Happenings

Film Fight 2018: Finale

While this finale is a day or two later than normal, Film Fight has mostly run to schedule this year. As per my perennial caveat, Film Fight is done in a (not particularly serious) knock-out style: it can pick a first place, but everything else is unknown.

First up, the honourable mentions: films that were good but didn’t win their month:

  • Molly’s Game
  • Darkest Hour
  • Phantom Thread
  • Black Panther
  • Mute
  • Lady Bird
  • Ravenous
  • Red Sparrow
  • Game Night
  • You Were Never Really Here
  • Annihilation
  • First Match
  • Ghost Stories
  • 6 Balloons
  • Roxanne Roxanne
  • Isle of Dogs
  • Thoroughbreds
  • Come Sunday
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Sicario 2: Soldado
  • Tag
  • Hotel Artemis
  • Mission Impossible: Fallout
  • Blackkklansman
  • American Animals
  • Operation Finale
  • The Land of Steady Habits
  • Bad Times at the El Royale
  • Apostle
  • Private Life
  • The Night Comes For Us
  • The Other Side of the Wind
  • Outlaw King
  • Widows
  • Cam
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • Sorry to Bother You

That’s far more honourable mentions than in previous years. Lots of good stuff this year, particularly with Netflix releasing a heap of good indie films at the bookends of the year.

Now, the monthly winners:

  • January: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • February: The Shape of Water
  • March: I, Tonya
  • April: A Quiet Place
  • May: Kodachrome
  • June: Cargo
  • July: Calibre
  • August: Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind
  • September: Hold the Dark
  • October: First Man
  • November: Wildlife
  • December: Roma

First, I want to give an extra nod to Phantom Thread. It didn’t win its month, and… I’m regretting that now. I loved it at the time, and having seen it again, it’s a film of the year contender. That said, the results stand. I’ve not been pointlessly running a knockout tournament for a decade to change the rules now.

I also want to mention Sorry To Bother You. It’s UK release was heavily delayed, but it’s absolutely worth finding and watching. It’s as strong as almost any of the winners, but was just in a strong month.

It’s been a very strong year. The late spring/early summer months are a little weaker, but still good; and the rest all hold up.

The weight and dark comedy of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri helped start the year of fantastically, with Frances McDormand rightly taking an Oscar.

Jeremy Saulnier returned with Hold the Dark; a creepy tale, with some beautiful shots and fantastic performances (Jeffrey Wright is a great actor). The fact we’re now getting films of this quality on streaming services tells you that they should be taken very seriously. More on that in a minute.

There can only be one winner, though. Recency often biases selection, but I think Roma is going to hold up as a masterpiece. Alfonso Cuaron’s camera work is magnificent: slow, grounded, almost objective. You’re forced to live these moments with the characters, not because the camera is frenetically matching them. No, it’s slowing down to a normal pace and careful choreography forces you to see everything they do. Beautiful, deeply moving, technically impressive. With Roma, Netflix have the first Film Fight winner for a streaming service.

Film Fight 2018: December

A great month for films, but not terribly good for the cinema. I only saw two of the six films at a cinema, and there was really not much to see on the big screen.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

Sorry To Bother You

Roma

Bird Box

Time Share

The December Winner

A genuinely tough month with two film of the year contenders, but I think it has to be Roma. Beautifully shot, fantastically constructed, artful and technically brilliant, with moments of tension and profound sadness; I cried more than once.

Film Fight 2018: November

November was a decent month for films. Six films in the fight.

The Night Comes For Us

The Other Side of The Wind

Outlaw King

Wildlife

Widows

Cam

The November Winner

The November winner is Wildlife. While some of the others had great moments, Wildlife worked for me from start to finish.

Film Fight 2018: October

October’s Film Fight has six films to choose from…

Operation Finale

The Land of Steady Habits

Bad Times at the El Royale

Apostle

Private Life

First Man

The October Winner

Some very strong choices this month, but October’s winner is First Man. Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling bring a beautifully understated and very personal take on the moon landings to life.

Film Fight 2018: September

Seems like I almost forgot to post September’s Film Fight. Well, it’s here now with five films.

Blackkklansman

American Animals

The Predator

A Simple Favour

Hold The Dark

The September Winner

The winner for September is Hold The Dark. Jeremy Saulnier continues to be one of the most interesting directors currently work.