As part of the movies desk for the Arizona State Odyssey team, we all wanted to share our highlighted interests in cinema now that the end of the year is approaching. As one of few, here is my short list of movies I've most likely recommended to peers, customers at my workplace, and complete strangers who give me more than a moment's attention. They have proven to be very beautiful, inspiring, and the best told stories that we've received this year. I'll be happy to see these change as I welcome the new divine year of 2020, and sincerely hope the trend of going to the movies gets heavily reinforced and encouraged among today's stream war climate.
Jojo Rabbit, written and directed by Taika Waititi
Marketed as an anti-hate movie, there was nothing truer about that approach with the young Roman Griffin Davis playing the titular role. Taika Waititi told a feel-good story involving a boy struggling with his sense of nationalism in Nazi Germany, especially so when a Jewish girl is revealed to be taking refuge in his home.
The premise of the movie is intriguing when you consider the children at the focal point of this picture. However, Waititi's comedic writing and creative decisions are what invite me to get lost in the story. With a satirical approach to one of history's most devastating periods, I felt incredible emotion and know I'll continue revisiting this one whenever I need a feel-good movie to pick me up.
Us, written and directed by Jordan Peele
Jordan Peele wowed horror fans with his hilariously terrifying "Get Out" in 2017. The comedy writer, actor, and filmmaker had entered the horror scene with impact, as his "Get Out" earned an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and once again executed a dark thriller in "Us." Lupita Nyong'o stars and the Oscar winner pulls off a performance that will give anyone enveloping chills.
Coming from a primarily comedy based background, Peele weaves his stories with a sense of hilarity that builds onto the realism of the features. This movie is no different, and it hits moments of dread and fear with little dependence on cheap jump scares. I love a solid doppelganger feature, and this movie only encouraged me to keep up with the genre-bending filmmaker.
Doctor Sleep, written, directed, and edited by Mike Flanagan
Before attending this film's early screening, I ashamedly had been one of the few avid movie watchers who never saw "The Shining" from beginning to end. I knew I loved horror, Stephen King as well as the talented filmmaker Mike Flanagan whose work on "The Haunting of Hill House'' tethered me as a follower. Upon realizing that Flanagan's storytelling exceeded directing and included writing and editing, I had to go in as prepared as I could to appreciate "Doctor Sleep," a follow up to "The Shining's" original story. It truly was the director that got me invested.
Continuing an accomplished and finished story had to be a tremendous effort. One that took King 36 years between publishing dates of the original material. The result was a fantastic adventure that blended well with the original and incorporated moments where I felt fear unlike me other horrors of today. Performances from Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson and newcomer Kyliegh Curran are not a trio to pass up on.
Parasite, written and directed by Bong Joon Ho
This movie ingrained the famous phrase "better late than never" so much deeper in me after watching it. I caught wind of the praise for Bong Joon Ho's class thriller earlier in this season, but got busy and couldn't make time to watch it until recently. The movie had my jaw drop harder than a 2010 Skrillex beat. You know the one. Anyway, the movie alters its direction from an innocent almost heist-like genre to something sinister out of a horror movie.
I would agree with critics who highlight the blocking in the film, meaning how the actors use the available space and move from scene to scene. Mainly shot within a home, the scenes utilize plenty of choreography to get to their next step and keep the momentum going. Although I did have to read subtitles to understand the Korean language, if I would have sat back and enjoyed the feature without them, the acting is some of the best and it's no surprise that Joon Ho partially casted from his previous work. Additionally, the camerawork could be praised in a completely separate piece, that's how much I admired it.
Marvel's Avengers: Endgame, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo
"Dread it, run from it… destiny arrives all the same." - Thanos, Mad Titan "Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War"
Although the quote comes from an earlier film, "Infinity War" and "Endgame" are seemingly two parts in a final act for the 23 film Infinity Saga. Audiences who started with this franchise in 2008 with "Iron Man" had the experience of a lifetime to watch these comic book characters come alive and share the screen in a film that grossed higher than James Cameron's "Avatar!"
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is very dear to me and I'm quite the fanboy, and even then I am speechless looking back at my theater experience. I was so mesmerized at how unifying it had been for this movie. The people I was surrounded by, we were all with our heroes on this adventure to get our team back, on the edge of our seats, cheering, yelling, and becoming a team of our own because of the strength of those on the big screen. This movie had it all and until opening day, no one knew what to expect. What we got was a hilarious, intriguing, and emotionally close to chapter that had one of the best payoffs for the fans and will remain a staple moment in film history.
A top 5 list is so hard to compile when I admire many movies for their individuality and narrative efforts. I loved going through and challenging myself to some intense internal debates over whether I favored one movie over another. I had to omit some of my 2019 favorites, but here are others I must pay respect to: "Ready or Not," "John Wick: Chapter 3," "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark," "Joker," "Knives Out," and "The Lighthouse."
2020 I hope you come prepared to compete with stories I will again be conflicted with on how much I enjoy versus another, but until then I'll keep these five on repeat.
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