Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Top 10 best movies of the first 3/4 of 2018

Fuck the pretentious introductory paragraph about my observations of 2018 movies. Let's just get on with the list, shall we?

Honorable mentions:
Upgrade, American Animals, Game Night, Unsane, Red Sparrow, The Insult, The In between, The Death of Stalin, Nobody Famous, The Avengers: Infinity Wars

10. Searching ****

What a birthday gift! Released in Canada on my birthday, watched it on my bday. While the approach of seeing a movie primarily through the protagonist's computer screen, I believe this is a first for a mystery thriller. It's an effective, creative approach, not only to see what life is like for the family for an emotional connection, but also effective in showing the mindset of the protagonist. He's like a computer nerd Sherlock, solving all the clues and finding everything out through social media, and learning more about his daughter, a girl he really didn't know all that well.

By the end of the movie, I was a little disappointed at myself for not seeing the ending coming. It is to the movie's credit that they drop clues that maybe should have given it away, but then misdirect, and when it comes full's kind of brilliant. While most Hollywood movies are content to entertain, but be forgotten after the credits roll, I found myself really appreciating the story after the credits and putting all the pieces of the puzzle together in my head. This is not just a captivating mystery, but quite an emotional one as well.

9. Antman and the Wasp ****
I may be the only person saying this, but this is the best super hero movie of the year.    I’m shocked to say this is the absolute trippiest movie of the year, and hands down the best 3-D movie so far.  Especially the scenes where characters are shrunk to the size of cells and attacked by body bacteria in 3-D…Absolutely tripping balls!  This movie is just so energetic, so much fun, it’s creative especially with its car chases, and shocked to say this…just a delightful movie.    

8. Three identical Strangers  ****
Can you imagine if you were adopted, then one day you find out that you have two identical twins living in other parts of the country?  This documentary had my attention from the first minute to the end.  What starts as a feel good story about these three people who have a new found joy and love in their lives unravels into a truly fucked up, unbelievable, poignant, sad story.  

7. Mom and Dad ****
For every 6 to 8 horrible Nic Cage performances where his over the top acting is laughably horrible, there’s always 1 where his over the top acting makes the movie, and you can’t possibly picture any actor doing it better than Nic Cage.  Well, this is the case, in a horror movie about a curse that makes all parents homicidal maniacs trying to murder their children, no one could possibly have been better casted than Nic Cage as a homicidal dad trying to murder his children.  He delivers some of the best monologues in the history of monologues.  This is my single favorite performance of the year.  Give Nic Cage an Oscar, god damnit!  Such a fun dark comedy/horror that never takes itself seriously.  

6. A Spy Gone North ****1/2

Spy movies just aren’t my thing.  If they don’t have a shitload of action or comedy, a 2+ hour spy movie with a convoluted plot…I don’t know, I just don’t generally enjoy them.   So going into a 2.5 hour South Korean spy movie described as a completely anti-James Bond/Mission impossible and where I have to read subtitles for 2.5 hours sounded fucking boring.  

I’m very pleasantly surprised to be including this in my top 10.  Despite almost no action, this movie is at times intense as fuck, as there’s so much at stake.  Its plot is captivating from beginning to end, and what starts as a kind of simple story about a spy from South Korea infiltrating the North to find out if they have nukes turns out to be so much more, where the line of good guys and bad guys is blurred, politics plays a big role, and despite being on opposing sides, friendships can still happen as regardless of where we’re from, we are united by morality and compassion, and a key friendship in this movie kind of had me in tears.  

I still won’t pretend like I completely understand the relations between North & South Korea, but I feel like I understand it better, and this is the best spy movie to come along in quite some time.

5. Annihilation
This is one motherfucking mindfuck of a movie; an absolute fucked up trip.  At times brutally violent, at times stunningly beautiful, and so creative with what it does with the small piece of land where evolution works in a very different way.  Especially if you’re bored with Ridley Scott making a new mediocre Alien movie every few years, this is a movie that couldn’t possibly be more out there.  

