Friday

HOLY SHIT!


What a terrific season, amazing postseason, and a surreal, singular Finals series! And what an incredible, genuinely special group of players! Of course, I'm thrilled for Toronto and for my adopted home-country generally (on a personal level, it's pretty cool that this Raptors season coincided with my finally, officially becoming a Canadian citizen!), but most of all, I'm just so happy for the guys on this team. Just try not to smile, cry, or both watching this clip. Or this one. In a time of seemingly constant bad news, this is some sweet relief.

Wednesday

All Things Made New


In what was probably its original and intended form, the oldest of the four canonically accepted gospels, the text attributed to Mark, ended as follows:

But they, going out, fled from the sepulchre; for a trembling and fear had seized them. And they said nothing to any man; for they were afraid.

That’s it: “trembling and fear.” The plural subject referred to here are three women, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Salome. They had come to the tomb of Jesus “very early in the morning, on the first day of the week” to anoint his body with spices. When they entered, they instead found an unspecified “young man” dressed in white, who told them that Jesus had already risen. He urged the women to deliver this news to Peter and the other apostles, and to tell them to travel on to Galilee, where they would meet again with their leader, Jesus. But, according to the evangelist (Mark 16:8, quoted above), they did not pass on this mysterious young man’s instruction, “for they were afraid.”

That may well have been where the author of the oldest extant gospel abruptly concluded his narrative, but, of course, that isn’t the end of the story as we have it. The news of the risen Jesus did spread well beyond those three women, to Peter and the others, to Saul of Tarsus, and, in the centuries that followed, to every part of the Roman Empire. Two continuations (a longer addition and a shorter one) were later appended to the text of Mark, wherein Jesus himself comes to Mary Magdalene and then to the remaining eleven apostles (sans Judas); and the three subsequent gospels (two of them, Matthew and Luke, depending heavily on Mark, embellishing and expanding its terse text for different audiences) attested to the miraculous reappearance of the crucified Jesus initiating the religious movement that would begin to take shape following his death.

The composite picture of the four gospels, including the later additions to Mark 16 and the more explicitly Christological Gospel of John, is obviously very well-known by modern Christians and non-Christians alike, permanently woven into the fiber of Western (if not world) culture and art. It is therefore worth momentarily pausing to consider what the last two millennia might have looked like if Mark 16:8 had been left as the final word in the sole narrative account of Jesus’s life. (Paul’s authentic letters were composed and circulated before Mark’s gospels, but none of them attempts to narrate the life of Jesus.) To do so is to allow oneself to think of Christianity’s eventual cultural dominance as something that was not at all inevitable, and not providentially foreordained. It might even open the way toward imagining Jesus and his small cluster of coeval followers with fresh eyes, lacking luminous halos and a clear sense of destiny, haunted by a profound uncertainty following the sudden death of their leader.

Garth Davis’s Mary Magdalene does not end the way Mark 16:8 does, but right up until its post-passion concluding scenes (more on those scenes below) it does capture, to some extent, this same mood of uncertainty and non-inevitability. Joaquin Phoenix’s Jesus feels, at once, recognizable in his general appearance and through some of his canonically reported deeds, yet also more human and conflicted than any Jesus we’ve seen onscreen before (including Willem Dafoe’s in The Last Temptation of Christ). This rough-around-the-edges characterization of Jesus is largely due to Phoenix’s superlative performance. It is also a serendipitous by-product of Davis and screenwriters Helena Edmundson and Philippa Goslett’s decision to square their focus on the figure of Mary Magdalene. This narrative approach works only moderately well as the feminist gesture that the director and writers seemingly intended—but it works very effectively in creating a Jesus who feels radically peripheral to his own story.

Of course, it is decidedly not uncommon for movies ostensibly about Jesus to actually do something other than tell the story of Jesus, in part because the survival of four separate and distinctly different canonical gospels ensured that there never could be one definitive account. To cite just a few prominent examples: Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St. Matthew, true to its title, is a fairly faithful adaptation of Matthew, which has no better claim to ultimate veracity than do Mark or Luke. Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ was adapted by Paul Schrader from a 1955 novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, and, though a truly great film, it arguably has much more to do with Schrader and Scorsese’s respective spiritual doubts and frustrations than with those of Jesus as presented in any of the gospel texts. Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ cherry-picks details from across the gospels, while also drawing from the purported visions of the modern German nun Anne Catherine Emmerich. As its title suggests, it is concerned almost exclusively with the rigorous passion of its protagonist, not the other, earlier parts of his life on earth. At the same time, Gibson’s terming of his condemned hero as “the Christ” presupposes the development of Christian dogma in such a way that the film—whatever its other faults or offenses—feels rigidly sealed off from the outset, quarantined against imaginative interpretation.

