Artist. Designer. Awkward wad of nerd. Fights off existential terror and self-loathing with Godzilla films.

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"No danger of coming ashore, huh?"

Alright, time to write about my favorite movies of the year! This was a little easier to piece together than the music post, luckily.

Shin Godzilla
I already wrote about it once before, but it's a movie that I've thought about every day since the first time I watched it. There are so many things about it that I'm in awe of. The movie pulls from every era of the franchise while creating something new, subverting nearly every expectation along the way. Godzilla evolving, changing forms as the movie progresses is both surprising and a brilliant nod towards the way the monster has already shifted and changed over the course of six decades in order to stay relevant. It's impressive how quickly cut the endless bureaucratic meetings are, the way they feel like action scenes, yet despite how fast they try to move, despite how slow Godzilla himself moves (they even comment on his speed being something like 15kmph), he's still able to cause so much destruction before they can retaliate. That's such a brilliant illustration of how unprepared and inept they were. One of the most important characters is an absent scientist, whose role I still puzzle over. Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi put so much into this movie, and it shows. While I like the new Star Wars films, it feels like the newer ideas and things being done are being held back by the old guard, and to see a Godzilla movie that doesn't feel like that at all is so great.

Arrival
I've never had such a visceral reaction to any other movie before like I have with this one. Denis Villeneuve's dreamlike direction, Johan Johannson's score, Bradford Young's cinematography, and Joe Walker's editing all combine to make a movie that feels way too much like actual dreams and nightmares I've had, despite not really being a horror movie. An early scene, when they first enter the ship, had me shaking, gripping the arms of my seat in tears because it felt like I was being ripped open and having some part of myself exposed. On top of that, this is a fantastic, refreshing sci-fi movie with incredible (and very appropriate) sound design and visuals, and Amy Adams puts in a fantastic performance. It probably won't tear you apart the way it did me, but it's impressive all the same.

The Nice Guys
So. Damn. Funny. I always knew Ryan Gosling could do comedy, and he's the one who drives this movie with a powerhouse performance. Also, with the majority of movies that I've been seeing lately being these extremely big, overbloated things trying their best to be extraordinarily epic, this throwback is such a relief with how small in scale it is. Even the major conspiracy that the movie follows plays a supporting role to the characters and the ridiculous events and encounters in the investigation they're on.

HyperNormalisation
Adam Curtis crafted the feel bad documentary of the year, putting to words and pictures a particular unease I've been feeling all year, made even more potent after the ugly results of our election. Some of it is too big for me to fully grasp, some of it too crushing to ever want to watch again, but it's incredible all the same.

High-Rise
The book that Cronenberg was ripping off when he made his first film, Shivers, way back in the 70's, now brought to life with remarkable craft by Ben Wheatley, set in that same era. An oppressively gorgeous brutalist tower where nothing works and everything starts to fall apart, crawling with horrible people fighting and fucking each other, the outside world hardly even seen. It's a very fascinating, funny, and stylish movie in which nothing particularly good happens, driven by absurdity.

You can see a list of every new movie I watched here on my Letterboxd page, if you're wondering about what got left out.

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