This is my final 2018 Year End List. This one is really annoying as so many good 2017 US films got released in the UK in early 2018. But it’s a huge pain in the ass to try to adjust this list each year according to the US release dates so, once again, I’ve based this list on the UK cinema release dates.
It was an okay year for films but pretty disappointing overall. I certainly won’t have any all-time favorites from 2018 (although I think number 1 was entertaining as hell, number 2 was pretty damn fantastic & number 3 was certainly unique).
So here are My Top Ten 2018 Movie Releases (based on UK release date). Oh, and I saw a shitload so I’ll actually count down from 30. I’ve listed the rest I’ve seen at the end…
I’ll do one more post sometime next week with my 2019 Blind Spot Choices. I’m then going to take a bit of a blog break (but I’ll catch up on replying to comments first!). Sorry I’ve fallen behind on that again.
I seriously thought I’d quit this blogging thing once I hit my five year anniversary. Well, shit – I’m still lingering a year later. Sorry – I think you’re stuck with me! I enjoy this online movie diary. I may not post as many full-length reviews anymore but I’m obsessed with keeping lists so I’ll continue my monthly roundup posts.
As it’s so close to the end of the year, I’ll do what I always do for my anniversary posts & just do a short roundup of my favorite things I’ve watched & read so far this year. That means lists! So here are My Top Tens for 2018 so far (and likely to change order by the end of the year as I’m totally indecisive).
My Top Ten Books (& Short Stories) Read This Year:
A quick comment on the ones I’ve just finished & not yet reviewed: I really enjoyed Bird Box by Josh Malerman. It has been made into a Netflix movie starring Sandra Bullock but the trailer looks rubbish (it looks like too much has been changed). I recommend the book to horror fans, especially if you liked A Quiet Place. And I got a nice surprise as the UK version of the book has a bonus story called Ghastle And Yule. I loved this!! If you’re a lover of films, and especially if you’re a lover of classic horror films & filmmaking, I highly recommend finding a copy of this story about two rival horror filmmakers. I loved it so much that I tweeted the author & got a nice reply. It’s great having these kind of exchanges with authors, filmmakers & actors whose work you appreciate.
A quick comment on these: I’m clearly enjoying exploring more anime as so many are in my top ten (I’ve watched loads of movies this year – the full list is HERE). And I certainly didn’t expect a martial arts film to easily be my number one so far (Bruce Lee kicks ass!). I’ll say that the Blind Spot project is worth doing each year as most of them end up being in my top ten. So far, my top three are all Blind Spot choices of mine.
A quick comment on these: I always go by UK release date so I, Tonya makes this list. It’s still my favorite, although I wouldn’t say it’s the “best” film on the list. I’ve just always been fascinated by the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan story and the movie was entertaining as hell. Plus I love dark comedy/drama. “Best” film is probably A Star Is Born. Cooper & Gaga are brilliant. Not sure if it’ll stay in second place, though. Straight drama isn’t really my thing and I probably enjoyed some others on this list a bit more. I do have the urge to move Mandy way up the list but I’m not sure why. I’m not sure if I even liked it all that much! But it’s weird and trippy and crazy as shit and looks good and sounds good and is maybe a little bit pretentious. It’s so my type of thing.
Thanks to everyone who still reads my occasional posts and my annoying lists. I do appreciate it!
