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The MovieMini Awards for the Films of 2018

In chaotic times, film becomes more important. As a source of entertainment, as a mode of escape, as a reflection of identity and community, and as an empathy machine, film shapes plenty about how we navigate the world — and we need that when the world is full of whiplash.

In 2018, film guided us powerfully. From a little bear from darkest Peru to a domestic worker in Mexico City, from three skateboarders in the Rust Belt to an astronaut shooting for the moon, from a family on the edges of Tokyo to the King of Wakanda, the characters of these films asked us to reflect upon ourselves, and helped us learn about others in this world.

Simply put, it was a damn good year for movies, and we’re grateful for how they’ve impacted not just us, but millions around the world. If even one film leaves something important with someone needing it, it’s a testament to the power of the art form. But we’re certain that more than a few films did that for more than a few people.

And it all calls for a little needed celebration, a little needed positivity. As that little bear says, “If we are kind and polite, the world will be right.” Film was good to us, so here’s some recognition for film.

Here are the MovieMini Awards for the Films of 2018:

(These awards were voted on and compiled by Rosemarie Alejandrino, Danielle Gutierrez, Levi Hill, Kyle Kizu, Michelle Lee, Miyako Singer, Harrison Tunggal, and Hooman Yazdanian.)

Best Specialty Performance

Winner: Ben Whishaw as Paddington — Paddington 2

Warner Bros./Courtesy

Ben Whishaw’s turn as a kind and deeply principled bear from darkest Peru may not be the buzziest performance in acclaimed masterpiece Paddington 2, but Whishaw’s voice is the gentle glue that holds the movie together. He’s tasked with making the bear cute, but not cloying, unwaveringly good, but never preachy — a CGI bear capable of silliness and sternness in equal measure. Whishaw achieves this by imbuing Paddington with his natural tender-yet-brisk Britishness. Paddington’s matter of fact politeness makes the comedic scenes all the funnier for his total sincerity, and the tear jerking moments all the more heartrending. In Whishaw’s hands (paws?), Paddington is — like his famous, prison reforming marmalade — the perfect mix of sweet and tart.
— Miyako Singer

Runner-up: Shameik Moore as Miles Morales — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
3. Holly Hunter as Elastigirl — Incredibles 2
4. Jake Johnson as Peter B. Parker — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
5. Sonoya Mizuno as Humanoid — Annihilation

Next Group:
Josh Brolin as Thanos — Avengers: Infinity War
Jim Cummings as Winnie the Pooh — Christopher Robin
Stephen Lang as Shrike — Mortal Engines
Brian Tyree Henry as Jefferson Davis — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Nicolas Cage as Spider-Man Noir — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Honorable Mention: Olivia as Good Doggo — Game Night/Widows

Best Breakthrough Performance

Winner: Yalitza Aparicio — Roma

Netflix/Courtesy

It’d be impossible to tell that Yalitza Aparicio is a first time actress, let alone someone with no formal training prior to starring in Roma. Her warmth is immediate, and only grows exponentially throughout the rest of the film. Just as Alfonso Cuarón renders the space three-dimensional, Aparicio makes it feel alive, navigating the house with confidence. Her chemistry with the family is delightful, but Aparicio is absolutely breathtaking during the delivery scene and the beach sequence. Roma is a film that makes you feel alive, as it’s about life, and Aparicio is the beating heart.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Thomasin McKenzie — Leave No Trace
3. Kiki Layne — If Beale Street Could Talk
4. Elsie Fisher — Eighth Grade
5. Lady Gaga — A Star Is Born

Next Group:
Cynthia Erivo — Bad Times at the El Royale
John David Washington — BlacKkKlansman
Geraldine Viswanathan — Blockers
Brady Jandreau — The Rider
Lana Condor — To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Best Feature Debut

Winner: Bradley Cooper — A Star Is Born

Clay Enos/Warner Bros./Courtesy

From the very opening shot of A Star Is Born — on-stage with Bradley Cooper’s Jackson Maine in such visceral, wild, grimy, and adventurous close-up — we know we’re in the hands of a director with complete confidence and control. The film is intimate and rough, raw and painful, and Cooper digs his hands into the blood of the material to find emotional truth. Whether it be the close-up of Ally and Jackson’s hands touching in the convenience store parking lot, or the cross-cutting between Jackson on stage and Ally on her way to his concert before bursting into “Shallow,” or the harrowing cut from Ally’s performance at the end of the film to Jackson playing for her at home, Cooper’s choices are staggeringly powerful.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Paul Dano — Wildlife
3. Ari Aster — Hereditary
4. Bo Burnham — Eighth Grade
5. Boots Riley — Sorry to Bother You

Next Group:
Carlos López Estrada — Blindspotting
Kay Cannon — Blockers
Gustav Möller — The Guilty
Josie Rourke — Mary Queen of Scots
Aneesh Chaganty — Searching

Best Original Song

Winner: “Shallow” — A Star Is Born

Warner Bros./Courtesy

At this point in awards season, there’s not much to be said about “Shallow” that hasn’t already been said. It’s nearly become a parody of itself, and the movie’s meme-able reputation definitely precedes it — if only so it can take another look at the movie that follows.

But let us not forget that what makes a song most deserving of the Best Original Song title does not simply rely on the quality of the song itself; it requires a song to, yes, standalone, but to also amplify the moment of the film which it occupies. “Shallow” does not amplify only one moment of A Star is Born, but three: Ally’s shy crooning in the parking lot, Jackson and Ally’s first duet on stage, and Ally’s solo piano performance before learning of Jackson’s fate. And yet, beyond the film, the song itself has taken on new meaning as part of “Enigma,” Lady Gaga’s Las Vegas residency. She turns to the piano ballad to close her electrifying, synth-heavy and neon-laced live show, knighting the song of an anthem for defying expectations. “We’re far from the shallow now,” refers to breaking free from the status quo shallowness expected of a high-profile pop artist, a message both Ally and Lady Gaga declare with triumph.

So while Lady Gaga’s projected victory for “Shallow” on Oscar night may read like the predictable end of a rote coming-of-age novel, let us not forget the first moment that Ally’s voice cracked into the late-night Los Angeles air, hesitant but somehow firm, expelling from her lungs like the slow birth of a legacy in a convenience store parking lot.
— Rosemarie Alejandrino

Runner-up: “Sunflower” — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
3. “Opps” — Black Panther
4. “Maybe It’s Time” — A Star Is Born
5. “Suspirium” — Suspiria

Next Group:
“All the Stars” — Black Panther
“Pray For Me” — Black Panther
“A Cover Is Not the Book” — Mary Poppins Returns
“Always Remember Us This Way” — A Star Is Born
“Wrapped Up” — Vox Lux

Best Original Score

Winner: Nicholas Britell — If Beale Street Could Talk

Annapurna Pictures/Courtesy

Nicholas Britell’s If Beale Street Could Talk score is unbearably beautiful. With lush, waning strings and fluttering, hopeful woodwinds, each piece of music is a stunning evocation of love — of love’s strength, but also of love’s painful journey. The score aches with many truths just as Jenkins’ vision of Baldwin’s characters do — “Eros” a transcendent piece of swelling intimacy and “Hypertension” a bone-rattling piece of soul-crushing fear and despair. And then, “Ye Who Enters Here” truly lives as the blend of such powerful lows and highs at once. Britell’s music tells the story as much as any other part of If Beale Street Could Talk does. It’s not simply there to accompany the film. It pushes the film to new heights. It talks.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Justin Hurwitz — First Man
3. Ludwig Göransson — Black Panther
4. Lorne Balfe — Mission: Impossible – Fallout
5. Thom Yorke — Suspiria

Next Group:
Mowg — Burning
Alexandre Desplat — Isle Of Dogs
Jóhann Jóhannsson — Mandy
Daniel Hart — The Old Man & the Gun
Alexandre Desplat — The Sisters Brothers

Best Sound Mixing

Winner: Mary H. Ellis, Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Ai-Ling Lee — First Man

Universal Pictures/Courtesy

There’s true depth to the sound mix of First Man. It’s loud and brutal, but immersive and three-dimensional. The interior of the space crafts are made distinctly human through the mix, in that the rattling of the metal, the hard-to-hear radio buzz of astronaut communication, the sudden jerks and slashes, and even the gravity of sound are all meshed into a cohesive environment that can be fully lived-in. It’s a symphonic nightmare.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Skip Lievsay, Craig Henighan, José Antonio García — Roma
3. Gilbert Lake, Mike Prestwood Smith, Paul Munro — Mission: Impossible – Fallout
4. Michael Barosky, Brandon Proctor — A Quiet Place
5. Niv Adiri, Michael Clayton, John Skehill, Ian Tapp — Annihilation

Next Group:
Tom Johnson, Juan Peralta, John Pritchett — Avengers: Infinity War
Michael Semanick, Nathan Nance, Vince Caro — Incredibles 2
Michael Semanick, Tony Lamberti, Brian Smith, Aaron Hasson, Howard London — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Steve Morrow, Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic, Jason Ruder — A Star Is Born
Drew Kunin, Andrew Stirk — You Were Never Really Here

