Friday, December 28, 2018

Favorite Movies of 2018

There's no use delaying it any further.  The odds of me being able to cram in a whole slew of 2018 films before the year concludes are not great, nonexistent even.  So, take this list with a grain of salt, as movies i'm sure i would adore ("Won't You Be My Neighbor," "The Blakkklansman," "Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse," "Anna and The Apocalypse," and more) are just going to have to sit on the sidelines for the moment.

All that being said, i did manage to catch a lot of great movies this year, many of which explored similar themes on post traumatic stress.  Hmm.  Anyway, here are my top ten...

10. "The Other Side of the Wind"
Holy shit, a "new" film from Orson Welles!  Originally shot over several years in the 1970s before being lost for a bevy of different reasons, this oddity of free flowing cinema was finally assembled and completed by Welles's friend and fellow filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich and is up on Netflix for us all to watch right now.  And it's a fascinating watch, that at times can come across as pretentious (teenage film student me would have been gaga for it), but also gives us a glimpse into Welles's psyche and his contempt of the Hollywood system he felt betrayed him.

9. "Game Night"
I did not expect to like this movie nearly as much as i did, but John Francis Daley's and Jonathan Goldstein's "Game Night" works so well, an action-comedy hybrid that actually has jokes and suspense.  Also, Jesse Plemons totally steals this movie from everyone else, which is no small feat as it has a great cast.

8. "Halloween"
It was a pretty awesome year for horror in general, but we also got not one, but two remakes that somehow managed to be great, despite the odds leveled against them.  One of those was David Gordon Green's "Halloween," a sequel that retcons the last 40 years of other sequels to tell a straight-to-the-point scary story that also works in themes on PTSD and living with that trauma.  It gets kind of brutal too, which honestly is what we all deserve from a slasher flick.  And it was Carpenter approved, the artist even supplying the score.  I'm now patiently awaiting a boom of '80s horror icon retcons.  It should be fun.

7. "You Were Never Really Here"
Despite the glowing reviews and recommendations for Lynne Ramsay's "You Were Never Really Here," the story of a contract killer with PTSD who rescues girls from sex trade, i didn't really get into it upon my first viewing.  But then a month or so later, i re-watched it and was aghast at how much i missed the first time around.  I didn't remember anything.  Then it occurred to me that i fell asleep watching it my first go, along with a snoozing 2-year old laying across me.  These kinds of things happen when you have kids.  You pass out when you sit for a minute.  I sure am glad i watched the film the second time, because it is excellent from top to bottom.

6. "Hereditary"
Wow.  What a creepy, dread-inducing, slowburn of a horror movie, that meditates on grief and familial trauma (there it is again), with an ending that's sure to be an all-timer for genre fans for years to come.  Horror buffs and old stalwarts alike were shook by Ari Aster's debut film, really a true marvel of filmmaking.  I can't wait to see what he does next.  And Toni Collette deserves every award for her performance.

5. "Annihilation"
Alex Garland's track record on literally everything he does is phenomenal.  Whether it be as a novelist, a screenwriter, a video game developer, or a director, he hits it out of the park every single time.  This year's "Annihilation" was no different, a beautiful, alluring, and terrifying sci-fi movie that didn't get near the love it deserved.  Let this guy make anything he wants.

4. "Avengers: Infinity War"
I just had to include this one.  In all likelihood, i can see myself revisiting it more than any other film on this list, because i have kids...and they love it.  Much better than its predecessor, it's kind of a weird movie, a stuffed to the gills epic that's a culmination of everything that came before it, the groundwork being laid the last 10 years by another 20 films.  There's no 3-act structure, as one usually gets in a tent pole summer blockbuster, the villain is the protagonist, and the ending hits on an emotional level it has no business achieving.  As a comic book fan, i knew exactly what was going to happen, as did many of the folks watching in the theater with me, but we were all dead silent at the Russo Brothers' film's end, Thanos's snap maybe being the collective cultural moment of the year.  And next April, we get to see how it all wraps up.

3. "The Night Comes for Us"
The best action film i've seen all year, maybe ever.  Timo Tjahjanto's ode to blood, guts, and fisticuffs left me speechless, high on adrenaline, and pumping my fist in the air.  Stop everything you're doing, and watch it right now.

2. "Suspiria"
The other horror remake this year that defied all expectations, Luca Guadagnino's version of the Argento classic, completely mesmerized me.  It's one of those films that i can't help but think about and think about days after viewing.  Tilda Swinton is amazing.  Thom Yorke's score is amazing.  The cinematography is amazing.  The whole damn thing is amazing.  And really, what's probably most amazing is how it's got me wondering which film a like better now, the original or the remake.  I never thought that could happen in a million years.

1. "Mandy"
No debate, Panos Cosmatos's "Mandy" is my favorite movie of the year.  And why shouldn't it be?  An unhinged Nic Cage performance, hypnotic visuals, some heavy metal animated sequences, Linus Roache as a cult leader, an evil, demonic biker gang who look like cenobites, a chainsaw fight, and the forging of a battle axe, along with Johann Johannson's final film score make for pure cinematic bliss.  Teenage me would have gone apeshit for this, as would 20-year old me and 30-year old me.  Hell, 40-year old me went apeshit, and i'm only 39.  If you've neglected to see it yet, every single one of you needs to get this movie in front of your eyeballs now.  Oh my god, i love this movie.

I know this year was trying for all of us, but when you need that break from reality for a couple of hours, these films have got you covered.

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