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Top Movies of 2018

Well, 2018 was quite a year. While I didn’t have a hard time picking my top five favorite films of the year, what I was surprised by was the “big middle” of everything I saw this year. Of the hundreds of movies I saw between theaters, film festivals, and originals thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, my average for everything I rated was a 3.461765 stars (out of 5). And while I only had a single 5 star movie (spoiler, it’s my #1), my most common rating for the year was a 4.5 (15 films) and a 3.5 (14 films). In terms of raw scores, my #36 isn’t that far off of my #6. That’s all to say we had a lot of really good movies– mixed with a few truly greats.

Because of that (call it indulgent, IDC) I’m giving you my Top 40, just like Casey Kasem back in the day.

The Top 40- 11:
(if you skip these to get to the top ten I won’t be offended)

40. Operation FinaleOscar Isaac leads a Mossad team to take down Adolf Eichman (Ben Kingsley) are you kidding me?!? Had to see this. File under: Jews kicking ass.
39. Overlord – the corollary to #40, but a black paratrooper taking out crazy Nazi scientists doing superhuman experiments. Reminds us Nazis are the bad guys.
38. The Rachel Divide -A Netflix documentary about Rachel Dolezal, mostly in her own words, the activist who claims she is trans-racial. It’ll make you think.
37. Ready Player One – This was my 13 yr old daughter’s favorite movie of the year. It reminds us that fun Spielberg is fun.
36. Ralph Breaks the Internet – It makes the list just for the Disney princess scene and “A Place Called Slaughter Race.”
35. A Simple Favor – Heavy on style, Anna Kendrick plays up the fun angle with director Paul Feig as a mommy blogger whose new best friend disappears. There’s a fun sort of “true crime” type mystery with the comedy here.
34. Mandy – this movie feels like a relic of another time — specifically, the 80’s with definite hints of Heavy Metal — and feels like it was made under the influence of a lot of drugs as Nicholas Cage takes revenge on a crazy cult who murdered his wife.

33. BlackkKlansman – I should’ve loved this movie more, but its weird tacked-on ending sort of blew it, and only in one shot in the entire movie did it feel like this was the same Spike Lee who gave us Do the Right Thing.
32. QuincyRashida Jones gives us the most intimate look at her father, master composer Quincy Jones. A great watch on Netflix.
31. Deadpool 2 – It’s a Deadpool movie. It’s great.
30. Widows – It’s a high stakes, high concept heist movie with an amazing female cast and political intrigue. It’s great.
29. Mary Poppins Returns – I love Mary Poppins. And Lin Manuel Miranda. It’s not as immediately classic as the original, but who expected it to? Emily Blunt is still amazing. And it’s great.
28. Hereditary – This is the movie that stuck with me the longest. Still, thinking about this movie makes me want to turn on all the lights in my house. Also, an amazing acting job by Toni Collette.
27. Number 37 – A movie you probably never heard of! I caught this gem at SXSW and fell in love. A South African slum gangland take on Rear Window by a first time black female director. Yes please.
26. RBG – This was a great year for documentaries. This one on the Notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg checks all my boxes.
25. Incredibles II – This sequel to one of the greatest animated movies of all time (and one of the greatest superhero movies of all time) did some really amazing things thanks to director Brad Bird,, but the ending took it down a few notches. But the fact that this ended up at 25 tells you just how competitive this year was.
24. BlindspottingDaveed Diggs and Rafael Casal‘s tale of police violence, Oakland, and hip hop was a little too pat in its ending, but was otherwise masterful. A main reason Oakland ended up on my list of “Who won 2018?”

