I ate a lot of popcorn this year.
At the tail-end of 2017 I finally admitted to myself that being the person who stays in and watches a lot of movies is totally fine, and in 2018 I did just that. I signed up for Shudder and Kanopy, got a separate Netflix account and even get those nostalgic red Netflix envelopes delivered to me every other week.
By the time this year is over I’ll have seen just over 200 different movies, none of which I have ever seen before; excluding my monthly Jurassic Park rewatch. (Update: You can read why I rewatch it so frequently here.)
After deciding early on that I wouldn’t force myself to see anything that I know I wouldn’t enjoy, it was tough to make a list of everything that I loved this year. So to wrap up my 2018 in film, I’m just gonna talk about a bunch of great movies.
You can see the full list of everything I’ve watched over on Letterboxd. I’ll be doing the same thing in 2019, and also continuing to do more #kindofreviews over on Twitter, because I know how I feel about movies, but you can make your own decisions.
The New Releases
My favorite new releases were the hardest to decide on. I watched a ton of trailers, and saw nearly everything I wanted to this year with a few exceptions; Unsane and the Possession of Hannah Grace come to mind immediately, but I’ll catch those soon enough.
#31- Annihilation (2018)
I will talk about this movie for hours if you bring it up. I still haven’t read the book but I do know that the movie makes some major plot changes and I’m okay with that. What Alex Garland delivered was fantastic, and the skull bear scene is…perfect.
#125- Mission Impossible: Fallout
There’s a reason everyone calls him the Cruise Missile, because he almost always makes a hit. Fallout is one of the best in the series, and a great ride to boot.
#199- Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse
I’m so glad that this came out towards the end of the year away from all of Marvel’s other movies, because it needed the space to breath. I choked up twice watching it, and I’m okay with that. Shout out to Nic Cage.
There are slow burns, and then there is whatever the last half hour of Hereditary was; even thinking about this movie makes me uneasy sometimes. It was also the only time I was genuinely scared during a horror movie this year.
I haven’t wanted to blow up Nazis this much since Inglorious Bastards. Overlord won’t win any major awards, but the effects definitely should. If you want to see COD Zombies on the big screen watch this. Grab the popcorn.
At the theater
This year I went to the movies more than I have in a long time, 24 times in total, and I think it’s because we’re seeing studios take more risks outside of the summer blockbusters which is really refreshing.
#28- Black Panther
I felt so proud watching this in the theater surrounded by other Black people, we finally have a superhero movie for us; and the goddamn soundtrack continues to be incredible. It was such an incredible cultural moment and it’s rare that a “black” movie, let alone a black superhero movie, seeps into the mainstream so quickly and lasts like this.
#58- A Quiet Place
I nearly had a panic attack watching this, and I loved every second of it; I hadn’t felt so pained watching a movie since It Comes at Night. If you didn’t watch it in theaters then you missed out. It’s so rare to see a movie in complete silence from the audience, where a rustling popcorn bag or accidental cell phone ring makes people mad, but A Quiet Place had us so immersed that I thought if I made a sound monsters would hear me through the film.
The ones I still think about
Sometimes a movie never leaves my headspace because something about it struck a chord with me, and I’m never sure why.
#11- Blade Runner 2049
Leave it to Denis Villenueve to drop me off back in this world, leaving me with even more mysteries; and just like the original Blade Runner, I don’t think I need them to be solved.
I think about this movie the most out of everything I’ve watched this year. Everything about it was full of raw emotion, something you rarely see in a movie with a premise like this. I loved the look, the relationships between the characters and I especially loved how open Thelma was as a character.
#170- Her (2013)
I’m not sure why it took me so long to watch this movie. It made me thinking about how weird and lonely it is when you love someone and how it still feels that way when they’re gone, but that it’s…okay.
#96- Hurricane Heist
Oh buddy. I went into Hurricane Heist thinking it was going to be a terrible movie, but I’ll be damned if I don’t make a reference to it at least once a week. They set out to make a movie about a heist during a hurricane, and they knocked it out of the park. It’s stupid and the plot is razor thin, but if you didn’t realize what you were getting into when the trailer was set to Rock You Like a Hurricane then I don’t know what to tell you.
#20- Spring (2015)
I tried not to fall for this pre-Cambrian monster girl, but it’s really hard not to. Everything about this movie was beautiful and I wanted to stay in it, following the relationship between the main characters but I think it was perfect as it is and we saw just enough without it dragging on.
