We changed our Game of the Year awards to something much more minimalist for 2018, and much to my dismay, we didn’t choose a site-wide Film of the Year! So I decided, “Hey, 2018 had some really awesome films. So I’m going to do my own Top 5 nominations.” I consider myself a cinema fan, and I’ve reviewed quite a few films for the site, so I figured I’d give my two cents (or five). Let me just say, this was a hard list to make. But somehow I managed to narrow the enormous list down to my Top 5 favorites. So let’s get to it!
No. 5: Venom
Director: Ruben Fleischer
I know, I know, I’m being controversial right out of the gate – Venom got a lot of hate for being a “dumb comic book movie.” Strangely, though, I heard a lot of praise for its “buddy cop” motif, which was something I couldn’t really envision before seeing the film. However, once I had finally seen that in action, it really was an engaging feature. The dynamic between Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock and his symbiote alter ego is fascinating to watch, and Hardy does an excellent job at separating the two performances. Honestly, I didn’t know that Venom’s voice was also played by Tom Hardy until 10 seconds ago, which makes me want to go watch the film again.
That aside, however, the “kill or be killed” bromance between the alien and the reporter is thoroughly entertaining throughout the film. In fact, the only thing I found to be dull was the chemistry between Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams, which was truly one of the most painful things I’ve ever had to experience in a big-budget blockbuster. You would think a film as large as this could find two love interests who act well together. Unfortunately, Venom doesn’t have that luxury. On the other hand, though, performances like that of Jenny Slate was a pleasant surprise and kept me smiling the entire time she was onscreen. Above all, though, Venom‘s greatest attribute is its action. While there are quite a few moments of painfully slow storytelling and dull emotional interference, Venom‘s fight scenes are loud, massive, and spectacular. Whether it be the car chase scene where Venom is jumping on roofs through crowded streets or the final battle against the enemy symbiote, my eyes were glued to the screen during these moments, and they helped to make Venom one of 2018’s most memorable films.
No. 4: A Quiet Place
Director: John Krasinski
I recently read somewhere that A Quiet Place was the most popular horror movie of 2018. I found this hard to justify, as I felt the film was more of a disgustingly-suspenseful thriller than a horror movie. I say “disgustingly” in the kindest way, here meaning the amount of stress this film caused me was just gross. A Quiet Place made me tenser than I have ever felt in a theater, and this may have honestly been due to the setting in which I viewed it. If you didn’t see A Quiet Place in a theater, then I really feel sorry for you. Being in a room that packed with tension and raw anxiety was something truly incredible, and it added to the experience overall. The gimmick of A Quiet Place, of course, was the lack of sound, which made every noise a panic attack in itself. I felt the fear emanating from each of the protagonists, and I never even knew their names. I felt closer to their tight-knit group, and I sympathized with their struggle. The energy of those around me made my initial viewing one that I won’t soon forget. A Quiet Place was not only the most creative film of 2018 but one of the most creative films I have ever seen. What John Krasinski – who directed and starred in it – did with the sound design was something original and downright terrifying, and I don’t think I’ll have the same reaction upon a second viewing on home video. While the film’s ending left me a bit dissatisfied, I can’t deny that for about 75 of its 90-minute runtime, A Quiet Place cemented itself in my brain as one of the best films of 2018.
No. 3: Christopher Robin
Director: Marc Forster
Christopher Robin tells the story of a grown-up Christopher Robin who must return to the Hundred Acre Wood to save his childhood friends. Winnie the Pooh has had a rough time in Hollywood over the past few years, with his last film (in 2011) being far too short and bland for most audiences to enjoy. Fortunately, Christopher Robin tells a whole new tale, while bringing back the classic characters we know and love to inspire a whole new generation of Disney lovers. The film feels like a combination of Saving Mr. Banks and Finding Neverland, though without the music of the latter and the suicidal themes of the former. What I’m saying is, this film is much more family-friendly and doesn’t require as much…thinking. Although, should one choose to analyze Christopher Robin a bit deeper than surface value, they will find a gripping story about a troubled boy coming of age, only to learn that the adult world isn’t everything he thought it would be.
Christopher Robin utilizes the classic themes of Winnie the Pooh to promote imagination as a coping mechanism in this world of hardship and uncertainty. Ewan McGregor plays the titular hero with a certain grizzled whimsy that makes such an unbelievable tale seem not so impossible after all. Furthermore, the computer-generated renditions of the Hundred Acre Wood gang are jaw-droppingly realistic and provide an extraordinarily lifelike feeling to such beloved characters. I was smiling from start to finish – or, at least, until I cried. Christopher Robin was a special kind of Disney film; one that reimagined an established franchise in the modern age, and knocked it out of the park.
