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The Top 10 Films of 2024 (So Far)

July 1, 2024
Hunter Friesen
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I don’t know if it should be cause for celebration or concern, but we’ve reached the halfway mark of 2024, seemingly faster than any year before. This moment places us at a crossroads, able to equally look back at what’s already happened, and continue to look forward to what’s to come. Before we dive even deeper into the months ahead, I’d like to take a moment and be thankful for the best that cinema has had to offer us in this initial half.

According to my Letterboxd list, I’ve seen a whopping 78 new releases, a number that is slightly inflated as many titles were seen at 2023 festivals, while others were seen at festivals this year and have yet to be released. To promote equality among the contenders, I’ll only be ranking the films that have been made available to the public before June 30, which disqualifies great works like The Apprentice and Emilia Perez, both of which have a strong chance of showing up on this list at the end of the year.

10. The Beekeeper

It only took until the second week of January for 2024 to get its best bad movie of the year. This Jason Statham-starring revenge flick is what mindless action movies should strive for, although I’m not sure writer Kurt Wimmer and director David Ayer would be able to share how they’ve crafted a movie that is both self-aware and totally oblivious to being so bad it’s good. Full Review

9. Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell

Vietnamese writer/director Phan Thien An has created a film of extraordinary uniqueness, aligning closely with the extreme slow cinema works of Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Béla Tarr.

Every scene is comprised of a single take, all of them extraordinary feats of production on account of their length and complexity. Time is often at a standstill, with no one ever seeming to be in a rush or wanting to have a direct conversation. Your attitude towards this style will be determined quickly, most likely in your ability to stay awake. But even those who drift off from time to time will have their dreams permeated by images from the film. It’s part of the experience, a little piece of the film that sticks with you, something the large majority of other works fail to do.

8. I Saw the TV Glow

I couldn't tell what feelings I was experiencing while watching I Saw the TV Glow, but I can definitely tell you I was feeling something. There was terror, bewilderment, wonder, curiosity, nostalgia, and some sort of feeling of childhood innocence. And yet there was none of those things, at least in the forms I’d expected or had experienced before. I stared at the screen with the same hypnotized energy as the main characters watching their favorite show, The Pink Opaque. Was I enjoying what I was watching, and did it even make sense? I didn’t know then, and I still don’t know now. But I can’t get it out of my head, and that’s what’s most important. Full Review

7. Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Furiosa may not surpass Fury Road, but I don’t think that was ever the intention, at least not directly. At the very least, it’ll be regarded as the best pure action film of the year, and be another be another notch for Miller’s claim to be the best to ever do it. It’s too bad the box office wasn’t able to meet the challenge, as Miller deserves to be given carte blanche to venture out into the desert and cook up something just as epically fun as this. Full Review

6. Challengers

If there’s one thing that Luca Guadagnino understands about sports, it’s the sex appeal. Muscles are perpetually firm and clenched, sweat hangs on the brow and slips off perfectly chiseled jaws, and outbursts of enthusiasm share the same primal feelings from the bedroom. With his adaptation of William S. Burroughs Queer barreling down the pipeline, 2024 will surely be Guadagnino’s year, and we’re all going to have a fun time basking in it. Full Review

5. Hit Man

If you still weren’t convinced about Glen Powell’s movie star charisma after Top Gun: Maverick and Anyone But You, then Hit Man will certainly be the successful pitch. Richard Linklater's film is a sexy romantic comedy pairing Powell with Adria Arjona to electric results. It’s devilishly fun, packing a smart script (by Linklater & Powell) that matches well with its antics.

4. Kinds of Kindness

If The Favourite and Poor Things were one for them, then Kinds of Kindness is one for me. It’s a film that Greek Weird Wave writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos has been working on for a few years now with his usual partner Efthimis Filippou, almost as if he knew he wouldn’t be allowed to unleash it unless he built up enough street cred through those two Oscar-winning period pieces. The result is another work of the macabre, a blending of his nastier Greek projects with the prestige of his star-studded English-language cohorts. Full Review

3. Evil Does Not Exist

Drive My Car writer/director and all-around arthouse superstar Ryûsuke Hamaguchi makes his most outspoken work with Evil Does Not Exist. The tranquility of a Japanese village is being threatened by the introduction of a “glamping” (glamorous + camping) site proposed by a talent agency. The site would negatively impact much of the environment around it, with many of the village resident’s livelihoods being forever altered.

Despite being clear in his message, Hamaguchi never eviscerates the villains of this story. The extreme slow cinema approach will test the patience of many expecting a return to the relative leanness of Drive My Car. Those who embrace the molasses will find themselves powerfully transported to one of the few places left that hasn’t been bulldozed by capitalism.

2. Dune: Part Two

Just as he did with Blade Runner 2049, Denis Villeneuve has accomplished what has long been thought to be impossible with Dune: Part Two. There’s no doubt that fans of the 2021 film will be overjoyed with what’s served here, and that previous detractors such as myself will be won over by the improved scale and direction of the saga. Fear is the mind-killer to all those on Arrakis. But there is no fear for those of us on Earth, as one of the best films of 2024 and of the science-fiction genre has been bestowed upon us. Full Review

1. The Beast

Bertrand Bonello’s The Beast is the pretentious European version of Cloud Atlas, which is a statement that tells you everything you need to know about whether you’ll like it or not. Bonello jumps between 1904, 2014, and 2044, intersplicing the three time periods to tell a story about love conquering time. Léa Seydoux and George MacKay play characters in each period, navigating the unknowable connection they feel for each other. It’s overindulgent and excessive, with Bonello displaying a mastery of tone and vision across the 146 minutes. There’s passion, fear, humor, drama, and everything in between. I’ve seen it twice now, and am already itching for another go around.

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