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The Top 5 of Everything in 2018

While I also have a top and bottom list of the movies of 2018, I love things outside of movies, too. Indeed, so much of what has happened in 2018 has been outside of movies, or blurring the lines between what movies and television even are with Netflix bringing us things like The Ballad of Buster Scruggs or Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, the first of whach was originally planned as a tv miniseries, and the latter is just. . . well, what even is Bandersnatch?

So, regardless of medium, here are my Top 5 favorites of everything.

5. Educated: A Memoir

This book hit a lot of lists of the top books of 2018 (including culture critic Barack Obama’s), but it hit especially close to home for me because, like author Tara Westover, I attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Her story of growing up kept out of public education was too familiar to me, as survivalism and mistrust of public schools were something I encountered too frequently. This is the same anti-intellectual stew that spawned Glenn Beck and the Bundys’ ranch standoff/takeover of the Malheur Bird Refuge. But Westover’s memoir is a testament to what happens when this is taken to the extreme, to the point that as an adult she had never heard of the Holocaust. It’s a great read and my favorite book of the year.

4. Detroit: Become Human

Ok, there may have been “better” games than this in 2018. (God of War, Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Spider-Man, Red Dead Redemption II) But this story of a near-future where androids begin to gain sentience and their struggle for equality was my personal favorite. It almost wasn’t a video game– it was an interactive movie.

This is one of those games where the choices you make affect the outcome of the game, and you get to choose the fate of a revolution. Will your quest for equality for androids be violent, or non-violent? What are the consequences for the other characters you’re playing as?

This hit me right in my social-justice and robot-loving heart, and also had beautiful gameplay featuring a spectacular cast of actors.

3. Sorry to Bother You

Spoiler Alert: this was my favorite movie of 2018. First time director Boots Riley delivers a searing indictment of capitalism and racial expectations, exposing a sort of gonzo form of racial exploitation that is a perfect intersectional skewering of the nexus of race and class.

It’s very rare for a movie to surprise me, and this made me literally say to the screen, “What the f@#$?!?!

This was the only film I gave five stars to all year, and it’s something you have to see to believe.

2. Hannah Gadsby – Nanette

I had never heard of Australian comic Hannah Gadsby before this year, so imagine my shock in watching a Netflix special in which she announces her retirement from comedy and then proceeds to deconstruct what comedy is, blow it up, and put it back together again– all told against the backdrop of a heartbreaking childhood story of coming to terms with her queer identity. I never thought anything could make me feel such a rainbow of emotions over such a short period of time. This wasn’t just a comedy special — in the same way Childish Gambino’s “This is America” wasn’t just a music videos. Those were pop culture grenades tossed into the heart of the beast that blew everything up.

1. The Good Place

More than anything else this year, The Good Place ruled my heart and mind. I have not anticipated a broadcast television show like this in a long time, and in between seasons and episodes so many binges of previous seasons.

The best thing about this show that is sorta about the afterlife but kinda mostly about ethics but really just about us dirtbags here on earth and how we treat each other is how it keeps reinventing itself almost every six episodes or so. The show’s writers seem to be laboring under the idea that at some point the network is going to figure out the scam they’ve been running and pull the plug, so we’d better get through as much of this plot as possible. Where most shows would drag out their premise, this races through multiple setups in a single season. It’s refreshing, it’s smart, but it’s also stupid.

You put the Peeps in the chili pot and mix it all up, You put the Peeps in the chili pot and add some M&Ms, You put the Peeps in the chili pot. . .

This season’s episodes “Jeremy Bearimy” and “Janets” deserve ALL THE EMMYS, especially for acting from Janet herself, D’Arcy Cardon. If you saw them, you know why. If you didn’t see them, what are you waiting for?! To Netflix! To Hulu! Begin the binge now!

It’s the best show on tv– fight me. It’s the best thing from 2018– let’s be friends and watch it together, will you please? It will make you laugh and feed your soul. Also, it has its own official podcast, hosted by Marc Evan Jackson, who plays Shawn, who ends every episode asking, “What’s good?”

The Good Place. It is good. And the best for 2018.

So, Who Won the Year?