For its part, Mary Magdalene is, as noted above, focused more specifically on its titular character than on Jesus. It also dramatizes only the relatively brief period of Jesus’s mature ministry, not his earlier life. Like Mark’s gospel, Davis’s film does not include Jesus’s nativity or boyhood. Where Mark’s narrative begins with Jesus’s baptism, by another mysterious Jewish holy man, John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene opens in medias res, in the Galilean city of Magdala, with Jesus having already attracted a small group of devotees. The event that sets the plot in motion is Mary Magdalene (i.e., of Magdala) electing to join this entourage, and, against the wishes of her family, being baptized in the Sea of Galilee. After this, Mary becomes one of Jesus’s core apostles, not merely a marginal figure in his orbit. Indeed, Davis positions her as Jesus’s closest and must trusted confidante, surpassing even Peter (well played by Chiwetel Ejiofor).

Between its last images (of Mary setting forth to fulfill the mission with which Jesus has tasked her) and closing credits, Mary Magdalene provides its audience the following, briefly summarized information:

According to the Christian Gospels, Mary of Magdala was present at both Jesus’ death and burial; and is identified as the first witness to the resurrected Jesus.
In 591, Pope Gregory claimed that Mary of Magdala was a prostitute, a misconception which remains to this day.
In 2016, Mary of Magdala was formally identified by the Vatican as Apostle of the Apostles – their equal – and the first messenger of the resurrected Jesus.


None of this is necessarily inaccurate, though it is definitely simplified. To viewers (Christian or not) who are even moderately attuned to pop-culture and pop-history, none of it will come as much of a surprise.

The confusion regarding the identity of Mary Magdalene actually preceded Pope Gregory I (“the Great”) by a few centuries. The notion of her having possibly been a prostitute stemmed from the conflation of Mary Magdalene (never directly described as a prostitute or in similar terms) with both Mary of Bethany, who anoints Jesus’s feet at John 11:1–2, and an unnamed, vaguely described “woman that was in the city, a sinner,” who also anoints Jesus’s feet, at Luke 7:37–50. Such are the problems encountered when trying to “harmonize” four different, overlapping accounts of Jesus’s life, career, and the various people with whom he interacted. In the course of her long textual afterlife, Mary Magdalene was no doubt the victim of an ancient and medieval misogyny that was enduringly commonplace, but her misidentification as a prostitute was, in the first place, a consequence of imperfect exegetical analyses of some very challenging texts. Alas, “Mary” (or its ancient-language equivalents) was, like “Jesus”/“Yeshua,” an extremely common name in first-century A.D. Judea and Galilee. The same problem presents itself (even up to today) in sorting out mentions of “Jesus” in the writings of the Jewish-Roman historian Flavius Josephus, whose Antiquities of the Jews is regarded as the sole surviving “non-Christian” text from the first century to seemingly attest to the execution of Jesus of Nazareth (i.e., the so-called Testimonium Flavanium, a brief passage in Josephus’s sprawling, twenty-book work, later recolored through the interpolations of medieval Christian scribes).

In the twenty-first century, Mary Magdalene’s reputation has been significantly rehabilitated, thanks less to the eventual Vatican pronouncement noted in the film than to a steady stream of popular history books and TV programs that claim to have uncovered the “real” Mary Magdalene (usually just by summarizing critical studies of the non-canonical Gnostic scriptures), and probably above all to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code (2003). Brown’s bestseller swung the pendulum of opinion on Mary so far in the other direction that she was now not only a genuine apostle, or “apostle of the apostles,” but the secret wife of Jesus and the mother of his child. It was, in this overheated light, the misogynistic institutional Church, intent on preserving patriarchal power, that had deliberately framed her as a prostitute, while a small secret sect operating in the shadows concealed and guarded the still-enduring lineage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. By all informed accounts, this conspiratorial yarn is completely absurd, and in Brown’s defense, his book was unambiguously delivered as a work of pulpy historical fiction. But it was not interpreted as such by many of its rapt readers. Mistaken assumptions in reading and interpreting scriptural texts had first cast Mary Magdalene as the “sinful woman.” Now, more willful errors in the reading of a novel (and its many official and unofficial off-shoots) have recast her in an equally ill-attested role.

