2018 was a big year for movies, it was a great year for animation, it was a stellar year for horror movies in general, and it was such a busy time for anyone that loved and appreciated film. Thankfully it was tough stacking a top ten that was definitive and that sit well with me because I had so many favorites. With so much new avenues to view film I didn’t get everything I wanted in 2018, but I saw enough to compile a top twenty or top twenty five.
This is my top ten films of 2018, these are films I loved, these are films that I hope you seek out if you haven’t, by now.
Honorable Mentions: Paddington 2, The Domestics, Black Panther, Ready Player One, Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse, Revenge, Tully, The Night Eats the World, Bird Box, A Star is Born
Even for a nineties kid like me, I can fully acknowledge that “Empire Records” is a clumsy, tonally uneven, and terrible coming of age dramedy. It works hard to be as relevant and generation defining as “Dazed and Confused” or “Clerks,” but it comes up short as artificial and hollow, despite its great soundtrack. “Empire Records” even for 1995 is a pretty insufferable film that never quite finds humanity in its archetypes and cast of nineties youngsters. It’s hard to enjoy a film that features a fun sing along to AC/DC one moment, and a tear soaked nervous breakdown by one of the characters who pops pills forty five minutes later.
I was never really sure what Robert Zemeckis intended with “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” Was he showing us the sheer mania that erupted with the arrival of the Beatles, or is he purposely exaggerating the mania of the arrival of the Beatles? That sense of confused tone tends to keep “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” from turning in to a great nostalgia time capsule comedy (Ironically the great nostalgia time capsule comedy would eventually become Zemeckis’ film “Back to the Future”). Instead it’s merely an okay nostalgia time capsule comedy that reaches for the heights of “American Graffiti,” but never quite touches that high bar.
By the time Fred Sears’ “Rock around the Clock” arrived, the Bill Haley and the Comets song “Rock around the Clock” was already a massive hit thanks to “Blackboard Jungle.” It’d been accepted already as the quintessential youth anthem about rocking out and partying to rock and roll until the broad daylight. Banking on the beloved anthem was a stroke of genius, with a film that puts Bill Haley and the Comets front and center and zeroes in on the appeal of rock and roll. Well—the Caucasian version of rock and roll, anyway.
Santa teaming with Merlin the Magician to defeat Satan? Charlie Brown’s Christmas with a Rudy Ray Moore-worthy soundtrack? And why are the prehistoric Flintstones celebrating a holiday rooted in the birth of Jesus? Continue reading →
It took us over ten years, but hell, we finally got a great live action “Transformers” movie. The only thought that came to mind while I was watching the opening ten minutes of “Bumblebee” was: Why didn’t we get this in the first place? Why did Sony opt for such a moronic, nonsensical, incoherent mess of a franchise, rather than deliver what is easily the best live action representation of the franchise I’ve seen so far. Everything in “Bumblebee” is the antithesis of what Michael Bay’s movies were, right down to the lack of racial stereotypes, and the jingoism. Granted, there is a meat head military hero with John Cena, but that’s a miniscule nitpick in a movie that’s just such a great experience from beginning to end.
Much like every trend, America jumps on to what the UK did much better in film. After the rousing success of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” films, America followed up with “Book Club.” There’s nothing wrong with a movie appealing to the older mature audiences in the mood for a good time that’s not centered on superheroes or animated characters, but “Book Club” is just such a waste of time. It takes a brilliant cast and wastes them in what feels like latter day Garry Marshall when he was trotting out awful holiday based ensemble films.
If there was ever a movie that could be an introduction to the sheer indescribable beauty and sexiness that was Marilyn Monroe, it’s “Some Like It Hot.” My first introduction to the movie was when I was a pre-teen in 1997, in the middle of a busy classroom on a free day. The teacher slipped the movie on for everyone to watch, and every one of my classmates had run off to chat or goof around, but I sat and watched “Some Like It Hot.” Suffice to say Billy Wilder’s romance comedy was a first real taste of classic film I’d ever had and it sparked an interest I never really got over.