My 2018 Movie Yearbook

2018 has been a great year for movies. So great, in fact, that I haven’t been able to see all of the movies on my watchlist, due to lack of time and/or funds. While I anticipate a few more stand-outs to pop up in the last few weeks of the year, I wanted to put out a compilation of some of my favorite movies/actors/moments of 2018. This may be updated a few times in the next few weeks, but for now, let’s get into it! Be sure to let me know what your favorite movies of 2018 were in the reactions section.

Trailer for Blockers — Copyright: Universal Studios

It would have been easy to pass this movie off as a gender-flipped American Pie. However, Kay Cannon’s R-rated sex comedy Blockers is much more, due to an empathetic script and a diverse cast of characters. The veteran adult actors and equally matched by the young cast, and the dual narrative flow together flawlessly. Sure, there are gross out moments such as a barf-o-rama and John Cena ingesting alcohol through his anus, but these are pulled off with such aplomb that they’re actually funny. To my surprise, there are some truly heartfelt moments in the film as well. I would never have guessed that a scene featuring Ike Barinholtz would make me tear up, but there he is, with one of the most emotionally affecting scenes of the year opposite the amazing Gideon Adlon. Every piece of this movie adds up to the funniest experience of the year.

Trailer for A Quiet Place — Copyright: Paramount Pictures

If you missed A Quiet Place in the theater, I truly feel sorry for you. Not only was it one of the best horror movies of the year, it was one of the best movies of the year, period. That being said, it loses quite a bit of its intensity in a home viewing situation. John Krasinski’s film about a family living in a post apocalyptic world in which noise is met with a gruesome demise at the hands of monsters evokes vibes similar to Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. The sound design is something to behold, and the performances from the entire cast (particularly Emily Blunt and Millicent Simmons) are some of the best you’ll see this year. Go watch it at home if you haven’t seen it yet. Just know that you should have witnessed it on the big screen.

Red Band Trailer for Upgrade — Copyright: Blumhouse

Leigh Whannell and James Wan have both found illustrious careers outside of the Saw franchise for which they are known. Whannell continues a winning streak with his latest, the sci-fi action horror Upgrade, in which a quadriplegic man gets a chance to avenge his wife’s death with a new piece of technology that gives him the ability to move again. This film plays out like a dark comedy version of Ex Machina meets Blade Runner meets Taken. Whannell splatters everything with his trademark gore and violence, but provides an emotional backbone to his character’s journey that separates this movie from the grindhouse B-movies it so clearly is inspired by. I won’t get into the twists and turns this movie takes, but the ending left me breathless.

Trailer for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — Copyright: Sony Pictures

You could say that 2018 was a great year for superhero/comic book movies. Marvel Studios put out three critically and commercially successful movies, Venom had the biggest October opening of all time, and the Parr family made a comeback in Incredibles 2. Yet, the best superhero film of 2018 (barring a late upset from Aquaman), is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. After three different versions of Peter Parker’s story in the last twenty years, Miles Morales finally got a chance to have his story seen on the big screen. Peter Parker still makes an appearance, as do a slew of different Spider-men and women (and pig), but make no mistake; this story is Miles’. A smash-hit with critics and audiences (boasting a rare A+ Cinemascore), Into the Spider-Verse is not only the best superhero movie of the year, but arguably of all time.

Clip from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — Copyright: Sony Pictures

While we’re on the topic, let’s continue to heap praise on this movie. Not only does it tell a compelling and action-packed story, Into the Spider-Verse boasts some of the best and most unique animation ever seen. The vibrant colors, attention to detail, and the unique way every different Spider-person is animated bring something truly new to the table. This is the closest thing to seeing a comic book playing out on the big screen that you’re likely to ever get. Everything about this movie is pitch perfect. It’s still in theaters. Go see it!

Trailer for Venom — Copyright: Sony Pictures

Objectively, Venom is not a very good movie. It’s characters have shaky motivations, the plot is full of contrivances, and the main villain practically has “EVIL” stamped across his forehead (you know, like Jared Leto’s Joker). But damn, it is one entertaining thrill ride. Tom Hardy’s performance as Eddie Brock/Venom is one of the most insane performances I’ve ever seen. He carries the movie on his shoulders, fully committing to the ludicrous nature of the material. There’s a scene in which he takes a bath in a restaurant’s lobster tank before tearing into one of its still-living residents. The movie may be an illogical mess, but it’s a fun illogical mess. Sometimes, that’s enough.

Trailer for Game Night — Copyright: Warner Bros.

Sure, Game Night was marketed as a comedy, and it sure delivered on that in a big way (the bullet removal scene had me in tears), but what people aren’t talking about is what a great thriller this movie actually was. Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, surrounded by a stellar cast of comic actors, are thrown into a “game” that ends up being all too real. There were so many twists in this movie, and all of them were executed better than most straight-up thriller movies. To make things better, through it all, it never loses its razor-sharp sense of humor.

Trailer for Halloween — Copyright: Universal Pictures

After nine sequels and/or reboots ranging from decent to abysmal, Michael Myers returned to the big screen in a big way. Bringing the franchise back to the basics, Halloween was a visceral slasher, a mixtape of the best elements of the films preceding it. Jamie Lee Curtis is back as Laurie Strode, the role that launched her career, and she is not f**king around this time. She puts in a powerhouse performance, reminding everyone who the real scream queen is. A cast of characters with real personality surround her, so when they inevitably find themselves on the wrong side of Michael’s blade, it hurts. Every kill is brutal and effective. For people who like their horror “elevated,” Hereditary might be where its at. But I am a slasher fan through and through. Halloween is hands down my pick for best horror film of 2018.