23. Searching – We’ve now seen several of these movies where they’re told only through what we can see on the screen of a computers. Like found footage, there are good and bad, and this is a good one. John Cho and Debra Messing deliver powerful performances in a story about trying to piece together the mystery of a missing daughter through her social media footprint, intertwined with a father losing touch with his daughter in the age of screens.
22. Bad Times at the El Royale – This might’ve ended up higher on the list if it had delivered more on substance over style, but this was still pretty amazing. And that soundtrack!
21. Minding the Gap – An amazing documentary about young adults growing up as friends in a rust belt town as skate punks and how life and domestic abuse has kept them back. Fascinating and maybe a bit too real.
20. A Quiet Place – Wow. Nothing quite shocked audiences as much as this, as well as exposed the worst theater-goers in America. Shut up or the monsters win! One of several reasons why I said Emily Blunt and John Krasinski won the year of 2018.
19. Leave No Trace – Props to writer/director Debra Granik and to amazing performances by Ben Foster and breakout star Thomasin McKenzie in this heartwrenching look at a dad dealing with PTSD who lives a solitary existence off the grid in the woods with his young teen daughter. Of course, when Child Protective Services finds out. . . well, you’re not exactly allowed to do that. And drama ensues.
(18.- tie) The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – There’s a debate as to whether this is a movie, as it is currently being presented by Netflix, or a tv miniseries, which was how the Coen Brothers originally pitched it. This is peak Coen in all their forms, but if this is a movie, this is where it would fall.
18. Mission Impossible: Fallout – Finally it feels like writer/director Christopher McQuarrie leveled up his directing to the level of his writing ability. The perfect summer movie, even if I liked a few other movies from the summer of ’18 a little more.
17. Annihilation – Along with Hereditary, this was the movie that stuck with me (in my nightmares). Astounding visuals and an amazing ending, and an amazing cast.
16. Avengers: Infinity War – We knew we’d get to this eventually, right? There isn’t much more to add. Bring on 2019’s conclusion and Captain Marvel.

15. Upgrade – Done on a tiny budget, this movie packs a punch of a $150 million blockbuster. Brutal, fun, and thoughtful.
14. Vice – Dear Writer/Director Adam McKay, Don’t lie– you made this movie just for me to enjoy, right? Built to my tastes? The fact this isn’t in my top 10 (it would be in any other year) says a lot about the other films on this list.
13. The Favourite – Dear Writer/Director Yourgos Lanthimos, Same Question. Also, thanks for bringing back the fish-eye lens.
12. Crazy Rich Asians – I haven’t wholeheartedly loved a romantic comedy like this in ages. Just pure fun, and its stellar cast is amazing.
11. Won’t You Be My Neighbor – The movie most likely to make me cry in 2018. This is just sheer goodness. Again, how is this not in my top 10?

The answer is because those movies in my top 10 are just so great themselves. Here you go, without any further ado:

10. Roma

Roma

“We are alone. No matter what they tell you, we women are always alone.” A beautiful film by one of the best directors working today, Alfonso Cuaron. An ode to his maid, growing up in an upper-middle class house in Mexico City, this has some of the most beautiful and thoughtful cinematography of any film. The fact that it’s in black and white should also be telling. Even more importantly, the fact that Netflix is going to be in the mix for a Best Picture this year should have every movie studio quaking in their boots. If you watch this at home in your pajamas instead of in a theater, no one will think less of you, or at least I won’t. Just watch it.

9. Hearts Beat Loud

Hearts Beat Loud

Without a John Carney movie musical around for me to adopt this year as one of my favorites, I went with this one. Nick Offerman owns a record shop and tries to connect with his daughter who is about to leave for college through playing music together, when she falls in love with her first serious girlfriend. She writes a great song, they put it on Spotify, it gets some notice… and more. Just beautiful performances, great music, and a movie about love and family. Also, Ted Danson as a bartender.

8. Las Sandinistas!

Las Sandinistas!

Wait, what? Who? This documentary about the women behind the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua is one of my favorite documentaries of the year in a year with amazing documentaries. (This isn’t the last one in my list) I first saw this at SXSW and fell in love. You will too if you can find a way to see this.

