Every year, Shaun and I have a vague goal to see 52 movies, in the theater, before year’s end. Every year, we start that process on New Year’s Day. We honestly never get there, but this year we realized as we hit December, that we had a chance. I think we were at about 45 movies on December 1.
We decided then that we wouldn’t see any movies JUST to get to 52. Like, they had to be a movie that we would at the very least go see if we were super in the mood for a movie and it was the only thing playing. Because let’s face it, there are a lot of movies that don’t clear that bar.
In the end, we were stymied by Corvallis. We are super lucky to have a three-screen indie theater in our tiny town. Between that and the big corporate chains, a lot of movies come here. But a lot of them don’t come here right away. There are a number of movies from this release year that we haven’t had a chance to see yet, and we ended up at 49. We could have made it an even 50 had we seen our NYD movie on NYE*, but we decided instead to begin as we mean to go on.
Why movies? There are a lot of reasons, big and small, but one of the most interesting to me is — because we work in academia. This is a job that never really goes away. There are always things to read, talk about, grade, work out, letters to write, applications to complete and there’s no real workday to keep those things contained. This is especially true for Shaun, but it’s pretty true for me too. Add to that the fact that I am entirely incapable of sitting and watching anything at home without at least something to keep my hands busy, and movies in the theater become an opportunity to focus, together, on one thing, for two hours. Even when the movie isn’t great that alone is worth the price of admission.
(We don’t get snacks. That would probably bankrupt us.)
So, here’s the 2018 list:
Call Me By Your Name
A Fantastic Woman
The Young Karl Marx
The Death of Stalin
Leaning into the Wind
Avengers: Infinity War
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Ant Man and the Wasp
Hearts Beat Loud
Leave No Trace
Sorry to Bother You
Mission Impossible: Fallout
Crazy Rich Asians
A Simple Favor
A Star is Born
The Old Man and the Gun
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Maria, by Callas
Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse
Mary, Queen of Scots
We haven’t done our annual sit in the pub and create top five lists project yet, though we have started the initial thinking. Films in bold are my current top contenders, but I reserve the right to shift things after further reflection. And top five in our world doesn’t mean “best” – it’s a pretty idiosyncratic and individual set of criteria. In any event, one of these titles is still pretty squishy.
Overall, this was a really good year for movies. There are usually more than enough contenders for a bottom five list and while that would be possible this year — it’s a relative thing after all — there is a good chance that some movies that are just fine would be on it.
I don’t do an honorable mention list but I do want to point out a couple more films:
- Most Intense YouTube Marathon happened after seeing Maria, by Callas.
- Leaning into the Wind is the leading contender for Imagery that Invaded my Dreams and Stuck With Me After I Woke Up.
- And Instant Family wins for Movie Starring Mark Wahlberg that Most Directly Represents My Life.
*First movie of 2019 was Vice. I’m 100% sure it won’t be on my top five list this time next year.