This year, however, we're in a different situation. Early in the year, Wes Anderson's gorgeous (if twee) Isle of Dogs came out, and in June Pixar/Disney released Incredibles 2 (which does have a really awesome sequence where a baby fights a racoon but which ends up being only just fine). And here we are in December and Spider-man: into the Spider-verse, Ralph Breaks the Internet, and Mirai are all in theatres.
There are even two additional contenders for this category, as far as I can tell. Those are Nick Park's Early Man and Milorad Krstić's Ruben Brandt, Collector (which I want to see whether it gets nominated or not).
* * *
...And it is one of my favorite things I saw this year. Mirai is the story of little two-year-old Kun, whose parents bring home a baby sister. The little boy is inevitably jealous, as his parents divert some of their attention to the little girl and away from him. In the world of Mirai, however, Kun is visited by a few impossible guests, including his sister as a middle-schooler. (The title of the movie, Mirai, is the girl's name, but it also means the future. In Japanese the title is a pun: 未来のミライ – Mirai from the Future.)
This is a magical, deeply moving film. It starts off simple, with the smallest of problems, but it becomes a gorgeous meditation on family connections, what we pass down through our familial lines, the histories of our ancestry, and the importance of letting small things go in favor of big relationships. I fell in love with this film and I can't recommend it enough.
* * *And then there's the sequel to Wreck-it-Ralph, Ralph Breaks the Internet. The original film came out in 2012, so I have to confess to forgetting whether I liked it or not. This is actually why I keep a blog in the first place, because I can never remember why (or sometimes even whether) I liked a movie or not. In any case, I saw Ralph Breaks the Internet and thought it was very, very stupid.
It's worth saying, I think, that one of the reasons I really disliked this movie is that I think Sarah Silverman's acting is very bad. John C. Reilly is great – he's always great – and he plays his big, dumb character with sincerity and sensitivity. But Silverman is doing this phony little kid voice that a) doesn't sound like a little kid at all and b) sounds like an adult's commentary on a little kid. It's as though the entire performance is a kind of tongue-in-cheek critique of how stupid little kids are. (And I don't think kids are stupid at all, so I don't understand why this movie thinks they are.)
What annoyed me about it so much is that Ralph Breaks the Internet thinks its audience is stupid. The jokes are all stupid, the "lessons" it has to "teach" are all stupid, and although it purports to be a movie about the internet, it has nothing interesting to say about the internet at all. It is simply filled with a bunch of things we already know about the internet. Its plot is all clichés and its sentiments are all hackneyed. I haven't seen a lot of movies I've hated in 2018, but this is easily the worst thing I've seen all year. It doesn't even try to be a good movie.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is a complete and total waste of time. (Oh, I finally looked to see whether or not I liked the original Wreck-it-Ralph. Turns out, I didn't. I ranked it 73 out of 87 in 2012. Right below The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey.)
* * *But why keep trashing Ralph Breaks the Internet when I could be talking about how fucking awesome Spider-man: into the Spider-verse is?
The importance here is on the visuals, which are the coolest I've seen in maybe the last five years. This film is endlessly inventive, totally bizarre, and completely delightful. It has an awesome soundtrack, but mostly it just looks so cool. Into the Spider-verse replicates the look of a comic book in fascinating ways, as though you're inside a moving comic book. I saw it in 3D and I think that's an absolute must. The movie uses several comic book devices as it tells its story, and it continued to surprise me, throughout its entire length, including during its (very cool) end credits sequence.
I can't recommend this movie enough. I've put it at #3 for the year – above most of the year's "best" movies, including Roma, A Star Is Born, BlacKkKlansman, and Black Panther.