This year was the year I watched the movies that had been on my watch list for years. I’ve never felt more like Captain Ahab in my life.
#116- Extreme Days (2001)
An enigma, wrapped in a mystery with a surprisingly good soundtrack. I was looking for this movie for sixteen years, and after finally watching it, I learned that that all you really need is your friends; and a stock footage budget.
#25- Possession (1981)
I wanted to see this movie so bad that I bought a Korean, international copy may or may not have had English audio off of eBay. It didn’t disappoint. I have so many thoughts on this film and what “possession” really means to it, that I may write something else. We need more Lovecraftian movies.
#118- Cargo (2009)
After watching the trailer for Cargo, I went to see if I could find it streaming somewhere or at least a physical copy; nothing. Then randomly, Amazon decided to add it to their streaming catalog and five years of searching came to a close. It’s a fantastic piece of science fiction and while at the end you’ll realize the plot isn’t anything special, the journey was worth it.
Bumps in the night
Around half of all the movies I watched this year were horror. There’s something about that little twinge you get running down your spine when you’re creeped out that I’ve really come to adore.
#55- Rec (2007)
I only got to watch a handful of Spanish-language horror films this year, but Rec is easily one of the best. I saw the first two back to back, and I now understand why people praise them so much. I was shook.
#105- The Mimic (2017)
The problem with Korean horror films is that no matter how scary they are, they’re so gorgeous that you’re willing to throw it all away and visit; I have a theory that the South Korean board of tourism is in on it. If I didn’t trust small children before, I definitely don’t trust them after this. In fact, I’m liable to beat one over the head with a stick or something.
A real sleeper. Everything about Pyewacket is surgical, there isn’t a single wasted shot or bit of dialogue and it’s creepy as hell. I love movies where people mess with forces they don’t quite understand and have to live with the consequences.
#1- The Exorcism of Emily Rose
This was the very first movie I watched in 2018, and it set the tone for the types of stories I would really enjoy in film for the rest of the year. I remember when this movie came out the ads were so scary to fifth grade Anthony that I completely wrote it off as something that would probably scar me for life.
In addition to all of the recent releases I got to see this year, I also knocked out a ton of classics that had been on my list for a long time including The Wicker Man and C.H.U.D. amongst others.
#38- The Haunting of Julia
I was torn between writing about this or Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971); but Mia Farrow wins every time. You can tell just from the color palette that something sinister is going on, and while it isn’t the best ghost story it is one of my favorite movies about loss.
#40- Falling Down
When I was a kid, my mom put her VHS copy of Falling Down on the top shelf where I wasn’t supposed to reach it next to the Exorcist, Children of the Corn and Alien; for some reason this was the only one I didn’t watch when she wasn’t looking. It’s a shame because seeing Michael Douglas as a man having a really, really bad day was so memorable; that said, McDonald’s has all-day breakfast now so it wouldn’t have been THAT bad.
#102- Mystery Men
If you have superhero fatigue, or are just trying to figure out where All Star by Smash Mouth came from, watch this. It came out at a bad time for comic book movies, and is woefully unappreciated. Hank Azaria as the Blue Raja is my spirit animal.
With the Suspiria re-imagining(?) doing so well this year, I’m petitioning for this to get a reboot next because it suffers just as badly from the Argento problem as Suspiria: great ideas, subpar execution. That said, Jennifer Connelly as the young girl telepathically connected to insects was a fantastic casting choice and I don’t think it would’ve worked with anyone else.
So this was the worst movie I’ve seen in a very long time. The movie watched right after it was Nightmare Shark, and it was better. The initial trailer was amazing, and then the studio came in and took out all of the soul. It didn’t help that the writers basically copy-and-pasted the wikipedia article on Slenderman into the plot, and if they had taken some creative liberties it would’ve been that much better. I nearly fell asleep, and laughed out loud when the titular monster actually had the skinny pinstriped suit on.
#208- Bird Box
I feel like this is a movie full of ideas and rules, but it’s like the people who made it keep forgetting them and making up new ones every five minutes. Spoilers but it makes no sense that a monster can physically attack a car or melt your mind through a digital recording but a cloth blindfold stops them in their tracks.
#128- The Meg
I actually really liked this movie for the most part, but the reason it’s on my disappointment list is because of the production itself. As a joint Chinese-American venture, it has to appeal to both audiences; but you can tell they were leaning hard on it being a success overseas. It takes itself too seriously, while at the same time being over the top. I may be biased because I’m a big fan of the books, but they could’ve changed less from the novel and ended up with a much stronger story.