So the Oscars are coming tonight with possibly one of the most bizarre slate of films for nominees I have seen in years. What’s even stranger than the usual films that only a critic who has no contact with actual humans is that a movie that should have checked every pretentious check box AND was actually good somehow didn’t even get so much as vaguely acknowledge. It was a strange year, least of which is that I can actually get a full top 10 movies out of 2018 (long time readers know this is not always the case).
So here we go.
Let’s start out with honorable mentions, and there were a lot of them:
Gringo: a quirky, dark comedish drama/morality play about one man’s journey through a personal hell of betrayal.
The House with a Clock in Its Walls: A fun little children’s story with the added benefit of offering a strong jumping off point on letting your children know about evils of the Holocaust without having to get into too much detail.
I Feel Pretty: I usually don’t think much of Amy Schumer’s humor—it’s typically a little too crude and low brow for my tastes—but while the plot of this film was so predictable we all could have given a 100% correct outline from the trailer alone, it was adorable, sweet, and in the end correct in its central message about self-confidence.
Game Night: It was funny. Not much more than that. But it was funny.
Ocean’s 8: I was worried going in but I have to say this is probably the second best Ocean’s film.
Tully: It’s hard to describe this film in detail because there are several spoilers I don’t want to give away, but it was a touching look at the midlife crisis of a woman suffering from postpartum depression.
The Spy Who Dumped Me: Again this was just stupid fun, although I wouldn’t mind them attempting a sequel, even it it probably won’t be as good.
Deadpool 2: On that note it wasn’t quite as good as the first one, and I have no intention of seeing the PG-13 monstrosity that they tried to force on us. If Disney doesn’t try to water it down I have hopes for a third one. Also the Brad Pitt cameo was unspeakably wonderful.
Mission Impossible Fallout: Not the best of the MI films (III) but certainly nowhere near the worst (II)
Christopher Robin: It was predictable and saccharine, but it had a perfect representation of Milne’s classic characters.
But let’s get to the real top 10 films of the year:
When I first saw the trailers for this I thought it was going to be really stupid. But I gave it a chance and was pleasantly impressed by how the writers turned an otherwise stupid true story into a heartfelt, albeit still ridiculous, tale of friendship and what really matters in life.
#9 Crazy Rich Asians
I’ll admit that this isn’t the greatest film of all time, but romantic comedies have been lacking for the last decade or so and this movie was a return to form for the genre. I think the movie got too much attention the heritage of the cast and not enough to the fact that it is a very good movie. Which is unfortunate because it deserves to be praised on it’s own merits not just because it checks off some SJW box.
#8 Red Sparrow
This was a great thriller, that, unlike the current administration, understands what kind of shit run Russia and how they need to be opposed at every turn. Jennifer Lawrence, as always, turned in a stellar performance capturing both the strength and weakness of a woman caught between numerous forces that all want to use her.
Probably the least known film on this list, the story follows a bisexual woman navigating having to return to the religiously orthodox community she grew up in. I think this movie dances very well on a knife’s edge in both condemning religious intolerance and at the same time showing the virtues that be found in belief. Of Rachel Weiz’s performances this year, this is far superior to her nominated role in The Favourite.
#6 Incredibles 2
While a little thematically weaker than the first movie, this sequel was exceptionally good and well worth the wait for it.
#5 A Simple Favor
This comedy/mystery/thriller/romance shows that Anna Kendrick is not just the actress from Pitch Perfect, but an actress who can actually carry serious story lines. I really hope a sequel is written where the momblog continues to solve crimes.
#4 Bad Times at the El Royale
Drew Goddard again shows that it was the writers of Mutant Enemy and not Whedon that made all of those tv shows great. This multilayered story of various criminal enterprises combing to a head at the worst resort in world. While the writing and directing was superb, it was actually a thrill to see that Dakota Johnson can act and should not be judged by that horrible series of films we will never talk about.
#3 Destination Wedding
I don’t think I have ever seen a whole movie carried entirely by only two actors. With one brief exception of a character off screen the entire film’s dialogue is only Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves talking to each other with delightfully cynical and morose lines. I had thought that truly great romantic comedies were a thing of the past but this movie proved that supposition wrong.
#2 A Star is Born
It only took four times to get this movie right. Unlike the previous versions that were either sappily stupid or emotionally unfulfilling (not to mention questionably acted in all previous versions) this is the first time that the characters were fully realized characters. His death actually made sense this time rather than just serving the plot. This was the first time the movie didn’t make you hate male lead because it wasn’t his jealousy of his wife driving his destruction. And while I’m not thrilled with all the music “Shallow” does have a haunting beauty to it. But, Hollywood, please, never make this movie again. This time was perfect, don’t make it a fifth time. I look forward to more movies directed by Cooper, and more acting from Lady Gaga (and I can only hope more music in the pop genre that I might actually want to listen to…her voice has just been wasted on the styles she has put out before this).
Great cast. Thrilling story. Relevant social commentary on racism, corruption, misogyny without ever getting heavy handed. This movie is not only stellar in terms of writing, directing, and acting but it checks every box that the preachy loons of the intelligentsia love…and yet it barely got any recognition all awards season. I don’t get it. This should have been a movie that both critics and the general public should have agreed on was a great movie. I can only assume that because the director already got an undeserved award for Twelve Years A Slave (it was great history, but good history does not necessarily make for a good story, and there were numerous directorial choices that were highly flawed in that film that were no in Widows). I can only think that critics are actually opposed to real quality because this movie deserves all the praise.
Worst film of the year. Part of me wants to say that Justice League was so bad it wasn’t just the worst film of 2017 it will be the worst film of every year for quite a while (damn you Whedon and WB executives for allowing this disgusting filth to defile what should have been a great movie, damn you to the special hell). But to be fair there were some truly horrible movie in 2018 in their own right. Marvel continued to put out brainless schlock that was the cinema equivalent of the a week old Big Mac, but none of it was truly terrible. Solo was a mess but it’s not like anything in that franchise has any value beyond nostalgia. I just don’t get why every critic is raving about The Favorite, (nor why the main actresses are up for supporting awards, and the supporting actress is up for a best actress award—makes no sense whatsoever), but, oh well, critics love crap, always have, always will. Roma is typical Hollywood trash is all style with absolutely substance. But what the truly worst film of the year is Wrinkle in Time. Not only does it look like a poorly made for TV movie that was rushed into production, but it was clear that they did not even bother to look at the book. Anti-communist themes in the book are turned into anti-capitalist themes, the main character showed none of Meg’s strength from the book, and I’m sorry but Chris Pine is just a godawful actor—any movie where his character is still alive at the end is trash and this movie is no exception.