2018 Year in Review (The Good)

The end of the year brings with it many traditions. It’s a time to reflect on the things we’ve went through, the state of the world (it ain’t great) and to arbitrarily rank our favorite movies for complete strangers to criticize and mock on the internet. It’s that time once again, for every Tom, Dick and Harry with an opinion to list their favorite movies of the year. This list, however, is a bit different in that I’ve ranked every film I’ve seen, not just my favorites. Oh and that my rankings are correct. 

The list will be broken down into:

  • The Bad— Films that received an F or lower D.
  • The Ok— Films that received a higher D or C.
  • The Good— Films that received a higher C or B.
  • The Great— Films that received a higher B or A
  • The Discoveries— Films I liked that weren’t released in 2018.
  • The Documentaries— A ranking of the documentaries I’ve seen this year from worst to best.

The world is on fire. Schools are getting shot up at an alarming rate, actresses are leaving Twitter over harassment, children are being locked in cages, the house of mouse is slowly becoming an all powerful conglomerate and a Star Wars film flopped. 2018 straight up sucked but these are the films that help distract me from everything wrong with the year. For better or worse.

This is 2018: Year in Review (The Good)


 

29. Sorry to Bother You

Directed by: Boots Riley

Plot: A black telemarketer uses his “white voice” and becomes increasingly more and more successful.

This movie is frustratingly flawed. The direction, premise and performances are all top notch but the story is undone by its own tone. For the satire to work, the film needed a much more realistic ending. The entire movie is building to a specific climax but the film stonewalls itself. But the film is still enjoyable and I’m really interested to see what the director does next.


 

28. Crazy Rich Asians

Directed by: Jon M. Chu

Plot: Based on the global bestseller, New Yorker Rachel Chu has to go to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family.

It’s a testament to this films charm that I even kind of like it. I’m not huge on romantic comedies and I hate rich people with a goddamn passion, so this film immediately had two strikes against it but against all odds, it won me over.


 

27. BlackKklansman

Directed by: Spike Lee

Plot: An African American police officer successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan branch with the help of a Jewish surrogate.

I’m not typically a Spike Lee fan. I feel like all of his movies are yelling at me because I’m a white man but BlackKklansman was thoroughly enjoyable. It isn’t without is flaws however. It is a good 20 minutes too long and the movie never quite nails the tone but I thought the two leads were good and the story was interesting enough to keep me engaged.


 

26. Deadpool 2

Directed by: David Leitch

Plot: Deadpool has to save a fat kid from an angry old man. So, it’s essentially a sequel to Up.

Deadpool is like a chocolate cake made by your significant other who can’t bake. You desperately want to love it because It’s made with passion and a need to please but It’s far too short in some places, way too long in others and shouldn’t be served as an entreé.

That X-force bit is still one of my favorite moments of the year, though.

You can read my review here.


 

25. Annihilation

Directed by: Alex Garland

Plot: Scientists investigate an alien anomaly that looks like a soap bubble. Creepy shit happens.

In the film Stalker, a small group of men go inside an alien anomaly in the hope that they’ll find a room that supposedly grants you your hearts desire. It’s not hard to make a comparison between that film and Annihilation considering they have damn near identical premises but there’s one huge difference that separates the two and it’s the exact same  thing that separates the original The Haunting (’63), from The Haunting (’99). One is a slow, methodical thriller that builds tension without ever showing you anything. Neither Stalker or The Haunting (’63) show any element of the otherworldly or supernatural but they both cultivate dread and mystery through brilliant set design and ambiance.

And the other is The Haunting (’99) and Annihilation, which are the exact opposite. They show you everything and while that certainly isn’t a problem in and of itself, everything they show you is constantly being undermined by one rotten apple. Without getting too much into spoilers but there’s a character who, once they lose their shit, singlehandedly turns the film into a terrible horror film. Everything they do and/or say is beyond ridiculous and could’ve been easily fixed. The bear scene would’ve been so much more effective if the explanation wasn’t mind numbingly dumb.

It baffles me that Garland made the decision to include such a pointless character because the film could’ve easily worked without them or the unnecessary cheating scene. If the script was tighter, it could’ve been a goddamn classic. As it stands, it’s fine.


 

24. Black Panther

Directed by: Ryan Coogler

Plot: Iron Man but in Africa! Not really but kind of.

Now that the hype has died down considerably, it’s easier to appreciate this film for what it is– an important kids film that isn’t the Shakespearean masterpiece that some have claimed but is still fun regardless. Eliminating both villains is still a terrible decision in my opinion. Michael B. Jordan‘s Killmonger had the potential to be as great as Loki but they screwed the pooch on that one.

You can read my review here.


