The Year in Movies: 2018

Chris Friebus
Jan 1, 2019 · 10 min read

I’ve certainly never had a year of movie viewing like this past one. I saw 73 movies in the theater because of MoviePass rather than the typical 12–16. Had they not made it virtually impossible to see anything after mid August, I would have easily cleared 100. Spent $89 for the year subscription, working out to $1.20 per movie! I’d say I got my money’s worth despite how useless MoviePass is now. Still got a few weeks left on it, have to see if I can work they system to get a couple more screenings in.

In total I viewed 106 movies new to me in 2018. Of those, there are 10 I would have paid to see regardless of MoviePass. Turns out my barometer for knowing what I’d like best was fairly spot on, as 7 of the 10 films I thought best for 2018 I indeed would have seen in the theater regardless. I had hoped I’d be surprised by my enjoyment of movies I’d normally not even consider seeing in the theater, but by and large that didn’t happen.

I also tried writing up reviews for everything I saw, seeing what it’d be like to be a film critic. I now see why these people are so jaded! I gave up mid summer simply because it was exhausting analyzing what did and didn’t work in each film, and some I couldn’t muster the energy for more than 2 paragraphs. Turns out the terrible films are the most fun to write about! The other thing about trying to ‘see everything’ is that there are some films I felt like I was dragging myself to. This kind of killed the fun of seeing things in a theater, made it more of just a giant TV with less comfy seats than my couch.

I won’t be renewing MoviePass, because it truly is a game of cat and mouse trying to use it now. I have to show up 15 minutes before the box office even opens in the morning just for a shot of having screenings available to movies I have no intention of actually watching, so that I can then walk into the movies I actually want to see. But since I tend to go to the last show of the night, if no one else bought a ticket, the theater will turn the movie off 5 minutes in! So if nobody else is in the theater, I have to have a backup plan for another movie that hopefully someone did pay to see, or go watch the movie I’m supposed to (yuck). I might do AMC’s program come April just for the summer movies if the math works out, but I don’t think I’ll ever have another year of viewing like I did in 2018.

The following lists are all in the order seen for movies. If there is a 🎟, that means I saw it in the theater. All movies listed were new to me this year, even if they came out in previous years.

THE BEST

I, Tonya 🎟
Black Panther 🎟
A Quiet Place 🎟
Isle of Dogs 🎟
Avengers: Infinity War 🎟
Deadpool 2 🎟
Ant-Man and the Wasp 🎟
Mission: Impossible-Fallout 🎟
Eighth Grade 🎟
A Star Is Born 🎟
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse 🎟

Yes, 5 superhero movies account for the 11 listed. What can I say, I’m highly entertained by Marvel characters. Deadpool and Spider-Man stood above every so slightly. M:I-Fallout was simply the best action movie of the year. One of the best experiences I’ve had in a movie theater period was with A Quiet Place. Being in a packed theater, not hearing so much as a candy wrapper open because noise brings out the monsters in the movie, and the collective nervous energy of everyone watching, there’s absolutely no way to duplicate that at home. As a matter of fact, I haven’t watched it at home partly because I want to preserve that impression. Seeing as how I have a seventh grader, Eighth Grade hit close to home. Phenomenal performances across the board. Isle of Dogs is dry, witty, and hand crafted genius. Even though it’s not my musical cup of tea, A Star Is Born gave me multiple goosebump moments and fully deserves the accolades. Finally there’s I, Tonya from last year. I saw it in February and damn if I didn’t come out of it feeling sorry for Harding for all its comic tragedy.

