Monday, January 14, 2019

Beta's Top Ten Favorite Movies of 2018

I realize that it’s been basically a whole year since my last post, which is bad. In the unlikely event that any of my original readership happen to see this, I sympathize with the radio silence. Here’s the thing; today is the ninth anniversary of the first post I ever made and I figured I might as well throw up my annual Top Ten Favorite Movies list. However, one year from now is the damn ten-year anniversary, which is both hilarious and terrifying. It does seem like I should do something for a milestone that big, but also it feels like it would be very lame to do something for it without having touched the site in years and that there should be content leading up to it. So…food for thought?

Anyway, I somehow managed to watch a decent number of movies this year despite having one of the strangest and most life changing eighteen months of my life. But, as always, I managed to miss several key films over the course of the year, Bad Times at the El Royale being a particularly annoying omission. So if you’re favorite film isn’t on the list then that may be why. Also, this is a subjective list of my personal FAVORITE films, not necessarily the objectively best movies of the year. You may disagree with the list; that’s okay. Your opinion is valid. We’re all friends here. Feel free to post your own list in the comments.

Something a little different this year; I’m going to throw up some Panda Scores as well. For old times sake.

Before I get into the list, let me shout out a few movies that didn’t quite make the list but that I want to give a little love to. First of all, Avengers: Infinity Wars was actually on the original version of this list but was bumped off at the last minute. Still a great movie, especially if you think of Thanos as being the protagonist. Game Night ended up being a better than it had any right to be and is a comedy that worked on just about every level.  The Wife features a killer performance from Glenn Close that may well earn her a well deserved Oscar. And finally, Deadpool 2 in many ways felt like a more complete movie then its predecessor and continues to show that Ryan Reynolds is one of the best actors bringing a comic book superhero to life today. Too bad about its Women in Refrigerators moment.

Sorry, Captain America. Maybe next year...
(Also, I don't feel so good)
Full Top Ten list after the jump.

#10: A Star is Born (2018)
I'm pretty sure this is the right movie
In a way, my enjoyment of this movie was despite itself. The, I think, third remake of the classic 1937 film, A Star is Born doesn’t exactly re-invent the wheel plot-wise, and the second act is not my favorite. However, a very strong beginning and end, mixed with extremely strong performances (acting and musical) made sure this film stayed with me after watching it. If you say its overrated, I don’t think I could argue but I still took a lot from it and it's an impressive directorial debut for Bradley Cooper. Also, Andrew Dice Clay is here and he’s apparently a good actor? Hm. 

4 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.

#9: Creed II 
I assume in Creed III that he'll fight a clone of Rocky...
Let’s get this out of the way; Creed II is not as good as the first one. That said, it’s still weirdly well put together considering it’s not only a sequel but it’s a story continuation of the goofiest and most ridiculous of all the Rocky films (Rocky IV). Though the beats are nothing new and you’ve probably seen this recipe before, the ingredients still come together to make a damn fine dish. Also, kudos to director Steven Caple Jr. and Dolph Lundgren for turning Ivan Drago from a one-dimensional cartoon character into a fully fleshed character with a ton a nuance. 

4 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.

#8: Solo 
Finally; a Star Wars movie staring a white dude!
There is really no reason for this movie to exist. We didn’t need a Han Solo origin story and we sure as hell didn’t need another Star Wars movie less than six months after the last one. Plus, with all the publicized issues behind the scenes during production, it really seemed like there was no way for this flick to be any good. And yet, it ended up being a pretty wonderful experience. Solo was, for all intent and purposes, the most entertaining action flick of the year and I really hesitate to say that I had a better time seeing any other film. The lesson is just because something doesn’t need to exist doesn’t mean it shouldn’t. I’m totally down for more Star Wars Anthology movies, but maybe Disney should spread them out a bit more.

4 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.

#7: Blockers 
Possibly the worst movie title of the year
Blockers is really a Tale of Three Movies. There’s the movie that was advertised in trailers, the movie the film tricks you into thinking it is when you first start watching it, and finally there’s the actual movie buried somewhere underneath. Blockers in not only very funny but it’s something of a deconstruction of the “Teen Sex Comedy” genre that’s a lot more effective and heartwarming then it has any goddamn right to be. It’s great to see Leslie Mann in a starring role, John Cena is once again showing that he has a knack for comedic roles, and it features a potential star making performance from Geraldine Viswanathan. If you missed this one I strong suggest you track it down.

4 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.

#6: Can You Ever Forgive Me? 
For making The Happytime Murders? Sure thing, Melissa!
Based on the memoir by Lee Israel of the same name, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a rare "dramatic" turn for Melissa McCarthy, though a huge part of why I loved it was how witty and darkly funny the script was. Though one might assume that the normally comedic actor would be ill-suited as the thoroughly unlikable lead character she makes in work rather well and holds her own in a way I assume most people won’t be expecting, judging from her normal physical comedy routine in her other roles. Well written, well-acted, funny and sad at the same time, this movie was an unexpected surprise that I almost didn’t get to see but am thankful I was able to. McCarthy should get an Oscar nod for this.

