The 13 Movies I Saw This Year, Ranked

From A Film Critic So Professional, He’s Not On Any Screening Lists

One of the perks of being a Professional Film Critic is the opportunity to see pretty much every movie that is released in theaters, for free. I know this because several years back I wrote movie reviews for a now defunct pop-culture site, and I was constantly invited to attend advanced press screenings. These were great! Just me and my fellow Serious Note-taking Film Professionals bringing some gravitas to viewings of “Ice Age: The Meltdown” or “The Twilight Saga: New Moon”.

Nowadays, I have to pay to see movies, along with the rest of the proles. And since most movies are terrible, I have to be selective about what I spend my hard-earned cash on. The end of the year sees every reputable and prolific critic’s obligatory “My Top 10 Movies” post. Since I’m neither reputable nor prolific, here’s the 13 movies I saw in theaters this year, ranked and notated.

13. Robin Hood: In my review, I forgot to mention that there’s scene involving a rapid-fire crossbow. I imagined this conversation occurring between the film’s writers and a studio exec: “Get this, chief: it’s a crossbow…that shoots arrows like a machine gun!” “Hernandez, you’re a goddamn genius! This picture’ll make millions!”

12. The Nun: My original review of this movie was simply “Why?” My editor made me do a rewrite. I’ll never be convinced that it needed one.

11. Instant Family: The Departed was a remake of a great Hong Kong action film. Did you know that at one point, Scorsese was going to remake the sequels, which would have featured Mark Wahlberg’s zippy badass Dignam character? Instead we’re probably going to get another Daddy’s Home movie.

10. The House With A Clock In Its Walls: As a parent, I’ve found that when you see a movie that says it’s “based on the beloved children’s classic” or “based on the YA phenomenon”, it’s a good idea to ask your kids if they’ve heard of the book. They will invariably say “no, is it an app?” and return to staring at their phones, saving you a few bucks.

9. Overlord: This is the movie in which evil Nazis create Nazi Zombie supersoldiers. Do you think anyone would have the stones to do a “Hogan’s Heroes” reboot? Nazi Zombies: sure, why not. Funny Slapstick Nazis: Ehhhhh.

8. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald: I read a review that said that this movie is “the Empire Strikes Back of the Fantastic Beasts movies”. I predict that the four, maybe five, “Fantastic Beasts” prequels will be “the four, maybe five “Avatar” sequels of all of the 11, or 13 if you count the last one as a two-parter, “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” movies”.

You should have upgraded us to a quiet floor!

7. Solo: “Alden Ehrenreich or Ansel Elgort or Taron Egerton” is the new “Dylan McDermott or Dermot Mulroney”. I quite liked “Solo”, even though a lot of people didn’t. It was a fun Space Western, and it was delightfully Force/Jedi/Sith-free. The Force is the absolute worst part of the three original “Star Wars” movies. Obi-wan says it’s some sort of energy field that binds the whole Universe together, and it’s supposed to be this Ultimate Power, but all we ever see people do with it is use their minds to lift heavy things and choke people. And then George Lucas somehow managed to make it even dumber with the whole midichlorian thing in the prequels.

The best thing that JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson did with Episodes 7 and 8 was to drop that pseudoscience nonsense and lean into the inherent ridiculousness of The Force. Princess Leia gets blasted into space but she uses The Force to hold her breath/not freeze solid and fly through the icy vacuum like Superman. Rey becomes the Galaxy’s most kickass lightsaber fighter simply by swinging one at some rocks for about 10 minutes, because of The Force, but really because why the hell not. Anyway, “Solo” had the three things that make “Star Wars” movies entertaining: shooting things with lasers, flying through space (usually while shooting things with lasers), and wisecracking (usually while doing the previous two things).

The Snap. It’s so easy, anyone can do it!

6. Avengers: Infinity War: What a cliffhanger! And if you say that you remember anything about this movie other than the last two minutes when Spider-man turns into dust, you’re lying.

5. Deadpool 2: The X Force parachuting scene is perhaps the greatest sequence in the history of the MCU.

4. Incredibles 2: Again, I’m sure that I enjoyed it; it’s the one Pixar sequel that was absolutely necessary, Brad Bird wrote and directed it, and all of the great voice cast returned. But what exactly was it about? It’s almost as if the people who create today’s superhero movie sequels aren’t terribly concerned with plot, unlike great early superhero sequels like Superman 2, Spider-man 2, and X-Men 2, which featured indelible Shakespearean villains like General Zod and Doc Ock and Magneto trying to…I dunno, destroy Manhattan, or take over the world, or whatever.

3. Mission: Impossible: Fallout: Can an action movie have too much plot? Can its title contain too many colons? Yes, and yes, but Mission: Impossible: Fallout is, until Mission: Impossible: Fallout: This Time From Higher Altitudes hits the screen, the best stunt movie ever made. Also, it gave us the GIF of Henry Cavill reloading his arms, which I have used to illustrate my feelings about getting angry-hyped to do a number of things, from voting in the midterms to caramelizing onions.

2. Black Panther: I like to think that my snark comes from a place of affection. I kid because I love. But I can’t bring myself to even gently poke at Black Panther. It’s so good and so culturally significant that I was totally cool with Martin Freeman, best known for playing a doughy hobbit and a doughy British cubicle drone, playing a badass American CIA Guy.

1. Free Solo: This movie still makes my palms sweat, and I saw it two months ago. That’s quality filmmaking, folks.

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Jason Avant

Jason Avant is a writer and editor based in Carlsbad, California. He’s written for and edited a bunch of websites that no longer exist, and occasionally contributes to one that does: Roads and Kingdoms.

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