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JulyDiaz

Best of 2018: Critics' Picks

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1 minute ago, bleary said:

I honestly could have listened to another twenty.  I love hearing them talk about what they liked and didn't like about these movies, even when I don't agree with them.

To that end, what are some great 2018 films that haven't been discussed on either list so far?  They're not great, but I expect they'll touch on Green Book and Vice anyway.  I hope they talk a bit about what works and doesn't work in First Man, which I mostly enjoyed.  So what else?  Death of Stalin?  Isle of Dogs?  Wildlife?  Maybe Hearts Beat Loud?  I don't think any of these films belong on the AFI list, but I'd still like to hear Paul and Amy talk about them.

Hearts Beat Loud was maybe my favorite movie of last year :) 

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It wasn't that it wasn't enjoyable, it was just a lot of films I wasn't prepared to hear about.  I prefer listening to them talk when I can watch the film first and then it feels like I'm involved.  It's not always necessary for dumb crap on How Did This Get Made, but for Unspooled-style talks, I would prefer to watch in advance.  For a list that long, it just wasn't possible.  Also again, the conceit of Unspooled is talking about 1 movie at a time; bumping it up to 20 feels excessive.  But I get that these are total side eps, so I'm not complaining, but it's just I'm more attracted to singular or more focused discussions.  That said:

31 minutes ago, bleary said:

To that end, what are some great 2018 films that haven't been discussed on either list so far? 

I was going to ask the same.  Give me some good recs so I can go check them out.  I can keep up with blockbusters and whatnot, but I do feel like I'm missing out on the smaller quality films a lot.  Even today's metacritic list was fairly mainstream stuff.  What's outside that in the world of cinema that is worth it?

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Anyway, on to some of the commentary (and even if we disagree sometimes, I still loved the discussion, Amy and Paul!):

-While I agree on some points about BlacKkKlansman not really being the best Spike Lee movie, I do think the commentary about its faults was missing the mark a bit. The juxtaposition of "triumphant" and "depressing" scenes seems intentional to me, not a mistake. Spike is making a point about how victories over America's racial struggles aren't total. There's always more to overcome.

-Similarly, I thought the criticism of If Beale Street Could Talk for being "too beautiful" was missing what Jenkins was going for. The James Baldwin book is telling what is, at root, a pretty depressing story. The visual style is counterpoint, to demonstrate that there is STILL beauty in these people and their struggle (and I think it's also an attempt to translate Baldwin's poetic prose into a visual format). None of these filmmakers are putting American race relations into a little box for us, and I like that! The issue is multifaceted!

-I kind of agree with the criticism of Hereditary and the final act not going to the interesting place I hoped it would. Honestly, I felt the same about Mandy. Some of this might just be me. I've found that there are an increasing number of critics who will heavily praise the latest horror movie effort for showing some style and really "fucking you up" emotionally, as an end unto itself. I tend to be disappointed if it doesn't seem like all of that stylish horror was in service of something else at the end. I think there is a "horror movie gene" that I wasn't born with that causes me to demand more out of entries in this genre.

-My favorite of the year was Roma, but of the group discussed here my faves are First Reformed and Eighth Grade, so I'm glad both of those were appreciated by both hosts!

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16 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

II was going to ask the same.¬† Give me some good recs so I can go check them out.¬† I can keep up with blockbusters and whatnot, but I do feel like I'm missing out on the smaller quality films a lot.¬† Even today's metacritic list was fairly mainstream stuff.¬† What's outside that in the world of cinema that is worth it?ÔĽŅ

For what hasn't been discussed (I'll count Roma as having been at least mentioned), here are some of my faves:

Won't You Be My Neighbor? (this was pretty popular for a documentary, so you've probably heard of it)
Minding the Gap (another doc!)
Tully
Monsters and Men
Blindspotting
Mid90s
Game Night

I wouldn't say these are all GREAT, but I'd unreservedly recommend them.

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22 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

It wasn't that it wasn't enjoyable, it was just a lot of films I wasn't prepared to hear about.  I prefer listening to them talk when I can watch the film first and then it feels like I'm involved.  It's not always necessary for dumb crap on How Did This Get Made, but for Unspooled-style talks, I would prefer to watch in advance.  For a list that long, it just wasn't possible.  Also again, the conceit of Unspooled is talking about 1 movie at a time; bumping it up to 20 feels excessive.  But I get that these are total side eps, so I'm not complaining, but it's just I'm more attracted to singular or more focused discussions.  That said:

I was going to ask the same.  Give me some good recs so I can go check them out.  I can keep up with blockbusters and whatnot, but I do feel like I'm missing out on the smaller quality films a lot.  Even today's metacritic list was fairly mainstream stuff.  What's outside that in the world of cinema that is worth it?