I also like to look back at the year look for threads, throughlines, trends that indicate something. Invariably there are big winners and losers in the year. I want to quickly celebrate the top winners.

Honorable Mention: Nicholas Cage

Despite being somewhere between an internet meme and a pariah, Nick Cage still gets some pretty amazing work this year. His starring role in Mandy is like a cocaine-fueled horror fantasy made in the 80’s and then set to age for three decades soaking in LSD. But then he also showed up in the cartoons in some of the most unexpected places: as Spider-Man Noir in Into the Spider-Verse and as Superman in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. We’re glad to see him working.

Other honorable mentions: Donald Glover, Streaming Services, Steve Carrell, Mahershala Ali, Dolph Lundgren, Michael B. Jordan

5. Cults

This was a good year for cults in movies and tv. Mandy, Bad Times at the El Royale, Wild Wild Country, and Hereditary. Also, the bizarre stories about real life sex cult NXIVM that involved Smallville‘s Allison Mack. So, way to go, cults? At least you have some diversity here– Jesus, Satan, new age, but all of them were big on sex, So, sex cults. Way to win 2018.

4. Emily Blunt and John Krasinski

These two not only had an amazing year, but they did it together. Blunt killed it as Mary Poppins, Krasinski brought Jack Ryan back, and then you have their on-screen duo in A Quiet Place. That movie was such a revelation– mostly about how terrible mainstream movie audiences are at making noise. But in a year when almost every top-grossing film was a sequel, franchise, or remake, A Quiet Place was a true original. Thanks to both of you. You won the year.

3. Comicsgate and the Alt-Right

Now hear me out. I know this will be an unpopular opinion, but the alt-right actually accomplished a decent amount this year, and it’s completely unacceptable. James Gunn is still fired from Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Chuck Wendig was fired from Star Wars/Marvel comics. And, they raised a lot of money through crowdfunding for various ventures.

These guys aren’t playing around. And as long as they keep weaponizing things like offensive tweets, we will lose great creators from our favorite genres.

2. Asian Movie-going Audiences

Look, America, we need to understand that most movies aren’t being made for us anymore. We can decry as braindead anything like The Meg, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Skyscraper, Aquaman, Rampage, or Venom, but those movies kill overseas. There are very specific motifs and types of shots that work there that we as American audiences just aren’t picking up. This is going to have reverberations for years to come.

What’s the major difference? You can make a strong argument for diverse casts and female leads — giving us hits like Black Panther or The Last Jedi — but those movies generally just sort of do ok overseas while overperforming in the US.

That says something comforting about our country and culture at this time. But it says some things that should maybe be concerning that we won’t get complex stories like these in the future while we spit out more Venoms.

Perhaps the biggest irony in all of this is the alt right crusaders who don’t want diversity in our movies, shows, and comics will find common cause with the globalists who will continue to churn out lots of braindead action movies starring heroic dudes. Sigh.

[tie] 1. Disney

The Walt Disney Corporation had an amazing year, which caps off some pretty incredible past few years and is likely to continue into 2019. Why? Disney+ streaming service. The Fox merger. This isn’t necessarily good news for us, but is great news for corporate profits and creeping oligarchy. But, they gave us Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Incredibles 2, Mary Poppins Returns, Ralph Breaks the Internet. . . even the supposedly underperforming Solo: A Star Wars Story ended up making 393 million dollars worldwide. And that was considered by some a failure, even though 18 of my top 20 films of 2018 would love to have sold that many tickets.

But let’s talk about Black Panther for one moment. It’s arguably the most culturally salient and important piece of pop culture of the year, with Infinity War not far behind. For all their evils as a corporate overlord, we got something truly important for a lot of people to see — an authentically black superhero story that deals with identity, a history of violence and oppression towards the African diaspora, and that leaves us remember that “in times of crisis, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers.”

When the box office receipts went off the charts, you gave back– founding an actual charity to do the work of STEM education and scholarships like T’Challa and Shuri wanted. Thank you, Disney. For an evil corporation, you sure gave us a lot of what we loved this year. You win.