4. Blindspotting
I feel like this is the movie that captures the voice of the Black Lives Matter movement (there are two more movies about unarmed black people getting shot by the police coming out this year, so it’ll be interesting to compare them to this one).  When people are outraged by NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, they need to watch this movie to understand what the protest is all about.   

I love how Blindspotting weaves its message around a very entertaining buddy comedy about a black man who’s just gotten out of jail, serving his final week of parole and the friendship with his trouble making criminal White friend, quite possibly the last person he should be hanging out with if he wants to stay out of trouble.  Despite addressing gentrification, the movie even gets some good laughs out of black neighborhoods being taken over by Hipsters, as the movie has some fun taking shots at hipsters. 

The film is directed with a lot of creativity and the director Carlos L√≥pez Estrada takes some huge risks.  The climax will divide audiences, but I applaud him for thinking way outside the box.  

3. Thoroughbreds ****1/2
If you have a fucked up, twisted sense of humour, dark comedies don’t get much better than this.  This is one hell of a twisted coming of age/friendship movie. It has easily the best comedic dialogue writing of the year.  Olivia Cooke who had been seemingly typecasted as a sweet girl suffering from a disease pulls a complete 180, playing a girl who is incapable of experiencing any emotions, and I'm starting a best actress Oscar campaign for her. Let's not forget Anya Taylor-Joy who seems like a normal girl, but there is some dark shit going on in her mind too.  The two of them have phenomenal chemistry and it’s easily the most memorable relationship of any movie this year. It never tries to be sentimental.  Its tone is dark, cynical and bad ass from beginning to end, and I never knew where the story would take me.  Might I add, throw in some interesting avante garde filmmaking while we’re at it.  I’m still torn between the placement of this movie and my #2.  I could see this movie up higher at my end of year list after a re-watch.  

2. Eighth Grade ****1/2

I am insanely jealous of Bo Burnham's talent.  At 18, he was already coming up with better stand up/performance comedy than almost any comedian out there.  Now he's 27, and no 27 year old making his directorial debut should be able to make a movie as flawless as this.  I have almost nothing to criticize about this movie whatsoever.  What the fuck?!  It’s not fair for the rest of us aspiring artists that Bo is this damn good at such a young age.   

Eighth Grade is simply a wonderful movie.  Heartbreaking, authentic, low key and funny movie without resorting to quirkiness or over the top characters!  Everything about it feels so accurate and realistic about the lives of eighth graders today, in this social media controlled life.  

I agree with my friend who says this is the movie LADY BIRD tried to be. I will also add, I think this a better coming of age movie than BOYHOOD. Final addition: I think it captured the heart and teenage insight of one of my favorite novels - The Perks of Being a Wallflower better than that actual film adaptation of that book. But that you're a great filmmaker, please don't quit your stand-up comedy.  You can do both!  

1. Paddington 2 ****1/2

To get the first question out of the way, no I wasn't stoned when I saw this movie, but I will be when I re-visit it. I should also add that this is the #1 rated movie on rottentomatoes. A true definition of a family movie, where adults will get just as much out of the movie as the kids. 

I thought Paddington 1 was an over-rated, generic comedy.  This may be one of the best sequels of all time, absolutely superior to its predecessor in every way imaginable.  Paddington 2 is simply the most fun I had at the movies all year; the most delightful movie of the year.  

One thing that must be stressed…this is a good fucking comedy, with some very creative physical comedy that we don’t see enough of these days. Paddington's brutal honesty, his inability to know that sometimes honesty can be hurtful also leads to some great comedy. Despite how many times Paddington fucks up, he’s so good intentioned, and has such a heart, you can’t help but love him. Hugh Grant does his funniest work in years, playing a super narcissistic, master of disguise burglar, and in my opinion the best villain of 2018 so far.    

The majority of Hollywood movies have feel good endings, but very few movies left me in such a euphorically uplifted mood like this one.