At the end of 2018, I realized I'd watched 21 movies over the course of my two-week holiday staycation. My love of movies is a well-known thing but this count genuinely surprised me, and like any reasonable person, I decided to keep track of how many movies I watched in the upcoming year.
- 12 Monkeys
- A Dark Song
- A Quiet Place
- Ad Astra
- Alita: Battle Angel
- The Apostle
- The Autopsy of Jane Doe
- Avengers: Endgame
- Await Further Instructions
- The Bad Batch
- The Black Godfather
- Captain Marvel
- The Crimes of Grindelwald
- Doctor Sleep
- The Favourite
- The Gate
- Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle
- Godzilla: Planet Eater
- Good Boys
- Gosford Park
- Grass is Greener
- Hannibal Burress: Comedy Camisado
- I Trapped the Devil
- The Informant!
- The Interview
- Into the Dark: Down
- Into the Dark: Pure
- IT: Chapter 2
- John Wick
- John Wick: Chapter 2
- John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
- The Killing of a Sacred Deer
- Knives Out
- The Laundromat
- Michelle Wolf: Joke Show
- The Monster
- The Muppet Christmas Carol
- Only God Forgives
- The Pact
- The Pelican Brief
- The Perfect Bid
- Pet Sematary (1989)
- Pet Sematary (2019)
- The Ritual
- The Running Man
- Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
- Spider-Man: Far From Home
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
- The Terminator
- They Look Like People
- To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar
- The Two Popes
- Velvet Buzzsaw
- The Void
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle
- The Woman in Black
That's 69 movies. Total run-time for all of them is 7464 minutes. 124.4 hours. 5.18 days.
Near the end of December, I really thought I could push through and make it to 100 for the year, but alas, I had some level of sense left in my head. Still, 69 movies for the year is a pretty respectable achievement. Some might even say it's... nice.
Some of the movies were great, some were suspicious. I wish I had the audacity to write a review of each one, but rather I in fact do have the mercy not to do that to you. Instead, I've chosen my favorites that I think you—yes, you—should definitely watch.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
I heard about The Autopsy of Jane Doe by way of @slimyswampghost on Twitter: "A classically spooky mystery / horror story told through a single location, with some icky body horror. I guarantee you that after watching, the next time you hear a bell, you'll shudder."
If it hadn't been called out to me ahead of time, I never would've noticed that the entire 86-minute movie takes place in a single, solitary location. That's how lost I got in the "WHAT IS HAPPENING" moments. I didn't even try to figure out who Jane Doe was, and I didn't care, because WHAT.
Any movie that can make me stop trying to figure things out myself is a winner.
This movie also brought a happy accident with it, for me: a few weeks later, I saw that the director, André Øvredal, was also directing Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, which then blew my expectations for it through the roof. (Spoiler: I wasn't disappointed.)
I was really disappointed in IT: Chapter 2 for a lot of the same reasons other people claimed: too long, not scary, blah blah blah. So my expectations for Doctor Sleep were really low. So low that I didn't really even know much about it beforehand.
Truthfully, I skew toward hyperbole more than I'd like to admit, but this is exactly how it went down: when the movie ended, I stayed in my theater seat, next to my friend, dumbfounded by how good it was. We turned toward one another and said "WOW" in unison.
The movie's runtime of 2.5 hours had me nervous, but there wasn't a single wasted moment. The effects were smooth and believable, and more than anything else, intentionally jarring. I think it was successfully scary because the story's progression depended on "but--but HOW?" anxiety, if that makes sense. And instead of building that suspense and doing nothing with it, I thought things were resolved just right.
My gold standard for laughing at a movie is Mean Girls, when I was nearly asked to leave the theater because I couldn't stop laughing after Regina George was hit by the school bus.
Friends, this movie didn't just surpass that standard. It took the standard, crumpled it into a ball, tossed it into the trash, and set the trash on fire.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
If you thought I wouldn't include a John Wick movie in my favorites, this must be your first time meeting me.
Chapter 3 is here because it's just plain good, but also because I'm in love with the franchise's world-building. Nearly every character has a very real backstory, but the main story doesn't take a detour in order to explain each one. We're given enough information to know how much something matters, but we are still in the main story the entire time.
I will go to the grave screaming this: JOHN WICK IS HOW YOU DO ORIGIN STORIES IN MOVIES. Period.
A friend of mine watched The Ritual on my recommendation, and came back to me with "I will never listen to your suggestions ever again."
We're still friends, because I do not keep friends based on their bad opinions.
The Ritual is fantastic.
It uses but doesn't depend on jump scares. And I appreciate that it doesn't reveal the monster early. You spend most of the movie wondering what the hell is happening to the main characters, but you get mixed clues. Is it a monster? Is it a witch? Is it Jason Voorhees but German?
What you get is one of the most well designed monsters I've seen in a while.
After Get Out, Jordan Peele has to work to make me not love his work. His approach to storytelling just clicks with me.
And now, whenever I hear "I Got 5 on It," all I can think about is that climactic fight scene. For him to just roll up in 2019 with a movie that replaces any and every memory associated with a song I've loved since I was a kid... how dare he.
I was impressed as hell (but not surprised) by how well Lupita Nyong'o drew distinctions between Adelaide and Red. Red's ticks and mannerisms were just so well developed.
Us is also one of those movies where I can't choose my favorite character because every character is my favorite character.
With one exception, I think any and all of the movies on this list are worth watching. I watched some this year that were so bad, I refused to finish them, so they didn't make the list.
The label "honorable mentions" is such an understatement. These movies are really, really good, I just had to put some limits on myself here: A Dark Song, Grass is Greener, Knives Out, Midsommar, They Look Like People, The Void.
I. LOVE. H-Y-P-E-R-B-O-L-E.
I'm not naming names, but I'd kind of like to see if anyone can guess it.