole life. When I was a kid, instead of having imaginary friends, I was hanging out with the Justice League.
Obviously Wonder Woman and Batgirl were my favorites, but Spiderman and I were always cool, too, since he was a regular kid, not an alien or a billionaire or whatever. Despite this love, I am suffering from serious “superhero fatigue”. I haven’t kept up with the Spiderman movies, but I did hop back in for the MCU Tom Holland one, which was pretty great. So then this animated feature pops up out of nowhere, and we were like…. what? Why?? What is this?? Well, stop asking questions and just go see this movie- it is PERFECT. Great casting, the animation is outstanding, the soundtrack is spot on, the story feels fresh (and turns the whole boring “origin story” trope on it’s head a bit) and, to be corny, I love the message that “anyone can wear the mask”. This movie was a delight through and through- I can’t wait to see it again.
(Superhero honorable mentions: Black Panther for Best Villain, and Avengers: Infinity War for Best Took 18 Years To Get Here Payoff)
BEST DIDN’T KNOW WHAT I WAS GETTING INTO: A Simple Favor
You all have that one friend, right, who tells you that something is good and you don’t even ask questions because you know she’s right? Yeah, so when Sarah told me to go see this movie immediately, I thought “wait, the one with Blake Lively??” but Sarah has never wronged me, so we just went, mostly not knowing anything about it. And guess what- she continues her streak! This movie was absolutely nothing we expected (right down to the Paul Feig director credit), and was a super fun ride.
BEST RIDICULOUS FRANCHISE FILM THAT KIND OF REDEEMED THE SERIES DESPITE BEING TOTALLY BONKERS: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Fact: Jurassic Park is a perfect film. Fact: Jurassic World was a shitshow. Maybe, someday, I’ll tell you all about why I feel this way, but for now, just know that I love seeing dinosaurs on the big screen so, no matter what, I am going to show up for any Jurassic Park adjacent anything, because DINOSAURS. And I like popcorn.
It seems like someone, somehow, realizing how stiff and bad the first of the reboots was, slapped the writing team and said “look!! We are making a movie about DINOSAURS starring CHRIS PRATT. LOOSEN!! UP!!”. All of the returning characters seemed to have had major life makeovers, or at least watched some uplifting Ted Talks, because they weren’t the same stuffy, trope-y bores they were in 2015. Even the dinosaurs got more jokes!! There were good side characters with actual motives!! I even cried!! It was over the top and full of plot holes (why doesn’t the elevator have buttons to the lower level of the secret underground lab even though there are clearly elevator doors down there?!!? Who is this secret partner all of a sudden??), but it was totally a fun time.
BEST MOVIE-GOING EXPERIENCE: A Quiet Place
Ok ok- so, I don’t know if A Quiet Place will hold up over time, or if I even liked it all that much, but I will say that it was the most fun I’ve had watching a movie in a packed theater. For one, nobody really knew what this movie was actually about, so we were all gripped by the story unfolding. For two, there is almost no dialogue in this movie. There is almost no sound in this movie. So very quickly, everyone in the audience had the realization that their snacks were super crunchy, candy wrappers were crinkly, and basically any sniffle or cough would sound 1000 times louder than it was. HILARIOUS. And it added to the tension, so it made the movie way more enjoyable- I’m not sure you’d get that same feeling watching it at home.
BEST UGLY-CRYING IN PUBLIC: A Star Is Born
I knew, going in, that there would be tears shed in this movie. And yeah, there were a few here and there. I did not realize that I would be full on sobbing, snot coming out of my face, for a full 15 minutes at the end though. LORD!!! It’s worth noting that when I got my concessions, the napkin dispenser was almost empty, so I only had one buttery/salty napkin and my hoodie sleeves to save me.
BEST MOVIE MY 19 YEAR OLD SELF WOULD HAVE LOST HER MIND OVER BUT AS A 42 YEAR OLD I WAS LIKE……… WHUT. : Mandy
This movie is currently 91% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. It was technically only in theaters for one day, then went straight to video, but it kept popping up in my various feeds, so my interest was piqued. I love a good campy horror movie, and reviewers were praising Nicholas Cages’s performance. We watched the trailer and it seemed like fun, so we rented it, and…. it took us two days to watch it.
Ok ok- I have to admit, it did some interesting things. For one, we were able to easily split it into two viewings because the movie has a very distinct break in the middle, almost as if you have to flip the album (or laserdisc!) over. The first half set up relationships and the big tragedy, the second was a cocaine and demon juice (??) fueled revenge fantasy. The cinematography and use of lighting and color was very beautiful and interesting. It had 80’s flavor, cults, and demons. Nicholas Cage really did deliver quite the performance! The only problem was…. watching it was painful. Slow. WTF-y. Two hours we wished we had back.
BEST SNOOZAROO: Oceans 8
WHY. Why is this a movie?? Here is the plot: Oh hey! Let’s get a bunch of beautiful famous ladies to be in a heist movie where everything pretty much goes according to plan and they get away with it! Because LADIES!! This movie was so boring that, months later, my husband was absolutely convinced that we had never seen it. We had. Oh, we had. If you want a good heist movie, check out Ant-Man and The Wasp, which was tons of fun and features a giant Paul Rudd.
What movies did you love this year? Which ones made you fall asleep? Which Oscar contenders are you waiting to stream? (I’m looking forward to finally catching Can You Ever Forgive Me but TBH I’ll probably skip Roma and Vice)