I went to the cinema three times so far in 2018. I saw three excellent films, all in their own way. Here are my (shortened) thoughts on them, in the order I saw them.
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
This film is the third Best Picture Oscar contender I’ve seen (the other two being Dunkirk and The Shape of Water, more on the latter below). There are more contenders that I really want to see, with The Phantom Thread being top of the list. Closely followed by Lady Bird. But yeah. Three Billboards was such a great, intense film. I liked the humanity of it, after all the dark humour and violence and exaggeration, it never tried to oversimply the characters in it. After the great and funny Seven Psychopaths, The Guard and ofcourse In Bruges, this one is both funny and thought-provoking. And Sam Rockwell keeps on growing as an actor. Loved it.
The Shape of Water
This is a lovely film in a whole other way. Like Three Billboards, it combines violent and funny elements with humanity, but it adds elements of fairytale, fantasy and cold war thrillers in the mix. The result is a very nostalgic, colorful experience that nevertheless hooks you in all the right ways. Guillermo Del Toro outputs has been meandering a bit for me, Pacific Rim didn’t do too much for me, Crimson Peak was alright, but this was a fascinating film. Call it escapism, call it a labour of love, I call it brilliant. I loved how the relationships never overtook the politics of the story. And I loved the ending too. Sally Hawkins is an absolute delight and I’d give her the Oscar, though she’s up for a whole lot of competition.
I must say I thought I was pretty much done with the Marvel universe for a while. The recent Netflix series were mostly disappointing after a promising start. I remember watching Doctor Strange and Guardian of the Galaxy 2 in theaters being perfectly entertained, but not that blown away when leaving the cinema. Having not seen Thor: Ragnarok yet (I did hope for this to be an improvement), I went along to see Black Panther and I came away pleasantly surprised. Yes, this is still a Marvel superhero film, but it’s also thoughtful, it has a great villain with an actual thought-provoking mission and statement. So, alongside the great visual trickery and cinematography, there’s an actual absorbing story here. And sympathetic characters. So, yea, if this is the standard from now on, consider me back in, Marvel Studios…