Three of my favorites from 2018 that haven't been and probably won't be discussed in Unspooled are Skate Kitchen, Blindspotting, and They Shall Not Grow Old.

I'm kind of curious how they determined best reviewed movies according to Metacritic. I assumed it was based on the Metacritic score but First Reformed has a lower score than several movies on this list. So, I'm not sure why it's the best reviewed.

Also, They Shall Not Grow Old is higher rated than anything in this episode but I assume it's incredibly limited release is why it didn't get mentioned.

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i'm def gonna write those suggestions down thanks!

now excuse me while i go watch Dragon Blade instead of anything cool or good

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3 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

inow excuse me while i go watch Dragon Blade instead of anything cool or good

Oh man, that was a rough one.

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10 minutes ago, grudlian. said:

Also, They Shall Not Grow Old is higher rated than anything in this episode but I assume it's incredibly limited release is why it didn't get mentioned.

My guess is that this would be eligible for next year's Oscars and whatnot, because it didn't receive a full theatrical release in the U.S. until 2019.

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1 minute ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

My guess is that this would be eligible for next year's Oscars and whatnot, because it didn't receive a full theatrical release in the U.S. until 2019.

Yeah, I'm not sure how Oscars decide that stuff. I know it has to play in LA (or maybe NYC) for some shows but I think it has to be a normal release in those cities? I really hope it isn't forgotten for the next Oscars. I know releases early in the year can be a kiss of death for awards shows.

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22 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

It wasn't that it wasn't enjoyable, it was just a lot of films I wasn't prepared to hear about.  I prefer listening to them talk when I can watch the film first and then it feels like I'm involved.  It's not always necessary for dumb crap on How Did This Get Made, but for Unspooled-style talks, I would prefer to watch in advance.  For a list that long, it just wasn't possible.  Also again, the conceit of Unspooled is talking about 1 movie at a time; bumping it up to 20 feels excessive.  But I get that these are total side eps, so I'm not complaining, but it's just I'm more attracted to singular or more focused discussions.  That said:

I was going to ask the same.  Give me some good recs so I can go check them out.  I can keep up with blockbusters and whatnot, but I do feel like I'm missing out on the smaller quality films a lot.  Even today's metacritic list was fairly mainstream stuff.  What's outside that in the world of cinema that is worth it?

Is The Rider and Sorry to Bother You mainstream?  I really don't know.  My consumption of film media is very different than most people's so I heard them talked about more than, say, Into the Spiderverse.  Probably more than Infinity War.  Or maybe I just tune those discussions out and focus more on what I'm interested in.

I'm usually behind on seeing movies - related to often waiting for these things to come to streaming.  So mostly films I haven't seen but I feel like I've heard people talk about a decent amount or someone said something interesting on it.

Shoplifters (mentioned in the podcast)

The Rider (mentioned in the podcast)

Zama (mentioned in the podcast)

Shirkers (hey! I've seen this one, it's not a best of the year, but might be worth watching)

Marrowbone (from the director of The Orphanage)

 

In terms of graveyard shift festival type stuff, I wanted to see

The Wind

Categorized under, "I want to see these, and imdb says they're 2018 films, but I haven't heard of them showing anywhere):

Peter Strickland's next film In Fabric

Terry Gilliam's The Man who killed Don Quixote

Looking over a local film festival line-up from the past year, it looks like Olivier Assayas had another movie this year (Non-Fiction) as did Asghar Farhadi (Everybody Knows).

 

Honestly, I was pleased with Sorry to Bother You, Annihilation, The Death of Stalin, Leave no Trace, The Favourite, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, First Reformed (despite my possible qualms about the end), and Roma.  Right the movies from 2018, I mostly want to see that I haven't are Beale Street and Shoplifters.  I guess I'm just being art-house basic there.

 

 

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9 minutes ago, grudlian. said:

Yeah, I'm not sure how Oscars decide that stuff. I know it has to play in LA (or maybe NYC) for some shows but I think it has to be a normal release in those cities? I really hope it isn't forgotten for the next Oscars. I know releases early in the year can be a kiss of death for awards shows.

