Saturday, June 9, 2018

Look Back in Anticipation

I've been writing lists of my most anticipated films for several years now as a matter of habit. However, it occurred to me that part of the purpose of these lists was going back at the end of the year and seeing how the reality matched up. I haven't been doing this, and I think it's high time I remedied that. So I'm going to use this post to go back over the lists from the last six years, from 2012 onward, and see what these picks look like in the rearview mirror.


The Picks: "John Carter," "Moonrise Kingdom," "Gravity," "Django Unchained," "The Master," "Prometheus," "Life of Pi," "The We and the I," "Seven Psychopaths," and "Cloud Atlas."

This actually turned out pretty decently. "Gravity" didn't come out until 2013, as ambitious movies getting delayed is pretty common. And though some of the others underperformed at the box office, I wouldn't say there's a single bad one in the bunch. "Seven Psychopaths" was probably the most disappointing, and "The We and the I" turned out to be one of those little Michel Gondry experiment films that was interesting, but didn't really work.

2013 - Part I and Part II

The Picks, Part I: "Iron Man 3," "Star Trek Into Darkness," "Man of Steel," "This is the End," "The World's End," "Pacific Rim," "Elysium," "Ender's Game," "Frozen," and "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"

The Picks, Part II: "Upstream Color," "Gravity," "Captain Phillips," "Snowpiercer," "Mood Indigo," "Fruitvale Station," "Labor Day," "Foxcatcher," "Her," and "12 Years A Slave."

From 2013 onwards, I essentially wrote two lists, one for mainstream blockbusters and one for the prestige pics and indie films. I picked some real stinkers for the blockbuster list here, including "Into Darkness," "Elysium," and "This is the End." And boy was I misguided about the prospects of "Man of Steel" and "Ender's Game." The smaller films mostly came out well, with "Upstream Color," "Her," and "12 Years a Slave" all making my Top Ten for the year. The one major misfire is "Labor Day," which was a Jason Reitman melodrama from right when he started to go off the rails.

2014 - Part I and Part II

The Picks, Part I: "Godzilla," "Guardians of the Galaxy," "The Boxtrolls," "Big Hero 6," "Annie," and "Into the Woods"

The Picks, Part II: "The Grand Budapest Hotel," "The Cobbler," "Ex Machina," "Whiplash," "The Voices," "A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence," "Gone Girl," and "Inherent Vice"

After they overwhelmed my lists the previous year, I tried to cut back on the blockbusters. All the ones I did pick turned out to be pretty meh. I still have very mixed feelings on "Godzilla" and "Guardians," and view the musicals as wasted opportunities. The smaller films were a mixed bag. I admit that I skipped "The Cobbler" after the terrible reviews, and didn't think much of "The Voices" or "A Pigeon Sat on a Branch…" "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and "Gone Girl" were winners though, along with "Ex Machina." Also, three of these films ended up delayed to 2015.

2015 - Part I and Part II

The Picks, Part I: "Mad Max: Fury Road," "Tomorrowland," "Fantastic Four," "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,"
"Crimson Peak," "Spectre," "The Martian," and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"

The Picks, Part II: "99 Homes," "See You Tomorrow," "The End of the Tour," "Sicario," "Queen of the Desert," "The Lobster," "Spotlight," and "The Other Side of the Wind."

Good grief, I really did pick "Fantastic Four," didn't I? Well, both lists turned out to have films of roughly comparable quality. 2015 saw some surprisingly good genre films like "Fury Road" and "The Martian," while directors like Werner Herzog made some notable stinkers. Because of a title change, I didn't even realize that "See You Tomorrow," produced rather than directed by Wong Kar-Wai, was actually completed. There were also some massive disappointments like "Tomorrowland" and "Spectre." I'm glad Tom McCarthy recovered from "The Cobbler" quickly, however, and "The Other Side of the Wind" is still MIA.

2016 - Part I and Part II

The Picks, Part I: "Money Monster," "The BFG," "Doctor Strange," "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," "Assassin's Creed," "Passengers," and "The Light Between Oceans."

The Picks, Part II: "Certain Women," "Hail Caeser!" "A United Kingdom," "High Rise," "Personal Shopper," "Raiders!" "Birth of a Nation," "The Circle," "The Red Turtle," and "Arrival."

Well, this was a bad year for predictions all around. "Assassin's Creed," "Passengers, and "The Circle" were among the year's worst misfires. Others simply weren't much to talk about, like "Certain Women," "Raiders!" and "Money Monster." Even the better films like "Arrival" and "The Red Turtle" were ones I found I appreciated more than I really enjoyed. It felt like an off year in general, with a lot of familiar auteurs out of commission, and others turning in only mediocre work. My biggest disappointment was actually "Doctor Strange" for not doing much with its fantastic cast.

2017 - Part I and Part II

The Picks, Part I: "Ghost in the Shell," "War for the Planet of the Apes," "Dunkirk," "Blade Runner 2049," "Thor: Ragnarok," "Murder on the Orient Express," and "Star Wars: Episode VIII" "Downsizing."

The Picks, Part II: "Annihilation," "Dark River," "Free Fire," "Mute," "The Death of Stalin," "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," "mother!" "Roma," and "Detroit."

"Ghost in the "Shell" aside, the blockbusters all came out pretty well. "Downsizing" was a mess, but at least is was an interesting mess. The smaller films, however, saw a lot of delays and disappointments. "Roma" and "Dark River" are still pending, "Free Fire" and "The Death of Stalin" underwhelmed," and the less said about the long-gestating "Mute" the better. I'm happy with the films that did arrive on schedule, though, including "Three Billboards" and "mother!"

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