Best Sound Editing

Winner: Ai-Ling Lee, Mildred Iatrou Morgan — First Man

Daniel McFadden/Universal Pictures/Courtesy

The First Man sound team went to incredible lengths to capture the accuracy of the sounds of spacecrafts, from recording actual launches to consulting the professionals for the minutiae of space travel. And it pays off immensely. Every created sound feels entirely organic to every environment — and often times because it was, with everything that the film does practically. But it’s the most brutal effects that elevate the film, as we can feel the metal in our bones, just like the astronauts likely did.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: James Mather — Mission: Impossible – Fallout
3. Skip Lievsay, Sergio Díaz — Roma
4. Ethan Van der Ryn, Erik Aadahl — A Quiet Place
5. Geoffrey G. Rubay, Curt Schulkey, John Pospisil — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Next Group:
Glenn Freemantle, Niv Adiri —Annihilation
Shannon Mills, Daniel Laurie — Avengers: Infinity War
Benjamin A. Burtt, Steve Boeddeker — Black Panther
Coya Elliott, Ren Klyce — Incredibles 2
Gary Rydstrom, Richard Hymns — Ready Player One

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Winner: Joel Harlow, Camille Friend, Ken Diaz — Black Panther

Matt Kennedy/Marvel Studios/Courtesy

The makeup and hairstyling work in Black Panther does what a lot of the other design work in the film does: it builds a world, and does so extremely thoroughly and organically. The hairstyling is distinct and varied, from the extravagant regal designs of Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) to the stylishly personal work for both Shuri (Letitia Wright) and Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). And the makeup is prevalent, but not overt. The larger prosthetics are carefully utilized and integrated, such as with a tribe leader’s mouth, and the facial designs breathe life to the characters, telling their own stories for each tribe and status. Combined, the film’s work is innovative.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Nadia Stacey — The Favourite
3. Mark Coulier, Fernanda Perez, Manolo Garcia — Suspiria
4. Jenny Shircore, Marc Pilcher, Jessica Brooks — Mary Queen of Scots
5. Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe, Patricia DeHaney — Vice

Next Group:
LaWanda M. Pierre, Shaun Perkins — BlacKkKlansman
Göran Lundström, Pamela Goldammer — Border
Heike Merker — Crazy Rich Asians
Bill Corso, Barbara Lorenz — Destroyer
Oriane De Neve — Mandy

Best Costume Design

Winner: Ruth E. Carter — Black Panther

Matt Kennedy/Marvel Studios/Courtesy

To be honest, Ruth E. Carter earned this back in February of last year. Not to take away from any of the other wondrous world-building within the film, but the costume design is simply supreme. From the layout and layering of beads, to the various textures and colors of fabrics, to the infused metal, Carter’s costumes are both steeped in the history of African clothing and evocative of what afrofuturism envisions, engaging with the past and the future simultaneously in the same way that the story does. But it’s her scope and range that are difficult to put into words. The tribal clothing is so specific and so intuitive, declaring rank, but also declaring style and personality — and that’s for multiple tribes, as well as for warrior armor and regal wear. And this all goes without mention of how incredibly badass and utterly gorgeous it all looks.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Sandy Powell — The Favourite
3. Caroline Eselin — If Beale Street Could Talk
4. Mary E. Vogt — Crazy Rich Asians
5. Sandy Powell — Mary Poppins Returns

Next Group:
Kym Barrett — Aquaman
Alexandra Byrne — Mary Queen of Scots
Lindy Hemming — Paddington 2
Renee Ehrlich Kalfus — A Simple Favor
Amanda Ford — Wildlife

Best Production Design

Winner: Hannah Beachler, Jay Hart — Black Panther

Hannah Beachler/Marvel Studios/Courtesy

Best Production Design could also be known as “Best World Building,” literally, as the production designer and set decorator are the people tasked — with the guidance of the film’s director and screenwriter — in crafting the world of the film, fictional or authentically real. And this past year, the work of Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart in creating Wakanda is simply unrivaled.

Black Panther’s success truly stems from its ability to let Wakanda, Oakland, and South Korea be vital locations and production sets for the story Coogler is telling. Every set, every design presents eye-popping creations, but with real-world authenticity. Yet, it was the first scene in which the audience is shown the fictional African country of Wakanda that we knew exactly who would be taking home this award. Beachler and Hart have created an awe-inspiring world, where futuristic high rises co-exist with classical African village designs. The look of Wakanda feels real, and honors the film’s black identity, but is also willing to be highly original with its deep mines of vibranium and stunning throne rooms. Truly, because of the work these two crafted, as well as the film’s direction, cinematography, costume design, and makeup, we’ll always remember that first feeling of when we knew what “Wakanda Forever” meant.
— Levi Hill

Runner-up: Fiona Crombie, Alice Felton — The Favourite
3. Eugenio Caballero, Bárbara Enrı́quez — Roma
4. Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas — First Man
5. Mark Digby, Michelle Day — Annihilation

Next Group:
Martin Whist, Hamish Purdy — Bad Times at the El Royale
Nelson Coates, Andrew Baseman — Crazy Rich Asians
Adam Stockhausen, Paul Harrod — Isle of Dogs
Gary Williamson, Cathy Cosgrove — Paddington 2
Keiko Mitsumatsu, Akiko Matsuba — Shoplifters

Best Visual Effects

Winner: Paul Lambert, J.D. Schwalm, Ian Hunter, Tristan Myles — First Man

Universal Pictures/Courtesy

First Man is a celebration of practical effects. From its various scales of models to its massive LED screens that play backgrounds of skies and space for in-camera capture, the film is invigoratingly tactile. We can sense real physics and real depth at play, which is immensely key to communicating the dangers of the Gemini and Apollo missions. That the film feels as though it truly takes us to space, through the genius of perspective as well as invisible CG and compositing, is an astounding accomplishment.
Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Dan Deleeuw, Kelly Port, Russell Earl, Dan Sudick — Avengers: Infinity War
3. Andrew Whitehurst, Sara Bennett, Richard Clarke, Simon Hughes — Annihilation
4. Nicholas Bennett, Rupert Davies, Andy Kind, Peter McDonald, Carlos Monzon, Glen Pratt — Paddington 2
5. Jason Smith — Bumblebee

Next Group:
Kelvin McIlwain, Jeff White, Bryan Hirota, Kimberly Nelson Locascio — Aquaman
Matt Johnson, Steve Warner, Jim Capobianco, Kyle McCulloch —Mary Poppins Returns
Jody Johnson — Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Roger Guyett, Grady Cofer, Matthew E. Butler, David Shirk — Ready Player One
Rob Bredow, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan, Dominic Tuohy —Solo: A Star Wars Story

Best Cinematography

Winner: Alfonso Cuarón — Roma

Netflix/Courtesy

There’s something initially objective and removed about Alfonso Cuarón’s cinematography for Roma. There aren’t many close-ups. Perspective is, occasionally, not attached too strongly to individual characters. It’s almost as if the camera were a young boy watching from a distance.

And that’s where it all clicks. As Cuarón’s camera pans or tracks through space in unbroken takes, we become enveloped in something truly three-dimensional. “Lived in” is an overused phrase, but it’s the most potent thing about Roma’s photography. It breathes with life. It’s lived in. It’s memory.

There’s such immense visual depth in this film, greater than what 3D could ever accomplish. But there’s also warmth, connection, and love. Cuarón captures his images with the quiet wonder of a boy admiring the matriarchs in his life. However, it’s also clear that this is not just removed, but a reflection into the past, which allows his cinematography to break the bounds of its objective style and evoke true emotions within time.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Rob Hardy — Mission: Impossible – Fallout
3. Lukasz Zal — Cold War
4. Linus Sandgren — First Man
5. Hong Kyung-pyo — Burning

Next Group:
Robbie Ryan — The Favourite
James Laxton — If Beale Street Could Talk
Bing Liu — Minding the Gap
Joshua James Richard — The Rider
Benoît Debie — The Sisters Brothers

Best Film Editing

Winner: Eddie Hamilton — Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Paramount Pictures/Courtesy

In more ways than one, Mission: Impossible – Fallout is explosive. One of the most underappreciated facets of that, however, is the film’s editing. Eddie Hamilton’s pacing is never off-note, taking us through a roaring 2.5 hours without anything ever feeling slow or unbalanced. And zooming in to individual sequences, Hamilton’s compositions are breathtaking, particularly the “stairs and rooftops” chase through London. That sequence is its own spotless short film, a blend of perfectly timed comedy and powerful bursts of energy. We feel Ethan Hunt’s energy and exhaustion distinctly through Hamilton’s work, and the entire film is taken to a new level for the franchise because of that.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Bing Liu, Joshua Altman — Minding the Gap
3. Alfonso Cuarón, Adam Gough — Roma
4. Jonathan Amos, Mark Everson — Paddington 2
5. Joe Walker — Widows

Next Group:
Nick Fenton, Chris Gill, Julian Hart — American Animals
Barry Alexander Brown — BlacKkKlansman
Yorgos Mavropsaridis — The Favourite
Hirokazu Kore-eda — Shoplifters
Jay Cassidy — A Star Is Born

Best Documentary

Winner: Minding the Gap

Hulu/Courtesy

Bing Liu’s directorial debut is a true revelation. Minding the Gap centers on three boys — Liu himself, Zack Mulligan and Kiere Johnson — in Rockford, Illinois, who all skateboard and who, we learn, all grew up in abusive households. Liu’s film, like so many of 2018’s best, wrestles with the essential question: What have our parents done to us? The answer to this question is completely different for each of Liu, Mulligan and Johnson. Yet each of these stories, even Liu’s own, is handled with a deft touch of empathy and true intuition. We know these boys, not just their traumas but their charm, their shortcomings, their senses of humor, their aspirations. We cry with them and for them, but we also hope with them.

