Comet’s Top 10 Movies of 2018

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Comet’s Top 10 Movies of 2018

Jakob Decker, Staff

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It’s January, that special time of year that film critics affectionately refer to as “dump month”. It earns its name by being regularly considered to be the worst month for movies every calendar year; January has the smallest audiences, so studios put out their lowest-effort films and save their moneymakers for spring and summer. Considering that theaters are currently in this January slump, movie-going audiences are more likely to stay home and rent a movie, so the Comet staff has collectively voted to determine 2018’s ten sharpest films to help our readers stay entertained all winter.

While many great movies weren’t able to earn a spot on our list, we at the Comet believe that the ten films below represent the best of the best. Without further ado, here are the ten best movies released in 2018 (as determined by the Comet staff).

Note: these rankings were based on the votes of the Comet writing staff; as such, they may not be representative of the opinions of the author and the student body at large.  

10. Halloween

Michael Myers (no, not the one from Shrek) has returned from nearly a decade of absence from the big screen, and what a comeback it is. The Halloween franchise had been maligned for years; while critics generally agreed that the original movie was a classic horror film, not a single entry in the numerous spin-offs it produced came remotely close to the thrilling highs of the 1978 version. Luckily, Halloween is the first sequel to learn from the mistakes of its predecessors, earning the title it shares with its 40-year-old originator. By making it a direct sequel forty years after the events of the original film, Halloween smartly disregards the convoluted lore of the spin-offs, and it is a better movie for it. By focusing on the brilliant performance of iconic scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, who reprises her role as Laurie Strode for the fifth time, Halloween becomes about more than just piling up gruesome kills (although there are plenty of those to go around); it’s a tale of post-traumatic paranoia, and how that paranoia can only be put to rest by exacting vengeance upon its inflictor while protecting those that Curtis’ strong matriarch loves. (For more about Halloween, read Jack Corcoran’s review of the film here.) 

9. Ant-Man and the Wasp

The two other Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films released in 2018 (Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, both of which will be discussed later in this list) were massive blockbusters that sent shockwaves through pop culture. Ant-Man and the Wasp wasn’t nearly as big as either of those movies—and that’s part of its charm. Its ramifications on the Marvel Universe at large are relatively small, which makes it a welcome opportunity for tightly-wound fans to sit back and enjoy a no-strings-attached “fun” movie. And make no mistake, Ant-Man and the Wasp is laugh-out-loud funny, as the ever-charismatic duo of Paul Rudd and Michael Peña are MVPs in hysterical performances that live up to the high bar they set in 2015’s Ant-Man. The film also serves as an opportunity to fully embrace female representation in the Marvel Universe, as Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp is the first female hero to be named in an MCU movie title. While it may not have been as dramatic as Black Panther or Avengers: Infinity WarAnt-Man and the Wasp is a welcome appetizer for what’s to come. 

8. Solo: A Star Wars Story

Although Luke Skywalker is the main protagonist of the original Star Wars trilogy, gunslinger Han Solo is arguably its most beloved hero due to Harrison Ford’s fantastic debonair, devil-may-care portrayal of the pilot. When Ford left the franchise after Star Wars: Episode VII, however, it became apparent that the hole in fans’ hearts caused by Han Solo’s departure could only be filled by one man: Han Solo. But while Ford’s successor Alden Ehrenreich certainly looked the part of a young Han Solo, fans were wary about rumors of his need of an acting coach during shooting of his Han Solo prequel. Luckily, those concerns never materialized, as Ehrenreich delivered a performance Harrison Ford would be proud of. Additionally, Donald Glover exceeded the already-lofty expectations of his performance of smuggler Lando Calrissian; he exudes seemingly effortless charisma and helps make up for a somewhat disappointing plot. Due to its predictability, Solo: A Star Wars Story is unlikely to ever be considered one of the greatest entries in the fabled Star Wars canon. However, much like Ant-Man and the WaspSolo is a visually stunning, well-acted popcorn movie that effectively satiates Star Wars buffs until its next blockbuster offering. (For more about Solo: A Star Wars Story, read Adam Carroll’s review of the film here.) 

