It’s that time of the year again where the staff at ScreenGeek come together and pick our best and worst of 2018. The list is eclectic with genres ranging all over the place. This year has been a good one for cinema, but it didn’t go by without several awful films along with audiences’ movie meal. Give it a read and see if a favorite of yours ended up as one of our picks.
If you haven’t heard of Upgrade, don’t worry. You aren’t in the minority. The film was a Blumhouse limited-release that hit theaters in June and arrived on Blu-ray/DVD a few months later. You’ve heard of it now, though, and you definitely need to go check it out.
The movie is from Saw‘s Leigh Whannel, and does an amazing job with the limited budget and features a great performance from Logan Marshall-Green (AKA Great Value Tom Hardy). It’s been called the Robocop of this generation, and once it gains more of a cult following than it already has now, I can definitely see that happening. It features plenty of drama, action and gore – making it a movie that many genre fans will appreciate.
If that doesn’t convince you, it also has an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 86% Audience score. The ending also happens to be one of the most surprising in recent memory (like Saw, but only the first one) and overall a must-see movie. – Frank Palmer
Sorry to Bother You
Sorry to Bother You, the first film from director/writer Boots Riley is an explosive, dark comedy following the misadventures of Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield). The world that Riley has created is a cracked mirror version of our own. Cities have similar names, people try to live the same way that they do now, yet the media they consume, their jobs, and the corporations that impact lives are different.
Our story begins with Green interviewing for a job as a telemarketer. He discovers that he has a knack for the work, thanks to the convincing nature of his “white voice.” This leads him on a journey higher into the corporate world and puts him at odds with the life he once had.
The film tackles a dizzying array of social and corporate issues, to the point that some of the messages can be lost in the mix. My only advice is to sit back and capture what messages you can, but don’t let them get in the way of your viewing. Saying anything past this is getting dangerously into spoiler territory, but just be aware that the movie ebbs and flows masterfully in the realm of surrealism and that any ideas you have about the structure of the film early on will be proven wrong.
My favorite film of the year and I hope it’s yours too! – Grey Maixner
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
2018 has been a great year for the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. First, we had his Amazing turn in Avengers: Infinity War in April, then in September he starred in the Spectacular PS4 game of the same name. Lastly, to cap off the year we have the Superior Animated film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse features our young hero, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore). After being bitten by a genetically engineered spider and witnessing the death of his city’s hero, he finds himself with powers he doesn’t understand and a whole lot of great responsibility.
Assisting him on his mission is an assortment of Spider-People from all parts of the Multiverse. The colorful bunch includes Jake Johnson’s hobo Peter B. Parker, Hailee Steinfeld as the super cool Spider-Woman (Spider-Gwen), Nicholas Cage’s Brooding Spider-Man Noir, Kimiko Glenn as Peni Parker, and John Mulaney as the hilarious Spider-Ham.
The film itself is a true love letter to every aspect of the character and possibly the best big-screen Spider-Man film since Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2. It also shows that the world is ready for a new type of Spider-Man. Oh, and be sure to stick around for one of the best post-credit scenes in a long time. – James Hadden
If Beale Street Could Talk
Barry Jenkins made a big wave in 2017 with his Oscar-winning film ‘Moonlight’. The writer/director decided to up the ante when it comes to challenging his filmmaking talent by adapting author James Baldwin’s book, If Beale Street Could Talk.
The film is a strong example of minorities overcoming the hardship in their lives in America and the racial issues that come with it. The performance from Kiki Layne, Regina King, Stephan James, and Brian Tyree Henry, are stellar beyond belief. Jenkins camera work and style of filmmaking proves that he understands the art of film and the way it can have an emotional impact on one’s soul. Yeah, it’s that good. – Mark Salcído
Nicolas Cage is back (well, aside from the 50 other movies he does per year that are usually terrible) with Mandy, and while the movie doesn’t seem to be for everyone – gore and horror fans and Cage enthusiasts such as myself found the movie to be a lot of fun. The movie is a throwback to 80’s horror, and sees Nicolas Cage channeling his inner Jason Voorhees and going on a brutal killing spree.