Minding the Gap is about so many things. Escaping your home. The oppressive force of capitalism. Cycles of abuse. Toxic, limiting masculinity. Friendship. Ultimately, it’s about everything that shapes us into who we are and the shared traumas that can underlie our relationships. That’s what makes this not just the year’s best documentary, but one of its very best films as well.
Hooman Yazdanian

Runner-up: Free Solo
3. Hale County This Morning, This Evening
4. The Dawn Wall
5. Science Fair

Next Group:
Nossa Chape
Shirkers
They Shall Not Grow Old
Three Identical Strangers
White Tide: The Legend of Culebra

Best Animated Film

Winner: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Sony Pictures/Courtesy

It’s been more than a month since the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and we’re still feeling the ripples of its arrival. It’s hard to say something that’s not already been said, but it’s the fact that people are still saying things that shows just how significant this film is. Visually dynamic and innovative, but also with a pulsing emotional core, the film feels like a dream, an all-too-perfect culmination of superhero-centered art from its inception in the form of comic books to its dominance of popular cinema today. Spider-Verse is not just a leap forward, but a leap up, all because it was brave enough to take a leap of faith.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Incredibles 2
3. Ralph Breaks the Internet
4. Mirai
5. Early Man

Best Foreign Film

Winner: Shoplifters

Magnolia Pictures/Courtesy

In its first two-thirds, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters is a warm yet unflinching movie about the daily rhythms of a family living on the fringes of Tokyo. The Shibata family — Nobuyo (Sakura Ando) and Osamu (Lily Franky), their son Shota (Jyo Kairi), and adult sibling Aki (Mayu Matsuoka) — live in the cramped home of grandmother and matriarch Hatsue (the late Kirin Kiki), living off her small pension, odd jobs, and the eponymous shoplifting.

One day, Nobuyo and Osamu come across a hungry and abused little girl named Yuri (Miyu Sasaki) and decide to take her in, setting in motion a doomed story of kidnap and familial love. Had the movie ambled along in this way, quietly checking in on the day to day of the strange and messy Shibatas, it would have been a triumph of humanistic filmmaking. But in its third act, Shoplifters delivers a shocking series of twists which blow apart the family’s fragile, cobbled-together peace, and reveal that Kore-eda has something much deeper to say about choosing love and family when you’re up against the world.
— Miyako Singer

Runner-up: Roma
3. Burning
4. Cold War
5. Happy As Lazzaro

Next Group:
Capernaum
The Guilty
I Am Not A Witch
Museo
Zama

Best Adapted Screenplay

Winner: Phil Lord, Rodney Rothman — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Sony Pictures/Courtesy

Granted, there’ve been a lot of Spider-Man stories (comics, movies, and games) this century, and a lot have been wildly successful. But there’s something about Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman’s take on the classic Spider-Man story that sets it above the rest, and honestly, as one of the best superhero scripts ever.

Maybe it’s how it introduces Miles Morales into the cinematic canon, while still giving us a thrilling Peter (B.) Parker story? Maybe it’s because it takes a plethora of villains and heroes from the Spider-Verse, and gives each character their own rational motivations for their actions, with varying degrees of forgivability? Maybe it’s just because we didn’t laugh harder or cry more during a studio film from 2018 than we did while watching Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse? Or most likely, it’s because it did all of these things, and crafted an inclusive story that anyone of any race, gender, age, or nationality can relate to. Because in the end, the power of superhero stories has always been that superheroes don’t have to be that super at all; they just have to believe in themselves and in the good of the people around them. Anyone can wear the mask.
— Levi Hill

Runner-up: Paul King, Simon Farnaby — Paddington 2
3. Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan — Wildlife
4. Lee Chang-dong, Oh Jung-mi — Burning
5. Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty — Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Next Group:
Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole — Black Panther
Peter Chiarelli, Adele Lim — Crazy Rich Asians
Barry Jenkins — If Beale Street Could Talk
Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini — Leave No Trace
Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain — The Sisters Brothers

Best Original Screenplay

Winner: Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara — The Favourite

Yorgos Lanthimos/Twentieth Century Fox/Courtesy

The incredible passive aggressiveness, snark, and sass of Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara’s script for The Favourite is, quite frankly, jaw-dropping. From the overarching manipulative machinations of Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) and Abigail (Emma Stone), to the invigoratingly sexy scenes, all the way down to the single lines of dialogue — the most gobsmackingly awesome being Queen Anne’s “I like it when she puts her tongue inside me” — the script is an absolute wonder.

But that’s not all that Davis and McNamara accomplish. The story is also a seering look at the sacrifices made in a quest for power, as well as the corruption that such a quest can bring upon one’s soul. And, in perhaps the film’s most powerful scene when Lady Sarah tries to connect with Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) again, The Favourite reveals itself as a story of what love truly means.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Hirokazu Kore-eda — Shoplifters
3. Bo Burnham — Eighth Grade
4. Alfonso Cuarón — Roma
5. Tamara Jenkins — Private Life

Next Group:
Paweł Pawlikowski, Janusz Glowacki — Cold War
Paul Schrader — First Reformed
Mark Perez — Game Night
Alice Rohrwacher — Happy As Lazzaro
Ari Aster — Hereditary

Best Supporting Actor

Winner: Steven Yeun — Burning

Well Go USA Entertainment/Courtesy

Burning is a reserved, chilling psychosexual thriller from one of the world’s premier directors, Lee Chang-dong. The film follows a love triangle between Lee Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in), Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo), and Ben (Steven Yeun). Through Chang-dong’s lens, we see the story from Jong-su’s increasingly anxious, jealous, and fractured view. But because the film rests with Jong-su, this allows Yeun’s Ben to become the film’s enigma; it’s through his character and Yeun’s portrayal that the film morphs into a stunning, shocking mystery. On first viewing, when the three are with each other, Yeun’s almost displeasing yawns and seemingly mocking laughter shake Jong-su, and the audience, to the core. There’s clearly something underneath this person — a rich kid so privileged in society, that maybe, just maybe, he has turned to murder to feel something in the world. Yet, on repeat viewings (which this film begs for), it could be implied that Ben isn’t all that bad. While having an aura of superiority around him, Ben appears rather inviting. Maybe, after all, it is Jong-su trying to force Ben into the story he wants for himself.

Thanks, in large part, to Lee Chang-dong and Oh Jung-mi’s masterful script and Steven Yeun’s even more masterful performance, we’re never granted answers, though. Yeun perfectly relies on subtlety, born charisma, and his dashing good looks to craft Ben into an unknowable key to understanding what transpires. Yet, the answers go up in flames, and we’re all left with the haunting reality that we may never truly know who Ben is.
— Levi Hill

Runner-up: Hugh Grant — Paddington 2
3. Brian Tyree Henry — If Beale Street Could Talk
4. Alex Wolff — Hereditary
5. Daniel Kaluuya — Widows

Next Group:
Timothée Chalamet — Beautiful Boy
Richard E. Grant — Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Nicholas Hoult — The Favourite
Jesse Plemons — Game Night
Jake Gyllenhaal — Wildlife

Best Supporting Actress

Winner: Rachel Weisz — The Favourite

Yorgos Lanthimos/Twentieth Century Fox/Courtesy

In The Favourite — a film full of overt, loud, and clear (even if passive aggressive) expression — Rachel Weisz is a complex force. Her Lady Sarah is simultaneously manipulative, loving, confident, and jealous. Under a rarely changing steely glare, Weisz breathes with power, while also communicating her character’s slow loss of it. And along with that comes a loss of friendship and a loss of love, and Weisz evokes a painfully palpable desperation, culminating in her heart-wrenching monologue of what it means to love someone. While there’s an engaging sadness and depression to Olivia Colman’s Queen Anne, it’s Weisz’s brilliant performance as Lady Sarah that lays a soul at the foundation of the film.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Regina King — If Beale Street Could Talk
3. Emma Stone — The Favourite
4. Elizabeth Debicki — Widows
5. Marina de Tavira — Roma

Next Group:
Michelle Yeoh — Crazy Rich Asians
Rachel McAdams — Game Night
Margot Robbie — Mary Queen of Scots
Kayli Carter — Private Life
Kirin Kiki — Shoplifters

Best Lead Actor

Winner: Bradley Cooper — A Star Is Born

Peter Lindbergh/Warner Bros./Courtesy

A Star Is Born opens with Bradley Cooper on stage as Jackson Maine, strumming the hell out of his guitar and belting out “Black Eyes.” Cooper not only answers any questions about his musical bonafides, but does it with fervor, commanding that stage and the audience — both the one in the film and the one watching it — like a real life rock star. He commands us not just to watch, but to believe. We need to believe he’d be successful, famous enough to attract big festival crowds, but also to walk into a drag bar and be treated like a star right away. Later, we need to believe he would both instantly fall in love with Ally (Lady Gaga) and have Ally fall in love with him. We need to believe this is a man in pain, and that this pain lingers even and especially when he’s head-over-heels in love with Ally, as he is until the end. We need to believe, and feel, and regret, the self-medication by alcohol Maine resorts to; haunted by the traumas of his youth and embroiled in the tumultuous rollercoasters of love and fame, Maine’s only restraint is more dangerous than the rollercoasters themselves. He gets drunk, he yells, he regrets. He goes to rehab. We need to believe it’s all real. We need to believe in Cooper as Maine does in Ally. And boy, is Cooper worth believing. He falls into the role of Jackson Maine. The star we know is hidden behind a beard, scraggly hair and sunworn skin. Of Cooper, only his winning eyes remain, and even they do their fair share of sad talking.