 

23. A Quiet Place

Directed by: John Krasinski

Plot: Tremors but instead of finding you based on movement, the monsters hunt by sound. So farts=death.

A mixed bag of incredible suspense, above average world building and an interesting premise coupled with terribly dumb characters and some ridiculous internal logic issues. Thank God Krasinski didn’t turn this into a Cloverfield film but a proposed sequel has me worried that it’ll eventually turn into an action franchise.

You can read my review here.


 

22. Incredibles 2

Directed by: Brad Bird

Plot: The Incredibles…but the next day!

An adequate sequel that trades the emotional center and compelling story of its predecessor for more action and humor. It’s not a successful trade off but the bits that work are solid. It’s a cash grab but since it’s Pixar, it never feels half assed. Oh and the baby vs raccoon bit could’ve been dialed back. That’s the only cartoon-y thing in the film, which is actually impressive considering the subject matter.


 

21. Hold the Dark

Directed by: Jeremy Saulnier

Plot: After the deaths of three children suspected to be killed by wolves, writer Russell Core is hired by the parents of a missing six-year-old boy to track down and locate their son in the Alaskan wilderness.

This film is slow. It has almost no likable characters. It does not explain it’s inciting incident and has an extremely frustrating ending but for whatever reason, it hooked me. It reminded me of a Cormac McCarthy novel in that, evil is often times sudden and unexplainable. Bad people exist and sometimes God doesn’t let the good guys win.


 

20. The Death of Stalin

Directed by: Armando Iannucci

Plot: Moscow, 1953. After being in power for nearly 30 years, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin takes ill and quickly dies. Now the members of the Council of Ministers scramble for power.

There’s a scene in the film Igby Goes Down (2002) where the main character tells a joke and someone says “that’s funny”, to which the main character replies “Instead of saying someone or something is funny, why don’t you just laugh?” I barely laughed during the Death of Stalin but kept thinking to myself “Damn, that’s funny.” The jokes are constructed in such a way, that by the time you process them, they’re already on to the next joke. There is no laugh track or sign pointing to the punchline. It’s a smartly written comedy by the smartest person in the room but the smartest person in the room isn’t the class clown for a reason.


 

19. Bad Times at the El Royale

Directed by: Drew Goddard

Plot: Four strangers, all with shady backgrounds, check into a hotel and things slowly go to shit.

Diet Tarantino mixed with a blood thirsty Agatha Christie, Bad Times at the El Royale is an enjoyable thriller that goes slightly flat by the end. A tighter third act could’ve really turned this into a classic but even with it’s bloated finale, the good far outweighs the bad.


 

18. Mission Impossible: Fallout

Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie

Plot: Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong.

Mission Impossible is one of the most consistently entertaining movie franchises around and while Fallout doesn’t hit the same highs as Ghost Protocol, it’s easily as good as Rogue Nation. It has the best plot since the first, the second best villain after the third and has some of the best stunts in the series. It’s popcorn entertainment done right.


 

17. You Were Never Really Here

Directed by: Lynne Ramsay

Plot: A dark and gritty reworking of Taxi Driver from one of the best directors of the 21st century.

Some films live and die based on the strength of their actors performances and for as great as director Lynne Ramsay is at creating amazing imagery and perfectly staged shots, this film wouldn’t work without Joaquin Phoenix. He’s in every frame of this film for a reason: He’s fucking amazing in it. This story could easily be adapted as a two man stageplay called “a man and his hammer” that starts with a warning that the first two rows a legally required to wear rain ponchos. Because it’s extremely violent and stage blood goes everywhere. I just wish the story did as well.

You can read my review here.


 

16. Mandy

Directed by: Panos Cosmatos

Plot: After his lady is kidnapped by a weird hippie group, Red Miller goes on a quest for revenge.

This film reminds me of last year’s Brawl in Cellblock 99. Not stylistically but (and without giving too much away) in plot and pacing. Both are long character studies and a husband with rage issues who has to save his wife from insidious people. The difference between the two is, Brawl does something interesting to kick start a third act you didn’t see coming. It’s a slow burn with a payoff. Mandy is so light on plot, there’s no real justification for its slow pacing and length. There’s a lot of great shit in the film but it feels like it takes forever to get there. If it was 15 minutes shorter or if it had a more interesting third act, it would easily be in my top five.


 

15. Searching

Directed by: Aneesh Chaganty

Plot: After his 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a desperate father breaks into her laptop to look for clues to find her.

Using the same set up as Unfriended (2014) and Open Windows (2014), Searching tells its entire story through face time calls, emails, text messages and old YouTube videos and unlike the previously mentioned films, it’s more than just a gimmick. The film tells a compelling mystery that has enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat.