I know, I know. You’ve all been anxiously awaiting my end of the year movie lists. Believe me, I had no intention to put you through such stress, but that’s just how it went this year. Mainly because I wasn’t reviewing movies in any sort of official capacity, and therefore had to either see movies in the theater like a regular civilian (i.e. pay for a ticket) or wait for them to come out on home video. So I only recently got to the point where I felt I had seen enough films to make a respectable list.
On the plus side, since I wasn’t obligated to write reviews, I didn’t have to watch movies I was pretty sure I would hate. So that was a plus.
In the end, I only saw about a hundred movies released in 2018, about half the number I racked up last year. And yet I still feel as if I saw most of the films that stood a chance of making my list. The most notable exceptions would be SHOPLIFTERS, COLD WAR, 24 FRAMES, BORDER, and WIDOWS. But if I wait for all of those, it will probably be another month before I post this list. And by that time even I won’t care. So without further ado, on to this year’s lists.
TOP 10 FAVORITE SCRIPTED FILMS OF 2018
10. VICE – The life story of Dick Cheney is presented as black comedy in Adam McKay’s raucous biopic. As much as I enjoyed the film, it bears mentioning that it takes a LOT of liberties with the truth. Even more than that typical biopic.
9. THE FAVOURITE – Arthouse eccentric Yorgos Lanthimos (DOGTOOTH, THE LOBSTER, KILLING OF A SACRED DEER) turns in his most mainstream film with this story of sex and political machinations in the court of Queen Anne.
8. FIRST REFORMED –Paul Schraeder’s delivers a tale of faith, love, and a man pushed over the edge by a world in environmental peril.
7. HEREDITARY – Writer/director Ari Aster delivers an utterly uncompromising horror tale. Other films may be bloodier, but few are this profoundly disturbing.
6. BLOCKERS – Director Kay Cannon and writers Brian and Jim Kehoe prove that the raunchy teen comedy can still work in the “me too” era. And former pro wrestler John Cena proves that he’s a comedy superstar.
5. INTO THE SPIDERVERSE – Combining a great story and characters with a fresh animation style, this movie shows the super hero genre still has the capacity for greatness.
4. THE DEATH OF STALIN – The jockeying for power in the aftermath of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s death makes for a superb pitch-black comedy in this film from Armando Iannucci (IN THE LOOP, ‘Veep’).
3. THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS – This western anthology from the Coen Brothers is a lot of fun, although arguably about one segment too long. Not that any of the segments are bad, mind you. Just maybe too much of a good thing for one sitting.
2. MANDY – Visually stunning, over the top, and undeniably original, director Panos Cosmatos’ violent acid trip is the kind of film that demands attention.
1. BLACKKKLANSMAN – Spike Lee takes a fascinating sidebar of American history and turns it into his best film since MALCOLM X. There’s plenty of social commentary and food for thought, but it’s also immensely entertaining.
Also, there is one movie from 2017 that didn’t open in Cleveland until 2018 that would have easily made my top five either year. Paul Thomas Anderson’s THE PHANTOM THREAD is an art film with a capital “A” that explores the sometimes toxic, sometimes beneficial give and take of a complex relationship.
Honorable mentions: ALPHA, AMERICAN ANIMALS, ANNIHILATION, APOSTLE, AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS, BLACK PANTHER, BLINDSPOTTING, EIGHTH GRADE, THE ENDLESS, GHOST STORIES, ISLE OF DOGS, LET THE SUNSHINE IN, RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET, READY PLAYER ONE, THE RIDER, ROMA, SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, A STAR IS BORN, SUSPIRIA, UPGRADE
I didn’t see nearly as many documentary films this past year as I would have liked, but I still saw a few that were worthy of singling out. Here they are:
TOP 5 FAVORITE DOCUMENTARY FILMS OF 2018
5. RBG – A pretty straight forward but nonetheless worthy look at the life and judicial impact of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
4. MINDING THE GAP – A skater documents his friends and the impact of toxic masculinity and abuse on each of them.
3. SHIRKERS – The strange but true story of a group of young women who made an independent movie in Singapore, only to have the man they thought was their benefactor abscond with all the film reels.
2. THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS – When adopted triplets learn of each other’s existence, it leads to a disturbing mystery.
1. WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? – The life story of Mr. Rogers is both uplifting and fascinating.
And finally, one last kick in the ass to some of the worst movies of 2018. So bad they aren’t even worth the small amount of mental effort it would require to rank them numerically, so I’m only presenting them in alphabetical order.
ACTION POINT – Johnny Knoxville causes pain to himself and his audience.
BLUMHOUSE’S TRUTH OR DARE – A brain-dead riff on the FINAL DESTINATION formula.
CONSTANTINE: CITY OF DEMONS – Usually DC’s animation department does a good job. Not this time.
JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM – Not so much bad as depressingly mediocre. This franchise needs to go extinct.
THE PREDATOR - Makes the ALIENS VS. PREDATOR movies look like masterpieces by comparison. Just a hot mess of a film.