Ralph’s Top Ten of 2018
by Ralph Linardic
It’s 2019 so let’s recap some notable events from this past year’s movie season before the big awards are given out. This included Avengers: Infinity War, Kevin Spacey’s banishment from Hollywood and Rian Johnson receiving dozens of death threats (I know, Last Jedi came out in 2017). In spite of all that, I’m happy to share my favorite movies of 2018. Not the “best” movies, but the ones that hit this New Zealander right in the heart.
To be completely transparent, I can’t describe what Annihilation is. It’s story and direction (I didn’t comprehend it, I’m not saying it’s poorly told) aren’t clear, but what is clear is how director Alex Garland crafted this gorgeous, visually unique piece of art. Casual film fans won’t rush out and see this one (they didn’t in theaters) on VOD, but for those who enjoy stunning science fiction experiences, it’s well worth your 120 minutes.
I actually received a 4K copy of this film for Christmas from a friend of mine, and it was a nice surprise. BlacKkKlansman holds no boundaries and deserves all of the Oscar talk it’s getting. John David Washington breaks out as a star in this film and Spike Lee returns to glory once again as a master storyteller.
8. First Man
Damien Chazelle has directed two of my favorite movies from the past decade (Whiplash and La-La-Land) and First Man lives up to those films’ quality wise. Ryan Gosling is as masterful as ever giving an Oscar worthy performance as Neil Armstrong, and Justin Hurwitz’s score stands out as the best of 2018.
If you saw Sony’s Venom this year, Upgrade is the superior version of that story in every way. Knock-off Tom Hardy Logan Marshall Green’s relationship with the Artificial Intelligence in his mind is riveting and interesting in a way that hasn’t been done with this type of movie.
6. Avengers: Infinity War
Like Captain America: Civil War, Infinity War is an achievement in its own right due to how it handles its abundance of characters. From the Guardians of the Galaxy, to the original Avengers, and the newcomers like Black Panther and Spider-Man (well not that new), everyone gets a moment to shine. It’s story is somewhat refreshing to the MCU and the film as a whole is the monstrous blockbuster that we were promised.
5. A Star Is Born
Bradley Cooper as a first time did leaps and bounds with this material. While this type of story has been told countless times, his added flair makes it stand out as one of the best movies of the year. Mr. Cooper and Lady Gaga both deserve (and will be) in the Oscar nominations for best actor and actress.
4. Mission Impossible: Fallout
It’s hard to believe that the 6th film in the MI series is the best one and is on the level of one of the best action films of all time, Mad Max: Fury Road. To quote Han Solo, “It’s true. All of it.” Every minute of this film is used to enhance the experience of this action masterpiece. Tom Cruise always brings the best when it comes to his practical stunts. Part of the reason these movies are as great as they are is because of the commitment Cruise puts into the action scenes. I didn’t review this one when it came out, but if I did, it would’ve gotten a 5/5.
3. Ready Player One
While Steven Spielberg’s newest directing effort isn’t the best movie of the year, it definitely stands out as the movie that will be remembered amongst this year’s lineup. It’s a film that features characters and stories from the past 30 plus years of pop culture, and in doing so, captured this critics imagination. A big part of why I love movies is feeling that sense of wonder, that sense of pure joy, and Ready Player One delivered on that.
2. Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse
As much as Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming embody what Spider-Man is all about, Spideverse makes case for being the best Spider-Man movie of them all. From the revolutionary animation (yes, it’s that groundbreaking) to the well fleshed out characters, the Phil Lord and Christopher Miller produced flick stands out as not only the best animated movie of the year, but arguably the best and well told movie of 2018.
1. Eighth Grade
I can already hear it. “Ralph, another coming-of-age movie is your favorite of the year?” While the genre is my favorite, a great movie is a great movie. Bo Burhnam’s Eighth Grade is my number one of the year due to its shockingly grounded story and characters. Bo and A24 shot this in a real high school, with real 8th grade students and it shows. Every scene felt like it was taken from my experiences as a middle schooler. Kayla (played by Elsie Fisher) as a character embodies all of us in our youth and what It feels like to be in the awkward phase of life. The way she feels being in school, dealing with uncomfortable situations and it causing anxiety is relevant to not only kids today, but to all of society. Eighth Grade is relatable to everyone, even if you’re not a 13 year old girl in middle school.