Out of all my lists, I’d say that this and my Worst Albums of 2018 are my most controversial. How can a best list cause controversy? Because, as someone who knows little about film, I tend to prefer movies experts either call guilty pleasures or outright hate. And the most frustrating part? My uneducated opinion counts just as much as theirs.
I say all this in order to prepare you for what you’re about to see. I regard a few unpopular choices as my best of the year. Some movies you may expect to see are merely honorable mentions. But know that I’m not minimizing my opinions. I’m actually mocking those film intellectuals. I disagree with them and there’s nothing they can do about it.
In order to make my list, I simply had to have seen the movie for the first time this year. It didn’t have to be a 2018 release. It is by pure coincidence that every movie on this list and both my honorable mentions were all released this year.
And the Oscar goes to… my Top 6 Movies of 2018:
- Game Over, Man! (Premiered on Netflix March 21)
Right off the bat, I’m coming in with an unpopular pick. However, unlike some of my other selections, this opinion is unpopular because not many people have seen this film.
It follows three slacker hotel maids who dream of developing the next big video game. When a popular influencer throws a party at their hotel, they think they’ve finally gotten their chance.
But things take a turn when a terrorist group after the influencer’s wealth holds everyone in the hotel hostage. And now these three nobodies may be their only hope.
The stars and writers of this movie are also the stars and creators of the Comedy Central hit, Workaholics (which, spoiler alert, we’ll talk about on my next post). I watched that show for the first time this year and thought it was hilarious. So, naturally, I had to check out this film.
Though completely unrelated to Workaholics, this movie still retains the trio’s trademark wit. Anders Holm, Blake Anderson, and Adam Devine turn this completely ludicrous plot into a laugh riot. Moreover, they make it make sense.
Where some comedies overuse raunchy humor, these guys use it the right way. They also balance the humor with introspection and honest human interaction. Their real-life friendship shines through. The chemistry these characters have is potent.
Moreover, they don’t use gayness as a joke. One of the protagonists is a closeted gay man. We see him genuinely struggle with this until he finally comes out. His friends are nothing but supportive.
In fact, they tell him he’s come out to them many times when he was high. But, because he never addressed it while sober and didn’t even seem to remember, they never said anything. They knew he deserved the chance to come out on his own terms, not because his inhibitions were lowered. I found this strangely moving, especially coming from this group of knuckleheads.
It’s been a while since I saw a comedy I genuinely love. Holm, Anderson, and Devine really came in the clutch with this one. Game Over, Man! is well-written, hilariously performed, and emotionally moving. My army of one will sing this movie’s praises until I get at least one person to watch it. Probably even beyond that. These guys threw down the gauntlet with this movie. It’s game over for half-assed comedy.
- Love, Simon (Premiered March 22)
Out of all the movies on my best list, this is probably my least controversial selection. I have yet to hear a single bad thing about this film. In fact, it’s arguably one of the most important films of 2018.
Adapted from the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, the story follows the titular Simon on his coming out journey. Closeted Simon starts an anonymous relationship over email with a boy known only as Blue and quickly falls head over heels.
But when his classmate Martin discovers the messages, he blackmails Simon into helping him win over Simon’s friend Abby. Torn between doing the right thing and being outed, Simon complies. But how long can he keep this up?
Okay, maybe my opinion on this movie is a little unpopular. You see, I actually prefer it over the book. I liked the book well enough, but it didn’t resonate with me the way the movie did. It’s the same story with the same characters, but I connect more with Nick Robinson’s portrayal of Simon.
He is sarcastic and witty, but also caring and loyal. He loves the theater and has killer taste in music. He’s just such a wonderful character and watching his story unfold is a beautiful experience.
What’s more, these characters actually feel like teenagers. So many teen shows and movies have such unrealistic dialogue, either because it’s cringy or overly lofty. The characters act like adults playing high school. The characters in Love, Simon speak and act like real teenagers. I feel like I could walk into any school and meet kids just like these.
The narrative also takes their struggles seriously. It doesn’t over-dramatize them, but it also doesn’t belittle them. It’s an honest look at what it’s like to be a teenager in 2018. When you respect your teenage characters, your story is automatically ten times better than if you were to frame them as melodramatic.
That said, this movie isn’t perfect. I’m glad it holds Simon responsible for the way he manipulates his friends. Though his reasons are understandable, what he does is still wrong.
The way the film goes about it, however, is extremely flawed. Martin forcibly outs Simon to the entire school because Abby starts dating Nick instead of him. Humiliated as he is, Simon’s secret is out and so he confesses to his friends what he and Martin had been doing. His friends are, rightfully, furious (although, technically, Leah has no reason to be angry).
For the next few days, Simon’s friends abandon him as he is bullied and harassed. We see them feel sympathy for him, but they don’t lift a finger to help. They are justified in their anger, but this is messed up.
