by Simon Ong
6. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Directed by Bob Perischetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman, screenplay by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman
I am of two minds when it comes to Sony’s continued use of the Spider-Man-related properties while granting Marvel Studios use of Spider-Man in their larger Cinematic Universe. On the one hand, we get something like Venom: one of my least favorite films of the year. A film so bland, so creatively bankrupt that it exists solely as a quick cash-grab and whose unfortunate success now leaves poor Kevin Fiege with an army of Sony executives hounding him to get Venom in the MCU. On the other hand, we got Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Spider-Verse is a crowning achievement in animated storytelling. It takes the Spider-Man mythos that audiences are so familiar (this being the fourth iteration of Spider-Man since 2002) and completely turns it on its head, introducing the world to Miles Morales who, in addition to our usual Peter Parker, is far from the only Spider-Man out there in the multiverse. Spider-Verse’s animation is like a moving comic book, in a style that is at once faithful to its source material but at the same time unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Spider-Verse proves why the superhero mythos has become so popular, boiling it down to its bare essentials. It’s great fun and has great spectacle, but it also speaks to the inherent good in each of its characters and, in turn, in each of us. Special shout-out to the filmmakers for being brave enough to give us the Spider-Ham we’ve always deserved. For that, as well as a myriad of other things, this movie is an absolute treasure.
5. Mission: Impossible — Fallout
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie, screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie
While perhaps not technically unprecedented, the trajectory of the Mission: Impossible series is a highly unusual one. From humble beginning with 1996’s Mission: Impossible to a truly bad Mission: Impossible II in 2002, J.J. Abrams’s Mission: Impossible III was the first installment to really prove what this franchise could be. That was only improved upon both in Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol and Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation. McQuarrie returned again to the franchise this summer for Mission: Impossible — Fallout which, by far, stands as the high-point of the franchise. It’s a testament to the filmmakers that the story can often rely on such familiar tropes and yet manage to keep them fresh and exciting so many years later, thanks in part to some the biggest and best set pieces we’ve as of yet seen. The success of this sixth entry also has much to do with the return of Sean Harris’s Solomon Lane from Rogue Nation as well as the introduction of Henry Cavill’s August Walker who both play well against the usual charm of Tom Cruise. Say what you will about Cruise and his personal life, but the core of the Mission: Impossible franchise still very much lies with him and the authenticity in his insistence in doing his own stunts. McQuarrie takes the opportunity with this installment to step back and look at the franchise as a whole and attempt to put a ribbon on it. There’s a feeling of finality in Fallout that grants the film a sort of gravitas not present in previous installments. I don’t know what the future plans are for the series but it’s become increasingly clear that Tom Cruise can’t do this forever, so if Fallout were to be our farewell to Mission: Impossible after 22 years, I can’t imagine a better way to send it off.