12) Troy’s Pick – Support the Girls
Troy took awhile to realize that he loves Support The Girls. He didn’t want to love it, since it was becoming a Twitter favorite. However, the constant viewing of Year End material made him realize that Regina Hall really kicked the doors off of this one. Check Support the Girls out now, as it’s widely available on Blu and streaming.
12) Daniel’s Pick – Creed II
I love Creed II more than Creed. Sue me. The latter, while great, just felt a little too repetitive for me coming off the heels of Rocky Balboa. How ironic then that the sequel, which is a direct follow-up to one of the earlier Rocky feels, felt fresher to me. Yes, this is basically Rocky IV: Part II. Yes, Rocky is moved a bit more to the forefront than he was in the last film. On paper, this sounds like a derivative follow-up. I was honestly even expecting it to be just that.
Why then does the execution not fulfill that low expectation? Because all of the core characters are well-rounded. Fun fact: most Rocky sequels have paper thin villains. Even Creed had this problem. By making the Dragos actual three-dimensional, sympathetic antagonists, it instantly adds a whole new layer to the proceedings. Toss in deftly-handled themes of greed, pride, legacy, and regret on top of that and you have 10 cinematic rounds packed with heart that slice through half of the franchise’s previous entries like the world’s best cut-man. It’s a damn good Creed sequel and it’s a fitting finale for Rocky himself, but most of all, it’s just a great movie.
12) Mike Flynn’s Pick – Bad Times at the El Royale
It took six years, but Drew Goddard’s followup to his horror masterpiece The Cabin in the Woods arrived… and disappeared. I know people were let down by this one for a variety of reasons. Sure, it’s a knowing Tarantino and Hitchcock riff, but it felt more like De Palma on acid. Once again, Goddard subverts expectations and gives us a no-bullshit mystery to why these strangers have converged at the California-Nevada border, box not included. In doing so, he creates a fascinating character piece that boasts one of the year’s best ensembles.
There’s Cynthia Erivo, who got more praise in Widows but is far superior here, with Goddard using her beautiful, Tony-winning singing to create a gifted musician haunted by the dark side of her aspirations. Dakota Johnson proves herself as one of the best actresses working today as a gaslighting victim trying to reclaim her true self. In his best performance since True Grit, Jeff Bridges shares the film’s heart and soul with Erivo, while Goddard unleashes Chris Hemsworth in a sex symbol-killing opus of evil that echoes Brad Pitt’s demented breakaway from his Sexiest Man Alive image in films like 12 Monkeys and Fight Club.
It’s probably not what you think it is, and mark my word, whatever that is, it’s for the best.
12) Jamie’s Pick – Wildlife
Jamie probably was going to say something profound about Paul Dano as a director. Since he didn’t offer a statement, I’m going to assume that Mister Williams thought it was a different kind of film. Mister Hands 2020.