I watched 23 movies this year. Well, our television can be seen from the computer desk, so a more accurate statement would be: I was in the room while my wife watched 23 movies this year. These are my favorites.
10. The Humans
I wasn’t a huge fan of some of the camerawork from this film, such as the lingering closeups of leaky pipes and dirty windows. Bernadette tells me that those shots were a clever way to evoke the set of a stage since this was adapted from a play, but they just gave me: “film student with their first camera” vibes. That said, the cast’s portrayal of family conflict at a less-than-ideal Thanksgiving dinner was gripping. Also, I finally caught a Feebas in Pokémon Shining Pearl while watching this, so it makes the list.
9/8. (tie) Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings / Spider-Man: No Way Home
These two movies are great examples of how much fun the superhero genre can be. While both boasted really exciting and unique fight scenes, the supporting cast members were my favorite parts. As someone who grew up loving the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man, No Way Home’s reunion episode was a real nostalgia bomb. I could watch a whole movie of various human spiders just hanging out, shooting the shit about Spidey stuff. And in Shang-Chi, Katy is the supportive best friend who suddenly finds herself wrapped up in an origin story. While this itself is nothing new, Awkwafina’s hilarious portrayal makes Katy the most relatable character in the MCU.
7. No Time to Die
I’m a huge James Bond fan and I especially loved Daniel Craig in the role. High points of No Time to Die include Ana de Armas being a total badass, Bond exploding a henchman’s eye, and Rami Malek being a total weirdo. This was a fitting sendoff.
I was on the couch doing some virtual window shopping for bike parts when Bernadette rewatched @Zola, and I found it hard to focus on anything but the movie. I really enjoyed how Janicza Bravo used non-musical sounds to build suspense, like the ambiguous implications of phone notifications, or some kids passing a basketball to the rhythm of a heartbeat. This tension was often diffused by Zola’s past-tense narration, which provided the perfect amount of comedic relief to the very serious situations she was experiencing. All in all, this movie was quite the trip.
5. The Mitchells vs the Machines Speaking of trips, a zany family saves the world while on a family vacation in The Mitchells vs the Machines. There are some great lessons in this movie about the fakeness of social media, learning to trust, and the sacrifices we make for those we love. The writers/directors, Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe, previously worked on the creative team for Gravity Falls. For fans of the series, it's no surprise their first full-length film was a real banger. Throw in a score by Mark Mothersbaugh and you really can’t go wrong.
4. The Green Knight
This ain't yer pappy’s Arthurian legend. David Lowery’s heady interpretation is a slow burn full of suspense. Dev Patel is a treat to watch as Gawain, who finds himself in many “sticky” situations on his quest, all of which challenge him to consider what kind of person he is and what kind of a person he wants to be.
3. The French Dispatch Some people really love Wes Anderson movies and some really don’t. I do, and this is peak Wes Anderson. The French Dispatch is a product of impeccable attention to detail, it seems almost necessary to rewatch just to catch everything that's going on in the background. But even with a single viewing, it was such a delightful movie that I don’t care how much went over my head.
I loved Blade Runner 2049, so I’ve been hyped for Dune since it was announced. I didn’t get around to reading the book until after seeing it, and that ended up being for the better. Denis Villeneuve lets the absolutely gorgeous cinematography tell much of the story, setting the mood and scope with epic shots rather than relying so heavily on inner dialogue. He also trusts the audience to notice things and draw their own conclusions. So far, I think Villeneuve is telling the story better than Frank Herbert.
1. Don’t Look Up
If Adam McKay leaned into the “reality is stranger than fiction” trope with The Big Short and Vice, he took it to the next level with Don’t Look Up. It’s unreal how this movie got more believable the more absurd it got. It’s also stuck with me longer than any other movie this year; I just can’t stop thinking about it. I mean, why would the general charge for those snacks?
Heath graduated from the University of Nebraska in 2011 with a music education degree he's not currently using. He constantly interrupts Bernadette Gorman-White's consumption of television and film to ask, "Wait, what's going on?". He doesn't use social media, and will not tell you his Reddit username.