Top 10 Movies of 2018 (as well as the worst)
In one of the critics’ groups I vote in, before a meeting a few of them were talking about how it was a bad year for movies. I disagree. Usually when I start these lists, I complain about it being a weak year. There was a lot of stuff I loved in 2018, although most weren’t the ones most critics went gaga over (which include overrated things like First Man, Widows, A Quiet Place, Leave No Trace, Vice, The Favourite, mid90s, Eighth Grade, and a few others).
Of the movies I loved this year, but didn’t have enough room on my Top 10 — they go on the Honorable Mention list. Those include: Far From the Tree, Deadpool 2, Love Gilda, Submission, Hal, The Endless, Stella’s Last Weekend, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, Three Identical Strangers, What They Had, Lean on Pete, Ideal Home, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse, The Guilty, Outside In, and Blindspotting (which is so much better than the overrated BlacKkKlansman).
I don’t recall a time when I’ve had more movies on my “honorable mention” list than on the actual Top 10. And my choice for the best of the year:
- SEARCHING. It was great to see an Asian actor carry a thriller, and it was a thrill to see the cast at the San Diego Film Insider Series for an early screening. You’ll be on the edge of your seat trying to figure out what happened to a teenage girl that had some secrets. (original review here: https://fox5sandiego.com/2018/08/29/searching/ )
- FIRST REFORMED. This movie would’ve been farther up on my list if it weren’t for such a disappointing ending. It deals with a minister that’s going through a rough patch. Ethan Hawke continues to impress with the choices he makes. (original review here: https://fox5sandiego.com/2018/05/30/first-reformed/ )
- GAME NIGHT. Why don’t other critics put comedies on their lists? I kept taking different friends to see this at the theatres, and I laughed just as hard each time (original review here: https://fox5sandiego.com/2018/02/25/game-night/ )
- ISLE OF DOGS. Critics usually put Wes Anderson movies on their lists, but I’m guessing they won’t include this animated film, which was a thousand times better than The Grand Budapest Hotel. (original review here: https://fox5sandiego.com/2018/03/27/isle-of-dogs/ )
- IN THE FADE. A German film, in which Diane Kruger stars as a woman seeking justice against the neo-Nazis that killed her husband in a bomb blast. An incredibly powerful picture (original review here: https://fox5sandiego.com/2018/02/03/in-the-fade/ )
- THE WIFE. Hand the Oscar over to Glenn Close. (original review here: https://fox5sandiego.com/2018/09/05/the-wife/ )
- SORRY TO BOTHER YOU. Sure, it goes a bit nutso in the 3rd act, but such a fun ride. Comedy and social commentary combined. Why was everyone pushing Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, when this was the way better film? (original review here: https://fox5sandiego.com/2018/07/12/sorry-to-bother-you/ )
- THOROUGHBREDS. My high school principal from over 30 years ago, posted on Facebook how much he disliked this and that it didn’t have anything to do with horses. Well…in some parts it did. It’s really about two teenage girls with problems, and they think murdering one’s stepdad will solve them. It’s not for everyone, but my wife and I loved it: https://fox5sandiego.com/2018/03/10/thoroughbreds/ ).
- THE RIDER. This movie won a bunch of Spirit Awards last year (those are like the Oscars for indie films). It was released this year in San Diego, thus it makes my list. This true story, with the real people from the story playing themselves, moved me to tears numerous times. Just thinking about it gets me crying all over again (original review here: https://fox5sandiego.com/2018/04/24/the-rider/ )
- GREEN BOOK. I’ve written two stories about this movie. I’ve seen it three times. And as I told a few friends at racquetball the other day (that were telling me how much they loved it)…I thought I’d hate it. The commercials made me think it was going to be a preachy re-telling of Driving Miss Daisy. Instead, it was the best movie of the year.
It’s unfortunate that, in a year with so many movies I loved, there was also a lot of garbage. That’s to be expected with the film industry (how else can you explain Nicolas Cage’s career?). Here are the worst of the worst, in no particular order (because when something is awful, can you really say something else is less awful?)
- PEPPERMINT. Women complain there aren’t enough good roles for women. Well, when actresses (I’m talking about you, Jennifer Garner) take parts where they’re just killing and shooting everything in sight…how is that progress? Also, the film has the most implausible arc that happens with her character, where she goes from housewife to Rambo in a few years.
- IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK. This works great as a James Baldwin book (and for the time when it was released in 1974). Yes, some critics are praising it, but it just doesn’t work. Characters do things that were unbelievable, and it’s directed so poorly. In fact, the first love scene between the two leads, was the least romantic and goofiest thing I’ve ever seen. They just stare into each other’s eyes as the seduction begins, as if that’s supposed to make it romantic.
- MAMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN. Come on, you didn’t really like this, did you? And you can’t say “Well, the songs were good.” These were the ABBA songs we don’t know (except, unfortunately, for Cher singing “Fernando” to a poorly used Andy Garcia). And, you had Bohemian Rhapsody if you didn’t care about the story but just wanted to hear good songs.
- THE 15:17 TO PARIS. It’s hard to believe that Clint Eastwood once made movies as great as Unforgiven and Play Misty For Me.
- HAPPY END. A horrible movie with family dynamics that don’t feel the least bit realistic. Critics had to praise it, because it was a French film, and that’s what they do.
- KINGS. Halle Berry plays a woman who has adopted kids, or…her neighbor has, and she has to….oh hell, I barely remember it. At least the critics on Rotten Tomatoes only gave it 9%. They usually like a lot of the crap that ends up on my list.
- PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING. Do I really need to explain why?
- THE DARKEST MINDS. One of these YA things that’s geared towards teenage girls, and borrows from so many other movies.
- SUPER TROOPERS 2. I wrote such a scathing review of this Canadian comedy that wasn’t the least bit funny, that I actually received letters from angry fans (even though it was two days before the movie was released). I told one of those people to contact me after she saw it, and tell me if she still disagreed with me. I never heard back from her.
- A WRINKLE IN TIME. Now, I stated in the beginning, that I didn’t do these in any particular order. But I will say, this movie deserved it’s ranking as the worst of the year. The production values were awful. The story made little sense. And what’s worse, instead of the actresses in the movie owning up to the fact that they did a film that tanked…they blamed the critics. Mindy Kaling said critics are a bunch of old white guys (guilty as charged!). She wanted to know what young black girls think about it. Logic like that is ridiculous for so many reasons. And, if she thinks old white critics only like movies geared towards them, explain all the love we had for films like Inside Out and Zootopia, to name a few.