Well fellas, its that time of the year again!
First, I apologize for not getting enough content out recently. Last year and earlier this year have been sort of rough on me mentally. Therefore, I took a little break to go traveling for a bit and have been planning to launch my personal travel blog ever since. But, seeing as I’m going to bootcamp in about around less than 3 months as a cadet, I’ve decided its time to get cracking on some more blog posts before my next job starts (yes, you get a salary in the military). And think about it, the Oscars are hosted in February of this year anyways.
Plus, I’ve been tending to some other duties as well.
Seeing as 2018 was a dreadful year for blockbusters, I’m anticipating this year to be the complete opposite. There’ve been so many great big budget movies announced, from the finale to the Avengers quadrilogy with Endgame; to Keanu Reeves supposedly final outing as John Wick; and to the big G’s battle for survival in Godzilla: King of Monsters.
But alas, 2018 hasn’t been awful for movies either. In fact, indie flicks have been doing just as well, if not better, than it ever has. So, here’s the countdown to my top 15 favorite movies of 2018. Why top 15? Because top 10 lists are overrated, and I was born on the third day of May. Hence 5 multiplied by 3 equates to 15!
Before I start my countdown, here are some honorable mentions that are great, but haven’t managed to make my list for certain reasons:
Nazis decide to create an army of mad Captain America clones with a super serum but are met with opposition from the US Army. A violent romp throughout that’s perfect for fans of Wolfenstein and Call of Duty: Zombies but doesn’t innovate enough to stand out from the crowd.
Avengers: Infinity War
One of Marvel Studios most surprising installments yet, that cements itself as being at the very least better than DC right now. Infinity War may have won the award for “Most shocking ending yet,” as well as having a relatively good villain in Thanos, whose motivation makes a lot more sense than most Marvel baddies (who are just complete dicks really).
Bit of a guilty pleasure of mine to be honest. Bryan Singer may be a despicable human being and it does come across as being a generic, by-the-numbers biopic, but gosh dang I’m a huge diehard fan of Queen. I used to sing their songs during talent shows back in my childhood.
Definitely a critical darling, with director Alfonso Cuaron displaying absolute expertise in his field with his state-of-the-art directing techniques. A fantastic film in its own right but does come across as being rather dull to my eyes.
Mission Impossible: Fallout
One of the better installments in the Mission Impossible franchise with its action set pieces, along with Tom Cruise’s stuntwork putting him even more at risk of landing at the foot of Death’s doorstep, elevated to grandiose levels. Despite this, it’s still a somewhat generic thrill ride.
Yorgos Lanthimos is polarizing to me. While I love his direction and knack for making certain mundane situations seem absolutely horrifying, the stories he tries to direct just don’t seem to have much love or spirit poured into them. The characters are far too lifeless, and the doll-like relationships make it hard for me to care about them.
The Death of Stalin
Classy and witty, this film is a humorous take on the mannerisms expressed by politicians during a time when a dictator has passed. Fixated on the turmoil and tensions raised as political actors aim to take Stalin’s place as General Secretary of the Communist Party, director Amando Iannucci uses a combination of wit, satire and dark comedy to fashion a slow-paced, yet fascinating portrayal of the USSR during the 1950s.
Now, on to the actual countdown:
15) Eighth Grade
Eighth Grade speaks volumes to me as an introvert. As a person categorized as INFP by the Myers-Briggs test, I found many parallels between myself and Kayla when I was her age. The notion of putting yourself out there, forcing yourself to talk with others and being treated as if you’re non-existent, is overwhelming to the life of an introverted individual. This film also deserves massive props for being Bo Burnham’s first outing as a director, and so far, he’s done an amazing job with it.
Blindspotting is a psychological term, used to indicate a person whom people have a different perception of, one that may not be true of that individual’s character. And to recent convict Collin, this term makes a whole lot of sense to him as because of his skin color, he’s viewed as a criminal that deserves to be executed by the police force. While the film delves deep into the prevalence of racism in the US law enforcement, it also explores the idea of friendship as Collin is exposed to the violent nature of his prison buddy, Miles. Because of this, it does make you question the morals that our friends and coppers abide by.
