I had so much fun doing last year’s list, that I decided to give things another whirl for 2018.
…However, reviewing this year’s movies wasn’t as fun as last year, because they were overall better this year.
It’s kind of hard to be light and jokey (apparently that’s a word) when the content you’re talking about is actually good.
Which leads me to this point: while I ranked the films in order from what I considered best to worst, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I hated lower movies on the list.
Everything I saw in 2018 was “okay” at least…but that’s probably because I saw half of these movies on dates and didn’t want to fork over $30 at a time to watch a shitty movie.
In any case, just because Venom is last on the list doesn’t mean that I completely hated it. It’s just that I liked 11 other movies more.
Speaking of Venom…
You know, despite being the worst movie I saw in 2018 (obviously), Venom was still pretty fun to watch.
It actually reminds me a lot of Spider-Man 3: it’s goofy, over-the-top, and its plot doesn’t really make much sense at all.
Somehow, it just kind of works for this movie, though. The film never takes itself too seriously, which really helps sell this more comedic (and faithful) version of Venom. The whole movie could have just been scenes of Eddie and Venom bickering with one another, and I would have been totally satisfied.
At the same time, it does a pretty good job of getting us to give a shit about Eddie Brock. Stuff just keeps going wrong for him, which makes it feel pretty cathartic once he gets his powers.
Unfortunately, a lot of this charm gets lost in a plot about an evil Elon Musk trying to steal the symbiotes and become Bio Broly or something.
In any case, it’s a fun movie, but you should know what you’re getting yourself into.
11. Deadpool 2
The first Deadpool movie was a subversive joyride that both shocked and delighted audiences with its postmodern humor and R-rated content.
Deadpool 2 featured almost the exact same humor and content, which ironically turned out to be the worst thing it could have done.
The best sequels expand on either the world or the characters of the proceeding work. Think of the T-2000 being introduced in Terminator 2, or Wolverine’s personal growth in overcoming his past in X2.
From the same opening credits gimmick, Deadpool 2 just seemed like I was just watching the first one all over again.
And I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, but Shayne, there was the whole arc about him caring for that kid!”
Yes, I am aware that the plot of the movie was basically Deadpool trying to save Collin from eventually turning evil. However, the whole thing just seemed half-assed. Whenever the film would get close to a genuinely emotional moment, it would backtrack in order to keep its goofy tone.
This lack of commitment caused the movie to neither be overwhelmingly funny or convincingly emotional.
Even the assembling of the X-Force is immediately retconned by the movie’s subversive nature. However, that was arguably the best part of the film, so it gets a pass in my book.
Outside of that, I found Deadpool 2 to be boring and I will likely skip a 3rd one if it’s ever released.
Your enjoyment of 2018’s Halloween is largely dependent on how deep your knowledge of the titular franchise goes.
That’s because this film is basically a love letter to 1978’s Halloween disguised as a modern slasher flick.
It features some of the most tasteful winks and nods that I’ve seen in a sequel/reboot/whatever the fuck this is.
They’re not done in a corny way, like in some Star Wars movies, where it seems like the dialogue pauses briefly after each reference as if to say “remember this??”
Rather, they’re carefully sprinkled out in subtle ways that are adequately effective on their own, but work on an additional level if someone is able to catch them.
How-eh-ver, I can’t ignore that most people who aren’t super familiar with the franchise will probably be a bit underwhelmed by this. While it goes out of its way to recreate the ambiance of John Carpenter’s original, it doesn’t quite get to the point that this movie can completely exist on its own.
But still, I think watching a 60 year-old Jamie Lee Curtis attack Michael Myers is funny enough to warrant the cost of admission.
To reiterate my Instagram post: “Meh”
Mid 90’s had a lot going for it. The wardrobe, set pieces, and song choices were all very reminiscent of the era the film is named after.
I appreciated how bold the film was with the issues it addressed, like underage alcohol drinking and the general lack of direction that comes with adolescence. It’s obvious that Jonah Hill has a solid grasp on how teens interact with one another, and a lot of the dialogue reflects this.
This movie had all the makings of what would have been a phenomenal directorial debut for Hill. However, it just couldn’t quite pull all the elements together before the credits rolled.
There isn’t really a resolution in Mid 90’s. The movie builds up all these internal and external tensions with its cast, and just kind of…ends, with little payoff. As a result, I was left the theater with what I’ll call “moviegoing blue balls”.
“But that’s the point! There’s no resolution sometimes with growing up!”