I usually end these posts with a music clip so I’ll go with Daft Punk’s Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger from the thoroughly entertaining anime Interstella 5555: The 5tory Of The 5ecret 5tar 5ystem:
I didn’t manage to see many movies in the cinema in March and most that I watched at home were meh. But I did love I, Tonya! And Ready Player One was fun. I’ll do mini-reviews below for the ones I haven’t reviewed yet…
• Personal Shopper – I liked this although it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I’m not a fan of Kristen Stewart so wasn’t planning on watching this until reading that it had a supernatural twist. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A personal shopper in Paris refuses to leave the city until she makes contact with her twin brother who previously died there. Her life becomes more complicated when a mysterious person contacts her via text message.” It’s an odd mix of mystery, supernatural, indie, and Kristen Stewart nudity. Not as supernatural as I was hoping but a decent story that kept me interested. – 7/10
• Hidden Figures – Finally catching up on more of last year’s Oscar nominees! This is a fantastic story that I fully admit to knowing nothing about before the movie was made. It’s the type of movie I wish there was more of now that my kid is the right sort of age for these things: inspirational people & true stories in a family-friendly format. However, it still comes across as a little bit too much of a phony feelgood Hollywood movie. The story is important & I’m glad that more is now known about these women. Even though the whole “running miles to the segregated bathroom each day” was mostly bullshit. The three main performances were strong (I especially liked Janelle Monáe – I’d like to see her in more films). It’s worth watching, especially with your kids. But be sure to look into the real women as well since, to be expected, Hollywood changed things and amalgamated characters to make more drama than actually existed within the NASA environment. – 7/10
• The Seven Year Itch – I decided to check out more of Billy Wilder & Marilyn Monroe after thoroughly enjoying Some Like It Hot (my mini-review is HERE). The Seven Year Itch hasn’t aged nearly as well. I know it was a different time & I always keep this in mind when watching older films but this one really feels out of place now with the “all men are simple idiots who can’t help themselves around beautiful women” trope. But I do think Monroe was truly iconic and, although her naïve sexy blonde thing also feels out of place today, there’s no denying a certain likability there despite what I suspect was an ability to only play one type of character (but I know I need to watch more than just two of her movies to see if that was the case). Monroe is the true star of this film while the “tempted male” (Tom Ewell), who talks outloud to himself through the whole film, is quite annoying. I do wonder if I’d feel this way if he’d been played by someone like Jack Lemmon, who may have made the character much more likable & funny. Thanks to Wilder there’s still some sharp writing, though, and it’s worth watching for some very iconic Monroe scenes (including the one with the famous white dress being blown up by the subway grate). What’s interesting is that the scene is nothing like the pictures you’ve seen where you see all of her: you only see shots of her legs & her face separately. Sadly, I read this bit of trivia at IMDb, which adds a terrible twist to that scene: “Not without a distinct ring of irony, the nine-month Marilyn Monroe-Joe DiMaggio marriage officially ended during this shoot. DiMaggio was furious about the filming of the scene where his wife’s dress blows up, and the next day, Monroe reportedly required make-up to cover up bruises from the ensuing domestic fight. Three weeks later, she filed for divorce.” Horrible. But I think it’s well known that, despite being one of the most famous sex symbols of all time, it didn’t bring Monroe much happiness. – 7/10
• Tickled – This is a documentary investigating a bizarre practice called “Competitive Endurance Tickling”. The filmmaker, David Farrier, discovered videos online of late teen/twentysomething males tickling tied-up males. It seemed strange but fairly innocent until he decided to look into things further for his documentary. The story takes a very sinister turn when he discovers that these young men were blackmailed and threatened over the videos. He then starts receiving very disturbing threats as he gets deeper into the story and the true indentity of the person behind the videos & harassment. This is certainly one of the more odd & intriguing documentaries I’ve seen & I do recommend it if you like a weird story. It reminded me a bit of Catfish (2010) in that both are so unbelievable that they almost feel staged. But I don’t think this was – it just needs to be seen to be believed. (This probably deserves a higher rating but I’m not a huge fan of documentaries & tend to rate them lower). – 6.5/10