When an actor as famous as Bradley Cooper does a role as big and different as this one, it can be distracting. It’d be easy to watch A Star Is Born and just yell, “That is Bradley Cooper, the motherfucker from The Hangover! And he is singing!” But this doesn’t happen because we believe Cooper. The now seven-time Oscar nominee gives the performance of his life and of the year. We were right to believe.
Hooman Yazdanian

Runner-up: Tom Cruise — Mission: Impossible – Fallout
3. Ethan Hawke — First Reformed
4. Ryan Gosling — First Man
5. Lily Franky — Shoplifters

Next Group:
Yoo Ah-in — Burning
Tomasz Kot — Cold War
Stephan James — If Beale Street Could Talk
John Cho — Searching
Christian Bale — Vice

Best Lead Actress

Winner: Sakura Ando — Shoplifters

Magnolia Pictures/Courtesy

Amidst an amazing cast, Sakura Ando is transfixing in Shoplifters. A sense of enigmatic cool immediately emanating from her performance, Ando allows us in slowly. From her character’s quiet will to endure and survive, to her deep and raw connection to Yuri (Miyu Sasaki) through shared trauma, to her growing sense of motherhood and what it means to take care of someone, Ando’s turn unveils layer upon layer with stunning precision and timing, while maintaining an emotional truth to every aspect. She’s the powerful, magnetic center to the film because she plays that part to the film’s family, anchoring them in both fantasy and reality. And in her two key moments in the third act, when talking about motherhood and when telling Shota (Jyo Kairi) key information, Ando is harrowing in both her quiet pain and her strained certainty. Her performance is one of the most brilliantly understated of the year.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: Olivia Colman — The Favourite
3. Toni Collette — Hereditary
4. Carey Mulligan — Wildlife
5. Yalitza Aparicio — Roma

Next Group:
Joanna Kulig — Cold War
Thomasin McKenzie — Leave No Trace
Kathryn Hahn — Private Life
Regina Hall — Support the Girls
Glenn Close — The Wife

Best Ensemble

Winner: The cast of The Favourite

Atsushi Nishijima/Twentieth Century Fox/Courtesy

The cast of The Favourite may not be as expansive as other ensembles. But the set of performances is undoubtedly unmatched. Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, and Olivia Colman all deliver deliciously devilish and ravishingly ravenous turns. And they’re accompanied by a magnificent Nicholas Hoult, and a solidly serviceable Joe Alwyn and James Smith.

The range of work from these actors would be enough to put it into contention, but what locks it in as the best ensemble of 2018 is the vibrant and explosive chemistry between every single performer. Yorgos Lanthimos movies are idiosyncratic, so chemistry is key, and here, the rapport is simply sublime.
— Kyle Kizu

Runner-up: The cast of Shoplifters
3. The cast of Black Panther
4. The cast of Widows
5. The cast of Game Night

Next Group:
The cast of Bad Times at the El Royale
The cast of Crazy Rich Asians
The cast of If Beale Street Could Talk
The cast of Private Life
The cast of The Sisters Brothers

Best Director

Winner: Alfonso Cuarón — Roma

Carlos Somonte/Netflix/Courtesy

Like practically every other critics group (and we’re predicting the directors guild, too), we found Alfonso Cuarón’s deeply personal autobiographical memory play to be the best piece of directing of 2018. Using crisp black-and-white digital 65mm cinematography, mostly non-professional cast members, and stunning on-set recreations of 1970s Mexico City, Cuarón paints a humanistic, neo-realistic love letter to both the city and the women who raised him.

Cuarón’s approach to the material is organic in every facet. Composed of mostly long takes, Cuarón allows the performers, and thus the audience, to live in his world. There’s no prioritization of banal, seemingly simple moments (such as kids being cleansed with vinegar after getting sunburnt) over more dramatic moments (when a fire ravages an estate where the central family and friends are spending Christmas). Furthermore, the film perfectly balances moments of brevity — like a cheeky visual reference of the family going to the movies to see Marooned, which Cuarón may or may not have based his own Oscar-winning Gravity off of — with complete tragedy — such as when Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) loses a part of herself, in a devastating scene that won’t be spoiled here.

Yet, Cuarón is also giving a voice and vision to people rarely seen on the big screen: domestic workers. Starring an indigenous woman (the groundbreaking, now Oscar-nominated Yalitza Aparicio), Roma explores privilege, class, and race within Mexican society, but in a way that allows audiences to see the hard, caring work that these people do for the families they serve and, equally, how much they shape the people they help. Films have always been described as empathy machines, and it doesn’t get much more empathetic than what Cuarón’s direction achieves with his masterpiece Roma.
— Levi Hill

Runner-up: Paul King — Paddington 2
3. Lynne Ramsay — You Were Never Really Here
4. Lee Chang-dong — Burning
5. Hirokazu Kore-eda — Shoplifters

Next Group:
Ryan Coogler — Black Panther
Yorgos Lanthimos — The Favourite
Bing Liu — Minding the Gap
Christopher McQuarrie — Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Tamara Jenkins — Private Life

Best Picture

Winner: Paddington 2

Warner Bros./Courtesy

Sweet but never saccharine, Paddington 2 gives the perfect answer to the cynicism of the day, and does so without standing on a soap box, megaphone in hand, declaring itself apolitical. In fact, it does the opposite, embodying soul and optimism about humanity without betraying its messaging as a perfectly-toned rebuke of anti-immigrant, anti-refugee sentiment. Such is the case with 2018’s best film (that’s right, US release dates) and the flagbearer of nicecore, Paddington 2.

The story is simple: Paddington (Ben Whishaw), a bear from darkest Peru who lives with his adopted family, the Browns, in London, wants to buy his Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton) a popup book for her birthday. He wants to share the magic he sees in it with her. The end of that story is truly tear-jerking, and the execution of the journey to get there is transcendent. Packed with action, humor, and joy, the film takes aesthetic swings and knocks them out of the park. It is directed phenomenally by Paul King and perfectly acted, led by a layered, career-best performance from Hugh Grant.

Filled to the brim with equal helpings of ingenuity, marmalade, and heart, Paddington 2 sees the best in us and manages to be the best film of 2018 along the way.
— Hooman Yazdanian

Runner-up: The Favourite

3. Shoplifters
4. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
5. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
6. Black Panther
7. Minding the Gap
8. Roma
9. Wildlife
10. Private Life

Next Group:
Annihilation
Burning
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Cold War
Game Night
Hereditary
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star Is Born
Widows
You Were Never Really Here

Feature graphic by Kyle Kizu
Feature images courtesy of Paramount Pictures/Twentieth Century Fox/Warner Bros./Netflix/Sony Pictures

Our Most Anticipated Movies of 2019

2018 was mind-boggling. Ever since Black Panther back in February, the year just held strong up through the final days with the likes Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. So it’s no small statement to say that 2019 might rival it. In less than a month, we’ll have Dan Gilroy’s Velvet Buzzsaw (on Netflix, no less), followed soon after by the trilogy capper for How to Train Your Dragon. And with Captain Marvel and Us in March, the year will quickly become overwhelming. And it’s not only big budget films, or genre pieces from recent American (and male) darlings. There’s a new Scorsese film, a new Kore-eda film, a new Rees film, a new Joon-ho film, a new Larraín film, and a new Denis film — as well as exciting documentaries and feature debuts we’ll hear about soon at Sundance. With all that said, we couldn’t pick only 10 for our most anticipated list. In fact, we couldn’t even stick with 20. Below these 20 are sets of 15 from us individually, as well as five more honorable mentions (for a total of 55). Inject 2019 into our eyes already:

20. The Truth

Directed by: Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters, After the Storm, Like Father, Like Son, Still Walking, Nobody Knows)
Written by: Hirokazu Kore-eda, Léa Le Dimna
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke
Release date: TBD
Hirokazu Kore-eda directing Ethan Hawke and Juliette Binoche is enough to start wondering if The Truth will bring the acclaimed filmmaker back-to-back Palme d’Or wins.
Levi Hill

