Saturday, December 29, 2018

My Top 4 Movies of 2018

2018 may have been a weak year for great films, but it was an alright one for alright movies. And honestly, while there were very few movies I saw this year that I would consider truly great, there were also about as many films that I would consider seriously bad as well, and for the most part, everything's just been, well, fine. Not bad, not great, but just perfectly okay and enjoyable in the moment, if instantly forgettable upon leaving the theater. So yeah, it hasn't been an awful year for film, even if it has been perhaps a weaker one than I would like.

But there were at least four standout movies that account for the ones I would truly consider to be great films, which I'll get to in a moment. But first, let's take a look at a handful of honorable mentions, which consist of the movies that were a few pegs below those on the main list, and thus not quite worth actually ranking and discussing, but still among the better movies that I saw from this past year that I'd at least like to point out, and which are well worth checking out.

Honorable Mentions
Adrift (Baltasar Kormákur)
American Animals (Bart Layton)
Overlord (Julius Avery)
Skyscraper (Rawson Marshall Thurber)
Tag (Jeff Tomsic)
Thoroughbreds (Cory Finley)

And that's about it. And sure, while I understand that there's enough movies listed here to where I could technically do a Top 10 list, as I said, I honestly don't feel like these movies quite warrant being ranked and discussed here, and there's certainly not anything beyond those listed here that I feel is worth pointing out as honorable mentions themselves. But these were still decent enough flicks that I genuinely enjoyed, and which happened to stand out the most to me from what I saw in the past year. But now, moving on to the main list then, let's start with...


(James Wan)

Admittedly the one I'm most hesitant to include, seeing as how it's so soon since I've seen it, so who knows how this one will age on me compared to the others. But I'll say this, I was thoroughly impressed by this movie, so much so that I decided to include it here, despite being fully prepared to make this a Top 3 list prior to seeing this film. I'm not sure I'd say it's my favorite DCEU movie necessarily, though purely in terms of its quality, it is certainly the most technically solid and consistent of the lot. All of the other movies have something about them that makes them feel like a bit of a mess, if still enjoyably so in most instances. But this was the only one where I never did feel that way at any time.

But even beyond that, boy, this movie is just a grand sweeping epic of a film, and is supremely satisfying in its execution. I was genuinely blown away by how well this all came together. James Wan is a hell of a visual filmmaker, and this film is one of his most visually stunning and imaginative yet, with just this really grand sense of scale to it all. The world building is seriously off the charts, and it often feels like we're watching an underwater Lord of the Rings installment. And it's also loads of fun, as Jason Momoa is oozing with charisma, and all of the side characters just feel so dynamic.

Typically speaking, while I'm still watching them as they come out, I do feel like the superhero stuff is getting to be a bit much, and the market is totally oversaturated with them. But like another entry later on, this one felt like a breath of fresh air by feeling more like a fantasy epic than a traditional superhero flick, and this approach totally paid off big time.


Creed II
(Steven Caple Jr.)

Despite loving the first movie, I admittedly had reservations going into this one, seeing as how Ryan Coogler wouldn't be returning to direct. But Steven Caple Jr. more than steps up to the plate, and produces a film that's quite possibly just as good as the first one, if perhaps in a completely different way than the first.

While I'd say that the first one was more of a filmmaker's movie, with an emphasis on its cinematography and other technical aspects, this one is definitely more of an actor's and a writer's film. From top to bottom, the performances in this movie are simply outstanding. Sylvester Stallone gives yet another Oscar worthy performance as Rocky, and Dolph Lundgren gives a career best showing, as does Michael B. Jordan in an especially intricate and emotionally fueled turn, both of which I'd also consider Oscar worthy at that.

But even beyond the acting, just the writing of these characters, man I tell you, this is hands down the deepest character work I've seen in any film all year. Despite being a sequel to the far sillier Rocky IV, this movie takes these characters incredibly seriously, and fleshes them out into fully realized human beings, to the point where you're given ample reason to care about everyone. They could have so easily made the Dragos these cartoon villains, but they instead chose to make them as complex and sympathetic as our heroes, to where by the end of the movie, when we see Creed taking on the son of Ivan Drago, I was honestly left torn on who to root for. That's how good the writing in this movie is.

Creed II gave me chills, brought me damn near to tears on many occasions, and left me with the biggest grin on my face throughout. This one is definitely a winner!


Deadpool 2
(David Leitch)

Like Creed II, I similarly had reservations going into this, again for the same reason, as the director of the first film, Tim Miller, wouldn't be returning to reprise his directing duties. However, also like Creed II, I was thoroughly impressed by what we got here all the same, which felt right on par with the first film, which I also thought was absolutely fantastic.

As I mentioned with Aquaman, these Deadpool movies just feel like such a breath of fresh air in the genre, and are just so much damn fun. And this entry ups the ante from the first film in a lot of regards, with funnier jokes, better action sequences, and it introduces us to a number of great new characters, including Domino, who is hands down the best new character introduced in any film this year, with a breakout performance by Zazie Beetz, who is now firmly on my radar to keep an eye on.

2018 was also a standout year for rated R comedies in general, particularly in the first half of the year. I singled out Tag in my honorable mentions, but I'd also like to give a quick shout out to Blockers and Game Night, both of which were also really damn good and unique rated R comedies to come out this year, which are both well worth checking out as well. But good as those movies were, Deadpool 2 managed to handedly top it out in the genre for me as the best rated R comedy of the year.