• Teen Witch – Hahaha! Oh. Wow. This is BAD. I’m not sure how I managed to miss out on a teen movie back in 1989 but, for some reason, this one passed me by. I’m giving it a decent rating, however, as it’s so bad that it almost achieves that “so bad it’s good” status. Not in a Road House kind of way (which is so bad it’s AWESOME) but the many silly bits are quite entertaining. It’s hard to pick a favorite part but the “I Like Boys” dance routine in the locker room was pretty fucking hilarious – I’ve put that video at the end of this post if you want a laugh. And if you like 80’s cheese, you should definitely watch Teen Witch. To be fair, I think it knows it’s cheesy… – 6/10
• Table 19 – I didn’t know beforehand who’d written this story (Mark & Jay Duplass). Ugh, those mumblecore guys. I’m not really a fan of that subgenre. But Table 19 isn’t a mumblecore film, FYI (though I’m not sure why since it mostly fits the definition – maybe it’s excluded since some stuff actually happens in this movie). Here’s the Wikipedia definition if you don’t know what I’m talking about & link to list of films: “Mumblecore is a subgenre of independent film characterized by naturalistic acting and dialogue (often improvised), low-budget film production, an emphasis on dialogue over plot, and a focus on the personal relationships of people in their 20s and 30s.” Looking at that, though, I see that I do like some of the mumblegore movies (mumblecore in the horror genre). Mostly the Ti West films such as The House Of The Devil but I can definitely see how those got the mumblegore label. Who wants to watch millennials sitting around & whining about their lives for two hours while never actually doing anything?! I just realized what mumblecore is… It’s all those whiny bitches I try to avoid on social media! No thanks. Oops – I’m meant to be talking about Table 19. It’s borderline mumblecore and it did take me a while to get into it but I liked that it went in a direction I wasn’t expecting. It gets more serious than it first seems it’s going to be and I ended up not hating Anna Kendrick like you may at first because of her behavior at the beginning. It’s an okay film but just be aware of the writers beforehand and know that you’re not going to be getting too much of a plot. Wow – I really doubt I’ve talked anyone into watching this. It’s not bad. It’s an interesting assortment of characters and I ended up liking those played by Kendrick, Stephen Merchant & especially June Squibb. – 6/10
• Free Fire – This was my first Ben Wheatley film and… Meh. It looks like some of his other films are considered mumblegore so I guess that tells me that I may not be a fan. I thought the story and characters were okay but it’s really just Tarantino-light. It’s a boring version of Reservoir Dogs without the witty banter. The hubby hated it & fell asleep after moaning about the terrible editing or something (I don’t notice that sort of thing) but I kept watching as it kept me slightly interested. But only slightly. Maybe Wheatley’s other (non-mumble) movies are better? – 6/10
• The Levelling – I saw a review really praising this when it came out last year & liked the sound of if. IMDb synopsis: “Somerset, October 2014. When Clover Catto (Ellie Kendrick) receives a call telling her that her younger brother Harry (Joe Blakemore) is dead, she must return to her family farm and face the man she hasn’t spoken to in years: her father Aubrey (David Troughton).” Boring indie drama. Complete waste of my time although I suppose there were some okay performances. Sorry – this just isn’t my type of thing at all but it may work for others who enjoy dark & dreary dramas in which very little happens. And it’s so grey & wet & rainy & muddy – I get enough of that in real-life England. Screw that. – 5/10
• It Comes At Night – Another 2017 movie that I was wanting to see ASAP due to its rave reviews at the time. WTF?! I was bored out of my damn mind! I’m starting to truly believe that IMDb is being filled with fake reviews written by the studios. This has a 78 out of 100 metascore?! Fuck off! Nothing happens in this but, to be fair, there’s more of a plot than the mumblegore stuff. The performances are good, especially from Joel Edgerton’s son in the movie (Kelvin Harrison Jr). But. But. Ugh. I don’t know. If someone here did like this, I’d genuinely be interested to hear why. Because maybe I’m missing something since, for a horror, it has a decent IMDb user rating as well (6.2). I’m really annoyed with the shitty movies I wasted time on in March. I have too many other things to do. – 4.5/10
• Demolition Man – Wow. This movie is absolutely dreadful. Like Teen Witch, this one passed me by for some reason even though I was just out of high school & watching this kind of crap. I’m actually shocked at how bad it is. Not “so bad it’s good”. Just plain BAD. I thought I’d finally be watching some kick ass 90’s action flick like Speed or something (a good Sandra Bullock movie!). I had no idea this was a cheesy “comedy”. Not gonna lie, though – I fell asleep. I saw maybe 40 minutes. In five years of blogging, I’ve forced myself to finish every movie I watch no matter how shitty. No more! I don’t have the time. This movie broke me. I can’t continue. I just can’t. – Not Rated As I Refuse To Finish It