Consequently, it should not prove any real challenge for most viewers of Mary Magadalene to accept the film’s representation of its heroine as an apostle and not a prostitute. If anything, some readers of Brown’s novel may wonder why Davis’s film does not go even further in its depiction of Mary’s intimate relationship with Jesus. To its credit, the film does not push hard on this partially open door. Its Mary-Magdalene-as-chief-apostle is presented as one viable historical possibility, interesting to think with and empowering as a modern idea. This balance, between possibility and restraint, is perfectly struck in Mara’s performance, which is strong and deeply felt, yet unassuming and low-key—an ideal match for Phoenix’s Jesus.

The same observations can essentially be applied to the movie as a whole. The famous scriptural scenes that it stages—e.g., the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus casting the merchants out of the temple, the last supper, Judas’s betrayal of Jesus, even Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life—are presented as relatively subdued and resolutely human-scaled (Phoenix’s destruction of the temple plays like a spontaneous psychotic disturbance, not a righteous biblical event), often serene yet never grandiose or obvious. Davis and his actors’ approach renders these scenes somewhat less familiar, but more interesting and moving.

In his capsule review of The Passion of the Christ, Jonathan Rosenbaum lamented, "I assumed this drama about the last 12 hours of Jesus’s life would include something about his teachings, at least in flashback. But the Sermon on the Mount is reduced to two sound bites, and miracles and good works barely get a glance; director Mel Gibson stresses only cruelty and suffering, complete with slow motion and masochistic point-of-view shots." As a kind of antidote to Gibson’s suffering- and death-obsessed film, Davis’s spends remarkably little of its runtime on the crucifixion—and almost none on speculating about who was to blame for it. Included instead are a kind of greatest hits of Jesus’s canonically attested acts (if not his “teachings” in any doctrinal sense; for better and for worse, Mary Magdalene is light on theology). Filtered through the curious eyes of Rooney’s Mary Magdalene, these well-known hits play like the work of a good cover band, attempting to recover some Ur-versions of the songs in question, before their words, melodies, and rhythms became reified through mass-cultural osmosis.

Like The Passion of the Christ, Mary Magdalene was released during Lent (Lent 2018 in the UK and Australia, Lent 2019 in North America), clearly in the hopes that Christian moviegoers would slot the film in as part of their Easter season cultural-liturgical calendar. Yet, unlike Gibson’s film, Davis’s does not feel like it was made exclusively, or even primarily, for believing Christians. Nor, for that matter, does it resemble a glossy (wholly secular) Hollywood product, or a bold provocation like Scorsese’s Last Temptation. Mary Magdalene’s affect of catharsis and spiritual triumph is palpable, but mostly quite muted. It’s a film of ambivalent, uncertain feelings, even where (seemingly, on the page) it means to evoke a sense of commitment and destiny. Mara, Phoenix, and Co. do not play it that way. The resulting blurry in-between-ness makes for a fascinating and engaging film, but it may help to explain its apparent failure to “find an audience.”

It may also, at least partly (together with the unappealing optics of a delayed release, after Mary Magdalene switched hands from the Weinstein Company to IFC), account for the film’s tepid critical reception. While I’m impressed by Davis’s film, it’s not hard to understand the negative responses of some reviewers. For instance, the film’s musical score, by the Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhansson (his last before his sudden death in 2018), is grating and overbearing so long as you resist it. Yet once (if) you accept its omnipresent histrionics, it contributes immensely to the film’s dreamlike atmosphere, its symphonic scope productively juxtaposed against the strikingly modest dimensions of the drama onscreen. Not unlike, say, Malick’s The New World, Mary Magdalene is a dream of history—specifically, in both cases, a pivotal and famous chapter in the world’s history—as strange and contingent. As in an actual dream, the names and relationships feel familiar, but the motions the named people are going through are peculiar, or different from how our conscious mind “remembers” them. In contrast to Malick’s film (and his work in general), which is perhaps overloaded with difficult philosophical and theological problems, Mary Magdalene is almost a tabula rasa—a blank screen conducive to projecting many different kinds of ideas, historical, religious/“spiritual,” or otherwise—at least up until its final few scenes.

