What a joy Paul Thomas Anderson’s freewheeling film turned out to be. It cartwheels around the San Fernando Valley armed with all the local knowledge you’d expect (PTA, of course, grew up there), a cast of maverick characters – real (Bradley Cooper’s deranged movie exec Jon Peters) and otherwise (Sean Penn’s William Holden-like Hollywood warhorse, Jack Holden) – and a script loaded with zingers. Best of all were its two leads, Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman, who brought all the warmth and soul needed to tie it all touchingly together.
Kristen Stewart playing Lady Di, Daniel Craig bowing out as 007 in a flurry of stupidly epic set pieces, Jane Campion delivering a gold-standard western and Spielberg reminding us how great he can be with a kinetic new take on West Side Story... truly the movie gods spoiled us this year, and lord knows we deserved it after the year we’ve all had.
There were new releases from Paul Thomas Anderson, two Chloé Zhao films and a superhero flick that introduced polka dots as a superpower, instantly empowering mild-mannered haberdashers everywhere.
With opportunities ahead to catch up on the films you might have missed, here are Time Out’s picks of the very best of the year to you help prioritise. By way of small print: as long as a film was in cinemas somewhere in the world between January and December, it qualifies for the list.