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)
• Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve – This book was pretty great! I’d never ever heard of this series until seeing the movie adaptation listed on IMDb, currently scheduled for a December 2018 release. Here’s the synopsis: “Many years after the “Sixty Minute War,” cities survive a now desolate Earth by moving around on giant wheels attacking and devouring smaller towns to replenish their resources.” Cities on wheels “eating” smaller cities. That’s nuts! I love the concept. And in this first book, the focus is on the city of London. The movie appears to have Peter Jackson involvement and will be directed by someone who did the visual effects for a lot of his films (Christian Rivers). I’m really looking forward to the movie. If done right, it could be great. As for the book, I’ll try to do a separate full review of it before the movie. It’s a “kids book” but aimed at the same sort of age range as Harry Potter. It’s one of the more entertaining books I’ve read in a while. – 4/5
• Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – The movie adaptation of this (Love, Simon) comes out in UK cinemas this Friday. This is a YA book (yeah, I do like YA books) and it’s one of the better ones I’ve read in this genre in the past few years. I’m not normally one for YA “romance” (give me the apocalyptic stuff!) but this one was done well and I really bought into this relationship. In the book, Simon is a gay high school student who connects with then starts an anonymous online relationship with another student at his school. I’ve never wanted a couple to get together so bad! The boy Simon talks to is extremely protective of his identity and Simon struggles with this as he wants to meet the boy he’s fallen in love with. I was like “Tell him who you are!!” (you, the reader, aren’t aware of his identity either). Beyond that, there’s not much to say about this book as it’s a fairly typical YA romance. But it’s a good one. I can’t wait to see the movie, which has had excellent reviews. I’ve even heard rumors of it having a John Hughes vibe?! Sounds good to me! – 4/5
• Every Day by David Levithan – Again, this is a book that I read because, like Mortal Engines, I loved the original concept. It’s hard to find stories that feel unique. And, again, it’s a YA romance (Ugh. Sorry!). Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “Each morning, A wakes up in a different body. There’s never any warning about who it will be, but A is used to that. Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. And that’s fine – until A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with – every day . . .” The story does feel truly original and I really appreciated that. However, I just didn’t quite connect with the characters. A, who switches bodies every single day, was very interesting as you get some insight into the mind of someone who doesn’t define themselves by their body, gender, family, friends, etc. since these things change every single day. As I said, it’s a great concept but the book is just okay. I didn’t find myself caring as much about these characters as I’d have liked. This also has a movie adaptation coming out this month, but the reviews are meh. I’ll still watch it to see how they handle the story, though. – 3/5
Annnnnd…. I’m still in the middle of Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & Owen King. I’ll finish it someday!
TV SHOWS WATCHED (ranked best to worst)
• Grey’s Anatomy – It’s shit.
• The Walking Dead – It’s even more shit than Grey’s Anatomy.
I seriously need to get back onto the Black Mirrors. Or find some reruns of The Golden Girls or something! TV sucks now.
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Again, not much! I just plan to review my monthly Blind Spot movie (Citizen Kane or Enter The Dragon) & any films I see in the cinema.
Upcoming Movies I Want To See:
• A Quiet Place – Ohhh – a horror movie with excellent reviews?! I’m super excited for this & will try to go to it this weekend. However, It Comes At Night also had great reviews & it was shit. So who knows! Horror is very subjective.
• Love, Simon – Definitely going to this as well as I really enjoyed the book.
• Thoroughbreds – This looks interesting. Kind of Heathers-like maybe?? (But of course nothing can top that). May try to catch this one and try to not be upset at yet again seeing Anton Yelchin in a movie (RIP – I really liked him).
• I Kill Giants – Liked the sound of this but some are saying it’s too similar to and not nearly as good as A Monster Calls.
• Ghost Stories – Supernatural short stories?? SO my type of thing! But since reviews are now meh, I may wait for Netflix.
