Pillbox

The Best and Worst Movies of 2018

Credit: Anna Boyle/Visual Editor Credit: Anna Boyle/Visual Editor

Top 5 of 2018:
Roma, directed by Alfonso Cuaron - 10/10
This film is one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time. It’s a beautiful, neorealist masterpiece. Set in Mexico during the 1970s, it follows the life of a maid in a middle-class family over the course of the year. Cuaron’s style is perfect for the simple, “slice of life” style of story. He communicates the character’s struggles through the environment, with the camera keenly observing every detail in the frame. Practically every detail, performance, and technical aspect are on point. There is so much effort put in everything, right down to the fully immersive sound design. This is clearly a passion project for Cuaron and it shows. It is easily the best film of the year, and it’s also on Netflix, so there is zero reason to not check it out.

First Reformed, directed by Paul Schrader - 10/10
From the writer of Taxi Driver comes another carefully paced, methodical, dark character study about a religious man slowly going down the path of extremism. The film barely has any camera movement. It presents itself with a 4:3 aspect ratio and it is filmed with mostly still shots to create a sense of how trapped the main character feels. Ethan Hawke gives his best performances ever, and it’s extremely subtle and makes you feel for his character. If you like dark character dramas that tackle heady themes like religious and political corruption, then check this film out.

Hereditary, directed by Ari Aster - 10/10
This film is messed up. If you cannot stomach psychological horror or disturbing films, don’t watch this film. For anyone else who is interested in that, this is a really effective horror film about a family slowly going insane after a few tragedies. It is an excellent exploration of the toll grief and mental illness have on a family. There are zero jump scares, and all the horror is derived from atmosphere, tension, and dread. This is one of the best horror films in a long time, and if you’re a fan of the genre, watch this as soon as possible.

The Favourite, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos - 9/10
Yorgos Lanthimos is now one of the best new directors working today, with his previous films The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer making my top ten in their respective years. His latest film is the best of the bunch. It’s a historical comedy about two women playing mind games with the Queen to win her favor. The comedy is unconventional, filled with pans, fisheye lens shots, snappy dialogue, and quirky performances. This was a highly entertaining, beautiful, and fascinating film, and I would recommend this to anyone who wants an interesting period piece to watch.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse, directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman - 9/10
Now here is a film I didn’t expect to even crack my top ten, let alone my top five. But yet, Into the Spider-verse blew my expectations and hype out of the water with one of the best animated films of recent memory. It’s easily the best Spider-Man film that has been made, with an unparalleled understanding of the character that does so in an original and interesting way. Pretty much all the visual humor and dialogue had me in stitches. The story had a lot of stakes and danger to it, with the villains having a very threatening presence. The multiple Spider-people were all fantastic, and their dynamic was really fun to watch. Aside from two musical choices during some sad scenes, the music choices were all fantastic. It’s just a fun, entertaining, and well-rounded film overall that can be enjoyed by anyone.

Honorable mentions: Annihilation, Eighth Grade, If Beale Street Could Talk, Shoplifters, Suspiria, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, The Death of Stalin, Sorry to Bother You, Paddington 2, Free Solo

Bottom 5 of 2018
A Wrinkle in Time, directed by Ava Duvernay - 1/10
Good god. This film was like watching money burn. It’s an embarrassing contribution to the U.S. GDP, and I can’t believe I paid money to watch this in a theater. Did Disney just think that they could hire someone who hasn’t read a beloved book and never made an adventure/sci-fi film before to churn out this piece of garbage? Everything about this was wrong. The child actors made me want to gouge my eyes out. The visual effects were cheap. The film just felt lazy, like there was no effort put into it. This is one of the worst big budget films I’ve ever seen, and I’d recommend this to film teachers to show their students how not to make a film.

Robin Hood, directed by Otto Bathurst - 1/10
I mentioned this in a previous review already. I had snuck into this film after watching Creed II, and left after half an hour because it was so gloriously awful. This was one of those films that makes me question Hollywood and the executives who greenlight these productions. The industry is already making less money than normal. How about they greenlight something good and original that people would actually want to watch instead of these half-baked remakes?

Insidious: The Last Key, directed by Adam Robitel - 1/10
Anyone who found this film scary must also find paint drying to be a visceral experience. There isn’t much to say about this film. It’s not scary. It’s not funny. It’s not tense. It’s not disturbing. It’s just not horror. I hope this is the last film in this lame franchise.

Death Wish, directed by Eli Roth - 1/10
Eli Roth is a hack, and he is only good when Tarantino is directing him. He tries to emulate Tarantino’s style to a certain degree, but it never works because he has zero talent. Also, has Bruce Willis given up on trying to act? It seems like he just does movies nowadays to show that he still exists. Gone are the days of Die Hard, Pulp Fiction, and Unbreakable, where he used to actually emote and care about the films he did. On top of that, the film is so tone deaf. It doesn’t know whether it wants to be an homage to pulpy thrillers from the 70s or whether it wants to be a social statement about modern violence. Normally this wouldn’t matter, but it tries, for some odd reason, to be both and it fails completely. I’m ashamed that I watched this.

Fifty Shades Freed, directed by James Foley - 1/10
While we are on the subject of being ashamed, I watched this piece of garbage too. This is the antithesis of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. While that trilogy is pretty much perfect and will be remembered for how amazing it is, this trilogy is the exact opposite, where every entry is a disaster. Each sequel is 100 times worse than the previous one, which makes Fifty Shades Freed 10000 times worse than the first one. This is not an exaggeration. Nothing happens in this film. The characters fight. They engage in bland intercourse. Then they go to another location. There is some kidnapping subplot in there somewhere. There’s a car chase that’s basically Audi product placement. Worst of all, this film portrays a really dangerous and unhealthy relationship with no redeemable characters. It actually angers me how badly the relationship is portrayed. It’s not just that the characters have no chemistry. It's an abusive relationship and the film portrays it like a fairy tale, and it's unhealthy and insulting. Anyone who finds that stimulating frankly needs to see a therapist. Thank god this trilogy is over, and we all should celebrate its end.

Dishonorable mentions: 15:17 to Paris, Unfriended: Dark Web, Skyscraper, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, The Meg, Pacific Rim: Uprising, Cloverfield Paradox, Mute, Truth or Dare, Venom