13) Deadpool 2
A laugh riot with some of the funniest jokes, 4th wall breaking humor and references I’ve bared witness to. Its pretty much a parody of the X-men films where Colossus is a homosexual Russian who eats protein bars for breakfast, the rest of the X-men were basically in hiding from Wade Wilson himself, and the film Logan is constantly mocked throughout with its penultimate ending acting as a kind of plot point. Just be aware though, this film does spoil Logan, a lot.
12) Bad times at the El Royale
Bad Times is what happens when Drew Goddard, the director of Cabin in the Woods, decides to unleash his inner Tarantino. What has been given to us is a non-linear tale about a murder mystery taking place at a hotel, where all the character’s backstories tie the plot together. It starts out without giving audience members much info on who the characters even are, and through their subtle actions, keeps them on edge by unraveling their dark secrets gradually. Everybody has a secret in this film and its what kept me glued to my screen – the idea that none of the characters are whom they seem.
11) The Ballard of Buster Struggs
There’s something up with The Coen Brothers – they haven’t at all made a less than a masterful movie. I guess we come up with a term for that ha-ha. Anyways, this film is a series of short segments all focusing on a dissimilar way of life in the old west, ranging from showing an elderly prospector trying desperately to retrieve some gold, to a bank robber trying to rob from a crazy banker (who happens to have a strange fixation for frying pans). And well, what more do you need to know? It’s a Coen Brother’s flick after all.
10) Green Book
Now, this has garnered much controversy over these days over its depiction of race. The whole gist of the film is that Tony, an Italian-American bouncer, is hired as a driver for Don Shirley, a musician from a wealthy African-American background who’s about to embark on a tour across the US. Now, not only does the film show the progression in the friendship between the two leads, but it also explores racial segregation during the 1960s and how, even after abolishing slavery, people still haven’t overcome their past habits and attitudes. And besides, it’s just pleasant to see these two men interact on screen and watch their relationship build.
9) A Star is Born
Man, this flick is a tear jerker I tell you! Move over Titanic and Marley & Me, there’s a new champion in town. As Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, A Star is Born is an emotional tale focused on the relationship between a famous musician and a struggling singer, whom he helps achieve stardom after striking a romance with her. Coupled with great performances, phenomenal music, and fantastic pacing, it’s just a really nice film that shows how addiction can ruin one’s career and livelihood. Sure, it isn’t for everybody (especially those not into melodramas), but I personally found it to be far more emotionally movie than all those dog movies people keep tearing up about. And plus, its got quite the most shockingly best performance yet with Lady Gaga in her role as Ally.
8) Sorry to Bother You
2018 has got a thing for films on racism it seems. Sorry to Bother You is yet another addition to that claim, along with Blindspotting, Green Book and Blackkklansman. However, this is most certainly the best out of the bunch. Sure, it’s very heavy handed with its examination of the way African-Americans and low paid workers are exploited in the workforce, but there’s another added layer to it. It’s also a film that critiques capitalism and capitalist culture. And it’s a weird and oddly hilarious one at that. This is the type of social commentary that would leave you roaring with laughter while at the same time leaving you staring at the screen, wide-eyed and confused. Saying anymore would be spoiling it, so just give it a watch, okay?
2018 is also the year horror made a comeback. Gone were the days of obnoxious jumpscares, generic teenagers and people being complete idiots while being chased. Now, filmmakers are trying to be more competent with this. They know what scares folks now and it’s not showing ghosts leaping at the screens in 3D any longer. Hereditary is a testament to how terrifying and unnerving horror cinema can become if filmmakers actually put work and effort into their productions. In numerous ways, this can be seen as a modern incarnation of Rosemary’s Baby, right down to its plot and the fact that satanic cults are trying to screw over a family.
6) You Were Never Really Here
Slow burns are not very commonly sought out by audiences and this film is no exception. Regardless, director Lynne Ramsay of We Need to Talk About Kevin fame has managed to craft a harrowing, brutal and consequential deconstruction of the typical hitman subgenre that seems popular with people after John Wick started blasting gangsters left and right cause they killed his dog. People looking for an action-packed thriller here will be disappointed as there’s rarely much action, to begin with. A lot of it is mostly focused on showing how tedious being a contract killer can be as well as lingering on the disturbing costs that could result from it.