[tie] 1. The City of Oakland

Speaking of Black Panther, one of the most important pieces of the film is how director Ryan Coogler brought his Oakland roots into the film. That moment when you realize the voiceover from the beginning of the film is of young Erik and his dad N’Jobu (“Tell me a story of home.”) and the entire basis for Killmonger’s wrath is based on the economic oppression of being raised in poverty in Oakland and what he had to do to escape it. It ends with a hopeful note in the same building, that future children will not have to face such hardship. “Who are you?”

I already mentioned my love of Sorry to Bother You, but that film is not possible without Oakland as a backdrop. The same is true of another of my favorites, Blindspotting, which takes a similar look at poverty, gentrification, and violence. And then we have Bodied, the rap battle movie produced by Eminem, which plays a major part in the film, but whose setting is split between Berkeley, Oakland, and Los Angeles. Still, Oakland as a force is in that film.

And then there’s real life. The Golden State Warriors win the NBA Championship. A white woman calls the cops on a black family having a cookout at an Oakland city park at Lake Merritt and becomes known as “BBQ Becky.”

And then heartbreak. The Oakland Raiders plan to leave for Las Vegas looking for more corporate pork and handouts.

To understand what is going on in Oakland in film and culture is to understand a microcosm of what is happening in so many cities across the country facing gentrification and economic pressures that are displacing historically black populations. It is why I recommend to everyone they see each of these films I mentioned here and think about what is actually happening.

To 2018, the year of the Oakland Renaissance.

Hotel Transylvania 3 Tops the Box Office While Ant-Man and the Wasp Shrinks a Hefty 62%

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation won the weekend box office with an estimated $44.1 million. That amount doesn’t include the $1.27 million the film earned through special Amazon Prime member previews June 30th. That’s all a bit short of the second film’s $48.5 million in September 2015. But, with all of the competition, that’s a solid showing for the film.

The movie received an “A-” CinemaScore from the opening day audiences. The film’s audience was 52% female, and 32% was 25 years or older.

That film’s win was Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s loss. That movie dropped a massive 62% from the previous week to come in second place. That’s the second largest second weekend drop for a Marvel Cinematic Universe film. It’s the fifth Marvel film to not repeat in first place in its second weekend. The movie earned an estimated $29.1 million to bring its domestic total to $132.8 million. The film also added $35.3 million from 44 markets to push its worldwide total to $283.7 million.

In third place was a debut, Skyscraper. The film earned an estimated $25.5 million which fell short of estimates the film would earn around $30 million. The film also opened in 57 markets to earn $40.4 million for a $65.9 million global debut. The film received a “B+” CinemaScore and played to an audience that was 55% male and 52% was 25 years or older.

Incredibles 2 was in fourth place with an estimated $16.2 million to bring its domestic total to $535.8 million. It passed The Dark Knight to become the ninth largest overall film all-time domestically. The film also added $33.3 million internationally and the grand total of the film stands at $856.9 million.

Rounding out the top five was Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom which dropped from second place. The film earned an estimated $15.5 million to bring its domestic total to $363.3 million. Internationally the film added $26.7 million pusing its global total to $1.134 billion.

In comic adaptations…

Deadpool 2 came in at #15 bringing in an estimated $800,000 domestically. The film’s domestic total is $316.3 million and worldwide the film has earned $730.8 million.

Avengers: Infinity War came in at #16 with an estimated $588,000 domestically. The total now stands at $676 million. Worldwide the film has brought in $2.041 billion.

Black Panther came in at #38 with an estimated $14,000 domestically to bring its total to $699.9 million. It no doubt will cross the $700 million mark domestically. Worldwide the film has earned $1.347 billion.

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

Ant-Man and the Wasp Takes First Place Beating the First by Almost $20 Million

Ant-Man and the Wasp was a winner for Marvel this weekend with an estimated $76 million. That tops the original film which opened with $57.2 million in 2015. That’s the ninth weekend of the year’s 27 that a Marvel film has topped the box office in 2018.

What’s interesting is the film’s Friday was a higher percent for the weekend compared to other Marvel films Friday accounted for 44.5% of the film’s earnings, the highest amount for a Marvel film. The film received an “A-” CinemaScore for the opening weekend, down from the original’s “A.” 55% of the audience was male and 58% was over the age of 25.