For the Oscars I think it has to have a commercial release (not festival) in L.A. before the end of the calendar year.

I know this because a Charlie Chaplin film from 1952 managed to win an Oscar in 1972, because it actually hadn't played in an L.A. theater until then!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limelight_(1952_film)

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55 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

I was going to ask the same.  Give me some good recs so I can go check them out.  I can keep up with blockbusters and whatnot, but I do feel like I'm missing out on the smaller quality films a lot.  Even today's metacritic list was fairly mainstream stuff.  What's outside that in the world of cinema that is worth it?

Have you seen Minding the Gap or Burning yet?

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Just now, tomspanks said:

Have you seen Minding the Gap or Burning yet?

Nope!  The only one mentioned so far that I have seen was Game Night

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2 minutes ago, tomspanks said:

Have you seen Minding the Gap or Burning yet?

I think Burning just got put on Amazon for streaming. Im going to try and watch it soon.

I think I'm going to just sign up for a free trial of Hulu to watching Minding The Gap. So, if anyone knows any Hulu exclusives I should watch, I'm all ears.

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12 minutes ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

For the Oscars I think it has to have a commercial release (not festival) in L.A. before the end of the calendar year.

I know this because a Charlie Chaplin film from 1952 managed to win an Oscar in 1972, because it actually hadn't played in an L.A. theater until then!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limelight_(1952_film)

I wonder how they define "commercial" because They Shall Not Grow Old had what I would call a commercial release. It was open to the public and cost money.

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Oh we get a lot of Oscar-caliber movies opening here in LA for like one weekend at one theatre, just so they can get nominated.  I don't think they demand anything substantial in these qualifying releases.  They often then roll out wider over like January, February, even March.

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That number includes everything from big studio movies to smaller indie features and documentaries, many of which played only brief theatrical runs since under Academy rules, a feature-length motion picture qualifies if it has a running time of more than 40 minutes, is exhibited theatrically on 35mm or 70mm film or in a qualifying digital format and opens in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County by Dec. 31 and completes a minimum run of seven consecutive days.  

here's a list of the 347 movies that were qualified this year

https://www.oscars.org/sites/oscars/files/91st_reminder_list.pdf

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1 minute ago, AlmostAGhost said:

That number includes everything from big studio movies to smaller indie features and documentaries, many of which played only brief theatrical runs since under Academy rules, a feature-length motion picture qualifies if it has a running time of more than 40 minutes, is exhibited theatrically on 35mm or 70mm film or in a qualifying digital format and opens in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County by Dec. 31 and completes a minimum run of seven consecutive days.  

here's a list of the 347 movies that were qualified this year

https://www.oscars.org/sites/oscars/files/91st_reminder_list.pdf

This makes sense. They Shall Not Grow Old only played four times over two different days (I think). 

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One weird thing about thinking about Annihilation on the AFI list, is that we live in a world where Tarkovsky's Stalker exists, and it isn't eligible for the AFI list because it's Russian.  But it's weird to see an American film that is so directly influenced by it, but then the list can't have the seminal film (which is extremely well regarded internationally.  it's 29th on the BFI critic's poll, 30th on the director's poll).

On the flip side, that's two for two Alex Garland sci-fi films that have felt really solid and understood its material.  I agree with Paul's assessment, if he gets a couple more solid entries, in, well, anything, I could see something like that happening.  Though maybe not with the AFI list, since it seems to have a real hard time with independent films.

I do want to say on Buster Scruggs, well, first a side-comment.  I was once told that Moby Dick was a pantheistic novel, in which multiple people could interact with one physical thing in the universe and they'd all have this different way of perceiving it and what it meant to them.  And if you just kind of weaved all those different things together, you got this complex, nuanced thing that was both a bit of all those things, but not necessarily any of them wholly and completely.

I kind of took all the different tones of Buster Scruggs that way.  We have all of these different stories of the west, what we cared about (gun slingers, bank robbers, artists trying to get by in the frontier, a miner encountering and spoiling an untouched valley for gold, and the story of nervous settlers just trying to find someone else to spend their time with as they migrate west), and all the crazy different tones in how we tell those stories.  And so, it's just kind of contemplating through example, what do all these western stories add up to? (literal question about the afterlife presented in the first segment).  Oh yeah, that, and death.

So, I kind of loved it for what it did there.  That said, I agree, there are a number of other great Coen Brothers movies, that I would expect and prefer to make the list.  It did seem to get a short shrift (I think Amy's take of, "this is how we screwed it all up," seems most applicable to the Tom Waits segment, less-so the other segments).