7. Paddington 2

Paddington 2

There isn’t a better word for this film than just “charming,” or perhaps “nice” or “good.” This is comfort food you didn’t think you needed. It will heal your soul and fill you with good cheer. Also? Hugh Grant for Best Supporting Actor.

6. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse

Dear Sony, THIS is what you should be doing with your extended Spider-Man universe instead of. . . well, Venom. Every single one of your spider-personas in the film was perfect, but especially Spider-Gwen and Miles Morales. Peter Parker means a lot to so many of us. But it’s great that there are others who can take up that mantle: Spider-Man isn’t an everyman unless literally anyone could be him, regardless of age, gender, race, or species. This new, fresh take is so important, but so so is this animation. I’ve never seen anything like this, and I can’t wait to see more. More Miles and Spider-Gwen please! And Spider-Ham and Spider-Man Noir. Ok, just all of them.

5. Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade

This was another movie I adopted as a favorite ever since seeing it at SXSW. I can’t state this enough: as a father of a 13 year old girl, this is the most true depiction of what her life is like that I have ever seen. The rest of my favorites don’t seem to be getting much notice for major awards, so I’ll be pulling heavily for writer/director Bo Burnham and especially breakout star Elsie Fisher.

4. First Reformed

First Reformed

I sadly missed this at SXSW, and only recently caught up with it. I wish someone had grabbed me by the lapels sooner and made me watch it. What I dreaded as homework and maybe another stolid but off-putting performance by Ethan Hawke I instead found a complex narrative about faith, pain, moral imperatives, and a Christian view of our responsibility to take care of the earth. That REALLY checks a lot of boxes for me. “Will God forgive us?” Not if you don’t see this movie, she won’t.

3. Black Panther

Black Panther

Here it is. The big kahuna. The mothership. The single largest, most important piece of pop culture phenomenon in America for 2018. I literally de-friended a few fellow critics on Facebook because they didn’t like this movie, and when I pressed them for why, their reasons were bull$#!t and a cover for racism. If you can’t appreciate the filmmaking prowess on display here by Ryan Coogler, you have no business calling yourself a film critic.No other Marvel film has ever felt so little like it came off the assembly line. No other feels crafted quite so carefully, so deftly, with precision in every shot, in the delivery of every line. And to that, we have to give credit to this amazing cast. Michael B. Jordan is the greatest Marvel villain, and when he demands to see the Wakandan sunset, and die rather than live in chains, my heart breaks every time. “Show them who you are!” You did, Black Panther, you did.

2. Three Identical Strangers

Three Identical Strangers

This documentary came out of nowhere and astounded me. Sold to me as a story of three identical triplets adopted by different families who reunite by happenstance seemed like it would just be a fun little romp. Oh, cool! Nature vs. nurture– look at all the similarities between these boys even though they were separated at birth. And then. . . you find out what’s really going on. There’s a crazy twist that I still won’t reveal because not enough people have seen this. But once you find out, it will challenge everything you think you know about nature vs. nurture, no matter which side of the debate you are on.

1. Sorry to Bother You

Sorry to Bother You

This is the best movie of the year and the only film I gave 5 stars out of 5 to. Is it, in fact, a perfect movie? No. But, it’s so audacious in what it is trying to do that I will forgive any small problems it may have. And what this tries to do is skewer the intersection of class and race, delivering a stunning repudiation of Bay Area neoliberalism and technocracy. This is about the closest we get to Terry Gilliam, Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry doing a woke black power narrative, and it is fantastic. I heard from a lot of folks that liked this movie ok, until the ending, which they hated. To me, the ending was perfect and what made this so audacious– I, usually silent in most movie screenings, literally gasped, “What the f@$%?!!?!” As crazy as it was, it fit with the film’s themes and made me love it even more. For being that willing to reach for it — no compromises — this was my favorite of the year.

Fin.

So, that’s it. What do you think? You may have noticed some pretty big snubs in there. Some of those were intentional, some of those I never got around to see. Tell us what you loved and what you think I missed, overrated, underrated down in the comments.