And not only that, but in a year that saw a lot of big Marvel releases, Deadpool 2 was also by far and away the best of that lot as well. And to give the quick rundown of my thoughts on this year's Marvel movies, Venom was just really stupid, and honestly pretty bad, but in that awesomely bad "so bad, it's good" sort of way, which I actually think a younger version of me would've appreciated a lot more. Black Panther was a pretty middle of the road MCU outing, and Avengers: Infinity War was decent, if not exactly great. Ant-Man and The Wasp was a lot of fun, and definitely the best of this year's MCU releases, but still not as good as the impressively lively and creative Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which was itself still nowhere near Deadpool 2's league, good as it may have been.

If the Disney merger does go through and the Fox properties revert back to Marvel, I fear that these Deadpool movies are going to be the biggest casualty, as I just absolutely love them, and would love to see this franchise continue on in its unabashed R rated format. This was the first truly great film that I saw this year, and one of the few to stay right near the top through the majority of it. However, one film eventually came along that would take that top spot away...


Bohemian Rhapsody
(Bryan Singer)

Man what a movie! This film was simply breathtaking, and had such a larger than life feel to it. I've heard some complaints that it's actually more a work of fiction, and doesn't accurately follow the band's real life story, so I can understand how one might find that bothersome if they were a particularly big follower of Queen. But as someone who was more of a casual fan who really just enjoys their music, even if I never actively followed them or got too deeply into the band, this movie seriously blew me away.

This movie felt simply epic. And unlike a lot of musical biopics (or really, biopics in general), it didn't feel like it was just hitting the greatest hits of this band's story, and leaving the stuff in between on the table. And sure, this might come from the fact that this movie is very well a complete work of fiction. But in any case, it works, and this fantastic element helps give the story of this band a bit of a mythical feel in hindsight, which honestly feels pretty appropriate given the band in question, as well as the song in which they fittingly chose to name this movie after. "Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?" Indeed!

But I loved seeing how a number of their bigger songs came to be, how different bandmates came up with different classics. And I loved following all of the various character relationships throughout, and going on this complete roller coaster ride that all felt so organic and so real. And I especially loved how the last 20 minutes are essentially the band's full Live Aid set. This movie had the balls to actually do that, as opposed to maybe highlighting a song or two, and then ending on a more cliched and expected note for a movie such as this. But no, they went all the way and turned this movie into a full blown must see event, and especially on the big screen, it felt like you were really there watching one of their concerts live. And in the end, I was left immensely satisfied by what was an all around fascinating story that they told us here.

Needless to say, the music in this was great (but would someone please explain to me what's up with the Golden Globes nominating both this and A Star Is Born in their drama category, when they literally have a category specifically for musicals??). And Rami Malek is Freddie Mercury in this film, as he gives hands down the absolute best performance of the whole year, in what is certainly the biggest and best film that I've seen this year.

So there you have it then, my Top 4 Movies of 2018. Another year down, and now it's onto the next. But first, well, I mentioned before that these were the best of the best, and the only ones that I felt were most worth discussing. However, there was one other film from this past year that I'd actually like to discuss too, one that I caught at the very tail end of the year. And while I toyed with the idea of including it here, I'm honestly not certain it would feel quite right placing it on this list. But even so, it still impressed me quite a bit all the same, and I'd still like to take the time to single it out and talk a bit about what impressed me so much about it. So join me next time, as we'll discuss a movie that takes a live action anime adaptation and gets maybe the closest I've seen yet to doing it right.


  1. I refuse to see Bohemian Rhapsody because of Bryan Singer's involvement but I'm looking forward to Creed 2! So glad you enjoyed Aquaman this much, I loved it so much <3 Wan did incredible job with all that world building.

    1. Heh, I wouldn't be able to see just about ANY movie these days if I skipped them based on who was involved. I just have to really remove the art from the artist, and also remember how many other people were also involved who AREN'T purportedly terrible. :P

      But yeah, definitely check out Creed II. And I had a feeling you'd appreciate Aquaman's placement here. Very pleased that one turned out so well, and happy that you wound up liking it too, considering how hyped you were for it. :)

    2. Yeah well I still manage to watch a lot of movie and not give pedophiles my money so I think I'm doing well here.

  2. Ahh I missed Creed 2 in the cinema! I'm really hoping it comes to VoD soon. I know how you feel about including very recent movies in these kinds of lists - I feel the same way! Ii think I might actually start revisiting previous lists to see if my opinions have changed :)

    1. Yeah, hopefully that one comes out soon, cause it's definitely not one to miss!

      And funny you mention that about revisiting past lists. Not sure if you saw it at the time or not, but I actually wrote about that very subject a few months back, revisiting past "best of" lists and seeing how I might revise 'em now. Check it out. :)

  3. I agree - it was an all right year for all right movies, but I do have a few more end-of-year favorites than I thought I was going to have. Hoping to check out Adrift, Thoroughbreds, Aquaman, and Creed II in the new year. I have my reservations about Bohemian Rhapsody - partly from the fictionalized parts, Bryan Singer's involvement, and that I saw a documentary on Freddie Mercury years ago that's been one of my all-time faves. As big as a Queen fan that I am, I'm not sure I have a big enough interest in seeing it. It's nice that enjoyed it though and hope you find more movies to like this year.

    1. Thanks Katy! And glad to see someone else agrees that it was an alright year for film, while meanwhile I'm being hounded for thinking that over on reddit. :P

      Definitely check out those movies you listed, they're all well worth it, and I think you'd like 'em. And I look forward to seeing what you came up with for your own end of year list. :)

  4. I was hessitant about Aquaman following previous reviews. But you have convinced me to give it a go.