19. Ford v. Ferrari

Directed by: James Mangold (Logan, 3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line)
Written by: James Mangold, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, Jason Keller
Starring: Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Caitriona Balfe, Tracy Letts, Jon Bernthal, Noah Jupe
Release date: June 28, 2019
James Mangold has proven himself as a storyteller who understands the American spirit. Combine that with stylish Ferraris, racing and another Christian Bale transformation, and Ford v. Ferrari could be another piece of Mangold gold.
Kyle Kizu

18. Honey Boy

Directed by: Alma Har’el (Bombay Beach, LoveTrue)
Written by: Shia LaBeouf
Starring: Lucas Hedges, Shia LaBeouf, Maika Monroe, Noah Jupe
Release date: TBD (Sundance premiere)
Shia LaBeouf writes and co-stars with Lucas Hedges in a Sundance premiering semi-autobiographical film about a childhood actor (Hedges) and his relationship with his father (LaBeouf). The film should be a challenging, honest, painful, but ultimately touching exploration of how LaBeouf became who he is today.
LH

17. The Beach Bum

Directed by: Harmony Korine (Spring Breakers)
Written by: Harmony Korine
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher, Zac Efron, Jonah Hill
Release date: March 22, 2019
For his follow-up to Spring Breakers, Harmony Korine kept his color-soaked stoner aesthetic and added A-list stars Matthew McConaughey (Moondog), Snoop Dogg (Lingerie), Isla Fisher (Minnie), Zac Efron (Flicker), and Jonah Hill (Lewis).
LH

16. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

TriStar Pictures/Courtesy

Directed by: Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Written by: Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster
Starring: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Chris Cooper
Release date: October 18, 2019
Can You Ever Forgive Me? felt like a film from a 20 year veteran. That it was Marielle Heller’s sophomore feature just shows how astounding she is. Pair her with an icon for another icon’s story, and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is set up to be an affecting journey.
— KK

15. Proxima

Directed by: Alice Winocour (Augustine)
Written by: Alice Winocour
Starring: Eva Green, Matt Dillon, Lars Eidinger
Release date: TBD
Proxima follows an astronaut as she trains her body and her mind for a year on the ISS. The psychology of astronauts is such an intriguing subject that’s often left behind in massive sci-fi stories, so to see the exciting Alice Winocour take on a more intimate angle — Winocour says the film will focus particularly on saying goodbye to family — with Eva Green will be such a treat.
KK

14. Toy Story 4

Disney/Courtesy

Directed by: Josh Cooley
Written by: Stephany Folsom, Will McCormack
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Laurie Metcalf, Michael Keaton, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Patricia Arquette, Keanu Reeves
Release date: June 21, 2019
Initially, a fourth Toy Story movie was a head-scratcher, especially after the exit of Rashida Jones due to “creative” and “philosophical” differences with Pixar. But then came the hilarious promos, as well as the reports of how emotional the film was for all those involved. And the first three films arguably form the greatest trilogy of all time, so why doubt the franchise now?
— LH

13. Detective Pikachu

Warner Bros./Courtesy

Directed by: Rob Letterman (Goosebumps)
Written by: Nicole Perlman, Rob Letterman
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy, Suki Waterhouse, Rita Ora
Release date: May 10, 2019
Ryan Reynolds might be an obvious choice after his (vocal) success with the wise-ass Deadpool, but that doesn’t make this adaption of the video game, featuring the adorable-looking Pikachu and other Pokemon, any less exciting. Think of it as a modern, pop culture heavy take on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.
LH

12. Velvet Buzzsaw

Netflix/Sundance Institute/Claudette Barius/Courtesy

Directed by: Dan Gilroy (Roman J. Israel, Esq., Nightcrawler)
Written by: Dan Gilroy
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, John Malkovich, Daveed Diggs
Release date: February 1, 2019 (Sundance premiere)
Regardless of his second feature, Dan Gilroy directed an American masterpiece right out of the gate with Nightcrawler. It’s not only the slow, creeping relevance of the film or the incredible noir stylings, but Jake Gyllenhaal’s terrifying turn. The simple idea of them reuniting is tantalizing, but that it’s for a feature about the often terrifying and visually dazzling contemporary art world takes the anticipation through the roof.— KK

11. Little Women

Columbia Pictures/Courtesy

Directed by: Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
Written by: Greta Gerwig
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Bob Odenkirk
Release date: December 25, 2019
Through 2018, Little Women has seen the silver screen seven times. Take that, A Star Is Born. But it’s tough not to love the idea of Greta Gerwig adapting the story with her delicate, observant eye and such an outstanding cast after she made Lady Bird, one of the best American films of the 21st century.
KK

10. Midsommar

Directed by: Ari Aster (Hereditary)
Written by: Ari Aster
Starring: Will Poulter, Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper
Release date: August 9, 2019
Following up the critically acclaimed (and potential Oscar nominee) Hereditary is no small task. Yet, with A24’s backing, an exciting young cast, a Sweden setting, and another tale of horrific pagan cults, Midsommar has all the signs of another creep-fest by the already horror maestro Ari Aster. — LH

9. The Lion King

Disney/Courtesy

Directed by: Jon Favreau (The Jungle Book, Chef, Iron Man)
Written by: Jeff Nathanson, Brenda Chapman
Starring: Donald Glover, James Earl Jones, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Beyoncé, Alfre Woodard, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, Keegan-Michael Key, John Oliver
Release date: July 19, 2019
There’s no doubt The Lion King will roar all competitors away from the box office, and take it’s rightful spot on the throne as the top grossing movie of 2019 next to Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars: Episode IX. So really, the only thing to hope for is that Jon Favreau takes enough risks to change some elements of the 1994 classic so that it’s not 100% a shot-for-shot CGI (instead of hand-drawn) remake. Other than that, this film is too big to fail. Hakuna matata.
LH

8. Uncut Gems

Directed by: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie (Good Time)
Written by: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie, Ronald Bronstein
Starring: Adam Sandler, Idina Menzel, Lakeith Stanfield, Pom Klementieff, The Weeknd, Kevin Garnett
Release date: TBD
Say what you will, but Adam Sandler is a good actor. Seriously. He’s made some stinkers, but for those who have charted his career, it’s clear that when he’s given an original script from an acclaimed filmmaker (Punch-Drunk Love, Reign Over Me, Funny People, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)), he brings real depth to his characters. So, who better then than the Safdie brothers — who helped American audiences further see all of Robert Pattinson’s post-Twilight talents — to usher in even more indie goodwill for “character actor” Adam Sandler? Plus, the Netflix special Adam Sandler 100% Fresh, showing Sandler at his funniest and most heartfelt, was the thing I rewatched most in 2018. If the Safdie brothers tap into Sandler’s uncanny balance of hilarity and tragedy, Uncut Gems might be a major critical and commercial leap for all involved.
LH

7. Lucy in the Sky

Fox Searchlight/Courtesy

Directed by: Noah Hawley (Legion, Fargo)
Written by: Brian C. Brown, Elliott DiGuiseppi, John-Henry Butterworth, Noah Hawley
Starring: Natalie Portman, Dan Stevens, Jon Hamm, Zazie Beetz, Ellen Burstyn, Colman Domingo, Tig Notaro
Release date: TBD
Between Black Swan, Jackie, Annihilation, and Vox Lux, Natalie Portman has offered some of the most complex, haunted characters of the past decade. With Lucy in the Sky, she’ll now examine the psychology of an astronaut (based on a true story) along with Noah Hawley, the creator of Legion, and likely further prove why she’s one of the absolute best actors of our time.
KK

6. Us

Universal Pictures/Courtesy

Directed by: Jordan Peele (Get Out)
Written by: Jordan Peele
Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Elisabeth Moss
Release date: March 15, 2019
Get Out came out of nowhere to gross over $175 million domestically, receive four Oscar nominations (including Best Picture), and win Best Original Screenplay. Us won’t have the stealth factor that Get Out had. However, it’s apparent with Us that Jordan Peele is far more than the real deal. Even with what could have been a blank check and even more of a blank page to write and do whatever he wanted, he doubled down on the savage, if slightly funny, horror satire mode he worked to wonders with Get Out. While Us might not reach the box office or Oscar glory of Get Out, it could become, to us, an even more impressive and idiosyncratic horror masterpiece.
LH

5. Knives Out

Directed by: Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Looper, Brick)
Written by: Rian Johnson
Starring: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Christopher Plummer
Release date: November 27, 2019
It was hard to believe as the cast for Knives Out came rolling in, with powerhouse after powerhouse lining up. That they were lining up to work with Rian Johnson, however, is no surprise. With Looper, Johnson gave us one of the best original sci-fi films of the past decade. And with The Last Jedi, he arguably gave us the best Star Wars film to date. Knives Out is said to be inspired by the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie, and will show us a side of Johnson we haven’t seen before.
KK

4. Ad Astra

20th Century Fox/Courtesy

Directed by: James Gray (The Lost City of Z, The Immigrant, Two Lovers)
Written by: James Gray, Ethan Gross
Starring: Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, Ruth Negga, John Ortiz
Release date: May 24, 2019 (rumored Cannes premiere)
Ad Astra was a bit of an enigma for all of 2018, with a strange January 2019 release date and speculation that it’d open early in December (and in IMAX). So the anticipation is already running high, and for good reason. Gray is a methodical, classical kind of filmmaker that allows you to soak in a film’s world, and feel deeply for his characters. And as Bilge Ebiri wrote for Vulture, filmmakers can get a little more personal, risky, and expressionistic with space films. Throw in DP Hoyte van Hoytema (familiar to space already having worked on Interstellar), Brad Pitt, and the Plan B producing team, and Ad Astra might just be the original epic of the year.
KK

