Well, 2019 is here (as expected), and looking back over the past year, it already seems like a hazy dream. Did we really applaud the decision to wipe out half the universe? Did Netflix ever release a comedy that actually made us laugh? Can it really have been the year when both Nicolas Roeg and Bernardo Bertolucci died within days of each other, and IMDb didn’t even mention either sad event? And was it really the year in which a Transformers movie received good reviews? Strange times, indeed.
It was another year of big-budget, underperforming blockbusters (The Predator, Robin Hood, Mortal Engines), and a year where only sixteen movies made over $500 million at the international box office (down from nineteen in 2017). Avengers: Infinity War swept all before it – as we all knew it would – and was one of six superhero movies in the year’s Top 10 (and one of six sequels). Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians showed that positive ethnic representations could succeed at the box office, though it remains to be seen if these will be followed by other, similarly successful movies, while recent award-winning directors such as Damien Chazelle and Luca Guadagnino saw their movies (First Man, Suspiria respectively) succeed critically though not necessarily financially.
If anything, 2018 was a year in which the movies continued in much the same vein as 2017, highlighting the stagnant nature of most mainstream fare, and despite more platforms for viewing than ever before, reinforcing the notion that being able to watch a movie that strayed deliberately and effectively from the norm was just as difficult as it’s ever been. Even niche outlets such as Mubi found that the response to their curated offerings didn’t always match their expectations. Arthouse movies continued to find it hard to make much of an impact outside of festivals, and outlets for short movies seemed to have dried up altogether, with only Vimeo appearing to champion the format.
In the world of movie blogs, the emphasis remained firmly on reviewing the latest new releases (whether at cinemas or on Netflix), but without any apparent awareness or concern that what was being said on one site was often being repeated on another (and another…). What was always gratifying was when sites took the time to explore non-mainstream movies, or cinema in wider contexts. With so many movies being released each year, focusing on the few continued to feel redundant and restrictive. Here at thedullwoodexperiment, the decision not to review movies such as Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Aquaman seemed more and more appropriate as the year played out – and will continue in 2019.
Finally, two words about one particular movie released in 2018: Venom. A spectacular train wreck of a superhero origin story, it somehow managed to be the fifth highest earning movie of the year, raking in an astonishing $855,156,907 across the globe. And the two words? How and why?