If anything, with Mandy, you’re guaranteed to get a movie that you’ve never seen before – with what is definitely the most insane Cage movie to date. That has to be worth something, doesn’t it? – Frank Palmer
In the history of rock, there have been a handful of truly great frontmen. Those who combined extraordinary vocal talent with their own unique style and persona, to create a stage presence like no other. Robert Plant comes to mind. David Bowie. Roger Daltrey. Mick Jagger.
But there is one who will forever stand head and shoulders above all others: Freddie Mercury.
It’s hard to put your finger on exactly why he’s the best, but you can’t deny that it’s true. Whether it was his massive range (in both octave and style), his emotional, heart-tugging lyrics, or the confident swagger that seemed to overcome him as soon as he grabbed a microphone, Mercury commanded the stage like no one else, before or since.
Bohemian Rhapsody takes us back to London in the early 70s. We see how young Farrokh Bulsara, the son of Zoroastrian parents who fled war-torn Zanzibar, evolved into the man who would be loved the world over. Farrokh was quiet and shy; adored his mother and feared his father; and dreamed of being someone else. Flamboyant, brilliant, adored. He knew what he wanted, but how would he get there?
As we see in great detail, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. But Freddie’s talent, Mary’s love, and his bandmates’ collaboration and support, bring Mr. Mercury to the stratosphere of rock stardom. Along the way, of course, mistakes are made. And it’s here that Rami Malek shines brightest in his portrayal of this indomitable legend. The giant we all remember so fondly was just a man after all – a man who lied, to himself as much as to others. A man who believed his own hype. A man whose crippling insecurities threatened to destroy everything he had built. A man whose search for love and acceptance led to his own untimely demise.
It’s a beautiful, tragic, hilarious, heartbreaking tale.
Well made in every possible way, this film takes a loving but honest look at the boy who became the man, the man who became the star, the star who became the legend. His personal and professional lives mesh together seamlessly to bring us the extraordinary chronicle of Freddie Mercury. Expect Oscar nominations for best picture, actor, makeup, and costumes.
God save the Queen. – Jennifer Huneycutt
Few films will linger with me for as long as Vox Lux; so brazen in its craftsmanship and ambitious in its takedown of 21st-century culture that it registers a profound impact. While I understand the divide it will cause between audiences, it’s a film that has stuck with me long-past my first viewing.
Perhaps where Vox Lux will divide audiences the most is the film’s use of traumatic events. These sequences are incredibly graphic and harrowing, but their purpose in the film is perhaps even more challenging. Corbet’s connection between these shocking moments and Celeste’s rise to fame is pronounced, raising dark questions about society and our moral decay in favor of the glamour and meaningless aspects of culture we celebrate. Vox Lux’s bold descent into these ideals pays off with one of the year’s most stunning achievements. – Matt Conway
The Favourite follows a sick Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) and the Duchess, Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) during a time of war. Unexpectedly, Abigail (Emma Stone) who previously held a title and fell on hard times, shows up at the castle looking for work. She is the Duchess’s cousin, and after seeing how close she is with the Queen, sees an opportunity to gain back her fortune.
Period pieces are usually all drama and can sometimes be a bit dry. I was on the fence going into this one because of this, but I gave it a shot because I like Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. I had hoped it would deliver on the weirdness that aristocratic entitlement enables as the trailer had promised, and it did not disappoint.
The film makes use of simple camera angles, oddly blunt and awkward dialogue, and surreal situations. From one scene to the next, I couldn’t help but wonder how each scene would play out. I highly recommend this film. – Kelsey Loiselle
The Endless follows two brothers, Aaron (Aaron Moorhead) and Justin (Justin Benson), who venture back to the cult from which they escaped from years before, only to find a deeper horror hidden in the camp.
This film could have easily been the hottest of garbage. The plot is complicated and multi-layered, it encompasses a whole bunch of genres (horror, sci-fi, comedy, family drama), and the team was working on an itty, bitty budget. Yet, somehow, the risk of creating something different and convoluted without the many millions spent on movies these days paid off. The Endless is a fantastic movie that unveils into something crazy and beautiful. Moorhead and Benson are engaging in both direction and acting, helped along by Benson’s clever script and Moorhead’s creative cinematography.
This might not be the “best” movie on the list, but it’s so weird, inventive, and charming that you do yourself a disservice by not giving it a watch. – Sylvia Maixner
Avengers: Infinity War
In cinema, there’s a typical phrase of “less is more” to keep movies from being overloaded and convoluted. Apparently, though, Marvel Studios didn’t get that memo, and it is all in our favor. Avengers: Infinity War was called by many to be the most ambitious crossover event in cinematic history, and it succeeded at every level.
