Last week I wrote a blog about my top TV of 2018. Before that I wrote a blog about my favorite games and music of 2018. I'm finishing off this trilogy of blogs with a look at my favorite new movies of 2018.
It was a huge year for movies. We had a Star Wars movie and an Avengers movie in the same year! We had some incredible film sequels, and about a thousand superhero movies. I didn't get to see all the films I wanted to. To name a few, I never got around to: Marry Poppins Returns, The House with a Clock in its Walls, Upgrade, or Three Identical Strangers. The biggest one I'm ashamed to not have seen yet is Creed II. I adore the Rocky films and I'm certain that I will love Creed II. It's likely the only movie I haven't seen that would supplant any on this top 10 list. But I have no idea when I'm going to get around to that, so I caved and decided to write this blog now. I'll try to keep this blog as spoiler-free as I possibly can. I should also mention that these are the films I personally enjoyed the most. That doesn't necessarily meant they were the best films of the year. They're just my favorite.
Let's jump in!
10-Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald
I didn't love the first Fantastic Beasts film. It had a lot of problems. I think Grindelwald really kicked it up a notch in quality. I'd still rank it below all the regular Harry Potter films, but it was quite entertaining. I'll watch it again, for sure. The biggest improvement it makes over its predecessor is that it has a lot of momentum. It has a clear goal right at the start and the rest of the movie deals with that goal. I will say there's some crazy stuff that happens at the end that doesn't make a lot of sense just now. I'm certain it will make more sense as the film franchise continues onward. I'm definitely on board now and I look forward to the next one.
9-Ready Player One
I enjoyed the book and the movie. The movie approaches the story a bit differently in a few ways, but it really works for film. A direct translation of the book wouldn't have functioned well in cinema, for some bits. But look, this book and this movie aren't for everyone. They're not incredible or revolutionary (or flawless). But they're a lot of fun. If you go in looking for a fun couple of hours, you'll have a fine time here. And the race in the beginning of the film is truly thrilling in the movie theater.
I adored the first film in this franchise when it came out. It was my favorite movie for a few years. Looking back, it has a lot of problems. Bumblebee addresses nearly every problem I have with the prior films in the franchise. It's a tight story. It has clear character arcs. Bumblebee learns and grows. The human character is understandable and relatable. I just can't believe how good it was. I mean, it's not an unbelievably spoectacular movie. But it's good. And I am so happy to have a good Transformers film.
Bumblebee is just so cute in this film. I love his design. All of the Transformers have improved designs here. There's some really good action here as well. However, in comparison with the other films in the series, there's hardly any action. The percentage of screentime that consists of fight scenes is really small. But when it happens, it's totally great to watch. I can't say anything specific without spoiling. But there is one scene where Bee fights a Decepticon one on one and the way he defeats his opponent is just so cool. I loved it. Will watch again!
7-A Quiet Place
I don't really watch horror movies. Maybe you don't even classify this as one, I don't know. But I did watch it and I really enjoyed it! It has some problems. Most of the challenges they characters face are because of really bad decisions made by the parents of the family. But it's a really fascinating concept to think about. The direction, editing, and sound design were all top notch. There's some excellent acting, even with the child actors. It's a very intense roller-coaster. I really recommend it.
This is a fun, fun movie. It's a rollicking adventure that spans the globe. It draws inspiration from many other films, without ripping them off. It doesn't tell the most unique or original tale (but let's be honest, almost no superhero movie does). It's a fairly simple story, but it works.
The thing that sells this movie is the acting. Nicole Kidman is wonderful in her role as Aquamom. She has very little screen time. But you totally buy into her and her relationship with Landlubberdad. Amber Heard is super good. She's sort of an audience surrogate. She finds Aquaman because she needs him. But she thinks very poorly of him. Over time, she sees who he really is as a person and her opinion softens immensely. We're kind of the same way. We go in thinking that Aquaman is silly and dumb. But by the end of the movie, he's won us over.
Jason Momoa will readily admit that he's not the greatest actor in the world, but he really gives this role all that he has. And it works! Arthur Curry is so great. He's just a normal person. He's a nice guy. He does the right thing. He's not super intelligent. He makes mistakes. He has real flaws and weaknesses. He doesn't represent the pinnacle of humanity. He has no ambitions for power or authority. But his most important attribute is that he is kind to other people. That is why this movie works.
