It’s been a wonderful year marked by great dramas, comedies, thrillers, and documentaries. Be it on the big screen or via streaming services, the year was good.
The list you’ll find below are the movies that did just that for me this year. It’s a list of films that moved me for a variety of reasons from dedication to an existing franchise, to the thrill of seeing an original concept soar, to movies that can make a real difference in the world. In no order here is the list:
1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – This animation is a parade of Spider-People from various dimensions and it comes alive via a vibrant and clever plot that imagines anyone is capable of being the type of hero. There is also a de facto student Miles Morales, the mixed-race teenager who learns how to be Spidey on the job.
2. I Am Not a Witch – This film from Zambia, where women accused of being witches are sent to live in camps, forced to perform manual labour, and (most stunning of all) compelled to preside over criminal trials, where they’re supposed to use their supernatural powers to make judgements. This insane real-life scenario is brought to bleakly satiric life by Rungano Nyoni’s directorial debut about a young girl dubbed Shula (Maggie Mulubwa) whose world is turned upside-down after authorities determine she’s a witch.
3. Mission Impossible: Fallout – Before the premier of this movie in July, there had been a lot of hype surrounding it. Fallout takes over from where Rogue Nation left off; Agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) had gotten the better of terrorist Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) – arguably his most formidable foe yet – in the custody of IMF (Impossible Missions Force, and not to be confused with International Monetary Fund like I used to in the beginning).
4. A Private War – This movie honours its real-life subject with a sober appraisal of the sacrifices required of journalists on the front lines, and is perhaps one of Rosamund Pike’s career-best work. Celebrated war correspondent Marie Colvin (Rosamund Pike) is a woman who is comfortable with high society's elite just as when she is brazenly staring down warlords and fleeing from gunfire. She is driven by a desire to give voice to the voiceless.
5. Solo: A Star Wars Story – Han Solo is a pivotal character in the Star Wars saga. A smuggler, a scoundrel, depending on which side you back in the story, but definitely a hero to almost every fan of the movie. Han Solo was the captain of the Millennium Falcon and one of the great leaders of the Rebel Alliance. He and his co-pilot Chewbacca came to believe in the cause of galactic freedom, later joining Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa in the fight against the Empire. Solo follows the introduction of Han Solo into the fighting ranks and then eventually into being part of the resistance. Han (Alden Ehrenreich) and Q’ira (Emilia Clarke) are orphaned children in the planet Corellia, who have been forced to steal their entire lives in order to survive.
6. Crazy Rich Asians – In any other context, an opulent wedding scene with the bride walking down a water-filled aisle surrounded by abundant plant life and someone crooning “Can’t Help Falling in Love” would be eye-rolling. But by the time it arrives in Jon M. Chu’s wholly charming movie, it's earned every tugged heartstring.
7. Annihilation – Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s best-selling Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny and Oscar Isaac. It was written and directed by Alex Garland (Ex Machina, 28 Days Later).
8. Avengers: Infinity War – Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet – the evil Thanos. Thanos wants to collect all six Infinity Stones and use them to change reality and balance out life.
9. Eighth Grade – Kayla, a thirteen-year-old, endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of middle school—the end of her thus far disastrous eighth-grade year.
10. Black Panther – Neither its cultural importance nor financial success can be understated. It's a wonder of technical majesty, from Afro-futuristic landscapes to impeccably designed costumes. This movie had the nerve to take on colonialism and global resource-sharing. But here's the thing about Black Panther: It's just an endlessly enjoyable film. The personality line-up is so strong and it charmed everyone. Director Ryan Coogler's Wakandan treasure was the complete package in this year’s movie scene.
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