8) Troy’s Pick – Vox Lux
Vox Lux irritated the right amount of people in 2018. A film from the Childhood of a Leader director about celebrity using terror to push an agenda is rather timely. However, it’s the first film to seriously attack the bullshit iconography of this age. Natalie Portman has never been better and I wish she did more films like this. Sure, she did wonders for my Jackie O. fetish a few years ago, but let’s start making real cinema again.
8) Daniel’s Pick – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
A year ago, I assumed this project would be a half-assed joke of a film. Little more than another Spidey-related cashgrab on the part of Sony. I felt the same about Venom. I was wrong on both counts. This is a phenomenal film. Not a phenomenal Spider-Man movie or animated movie (though it is both of those things. Just a phenomenal film in general.
There is so much heart, soul, and love oozing from the movie’s pores that it is insane. It’s like someone slapped me in the face with a big hand full of delight. The script and dialogue are impeccable. The vocal performances are sublime. As for the animation? It plays like some weird crossbreed of CG animation, stop motion, and traditional cel animation poured through the pages of a comic book and then wrung out directly onto your eyes. I was in spider-heaven and you will be too when you finally see it.
8) Mike Flynn’s Pick – Sorry to Bother You
I don’t quite know what to use as a comp for Boots Riley’s angry, twisted debut film without giving away its joys. Perhaps the best way I can summarize Sorry to Bother You without stepping over the line is to describe its worldview. The film is not rooted in reality, portraying the city of Oakland as a stylized millennial haven where anything goes, logic be damned. It’s quite similar to FX’s brilliant Atlanta, which shares this film’s star, Lakeith Stanfield. A talented performer, Stanfield factored into the series’ instant-classic “Teddy Perkins” episode this past season, which shares the same transgressive nature. Stanfield’s performance is equal measures charismatic and audience surrogate, waiting for Riley’s plan to unfold, and does it ever.
Unsurprisingly, Armie Hammer and Tessa Thompson are great in supporting roles. I want to keep my words on this to a minimum, it’s a doozy.
8) Jamie’s Pick – Annihilation
Jamie watches the movie and roots for the bear. We know that he knows how the film ends, but he keeps rooting for that damn bear.