It’s a tradition for websites like ours to publish “Best of” lists at the end of the year. Some years we even get around to actually doing it in the final month of that year. Well, not this time, but, we’ve got lots of options for your perusal. For instance, you can listen to the free three-part party-podcast The Gathering as we all pick our favorite things from the year. Or you can hear Justin Zarian and his crew pick out their year’s best on the three ‘Best of the Rest’ episodes of Eye on the Prize. Or you can even wait for our upcoming video with everyone on the site getting to mug for the camera and narrow it down to only three choices apiece. But these are the results of our grand poll from our entire crew for our favorite movies by genre and other superfluous but entertaining categories…
BEST OSCAR-Y MOVIE
You know. The stuff that crowds every OTHER critic websites ‘best of’ lists. You’re hearing these answers over and over right now, and you’ll hear them one last time on our site. However, our sizable crew had a lot of trouble narrowing down a top pick. I think its representative of what a crapshoot this year’s Oscar wins will be that there were so many different answers. We had a varied list of possible contenders, with the complicated story of faith that was Paul ‘yes I made The Canyons’ Schrader’s First Reformed coming in second. However, the winner by one vote was Yorgos ‘I can’t believe I might win an Oscar this year’ Lanthimos’ The Favourite, a twisted, intellectually stimulating and surprisingly funny movie about a battle between two women vying to become the court favourite to the Queen of England. It’s Lanthimos’s most audience-friendly film by a long-shot, but there’s still plenty of bizarre moments to remind you whose fingerprints are all over this.
BEST HORROR MOVIE
Despite Vogue’s over-discussed (admittedly due to the amount of outrage) article, 2018 was an excellent year for horror films and we got several picks from our crew including the John Krasinski-led/directed A Quiet Place, the mind-twisty secret-sequel The Endless, and the kinda-sorta Castle Wolfenstein-ish Overlord. Second place was firmly choke-held by Nic Cage in the bizarre and bloody Mandy. Overwhelmingly though, we chose the art-house psychological horror of Hereditary. Featuring one of the most shocking sequences in any movie this year, it managed to overcome its divisive public response to impress our crew.
BEST SUPERHERO MOVIE
While Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse got no small amount of support for this category (some even considering it the ‘best super-hero movie ever’), Avengers: Infinity War won the day. While Spider-Man definitely raised the bar for animated superhero cinema, Avengers was an inconceivable triumph that Marvel managed to pull off as part of a decade-long game plan. The penultimate culmination of nineteen films worth of story, Marvel stuck the landing in a way that mixed seamless action sequences, tightly-written and funny dialogue, and eye-moistening pathos that moved both hardcore comic fans and general audiences alike.
BEST ACTION MOVIE
This category really came down to three main options that got a lot of votes and all three would have been acceptable wins. Coming in third was the Indonesian martial arts/heroic bloodshed/WTF film The Night Comes For Us. Strongly elevated by hyperbolic online praise (I like to think we were in some small way help with that), the Netflix release gave many people who wouldn’t normally flock to these sorts of films their first taste of Indonesian action. Our number two pick went to James Wan’s buddy Leigh Whannell with his sci-fi/action/horror/mindfuck of a film Upgrade, or as everyone around here called it, the movie you see so you don’t have to see Venom. But taking the #1 spot with a billion bullets was Mission Impossible: Fallout. Cruise has turned the franchise from meh to marvelous, with each new entry becoming more intense and entertaining than the last. We only hope, as does everyone, that these movies don’t become the death of him.
BEST COMEDY MOVIE
There were a lot of single votes for films that fell into other spots on our lists because they were hard to define as ‘comedy,’ ‘drama’ or even just ‘WTF.’ Boots Riley’s directorial debut Sorry to Bother You was in a tie for second place (more on that later) with the ensemble comedy that we feel was very unfairly maligned by a lot of the rest of the reviewing press, Tag. But with a decisive winning move, Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams being adorable together in the wacky action-comedy Game Night scored the biggest laughs with our crew!
BEST ANIMATED MOVIE
Our list of single-picks for this category included Incredibles 2, Teen Titans Go! To The Movies, Isle of Dogs, and Ralph Breaks the Internet. However, that just makes me think that those voters must not have yet gone to see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which by far led in any category here with the most votes. Lord and Miller have been involved in many a game-changing film, and more than one of them being animated films. Spider-Man, though, elevated the form in a way no one was predicting. Boasting startlingly inventive animation techniques, tightly written characters, a bizarre but not confusing plot, and enough deep-cut spider-references to make long-time fans of the mythology go SQUEE for almost two hours, there was no question this was the best-animated movie of 2018.
BEST ANIME MOVIE
With no double votes for any but one (and with next to no knowledge by this writer of those other titles), it’s hard to come up with commentary on our choices, but it sounds like the films My Hero Academia: Two Heroes, Bunguo Stray Dogs: Dead Apple, and Maquia: Where the Promised Flower Blooms are all going to be worth chasing down for a look. The one most of us DID see (hell, even me) was the Japanese fantasy Mirai by Mamoru Hosoda, who topped a lot of animation lists in 2006 as well with The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. The story of a young boy who feels slighted by the appearance of a new baby sister and his time-displaced meetings with his family (and himself) drew a lot of rave reviews from critics and will continue to earn praise on our site.
BEST MOVIE NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE ARE WATCHING
I guess this category depends on how you define the question. We got some picks for films that, when you live in a film criticism bubble, seems like everyone is talking about anyway, like Upgrade, Blindspotting, The Old Man & The Gun, and First Reformed. But let me draw your attention to some choices like the Veronica-Mars-ish A Simple Favor, or the stealthily subversive horror-drama Cam. Perhaps you missed the twisty and interesting Reitman directed/Theron starring Tully early this year? Or the stylish ensemble actioner Hotel Artemis? I can definitely vouch for Netflix’s indie doc Shirkers which surprises and delights. I know I’ve heard more than a few critics bemoan that the comedy-drama Private Life with Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn isn’t getting anywhere near the love it deserves. There was no clear winner in this category, but it goes to show that there were a lot of movies that people need to give more attention to.
BEST FILM PERFORMANCE
There were quite a few options this year, and a lot of single-votes for stand-out roles like Christian Bale’s Dick Cheney in Vice, Regina King’s compassionate but take-no-shit mom in If Beale Street Could Talk, Joaquim Phoenix’s solemn hitman in You Were Never Really Here, and Viggo Mortensen’s Italian ‘fixer’ in Green Book. Ultimately, there was a tie for the win between Ethan Hawke’s morally troubled minister in First Reformed and for Toni Collette’s terrifying turn in Hereditary. Both terrific performances that should merit Oscar attention and should be seen by anyone who enjoys the craft of acting.
Coming up next is our TV awards…stay tuned.