THE GOOD

The Shape of Water 🎟
Molly’s Game 🎟
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle 🎟
Happy Death Day
Game Night 🎟
The Greatest Showman 🎟
Annihilation 🎟
Red Sparrow 🎟
Icarus
Blockers 🎟

Tully 🎟
I Feel Pretty 🎟
Solo: A Star Wars Story 🎟
Upgrade 🎟
Ocean’s 8 🎟
Incredibles 2 🎟
Uncle Drew 🎟
Sorry To Bother You 🎟
Crazy Rich Asians 🎟
BlacKKKlansman 🎟
Bohemian Rhapsody 🎟
Bird Box

I feel like I saw a lot of good movies this past year that entertained me, but also were easily forgotten. I’ll point out Happy Death Day as being the most surprising in my enjoyment, and that while it was wholly unnecessary I did quite enjoy Solo. Upgrade had no right being as good and satisfying as it was, and I probably enjoyed Uncle Drew more than most because I’d never seen the commercials and YouTube videos it spawned from. I do want to also say that Sorry To Bother You gets props simply for being batshit crazy original, despite the fact I really didn’t care for the final act.

You won’t see Hurricane Heist or The Meg listed here as ‘good’, but I do want to point out that they completely embrace how silly they are which makes them fun to watch. So consider those two as bonuses.

MOST DISAPPOINTING (I was actually looking forward to these)

Tomb Raider 🎟
Downsizing
Jurassic World: Lost Kingdom 🎟
Skyscraper 🎟
The Predator 🎟
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald 🎟

Each one of these simply missed the mark without being outright terrible. Mostly. For instance, Tomb Raider failed to simply follow the new version of the game it was based on. It focused on puzzles (great in a game, boring on screen) rather than the very cinematic action sequences featured in the game. They played it safe, and that was its downfall. Downsizing simply blew its comedic premise and turned into who knows what. Jurassic World made the mistake of making dinos into heroes, which eliminates them from feeling dangerous. Skyscraper suffered the ‘thumper’ problem, which is having obstacles in the building that defy logic for existing other than to be obstacles. The Predator forgot that what makes a predator movie is the hunt. It was completely devoid of tension, and that’s a crime. The biggest bummer of them all though was Fantastic Beasts. Just a muddled mess of exposition with characters that have no idea why they are even in the movie. Worse, I can’t even tell you what crimes Grindelwald even commits!

THE WORST

The Post 🎟
Maze Runner: The Death Cure 🎟
Death Wish 🎟
Justice League

Rampage 🎟
Ready Player One 3D 🎟
Action Point 🎟

The Equalizer 2 🎟
Transformers: The Last Knight
Hell Fest 🎟
Mortal Engines 🎟
Aquaman 🎟

Roma

I’m gonna just ignore some of the never heard of it prior to showing up on Netflix movies I watched. Instead, I’m going after bigger fish. Let’s start with a best picture nominee from last year, The Post. Newspaper movies are supposed to have built in deadline tension, but this thing bored me to tears. It also looks horrendous, with no visual appeal. Gathering up all sorts of end of year praise is Roma, and it’s the sort of movie I loathe, slice of life with no purpose. The camera just pans slowly left or right, and you catch conversations happening. No hopes, dreams, or wants are expressed until the final 10 minutes, and by that point I was pissed I’d sat through the previous 110. I’d seen the previous two Maze Runners, but this just highlighted the fact I had completely forgotten what was going on in the story and that I really didn’t care.

Rampage further proves that Dwayne Johnson will act in anything, Death Wish proves that Bruce Willis will do the same, only with less acting. Action Point showed literally every good moment in the trailer, with not a single laugh to be found anywhere else. Equalizer 2 felt like they kept changing their minds about what it should be about, without going back and reshooting a cohesive movie.

Justice League and Aquaman just prove DC has no clue how to make a movie. The humor sucks and feels forced, the action is so overblown it’s not remotely relatable. The biggest issue is both feel like green screen movies. I don’t think there’s even a single legitimate underwater shot in Aquaman. It’s also as if they look at the Marvel movies and go, “we just need bigger set pieces!” rather than realizing it’s all about the character development. Ready Player One was so overstuffed with blink and you missed it easter eggs, that it got distracting. It too does huge set pieces that having now read the book, have no need of being there. My least favorite aspect, and this applies to the DC films too, is that with so much of the action being nothing more than CGI animation, the camera just floats and swirls and goes through objects at will. I may as well be just watching a cartoon, except even the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse showed restraint with it camera! Mortal Engines was also a very CGI movie, which held my interest for the first 5 minutes. Then the story kicked in and it all went downhill from there.

