By: Max Bechtoldt
Here our entire team will be discussing their favorites of the year from a variety of topics which include Best Performance, Best Action Movie, Funniest Movie, Best Movie Moment, Best Superhero Movie and Best Overall Movie. Read, enjoy and see these fantastic movies.
Warning: Some serious spoilers, especially for Avengers: Infinity War
Johnny Sobczak: Joaquin Phoenix-You Were Never Really Here, Toni Collette-Hereditary
2018 has seen some fantastic performances (with some of the best still to come), but there are two that have stuck to the front of my mind more than any of the others: Joaquin Phoenix in “You Were Never Really Here” and Toni Collette in “Hereditary.” Two performances that are as different as they are similar. Each of them has to portray the life of a tortured individual, but Phoenix’s performance as Joe is as subtle as they come, as he struggles to survive PTSD and rampant depression. Collette as Annie, on the other hand, wears all of her emotion on her face as she goes through some of the worst grieving and emotional trauma imaginable. If these two actors aren’t up for Academy Awards come early next year, I’ll be outraged.
Khris Graves: Rachel McAdams-Game Night
McAdams shows that maybe she should’ve been doing comedies this whole time. She was able to surpass Bateman where it seemed like she was the real lead of one of my favorite comedies of this year.
Max Bechtoldt: Lily James-Mamma Mia Here We Go Again
It may seem silly but the sequel to Mamma Mia is an actually really good movie and so much of that is because of James. She carries on the role of Donna, previously played by Merryl Streep, with so much confidence. Bonus points for incredible renditions of When I Kissed the Teacher and Mamma Mia.
Best Action Movie
JS- Mission Impossible: Fallout
Easiest question of the year? I’d say so. Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise have delivered one of the best action films ever made with “Mission: Impossible – Fallout.” From the heart-stopping HALO jump, to the insane chases through the streets of Paris and London, all culminating in one of the best third acts you’ll ever see. However, all of these incredible stunts wouldn’t be as effective if we didn’t care about the characters involved. McQuarrie managed to outdo the work he did on “Rogue Nation,” humanizing Ethan Hunt more than ever before and fleshing out all of his major relationships, capitalizing on the investment audiences have made in them over the last two decades.
KG- Mission Impossible: Fallout
Tom Cruise is our version of Buster Keaton. The dedication he has to doing his own stunts and wowing audiences to the detriment of his health solidifies his legend status. Fallout is the epitome of maximum intensity.
Kevin Creed- Mission Impossible: Fallout
Fallout is not only the best action movie of the year, it is also probably the best Mission Impossible movie so far. Tom Cruise has done it again.
MB- Mission Impossible: Fallout
This is pretty clearly Mission Impossible Fallout. Fallout gives an incredibly exhilarating first act full of Halo Jumps and Bathroom brawls. Develops the story and villains in the second act, and delivers one of the best third acts of the decade. Its an all around nearly perfect action movie that escapes two of the qualities of most blockbusters of the 21st centuries by not just giving one but two compelling antagonists but also an exciting and suspenseful final act.
FUNNIEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR
JS- Game Night
A lot of films have gotten big laughs out of me this year, including “ Tully,” “Eighth Grade,” “Sorry to Bother You,” and “BlacKkKlansman.” That being said, none have made my sides split from beginning to end like “Game Night.” I didn’t really have any expectations for it, which made my experience even more enjoyable as I laughed so hard that I cried at least two different times. The entire cast was great, with Jesse Plemons stealing the show as the creepy cop living next door. Maybe most surprising about “Game Night” is that it isn’t a film that is totally reliant on laughs to be enjoyable. The film as some great action sequences and moments of heart, all captured with inspired camerawork and boosted by a great Cliff Martinez score. Here’s to hoping that directors John Francis Daley & Jonathan M. Goldstein can bring the same energy and style to their next project, DC’s “The Flash.”
KG- Game Night
A slick comedy that doesn’t undercut its leads with unneeded improv or raunchy humor. Oh, and Jesse Plemons. Enough said.
KC- Game Night
Personally, I think Game Night is really underrated, I feel it should have made more and gotten more attention than it did.
I guess I’ll be the contrarian here. While this has been a surprisingly strong year for studio comedies with Game Night, Crazy Rich Asians and Set it Up all being worthy choices, I went with Blockers, which delivers more pure laughs a minute than any movie in a long time. It also delivers with some genuinely sweet friendship and parent-child moments. Gary Cole is the comedic MVP of the year so far for his small but laugh out loud role in this.
