Imagine you’re a full-time film critic. Fun, right? You’ve got a YouTube channel. Nice! You have fans who will harass anyone for even the blandest criticisms against you. Um…hm, well…oh, and you’re bad at your job, despite all this success.
So, we’re finally here. Last week was the finale of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” a Marvel/Disney limited series that for the last six weeks has been absolutely dominating my television screen as much as it has my mind. Being a fan of Marvel’s live-action superhero ventures since I was a kid in 2008, it wasn’t hard for TFATWS to catch my eye. But while I came for the heroics, action, and quippy one-liners, what really compelled me (and many viewers) to stay were the mostly poignant and deep conversations about race, status, and the humanity of our favorite, godlike heroes. Key word: “mostly.”
The fifth and penultimate episode of TFATWS is called “Truth,” and that’s certainly no accident. After leaving us for an entire week with the final image of Cap’s blood-soaked shield stuck in our minds, TFATWS replaces it with even more memorable scenes and heavy imagery. Each of them are arguably just as hard to swallow as John Walker’s closing scene from the week prior.
A few years ago, I did a frequent column called “Snarcasm,” where I would break down a ridiculous piece of film writing using both snark and sarcasm (I’ve never been a creative person). Well, lately, I’ve been meaning to bring the format back again, because let’s face it, the internet seems to just be getting worse.
Roughly 13 years have gone by since the release of Iron Man, the film that introduced us to the Marvel Cinematic Universe — that may not seem like a long time, but keep in mind that last year (2020) counted as at least five. This, mixed with the fact that currently 23 movies and two limited series have come out since, proves it’s pretty impossible to undermine the legacy and longevity of the MCU. But as time goes on, this sprawling superhero franchise has seen quite a few major changes. The Avengers ushered in a “Heroic Age” of superhero films, but we now see Marvel attempting to dissect those very heroic ideals that previous films were built on.
The third episode of TFATWS ushers us into the halfway point of the series. With just three episodes left after it, Episode 3 strives to reveal as much as it can about the secrets of the Super Soldier serum, which has oft been alluded to since the beginning of the show. “Power Broker” delivers on this goal using seedy locales, lurking threats, and an unlikely alliance between Sam, Bucky, and Helmut Zemo (the villain from Captain America: Civil War, portrayed once again by Daniel Brühl).
It’s been a week since the exciting conclusion to “WandaVision” graced our screens. The Disney+ original series captured the attention of new and old MCU fans alike with its first bizarre and eye-catching premiere on January 15, and not much has changed eight episodes later. Every episode was wrought with fan theories, speculation, and nail-biting anticipation for the next week. And now, it’s over. The sun has set on yet another chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and “WandaVision” certainly went out with a bang. The finale featured some of the best action sequences and most crushing emotional moments in the entire (limited) series. The stellar acting from the cast, including Elizabeth Olsen, Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Parris and Paul Bettany, only helped catapult the positive reception of the finale, and it helped cement “WandaVision” as one of the must-watch shows of the year.
Hey all, welcome back to your favorite weekly recap of your favorite Marvel streaming series. I’m not sure if either of those statements is true, but if you’re reading this then you probably have some emotional investment in “WandaVision” and my long-winded rambling related to it.
For those unaware, “WandaVision” is the newest project from Marvel Studios, and it’s the first in a long line of miniseries that all share a connection to each other and the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe. It follows everyone’s favorite odd couple — Wanda Maximoff and Vision (last name not included) — after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Back when this idea was first announced, it was met with excitement from some and exhaustion from others. I’m only a little bit ashamed to admit that for a while, I landed on the latter.
On August 28, 2020, the world stood still. As I sat in a diner, patiently awaiting my “breakfast for dinner,” I did what every person nowadays does when there’s nothing else to do: I checked my phone. The first thing I saw when I opened Twitter and looked at my timeline was the most shocking and heartbreaking news I never knew I wasn’t prepared to hear. Chadwick Boseman, star of Black Panther, was dead at 43. Boseman passed away peacefully, surrounded by his wife and family, according to the statement made on his official Twitter account. I sat there in shock and disbelief, hoping and praying that this might be some sort of joke. That maybe his account had been hacked, or I was stuck in some sort of lucid dream. It didn’t take long for the swarms of tweets and replies full of the same amount of disbelief to come in, as well as the responses from those who knew him or wished to know him more. Then I realized it was real.
If anything, curating a list of 2020’s finest films feels more necessary and useful than ever. While many film lovers have used their time sheltering at home to catch up on classic cinema (as we all should), I’ve spent the last several months trying to see at least 4 or 5 new movies a week via screeners and the aforementioned avenues. Now that we’ve reached the halfway point of this bizarre, unpredictable year, I want to share the 25 films that have left the deepest impact on me, whether they be a festival indie from last year just now getting a bigger release, a more mainstream feature from the first block of the year, or somewhere in between, I hope there’s at least one positive recommendation in this list for everyone.
I saw Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on opening night, and I doubt I could’ve been less excited for it. So much venom had been spewed at the Star Wars brand by this point, so even mentioning the name of certain chapters came at the risk of actually losing friendships. What’s more, its release signaled the start of what all of my work supervisors assured me would be the most hectic few weeks in our theater’s short history — now, of course, I would practically kill for those days — and my sense of dread was simply too powerful to ignore.
The Skywalker Saga as we know it has been over for the better part of a month now, so Jon and I decided that it would be a fun idea to go over the 42-year-old (and counting!) history of the Star Wars Galaxy. The two of us spent nearly three hours presenting our carefully constructed individual rankings of the films (ALL of them), making plenty of stops along the way to justify our varied positions.
2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the infamous Manson Murders — a tragic chain of senseless killings irreparably changing the world forever, and once broadly referred to by Don McLean as one of “the days the music died.” As is true with just about any point in time of this historical caliber, these events have been dramatized in various ways via the cinematic medium. With three films on the subject being distributed this year alone, I decided the time was right to witness and rank each and every one of them that I could get my hands on.
It’s been two weeks since the release of Michael Dougherty’s long-awaited sequel Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which hit theaters to a mixed critical reaction and moderate financial success. It hasn’t received the widespread enthusiasm Legendary and Warner Bros. were likely hoping for, but the film does contribute to the now 65-year old legacy of the world’s favorite giant monster in more ways than one.
John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien, author of such high fantasy novels as The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, was recently the subject of Dome Karukoski’s Tolkien, a new biopic about the prolific author produced by Fox Searchlight Pictures and released through Disney last weekend.
Avengers: Endgame marks the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it. At least…until Spider-Man: Far From Home comes out in a few months. Regardless, there are 22 films in this sprawling quilt of franchises, and not all of them are made equal. In this bonus episode of Cinemaholics, I spend a grueling two hours with Sam Noland collaborating and debating a definitive ranking we can both put our names on.
For every fan of cinema, there’s one film that changes everything. It reworks your system. Gives you a new lease on life. Or, perhaps in less dramatic terms, it reroutes your perception of film in general. These rare movies give you a totally new understanding of the art form and can show you what this wondrous medium can do. They provide unforgettable epiphanies and serve as luxurious early showcases for how authentic, inviting, delicate, invigorating, and downright humane cinema can truly be.