So many great movies come out in December, so I went to the theaters five times—that’s easily my record for any month last year. The best of the films I saw was Yorgos Lanthimos’s “The Favourite,” which is set in the court of Queen Anne in 18th Century England. It’s a sumptuous feast of palace intrigue, baroque art direction and surprisingly apt off-kilter camerawork. This is Lanthimos’s first period film, but its vision of a bizarre, distorted reality that’s blithely accepted by its inhabitants will feel familiar to those who have seen his previous films. Like those, “The Favourite” features vaguely dystopian, science fiction-like qualities. And like all good sci-fi films, this movie is as much about the year it was made as it is about the year the events it depicts ostensibly took place. If there was a time for a movie about the tragicomic art of manipulating a feckless head of state, it’s right now.
Not quite as richly auteuristic but nevertheless terrific in its own right: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Super-hero movies are in a major glut right now (I couldn’t drum up much enthusiasm for any of Marvel’s own “cinematic universe” movies in 2018) but this one is a breath of fresh air. It’s the best Spider-Man movie by far, one of the best super-hero movies ever made, and probably one of the best computer-animated movies of all time. Kudos to the team who made it, and, credit where credit is due: kudos to the studio that somehow also made “Venom.”
Here are all eighteen movies I watched last month.