And also here’s my list of the worst movies, and my Top 5 of Everything, along with “Who Won 2018?”

The House With a Clock In Its Walls Debuts in First

This past weekend was one of the worst of the year hampered with soft openings for Fahrenheit 11/9, Life Itself, and Assassination Nation. Other films struggled as well. The top of the box office was held by The House with a Clock in Its Walls which opened with an estimated $26.9 million. The film was expected to debut in the low 20s so it beat that by a bit. The film received a “B+” CinemaScore and is positioned to do well through Halloween. The movie also debuted in 14 markets where it brought in an estimated $3.1 million.

In second place was A Simple Favor. The film dropped just 35% from the previous weekend with an estimated $10.4 million. Domestically it has earned $32.6 million. Internationally the film added $5.2 million from 36 markets and stands at $10 million there.

In third place was The Nun which dropped 44% from the previous weekend. It earned an estimated $10.2 million and has crossed the $100 million mark domestically with $100.9. It’s the fourth film in the Conjuring franchise to do so.

Taking a nasty spill from last week’s first place was The Predator which fell 64.7% to come in fourth. The movie earned an estimated $8.7 million to bring its domestic total to $40.4 million. Internationally the film earned an estimated $15.3 million from 82 markets to bring that total to $54.5 million. It still has numerous foreign markets to open and will have to rely on those.

Rounding out the top five was Crazy Rich Asians which held steady dropping just 25% and earning an estimated $6.5 million after six weeks. The domestic earnings are $159.4 million. Internationally the film earned an estimated $5.1 million from 35 markets bringing that total up to $47 million.

When it comes to comic book movies…

Ant-Man and the Wasp was #23 earning an estimated $270,000 domestically to bring that number to $215.8 million.

We’ll be back in an hour for a deeper dive into this year’s comic book movie earnings.

The Predator Tops the Box Office with an Unimpressive $24 Million

The Predator topped the weekend box office with an estimated $24 million. That’s the worst opening for a live-action film opening in over 4,000 locations. That opening is even worse than 2010’s Predators which earned $24.76 million from 2,669 locations.

Things don’t look too good for the film which received a “C+” CinemaScore and is being savaged by critics. The audience was 62% male and 66% are 25 years of age or older. The domestic earnings should be around $50 million by the time it’s done.

Internationally, the film opened in 72 markets where it earned $30.7 million for a worldwide total of $54.7 million. With a budget of $88 million, the film will likely struggle to make a profit in the theater.

In second place was The Nun which set a franchise record of biggest drop in the second weekend. The film dropped 66% and earned an estimated $18.2 million for a domestic total that’s over $85 million. Internationally, the film added $33.1 million to bring that total to $143.6 million and a worldwide total of $228.7 million.

A Simple Favor debuted in third place with an estimated $16 million. The film earned a “B+” CinemaScore and with a $20 million budget, the film should do well overall. Internationally, the film earned an estimated $3.5 million from 28 markets.

In fourth place was White Boy Rick, another debut. The film earned $8.8 million from a $29 million budget. The film earned a “B” CinemaScore.

Rounding out the top five was Crazy Rich Asians which brought in an estimated $8.7 million after five weeks. Its domestic total is $149.6 million. The movie also added $7.3 million overseas to bring that total to $37.9 million for a global total of $187 million. The film still has to debut in Mexico and Japan.

When it comes to comic films…

Ant-Man and the Wasp came in at #19 and earned an estimated $393,000. That brings its domestic total to $215.4 million.

We’ll be back in an hour for a deeper dive into this year’s comic adaptations.

The Nun Scares Up a Franchise Best Opening to Take First

The Nun shows again that people don’t hate sequels. It set a franchise best for The Conjuring series of films with an estimated $53.5 million, beating the first film’s $41.8 million. That’s the second largest opening in September ever. It’s also the second highest opening ever for an R-rated horror film.