• Wonderstruck – Based on a book by the same guy who wrote Hugo, which I loved as a movie. Wondering if it’s a good family movie to take the kid to…
• Tully – Diablo Cody & Jason Reitman? I’m, like, the exact target audience for this. I’m very likely to check this out. I loved Juno.
• Every Day – As I said above, the book is okay but the movie has meh reviews so far. I’ll watch it but may wait for Netflix.
• Wildling – What IS this?! Another horror movie with fantastic reviews?!?! Liv Tyler & Brad Dourif????? I’m extremely curious about this one!
• Avengers: Infinity War – Yeah. I’ll go to it. Of course. But I’m bored with superheroes. I’ll mainly be watching it for sexy Thor and all the Guardians Of The Galaxy characters! THOSE I love.
Will Wait To Watch On Netflix If I Can Be Arsed With These:
The Hurricane Heist, Rampage, Truth Or Dare, The Titan, The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society
Now, here’s a small taste of what you’ll experience if you ever watch Teen Witch: 😉
Starring: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Julianne Nicholson, Bobby Cannavale, Mckenna Grace
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future in the activity is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband intervenes.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I’m still contemplating putting it as my number one movie of those released in the UK this year. I do think Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri & The Shape Of Water are better “films” but, to be honest, I probably “liked” I, Tonya more. It’s a shame it wasn’t up for Best Picture as it’s certainly much better than Get Out and probably even Lady Bird. I know I liked it more than Darkest Hour, although that was very good. I’ve not seen the other Best Picture nominees, FYI. Oh well – at least the Academy recognized Margot Robbie & Allison Janney. They were absolutely fantastic! I was rooting for Robbie to win as well as Janney.
For any non-Americans who aren’t around the same sort of age as me (not much younger than Harding now), you may not realize what a huge story the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan thing was at the time. It was insane! Perfect tabloid fodder. I’m not a big “news” person and I’m not at all into tabloids but I lapped that damn story up. And it was weird how it all turned into a “Poor Tonya” thing in the media (after Kerrigan’s personality came across as thoroughly unlikable). As Robbie’s Harding said in this movie, Kerrigan won a silver medal and looked like she’d just stepped in poo (or something like that). Okay, I admit to being Team Tonya instead of Team Nancy. But, hey, that’s the most I’ve ever watched of the Olympics! In the end, though, I was definitely Team Oksana Baiul. She was far more graceful on the ice and seemed really sweet. She deserved that gold medal and I was happy she won. (Seriously – these are three of the only athletes I can even name….).
Back to the movie! I have no idea how factual it is. Did Harding really not know about the planned attack? Maybe not. Probably not. But Robbie was brilliant as Harding! Especially at the end, when she learns her consequences for the attack. If this movie was made to make us sympathetic to Harding, I’d say it worked. Was her mom really that much of a bitch?! Holy hell! Janney was hateful (but funny) as fuck. I suppose it annoys some people, just like when this incident happened, that a lot of people seem to be on Harding’s side in this whole thing. I do think it’s sad that her career was ruined because of it and that this incident will be with her forever. Instead of being known for skating, she’s known for the attack and the whole media circus. It will follow her until the day she dies (same for Kerrigan). Oh, and I think Sebastian Stan deserves a mention as Harding’s abusive hubby Jeff Gillooly. He’s overshadowed by Janney & Robbie but he was so good I kept forgetting it was him – he was almost unrecognizable. He possibly became his character even more than his co-stars. Subtle is good too. Oh! And that cute little girl from Gifted (Mckenna Grace) briefly plays Harding at a young age. She’s also very good. An actress to keep an eye on.
Obviously, I enjoyed this film a lot but I’ve always been very interested in this story. I don’t think you need to know anything about the true story to enjoy this, though. It’s a very well-written film and the dark humor was done perfectly. The mockumentary style suits this crazy tabloid incident and the main performances are all Oscar-worthy. Honestly, I’m confused as to why this didn’t get a Best Picture nomination? Three Billboards also has the same sort of blend of dark humor, serious drama, and great acting that I, Tonya does. Oh well – I highly recommend this movie to anyone, especially film-loving bloggers who haven’t seen it yet.