Movie Midterm - My Favorite Movies of the First Half of 2018


Half the year is over! There have been some great movies out already, with even better ones to come. So let's breakdown my favorite films of the year so far. How many have you seen?
Before we get started, there are a few things worth noting:
  • I do this for fun. I don't get paid to do this. I also don't get access to limited release movies or screeners. So this list is based off of the movies I have paid to see in a theater, or found the time to stream. If I had access to all of them, the list would be different.
  • I do this for fun. I still have a full time job and other adult responsibilities that prevent me from spending all day at the theater seeing everything that is out. It's hard to do that financially as well.
  • Time effects art. My end of the year list will look different. A lot of these movies I have only seen once, and the more time I have after viewing the film can impact my opinion. Also, rewatches can help or hinder them as well. Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2 was high on my list when I first saw it last year. It falls apart more and more on subsequent rewatches. 
Here are some notable films that I have not seen yet. So they are ineligible for this list, but could still make the end of the year one.
  • A Quiet Place
  • Annihilation
  • Isle of Dogs
  • Won't You Be My Neighbor? 
There will be three Honorable Mentions, followed by my Top Ten, counting down from 10 to 1.

***

Honorable Mention 1: THE POLKA KING


This is the first movie I reviewed this year, and I was oddly charmed by it. This movie won't win any awards, but the spectacular styles of the characters on display are something to see. Jack Black elevates this, in a great performance. He isn't Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle levels of funny, but he does what the role requires of him. I didn't know the story of Jan Lewan the Polka King who went to jail for a Ponzi scheme. The film lays out the story in a fun way. Black is very musical, and in a weird way The Polka King feels like The School of Rock (one of my favorite movies) in the Twilight Zone. It is on Netflix, and worth your time if you like embellished true stories. Its silly, campy, over the top, yet dark and heartfelt at times.

You can read my full review of The Polka King right here.


Honorable Mention 2: A FUTILE AND STUPID GESTURE


I like movies about Hollywood. I like biopic type journey films. A Futile and Stupid Gesture is both - chronicling the creation of the National Lampoon franchise, from the magazine to movies like Caddyshack and Animal House, the latter of which contains the line this film's title uses. What makes this movie stand out is the way they take an old storytelling device and use it in a unique way. The cast is stellar - Will Forte plays Lampoon creator Doug Kenney, and is surrounded by all-star actors and comedians the rest of the movie. Kenney's story is a tragic one. But the movie gives you heart, humor and spectacle, while at the same time having a layer of emotional resonance that always comes from tragedy complimenting comedy. This movie might not grab everyone's attention, but if you like this sort of thing, it is definitely worth checking out.

You can read my full review of A Futile And Stupid Gesture right here.

Honorable Mention 3: THE DIRECTOR AND THE JEDI


A dream of mine is to be on a movie set one day. The pinnacle of that dream would to be on a Star Wars set. But until that comes true, I have to satisfy my desire with documentaries about the "making of" a movie. The Director and The Jedi is that for The Last Jedi. But that is not why it makes the list. It is so much more. Look at the title. This film really focuses on the Rian Johnson's (director) relationship with Mark Hamill (Jedi). That is the heart of the movie, and its powerful. The "making of" stuff is just bonus. Not to mention we get some of Carrie Fisher's wit and charm as she takes her sit down interview as a chance to instantly (and lovingly) insult Rian Johnson. I watch a lot of these type of documentaries, and this is one of the best ones. It is available through any physical or digital copy of The Last Jedi so if you own that masterpiece, you'll have this one as well.

10. OCEAN'S 8


Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Eleven from 2001 is in my top 5 favorite movies of all time. So I was already in the bag for any story told in that franchise. But this was truly great. In what might be the best cast movie of 2018, the story was able to expand the Ocean's universe a little bit, while still staying true to what the franchise is. Anne Hathaway and Rihanna steal the show, and that is hard to do in a cast of this caliber. While there is some clunky editing that makes for an anti-climactic third act, it isn't enough to keep you from having a fun time at the movies. I'm glad that this made more money at the box office than its predecessors, because I want to see Ocean's 9 and Ocean's 10 where both casts are blended together.

You can read my full review of Ocean's 8 right here.

9. READY PLAYER ONE


I had read this book a couple years back, and loved it. Knowing Hollywood like I do, I knew that due to the popularity of it, a movie wouldn't be far behind. But I wasn't sure how someone could tackle an onscreen version, let alone who could pull it off. Enter: Steven Spielberg. The man managed not only to make an insanely enjoyable and watchable movie, but fixed the mistakes of the book and made it accessible to all audiences. My mother would enjoy this movie, yet the most hardcore nerd would too, finding the many Easter Eggs hidden within. The film preaches the joys - and dangers of nostalgia and technology, while using both to the most effective method possible. Blending the old with the new, in both story and method, is really a stroke of genius. Spielberg proved that he's still got it. While he has mainly been doing history stories lately, he was able to make this and prove to the likes of Marvel and DC that the King stays King!

You can read my full review of Ready Player One right here.

8. SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY


Are you really surprised this made the list? As our favorite smuggler says: "Hey, it's me!" The latest entry into the Disney line of Star Wars films might be the most fun one. Solo: A Star Wars Story has action, adventure, excitement and heart. Ron Howard made it feel like this was made in the 80's like Indiana Jones or E.T. It is actually quite impressive as to what Howard was able to pull off with all the production troubles this had. Donald Glover's Lando is pitch perfect, and needs his own movie. The way they seamlessly injected L3 into the greater canon, makes a few lines in The Empire Strikes Back pack so much more of a punch. The way that Kira's story ended is begging for another. So if Solo's only purpose was to launch a bunch of new stories, then it would have still been worth it. This might be the most fun you have watching a movie this year.