BEST MOVIE MOMENT
JS- The one moment that always pops up first in my head, the one that drove me to see the film five times in theaters, is the moment that Jennifer Jason Leigh turns into a cosmic light show at the end of “Annihilation.” The entire film builds up to this one instant, in the bowels of this forsaken Lighthouse, where we wonder what will happen and what Lena (played wonderfully by Natalie Portman) will find. Nothing could have prepared me for the visceral assault that my eyes and ears would experience, featuring some of the year’s best VFX, transcendent work from composers Geoff Barrow & Ben Salisbury, as well as an amazing use of Moderat’s “The Mark – Interlude.” The sequence that follows is as beautiful as it is terrifying, with Lena going head-to-head with an alien duplicate of herself. It’s a surreal acid trip that echoes the stargate sequence from “2001” and I won’t be forgetting it anytime soon.
KG- Thor, Groot, and Rocket coming to save the day. (Infinity War) This is the culmination of Marvel world building that rewards its loyal fans. The whole theater was in a riot when Thor came thundering down to save Cap and company. I have never seen something like that nor will I ever forget it.
KC- For Me its gotta be Thanos’ snap in Avengers Infinity War. No other movie moment this year had me as invested as the snap did.
MB- Its hard to pass up Fallout’s HALO jump, Merryl Streep’s cameo in Mamma Mia Here We Go Again and the exhilarating final scene of Blindspotting, but I will go with Simon’s conversations with both parents in the last act of Love, Simon. This movie is one of my absolute favorites of the year and a big part of that was the heart in it, and no where was that clearer than in these scenes. Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel deliver their finest works of their careers in these scenes and not a single person in the theater had dry eyes.
BEST SUPERHERO MOVIE
JS- Avengers: Infinity War
The culmination of 10 years and 18 previous blockbusters, all interconnected. To say that Kevin Feige, the Russo brothers, and Marvel Studios had a monumental task on their hands would be an understatement. Thankfully, they delivered with everything that fans wanted and more. I wouldn’t say it is the best comic book movie ever, as it has some structural and pacing issues, plus not every character gets equal time to shine. However, it may be the MOST comic book movie ever. From the visuals, to the different locations across the universe, it’s the definition of epic. Every major Marvel character is in this thing and there are plenty of awesome interactions. We get the Iron Spider suit, Iron Man leading a team -up with the Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America doing the same with our beloved Wakandan heroes. The big centerpiece of the story, however, is Thanos. Josh Brolin delivers one of the best super villain performances ever, thanks to amazing motion capture work. “Infinity War” also concludes with one of the biggest gut punches and cliffhangers in film history, killing off half the universe and leaving the remaining heroes in a state of defeat. May 2019 can’t some soon enough.
KG- Incredibles 2
Brad Bird can edit an action sequence to perfection. The whole movie intertwines fun and sincerity with ease. Jack-Jack for the win.
KC– Avengers: Infinity War
Deadpool 2 and Black Panther are worthy competition but Infinity War takes the cake. Infinity War was touted as a culmination of a decade of Marvel Studios excellence, and it delivered. It makes you feel a range of emotions you may not always feel in a superhero film and it still threw some surprises at you.
MB- Incredibles 2
The Incredibles 2 held off Black Panther by a small margin for me here as it delivered on as many laughs and exciting scenes as the original, but also added in some family moments that surpassed the original. Anyone who knows me knows I love my Pixar movies and this one definitely did not disappoint.
BEST OVERALL MOVIE
If the Academy Awards were tomorrow, I’d be handing Best Director to Spike Lee and Best Picture to “BlacKkKlansman.” The winner of the Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, “Klansman” has everything you might expect from a Spike Lee joint, but is more refined than most of his work in the last couple decades. Lee executes a tonal masterclass, injecting plenty of humor and wit, without ever undermining the dark and all too relevant subject matter. It’s great that audiences will finally get to know this incredible true story from the 1970s, but the way Lee frames America’s racism and the Klan itself as still being as big an issue now as it was back then is brilliant. It’s a film that will leave you proud of some of the progress we’ve made, but still knowing that there is a lot of work to be done in these United States.
KG– Mission Impossible: Fallout
A mustached Henry Cavill silently reloads his arms during a ridiculous bathroom brawl and that right there is when I fell in love with this movie. McQuarrie has solidified his place among our great action movie directors. I hope this is just the beginning of a hopefully long career of blowing my mind.
KC- Avengers: Infinity War
Infinity War is my movie of the year. it sets the stakes high and actually delivers in a major way. There were a number of standout performances. Josh Brolin sticks out in particular with an amazing performance to bring Marvel’s biggest bad to life. This was the biggest event of the year in film.
Blindspotting takes the cake for me as the best movie of the year so far, just holding off Love, Simon, Thouroughbreds and Mamma Mia Here We Go Again. Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal deliver the best script of the year and both give passionate, powerful performances. Every scene is a surprise and the finale will blow you away. So incredibly relevant this movie juggles a lot of issues that with lesser writers would seem jumbled, but it works here.
Thank you all for reading this and go out and see these fantastic movies!