• 2018: The Best Films of the Year


    2018 was not the best year for film. Sure, we had some big crowd pleasers like Avengers: Infinity Wars, The Incredibles 2, and Aquaman that were huge hits at the box office. We also had Oscar hopefuls like A Star is Born, Green Book, and Vice. The problem lies in the fact that outside of the bigger films, there were not that many films that were "must sees". Every month had a few, but there are usually more. There are also more films that you could say "took your breath away". This year? Not so much. That being said, there were a handful of films that I found to be the best of what 2018 had to offer.

    First, we go with a few honorable mentions:


    And now on to the list:

    leave no trace banner

    Leave No Trace is not the film I thought it was going to be, but that is not a bad thing. This is a film that examines the effects of PTSD without calling it out every five seconds like some other films have done. The focus here is the acting. There are no glamour shots or forced acting. What we get is two great actors playing off each other and the people they come in contact with. The camera stays in an almost voyeur position for the entire film. This is a film that should have been recognized by the various awards shows going on now, but it wasn’t and that is a shame because more people need to have this film in their lives.

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    Oh my God. Overlord is an amazing film. The opening scene on the plane that is done in one shot that ends on the ground. The jump scares that aren’t your normal jump scares. The transformation sequence. All of this is great stuff and yet the film did not do well at the box office. I can tell you that I saw this in the theater (in a Dolby theater) and the crowd I was with loved the film so much. The theater was shaking from the impressive sound mix this film has. Overlord was my favorite theater going experience of 2018.


    No one expected Spider-man Into the Spiderverse to be this good. Everyone thought that this was going to be a second-tier Spider-man film, you know, one made in between the “real” Spider-man films that Marvel and Sony are crapping out. No one thought that this would become the “real” Spider-man film in so many people’s eyes. This film ranks up there with Spider-man 2 as one of the best Spider-man films. The film has a lot of heart and makes the feels come even though you weren’t expecting them. The animation is really beautiful even if it takes a bit to get used to. There are even a few surprises that no one saw coming, which is very rare these days. Spider-man Into the Spiderverse is the best animated film of the year and one that is getting the attention it deserves.


    I am a huge fan of Tales from the Hood. When the film was released in 1995, I had just finished up one of the worst summers I had ever had. I had been hit by a car and was out of commission for most of the summer. I was able to watch a lot of films at home, but I wasn’t able to go to the theater. That is until Tales from the Hood hit the discount theater down the street from my house. It seems like fate that my doctor cleared me to become more active just a few days before Tales hit that theater. I remember going to the theater with my friends and being scared, excited, and amused for the next two hours. When it was announced that there would a Tales from the Hood 2 being released in 2018, I was more than excited. I went to my local Walmart and grabbed a copy. That night I watched the film and was happy the whole time. While the film is not as good as the original, it is still an excellent film. The filmmakers don’t rely on scares as much as the first film, but it does still deliver a message while making you laugh. This more of a comedy than a horror film. That is, however, until we get to the last short. I will not ruin it for anyone, but it makes you really think about the past and how it affects the present. That last story is a masterstroke of filmmaking and had me in tears by the end. How many horror films can you say left you sobbing like a little girl with a skinned knee?


    There has been a lot said about Andre the Giant over the years. I have seen a few docs that focused on his life and career, but none of them felt as personal as this doc does. While we get all of the stories that we have heard over the years, there is still a fair amount that we haven’t heard. I never knew that Andre owned a farm in North Carolina. Not only that, but we get old home movie and pictures of Andre at said farm. By the end of this doc, you will have a new appreciation for the man and his strive to be looked at as “normal”


    I didn’t really know what to expect when I watched Paddington 2. I watched this right after viewing the first film for the first time, so I was still trying to take in how wonderful of a film that one was. The sequel is just as wonderful as the first in every way. There is not a mean bone in this film’s body and that is something that is rare these days. Even the Disney films are a bit cynical at times. Paddington 2? Not one cynical bone in its body. The film is colorful and joyous and a true pleasure to watch. Not many family films like this make it to my list every year because there are not very many films like this. Watch both films to see what pure joy in film feels like.


    Larry Cohen is one of the most interesting filmmakers out there. He has made some of the best B-movies out there and not very many people know his name. Even if you don’t know his name, you WILL know at least one of his films. He makes the films that HE wants to make and doesn’t bow down to the studios. Cohen is also a gifted storyteller and that is on full display here. Just hearing him talk about his life and his films was one of the greatest joys of 2018.


    The Halloween series is one of the weirder slasher franchises. The series start strong with Halloween 1 and 2, then lost its way with part 3, came back pretty strong with part 4, lessened a bit with part five by adding terrible characters and goofy cops, went creepy in the wrong way with part six, tried but failed to go back to its roots with part seven, and then shit the bed with part 8. The one thing that the series did right was it stayed a horror film. It didn’t become a comedy and it didn’t go to space. The Halloween films tried to scare us with each film in the series. This new sequel, on the surface, seemed like it was just retreading the plot and characters from H20, but it didn’t. This is the truest Halloween sequel we have had since part 4 and was a breath of fresh air for a series that seemed to be never getting its groove back. Almost everything works in the film and it was great to see Myers back on the big screen NOT being used as trailer trash fodder or yelled at by a washed up rapper.


    The Mission: Impossible series is the exact opposite of the Halloween series. Each of the films in the M:I series gets better (some will say that part 2 is awful, but I beg to differ) and Fallout is the best of the series. The action here is some of the best we have seen in years and the stunts are Jackie Chan levels of awesome. The film never feels it's 2 and a half hour runtime and it was great to feel excitement again. We get an action film every year that reminds us what an action movie should really be and 2018’s entry is Mission: Impossible- Fallout.



    2015 saw the release of a film called Turbo Kid, a love letter to 80’s post-apocalyptic films like Mad Max, Cyborg, and 1990: The Bronx Warriors. The film was a bloody good time with some really impressive gore and Michael Ironside, who is always great in any film he is in. 2018 saw the release of Summer of 84, from the same directors as Turbo Kid. This is another love letter to the 80’s but this time it focuses its love on films like Monster Squad, Fright Night, and even A Nightmare on Elm Street. Even though Summer of 84 doesn’t contain monsters or anything fantastical, it stills shares a lot with these films. The film is more grounded and evens contains scenes that happened to me when I was these kids’ age. There is a lot of detail here and it felt like I was back home as a kid. The film has one of the best scares of 2018 and it has a very dark and brutal ending. Right after I saw this film for the first time I told everyone I work with about it. Everyone who took my advice and watched the film loved it. That is a testament to how great this film is. I have seen the film a few times and it is still exciting and scary.

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