Over the last couple years I’ve started using Letterboxd quite a bit to keep track of what I watch, and maintain a list of “to see” films. I’ve been trying to really make an effort to catch all those classics I’ve missed.
Historically I’d be lucky to watch at least one film a month, if that, and it was usually whatever the Marvel flavor of the month is, or something of similar mainstream nerd appeal.
But as of late, I’ve really started to come to appreciate “cheesy movies”, which should come as no surprise being a long time MST3k fan.
But could I do it without the riffing?
No. Fuck straight off.
But I didn’t strictly need Mike and the bots to have a good time, either. Thanks to OSI74 and Cinema Insomnia, and the gang over on the Twitch channel, I’ve been virtually drowning in weird, horrible horror and exploitation this year.
And, of course, a lot the mainstream stuff.
So, looking back on this year, here’s a quick rundown of the four/five star ones, along with a quick blurb.
|Monty Python and the Holy Grail||5||I’ve seen pieces of this throughout the decades, but never properly saw it front to back. Discovered some new bits, too! The whole European/African question, in context, is a brilliant punchline. And I had no idea about the thing with the cops!|
|Prey||5||I don’t think anyone saw this one coming — a risky, unexpected twist on a franchise that should probably have given up by now. Glad it didn’t. More like this, please.|
|Everything Everywhere All at Once||5||The MCU’s attempt at the multiverse peaked with Loki, and by this point I’m burned out on it as a concept. But EEAaO owns the hell out of it. And it didn’t need two dozen films behind it to give it meaning. Not to be missed. A lot of heart.|
|The Batman||5||Another franchise that seemed to be burning out, but took a risk and went all-in on “the Twilight guy” as Bruce, leaning into a grittier noir-focused take on Batman. Yes, even more so than usual. The cinematography really makes it stand out, even if the film itself is a bit long.|
|Spider-Man: No Way Home||5||The epitome of a guilty pleasure. Even with the multiversal gimmick laid bare long before seeing it, it was still a delight having all three Spider-men on screen together. They had genuine chemistry that made it really enjoyable seeing them working together. Or even just hanging out bullshitting. But the best part? Having Andrew Garfield’s version of the character be redeemed IN FULL. That made it worth it, all by itself.|
|The Wizard of Oz||5||Much like Holy Grail, this is one that slipped past me, but I knew enough of it from cultural osmosis that it felt like I’d seen it already. There were plenty of bits I was unfamiliar with, but unlike Grail, those were largely forgettable. A real spectacle of a film, though. It’s reputation is well-earned.|
|Black Dynamite||5||A new favorite, taking a place along side Kentucky Fried Movie and Amazon Women on the Moon. And that’s a sacred spot on my shelf that I don’t just hand out to anyone. This WILL spawn many repeat viewings.|
|Glass Onion||4.5||Craig’s Benoit Blanc is a Sherlock for the modern age. This hilarious take-down of modern internet culture and bizarre billionaire worship ruffled a lot of feathers. Good.|
|Spirited||4.5||I’m not averse to musicals, but it REALLY has to be good. And I was not aware this WAS one, going in. I was hoodwinked! Thankfully it’s probably one of the best musicals I’ve seen in a long time, and it’s actually a pretty great twist on the usual, tired Christmas Carol concept.|
|The Thing From Another World||4.5||This took me by surprise. The 1980s remake of this is legendary, but I haven’t seen it. Itself another “knew it by reputation” film. I figured I’d see that before I ever laid eyes on this 1951 version of the story, but I’m glad I did. This has some of the most terrifying visuals I’ve ever seen in a film from the era. But that’s probably owed more to my relative lack of exposure. Still, this made an impact on me.|
|The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special||4.5||The Guardians of the Galaxy will always be on another level from the rest of the MCU, and this just cements that belief for me. It’s barely 45 minutes long, but it packs a lot of love and heart into that tiny space.|
|Joker||4.5||I can’t believe I actually saw Joker. I swore I wouldn’t. But I finally caved. And I’m glad I did: it’s pretty amazing. A moody, violent exploration of mental illness. It’s fans tend to be garbage, though — I get into that, and why that might be, in the review.|
|The World’s End||4.5||A film wearing many hats. Is it an alien invasion movie? Or maybe it’s a metaphor for Pegg’s character stuck in the past? Or maybe it’s an action film involving shattering a child’s skull the wall? Maybe it’s all of these.|
|Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers||4.5||This had no reason being as fun as it was. A blend of animation and real life film in the tradition of Roger Rabbit, and easily as enjoyable. This could have gone wrong in a million ways, but it’s clever writing and love of the material keeps it together.|
Other notables, without comment: Confess, Fletch, Fletch, The Munsters, Red Dwarf: The Promised Land, Jaws, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, and a whole lot more.
So, damned good year for films for me. Hoping to keep up the pace for 2023. 🥵