Jan 19

The Freaky Trigger Movie Poll 2018: #20 – #11

Do You See13 comments • 642 views

Into the top-twenty-verse, as all the cool kids would say. A lot of good films here (a few I cared for less too but hey, opinions are like arseholes right?) THis is where the films I were worried wouldn’t make it, made it – the years best Hollywood comedy, the Netflix Oscar bait, a bit of European political activism and the odd idea idea that Meryl Streep looked like Lily James in the seventies (even though we know what Meryl Streep looked like in the seventies). And possibly the signature visual moment of the year (if you don’t count cleaning up dogshit in Roma).

20: Game Night
A real pleasant surprise, from a world where little is expected from Hollywood comedies, to have an intricate, clever action comedy with a comfortable stable lead couple who genuinely enjoy each other company played with quite so much gusto (there is a hint of Nick and Nora to them). There is a cast of riches here, from Sharon Horgan, via Jessie Plemmons and Chelsea Peretti but Jason Bateman hasn’t been this charming in ages (just as well last year). The film belong to Rachel McAdams however who has plenty of terrific line readings, including some priceless reaction shots. It didn’t do much cinema business in the UK, but it is well worth catching. Also worth it to see the dog from Widows again.

19: Roma
This is both a portrait of a middle class family falling apart, a maid growing up and a country at civil war with itself, and Cuaron’s black and white masterpiece perhaps ends up being a little too perfect for its own good. But in its two and a half hours he does his best to drag you into these various worlds and internal lives of his characters, the rabbly kids, the shitty boyfriends, even the car slowly getting scraped to death in the Mexico City hallway. I loved it when watching it in the cinema, though it has drifted a touch in my memory. But it feels like intimate, wonderful personal stuff.

18: Isle Of Dogs
Stop motion suits Wes Anderson, and the look and design of this one is terrific, as is on the most part, the storyline. Perhaps questions can be asked about its future Japanese setting and how much here is appropriation, how much is fetishization and how much is homage, and Anderson does seem to go through a lot of contortions to yet again include some of his stock types. But it is a pretty delightful and fun bit of work which has a few barbs behind is intricately designed art.

17: Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again
Bearing in mind the critical drubbing the original got, this thoroughly disposable sequel seemed to be a bit of a mea culpa for people who just didn’t get the first one. My Mum could not accept the general Meryl Streep absence, and even she noticed that Colin Firth was a lot less gay than he was in the last one. And yet the music, dance and action is staged and shot better, Lily James is very winning as a somewhat implausible young Meryl Streep and frankly when Cher turns up to sing Fernando you do surrender to its charms. Should have put the King Kong Song in there somewhere though.

16: I, Tonya
Not being American, the problematic content of I, Tonya (ie – telling a story from the baddies point of view), didn’t bother me. It heavily leans into its unreliable narrator tropes, and Janney perhaps pushes her grotesque mother too far in a film of performances going too far. But Robbie knows exactly what she is doing in the lead, giving us film star sympathy whilst constantly asking us was she born bad made bad, or did the fixed privileged system make her that way. Its happy that the answer is probably all of the above.

15: Crazy Rich Asians
Its a well made romcom, in an unusual setting, with a remarkably attractive cast and setting. Conspicuous consumption gets the mildest of critiques, class structures are not really here to be broken down just mildly ridiculed whilst we enjoy the fruits of the money (the production design is always great to luxuriate in). And at the heart of it Michelle Yeoh plays the monsterous mother-in-law with gusto, its lots of fun.

14: Mission Impossible: Fallout
Action movies shouldn’t have three dream sequences in them. They just shouldn’t. After Ghost Protocol was a high point in the series – partially for bringing in Rebecca Ferguson, I thought Fallout was a bit of an overlong damp squib. Ferguson was wasted, the McGuffin was literally a load of balls and I don’t really care if Tom Cruise can fly a helicopter or not. There are fun bits, Henry Cavill recharging his arms is an image for cinematic history, but I thought this franchise had been better.