Jesus’s resurrection—i.e., the events after Mark 16:8—is where Davis’s film “wakes up,” in more ways than one. Here, the film returns to a feminist message that it had suggested (rather more subtly) near its beginning in Galilee. The ideas put forth (namely, of women as key leaders within a more truly egalitarian Christianity avant la lettre) are certainly well-intentioned and admirable, but they have not been consistently, discernibly signposted throughout the intervening narrative. Heavy-handedly emphasizing this proto-feminist Mary Magdalene right at the film’s end feels a little jarring, particularly because this is a film that is in no other way heavy-handed or didactic.

Yet, these tonal issues notwithstanding, the final meeting between Jesus and Mary is so beautifully, gracefully acted that it mitigates against Davis’s narrative missteps. Phoenix’s disarmingly gentle and kind smile has never been used to more poignant effect than it is here, and it makes for a great contrast with the scowling, weary, or simply neutral expressions that Phoenix cycles between throughout much of the film. His Jesus is less the warm and benign Good Shepherd of Christian tradition than the highly enigmatic (if highly charismatic) messianic figure evoked in many modern studies of the “Historical Jesus.” Mara’s Mary Magdalene seems both consoled and surprised by her miraculously returned leader’s kind smile. It catches her off-guard, and she can’t help but smile too.

Mary Magdalene the film is remarkable for moments like this one, precisely because they also catch us off-guard, and they invite us to imagine outside the bounds of tradition, in much the same way as reading Mark’s gospel in isolation and stopping abruptly at its original terminus, 16:8. Though Mary Magdalene goes further than that ambiguous would-be ending, it may nonetheless be said that no representation of Jesus on film (of which I’m aware, at least) does a better job of facilitating this type of imaginative interaction.

Friday

Bare Life


High Life might well be the most radical film I've ever seen at a commercial (non-festival, non-arthouse theatre) screening. A friend suggested The Tree of Life as another possibility, and while true, Malick seems like a special case insofar as audiences more or less know what to expect: major movie stars reciting very strange poetry, and often overshadowed by grass and trees in the film's final cut. Because High Life was Claire Denis' first film to receive such a wide North American release – and her first entirely in English – I went in sort of expecting a diluted, "lite" version of Denis' aesthetic. Instead, what I found was one of her most challenging and provocative works, at a multiplex that normally shows superhero movies or the like on three quarters or more of its screens (and indeed, High Life was quickly slotted out by the latest Avengers sequel). Serendipitously, it's a film that truly deserves to be seen, and heard, at such a state-of-the-art venue, but which would normally be relegated to the margins. Surely this would've been High Life's fate if not for the presumed bankability of Robert Pattinson (he and Kristen Stewart are like real-life art-film superheroes, using their Twlight afterglow as long as it lasts to help get interesting films funded and distributed) and the sci-fi/space thriller genre in general, both manipulated by Denis in wonderfully subversive ways. It seems glib to call High Life "Trouble Every Day in space," but it's not wholly inaccurate. It's an extraordinarily visceral, tactile, and at times genuinely shocking film, using its setting and ostensible genre to evoke the extreme outer limits of the vulnerability and peculiarity of human life; and it's some kind of masterpiece.

Monday

This is a tremendously insightful article, by Clare Malone. FiveThirtyEight is at its best when it gets hyper-specific and balances contemporary data with the confluence of historical circumstances that subtly shaped that data. Both as an engaging piece of prose and as cogent sociopolitical analysis, this might well be the best piece they've published to date.

Thursday

We belong to the light, we belong to the thunder in our hearts







There will be time for that, too


I already knew that Robyn was the pop star par excellence of her generation (give or take Beyoncé, who only really started caring about making great front-to-back albums eight years after Robyn, still for my money the best pure pop album of this century); but she's also one of the best, most charismatic and exciting entertainers on the planet, full stop. Just...WOW.

Friday

For what it's worth...