Internationally, the film opened in 48% of overseas markets and it earned $85 million for a $161 million worldwide debut.

In second place was Incredibles 2 which earned an estimated $29 million which has it crossing $500 million domestically with $504.4 million. The film debuted in France where it earned an estimated $10.6 million. Worldwide the movie has earned $772.8 million.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom came in third with an estimated $28.6 million to bring its domestic total to $333.3 million. The film crossed the billion dollar mark as it has also earned $725.3 milllion. It stand at $1.059 billion worldwide.

In fourth place was another new film, The First Purge which brought in an estimated $17.2 million off of a $13 million budget. Internationally, the film debuted in 26 markets with an estimated $10.9 million. That’s a total of just shy of $42 million so far.

Rounding out the top five was Sicario: Day of the Soldado which brought in an estimated $7.3 million. The film has earned $35.3 million domestically and $43.6 million worldwide.

When it comes to comic film adaptations…

Deadpool 2 rounded up the top 10 with an estimated $1.7 million to bring its domestic total to $314.5 million. The original earned $363.1 million domestically ($387.4 million adjusted for inflation). Worldwide, Deadpool 2 has earned $727.3 million and the original stands at $783.1 million. The budgets are the biggest difference. The original’s was just $58 million while the sequel ballooned to $110 million. The sequel would have to cross well in to $825 million to equal the success of the original.

Avengers: Infinity War was #15 for the week with an estimated $865,000 to bring its domestic total to $674.8 million. The film has also earned $1.364 billion at the foreign box office for a worldwide total of $2.039 billion.

Black Panther is still earning and came in at #30 for the weekend. The film brought in $38,000 for the weekend to bring its domestic total to $699,882,707. It’ll be interesting to see if the film crosses $700 million domestically which would make it only the third film ever to do so (not adjusting for inflation). Worldwide the film has earned $1.347 billion worldwide.

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

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Incredibles 2 Repeat One Two

It was a repeat at the top of the box office as Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was the top of the box office with an estimated $60 million, a 59.5% drop from the previous weekend. The film also earned an estimated $56.1 million from 68 international markets. Domestically the film has earned $264.8 million and internationally it has earned $667.6 million for a worldwide total of $932.4 million. It will surely cross $1 billion in the next two weeks. Jurassic World grossed $652.3 million domestically, $1.019 billion at the foreign box office and $1.672 billion worldwide.

In second place was Incredibles 2 which earned an estimated $45.5 million to bring its domestic total to $439.7 million. The film has earned $207.1 million at the foreign box office for a worldwide total of $646.8 million. After this week, the film has passed the original even when adjusted for inflation.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado came in third with an estimated $19 million off of a $35 million budget. That beats expectations and about $7 million more than the first film. That film went on to earn $46.8 million. the film also earned an estimated $8.4 million internationally from 55 markets.

In fourth place was Uncle Drew which earned an estimated $15.5 million. Not bad for a joke spawned in college by a basketball player.

Rounding out the top five was Ocean’s 8 which earned an estimated $8 million domestically and $13.8 million internationally. Domestically it has earned $114.7 million and $95 million at the foreign box office for a worldwide total of $209.7 million.

When it comes to comic film adaptations…

Deadpool 2 dropped to seventh earning an estimated $3.5 million domestically. It has now earned $310.3 million domestically, $408.7 million internationally, and $719.1 million worldwide. The film is $64 million short of the original which was released in 2016.

Avengers: Infinity War came in at #12 which earned $1.4 million domestically. The film has brought in $672.5 million domestically, $1.362 billion internationally, for a grand total of $2.034 billion worldwide. The film is about $34 million short of passing Star Wars: The Force Awakens in worldwide grosses.

Black Panther slipped just one spot to come in at #32 and earned an estimated $32,000. The film remains the top grossing domestic film of 2018 with $699.8 million. Internationally the film has earned $646.6 million for a worldwide total of $1.346 billion.

This coming week sees the release of Ant-Man and the Wasp which will most likely top the box office and potentially sets up a third 2018 blockbuster for Marvel this year.