Regardless of its subject matter, the film is still a fictional story, and nearly every notable story in history has some sort of resolution, even if they don’t make sense.
There’ve actually been plenty of “Indie” (there’s really no such thing when it comes to theatrically released movies) movies that have endings that are both open-ended yet conclusive at the same time.
Think of films like Ghost Story, Clerks, and The Blair Witch Project.
The only really popular Indie movie I can think of that had a abrupt ending was Donnie Darko. And that movie fucking sucks.
Anyway, Mid 90s could have been really good, but instead is just pretty decent.
It also features a really uncomfortable and ultimately unnecessary underage sex scene. Like seriously–it has very little function to the plot.
8. The Incredibles 2
You can pretty much copy/paste some of what I said about Deadpool 2.
Actually, let’s just go ahead and do that:
“After an entire first movie of this, Deadpool 2 starts to feel like an immature classmate, whose raunchy humor was fun at first but now is just really fucking annoying and you’d like nothing more than for a piano to get dropped on his stupid-ass head”
…Whoops, maybe not word-word after all
…I actually ended up deleting that part, anyway, so this was just a waste of time.
You know what ELSE is a waste of time? Trying to connect with the character arcs from Incredibles 2 after realizing that they’re all just recycles from the first movie.
The first Incredibles was so great because it features a lot of relatable character arcs. Bob’s hatred for his mundane life, the kids’ inability to connect with their parents, and even Syndrome’s whole deal.
The problem with this sequel is that a lot of the issues that were supposedly resolved get brought back into the spotlight again, albeit to a lesser effect.
The only thing that really puts this movie higher than Deadpool 2 is that it features some absolutely stunning visuals. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the concept of speed done so well with a CGI film.
But that’s about all it has going for it.
After the shitty trio of Monster’s University, Finding Dory, and The Incredibles 2, it’s safe to say that I’m done with Pixar sequels.
And that includes Toy Story 4, because I didn’t even like the 3rd one.
7. Black Panther
So, it’s undeniable that Black Panther was groundbreaking in how it proved that a film with a predominantly Black cast can crush box office records around the world.
I thought it was really, REALLY cool to see young kids dressing up as Black Panther to go and watch the movie in theaters. On the two occasions that I saw the movie in theaters, seeing little Black kids eagerly waiting in costumes almost brought me to tears.
But, dude, it’s just not that great of a movie.
Now, I’ve spent a lot of time debating these things with a lot of people, and it’s honestly one of the most tiring things for me to do these days.
What’s funny is that these debates usually take place with who I call “Neo Black fetishizers”. You know, those people who are ALL about Black people on Social Media and whatnot, but don’t actually interact with Black people IRL and instead just spend all their time defending an ethnicity they only really understand from an internet perspective.
Anyway, here’s a quick list of things that bothered me:
- The entire sequence in South Korea was boring and pointless, and I LOVE South Korea.
- Despite the film taking place in Wakanda, there are only like 3 places in Wakanda that we ever get to see, so it never feels like a real city.
- Killmonger was king for about 5 seconds, and we never really get to learn whether Wakanda was worse off with him in charge.
- All the intriguing inter-family tension that builds during the second act is deflated by a boring battle with fucking rhinos.
- The final battle between T’Challa and Killmonger looks like it came from Power Rangers In Space.
- T’Challa was way, WAY cooler in Civil War, and doesn’t actually do too much in this film.
- Killmonger’s amazing dying line made me temporarily forget that the rest of the film was just slightly above average.
So yeah. It was pretty okay. Far from the best Marvel movie, and far from the worst, this is a solid middle-of-the-pack film.
6. Solo: A Star Wars Story
While Black Panther wasn’t as good as what the buzz would lead you to believe, Solo was quite the opposite.
Despite its modest promotion, quiet release, and lukewarm response from Star Wars neckbearded fans, I actually really enjoyed Solo.
It was a fun, engaging space adventure that had interesting characters and thankfully had nothing to do with the Skywalker family.
I actually think other standalone films, like the crappy Rogue One and the upcoming Boba Fett movie can take a page from Solo.
It didn’t beat you over the head with gratuitous fanservice, nor did it have this overly dramatic story about the fate of the universe.
It was a self-contained story starring a familiar character that just happened to take place in the Star Wars universe, which is honestly all I’ve ever wanted with these side movies.