The film played to an audience that was 51% mae and 44% were 25 years or older. It’s the first film in that universe that hasn’t played to a majority female audience.

The film had success overseas as well with an estimated $77.5 million from 60 markets for a $131 million global debut. With a budget of just $22 million, the studio and creators must be happy with this one already.

Warner Bros. continues its streak of hits marking the fifth week the studio has held the top spot. It has found success with The Meg and Crazy Rich Asians as well. It also held the #2 spot for the weekend. That’s the fourth straight week for that, an achievement that hasn’t happened in over 25 years.

In second place was Crazy Rich Asians which was the champ for the previous three weekends. The film brought in an estimated $13.6 million to bring its domestic total to $136.2 million. It also added $5.6 million in 23 markets to brings its overseas total to $28.5 million. The film opens in the UK this coming weekend, Mexico on September 21, and Japan on September 28.

Peppermint debuted in third place with an estimated $13.3 million on a $25 million budget. The film also opened in 17 markets overseas grossing an estimated $1.4 million. It continues a rollout that goes well into January 2019.

In fourth place was The Meg which earned an estimated $6 million to bring its domestic total to $131.6 million. It also brought in an estimated $11.3 million from 67 territories to bring its international total to $360.4 million and a global total of $492 million.

Searching rounded out the top five with an estimated $4.5 million domestically and $7.5 million internationally. The film has earned $14.3 million domestically, $17.7 million at the foreign box office for a total of $32 million worldwide after three weeks.

In comic film news….

Ant-Man and the Wasp came in at #21 at the weekend box office with an estimated $608,000 to bring its domestic total to $214.8 million.

Avengers: Infinity War is still bringing in the dollars. That movie was #41 and added $19,000 to its domestic total which now stands at $678.8 million.

We’ll be back in an hour for a deeper dive into 2018’s comic adaptations.

Crazy Rich Asians Repeats for a Third Weekend at the Box Office

Crazy Rich Asians is an end of summer bang and kicking off the fall movie season right with a third weekend at the top of the box office. The film has passed $110 million domestically after this weekend. It earned an estimated $22.2 million for the three days, a 10% drop compared to the previous week. It’ll earn about $28 million for the four day holiday weekend. The film is getting rolling overseas and has earned just shy of $20 million after earning $10.4 million from 24 markets.

The Meg repeated again in third place, also for the third weekend. Again, Warner Bros. has the one-two punch between these two films and has shown a smart move having the films released at similar times for some counter programming. The film earned an estimated $10.5 million to bring its domestic total to over $120 million. It’ll earn an estimated $13 million for the four days. Internationally, the film brought in $17.7 million from 65 markets for an foreign box office total of $342 million and worldwide total of $463 million.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout has shown sequels still rule with a 13.4% drop from the previous weekend an estimated $7 million over the three days. It’s expected to earn $9 million for the four day weekend. Domestically the film is over $206 million. Internationally, the film added $89.1 million to bring that total to nearly $443 million and worldwide total of $647 million. It’ll easily become the highest grossing film of the franchise.

In fourth place was Operation Finale which brought in an estimated $6 million for the three days and expted to be $7.7 million for four days. It’ll have a six day total for around $9.5 million.

Rounding out the top five was Searching with an estimated $5.7 million for three days and around $7 million for the four days.

When it comes to comic adaptations…

Ant-Man and the Wasp dropped to #19 for the weekend with an estimated $1.3 million to bring its domestic total to $213.5 million after nine weeks.

Avengers: Infinity War is #33 despite home release and has brought in $62,000 to bring its domestic total to $678.8 million. The film is the top grossing film of the year so far but is second when it comes to domestic earnings. Black Panther still holds that crown and is one of a few films to have crossed $700 million domestically.

We’ll be back in an hour for a deeper dive into this year’s comic film adaptations.