PICTURE
Will win: Green Book?
Should win: BlacKkKlansman
Should've been nominated: Zama

DIRECTOR
Will win: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Should win: Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman (or anyone other than Adam McKay)
Should've been nominated: Lucretia Martel, Zama; Paul Schrader, First Reformed

ACTRESS
Will win: Glenn Close, The Wife
Should win: Yalitza Aparicio, Roma or Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Should've been nominated: Regina Hall, Support the Girls

ACTOR
Will win: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Should win: Willem Dafoe, At Eternity's Gate
Should've been nominated: Ethan Hawke, First Reformed

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Will win: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Should win: Rachel Weisz or Emma Stone, The Favourite
Should've been nominated: Sakura Ando, Shoplifters

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Will win: Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Should win: Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Should've been nominated: Steven Yeun, Burning

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Will win: Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, and Peter Farrelly, Green Book
Should win: Paul Schrader, First Reformed
Should've been nominated: Ari Aster, Hereditary

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Will win: Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, and Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Should win: Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, and Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Should've been nominated: David Schneider, Ian Martin, and Peter Fellows, The Death of Stalin

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Will win: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Should win: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Should've been nominated: Hong Kyung-pyo, Burning

FILM EDITING
Will win: Hank Corwin, Vice
Should win: Barry Alexander Brown, BlacKkKlansman
Should've been nominated: Jean-Luc Godard, The Image Book

God knows, I'm ready!

And yes I said yes I will yes!

Monday

Five Things


that I really like right now:

01. Thank U, Next the album, esp. "Fake Smile," "Bad Idea," and "Break up with Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored" The instant coronation of this one as her best record to date has real merit to it. Song for song, it's stronger than Sweetener, and while I'm still partial to Dangerous Woman, the new one may pass it, too, with just a few more listens. She's terrific, and is only getting better, smarter, and more prudent in her (musical) choices.

02. The National Basketball Association, esp. the Eastern Conference match-ups post-trade deadline Well, obviously.

03. Fake or Fortune?, esp. the Van Dyck, "Mystery Old Master," Rembrandt, and Delacroix episodes I'm thoroughly addicted to this show, which is essentially about art-historical research being exciting, which it is, or can be, when the brilliant Bendor Grosvenor is involved.

04. At Eternity's Gate, esp. Willem Dafoe and Mads Mikkelsen's performancs, Benoît Delhomme's cinematography, and Tatiana Lisovskaya's score It's imperfect, yet, upon reflection, mostly in ways that make it more appealingly strange and beguiling; probably 2018's most underrated film.

05. The "Woy-yoy-yoy" song from Cold War, esp. the full choral version The movie itself is good, and often really good, but only great during its stunning musical scenes. (Not sure what to make of that ending...)

Wednesday

Performances: Retractatio


I've seen so many more terrific performances since posting this list that I've decided to update, and double, it. Insofar as I care about the Oscars, I'm decidedly bummed that Ethan Hawke was snubbed, but pleasantly surprised that Willem Dafoe made it in, for one of the best performances of his career (possibly the best). At Eternity's Gate itself –– beautiful and indelible but marked by some deeply odd and questionable technical choices –– warrants more careful consideration (I just finally saw it) and extended discussion, which I'll get around to soon...

Saturday

Weill




Tuesday

The Dumb Resistance


Vice is a bad movie about a very bad person. Because Adam McKay's film is sharply critical of its subject does not make it a good movie. It is obvious, clumsy, admittedly sporadically entertaining, but most of all, bizarrely incongruous, its many moveable parts shoehorned into a film that as a whole is barely coherent. On the one hand, its dramatic scenes feel like the stuff of a highly conventional, super-reductive biopic, a key-moments collection of Cheney's life and career, with every major decision or event compressed into the fewest number of synoptic lines possible before jumping to the next such moment. On the other hand, this series of dramatic scenes–––arranged elliptically so as to ostensibly explain who Cheney is, or what really motivates him, or whatever––are framed by a sub-Michael Moore narration–commentary that is more heavy-handed and condescending than your average left-wing conspiracy-theory amateur doc posted to YouTube; the choice to have Landry from Friday Night Lights break the fourth wall in delivering this narration was utterly ill-considered, and the scene where it's finally revealed who this narrator is in relation to Cheney's story is downright cringeworthy--arguably the dumbest movie-moment of the year if not for the scene with Alfred Molina as a waiter, which is somehow even dumber. Whatever dramatic impact Vice might have otherwise made is thoroughly undermined by McKay's lame stylistic choices.