No. 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet
Directors: Phil Johnston, Rich Moore
Yet another long-overdue Disney film, Ralph Breaks the Internet sees our return to Litwak’s Family Fun Center & Arcade after six whole years. There, Ralph and Vanellope have been living life to the fullest as best friends, just as we had left them. However, this film takes the iconic pair on a journey outside the realm of video games and straight into the World Wide Web. This film does for the internet what its predecessor did for retro gaming. Ralph takes on the likes of Google, eBay, and even the dark web over the course of a heartwarming (and heartbreaking) journey to win his best friend back. Being the trailer dodger that I am, I never could have imagined what was in store for me when I first went to see Ralph Breaks the Internet. Of course, the visuals are stunning; vibrant and full of color, coupled with some of the most fluid animations Disney has ever produced. There are internet references abound, from Tweets and memes to MMOs and even – ugh- Fortnite. But hands down the most brilliant feature of Ralph Breaks the Internet is the Disney princess reunion, which brought every princess together onscreen for the first time in history. Nearly every princess’s original voice actor returned, and everyone played their parts perfectly. It brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye (and maybe some happy screams), and I never stopped until the credits rolled. This Wreck-It Ralph sequel was well worth the wait, delivering moments both heartfelt and heart-shattering, and it easily became one of my favorites this year.
No. 1: Avengers Infinity War
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
It’s really difficult to mess up a Marvel movie (seriously, what went wrong, Spider-Man: Homecoming?!). So going into Avengers: Infinity War, the highest-budget Marvel movie, I was expecting nothing but the greatest film I’ve ever seen. Chock full of superheroes, nonstop action, and motherf***in’ Thanos, this movie promised to be Marvel’s crowning glory. And honestly? I was not disappointed! I’m still thinking back on Infinity War to this day, and not just because we got a trailer for its sequel last week. There were so many memorable scenes in Infinity War, from the Spider-Man/Iron Man battle in the city, to the Spider-Man/Doctor Strange scene on the spaceship, to the Spider-Man/Star-Lord battle on Titan. Tell me, why is Tom Holland Spider-Man so awesome but his movie was trash? How does that make any sense?! But I digress. Infinity War made the most out of its all-star cast, and pitted heroes against each other in ways that fans have been dreaming of since the first Iron Man way back in 2008. The story was fantastic; a true comic book masterpiece complete with a tearjerker ending that left audiences stunned. Above all, though, the final battle was an ultimate display of special effects, choreography, and overall satisfaction that we had finally been given the superhero epic we deserve. Avengers: Infinity War is a cinematic triumph, and a perfect lead-in to the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it. There’s no denying it is my Film of the Year.
EXCEPTION: The Greatest Showman
Unless…can we make an exception? You see, I didn’t watch The Greatest Showman until January 2018, though by definition, it is a 2017 movie. If we can bend the rules a little here, I would have to say that without a doubt, The Greatest Showman is my favorite film of 2018. I saw The Greatest Showman three times in theaters, and every time I was blown away. Every single time, I saw something new. Each viewing was an exhilarating experience from start to finish. Picture this: a heartwarming underdog story about a down-on-his-luck father who gathers a menagerie of outcasts to create the Greatest Show on Earth. Got it? Good. Now mix that with a talented cast of Broadway veterans, a brilliant score from the creators of 2017’s Best Musical, Dear Evan Hansen, and some of the most beautiful set pieces you’ve ever laid eyes on. The result is The Greatest Showman, a musical feature so surprisingly excellent that it’s taken the entire Broadway world by storm. Theater fans have been abuzz since its release, and there have even been rumors of a possible stage production in the works. Whether that comes to fruition or not, there’s no denying that The Greatest Showman is an instant classic in its own right. Standing among greats like Singin’ in the Rain and The Music Man, this film has brought musical cinema back into the spotlight, and it remains the greatest film I saw all year, as well as one of my favorite movies of all time.
So there you have it! 2018 was…exciting, to say the least. With new developments in horror, suspense, and musicals, the world of cinema just keeps getting better and better. Disney certainly dominated this year, what with their superhero movies and new original films. 2019 aims to be an enormous year for them, with live-action remakes of movies like Aladdin and The Lion King, yet another Toy Story sequel from Pixar, and of course the most important film of them all, Frozen 2. So join me again next year, and we’ll see who comes out on top (like we don’t already know)! Thanks for reading!