Han Solo’s character was fleshed out more, and we got to see a younger side of him, but thankfully Solo didn’t lead us right into A New Hope. Not everything has to perfectly play off the continuity of the original trilogy, and I really appreciated that about this film.
Hopefully some of you did, too.
…Except for Darth Maul randomly showing up. I’m pretty sure we can all agree that was dumb.
5. Crazy Rich Asians
So, I didn’t watch this movie when it first came out for the same reason I think a lot of non-Black people didn’t watch Black Panther— it didn’t really seem like it was “meant” for me.
A lot of the buzz was so focused on Asian representation (which was, no doubt, important) that I wouldn’t have felt comfortable going to see it in theaters.
Because, let’s be honest here, some Asian people don’t really like Negroes. I’m reminded of this nearly every day of living in SF.
That’s a different conversation, though.
The point is that I didn’t watch this movie until I was on a plane with my own row and could watch it without feeling embarrassed for doing so. So I decided to give it a whirl.
And it was pretty damn good.
What was so pleasantly surprising about this film is that, while I’m sure some things peculiar to Asian (American) people completely went over my head (like the rules of Mahjong), the main themes of family and being proud of one’s background are relatable to just about everyone.
Especially the former. I think the scenes centered around family dynamics, both positive and negative, were the most impactful moments of the film.
We’ve all been in situations where we want nothing more than our family to be accepting of our life choices, and CRA did a great job of putting that in the context of Asian/Asian American interactions without completely alienating other ethnicities.
This resulted in a viewing experience that was both relatable and educational, since I could experience these themes in an environment that I never have before.
These are all reasons why I like CRA a lot more when I think of it was a Family Drama with occasional humor than a Romantic Comedy. I didn’t really think it was that funny, but I found it very moving at times.
Just like Black Panther, I don’t think it was as good as a lot of the buzz would lead you to believe.
But unlike Black Panther, I still think this was a really good movie.
It also featured the only wedding scene in a movie that almost made me cry.
4. A Quiet Place
I have some friends who live in Hollywood and are much better at evaluating movies than I am, and one of them declared A Quiet Place as the best movie of 2018.
After hearing that, I had to see for myself.
…So, naturally, I waited until the same super-convenient plane ride that I saw CRA on.
Despite watching the film on a small screen during a noisy flight, I was still on the edge of my seat while watching A Quiet Place.
And that’s not because of the terrifying turbulence, either.
While the premise is admittedly from an increasingly played-out camp (can’t see/hear/speak/shit), the film is clever enough with its premise so that it never wears out its welcome.
Even when the suspension of disbelief runs a little thin, the movie reels us back in with some genuinely heartfelt moments. At its core, it’s a story about parental love and the complications that come with communicating it to children.
In fact, I’d say that the film’s heart is the driving force of its appeal, and is why it was so critically acclaimed.
…It also helped viewers to overlook the fact that the plot is basically a comedy of errors, and the fact that any of these characters (especially the children) have survived this long is anyone’s guess.
In any case, A Quiet Place is a white-knuckle viewing experience that will keep your heart pumping until its ending that will absolutely, positively make you want to cry.
Oh–and the guy from The Office is in it, and does a great job, so there’s that.
For a few years now, I’ve been worried that the Horror genre has taken a massive nosedive in quality over the last decade.
While it’d be dumb of me to say that Hereditary will be the first of many modern Horror films to buck the trend, it’s still (by far) the best scary movie I’ve seen since A Cabin in the Woods (2011).
This is because, despite being a sufficiently spooky movie (I saw it for the 3rd time a few days ago, and its scare factor hasn’t gone down at all), it’s also a carefully crafted film.
And that’s the main quality that elevates this movie: it was made with a lot of care.
It almost reminds me of Fight Club, where every time you rewatch it you’ll notice several details that you missed last time. It doesn’t shove its foreshadowing in your face, but rather just leaves them there to either be noticed or overlooked.
The same can be said for a lot of the film’s most frightening moments. There aren’t that many stupid-ass “jump scares”, but there are a whole mess of things that are scary specifically because the camera doesn’t overemphasize them.
Speaking of the camera, the cinematography in Hereditary is astounding. Every shot seems to have been carefully selected with the film’s “slow burn” tone in mind. You know that something isn’t quite right with things judging by how the camera moves and shifts your attention, but it’s not obvious enough to quite put your finger on.
Speaking of obvious , Toni Colette’s performance was fucking astounding, and is easily the main reason why this film works so well.
