Top 11? Yes, top 11. I wish I could cleanly separate these movies out to have a clear top 10 and top 5 but, given some scoring ties, that just ain’t happening.
If you missed any of the previous posts you can find them here:
Now that you’re all caught up let’s get right into it.
11. Joker (86/100)
Did I enjoy this movie? I … don’t think so? To be honest, I’m not sure. The first two acts are unsettling and creepy in a realistic way. I definitely did not “enjoy” these acts but I certainly felt the rising tension. I think that’s exactly what Todd Phillips was going for though and, for that, I think he did a good job.
I won’t get into details but the third act is what elevated the movie for me. Without it, I think this movie is at least ten points lower, maybe more.
Joakin Phoenix turned in a special performance and is deservedly considered the clear front-runner for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
I have some serious gripes with Joker that I don’t want to go unrecognized. There’s a reveal at one point that I think is supposed to shock the audience but, in actuality, is abundantly obvious from the get go. It was a good idea with poor execution. There’s also a very Scooby Doo-ish moment towards the end of the film that doesn’t really fit with the tone of the movie.
Joker is a well made movie but I’m gonna need some time before I can watch it again.
10. The Lighthouse (86/100)
The Lighthouse is legitimately one of the strangest movies I have ever seen. If you’re not familiar, Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe play two lighthouse keepers descending into madness while tending to a remote lighthouse.
We’re all friends here, right? Cool just checking. So I can admit I definitely did not pick up on everything when I watched it. I’m not even sure I liked everything I saw while I watched it but, for whatever reason, it’s a movie that really stuck with me. I turned it over in my mind for days afterwards. I read tons of posts about it and scoured YouTube for videos that dove into the movie’s tie-ins to Greek mythology, some of which I picked up on while viewing and some of which went straight over my noggin.
It’s the type of movie where you’re never actually sure what’s happening, what’s real, and what’s not. There are no clear lines and no straightforward conclusions. Part of me finds that a bit frustrating because my baby brain wants to know what exactly happened! Another part of me, however, loves it for this type of movie. There are tons of theories out there and none of them are technically wrong. It can be fun to find a completely different interpretation of the same movie.
Being a black and white movie with a near 1:1 (1.19:1) aspect ratio might seem pretentious but I thought these decisions served the movie well. Those choices, combined with some camera shots not commonly seen in modern day movies, make The Lighthouse feel like a much older movie. They also aid in making the setting feel more cramped and dreary.
Last but not least – the acting. Robert Pattinson did a great job but, for me, it’s the Willem Dafoe show. I would’ve loved to have seen him nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
9. Spider-Man: Far From Home (87/100)
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t always score Marvel movies fairly. At best, my scores are just used to compare one movie in the MCU to another. From a stand-alone “film” perspective, this would be scored lower for sure. Luckily these are my rankings so suck on that.
I love what Marvel has done with Spider-Man and I think Tom Holland embodies the character perfectly! While I think its predecessor, Spider-Man: Homecoming is the better of the two, I still had a blast watching Far From Home and it features a couple all-time Marvel scenes like this one here:
8. Little Women (88/100)
I went into Little Women 100% blind.
I had never read the book or watched one of the previous adaptations. I knew absolutely nothing and I had no clue what to expect going in.
Let me tell you – I really enjoyed this one!
Saoirse Ronan is incredible and is one of the best young actresses today. Like I mentioned a few days ago, Florence Pugh burst on the scene in 2019 and is also worthy of a ton of praise. I’m glad these two both got some love by the Academy as they were nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively. I also thought Laura Dern was fantastic! The whole cast was unreal.
A lot of people are complaining online saying that Greta Gerwig didn’t get the love she deserves from the Academy. I disagree. She was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. She took ~150 year old story that has been adapted seven ways to Sunday (according to Google there are at least 12 TV adaptations and 6 movie adaptations) and was able to revamp it in a fresh and interesting way. That is incredibly impressive!
Unfortunately, while I loved the concept she developed with her script, I don’t think she executed on her vision perfectly. The nonlinear storytelling was great for the most part but, even with certain visual cues, there were times that were it wasn’t always obvious where a particular scene fit into the timeline. I think a second watch could lift this movie a bit higher for me – possibly into the 90s – but it’s this slight flaw in execution that does not have me up in arms over a so called snub for Best Director.
Honestly that’s more of a nitpick than anything. I thought this was an awesome movie and, like I already said, I only see this going up upon another watch.
7. The Irishman (88/100)
Let’s get this out of the way to start: we all know The Irishman is a long movie but it’s not some herculean task to watch it. We don’t need to break it up into small chunks in order to handle it. Just watch it.
It may not be clear while watching it but, looking back on the movie, you should be able to see why the film is as long as it is. The first act certainly dragged for me but I became really engaged in the material starting with the second act and the third act is what sold this as one of my favorite movies of the year.
Maybe it’s just me but I feel like there are a lot more movies coming out these days that are less plot-centric. Take Ocean’s Eleven as an example of a plot heavy movie. You always know what the purpose of the movie is (stealing from the casino … and getting Tess back). You always know where you are in the movie in regards to the plot – they have to build the team, plan, and execute on the plan. With movies like The Irishman you’re not always sure where you are or why it’s important. It’s only once you’ve finished that you’re able to look back and fully appreciate the story. That type of storytelling isn’t for everyone but I enjoy it.
The acting in this was good. Joe Pesci in particular stood out to me so I was glad to see him get a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Pacino and De Niro were both solid but I didn’t think either was Oscar worthy.
Finally, the de-aging was fine. There may have been a scene here or there where it looked iffy but overall I didn’t have an issue with it. The worst part of it was simply the actors’ ability – or rather inability – to execute. De Niro in particular is asked to move a little more than he is capable of so we’re watching a young-ish De Niro moving like an 80 year old man.
Just like with Little Women, this is a movie that has some minor flaws (in this case it’s primarily the pacing of the first act) but overall it was done very well and it’s another movie that I could see myself liking even more with another viewing.
The common theme among today’s movies – especially those in Oscar contention – is that they are all very well made but are not flawless. While I wouldn’t hate seeing any of these movies take home some hardware this weekend, you’ll find movies I’m truly pulling for tomorrow with the release of my top 6!