I like to think of September as the start of a new year when it comes to films. the summer blockbuster season has finished, the Oscar contenders are lining themselves up and we know what we have to look forward to with regards to Christmas and next years franchise installments. So, I’m going to do a quick recap of last year and list some highlights that I’m looking forward to.
The best film of the last 12 months I’ve seen has got to be Moonlight. I came out of the cinema after seeing it feeling fairly unimpressed. However I couldn’t shake it from my head and it persisted. The cinematography is beautiful, the storytelling simple and direct. It is one of the most beautiful, delicate pieces of cinema I have ever seen and a worthy Oscar winner.
I watched quite a few of the Oscar nominees and liked Jackie, Hidden Figures and Arrival. Each of those are worth seeing, as is La La Land, though that has been over-hyped whereas the other three have been tossed aside.
I’m a big fan of superhero films and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has been my highlight. Wonder Woman was a very good film, but sadly it’s ending let the whole film down in my opinion. With GOTG2, the ending gives the whole film (if not the two films) purpose. The sequel is definitely darker, but that’s because it explores the characters deep emotional scars. It is at times a difficult watch (something which should not be a surprise if you’ve seen James Gunn’s Super) but I found such a strong character piece that for me it surpasses the first Guardians. Also, the film is really colourful, like Wonder Woman, making it a lot of fun and a joy to behold. Below is a clip from the opening, so minor spoilers.
The biggest disappointment for me was Rogue One. I never expected much from it, but it was barely a competent film, with so many plot holes. The characters were unengaging, the story dull and the action boring. Characters from a New Hope were forced into a story they didn’t belong in and so it had the feeling of bad fan fiction.
Finally, I have to mention the only film that I saw twice at the cinema; Baby Driver. I love Edgar Wright as a filmmaker and his latest is more of a straight action film. It has comedic beats, but it is mainly about the car chases and gangster drama. The flaws are common to other films of the same genre, in that some of the supporting characters are subservient to the story. However, given the convention’s limitations, the film is masterful. His commitment to directing in time to the music is phenomenal and makes for a really intense ride. After each viewing I left so pumped on adrenaline that I struggled to sleep.
For those who liked Arrival, Blade Runner 2049 looks set to be gorgeous. The original was a stylistic landmark and the sequel will try to modernise that style. The trailer looks beautiful, not long till it arrives at the beginning of October.
The other major blockbuster I’m looking forward to is Ready Player One. Steven Spielberg adapts the book whose mix of geek fandom and critique I enjoyed thoroughly. The Bridge of Spies and the BFG were both good films, so I know it’s in good hands.
As far as superhero films are concerned, Ant Man & the Wasp will be the first Marvel film with an eponymous heroine. Ant Man was fun, so it will be interesting to see what they can do with a second one. (See below for 2017’s body shrinking comedy film.) The Incredibles 2 will finally arrive, which should be great. Black Panther looks interesting, but Thor Ragnorok looks the best of the bunch. If you haven’t seen director Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople or What We Do in the Shadows, then watch those now. He has such a comedic light touch and looks set to reboot the Thor franchise in style.
While on the subject of blockbusters, I have a couple worth mentioning which could do really well. The Jumanji reboot looks like it will be a lot of fun. My hopes are high for that, as they are for a Wrinkle in Time. I’ve not read the book, but the trailer intrigues me. It’s the first film with a budget over $100 million to be directed by a woman of colour, so for that reason alone, its worth a watch.
The Oscar contenders seem to cover a mix of tastes. There are two tennis drama’s coming out, and the Battle of the Sexes looks the much more interesting. I don’t understand why you’d want to watch actors play a sport they’re not very good at, so any sports film has to be about the drama off the pitch affecting their game. This looks like it will be a decent heart warming drama.
The Shape of Water looks like a beautiful cold war version of Pan’s Labyrinth. I love the idea of having a deaf lead character and this period romance looks stunning.
Aardman studios are giants in their field and their next film looks set to be a claymation classic. The original story of stone age community versus iron age looks set to be a lot of fun.
My top pick, for just sheer nuttiness is Downsizing. If you’ve seen the Descendants or Sideways, you know to expect a dry comedy. This looks intriguing as there are so many places that it could go with such a ridiculous concept.
Here are a few more that on my radar that haven’t got a trailer yet:
- Pacific Rim Uprising, for more giant robot v giant monster mayhem.
- Mission Impossible 6, as that series is far above Bond in my eyes.
- Mortal Engines, the next Peter Jackson vehicle based on the popular books.
- Holmes & Watson, a Will Ferrell comedy that should fill the hole until Robert Downey Junior makes another one.
- Isle of Dogs, Wes Anderson’s next feature, a stop animation project set on a island populated solely by canines.
All in all, it looks set to be another good year.