Hellfest didn’t even have a single good kill or even an interesting idea for one. It also had the sort of ending that makes you want to hurl things at the screen. Bar none though, the absolute worst thing I watched in 2018 was Transformers: The Last Knight. While many might say “well, duh”, there’s is a level of incompetence on display that I can’t even believe this thing was released by the studio. I could not explain a single thing that was going on in this movie, at any point of it’s nearly 3 hour runtime, and I’m someone who actually owns the first 3 Transformer movies. Then there’s the aspect ratio that changes, in 4 different scopes no less, mid scene, for no apparent reason. This movie was so bad, my wife wound up watching with me just to see how much worse it could get. You may be tempted to see for yourself, as if I’m daring you to, but just don’t. You’ll truly hate yourself afterwards.

SPECIAL AWARDS

Movie I knew would suck but I watched anyways: Hellfest, Transformers: TLK

Movie I thought would suck but didn’t: Upgrade

Movie I regret paying for: MoviePass and Netflix made it so I didn’t pay this year

The “curse you shaky-cam!” award: The Predator

The “maybe I just don’t get it” award: Roma

Movie I’m glad I turned off less than 30 minutes into: Rough Night, Girls Trip

Movie I wish I’d turned off but didn’t: Transformers: TLK, Roma

Movie I could have immediately watched a 2nd time: Mission Impossible: Fallout

The “why did you have to remake that?” award: Baywatch

The “well that was depressing” award: Hereditary

The “you’re not a franchise yet” award: The DC Extended Universe

The “I don’t even remember you” award: All Things Must Pass (Tower Records documentary, which is actually quite good!)

The “yes this IS the first time I’ve gotten around to seeing it” award: American Psycho

Actor advertised but barely in the movie award: Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic World: Lost Kingdom, Hotel Artemis)

LOOKING AT 2019

(FOR SURE TO SEE 2019)

Lego Movie 2, Alita: Battle Angel, Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, John Wick 3, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Dark Phoenix, Toy Story 4, Spider-Man: Far From Home, FnF: Hobbes and Shaw, It: Chapter 2, Terminator 6, Star Wars: Ep IX

(WANT TO SEE 2019)

Aladdin, Hellboy, Secret Life of Pets 2, Men in Black: International, Shaft, Artemis Fowl, Charlie’s Angels

THE REST OF 2018

Hired Gun
Lego Ninjago Movie
Winchester 🎟
Hostiles 🎟
The Foreigner
Phantom Thread 🎟
Lady Bird 🎟
A Futile And Stupid Gesture
All Things Must Pass
3 Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri 🎟
Snatched
Darkest Hour 🎟
Rough Night (turned off)
Thoroughbreds 🎟
A Wrinkle In Time 🎟
Gringo 🎟
The Hurricane Heist 🎟
Mute
Good Time
The Disaster Artist
Pacific Rim: Uprising 🎟
Beirut 🎟
Super Troopers 2 🎟
Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films
Bad Samaritan 🎟
Girls Trip (off after 15 minutes)
Hotel Artemis 🎟
Tag 🎟
The Titan
Anon
Sicario: Day of the Soldado 🎟
American Made
Money Monster
Baywatch
Revolt
The Spy Who Dumped Me 🎟
The Meg 🎟
A Most Violent Year
Mother!
A Simple Favor 🎟
The House With A Clock In Its Walls 🎟
Bad Times At The El Royale 🎟
Hotel Transylvania 3
Hold The Dark
Venom 🎟
American Psycho
Outlaw King
The Commuter
Creed II 🎟
Wreck It Ralph 2 🎟
Overlord 🎟
Hereditary
Widows 🎟
Bumblebee 3D 🎟

BlahCade Pinball

Podcast devoted to commercial digital pinball that occasionally veers wildly off-topic just because.

Chris Friebus

Written by

Camera Assistant for TV & film, podcaster, and wannabe screenwriter

BlahCade Pinball

Podcast devoted to commercial digital pinball that occasionally veers wildly off-topic just because.

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