The culmination of over a decade of storytelling throughout over 20 films, Infinity War was an emotional roller coaster, pitting Earth’s Mightiest Heroes against the Mad Titan, Thanos. Nobody saw that ending coming, and it forced fans to rethink everything they thought they knew about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel was able to make a true Oscar-worthy film here, and it’s a movie you can watch over and over. – Vincent Hoover
As someone who watches roughly a hundred movies a year, few films have impacted or moved me like Annihilation. It’s a truly masterful work of narrative and craft that has so many elements to deconstruct and discuss. It not only succeeds at telling an involving sci-fi narrative, but also connects to very authentic human concepts like depression, environmental decay, and self-destruction.
Director and writer Alex Garland continues to prove himself to be among the best working in the industry, creating science fiction that is as involving as it is deep. – Matt Conway
Ant-Man and the Wasp
After such an epic and emotional experience with Infinity War, many people kind of dismissed Ant-Man and the Wasp as just a fun band-aid to help them cope. But, that is where they are wrong. This film, while full of humor and lightheartedness, was a much deeper thread in the MCU than people even realize. Ant-Man seemed like a comic relief style character in the grand scheme of things, but this film not only establishes his importance moving forward but also the impact that the Quantum Realm has in the future.
2018 was a pretty good year for horror, but Hereditary was far and away the best of the spooky bunch. An intense drama about a family struggling with loss, Hereditary begins with highlighting sympathetic characters and situations, then takes the audiences’ feelings of compassion and empathy to fuel intense unease and terror.
Hereditary is a slow burn but uses that time to showcase beautiful prop and set design, subtle (and sometimes totally not subtle) effects, and quiet moments between the cast of characters. Toni Collette as Annie, the mother of the family, is fascinating, simultaneously strong-willed and determined while also falling apart. Really, the whole cast was fantastic, with Milly Shapiro as Charlie was a surprising newcomer who delivered an intense performance.
Scary, smart, and thought-provoking, Hereditary is set to become a horror classic, and for sure, one of the best movies of the year. – Sylvia Maixner
The Hate U Give
The Hate U Givefollows Starr (Amandla Carter), a black American teenage girl, as she navigates the culture she was born into and the differences in her white peers at the higher society high school she attends. After going to a party on the weekend with the people she knows from her neighborhood, she leaves with Khalil (Algee Smith) who is an old friend and is pulled over rather quickly by a cop. Her friend makes a wrong move and is killed, and she now must decide to either be his voice and try to seek justice or let it go and listen to the opinions of her peers who obviously don’t understand.
This film is very important because it displays a common occurrence from the perspective of someone in a minority group that so many others choose to ignore or are blinded to. This lends a level of authenticity that is needed in today’s cinema to reflect current events. This is an emotional ride, as it makes the viewer keep their eyes open and notice things they might normally turn away from. – Kelsey Loiselle
Alfonso Cuarón is a versatile director that goes where the story is and makes it something truly unique. This dude’s style of filmmaking is what sold me on the Harry Potter movies. Roma is one of those films where Cuarón takes a simple story and brings you into the world that fully engages with its characters and settings that are a sight to behold.
Roma’s plot follows Cleo, played by Yalitza Aparicio, as she goes through life-changing events set in early 1970s Mexico City. Like Barry Jenkins’s use of colors in If Beale Street Could Talk, Cuarón’s filmmaking utilizes black and white to show beautiful shot after shot of sceneries and great camera use that makes the viewer fully immersed in the story. The film is on Netflix, but I would highly recommend that it be watched on the big screen to fully appreciate Cuarón’s work and why he’s so celebrated in the filming community. – Mark Salcído
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see a Muppets movie that was R rated? No, me neither. But, that’s what we got with this puppet ‘comedy’ set in the real world. Nothing about this film worked. The plot is the typical, cookie cutter, disgraced cop turned private eye (but with puppets!). The jokes were crude, but not in a funny way.
