The Wash Up - 2018.
The defining trait of 2018 in movies is not what I expected, and I mean that literally. The movies released were a mixed bag in most cases, but the consistent rule throughout the year has been one whereby the movies that I have not expected to like or that I have been dragged in to seeing have been my favorite and some of the best of the year.
2018’s story reads that aside from a few stand outs, the better movies have been just that, better, and everything else has sort of melded together into a vast murkiness of meh.
In my Wash Up for 2018 I have listed 5 groups (Animated, Sequel, Movie Based on a Book, Original, Comic Book movie) along with an Overall category and listed my picks for the following:
- Favorite. Movies that are a personal favorite of the category and may not technically be the best movie, but it’s the one that I’ve enjoyed most, seen multiple times at the Cinema and or bought on home release.
- Stand Out. Top for the category, my internal film critics choice and a Must See of 2018.
- Runner Up. The medal for trying hard and running a good race. These movies would otherwise be standouts if not for a few grievances.
- Disappointment. Not worth your time, money or effort. Let’s face it, we all want that cinema experience and these movies felt like a waste of my time and effort #firstworldproblems.
Enough of the preamble, lets kick this off with our first category.
- Favorite: Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse
I was dragged almost kicking and screaming to go see this and I was well surprised. My favorite thing about this movie is the focus on telling the Miles Morales origin story in a fresh and engaging way also how many of the old Spidey villains (one or two missed the mark) have been re-envisioned in such an amazing way.
- Stand Out: Isle of Dogs. You will chuckle, you will cry, you will cuss me for making you watch this movie. Vintage Wes Anderson.
- Runner Up: The Death of Superman. Solid superhero story telling based upon but not victim to it’s source material.
- Disappointment: Incredibles 2. Although not technically a bad movie and great at setting up it’s own extended universe, I expected more from this movie… and that’s coming from someone who liked all 3 Cars movies.
- Favorite: Mission Impossible: Fall Out. Everything I wanted from a new addition of a 6 movie franchise and the perfect companion for the best in class Mission Impossible: Rouge Nation. Fall Out tells a more epic action tale than the frantic thriller that was Rouge Nation but is no better or worse for it.
- Stand Out: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. It’s darker, it’s more socially aware and paced to perfection. Crimes of Grindelwald does a Rogue One and manages to be a better movie than that of which it is spun off from. This does however mean that you need at least a basic Potter knowledge to reap the benefits.
- Runner Up: Super Troopers 2. Sit back, unplug your brain and enjoy a ready made classic that is self aware of classic sequel tropes. If you liked the first one you will love the second. If you haven’t seen the first, set aside a night and watch both back to back.
- Disappointment: The Cloverfield Paradox. I cannot remember a sequel I have been so disappointed in since Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 (the one where they go back in time). Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane are amazing movies, how did Paradox go so wrong?
Movie based on a book:
- Favorite: Annihilation. The follow up to Ex Machina from writer / director Alex Garland features Natalie Portman and offers up just as many questions as his first. Beautiful to watch and engaging from start to end, Annihilation suffers only from creating a world so inviting that it leaves you curious for more.
- Stand Out: Ready Player One. I wasn’t going to see it at the cinema, glad I did… twice. Stephen Spielberg’s return to form offers up a stone cold action movie for the masses and an easter egg laden homage for the nerds of the world at the same time.
- Runner Up: Red Sparrow. Released to mixed reviews this movie is not for the faint hearted. Get past some questionable accents and the use of extreme violence wielded by the film maker to make his point and you have an interesting spy story that will keep you guessing with a surprisingly satisfying pay off at the end.
- Disappointment: A Wrinkle in Time. Technically not a bad movie. The cast is great and the underlying message is great. Unfortunately, the movie moves at almost a crawl to begin with and seems to leap frog it’s own pacing into a CGI blood bath. It’s a pity because I really wanted to love this movie.
- Favorite: A Quiet Place. John Krasinski directs the most atmospheric film of the year. I was literally on the edge of my seat the whole movie. I was mesmerised by a Post Apocalyptic world that screams to have sequels with more stories set in it from other characters view points in the vein of Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane.
- Stand Out: Roma. From the director of Gravity and Children of Men we are presented a black and white movie with such attention to detail that each layer of the film from every camera shot and aesthetic, each conversation spoken and every 1970’s socially conscious nuance feels painstakingly crafted as a small part of the greater whole. Netflix may very well find themselves in this years Oscars talks.
- Runner Up: Bad Times at the El Royale. An off-center Thriller in the style of a who done it whereby the who done it is flipped to the opposite, it’s a ‘who’s gonna survive it’. Great performances and presented almost as a cinematic multi room theatre play. It’s a pity the studio had no idea how to market such a fantastic movie.
- Disappointment: The Happy Time Murders. Melissa McCarthy, Jim Henson puppets and adult jokes told through the lens of a detective story was either going to be brilliantly bonkers or a misguided and unfunny cringe fest… it’s here because it was the latter.
Comic Book Movie:
- Favorite: Aquaman. James Wan explodes his talents and experience from the horror genre to deliver a fantastic big budget adventure movie. Aquaman revels in its absurd premise finding itself firmly nestled as the first Aqua-Indy and the best Indiana Jones rip off since Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Enjoyable lead performances, dazzling visuals and a great adventure story are unfortunately let down by the mostly uninspired set pieces, predictable story and pacing that is too top heavy.
- Stand Out: Black Panther. Marvels best offering yet. A superhero origin movie with great visuals, fantastic sound and a story set in a new Marvel location that I genuinely wanted to return to with new characters that I genuinely want to see in follow up movies. Great movie for non-comic book movie goers to see, fantastic movie for fans of the genre.
- Runner Up: Deadpool 2. Funny, great action, great new characters added to the roster coupled with the movie shadowing the beat and rhythm of the first with a dash of self awareness. Everything I hoped the movie wouldn’t be proving that I was wrong resulting in Deadpool 2 being everything I was hoping it would be. Fantastic sequel, great work Fox.
- Disappointment: Ant-Man and Wasp. Lets be honest, no-one expected Venom to be great. So when we got an average superhero movie stuck in a 90’s cliché, we took it as a win and said ‘so be it’. Ant-Man and Wasp though was following up one of the best Marvel solo offerings yet. It had a charismatic and funny lead, the same director and none of the challenges the first movie faced. All we got though was a slap dash effort and a below average Marvel offering. Very Disappointing.
- Favorite: Mission Impossible: Fall Out. Admittedly Tom Cruise is my guilty pleasure. Fall Out plays just as well as a first MI outing, companion or direct sequel to Rouge Nation with it’s focus on epic action over the phonetic action of Rouge Nation. On the hype train from the first trailer, I was not disappointed.
- Stand Out: A Quiet Place. Best movie of 2018. A movie that perfectly encapsulates why atmosphere and visual story telling is an art. Watch this movie in a cinema with 200 - 300 other people or at home with one or two loved ones and you get the same experience of nervous fear and anxious decision making.
- Runner Up: Bad Times at the El Royale. Most underrated movie of 2018. Intriguing story, beautifully detailed sets and fantastic monologues supported by great performances. Unfortunately poor trailers coupled with poor marketing decisions kept this movie from cracking into the mainstream market.
- Disappointment: Ant-Man and Wasp. Being a DC Comics reader it’s not very often that I am as excited about a Marvel movie as I was for this. Waste of time, waste of money.
My standouts for 2018 have made the rest of the year worth sitting through and to be honest, if 2019 brings me just a handful more, 2020 will be getting my proverbial hard earned.
Let me know what I got right and what I got wrong. What are your Best of 2018 were and why.