The film doesn’t handle this with the same nuance Albertalli does in her book. Simon’s friends can express their anger, while also supporting their newly-outed friend. Instead, the film places all the focus on their anger and what Simon’s done wrong. Without balancing the fallout of both revelations, the implication is that Simon deserves this because he manipulated his friends.
Well, I guess that’s not entirely true. While that is a possible implication, the film also takes pains to show that Simon doesn’t deserve this. We see his humiliation and devastation when he reads the blog post. We see his family working to show him support, even if they don’t get it right on the first try.
Simon even gets to confront Martin, telling him that he’s stolen the moment that should’ve been Simon’s. Only Simon has the right to come out, only he gets to decide the when and where. He puts Martin in his place, finally coaxing some genuine remorse of out of the little prick.
Fortunately, the rest of the film is beautiful enough to outweigh its one flaw. The relationships between the characters are so well done, whether romantic, platonic, or familial. The chemistry between Simon and Blue is palpable. This is the romantic comedy the gays deserve.
Phenomenally acted, impeccably scored, and flawlessly shot, Love, Simon is an absolute triumph. It is so relatable and moving, you just know it’s going to be a game-changer. Whether or not you agree that it’s better than the book, you can’t pretend you don’t love this film.
- Kid Gorgeous (Premiered on Netflix on May 1)
I ran a poll on Twitter asking whether comedy specials count as movies, TV shows, or their own category. The majority of the votes indicated that they count as movies. Thus, entry number three on my best movies list.
John Mulaney is my all-time favorite comedian. It is impossible for him not to be funny (well, unless you give him a cable sitcom). Having watched all three of his comedy specials multiple times, I can say with confidence that Kid Gorgeous is his funniest yet.
Within hours of its release on Netflix, at least half the bits had already become iconic. From the robot bit to the Street Smarts bit to the bit about a “horse loose in a hospital,” every second of this stand-up special is comedy gold.
As I said, I’ve watched each of Mulaney’s specials— including Kid Gorgeous— upwards of nine or ten times. They have yet to get old. My next goal? Seeing him live. But until then, this kid will be rewatching his Netflix specials over and over again.
- Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! (Premiered July 20)
If any 2018 release received unfair criticism, it’s this one. So many critics and dudebros wrote thinkpieces about how vapid and pointless it is. But it’s fine. I’m sure they feel the same way about all those identical action movies about Bland Badass and his awesome awesomeness.
Obviously, movies like Mamma Mia aren’t cinematic masterpieces. They don’t have to be. Sometimes, a movie can just be fun. And Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! is an absolute blast.
The film actually follows two stories: Sophie and Donna’s. Sophie’s story takes place about five years after the events of the first movie. Donna has passed away, but that doesn’t mean life has stopped on the little Greek island.
The hotel Donna built for years is finally about to have its grand opening. On top of that, Sophie is pregnant with a child of her own. But can she do it all without her mother beside her?
Donna’s story takes place about twenty years before. She meets Harry, Bill, and Sam and finds her way to a certain island off the coast of Greece. It’s the stories from her diary played out on screen for the first time.
So, I didn’t watch Mamma Mia until this year. I don’t know if that lack of attachment influenced my opinion at all, but I genuinely believe the prequel/sequel is better. It has better songs (i.e. “Waterloo,” “Why Did It Have to Be Me?” and “Andante, Andante”) and a more enjoyable story.
Plus, I mean, the sequel has Lily James. I adore Lily James. Her portrayal of Young Donna is so endearing. It really made me fall in love with the character.
Don’t get me wrong. Meryl Streep is fantastic. I just connect more with Young Donna than Original Donna.
This movie also improves on the ABBA covers done in the first one. James’ versions of “Mamma Mia” and “The Name of the Game” are so much more emotional than Streep’s and Seyfried’s respectively. And the iconic “Dancing Queen” scene? Tell me that doesn’t outsell the performance from the original.
Mamma Mia, being a movie adaptation of a stage show, takes itself very seriously. It’s main goal is to bring the musical from the stage to the screen. The sequel is an entirely original story, so it’s able to have more fun.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a story to tell, just that it doesn’t have to be concerned with satisfying both fans of the musical and casual moviegoers. Ultimately, this makes for a better story.
Jukebox musicals are the shit and this one is the cream of the crop. It’s fun and light-hearted, while also telling a moving story. Mamma mia! That’s a good musical!
- Venom (Premiered October 5)
Despite my love of most stereotypical nerdy things, superhero shows and movies have never really been my thing. Sometimes I make exceptions, but they usually just don’t interest me. No idea why, that’s just how I roll.
I never would have watched this movie, if it weren’t for the way moviegoers seemed so pleasantly surprised by it. It doesn’t take itself too seriously or try to follow the Christopher Nolan model of the dark superhero film. It’s able to tell a genuinely interesting story, while also remaining light-hearted. In essence, this is my kind of superhero film.