13: BlackKklansman
Spike Lee makes a Spike Lee Joint out of an interesting bit of true crime history. Stylish, and funny about things which are not funny at all, Lee balances the historical with the resonances it has now and tops and tails with idiosyncratic takes on how movies may be part of this whole mess. And yet in the process, and using some of that movieness, he also simplifies, elides and dodges other issues. In concentrating on race and the KKK, he seems to give the institution of the police a near free ride (one convenient racist). There is no room for any kind of gender politics and the conflicted role of Washington’s lead (why is he a cop), is ignored. I felt it wasn’t as strong as lots of other people, but its always nice to have Spike Lee poking at us.

12: A Simple Favor
Paul Feig continues his streak of terrific female led films with this blackly comic thriller which manages to employ Anna Kendrick perfectly whilst also bringing out the best in Blake Lively who gets to play her mysterious femme fatale to the hilt, in in some tremendous clothes along the way. A twisty turny thriller that judges how to employ the racing minds of its audience trying to work out what is happening. Perhaps the cool sixties French soundtrack is over egging the pudding, but this was a delicious confection and one of my favourites of last year.

11: 120 BPM
AKA Just BPM: this is a activist procedural from the early days of Parisian HIV/AIDS support groups following a group of activists as they protest, plan, and debate the best way to succeed in their goals to get better support from the government, the right drugs from trials and to stay alive. Its a brilliantly balanced piece, between the politics (and how people argue) to the inevitability of supporting people dying. It never trivialises, and never reaches for unearned for sympathy (there are lots of infuriating characters here too), but builds a picture of the community and strength that exists in activism.

OK, we are a few days away from the top ten, feel free to guess how what’s left stacks up.


  1. 1
    Andrew Farrell on 14 Jan 2019 #

    I thiiink I will have five of the top ten, which may be a record.

    On my ballot but not expecting to place:
    Gook: A film about two second-generation Vietnamese American brothers running a scrappy shoe store in LA, who have a mostly good relationship with the community around them – and then the Rodney King riots happen. It could be safely said to be in conversation with Do The Right Thing, where one side of the conversation is “Hey, are you using that right now?”. Very worth your time, though.

    Deadpool 2: This is more Deadpool – a lot of good jokes, some touching emotional content (featuring the excellent Julian Dennison from Hunt for the Wilderpeople!) and a comedy friend added (but sadly one not subtracted). I feel a little silly acting as a hypeman for a film that cost and made hundreds of millions of dollars – I assume that if you were interested in seeing it, you probably did.

    The Spy who Dumped Me: Possibly the worst-titled film in the countdown after A Simple Favour, this is perfectly happy to be mostly about the friendship between Milas Kunis and Kate McKinnon’s characters while a spy plot happens around them.

    The Meg: In which Jason Statham does not punch a shark, but does possibly serve as a sign of things to come: a multiply-diverse cast (including Ruby Rose as a 90s videogame protagonist, an underserved demographic since Angelina Jolie hung up her twin pistols), a China-focussed and -flaunting final act, and 75% of its ticket sales outside of the US.

  2. 2
    Andrew Farrell on 14 Jan 2019 #

    (worst- as in least-accurately-titled)

  3. 3
    Mark M on 14 Jan 2019 #

    Voted for:
    A Simple Favo(u)r (the credits in the UK have the ‘u’ – unnecessary but thoughtful)
    Isle Of Dogs

    I get the assorted issues people had with the latter two, but really enjoyed both.

    Also saw:
    I, Tonya – I liked this lots. A good use of the GoodFellas format.
    Roma – impressive but hard to love for me. And in theory it should have triggered all sorts of stuff because I too was an over-privileged white kid in Mexico City in the 1970s (if at the other end of the decade). But most of it left me cold (other former DF residents I know were in buckets of tears, so maybe it’s just me).

    Would watch: Game Night, 120 BPM

    As for the top 10, at least three of the films I thought would be in it have already featured. I can guess at five strong probabilities, but would also guess that at least two of the films in top 10 I will barely have heard of.

  4. 4
    Andrew Farrell on 14 Jan 2019 #

    Which three, out of curiousity? I’m going to guess Roma for one..

  5. 5
    Mark M on 14 Jan 2019 #

    Re4: Roma, yes, and Cold War. I have no idea why I thought there was a third!

  6. 6
    dollymix on 14 Jan 2019 #

    I totally forgot about A Simple Favor when I made my list, and probably would have put it in my top ten, so you can mentally bump it up reading this if you want.