3. Star Wars: Episode IX

Directed by: J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Super 8, Star Trek)
Written by: J.J. Abrams, Chris Terrio
Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Kelly Marie Tran, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Richard E. Grant, Matt Smith, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Billie Lourd
Release date: December 20, 2019
Was Star Wars: The Force Awakens a bit safe? Sure. Did J.J. Abrams successfully relaunch the franchise after the unfathomable damage of the prequels with an exciting adventure filled with amazing new characters and hinting at themes that Rian Johnson would later fulfill? Undoubtedly. Besides Johnson, who better than to take on the monstrous task of closing out not only this trilogy, but likely also the story of the Skywalkers? And Episode IX, following Luke Skywalker’s death as well as the tragic real death of Carrie Fisher — who will appear via deleted scenes from the previous films — will be an especially emotional experience in a galaxy far, far away.— KK

2. Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Warner Bros./Courtesy

Directed by: Michael Dougherty (Krampus)
Written by: Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields, Max Borenstein
Starring: Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Kyle Chandler, Bradley Whitford, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Ken Watanabe
Release date: May 31, 2019
Godzilla: King of the Monsters might not be in consideration for many people’s best-of-the-year list when 2019 comes to a close. And it’s possible that the film will be nothing more than monster-movie mayhem (and fun). Yet, when Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune came on during the first trailer, and Mothra spread her fluorescent wings under the neon blue, this lifelong Godzilla fan wiped tears from his eyes. Does the nostalgia for the memory of a four year old’s first experience with movie magic weigh heavy here? You betcha. But with the thrilling 2014 reboot from Gareth Edwards and the enjoyable (if forgettable) Kong: Skull Island, this franchise appears to understand that to win over our hearts, you just have to let some kaiju (Titans) fight. Long live the King.
— LH

1. Avengers: Endgame

Disney/ Courtesy

Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo (Avengers: Infinity War, Captain America: Civil War, Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Josh Brolin, Karen Gillan, Don Cheadle, Bradley Cooper
Release date: April 26, 2019
Amidst all of the complaints of it being an incomplete story (debatable) and fans having trouble with their favorite heroes screwing up (it’s called character development, folks) and dying is the reality that Infinity War is an incredible apocalyptic journey that fully earns its crushing dread. Its pacing is pitch perfect. Its theme of the weight of one life versus billions is carefully handled throughout the entire film. And its writing brings together massive superhero personalities in a way that proves that these storytellers truly know these characters. So, not only is Avengers: Endgame the event film of 2019 — sorry Star Wars — but there’s also the very real and likely possibility that the Russos and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely will deliver another supreme epic that does right by the eleven years of investment in this universe. And if they delve into time travel, as well as the heart of Captain America — the character that the Russos have defined — Avengers: Endgame could wind up as exhilarating as any big budget epic in recent memory.
KK


Kyle’s Next 15:

15. Superpower Dogs

Directed by: Daniel Ferguson (Jerusalem)
Release date: March 15, 2019

14. Ammonite

Directed by: Francis Lee (God’s Own Country)
Written by: Francis Lee
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Kate Winslet
Release date: TBD

13. The Nightingale

Directed by: Jennifer Kent (The Babadook)
Written by: Jennifer Kent
Starring: Sam Claflin, Aisling Franciosi, Baykali Ganambarr
Release date: TBD (2018 Venice premiere, Sundance showing)

12. The Laundromat

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh (Logan Lucky, Magic Mike, The Informant!, Ocean’s Eleven, Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Sex, Lies, and Videotape)
Written by: Scott Z. Burns
Starring: Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Matthias Schoenaerts, Antonio Banderas, Jeffrey Wright
Release date: TBD

11. Waves

Directed by: Trey Edward Shults (It Comes At Night, Krisha)
Written by: Trey Edward Shults
Starring: Lucas Hedges, Sterling K. Brown, Taylor Russell, Kelvin Harrison Jr.
Release date: TBD

10. Chaos Walking

Directed by: Doug Liman (American Made, Edge of Tomorrow, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, The Bourne Identity)
Written by: Charlie Kaufman, Patrick Ness, Lindsey Beer, John Lee Hancock, Gary Spinelli)
Starring: Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Cynthia Erivo, Mads Mikkelsen, David Oyelowo
Release date: March 1, 2019

9. Joker

Directed by: Todd Phillips (War Dogs, The Hangover, Old School)
Written by: Todd Phillips, Scott Silver
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Shea Whigham, Marc Maron, Brett Cullen
Release date: October 4, 2019

8. Newsflash

Directed by: David Gordon Green (Halloween, Stronger, Pineapple Express, George Washington)
Written by: Ben Jacoby
Starring: Seth Rogen, Logan Lerman
Release date: TBD

7. Captain Marvel

Directed by: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck (Sugar, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Mississippi Grind)
Written by: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Jac Schaeffer, Nicole Perlman, Joe Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse
Starring: Brie Larson, Jude Law, Gemma Chan, Samuel L. Jackson, Lee Pace, Ben Mendelsohn, Annette Bening, Djimon Hounsou, Clark Gregg
Release date: March 8, 2019

6. Spider-Man: Far From Home

Directed by: Jon Watts (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Cop Car)
Written by: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Marisa Tomei, Samuel L. Jackson
Release date: July 5, 2019

5. Fonzo

Directed by: Josh Trank (Chronicle)
Written by: Josh Trank
Starring: Tom Hardy, Linda Cardellini, Jack Lowden, Matt Dillon, Kyle MacLachlan
Release date: TBD

4. The Woman in the Window

Directed by: Joe Wright (Darkest Hour, Atonement, Pride & Prejudice)
Written by: Tracy Letts
Starring: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore, Brian Tyree Henry, Wyatt Russell, Anthony Mackie
Release date: October 4, 2019

3. Triple Frontier

Directed by: J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year, All Is Lost, Margin Call)
Written by: J.C. Chandor, Mark Boal
Starring: Ben Affleck, Pedro Pascal, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund
Release date: March 15, 2019

2. The Last Thing He Wanted

Directed by: Dee Rees (Mudbound, Pariah)
Written by: Dee Rees, Marco Villalobos
Starring: Ben Affleck, Anne Hathaway, Willem Dafoe, Toby Jones, Edi Gathegi, Rosie Perez
Release date: TBD

1. Apollo 11

Directed by: Todd Douglas Miller (Dinosaur 13)
Release date: TBD (Sundance premiere)

Levi’s Next 15:

15. The Dead Don’t Die

Directed by: Jim Jarmusch (Paterson, Only Lovers Left Alive, Broken Flowers, Mystery Train, Stranger than Paradise)
Written by: Jim Jarmusch
Starring: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, Steve Buscemi, Tom Waits, Caleb Landry Jones, Selena Gomez
Release date: TBD

14. Radegund

Directed by: Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life, The New World, The Thin Red Line, Badlands)
Written by: Terrence Malick
Starring: August Diehl, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Nyqvist, Bruno Ganz
Release date: TBD

13. Native Son

Directed by: Rashid Johnson
Written by: Suzan-Lori Parks
Starring: Nick Robinson, Sanaa Lathan, Margaret Qualley, Ashton Sanders, Kiki Layne, Stephen McKinley Henderson
Release date: TBD (Sundance premiere)

12. IT: Chapter Two

Directed by: Andy Muschietti (It, Mama)
Written by: Gary Dauberman
Starring: Bill Skarsgård, James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Jay Ryan, Isaiah Mustafa, James Ransone, Teach Grant, Andy Bean, Xavier Dolan
Release date: September 6, 2019

11. The King

Directed by: David Michôd (War Machine, The Rover, Animal Kingdom)
Written by: David Michôd, Joel Edgerton
Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Robert Pattinson, Sean Harris, Thomasin McKenzie, Lily-Rose Depp, Tom Glynn-Carney
Release date: TBD

10. The Irishman

Directed by: Martin Scorsese (Silence, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Departed, Casino, Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver)
Written by: Steven Zaillian
Starring: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, Jesse Plemons, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Jack Huston
Release date: TBD

9. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

Directed by: Mike Mitchell (Trolls), Trisha Gum
Written by: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Matthew Fogel, Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Michelle Morgan, Dominic Russo
Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Alison Brie, Margot Robbie, Jonah Hill, Nick Offerman, Channing Tatum, Tiffany Haddish, Will Arnett, Charlie Day
Release date: February 8, 2019

8. Parasite

Directed by: Bong Joon-ho (Okja, Snowpiercer, Mother, The Host, Memories of Murder)
Written by: Bong Joon-ho
Starring: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-Jeong, Choi Woo-sik, Park So-dam
Release date: TBD

7.  How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Directed by: Dean DeBlois (How to Train Your Dragon 2, How to Train Your Dragon, Lilo & Stitch)
Written by: Dean DeBlois
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Kit Harington, Gerard Butler, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, America Ferrera
Release date: February 22, 2019

