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Obs.: The first six films in the list constitute a sextet of the very best that I believe Cinema had to offer this year and, because I find them equally dazzling, flawless and excellent in their narrative, allegorical or thematic craft, they are presented in alphabetical order rather than ranked. Congrats to Edgar Wright, Denis Villeneuve, Christopher Nolan, Paul Thomas Anderson, Guillermo del Toro and Martin McDonagh.
#Honorable Mentions: "Call Me by Your Name"; "Coco"; "Detroit"; "Get Out"; "Happy End"; "Hostiles"; "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword"; "Roman J. Israel Esq."; "The Book of Henry"; "The Florida Project";
Honorable Mentions: "Blue Valentine"; "Hugo"; "Wreck-It Ralph"; "The Perks of Being a Wallflower"; "Captain Phillips"; "The Great Gatsby"; "Whiplash"; "The Grand Budapest Hotel"; "Nightcrawler"; "Crimson Peak"; "Clouds of Sils Maria"; "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens"; "The Revenant"; "Avengers: Age of Ultron"; "Youth"; "A Hologram for the King"; "Chronic"; "Lucky"; "A Cure for Wellness"; "Salt and Fire"; "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs"; "Suspiria"; "Domino"; "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote"; "Knives Out";
Obs.: The first 3 films in the list constitute a triad of the very best that I believe Cinema had to offer this year and, because I find them equally dazzling, excellent and flawless in their narrative, allegorical or thematic craft, they are presented in alphabetical order rather than ranked. Congrats to Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson, Michael Mann and George Miller.
#Honorable Mentions: "45 Years"; "Aloha"; "American Ultra"; "Bridge of Spies"; "Chappie"; "Focus"; "Lost River"; "Room"; "Spotlight"; "What We Do in the Shadows";
Honorable Mentions: "1917"; "A Rainy Day in New York"; "Gemini Man"; "Last Christmas"; "Light of My Life"; "Motherless Brooklyn"; "Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker"; "The Aeronauts"; "The Peanut Butter Falcon"; "Us";
Yet to Watch: https://www.imdb.com/list/ls041435625/?sort=list_order,asc&st_dt=&mode=grid&page=1&ref_=ttls_vw_grd
What else is there to say about this foreboding Soderbergh-Burns gem?
Made in the wake of the already scary H1N1/09 pandemic, it ended up reflecting even better the cataclysm that would arise almost a decade later with the COVID-19 pandemic, amidst the supremacy of social media.
Indeed, relatively big clinical differences notwithstanding (the fictional MEV-1 virus affecting the brain, with up to 30% mortality), I would say it predicted with about 90% accuracy the general feeling of what we are currently experiencing in these global quarantine days...
And considering how inept most of our leaders proved to be in responding effectively to the situation, it wouldn't surprise me if, by its tenth anniversary next year, that accuracy reached 99% - with a seven figure death toll, unfortunately.
I am still not sure, however, if even in the worst case scenario WHO staff, like the Cotillard character, would be kidnapped for vaccine doses... But I reserved that 1% in any case...
Other than that, this Soderbergh-branded multi-narrative feels very little contrived, well grounded and, most of all, urgent (thanks to Mirrione's typicallly flawless film editing). In short, a must-see thriller for 2020!
Bis ans Ende der Welt (1991)
"In the beginning was the word. (...) In the end, there were only images."
One of the truest examples of a film ahead of its time. Autophagic Cinema. Capturing natural images to show the world to the blind soon devolves into previously healthy people addicted to watching their own digitized dreams, isolated from the very same world... Wenders' most personal, ambitious and forgotten masterpiece.
Finally got to see it in his preferred 288 min director's cut, in the original 5:3 aspect ratio, as opposed to the 16:9, cropped, 280 min, three-parted DVD version, the only one I had managed to watch before. And the 4K scan on top of it all makes this new CC Blu-ray version even more of an epic watch!
I will definitely try to save another five hours of my time next year to rewatch this new, glorious version for the 30th anniversary...
P.S.: Almost forgot, RIP Max von Sydow. He was as brilliant and versatile as always in this one as the tormented scientist, whose uncanny insight ultimately gives way to the "disease of the images".
Iron Man Three (2013)
The Boldest Marvel Film
First of all, I said BOLDEST and not necessarily BEST. Actually I believe IM3 is second only to The Avengers, which has an overall more ambitious and greater scope despite having a more conventional narrative. But the main reason why I say it's bold is the great risks it took to deviate from comics and even the whole S.H.I.E.L.D/heroes coalition theme (that up to The Avengers was present in every Marvel Cinematic Universe film) to focus solely on the character Tony Stark. And by doing it, it finally accomplishes the character development of the MCU's (arguable) protagonist.
Never before was Stark as much aware of the consequences of his giant ego (he risks Pepper's safety with a miscalculated threat that leads to the subsequent destruction of Malibu Home, not to count the heinous outcome of ignoring Aldrich Killian's Extremis project back in 1999) as well as of his own vulnerabilities without his suit (post-traumatic stress after the crossing of the Wormhole and contacting aliens and gods leading him to escalate the production of armors). Indeed, as the opening citation states: "We create our own demons".That, however, doesn't stop him from recovering from the blow and looking after himself throughout the film with limited access to technology (comparatively to the previous installments), relying mostly on his geniality, resourcefulness and craftsmanship.
And even if the 'army of armors' (which took the whole movie to successfully load) has a decisive role in the final battle, by that time Stark's learning is already enough for him to realize that his heroism is based on the MECHANIC he is rather than the MACHINES he uses and, also, that he is ready to take one step further in his commitment to Pepper. Thus his character arc of humanization is complete and he promptly gets rid of the armors and the 'arc reactor' he depended on. As he states 'HE is Iron Man', regardless of his gadgets...
As a poignant bonus, filmmaker Shane Black and screenwriter Drew Pearce (with the fundamental consent of R.D. Jr.) added some clever comments on USA politics (a hallmark of the Iron Man film series but this time much more incisive, focusing preferentially on the oil rather than the weapons industry) and on the media, more specifically, on cinema itself (with the 'Mandarin twist' , to the comic book fans dismay - and the evident conclusion regarding the power of images to manipulate and tell lies, aided by the superb casting and distinct acting from sir Ben Kingsley), leading to a surprisingly omnipresent mocking tone - in such a way that's reminiscent of Black's own previous use of metalanguage to deconstruct Hollywood in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang".
All matters considered, even if the whole Extremis program deserved a better approach to its implications and scientific issues, one can easily overcome it by noticing the film's intended lack of seriousness. Considering yet the 'buddy cop' overtones (dating back to Black's screen writing breakthrough in Lethal Weapon) in Stark's interactions with a Tennessee kid and Rhodes, not to count the presence of gags (R.D. Jr. undying comic timing) even in the climax, the outcome is a motion picture that is as unpretentious and entertaining as possible, which nevertheless is successful in crafting a meaningful story.
Moreover, the visual aspect of IM3 is indubitably the best in the whole MCU franchise, with the cinematography making the action sequences the most impressive, while the film editing allows them to always keep geographically understandable (aided by Black's long time experience with the action genre), all the while the special effects finally ended the graphic discrepancy (that even in The Avengers couldn't be dealt with) between Tony's live-action face and his CGI suit. More than just a technical achievement, such a feat beautifully matches the film's overall humanization theme.
Last but not least, the message after the post credits scene (which has Dr. Bruce 'The Hulk' Banner in the role of Stark private and unwilling shrink after the establishing of their friendship bonds throughout The Avengers) leaves no stone unturned regarding the humanization narrative:
"Tony Stark will return", rather than the the title character...