4 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.

#5: Destroyer 
I guess add Nicole Kidman to the "actors to not f**k with" list...

This was a last-minute addition to this list, as I watched it after I already started writing this post; this is what caused Avengers to slip out of the top ten. As you might have heard, Nicole Kidman delivers a gritty and brutal performance as Detective Erin Bell. The novelty of seeing an actress like Kidman dressed down and make-up’d out to be a hard boiled, beaten down cop is probably worth the price of admission, but this is also the best performance I’ve seen her give, possible the best of the year. This film is not an action film; it’s a dirty, depressing thriller that will stay with you not because of any shocking moments but rather because an all time great performance.

4 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.

#4: Isle of Dogs 
Due to a childhood phobia, this is a waking nightmare for me
This movie is probably a bit of a controversial pick, but I couldn’t help but leave the theater with a huge grin on my face after watching Isle of Dogs. Wes Anderson is, after all, one of my favorite directors who did two of my favorite films of all time (The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom) so this can’t be too surprising. That all said, if you felt this film was offensive or even racist that would probably be a valid mindset. Though I don’t think there was anything deliberately malicious on Anderson’s part I am not in a position to argue for this movie. However, If you are able to put that aside then it’s a quirky, original tale that is reminiscent of Anderson’s usual style but works a little better here due to it being animation.

4 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.

#3: Crazy Rich Asians 
I mean, I guess they were kind of crazy.

This movie ends up this high on my list for two reasons. First, it’s easily the most enjoyable romantic comedy I’ve seen in years, being funny and charming while also providing a lot of great performances by actors who have traditionally not gotten the biggest stage to show their skills (special shout-out to Awkwafina for 2018 being her break-out year). Second, Crazy Rich Asians is one of the most important films of the decade, being the first major Hollywood release featuring a predominantly Asian cast since 1993. With representation such a hot topic these days it is great see a film like this get made, as many Asian-Americans finally get to see themselves portrayed on-screen in a (mostly) non-exploitative way. Hollywood, from a moral stand-point, doesn’t often get it right but this time they did.

4 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.

#2: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 
Spider-Gwen is your new favorite superhero!

Sony hasn’t made a good Spider-Man movie since 2004’s Spider-Man 2, and it got so bad that that had to make an agreement with Marvel Studios to help them reboot the franchise yet again (in exchange for Marvel getting to put Spider-Man in the Avengers movie). However, it turns out that after three increasingly frustrating films all Sony really needed to do was make a cartoon. 

Into the Spider-Verse is the best movie starring the Web Slinger in years and may in fact be the best one ever made. It manages to be one part reboot, one part spin-off while also introducing and characterizing a bunch of new character not only without it feeling crowded but actually giving every one the exact right amount of time to shine. It’s funny, it’s touching when I needs to be, it's tense when it needs to be, the characters are fantastic and the visuals are gorgeous. This is one of these movies where I can’t think of a single thing wrong with it. This is easily the best animated film of the year and will greatly increase the notoriety of Spider-Gwen, therefore will be a huge step in re-writing the problematic legacy of Gwen Stacy.

5 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.

#1: Black Panther 
Wakanda Forever!
I deeply struggled with which of these two movies would get the top spot, as Spider-Verse is this beautiful, amazing surprise that may have long term positive effects of the Spider-Man mythos for years to come. On the other hand, Black Panther is probably my favorite superhero flick of all time, being good enough that I think it really needs Oscar consideration for Best Picture and Best Director.

Maybe what boiled down for me was that, like with Crazy Rich Asians, the representation factor plays a higher role for me as black man; seeing a who’s who of black actors give fantastic performances ended up touching me more than maybe I thought it would. Add to the fact that, along with a stellar cast, Black Panther features a great story with great Afro-Futurism visuals and features arguably the best villain depicted in any comic book movie by one of Hollywood’s hottest rising stars. Hell, even the cameo from Sterling K. Brown was f**king brilliant and he is barely in this damn movie. Bottom line; Black Panther didn’t simply do every right, it did every thing great and if Avengers: Endgame really is the end of the MCU as it had been then I think we can safely say the post-Avengers franchise is still looking very strong.

5 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.

That's it for 2018. With many big movie projects coming out later this year, including another Star Wars film, Avengers: Endgame, and no less than two Captain Marvel movies, 2019 is poised to help us forget how much of  of a garbage fire the world is by getting us into the theaters!

There's a new John Wick coming? Bring on the garbage fire!


  1. Good post, man. I was a little disappointed every time I came by to find nothing new. Good luck keeping up this year.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...