Eddie Brock and Venom are a hilarious duo, each trying to override the other’s nonsense with nonsense of their own. I had so much fun watching this film and it’s all thanks to their dynamic.
Sure, the story sacrifices character development for a fast-paced plot. But, strangely, it didn’t bother me so much. I was just happy to go along with the ride.
And it’s not like the characters don’t change. It’s that the audience is told about these changes rather than shown them. That’s basically the number one writing no-no. I just can’t bring myself to care.
I don’t care what the critics say. This movie is delightful. It’s not the best-written superhero movie, but it’s refreshing. Everybody wants to go dark. Venom dares to be a buddy-cop movie with a parasitic twist. Er, I mean, a symbiotic twist. This is one movie by which I was happy to be bitten.
- Bohemian Rhapsody (Premiered November 2)
I don’t know if the people who hate this film hate it because they genuinely think it’s bad or because they’ve labeled it “problematic.” Either way, I could not disagree more vehemently.
For those not in the know, Bohemian Rhapsody is a biopic about Freddie Mercury. It delves a lot into the history of Queen, but Mercury is the main focus. Filled to the brim with reenactments of the band’s most iconic performances and a moving glimpse behind the curtain, this movie will make you feel more alive than any other movie released this year.
This movie awakened my inner Queen fan. The performances are brilliant, especially Rami Malek’s. He brought Freddie Mercury back to life for those who lost his light and those who’ve lived their whole lives without it. For two hours and thirteen minutes, the audience gets to experience a Queen concert and be a fly on the wall of Mercury’s life.
I tend to think this film is (mostly) historically accurate, as Brian May (lead guitarist of Queen) was an executive producer on the film. Who better to share the story of Freddie Mercury and Queen than someone who lived it?
As you know, I don’t know much about filmography. But I know plenty about concerts. And every performance scene in this movie felt like attending a concert— the best of your life. Freddie Mercury was such a showman. It makes the sorrow of being born too late to see Queen live with Mercury at the helm far deeper than before. I’m definitely going to go see them on their 2019 tour with Adam Lambert.
Of course, the movie has had its fair share of controversy. From steaming hot takes to a director accused of sexually assaulting minors, there’s a lot for which we can criticize this film. I don’t always agree with the commentary, but I would be remiss if I didn’t address it.
No matter what the critics say (or how scary the superfans are), I still maintain that this is a fantastic movie. The theater I was in agreed, almost everyone breaking out into applause at the end (yes, it was filled with older white people). I believe everyone should see this movie. I laughed, I cried, I was inspired. I felt seen. No matter what, I will not let this film— or this band— go.
- Set It Up (Premiered on Netflix June 15)
This movie follows Harper and Charlie, two harried executive assistants at their wit’s end. Their overly demanding bosses will not give them a second to themselves. So, they hatch a plan: they’ll fix up their bosses. If they’re focused on dating each other, Harper and Charlie will finally have time to pursue their goals.
As they wingman their bosses, Harper and Charlie begin to grow closer. In setting up their workaholic bosses, have they actually set up… each other?
I don’t mean to knock the romcom, but they’re generally not my thing. They hit so many of the same beats, they start to blend together. Set It Up hits many of those same beats, yet still manages to feel refreshing. Harper and Charlie have such great banter and enough chemistry to ooze out of your screen and smother you.
I’m also a little bit biased. I’ve liked Zoey Deutch since Vampire Academy (which wasn’t nearly as bad as everyone made it out to be). It was great to see her in another role, playing a character I may even like more than Rose Hathaway.
For a twentysomething who can’t relate to most of the popular teen romcoms or throwaway theater releases about full grown-ups, this was just the movie I needed. Netflix has had a lot of misses this year, but Set It Up is emphatically a hit. It’s set the movie industry up with a new standard to which it should always aspire.
- A Star is Born (Premiered October 5)
A remake of the 1937 classic (the third, in fact), this film follows southern rock star Jackson Maine and aspiring singer Ally as they fall in love. Jackson struggles with drug abuse and alcoholism throughout the film. Meanwhile, Ally signs a recording contract and becomes a pop star. Essentially, these two are the story.
Yup, I’m ending this post on another controversial choice. It’s not believing this movie is good that’s controversial— no, that’s the general consensus. It’s the fact that I’m listing it as an honorable mention. But I don’t think it belongs on the list proper.
This film is really well done. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper are both incredible and their chemistry is off the charts. The writing and dialogue are fantastic. I just don’t love this movie or its soundtrack as much as everyone else seems to. It’s really good and deserves to win many awards. It just doesn’t cross the line into great for me.
Regardless, 2018’s take on A Star is Born is a wonderful movie. It revamped Gaga’s career and proved how dedicated Cooper is to his craft. I can feel in my bones that it will receive its due come award season. A modern classic was born the day this movie was released.
Do you agree with my list? What were your favorite movies in 2018? Tell me about them in the comments!
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