This is a bit of a shame because some of the film's performances are quite strong, at least as uncanny impressions or amusing takes on well-known people. Christian Bale is eerily dead-on in the same way as Gary Oldman's Churchill, Meryl Streep's Margaret Thatcher, and Jamie Foxx's Ray Charles. Amy Adams is also good, if basically one-dimensional (though, curiously, her performance is at times more reminiscent of Kate McKinnon's Hillary Clinton than it is of Lynne Cheney). Steve Carrell's performance works because he hones in on a particular, distinctive aspect of Donald Rumsfeld––his impish petulance––and essentially plays him like a smarter, more evil (if no more socially adept) Michael Scott. Tyler Perry's Colin Powell and LisaGay Hamilton's Condoleeza Rice are fun, one-note touches. Sam Rockwell's George W. Bush, however, is shitty and lazy, impression-acting at its worst that dampens the scenes he shares with Bale, Carrell, et al.

As a piece of pop-polemic, Vice shares a certain cultural space with BlackKklansman, my pick for 2018's best movie. Both films blur the line between past and present, and combine fast-paced popcorn entertainment with explicit political critique. Yet, the qualitative difference between these two films could not be more extreme. It's not just the difference between a great filmmaker and a mediocre one, though that's part of it. It's that Spike Lee earns his film's incendiary coda and its presentist nods along the way with rich, sensitive storytelling; interludes like the Birth of a Nation sequence deepen, rather than distract from, the main drama. A pleasurable movie narrative ultimately gives way to profound despair and anger, and both feel wholly warranted. By contrast, Vice aims squarely to shoot fish in a barrel, and in some respects it fails even at that. When it attempts something like profundity, it feels like a ridiculous self-parody of the twenty-first-century American left.

Sunday

Secrets stolen from deep inside

Damn! Even better than "Pinot Noir" and "Boobs in California," though perhaps not the one-man geisha opera.
2018: Movies


Terrible year for the world; terrific year for movies, which is some small consolation. Though we needn't overextend the supposed correlation of bad times/good art, the year's best film might've merely been one among many very good ones if not for its galvanizing present-day coda. Of course, I'd trade a great movie for an inferior one together with less harrowing current circumstances, and I'm sure Spike Lee would too, but here we are. Radical resistance art par excellence –– or torridly making out with Amanda Seyfried –– might be all we've got as things stand.

01. BlacKkKlansman (Lee)
02. Zama (Martel)
03. First Reformed (Schrader)
04. Transit (Petzold)
05. Burning (Lee)
06. Roma (Cuarón)
07. Hereditary (Aster)
08. The Favourite (Lanthimos)
09. Microhabitat (Jeon)
10. Ash Is Purest White (Jia)

11. Lush Reeds (Yang)
12. The Image Book (Godard)
13. The Death of Stalin (Ianucci)
14. Support the Girls (Bujalski)
15. Shoplifters (Koreeda)
16. The Third Murder (Koreeda)
17. On Happiness Road (Sung)
18. Mirai (Hosoda)
19. Three Faces (Panahi)
20. Mid90s (Hill)

21. If Beale Street Could Talk (Jenkins)
22. Fausto (Bussmann)
23. Edge of the Knife (Edenshaw/Haig-Brown)
24. Hold the Dark (Saulnier)
25. Grass (Hong)
26. Cam (Goldhaber)
27. Oh Lucy! (Hirayanagi)
28. The Darling (Lee)
29. You Were Never Really Here (Ramsay)
30. Paddington 2 (King)

31. Spider-Man: Into Spider-verse (Persichetti/Ramsey/Rothman)
32. A Land Imagined (Yeow)
33. Leave No Trace (Granik)
34. The Museum of Forgotten Triumphs (Bodružić)
35. Father to Son (Hsiao)
36. Non-Fiction (Assayas)
37. Sorry to Bother You (Riley)
38. May the Devil Take You (Tjahjanto)
39. Unsane (Soderbergh)
40. Cargo (Howling/Ramke)

41. Verónica (Plaza)
42. Calibre (Palmer)
43. Diane (Jones)
44. Crazy Rich Asians (Chu)
45. Searching (Chaganty)
46. A Quiet Place (Krasinski)
47. Paul, Apostle of Christ (Hyatt)
48. Ralph Breaks the Internet (Moore/Johnston)
49. The Incredibles 2 (Bird)
50. The Endless (Benson/Moorhead)

Tuesday

Holiday complaints dept.