So, what happens when two girls plan a murder? Not a lot of good can come out of it, unfortunately. Thoroughbreds parades itself around like a dark comedy, only to reveal a sinister edge to it the more time passes. It’s one of those comedies where it turns out to be funny at first, but then you start finding out how overly depressing and somewhat disturbing the whole ordeal turns out. The plot starts when Lily, a wealthy girl who excels at her academics, is approached by her mentally unhinged friend, Amanda, whom she hasn’t seen for long. The two then hatch a plan to get rid of Lily’s stepfather to rekindle their friendship. What’s intriguing about the film is that despite being a dark comedy, it uses atmosphere, music and shot composition to instill dread into its viewers as well as throws a curveball with its ending, effectively catching audiences off guard. It’s also the late Anton Yelchin’s final performance and he nails it out of the park with his role. Check it out!
Remember when I said that horror films are entering some sort of a renaissance phase in 2018? If Hereditary reinforced this, Suspiria basically took the idea to impossibly new heights. Quite possibly one of the most unique horror films I’ve bared witness to, Suspiria tells the story of Suzie as she is enrolled into a dance school where it turns out its teachers are members of a witch coven. Because of the mysterious nature of the film and the fact that I’ve already reviewed it, it’s best I let you all check it out blind instead. To put it in layman’s terms, this is a film that manages to creep and disturb viewers while also presenting a marvelous story on loss and power, while adding in some hypnotic cinematography and a very distinctive style as icing on the cake. While this remake may lack the color gradients of the original, it makes up for it with its otherworldly visual flair. Plus, the dance choreography is just a blessing to one’s sight.
3) Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse
Guess what? 2018 is also the year Spiderman fans got what they wanted with the iconic web-slinger, what with the fantastic ps4 game, his unforgettable stint in Avengers: Infinity War, and of course, Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse. Aside from some anime and maybe a small selection of western animation, animated properties don’t really appeal to my tastes any longer now that I’ve grown into a bitter and grumpy old man. But I’ve made an exception for Spiderverse; it really is that good. In fact, saying Spiderverse is good is just underselling it. Spiderverse is the perfect love letter to Spiderman as a character. It perfectly encompasses his ideals, his strengths and even addresses his weaknesses in a manner respectful to the hero himself. Seeing Miles, the new Spiderman, overcoming his fears by pulling off a leap of faith is just unforgettable. It’s everything a diehard Spiderman would want, packaged along with remarkable animation that is portrayed in a similar manner to a comic book as well as other Spidermen archetypes that are each shown in different animation styles ranging from film noir to anime to even Looney Tunes.
2) A Prayer before Dawn
Wanna know what sucks? Thai Prisons! As a Thai person myself, let me tell you that you do not want to mess with the law over there. Trust me, its for your own good. A Prayer before Dawn does a phenomenal job of showing just how oppressive and brutal they are. In fact, it serves as a good reminder on how to act within the Land of Smiles. Based off the true story of English boxer, Billy Moore, and starring Joe Cole of Peaky Blinders fame as the main lead, A Prayer before Dawn is heart-wrenching and harrowing in its attempt to chronicle Moore’s life behind bars in a foreign nation. The way director Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire dominates every scene is unparalleled as the camera and shot composition is utilized in a way that emphasizes just how uncomfortable each sequence feels.
Korean Cinema once again proves just how innovative and thought-provoking it could be with new films coming out in droves every year that are almost consistently of high quality. With intriguing, well-written stories focused on betrayal, revenge, and genuinely unsettling behaviors, it isn’t a surprise why I’ve just been so enamored with their constant churnings of dark, miserable tales on a year-to-year basis. Burning is just no exception. Based on the short story by famous Japanese author Haruki Murakami – it’s the one titled “Barn Burning” just so you know – this film is about a man who works part-time gigs for a living. One day he meets up with a girl from his high school who starts to take a liking for him as a person. Soon enough he’s introduced to Ben, played by Walking Dead actor Steven Yuen, who is a posh and wealthy individual who burns greenhouses and meets up with hot women for a living. This is where the film’s mystery kicks off and sooner or later audiences are introduced to a slow burn with a massive payoff and a lot of deception. And I mean a lot of deception. It’s got remarkable cinematography, marvelously developed characters that feel and act like normal human beings, down to earth acting and a mesmerizing story that throws twists and turns at you in every direction. I mean, what’s not to love about this; it’s in every way deserving of being called a masterpiece.
So, there you have it, my favorite movies that came out last year. Please feel free to let me know what are your personal favorites in the comments section below!