You can read my full review of Solo: A Star Wars Story right here.

7. THE TALE


This HBO Original Movie is one of the darkest most haunting stories I have ever seen. It is a true story about a woman remembering her past of sexual abuse as a child. Laura Dern does some of her best work, and in a career full of "best work", that is saying something. The story of Jennifer Fox is, unfortunately, not a unique one. To get this out in the open will hopefully get more people talking about this epidemic. Listen to women. Believe women. If you watch this movie and do not feel deeply uncomfortable, there is something wrong. Film is a powerful medium. The Tale is an example of just how powerful it can be.

I didn't write a full review for this, because I am not talented enough to do it justice. But it stuck with me, and it will for a long time.


6. DEADPOOL 2


The first Deadpool film was the most successful R Rated film of all time. The sequel gave fans exactly what they wanted - more of the same - and in this franchise, that is okay. Sequels usually go one of two ways - they are either a stale virtual carbon copy of the first movie, or the departure is so vast that you aren't sure what the identity of the franchise is. This was more the former, but that was on purpose. Deadpool needed to keep the formula the same to win, and they did for the most part. While "the girl dies to motivate the boy" trope has been done to death, it is forgivable here, because the rest of the film is hilarious superhero fun. It also manages to secure the franchises future too, which is a difficult task.

You can read my full review of Deadpool 2 right here.

5. GAME NIGHT


If you told me this movie would have made my top 10 list, I would have laughed at you. But Game Night is great. It is legitimately funny, and while ultimately predictable, the ride is so much fun getting there that it hardly matters. A charismatic cast churns out some wonderful performances, but none better than Jesse Plemmons, who gave his career best performance here. I missed this one in theaters, and I regret it. There is guaranteed to be a moment that you chuckle at - even if it is just the post credit scene that calls back to a great joke in the movie. If you're feeling down because of all the horrible stuff happening in the world, give Game Night a shot. You'll feel a little bit better.

4. KODACHROME


This Netflix movie is a "road trip is a metaphor for life's journey" movie. But it is done extremely well. The movie's emotional beats are effective, elevated by the films charming cast. Ed Harris is solid as always, but it's the chemistry between Jason Sudeikis and Elizabeth Olsen is what really makes the film work. If you are someone who has ever had any sort of family tension whatsoever, you will relate to this movie. It is formulaic, sure. But Kodachrome sticks to the formula with the best ingredients available. You'll shed a tear by the end, and find yourself slowing down and enjoying the moments, instead of passing them up to try and get to next thing.

You can read my full review of Kodachrome right here.

3. BLACK PANTHER


One of the most culturally significant films of the millennium is also one of the best films of the year. Black Panther was the first of 3 entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe this year. An entry which gave us one of the best villains the franchise has seen. Marvel has a villain problem. Black Panther solved it. The depth, imagery and emotion Ryan Coogler put into the film is staggering. It deserved every bit of recognition it received, and then some. In a world where Marvel hits more home runs than not, this was an absolute grand slam. Long live the King.

You can read my full review of Black Panther right here.

2. INCREDIBLES 2


Some movies don't need sequels. The Incredibles is not one of those movies. 14 years after the original one, the sequel was still in demand - and it was well worth the wait. Incredibles 2 starts right where the first one left off. Some clever editing could make both entries into one long story. While baby Jack-Jack steals the entire movie (over and over again!), everyone gets a moment or two to shine. This is the only franchise Pixar has that warrants sequels. The depth and nuance that Pixar was able to put in what essentially is a kids superhero movie is incredible (no pun intended). But it is also so much more than that. If the first movie taught us the dangers of idol worshipping, then Incredibles 2 teaches us the dangers of stereotyping. Go see this. Take your family. Pixar is back in top form again.

You can read my full review of Incredibles 2 right here.

1. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR


I am over two months removed from seeing this, and am still finding it hard to believe. Not the events of the plot, but just the fact that this movie not only exists but works! If this is the first Marvel movie we were given, it would not have worked. Marvel needed to do 10 years (!) of work to make this work. Writers Markus and McFeely's biggest stroke of genius though, was making the villain the main character. This is Thanos's story. The other characters are just part of that. The movie is unrelenting from the get go, and doesn't let up. Ever. Not even the post-credit scene offers relief. What Marvel pulled off here is truly incredible. No one could have imagined this when they were watching Iron Man in 2008. Not even Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige himself. I want, nay, need to watch this movie again. I can't guarantee this will be number one at the end of the year (there are so many awesome things coming out) but I'd be shocked if it didn't make the list at all.

You can read my full review of Avengers: Infinity War right here.

***

So there it is. My favorite movies from the first half of 2018. What are some of yours?

Here are all of the 2018 releases I have seen so far: 
  • The Polka King
  • A Futile And Stupid Gesture 
  • When We First Met
  • Black Panther
  • Irreplaceable You
  • Mute
  • Death Wish
  • Benji
  • Game Over Man
  • Ready Player One
  • Dude
  • Kodachrome
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • The Week Of
  • Deadpool 2
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • The Tale
  • Ocean's 8
  • Game Night
  • Incredibles 2
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Justice League - Review

Blade Runner 2049 - Review

Logan Lucky - Review