Hereditary is an incredibly engaging viewing experience, and while a lot of the film’s themes about mental health and family dynamics are cast aside by its nihilistic ending, the butt-clenching third act makes the conclusion easy to forgive.
Great stuff, here.
2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Well–I sure didn’t see this coming.
Just when I thought I was done with Spider-Man reboots, Into the Spider-Verse came outta nowhere and pulled off the previously improbable feat of knocking off Spider-Man 2 as my favorite movie starring the web slinger.
And buddy, that ain’t an easy thing to do.
What really made this movie great for me is, despite being the first major animated Spider-Man movie, it somehow had the most relatable protagonist.
Miles is as close to Spider-Man as any of us are going to get.
He lives in a world that already has Peter Parker, and once he gets bitten by the spider, he does what any of us would have done: he wants to be just like the previous Spider-Man.
My childhood sucked, so I seldom ever wish to be a kid again, but this film made me want to experience it from my 8 year-old perspective.
I can only imagine how inspiring it would have been to see Miles Morales aspiring towards being a hero while also having to face his own limitations as a young man.
Honestly, you can have Black Panther. For my money, THIS is the best Black superhero that hit the screens in 2018, and probably ever (with respects to Shaft and Blade, of course). Miles’ coming-of-age arc was incredibly compelling, and undoubtedly had kids across the country eager to follow in his footsteps.
And that’s not even to mention the other Spider….people. The other Spideys from different universes made sure that there was something here for just about anyone: women, weaboos, middle-aged Nicolas Cage lovers, and even Looney Tune fans all had a version of Spider-whatever that they could latch onto.
Throw in excellent winks to the comics, a heartbreaking Stan Lee appearance, and tie it all together with fantastic art direction, and you have the best goddamn Spider-Man viewing experience that we’re probably ever going to get.
Fuck, man, this movie was awesome.
1. Avengers: Infinity War
Come on, dude.
You saw this one coming.
While Spider-Verse and some other entries on this list might be better movies from a critical standpoint, Infinity War was more of an event—the likes which capped off a multi-film progression that was unprecedented in cinematic history.
Just think about it: the buildup for this movie was 18 previous films spread out over 10 years. If Infinity War failed, then it might have been the end of the MCU.
But instead, it was better than all 18 of its predecessors. That’s fucking insane.
I’m trying my best to keep an objective tone, but it’s almost impossible for me not to gush over how impressive of a feat this film was.
It features over 25 characters, 3 different subplots, a ton of different locations, and somehow manages to juggle all of that without fucking up the continuity of the pre-established universe.
Yet, it never feels jumbled or clumsy. Every character has at least a brief moment to shine, and they all act and behave in ways that align with their respective film franchises.
This even shows up in some of the fight scenes, which feature some legitimately exciting combo attacks, such as Dr. Strange creating platforms for Starlord to run on or the Black Widow/Scarlet Witch/Okoye teamup that bordered on fanfiction.
Now, this could have easily been a mess of monumental proportions. Just look at Justice League, which featured a fifth of the characters and about a tenth of the world-building.
The way Marvel was able to pull this off was by making Thanos the main character of Infinity War. Although there’s a whole bunch of other shit going on during Thanos’ quest, they all tie into the common goal of stopping him from getting the Infinity Stones.
It’s easy to take for granted how clever of a decision that was. The film could have easily focused on Steve Rodgers, Thor, and whoever hunting down the stones and trying to destroy them, while Thanos would just be a big bad guy that would show up at the end and fight everyone.
But by focusing the narrative on Thanos, we get to learn more about his motivations, and it makes him a much more complex character than any of us probably thought he would be. I’m not even that big of an MCU fan, but Infinity War was a viewing experience that I’ll never forget because of its ambition and the huge balls it had by giving us the ending that it did.
I can talk about this movie all day, but you probably can tell how much I like it already. Looking back and seeing how far this franchise has come from Iron Man, all I can say is that Infinity War delivered in incredibly satisfying way that went beyond all our expectations.
And speaking of satisfying, it also had the most hype character entrance that I’ve ever seen:
Thanks for reading!
Looking back, 2018 was pretty solid. We had super hero crossovers, anticipated sequels, Horror films, and…whatever you’d call Mid90s.
I’m looking forward to what 2019 has in store, but I probably should start writing sooner in the year, because this list took for-eh-ver.
Let me know what you think of the list (besides the fact that I didn’t see Roma or Sorry To Bother You), and have a great week!