6. The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Directed by: Joe Talbot
Written by: Joe Talbot, Rob Richert, Jimmie Fails
Starring: Danny Glover, Finn Wittrock, Thora Birch, Tonya Glanz, Mike Epps, Tichina Arnold, Rob Morgan, Jonathan Majors
Release date: TBD (Sundance premiere)

5. Jojo Rabbit

Directed by: Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, What We Do in the Shadows)
Written by: Taika Waititi
Starring: Taika Waititi, Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant, Rebel Wilson
Release date: TBD

4. The Lighthouse

Directed by: Robert Eggers (The Witch)
Written by: Robert Eggers, Max Eggers
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson
Release date: TBD

3. High Life

Directed by: Claire Denis (Let the Sunshine In, 35 Shots of Rum, Beau travail, Nenette and Boni)
Written by: Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau, Geoff Cox
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin, Mia Goth, Lars Eidinger
Release date: April 12, 2019 (TIFF premiere)

2. Dumbo

Directed by: Tim Burton (Big Eyes, Frankenweenie, Corpse Bride, Ed Wood, Batman Returns, Batman, Beetlejuice)
Written by: Ehren Kruger
Starring: Eva Green, Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Alan Arkin
Release date: March 29, 2019

1. Everything Everywhere All At Once

Directed by: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert (Swiss Army Man)
Written by: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Awkwafina
Release date: TBD

Honorable mentions:

Ema

Directed by: Pablo Larraín (Jackie, Neruda, No)
Written by: Guillermo Calderón, Alejandro Moreno
Starring: Gael García Bernal, Mariana Di Girolamo, Santiago Cabrera, Mariana Loyola
Release date: TBD

Gemini Man

Directed by: Ang Lee (Life of Pi, Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Sense and Sensibility, The Wedding Banquet)
Written by: Billy Ray, Christopher Wilkinson, Stephen J. Rivele, David Benioff, Andrew Niccol, Darren Lemke, Jonathan Hensleigh
Starring: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong
Release date: October 4, 2019

Last Christmas

Directed by: Paul Feig (A Simple Favor, Bridesmaids)
Written by: Emma Thompson, Bryony Kimmings
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Emma Thompson, Michelle Yeoh, Rebecca Root
Release date: November 15, 2019

Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Directed by: Bi Gan (Kaili Blues)
Written by: Bi Gan
Starring: Sylvia Chang, Tang Wei
Release date: TBD (2018 Cannes premiere, 2018 TIFF showing, 2018 China premiere)

Men in Black: International

Directed by: F. Gary Gray (The Fate of the Furious, Straight Outta Compton, The Italian Job, The Negotiator, Set It Off, Friday)
Written by: Art Marcum, Matt Holloway
Starring: Tessa Thompson, Chris Hemsworth, Rebecca Ferguson, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Kumail Nanjiani
Release date: June 14, 2019

Featured image via Warner Bros.

March Madness of Movies — The Champions

These matchups were vote on by the MovieMinis Staff.

After a month of intense, nail-biting competition, we finally have the winners in our four brackets for the March Madness of Movies.

Best Big Budget Directing of the 21st Century

Peter Jackson won the Best Director Oscar for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. That film has cemented itself in cinematic history as one of the best epics, one of the best fantasy films.

But, more recently, we got another cinematic landmark, this time in the action genre (while also in the fantasy realm). Mad Max: Fury Road is essentially a two hour action scene. That it works, that it feels like a full movie with thematic heft — let alone the fact that the action is masterful — is a testament to how truly astonishing George Miller’s directing job was.

Winner: George Miller — Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Superhero Villains of the 21st Century

Black Panther‘s Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) will be long remembered. What he means as a character, as a villain, within a film that, itself, means so much, transcends cinema.

But there’s just something different, however, about The Dark Knight‘s The Joker (Heath Ledger). The master of mad dogs, The Joker is a villain of chaos, a terrorist who causes you to cower and to flee before you really have reason to. His visage is iconocraphic, a remnant of a harrowing time of fear in our a real world.

Winner: The Joker — The Dark Knight

Best A24 Films

This was the closest matchup in the entire competition. We needed a tiebreaking vote between Moonlight and Lady Bird, and the vote took up an entire day with it coming down to the final one.

At the end of the day, Moonlight came out on top. As the Best Picture winner that defied everyone, it sits as our champion in this bracket triumphantly.

Winner: Moonlight

Best Cinematography Since 2010

Sorry Roger Deakins. You got your Oscar for Blade Runner 2049, but we couldn’t give you the win here.

Hoyte van Hoytema won quite easily for Her, a sci-fi love story that is far more tender, vulnerable and powerful precisely because of how van Hoytema’s photography evokes a lonely, beautiful world.

Winner: Hoyte van Hoytema — Her

Featured image via Warner Bros.

March Madness of Movies — The Final Matchups

These matchups were vote on by the MovieMinis Staff.

Best Big Budget Directing of the 21st Century

The last results offered us the winners of each subcategory — Ryan Coogler took best superhero directing for Black Panther, Peter Jackson took best franchise directing for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, George Miller took best original/prestige/non-franchise studio directing for Mad Max: Fury Road and Pete Docter and Bob Peterson took best animated directing for Up.

Those four finalists offered us fascinating matchups as the subcategories were pitted against each other for the first time. Coogler took on Jackson and Miller took on Docter and Peterson. While Coogler was able to take down the goliath that was Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight, he couldn’t best the Oscar winner Peter Jackson, whose achievement with The Lord of the Rings final film continues to hold strong.

And in the bizarre matchup of Miller vs. Docter/Peterson, animation just couldn’t quite compete, as Up was pummeled by Fury Road.

Now for the final matchup — two absolute epics, handled masterfully by their directors. While only one won the Oscar, there are plenty of arguments out there that the other should’ve as well.

Best Superhero Villains of the 21st Century

This final matchup is not much of a surprise. With the way seeding and layout ended up, the paths were clearly laid out for the two contenders. That’s no disrespect to any of the other contenders. Both Magnetos of the two X-Men trilogies were always going to have strong showings. Bane, from The Dark Knight Rises, surprised many with both seeding and performance.

But it was inevitably going to come down to Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) from Black Panther and The Joker (Heath Ledger) from The Dark Knight — Marvel’s best villain and DC’s best villain. The strengths of the two are a bit different. While Jordan’s performance isn’t necessarily outstanding — remember, this bracket is judged on performance, writing and directing of the character — the writing and directing, in the backstory and themes that Killmonger’s journey evokes, are nearly unparalleled. With The Joker, Ledger’s performance is, quite obviously, the standout. The dialogue is brilliant, and the choice of a lack of backstory and the ways in which Christopher Nolan visual frames The Joker are superb. But Ledger’s performance is one of the best, of any character of all time.

Best A24 Films

Similarly to the bracket above, the paths were clear for our two finalists. They simply had to traverse those paths. What the matchups prior to this final were meant to represent was the ridiculously briliant resume of A24 and how, in almost any matchup in any round, it was incredibly hard to decide between films. Had the other two finalists, 20th Century Women and Ex Machina, been pitted against one another, it would’ve been another extremely tight matchup.

But here we are, with the expected Moonlight vs. Lady Bird, the two landmark A24 films that have found a place in cinema’s history so quickly. And as was the case with this bracket, these two will be nearly impossible to choose between.

Best Cinematography Since 2010

While big budget directing was rather up in the air, this bracket might’ve been even more so. We do have our two top seeds, but they both had to battle hard to get to this point and could’ve easily been knocked out for other contenders that would’ve made for a fascinating finale.

Look at the two of the final four that didn’t make it — Hoyte van Hoytema for Dunkirk, who lost a tie-breaking vote, and Mihai Malaimare Jr. for The Master, who lost by one vote. These are two cinematographers who, with this film, offered stunning iconography, specifically in 70mm film.

But we have Hoyte van Hoytema for Her and Roger Deakins for Blade Runner 2049, and it’s an equally as stunning matchup, but with digital lensing. Arguably, this matchup feels a bit more right than any other would have. In the finale, we have Roger Deakins, one of the best cinematographers of all time, and Hoyte van Hoytema, a DP who is quickly rising to that status.

Stay tuned for the championship results, which will be posted this week on Friday, April 6!

 

Featured image via A24/Warner Bros.

March Madness of Movies: Best A24 Films — Round 3

These matchups were vote on by the MovieMinis Staff.

“Best A24 Films” is yet another of our brackets where the final four aren’t simply the four #1 seeds. There was no world where Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight doesn’t make it to here. And while Room was a Best Picture nominee and The Lobster is a cult favorite, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird made too heavy of an impact to be taken down by anything.

And that’s appropriate. When one thinks of A24, they likely go straight to Moonlight and Lady Bird as the best two. Even A24 themselves took such offense to the idea of those two films being pitted against each other in the first round of a Twitter A24 bracket that they tweeted out in opposition from their official account.

In regard to the bottom right of the bracket, The Florida Project firmly earned its #1 seed and Good Time is a very popular film among our staff. They both posed serious threats to Ex Machina, but Alex Garland’s feature debut film pushed through. In truth, Ex Machina won A24 one of its first Oscars and was a key film in defining the company’s brand.