Crazy Rich Asians Repeats at #1 With Less than 6% Drop From the Previous Week

Crazy Rich Asians repeating in first place at the weekend box office isn’t a surprise due to the lack of new competition (lets face it, new films tend to challenge for first). What is a surprise is how well the film did and how little it dropped from the previous week. The movie was first at the weekend box office with an estimated $25 million which is just a 5.7% drop from the previous week. That’s one of the smallest of all-time.

The film expanded internationally with 12 new markets for a total of 18. It earned an estimated $6 million to bring its total to $7.1 million internationally. It had the largest opening for a romantic comedy in Singapore where it earned $1.8 million. The movie opens in Australia on August 30 and mid-September in the UK.

Domestically the film has earned $76.8 million and with its $7.1 million earned at the box office the movie has made $83.9 million worldwide off of a $30 million budget after 12 days.

The Meg repeated in second place, giving Warner Bros. another one-two placement, with an estimated $13 million. That brings its domestic total to $105.3 million. Internationally the film brought in $32.7 million from 65 territories to bring that total to $303.3 million and a worldwide total of $408.6 million.

In third place was the debut of The Happytime Murders with a not surprising $10 million. The film was savaged in reviews from critics and moviegoers. This one will likely be an early exit from the theaters.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout earned an estimated $8 million domestically and nears $194 million after five weeks. It also brought in $13 million internationally from 61 markets. Worldwide it has earned $538.7 million.

Rounding out the top five was Disney’s Christopher Robin which added $6.3 million to its domestic total to bring it to $77.6 million. Internationally it has grossed $35.1 million for a worldwide total of $112.7 million.

When it comes to comic adaptations…

Ant-Man and the Wasp came in at #14 for the weekend, slipping two spots from the previous week. It earned an estimated $1.8 million to bring its domestic total to $211.5 million. debuted in China where it brought in an estimated $68 million, the fourth largest opening for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in that market. The movie opens in Japan, its final market, next weekend. Internationally the film has earned $332.6 million for a worldwide total of $544.1 million.

Avengers: Infinity War keeps bringing in the dollars earning $51,000 domestically. That total now stands at $678.7 million after 18 weeks, the longest of any film in the top 45. Internationally the film has earned $1.367 billion for a worldwide total of $2.046 billion.

We’ll be back at noon for a deeper dive into this year’s comic adaptations.

Crazy Rich Asians Helps Warner Bros. Deliver a One Two Punch

Crazy Rich Asians won the weekend beating most industry expectations. The film earned an estimated $34 million over its five-day opening. Made on a reported $30 million budget, the film has a strong 74 rating on Metacritic and an “A” Cinemascore.

For the three day weekend, the film earned $25.2 million and will likely cross $100 million before it’s done. The film opened in just six foreign markets where it earned $730,000. The movie is getting a staggered release schedule with Australia opening on August 30 and mid-September in the UK.

The second spot was held by last weekend’s winner, The Meg. The film earned an estimated $21.2 million to bring its domestic total to $83.8 million. Internationally, the film added $67 million from 55 markets to bring the foreign gross to $230.4 million.

Mile 22 opened in third place with a slightly below expectation earning of $13.6 million.

The fourth and fifth place is a photo finish. New film Alpha and Mission: Impossible – Fallout both have an estimated $10.5 million as of reporting. Those totals may change when the final numbers come in.

When it comes to comic film adaptations…

Ant-Man and the Wasp came in at #13 earning an estimated $2.6 million to bring its domestic total to $208.4 million. Internationally the film has earned $257.2 million for a worldwide total of $465.6 million.

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies dipped a few spots to come in at #18. The film added $710,000 to its total to bring its domestic earnings to $27.3 million. Internationally the film stands at $5.3 million for a worldwide total of $32.6 million off of a $10 million budget.

Despite its home release, Avengers: Infinity War continues to bring in money. The film was #32 with $97,000 to bring its domestic total to $678.6 million. Worldwide the film has earned $2.046 billion.

Come back in an hour when we’ll have a deeper dive into this year’s comic adaptations.