Instead, it was just a “let’s see how far we can push the envelope because we’re using puppets!” situation. The worst part of all of this? This film was directed by Brian Henson, master puppeteer, and son of the legendary Jim Henson, which makes this debacle of a movie even sadder. – Vincent Hoover
15: 17 To Paris
Clint Eastwood has certainly had an illustrious career in Hollywood, but it’s hard to justify his current film slate with a dud like 15:17 To Paris. While somewhat experimental in its approach of capturing common day lives turned upside down from a terrorist act, the dreadful dialogue and stilted action do little to bring authenticity to this true story. Eastwood’s decision to feature the real-life heroes from the attack is admirable, but it lacks any purpose and proves detrimental to the overall acting of the film.
It’s clear from watching 15:17 To Paris that Clint has seen better days. – Matt Conway
I honestly completely forgot this movie had came out. The movie starred a bunch of bad actors and actress to be chased down by a poorly made CGI monster based off a stupid Reddit thread. There’s more to the plot than that.
The film was bad all around. A steamy pile of hot garbage was placed on film and unfortunately was released in theater which should’ve gotten a SyFy channel premiere at best. The film couldn’t be taken seriously even if it tried and the ending was seen coming like the brightness of a lighthouse on a clear night. This is one of those films that couldn’t even be enjoyed if one were to turn it into a drinking game. F*^k this movie. – Mark Salcído
The film follows Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) as he falls from grace after stealing information about Life Foundation from his fiancée’s laptop and wrote an article about it. His fiancée, Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), leaves him and he begins his downward spiral. Dr. Skirth (Jenny Slate) becomes uncomfortable with the way the company is handling its experiments and reaches out to Eddie to ask him to write another article with new information she can give him. He follows her to the lab and this is where he picks up the symbiote.
If a symbiote could choose a movie to be its host, this movie would die a certain death as the symbiote tears it apart from the inside. The camera-work was amateurish and the dialogue was forced. If you want to see Tom Hardy fight with the voice inside his head and actually see some clever camera-work and a well-produced movie that doesn’t take itself seriously, watch Upgrade.
Yeah, I know it’s not Tom Hardy in the film. It’s Great-Value Tom Hardy. It is a sacrifice of minutes of my life to tell you about this awful film (for what it’s worth, some enjoyed it), but I do it to save you wonderful people. You’re welcome. – Kelsey Loiselle
Mary Poppins Returns
I’ll be honest with the reader. I’m not a fan of the 1964 Mary Poppins. The film never interested me growing up, but I understood the culture and nostalgia significance the film has. I did, however, finally, watch the ‘64 movie in order to prep myself for 2018’s Mary Poppins Returns starring Emily Blunt. That movie was garbage.
I honestly don’t know what Disney was trying to do with this film other than making it another cash grab. I get the love for the first one. It was very imaginative, some of the tunes were catchy, and it played with the idea that Mary Poppins was truly magical. The sequel is just a shell of its former self, that’s over bloated with musical numbers that are borderline annoying. The film wasn’t fun to watch, and I kept checking the time to find out when this nightmare would end.
The only thing good was Lin Manuel’s performance and the film didn’t make Emily Blunt look incompetent. They did try their best to sell this dead horse before it could reach the finish line. – Mark Salcído
The trailer for Drew Pearce’s Hotel Artemis looked like an interesting concept—a film set in an exclusive hospital for criminals which finds itself under siege from a ruthless crime boss. Unfortunately, the film we got did nothing with this concept and instead seemed to accomplish very little in its 94-minute runtime.
The preview promised to us a stylish action film akin to what we had recently seen in John Wick, complete with mysterious organizations and charismatic assassins. Whilst it could be argued that this is what was delivered. Its slow pace meant it felt as though what should have been the film’s opening act was actually stretched out to its entire runtime.
This is disappointing as the film boasts an incredibly talented cast including Jodie Foster, Jeff Goldblum, Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella and Charlie Day. Despite their admirable performances, it all feels like a waste of their potential. Overall it felt as though Hotel Artemis warranted an early checkout! – James Hadden
I considered putting this one on the list as the worst, but that’s not the case. It wasn’t a bad movie – up until the third act, where it completely falls apart. We’re not sure that’s really on Shane Black, as it looks like FOX chopped the movie to pieces, but whatever the case may be, The Predator had a serious case of editing issues.
Another year to put in the ever growing cinema world. Is there something on the list that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!