The Raptors, with a league-best record and one of the top five players in the league, not getting a Xmas-day game this year is ridiculous and just plain poor decision-making. Instead, we get the shitty Knicks sans Porzingis getting (inevitably) obliterated by Milwaukee, ugh. Raptors–Bucks (Kawhi vs. Giannis!) would've made for an infinitely superior game for anyone who cares about great basketball, including discerning New Yorkers. Or, for narrative: Raptors at Spurs as a much better late-slot match-up than Portland–Utah––both small-market teams with no legitimate superstar save Dame; Donovan Mitchell's not quite there yet, and as much as I like and respect Rudy Gobert, I strongly doubt that many kids outside Utah, and maybe northern France, unwrapped Gobert jerseys this morning.

Sunday

2018: Music


ALBUMS
01. Mount Eerie, Now Only
02. Robyn, Honey
03. Prince, Piano & a Microphone 1983
04. Cardi B, Invasion of Privacy
05. The Carters, Everything Is Love
06. Ariana Grande, Sweetener
07. Soccer Mommy, Clean
08. Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer
09. Mitski, Be the Cowboy
10. Lykke Li, so sad, so sexy

SINGLES
01. Drake, "Nice for What"
02. Soccer Mommy, "Your Dog"
03. The Carters, "Apeshit"
04. Ariana Grande, "Thank U, Next"
05. Robyn, "Missing U"
06. Childish Gambino, "This Is America"
07. Drake, "God's Plan"
08. Travis Scott, "Sicko Mode"
09. Cardi B, "I Like It"
10. Miley Cyrus & Mark Ronson, "Nothing Breaks Like a Heart"

Monday

Your car's a dump and you're broke

(Does Borders still exist?)
2018: 50 Performances


There are still some ostensibly key things I haven't seen yet, so I'm holding off on a year-end films list, but here's this for now; subject to revision, but really solid as is. (updated Jan. 30)

01. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
02. Willem Dafoe, At Eternity's Gate
03. Jeffrey Wright, Hold the Dark
04. Regina Hall, Support the Girls
05. Mary Kay Place, Diane
06. Zhao Tao, Ash Is Purest White
07. Toni Collette, Hereditary
08. Steven Yeun, Burning
09. Michael Jq Huang, Father to Son
10. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
11. Olivia Colman, The Favourite
12. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
13. Emma Stone, The Favourite
14. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
15. Sakura Ando, Shoplifters
16. Jeon Jong-seo, Burning
17. Madeline Brewer, Cam
18. John Cho, Searching
19. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
20. Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here
21. Koji Yakusho, The Third Murder
22. Marina de Tavira, Roma
23. Juliette Binoche, Non-Fiction
24. Thomasin McKenzie, Leave No Trace
25. Topher Grace, BlackKklansman
26. Hugh Grant, Paddington 2
27. Cedric Kyles, First Reformed
28. Amanda Seyfried, First Reformed
29. James Faulkner, Paul, Apostle of Christ
30. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
31. Steve Buscemi, The Death of Stalin
32. Na-kel Smith, Mid90s
33. Martin Freeman, Cargo
34. Kim Min-hee, Grass
35. Bryan Tyree Henry, If Beale Street Could Talk
36. Ben Foster, Leave No Trace
37. Kirin Kiki, Shoplifters
38. Esom, Microhabitat
39. Jang Jieun, The Darling
40. Daniel Giménez Cacho, Zama
41. Jay Pharoah, Unsane
42. Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place
43. Josh Hartnett, Oh Lucy!
44. Gabriel Byrne, Hereditary
45. John David Washington, BlakKklansman
46. Jennifer Jason Leigh, Annihilation
47. Armie Hammer, Sorry to Bother You
48. Christian Bale, Vice
49. Steve Carrell, Vice
50. John Malkovich, Bird Box