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1 hour ago, grudlian. said:

I think Burning just got put on Amazon for streaming. Im going to try and watch it soon.

I think I'm going to just sign up for a free trial of Hulu to watching Minding The Gap. So, if anyone knows any Hulu exclusives I should watch, I'm all ears.

I loved Killing Eve, liked Castle Rock, and thought Runaways was alright.

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4 hours ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

I kind of took all the different tones of Buster Scruggs that way.  We have all of these different stories of the west, what we cared about (gun slingers, bank robbers, artists trying to get by in the frontier, a miner encountering and spoiling an untouched valley for gold, and the story of nervous settlers just trying to find someone else to spend their time with as they migrate west), and all the crazy different tones in how we tell those stories.  And so, it's just kind of contemplating through example, what do all these western stories add up to? (literal question about the afterlife presented in the first segment).  Oh yeah, that, and death.

Agreed wholeheartedly about Buster Scruggs. Also, dismissing a Coen movie upon first glance has tended to not hold up well over time (unless you're talking about The Ladykillers).

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The movie I enjoyed the most in 2018 was Cory Finley's Thoroughbreds, but that had its festival debut in 2017 so I suppose it doesn't count. I don't know if it's the "best" film, so that might be First Reformed, even if it's not as enjoyable. And Taxi Driver will probably occupy its spot on any future AFI list, but that doesn't mean it's not a great movie! I think I prefer Lynn Ramsay's We Need to Talk About Kevin (containing the most pure evil I've seen outside a horror film) to You Were Never Really Here, but that was a unique variant on a familiar sort of story, even if it doesn't complicate the protagonist like Taxi Driver did. I think I might still prefer Winter's Bone to Leave No Trace because I'm un-hip enough to like some genre elements and dialogue, but Granik's latest is still a great film in its own right and I hope she gets to continue making more like those. I also don't think I like Annihilation as much as the simplicity of Ex Machina, but I enjoyed it a good deal as well. I know there's many readings that can be made of the film, but I didn't find the ending a triumphant "overcoming of the self". And that's fine! Ex Machina wasn't written to have a happy ending either...

I was surprised how much I agreed with Amy on this. I don't share the politics of Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley is actually a card-carrying communist, not merely some western European style mainstream socialist), but I thought it was a great film. BlacKkKlansman felt like watered down Spike Lee compared to something as unique as Chi-Raq. I was surprised Mission: Impossible - Fallout & Black Panther managed to get so high up in the critics list, as neither seemed comparable to most of the films there. But then I really only like De Palma's Mission: Impossible movie which avoided a lot of the James Bond nonsense the series has since embraced, and I'm not really interested in the MCU. I dug Chloe Zhao's The Rider, so I thought it's worth noting that she's been hired to direct an Immortals movie for Marvel. I would have preferred if she'd gotten something like Coogler's Creed, which balanced a larger budget with a certain amount of freedom to continue in his own style rather than some producer-driven house style. I also don't see why people lump A Quiet Place in with "elevated horror" titles. It's a creature feature with a high concept executed decently, but it's nowhere near Hereditary.

 

I also didn't find Buster Scruggs quite so depressing. It's really just the third (my last favorite) which is miserable all the way through. The first two are comedies in which scoundrels get their just deserts (if somewhat late). All Gold Canyon had a happy ending, even if the holes he dug are ugly. And Oregon Trail segment has some sadness in it, but it isn't cynical. I suppose it's something like the flip side of All Gold Canyon. It will probably go down as minor Coen brothers, which is still better than most movies. I think Fargo should have stayed on the list.

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On 2/14/2019 at 5:14 PM, sycasey 2.0 said:

For what hasn't been discussed (I'll count Roma as having been at least mentioned), here are some of my faves:

Won't You Be My Neighbor? (this was pretty popular for a documentary, so you've probably heard of it)
Minding the Gap (another doc!)
Tully
Monsters and Men
Blindspotting
Mid90s
Game Night

I wouldn't say these are all GREAT, but I'd unreservedly recommend them.

Just watched and now have to add Private Life to this list.

Also, ditto to those who mentioned Burning. I wasn't sure how much we were including foreign films here.

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On 2/14/2019 at 6:22 PM, Cameron H. said:

Hearts Beat Loud was maybe my favorite movie of last year :) 

Same!!! My definite favorite!!

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