Top Ten Movies of 2018

 

10. – SPIDER-MAN INTO THE SPIDERVERSE – December 14th
The best animated film of the year kicks of the “Best of 2018” list.  The movie was innovative in several different ways.  It looked and moved like a comic book.  Quietly championing diversity by including different versions of Spider-Man, our main character had black and Latino roots.  In a movie geared towards children, I learned a ton about Spider-Man from this movie.  This story sees Spider-Man running into several other versions of Spider-Man in an effort to save the real Spider-Man.  Every character featured in Into The Spiderverse is a real character w/ a comic centered around him or her.  It was laugh out loud funny throughout.  With Nic Cage and John Mulaney stealing scenes left and right.  The best Spider-Man movie in about 15 years.   Quote me on it.

Spider-Man Into the Spiderverse is still in theaters.

 

9. – HALLOWEEN – October 19th
40 years after the original, the creative team behind Pineapple Express made America love the slasher movie again.  Michael Myers returns in this sequel that ignores the other sequels building towards the final(?) confrontation between Michael and Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode character.  Clearly caring about its source material, Halloween was a throwback type of movie.  Fun, scary, with just enough plot to keep a person interested in why everything happens.  The original is my favorite movie of all-time, I was skeptical at first, but could not resist what I was given.  A treat that they pulled it off.

Halloween (2018) is on Blu-Ray and DVD Tuesday.

 

8. – HEREDITARY – June 8th
One of the more controversial selections on this list.  Hereditary didn’t have a lot of things people were looking for in a horror movie.  Not a lot of blood and guts, not the most satisfying ending, but enough of psychological head games for me to love.  Sometimes the scariest things aren’t a man wielding a butcher knife, but the problems existing within your own family.   Or even your own head.  A family is torn apart after grandma’s death.  That’s really all I can say without spoiling anything.  Toni Collette delivers a powerhouse performance.  Hereditary is filled with moments you won’t forget.  In June I called it a victim of its own overhyped advertising.  Billed as The Exorcist for a new generation, it isn’t that.  Billed as the scariest movie of all-time, it’s far from that.  Hereditary will make you think, a lot of people don’t watch scary movies for that.  So it did turn a lot of people off.  A lot of people didn’t like the ending.  I’m not saying it did it for me either, but I can’t fault a movie for nailing the first two hours, and missing on the final four minutes.  I can’t overlook the 95% good this movie delivers.

Hereditary is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

 

7. – WIDOWS – November 16th
If you’ve listened to this show, or read my blog, or follow me on Twitter, you know I’m a huge fan of Widows.  It can do a lot of things for a lot of different audiences.  It can be a straight up heist thriller, if that’s all you want.  It can be an allegory on systematic oppression, if you want it to be.  It can be a female empowerment anthem, if you want it to be.  It can be as meaningful or as innocent as you, the viewer, want it to be.  The story of three women whose husbands die in a heist gone wrong, must finish the job or be killed by a gang member running for public office in Chicago.  Widows sports an all-star cast led by Viola Davis (Oscar nom…PLEASE!), Liam Neeson, Michelle Rodriguez, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, and more faces you’ll recognize even though their names may escape you.  Widows is the single closest thing I’ve ever seen resembling the HBO drama The Wire.  And that is incredibly high praise coming from me.  Action packed, tense, and enough subtle messages to make it meaningful, Widows is not to be missed.

Widows is still in theaters.

 

6. – AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR – April 27th
The most anticipated movie of the year delivered on every conceivable level.  The third, and penultimate, Avengers movie was the beginning of the end for many of our heroes, and more importantly the contracts of the actors who play them.  It also featured the most talked about moment at the movies this year.  Infinity War succeeds by having over two dozen main characters and the movie never feels jumbled.  It could have been a gigantic mess assembling every character from every Marvel movie over the last decade into one film.  Infinity War also introduces something relatively new to the Marvel Cinematic Universe…stakes.  We know some of these actors are not returning.  We know this is the end of the road for some of The Avengers.  But who and how are the real questions.  A prime example of the journey being more important than the end.  It also introduced a sympathetic villain.  A key to Marvel’s success this year was villains who had a point.  Thanos made some excellent arguments on his quest to destroy half of Earth’s population.  And you felt for him along the way.  Infinity War is only half the story though.  April 2019 sees the release of Avengers: Endgame, the second part to this story.  It will easily become the highest grossing movie of all-time.

Avengers: Infinity War is now streaming on Netflix.

 

5. – MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT – July 27th
The most surprising hit of the summer saw the best action sequences of the year, for me.  That bathroom fight was the best action scene of the year.  Mission: Impossible – Fallout is the sixth time Tom Cruise has suited up as the Ethan Hunt character, and normally by the sixth installment these types of movies become flat and imitate the previous iterations.  Fallout, however, marks an uptick for the franchise.  A series that has steadily gotten better with each chapter since the “reboot” fourth movie in 2011.  Introducing Henry Cavill, the artist formerly known as Superman into the fold as a government agent tasked with helping Hunt find a shipment of plutonium so it isn’t used for nefarious reasons.  Mission: Impossible movies are always made better knowing that Tom Cruise does not employ a stunt double.  The big stunt this time around is the first ever HALO jump caught on film.  High Altitude, Low Oxygen.  Does it make sense in the plot of the movie?  No, not really.  But it’s a sight to behold.  And Mission: Impossible – Fallout is the perfect popcorn for those tired of the steady diet of caped crusaders at the multiplex.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is on Blu-Ray and DVD now.