    I’ll confess I started Roma in December but got too tired to finish it, and didn’t finish it until early January. So I conservatively put it at the low end of my list, although it would have made the top ten had I actually watched the whole thing.

  7. 7
    Margaret Howie on 14 Jan 2019 #

    I, Tonya was the movie I most wanted to love and just couldn’t, it was so convinced of how clever and subversive it was while throwing in every cheap joke it could get at poor, sometimes fat people, and playing domestic violence for laughs. I lived through the 90s indie post-Tarantino boom once, and it was enough.

    Had the exact same issues with Fallout though the Blackfriars chase was wonderful nonsense, and I’m thrilled that 11 & 12 are there.

    @Andrew – Gook kept falling in and out of my top 20. If I’d put my shoulder behind it we might’ve got it as far as Searching… (which I really hoped would crack the top 40).

  8. 8
    Andrew Farrell on 21 Jan 2019 #

    So “what’s left”: This is the interesting bit where you have to make a judgement whether films are either in the top 10 or not in the top 40 at all.

    The five from my ballot first:
    Paddington 2 / Black Panther: These seem fairly nailed-on to me, certainly I can’t imagine them outside the 40 if Isle of Dogs/ Infinity Wars hit #18/#23.

    Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Con: an animated Spider-man movie, when the web-head had just survived oversaturation earlier in the decade, and now Tom Holland was in the third of four consecutive years* of playing him in live-action? Pro: This is the most amazing-looking film I saw all year, and the plot’s good and sad and funny.

    Lady Bird Con: It’s an indie film directed by a woman largely about the relationships between women? Pro: I don’t really think the FT voters care about that as a negative.

    Coco Con: It bears some suspicious resemblance to the previous year’s animated neon Mexican day of the dead story The Tree of Life. Pro: Literally no-one other than me cares, and I really liked Coco once I got over myself.

    Sorry to Bother You / Leave No Trace – These were very well received, I would almost certainly have voted for them if I’d got my act together and seen them.

    A Quiet Place / Suspiria – On the one hand they might have split a horror vote with Hereditary, on the other hand that film as 32 is a sign that there’s some interest. I get the impression that Suspiria is better if you’re familiar with the original?

    Shoplifters / BurningExtremely well-received East Asian films, but didn’t show in a lot of places / for real heads only (but then, Crazy Rich Asians!)

    Bohemian Rhapsody – I hear people around here like music and pop and rock and glam.

    My longshots would be The Favourite (because of its official release date being 1st Jan 2019), Venom, First Man and Won’t You Be My Neighbour?

  9. 9
    Andrew Farrell on 21 Jan 2019 #

    * – Dear Jebus, it turns out Civil War was 2016? You could have told me it was 2012 and I wouldn’t have blinked an eye.

  10. 10
    Mark M on 21 Jan 2019 #

    Re8: I think that’s a good summary of the likely contenders. I’d be tempted to add Blindspotting, mostly on the basis of a chat with a chunk of the electorate in December.

    The ones I assume are certainties (although you never know) are: Black Panther, Sorry To Bother You and Lady Bird. I think Shoplifters is also high likely, considering the enthusiasm for Kore-eda in previous years, and the warm reception this film (rightly) got in particular. I wonder if Into The Spider-Verse’s December release will aid or hinder it.

    As for Leave No Trace, it topped my ballot and has been high on lots of the big end of year lists. BUT it’s also a film that has not cropped in any conversations I’ve had since I’ve seen it, so it could yet slip under the radar.

  11. 11
    Ewan on 30 Jan 2019 #

    Burning won’t make it in the top 10 as it isn’t officially released here for a few more weeks, but I suspect The Favourite will get in as it was out in cinemas on 26 December, and pretty easy to see in London. I think Leave No Trace is a certainty for the top 10, and I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing Lady Bird in there too, so fingers crossed. Black Panther may well be very close to the top. But… when will Pete post the top 10? We could be waiting some time, who knows!

  12. 12
    John I Walsh on 20 Mar 2021 #

    I was searching for these movies for a very long time. I am working as an essay writer on a brill assignment and I have to work late at night. And my child didn’t sleep when I didn’t tell him a story but right now I didn’t have that much time. so I was looking for some story-type movies for my child while searching for it I found this post.

  13. 13
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