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

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Debuts with $150 Million While Incredibles 2 Crosses $350 Million

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom started strong with an estimated $150 million. It’s the second time every that two different films brought in over $100 million over two consecutive weekends. In 2015 Jurassic World debuted with $208.8 million but with such competition, it’s no surprise that this one opened lower. It also emphasizes the tough box office this year.

In international release, the film is in its third weekend and it added 17 new markets and debuted in first place in 16 of them. It earned an estiamted $106.7 million form 68 markets to bring its overseas total to $561.5 million.

Worldwide the film stands at $711.5 million and will likely cross $1 billion before it’s done.

The film’s audience was 54% male and 44% of the audience aged 25 years and older. It received an “A-” CinemaScore.

In second place was last weekend’s champ Incredibles 2 which dropped 55.7% to bring in an estimated $81 million. Domestically the film has earned $350.4 million after ten days. The film also opened in China, India, and Thailand and brought in $56.8 million from about 44% of the international market. Overseas it has earned $135 million.

Ocean’s 8 earned an estimated $11.7 million to bring its earnings to $100.4 million after three weeks. It debuted in a few international markets where it earned an estimated $26.9 million for an overseas total of $70.6 million and $171 million worldwide.

In fourth place was Tag which brought in an estimated $8.2 million which brings its domestic total to $30.4 million.

Rounding out the top five was Deadpool 2 which held steady in that spot and added an estimated $5.3 million to bring its domestic total to $304.2 million. The film also earned $5.3 million internationally to bring that number to $403 million and $707.2 million worldwide. The original film earned $363.1 million domestically, $420 million overseas and $783.1 million worldwide.

In other comic movie news…

Avengers: Infinity War earned an estimated $2.5 million domestically to bring that number to $669.5 million. With $1.361 billion internationally, the film has earned $2.031 billion so far.

Black Panther was #25 and earned an estimated $74,000 after 19 weeks. Domestically the film has earned $699.7 million, $646.5 million at the foreign box office for a worldwide total of $1.346 billion.

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

Ocean’s 8 Snags the Top Spot While Hereditary Opens Big By Buzz

Ocean’s 8 topped the weekend box office with the best opening for the franchise (not adjusting for inflation). With an estimated $41.5 million, the film outperformed estimates. It also earned $12.2 million at the foreign box office bringing its total to $53.7 million for the $70 million budgeted film. It will face tough competition as Incredibles 2 opens this coming week and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom the weekend after that.

The film earned a “B+” CinemaScore from the audience and was 69% female and 69% aged 25 years or older. The 11% that was 18 years or younger gave the film an “A” CinemaScore. We’ll see what the legs are but the film could be counter programming for the over the top summer films.

Dropping to second place was Solo: A Star Wars Story which earned an estimated $15.15 million bringing the domestic total to $176.1 million. The film also earned an stimated $11.3 million overseas to bring that total to $136.1 million for a global total of $312.2 million. The film has yet to open in Japan which happens on June 29. Expect this film to struggle to make it to $400 million worldwide.

Deadpool 2 slid to third place with an estimated $13.7 million to bring its domestic total to $278.7 million. Internationally the film added $18.5 million to bring that total to $376.6 million and a worldwide total of $655.3 million.

Fourth place say a new film, Hereditary which is the movie buzz right now. Driven by a strong word of mouth, the film earned an estimated $13 million beating projections. With a budget of just $10 million, everyong must be happy. Interestingly, the film received a “D+” CinemaScore from audiences. The audience was 58% male with 74% under 34 years of age.

Capping of the top five was Avengers: Infinity War which earned an estimated $6.8 million to bring its domestic total to $654.7 million. It added $10.9 million internationally to bring its worldwide total to $1.998 billion. It’ll be the fourth film ever to top $2 billion.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opened in 48 overseas markets bringing in an estimated $151.1 million. It opens in North America on June 22 and rolls out in 21 overseas territories over the month. China is on June 15, Australia and Brazil June 21, Mexico is June 22, and Japan on July 13.

In other comic film news….

Black Panther dropped a few spots to come in at #22 with an estimated $137,000. The film has brought in $699.4 million domestically and $1.346 billion worldwide.

We’ll be back in an hour with an even deeper dive into 2018’s comic films.