 

4. – WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? – June 8th
The Mr. Rogers documentary was a treat to watch.  One of the out of nowhere surprises from 2018.  The doc examines the life of its star, Fred Rogers, and the impact of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood which ran for over three decades.  Starting from before the series began, we learn about Rogers’ time as a seminary student.  His rules for the show, and how the show impacted multiple generations of tots.  912 episodes shepherded kids through everything from the Kennedy Assassination to 9/11.    All topics that the show’s star saw fit to discuss directly with his audience.  With a gentle hand and a love for imagination, Mr. Rogers is a one of a kind Icon in children’s entertainment.  The movie is not all a puff piece though, it asks tough questions of its subject, wondering if the show softened an entire nation.  Won’t You Be My Neighbor was the best documentary of the year in a year FULL of great documentaries, a trend that can credit streaming giants like Netflix for creating a market where entertainment and education can merge.  Gee…wonder where a nation of young adults got the appetite for that?

Won’t You Be My Neighbor is available on Blu-Ray and DVD, but also premieres on HBO February 9th.

 

3. – A STAR IS BORN – October 5th
The fourth version of the classic Hollywood fable came out this fall and has been an Oscar lock ever since.  I’d be shocked if this wasn’t your Best Picture winner.  I’d be shocked if Lady Gaga didn’t walk away with two Oscars.  One for singing, and one for acting.  Bradley Cooper might walk away with some hardware as well.  Maybe for Best Actor, maybe for an impressive directorial debut.  An obvious update of the versions done in 1937, 54, and 76 respectively, but what keeps us coming back to this story is the timeless feel.  A drunk washed up singer ushers in a new voice that takes the world by storm.  Any era will eat up that story, and if you tell it properly you get the phenomenon that is the 2018 version of A Star is Born.  Bradley Cooper trained himself to sing, and lower his voice an entire octave.  Lady Gaga trusted him to pull the music element of the movie off.  Lady Gaga’s big screen debut saw Cooper trusting her to pull off the acting.  A timeless story, when told with the utmost care, can still sweep us off our feet.  The ol’ adage of “they don’t make movies like that anymore” hasn’t been this true in a while.

A Star is Born will be released on DVD & Blu-Ray February 19th.

 

2. – A QUIET PLACE – April 6th
The best scary movie of 2018 was best seen in theaters as quickly as possible.  The more intel you got on this movie, the worse off you were.  The more other people’s opinions got into your head, the worse off you were.  The movie is best viewed in a completely dark, completely quiet theater with no distractions.  A unique problem.   A Quiet Place is the story of a post-apocalyptic world where if you make a sound, monsters will swoop in and kill you.  There are some other, more fine print rules that the internet ripped apart.  But that’s not what the movie is really about.  I never understand why people who watch horror movies are never able to understand the subtext that a horror movie, when well done, is never about the surface issue.  There’s always something deeper.  A Quiet Place is about the love of family.  What would you do for the people you love most?  Directed by self-proclaimed horror greenhorn John Krasinski, A Quiet Place is another in a long stream of truly GREAT horror movies directed by people we classify as comedians.  Jordan Peele directed Get Out last year.  Jim from The Office directed this.  Although, Krasinski is rapidly breaking that “comedian” label with his wide assortment of projects.  Real life wife Emily Blunt co-stars as a pregnant mother doing everything she can to protect her family and newborn baby.  The movie sets an eerie mood, and the less you know concerning what’s about to happen the better, the more open you are to the journey, the better.  The movie delivered for a lot of people.  But there are some valid criticisms of the movie out there as well.  For me, it was the best theater experience of the year sitting in a quiet theater, you could hear a pin drop, and having no idea what was going to happen next.  Getting an emotional story with a great deal of impact was the most rewarding experience of the year.

A Quiet Place is streaming on Epix and available on Blu-Ray & DVD.

 

1. – BLACK PANTHER – February 16th
It’s rare for a movie to sit atop this list for 45 weeks.  In fact, it’s unprecedented for me.  But here we are.  The 18th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was the first to feature a black superhero.  And in the process, it created an entire world.  The fictitious country of Wakanda was fully fleshed out and a triumph of modern movie making.  And it actually has nothing to do with race, for me.  Black Panther told the story of Wakanda’s King and the challenger to that throne.  The villain Killmonger, played expertly by Michael B. Jordan was the single best character I saw in 2018.  Much like Thanos in Infinity War, Killmonger had a point.  He didn’t just want to destroy the planet for the sake of destroying the planet.  He has a rightful claim to the throne.  And he’s willing to fight for it.  By movie’s end you feel sympathy for him.  That’s great storytelling.  That’s something these comic book movies have been lacking for the last few years.  Black Panther also, in a very sly way, champions the role women play.  T’Challa may be King, but he can’t do it alone.  Black Panther is also, conservatively, the fourth or fifth best character in this movie.  The movie is all about him, but so many other characters got to shine and succeed.  I credit director Ryan Coogler with that.  Black Panther is a fun ride, full of action, and humor.  It’s got that traditional Marvel movie feel, but at times it felt like what I was watching was special, and Marvel movies haven’t felt that way in a long time.  A lot of Marvel movies the past decade have been more about the next Marvel instead of the Marvel movie you’re currently watching.  Black Panther allows you to stop and enjoy the world put before you.  And it was a sight to behold.

Black Panther is now streaming on Netflix.

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