Clip from Blockers — Copyright: Universal PIctures

I have always had a certain love for stoner characters in movies, specifically horror films (think Aaron Yoo in Friday the 13th or Fran Kranz in Cabin in the Woods). This year, the best stoner goes to Miles Robbins for his portrayals in both Blockers (Connor “The Chef” Aldrich) and Halloween (Dave). Robbins clearly has a knack for playing the lovable stoner, and is a scene stealer in both of these films. While he may have been criminally underused in Halloween (see my write up here), Robbins manages to make his characters pop. Kay Cannon, the director of Blockers, had this to say in an interview with the LA Times:

“I mean, why does Tom Hanks play the everyman? Because he’s the everyman. Miles has the extensive knowledge and use of drugs.”

Robbins, the son of Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, has made it clear he wants to find success on his own terms. There is no doubt in my mind that he will. His performances in both of the aforementioned movies are fun and charismatic. I look forward to watching him in future projects.

Trailer for BlacKkKlansman — Copyright: Focus Features

This Spike Lee Joint, based on true events, was advertised as a comedy, which is technically true. I laughed quite a few times throughout the course of this movie. That being said, this movie deals with some very heavy material, and while its set in the 70s, Lee draws some striking parallels to today’s social climate. The film utilizes footage of real events, including the very recent Charlottesville riot. John David Washington gives a subtle yet powerful performance as Ron Stallworth, a black cop who infiltrated the KKK by telephone, and Adam Driver plays a great foil as Flip Zimmerman, the Jewish white cop who plays Stallworth in person. While the themes explored are dark, Spike Lee knows how to have fun along the way. BlacKkKlansman is one of the best (and most important) movies of the year.

Trailer for Love, Simon — Copyright: 20th Century Fox

Everything about Love, Simon is a joy. Nick Robinson is great as the titular character, and he is surrounded by a capable and charismatic cast that fill this movie with the emotional gravitas and humor. Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner are fantastic as Simon’s parents; their exchanges with their son are tender and heartfelt. Every one of the teenage characters has their own arc to grow and learn from.The soundtrack is a who’s who of alternative rock, and the last few minutes will put you through the emotional ringer, going from cringe-worthy to laugh out loud hilarious to lovingly sweet. This movie has so much going for it, but the social relevance of centering a teenage coming of age movie around a closeted homosexual might be the kicker. This movie is a winner.

Trailer for Hell Fest — Copyright: CBS Films

If you saw Hell Fest in theaters, good for you. If you didn’t, well, you should check it out when it comes to digital. If Halloween was the king of the slasher playground, Hell Fest was the tag along little brother that wanted to be just like its older sibling. The movie’s premise relies on the novelty of horror theme parks, but it uses that novelty to its full advantage. Every sequence is nail biting, and there’s a subtext of female empowerment that permeates the movie. The script is flipped so that the females have the fleshed out personalities, and the males are the dull pretty flesh that gets torn to shreds. An extended cameo from horror icon Tony Todd helps boost this low budget treasure up a few notches. Hell Fest may not be the most inventive movie of the year, but its one that deserves a little more love than it got.

Clip from Venom — Copyright: Sony Pictures

This is a category I made especially for Tom Hardy. Watching Venom reminded me of watching the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, in which Johnny Depp carried the material with a zany performance that instantly became iconic. Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock/Venom is something to behold. The delivery of lines that should come across as stupid tend to pop due to some unexpected choices from Hardy. His Jekyll and Hyde performance carries the movie along, assuring that the audience never has a dull moment. Eddie Brock’s reactions to Venom’s actions are all the more hilarious when you realize that Hardy is playing both characters. Let’s not forget that The Academy nominated Johnny Depp for his first outing as Captain Jack Sparrow. Hey guys, do you think you could do the same for Hardy this year?

Trailer for The Predator — Copyright: 20th Century Fox

Don’t @ me on this one. This movie was a fun action/horror/comedy hybrid that took the best elements of the franchise and threw some new things into the mix as well. Sure, the humor is a bit problematic in parts, and it’s a very male-centric movie, but it’s Shane Black doing a Predator movie. What did people expect? Black splatters the action with blood and gore while keeping things tight and exciting. The ensemble cast featuring a slew of gifted actors shines, and Jacob Tremblay as an autistic boy who can translate the titular aliens’ language steals every scene he is in. There’s so much to love about this movie if you go into it looking for a good time in the vein of the original.

Clip from Blockers — Copyright: Universal Pictures

You may read this and wonder who the hell Kay Cannon is, and I wouldn’t hold that against you. You’ve probably seen her name around. She wrote the first two Pitch Perfect movies and co-wrote the third with Mike White. She also served as a writer and producer for both New Girl and 30 Rock. This year, she made her directorial debut with Blockers, which you may recognize as my favorite comedy of the year. Her movie is heartfelt, empathetic, and a truly fresh take on the teenage sex comedy. With her impressive writing credentials and the success Blockers had both commercially and critically, I expect Cannon will become a household name very soon. I, for one, am certainly excited to see what she does next.

With all that being said, I thought that 2018 was a great year for movies. I didn’t even get to all of the ones I wanted to watch this year, so I’m sure that there are some differing opinions out there. Let me know what your favorite movies/performances of the year are and some categories you would like to discuss. I would love to hear other opinions!

A film critic with a taste for genre fare, living in Sioux Falls, SD. If you love movies, we’ll get along just fine.