I watched 166 movies this year. I’m proud of that, sort of? Appreciate that I put the time into something I love. But also… probably a good idea to cut back a bit. Or a lot. Stil, I don’t quite regret it, not with some of the high peaks in this year’s viewing. I tweeted some of the favorites I watched for the first time, and thought I’d expand on the stand-outs here.
Really enjoyed catching up on a few Spike Lee films this year. His Pass Over made my second tier, and Malcolm X just missed the cut. The energy in School Daze is off-the-charts. I love Lee’s willingness to blend genres, do whatever will drive the story in an entertaining way. It may not be a dedicated musical, but if we need to have a dance-off in a salon or enjoy a joyous, raucous step show, we are GOING THERE.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Completely mesmerized me. The languid forest conversations, visits from the dead, blurring boundaries between this life and the next. This was only movie last year that I re-watched right away, the following day.
Clouds of Sils Maria
I like the everyday-ness of this, a view into a rarified world – being a celebrity seems pretty boring a lot of times! And the meta-commentary on its themes – losing your youth and your place in the world. It just glides along.
This movie got me more emotional than just about anything else I watched. I love that our heroine is so direct, undisguised in what she wants. We get a glimpse into a community, and see the young teach the old. Ebert sums it up nicely: “There is a vast difference between movies for 12-year-old girls, and movies about 12-year-old girls, and “Whale Rider” proves it.”
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
Just a slick propulsive action movie. They don’t make’em like this anymore.
An agoraphobe is forced outdoors. Love the blend of modern concerns – pandemic, surveillance, corporate malfeasance, cover-ups – and Soderbergh’s usual zesty presentation. This would make a fun pairing with The Outside Story.
I watched this one on 12/31 – a perfect example of why I don’t finish my list until the new year starts. Vesper is a biotech scifi fairy tale in the sodden forests of the north. This is sort of perfect species of science fiction for me: give me a few characters to care about. And sketch their life with such precise details that you understand their broader world without being lectured about its rules. Haunting, hopeful.
Very grateful to have seen these. Thinking about movies in 2023, I need more constraints. Too often, I skipped over things I wanted to see in favor of the zeitgeist, or feeling a need to “catch up”. And too often, I chose movies as the lazy way out, something only to pass the time. Not inherently a problem, but the blend is off. I’d like this year’s movies tilted more toward the ones I’m especially intrigued by, watched when I can bring them the energy they deserve.