The bottom left of the bracket offered a lovely surprise. While it was a #2 seed, 20th Century Women could’ve easily lost out to #1 seed A Ghost Story or other fan favorites like The Witch and Under the Skin. Mike Mills’ film, however, assuredly earned a final four spot.

But it may all be for naught, as both 20th Century Women and Ex Machina will have trouble making it passed Moonlight and Lady Bird. If any film could, it would likely be Ex Machina, so we’ll simply have to wait for the votes.

Stay tuned for the round 4 results, which will be posted next week on Friday, April 6!

 

Featured image via A24.

March Madness of Movies: Best Superhero Villains of the 21st Century — Round 3

These matchups were vote on by the MovieMinis Staff.

Two of the four finalists were near guarantees to make it from the very beginning — Heath Ledger’s The Joker from The Dark Knight and Ian McKellen’s Magneto from the first X-Men trilogy. Ledger had some admiral contenders in Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin from Spider-Man and Michael Fassbender’s version of Magneto from the second X-Men trilogy. But truly, no one stood a chance. McKellen was less of a sure thing. Whether he had come up against Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent/Two Face from The Dark Knight or, his eventual competitor, Jason Lee’s Syndrome from The Incredibles, there was an off chance that personal preference might’ve taken him down.

But the two made it through, and will now take on each other. The Joker is, surely, the stronger contender, but McKellen’s Magneto is the strongest competition that he’s come up against.

On the other side of the bracket, the battle between Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger was expected — Loki being the old favorite and Killmonger being the new favorite. While there was a shot for Loki to hold onto that love that he earned years ago and make it through, the votes tipped heavily to Black Panther‘s Killmonger, an absolutely worthy final four entry.

The villain he’ll face, Tom Hardy’s Bane from The Dark Knight Rises, started of this bracket by surprisingly earning a #1 seed. There was always an opportunity for him to fall, whether that be to the recently beloved Vulture from Spider-Man: Homecoming or the previous brilliant webslinger antagonist, Doc Ock, from Spider-Man 2. But Bane advanced confidently. Yet, he’ll have a massive mountain to climb in the face of Killmonger.

At this point, we’ve lost representation from the “other” group of villains, while retaining entries from the MCU, DC and the X-Men films. And if the favorites make it through to the finals, it’ll be the classic Marvel vs. DC battle we’ve all come to know quite well.

Stay tuned for the round 4 results, which will be posted next week on Friday, April 6!

 

Featured image via Marvel/20th Century Fox/Warner Bros.

March Madness of Movies: Best Cinematography Since 2010 — Round 3

These matchups were vote on by the MovieMinis Staff.

The final four of Best Cinematography Since 2010 is here and we have two fascinating matchups. While Emmanuel Lubezki had four entries with GravityBirdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)The Tree of Life and The Revenant, he did not make it through. Bradford Young, who entered with ArrivalA Most Violent Year and Mother of George, also did not make it.

Roger Deakins had three entries and squeaked through for his Oscar winning work on Blade Runner 2049. He will face off against the oldest (not that any of these are actually old) cinematography in Mihai Malaimare Jr. for Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. These are two absolute titans, two #1 seeds in a battle that could rather easily go either way.

The other battle is both bad news and good news for its contenders, as Hoyte van Hoytema will compete against himself in a cinematography matchup of Her vs. Dunkirk. The bad news is that he’ll knock his own work out, but the good news is that he’s guaranteed a spot in the finally. And, much like the other matchup, this one is nearly impossible to predict — though it is a fight between a #1 and #2 seed, instead of two #1 seeds, meaning that the slight, slight edge is with van Hoytema’s lensing for Spike Jonze’s Her. Although, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is a much larger canvas.

It will be interesting to see what the finale ends up being. Will it be a battle of 2017 Best Cinematography nominees? Will it be a battle between the oldest contenders? Will it be a battle of the 70mm films? Will it be a battle of the artificial intelligence sci-fi pictures?

Stay tuned for the round 4 results, which will be posted next week on Friday, April 6!

 

Featured image via Annapurna/Warner Bros.

March Madness of Movies: Best A24 Films — Round 2

These matchups were vote on by the MovieMinis Staff.

While every other bracket had some kind of outside seed make it into the elite eight, “Best A24 Films” stuck to the script with every #1 seed and #2 seed advancing through round 2.

But this is not say that that’s bad or boring in any way. On the contrary, this makes this upcoming round as hard as it could possibly be, contenders nearly impossible to decide between.

As a top eight, of sorts, of A24, these films are unbelievable. From Oscar winners to indie gems to near arthouse experiments, these eight films are about as strong as it gets from a studio, especially from such a young one.

#1 seed Moonlight has, expectedly, made it this far, and will face off against #2 seed Swiss Army Man. While Moonlight did win Best Picture, Swiss Army Man was its own kind of transformative film, at least for a few on staff.

#1 seed Lady Bird has also, expectedly, made it to round 3, and will take on #2 seed The Lobster. If there’s ever an indie name to cheer on, it’s eccentric writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos — that is, unless he’s facing off against Greta Gerwig. Either film will be a worthy choice.

#1 seed A Ghost Story held on through two rounds, but now faces its toughest challenge in Mike Mills’ absolutely lovely and sublime #2 seed 20th Century Women. Can the strength of Greta Gerwig not only help Lady Bird, but also 20th Century Women?

And finally, #1 seed The Florida Project will compete against #2 seed Ex Machina. In regard to material, these two films could not be more different, so it seems like this one will likely come down to taste.

Hopefully, the results of the next round will not be too painful.

Stay tuned for the round 3 results, which will be posted next week on Friday, March 30!

 

Featured image via A24.

March Madness of Movies: Best Superhero Villains of the 21st Century — Round 2

These matchups were vote on by the MovieMinis Staff.

While five The Dark Knight trilogy villains worked their way into round 2, only 2 now remain in #1 seeds The Joker (Heath Ledger) and Bane (Tom Hardy) from The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, respectively. #4 seed Scarecrow from the entire trilogy and #3 seed Ra’s al Ghul from Batman Begins were eliminated at the hands of MCU heavyweights #1 seed Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) from Black Panther and #2 seed Loki (Tom Hiddleston) from The Avengers (and other MCU films). Those two heavyweights will now face each other in what is, essentially, the decider of the best MCU villain.

The previously mentioned #1 seed Bane will compete against the #2 seed Doc Ock (Alfred Molina) from Spider-Man 2 — both physical beasts with fascinating stories behind them. #1 seed The Joker will go head-to-head with #2 seed Magneto (the Michael Fassbender version) from the new X-Men trilogy. While the absence of a backstory makes The Joker so frightening and effective, it’s the tragic, heartbreaking backstory of the younger version of Magneto that elicits so much empathy for him, despite his cruel actions.

The final matchup will be #1 seed Magneto (the Ian McKellen version) from the original X-Men trilogy vs. #3 seed Buddy Pine/Syndrome (voiced by the hilarious Jason Lee) from The Incredibles. While Magneto still has the backstory, his older version is plenty of fun to watch, as is Syndrome. Both hit on the larger-than-life characters while never feeling cheap.

The spread of contenders remaining feels just about right. This bracket is made up of villains from the MCU, DC films, X-Men films and any other superhero villains, and there is prominent representation of each of those subcategories in the elite eight. There is even potential for there to still be representation of each in the next round.

Stay tuned for the round 3 results, which will be posted next week on Friday, March 30!

 

Featured image via Marvel/20th Century Fox/Pixar/Warner Bros.

March Madness of Movies: Best Big Budget Directing of the 21st Century — Round 2

These matchups were vote on by the MovieMinis Staff.

There were very few surprises this round, and the competition is starting to shape up and become really difficult to work through.

In the superhero directing subcategory, the best of Marvel and the best of DC have now come to face each other, with #1 seed Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight taking on #2 seed Ryan Coogler for Black Panther. Will the next votes lean toward the more recent cultural phenomenon or will they look back on the near all-time classic crime epic from a decade ago?

In the franchise directing subcategory, it’s the battle of the acronyms: #1 seed Peter Jackson for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King vs. #2 seed Matt Reeves for War for the Planet of the Apes. Both are epics of the highest order.

In the prestige/original/non-franchise studio directing subcategory, #2 seed George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road comes up against Christopher Nolan yet again. Miller just beat #6 seed Nolan for Dunkirk and will now face #4 seed Nolan for Inception. Can he triumph yet again against this generation’s most popular director?

Finally, in the animated directing subcategory, two Pixar giants will go toe-to-toe: #1 seeds Pete Docter and Bob Peterson for Up vs. #3 seed Brad Bird for The Incredibles. These directors already made it by some huge Pixar contenders, so this matchup will be even tougher to consider.

The winners of these battles will then move on to a rather interesting part of this bracket, the part where subcategories end and contenders blend. Winners of subcategories will be crowned only to face the other winners in the final four. But who will those winners end up being?

Stay tuned for the round 3 results, which will be posted next week on Friday, March 30!

 

Featured image via Marvel/New Line Cinema/Warner Bros.

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