I can't move on without mentioning Black Manta. This movie is an origin story for him. He's largely in the background. He only has a handful of scenes, but he dominates every scene he is in. He is so intimidating. Just a fantastic villain. He'll surely be the main antagonist of the sequel. And I'm sure we'll get a sequel, since Aquaman has just passed $1 Billion in the box office.
5-Won't You Be My Neighbor?
If you aren't aware, this is a documentary about the career of Fred Rogers, who is one of the finest human beings in recent history. He was a man who cared so deeply for other people, especially children, that he devoted his life to their service. And so he developed a TV show that would be one of the most beloved children's television programs ever produced. This is a film that everyone should see. Not every movie is for every person, but this one is an exception. If everyone were to watch this, we'd see the kind of person that we all could strive to be. If every person was even 25% as good as Mr. Rogers, the world would be a utopia. Please, please, please, watch this movie.
4-Avengers: Infinity War
This movie shouldn't work on any level. It has far too many characters and plotlines to function. But somehow, it does work. The directors of this film just know how to weave a story that is comprehensible and character-driven. I was absolutely shocked when I watched it. The only problem with this movie is that it's half a story. I can't wait for the sequel. Even though I feel like I know where every character will be by the end, I have no idea how they're going to get there. I'm just so eager to find out. I'm reluctant to say anything else on the off chance that any of you haven't seen it yet and have somehow remained unspoilered. But it's amazing.
3-Crazy Rich Asians
This the second movie of 2018 to be massive for representation of non-white people (the first being Black Panther, of course). It seems like every Chinese actor in Hollywood is in this movie. It's all about a family that is the 0.01%. They are the richest of the rich. They would make the richest person you know look like a peasant. As one of my favorite film reviewers (Jeremy Jahns) described this movie, it's lifestyle-porn. It is just so cool to watch these mega rich people live the lives that they live. This family lives in Singapore, a smaller Asian country that I knew almost anothing about. The movie is practically a 2 hour commercial for Singapore. It looks amazing. I want to see it in person.
Plot wise, it's fairly standard rom-com fare. A girl meets her boyfriend's family. They disapprove. She must decide whether to try to win them over or to walk away. But it's really fun to watch. Best new rom-com I've seen in a few years, honestly. Great performances. Great writing. And all coupled with the lifestyle-porn. It's a real treat of a movie.
2-Mission Impossible: Fallout
I've been on board the MI train since M:I:III. Each movie is bigger and more bombastic than the last. This movie is no exception. I just have no idea what they could possibly do with a sequel to this. The stunts in this movie are some of the best stunts in the history of cinema. It's over-the-top in every conceivable way, and I love it. Tom Cruise basically is Ethan Hunt at this point. He doesn't even have to act. He just walks on set, does his thing, is filmed doing it, and suddenly you have the biggest blockbuster of the summer. Every few minutes there is another heart-pounding sequence. One just leads into another. Even the moments that are on more of a downbeat are filled with intrigue (lots of masks!). It's a true thrill-ride. Arguably the best movie in the series. It even has a good character arc for Ethan! It's just 1000 times better than it has any right to be.
All that said, I don't know if any movie will top the Opera House from MI: Rogue Nation. That is the single best action scene I've ever witnessed in a film. Just had to mention that.
1-Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
You've already seen this, I'm sure. If you're the kind of person that reads destructoid, surely you've seen this. But if you haven't, go watch it right now. Stop reading this! Go watch it!
It's so good. It's the best animated movie since The Lego Movie, at the very least. The animation is gorgeous and dynamic. The direction is masterful. The voice acting is top-notch. The art style is inspired. But the best thing? It's the heart. This movie has so much heart! It really gets you in the feels. You really care for Miles. You develop an emotional relationship with him as a character in a way that so few films manage to accomplish.
It also has tons of awesome side characters, each of whom could carry their own film. Spider-Man Noir is a highlight. Spider-Gwen steals the show. Next Halloween will have a billion Spider-Gwens, I'm certain. She will be a new fan favorite, I'm sure. Especially for young girls.
If you had told me a year ago that Spider-Verse would be the best film of the year, I would not have believed you. If you had told me it would be the best Spider-Man film ever made, I would not have believed you. If you had told me it would be one of the best superhero movies ever made, I'd have scoffed. But you would have been right and I would have been a fool. Spider-Verse exceeded every conceivable expectation I had. Go watch it! And if you've seen it already, go see it again!
There you have my top 10 films of 2018! Now share with us your favorites!