As summer comes to an end, so does the movie season. This year has seen some amazing films and many others worth watching. The one thing they all have in common is that they were made by talented, creative people who didn’t put their careers on hold to play a part. That’s what makes this list so special. These are the movies that prove that even when Hollywood doesn’t give you the main character, you can still have an engaging story and amazing performances.
The first movie on this list is High School, a 2018 comedy starring Aziz Ansari and Nick Kroll. When two friends discover that their classmate is the descendant of a famous mathematician, they team up to help him navigate social situations and date girls.
While the premise of High School is light-hearted and the two leads are excellent, the movie itself doesn’t reach its full potential until the very end. That’s when we discover that the lead character’s name is actually John Hughes, a reference to the famous American film director responsible for classics such as Some Like It Hot and The Breakfast Club. It would be great to see a contemporary remake of Hughes’ classic films, especially since he died in 2017.
The Shape Of Water
The Shape Of Water is easily one of the best films of this year and one of the best films ever made about love and sexuality. If you’ve never heard of The Shape Of Water, it’s probably because it wasn’t released in cinemas. The movie was initially passed over by the Academy Awards because of its LGBTQ themes and it didn’t win a single award when it was eventually released. That’s probably because people are still uncomfortable talking about these topics openly in popular culture.
The film centers on Elisa, the daughter of a famous inventor, who works as a janitor at a water plant. While cleaning one night, she accidentally discovers a secret underground world populated by monsters. When her boss learns of her discovery, he recruits her to help him capture the monsters for sale to wealthy clients. Elisa becomes obsessed with solving the riddle of the monsters’ appearance and slowly begins to form a connection with one of them, a huge amphibious creature called a “shaposhiri,” which she names “Quincy.”
What makes The Shape Of Water so special is that it subverts our expectations of what a monster movie should be. The CGI in the movie is incredibly realistic and that’s because the animators based their designs on photos of real creatures. Based on the feedback from testers, they even included flaws in the designs to make them more realistic.
This sort of attention to detail makes the creatures in The Shape Of Water more relatable and that, in turn, makes us connect with the characters. The performances of Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins are also phenomenal, especially the latter’s performance as the wise, fatherly Dr. Griffin. If you’re looking for a new challenge, try out The Shape Of Water. It’s an engaging film that raises important questions about human nature and how we treat each other.
Bohemian Rhapsody is one of the biggest films of the year, if not the biggest film ever. The story centers on Freddie Mercury, who became famous as the lead singer of the rock band Queen. After the band’s lead singer died of AIDS-related complications in 1991, it was left to Mercury to navigate the band’s monumental legacy. The film adaptation of Bohemian Rhapsody marks the first time the band has been featured in a live-action motion picture. While the movie itself is an amazing piece of art, it’s definitely not for everyone. The film presents an unflinchingly realistic portrayal of Mercury, who was openly gay. For those looking for a more nuanced portrayal, look elsewhere.
Avengers: Infinity War
After two years of building up to it, Avengers: Infinity War finally hits cinemas and it’s one of the biggest movies of the year. The culmination of the 10-part “Avengers” franchise, Infinity War brings together the mightiest heroes from the MCU for one massive showdown. While some people may be put off by the franchise’s darker undertones and bloody fights, the action is incredibly entertaining and it doesn’t hurt that many of the characters are incredibly recognizable. It also helps that a considerable portion of the movie takes place in locations that viewers have probably seen before – such as New York City and Wakanda. While many have criticized the infotainment value of the film, it’s still a must-see for anyone who loves superheroes and action films.
Speaking of superheroes, Red Sparrow is another entry on this list, but it’s a little bit different from the rest. The movie is based on a graphic novel of the same name by Michael Finch. In the book, Sparrow is a spy for the KGB who is blackmailed by rival agency SOVIET Security Services (SVTS). She accepts the mission to infiltrate the Russian-American Cultural Center in New York City and determine the source of the leaks. While the story is fictional, the movie adheres to some of Sparrow’s most notable characteristics from the book. Specifically, it features Russian accents, high heels, and ballroom dancing. The cast of Red Sparrow also includes Keira Knightley and Demián Bichir, who are both Mexican Americans. Director Francis Lawrence spent 12 years living in Mexico and credits his cultural background and the country’s music scene for influencing the movie.
Finally, we arrive at the most interesting entry on this list, which is Rocketman. Billed as “Bohemian Madman Robert Redford’s Musical Memoir,” the movie adapts the memoirs of iconic musician and songwriter Elton John. The film traces the life of John, who meets his match in the form of iconic, flamboyant producer Rocket Richard (Academy Award winner Robert Redford) and their unlikely friendship ensues. With music playing a pivotal role in the story, Rocketman is an unabashed celebration of pop culture and its influences – particularly movies. It’s a love letter to the movie industry and those who worked in it. As the official synopsis puts it, “Rocketman is the story of one man’s unique and colorful life, his gift for gab and for turning everyday experiences into humorous anecdotes, and his indelible love for the movies.”
The thing about Rocketman is that it’s so incredibly self-referential. The entire narrative is told from Elton John’s perspective, but it’s essentially a love letter to the movie industry. The story opens with a recreation of John’s iconic movie-concert grand entrance, complete with flying organ and confetti. From there, we dive straight into the heart of the story and follow John as he embarks on his journey to become one of the greatest and most iconic pop singers of all time. He talks directly to the camera, often using humor and self-deprecation to disarm his audience and earn their trust. The result is an involving and entertaining portrait of an artist whose influence and importance to the music industry cannot be denied.
With that, we conclude our list of the best films of this year. What do you think? Are there any films that you feel should’ve been on this list? Let us know in the comments below!