This is the time of year where I am watching so many movies at one time, I forget to post a review or thoughts on this website. I do apologize for that. But December is traditionally the month where critics of any kind get ready to release their end-of-the-year lists. I love this time of year. I love trying to sum up what the year meant to me. Of course, there is no event that will have a longer positive affect on me than the birth of my first daughter. That takes the cake this year for sure, and no matter how many ups and downs I had this year, 2018 was a win simply because my daughter was born. But that's completely personal.
When it comes to movies, like every December, I am hard at work. I am re-watching certain movies. I am seeing tons of stuff for the very first time. I spend each week of the month cramming in as many last-minute movies as I can. I've got some reviews I will be preparing for the weekend. But I will say right now, if you need something to rent. Check out both "Searching" and "Peppermint" if you haven't yet. Those are both available to rent, however you even do that these days.
"Searching'' is the best possible example of modern thriller that I can name. If Alfred Hitchcock was omnipresent and was still making movies today, he probably would have made "Searching" himself. I have to admit though, I was ready to hate it. It is structured much like those stupid "Unfriended" movies. The entire movie takes place on a computer screen or cellular device screen. There is never any regularly filmed actor action. The whole thing is told through technology and screens. John Cho plays a loving father who is trying to cope with his daughter after his wife is killed after a long battle with cancer. One day, she goes missing. The entire movie is how the father uses technology to learn what happened to her. Even though there is a unique hook that the entire movie rests on, the movie still carries every bit of emotion, every tense bit of set-up, and keeps you well on the edge of your seat. Sometimes movies that are built on a gimmick hardly work, but "Searching" definitely delivers the goods. Whatever you think is going to happen by the end of the movie, let me tell you, it ain't happening!
"Peppermint" stars Jennifer Garner. Its pretty much set up like another "Death Wish" style movie. A woman's entire family is gunned down by bad guys. She tries going after the bad guys the legal way. It doesn't work because of a wrongheaded, corrupt system. So she takes the law into her own hands. Its a movie we've seen a thousand times before. So in a situation like this, what I look for the most is how much I care about the characters. I love a movie where somebody kicks lots of ass, but do they deserve that time to shine? Garner throws herself at this role, and it pays off in a big way. There is just enough emotional heft to make it count. I may not be over-the-moon for the movie, but I highly recommend it!
I was reading online last week and came across an idea that a film critic I like is going to approach. I was so inspired by the idea that I think I am going to take it on myself. Every year, anybody who is a critic of anything, whether its movies or TV or books or comics or food...makes a top ten list of the year. More often than not, no matter what someone writes and no matter how respected they are, people will just argue their list. "This should be higher on the list! This should be lower on this! Where's this, that and other thing!" You see it everywhere on this time of year. Even the legendary Roger Ebert has been quoted as saying "Nobody says my list is just fine." What is it about entertainment that makes us so defensive? And what is it about the number ten that each list maker has been following for the end of year since the dawn of existence? Does it have to do with the ten commandments? Just a guess.
I think I've always done a good job making top ten lists every year. But there is certainly more than ten movies that define my movie year. Thankfully on my own site, nobody has been openly hostile, but the biggest complaint I get every year is "Shawn, I haven't heard of half the movies on your list." I get it. I'm a movie nerd. I look under every rock trying to find anything and everything that I can possibly watch. I watch stuff that I think looks bad, simply to see if there is anything good hidden inside. If you picked a movie at random, I would probably happily sit down to watch it with you. Its just the way I'm wired. So why not make a list that focuses on that wiring issue? Without making it so long that it just comes off as a big list of movies?
So I'm going to try this...
There are five movies I have in my head right now from 2018. They are movies so special that they tower over everything else I have seen this year. Those are definitely my top five and I will publish a top five and discuss why I love those movies so much. Go ahead and try to guess them if you wish, but I can assure you, its not the top five you think it is. Along with the top five, I am going to publish a list of 25 more movies that I found essential during 2018. Things I watched repeatedly, things that hit me on a personal level, things had a certain feature that I thought made the year memorable... all of those will be published in the 25 list. Alphabetically, with no rankings whatsoever! With a brand new format, I hope that you guys will engage with the list in a brand new way.
There is still plenty of stuff I am planning on seeing before the years over, so this could change. Maybe the top five will become a top six. Maybe some things I am thinking of adding will fall by the wayside. I don't know. I just think 30 is a decently paced list where you can a really good understanding of just how good 2018 truly was. Only time will tell though. My list isn't coming till January though, because I work until the very end of the year to see everything I possibly can!
Enjoy the rest of the year and stay tuned to January.