7. Love, Simon

2018 brought much to celebrate in terms of long-awaited representation of diverse groups in Hollywood, and Love, Simon is a pivotal milestone in the struggle for gay inclusion in entertainment; in fact, it’s the first movie made by a major Hollywood studio to focus on a gay teenage relationship. While Love, Simon’s creation is a feat within itself, the movie manages to be more heartfelt than the vast majority of high school dramas while still being just that—a high school drama. Yes, protagonist Simon’s closeted homosexuality is the focal point of the movie and the driving force behind its plot, but Love, Simon still possesses all the same tropes that come with the genre: the meet-cute, the secret identities, the climactic, public first kiss. They’re all still there, because Love, Simon isn’t a high school movie about being gay or a gay movie about high school; it’s a poignant reminder that, for many, those two experiences are intertwined. 

6. Game Night

This movie is flat-out hilarious. There’s not a bad thing to be said about it; Game Night is a simply a perfect marriage of an utterly ridiculous script and a murderers’ row of all-star comedians. It’s consistently enjoyable from front-to-back and clocks in at just over an hour and a half, giving it endless replay value (and two advantages over a game of Monopoly). Every gag hits; stars Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams effortlessly blend the film’s mix of highbrow and lowbrow humor, but no one can top the gloriously pathetic performance of Jesse Plemons as Gary, a shunned, divorced cop who really, really, really misses his wife. Game Night’s elaborate twists keep making the movie weirder and weirder until the plot unravels into a glorious, chaotically perfect mess. Just watch it. It’s funny. 

5. A Quiet Place

Who would’ve thought that Jim Halpert from The Office had such a knack for directing horror movies? And not just any horror movies; with A Quiet Place, John Krasinski has created a film that it just as innovative as it is frightening. While its gimmick of “you talk, you die” had the potential to be B-movie material, the way that Krasinski uses sound to manipulate his audience is genius; when one false footstep could mean death, all eyes (and ears) are intently focused on any possible mistakes. And that’s not even accounting for its beautiful narrative of tight-knit family (including Millicent Simmonds, a deaf actress who plays a deaf character in the film) attempting to survive in post-apocalyptic conditions. A Quiet Place has already proven itself to be influential in popular derivatives like Bird Box, but it’s unlikely that any imitators will be able to match Krasinski’s genius directing. (For more about A Quiet Place, read Ellie Dugan’s review of the film here.) 

4. Incredibles 2

It’s finally here. Fourteen years after the release of The Incredibles, a movie considered to be a classic of both animated and superhero cinema, Incredibles 2 was one of the most hyped movies of the year. While it likely won’t achieve the same classic status of the original, Incredibles 2 is one of the best sequels that Pixar has produced. While the original Incredibles featured Mr. Incredible hiding his illegal superhero work from his wife and family, Incredibles 2 reverses the roles, allowing Elastigirl to do the heavy lifting while Mr. Incredible struggles with running the household. The “supers” are no longer fighting in the shadows, however; Elastigirl is the face of a campaign to bring legalize superheroes. While there may be some potential for political allegory, this movie should also be commended for just how plain fun it is; a scene between superpowered baby Jack-Jack and a raccoon stands out as a highlight, and the incredible CGI allows for some great action scenes, especially a psychedelic fight between Elastigirl and Screenslaver. It was unlikely that Incredibles 2 would live up to the lofty bar set by its predecessor, but Pixar has always been known for surpassing expectations, and this phenomenal sequel is no exception. (For more about Incredibles 2, read Adam Carroll’s review of the film here.) 

3. Creed II

Speaking of phenomenal sequels that live up to the hype, Creed II is a heartfelt, action-packed film that succeeds not only as a sequel of Creed, but as a continuation of Rocky IV, which was released 30 years prior. Creed II revolves around the rivalry between Adonis Creed and Viktor Drago, paralleling the fighting relationship of their fathers; Viktor’s father Ivan killed Adonis’ father Apollo during a boxing match in Rocky IV thirty-three years before the events of Creed II. But while Rocky IV received poor reviews from critics, Creed II succeeds by giving the audience a glimpse into the fighters’ psyches; Adonis wishes to avenge his father’s death by defeating the son of his killer, while Viktor is pressured by his father to crush Rocky’s mentee to better their family’s legacy. While the plot is predictable at times, the movie’s personal touch (especially the scenes surrounding Adonis’ daughter) keeps the audience emotionally invested in Creed II’s classic tale of perseverance and legacy. (For more about Creed II, read Adam Carroll and Nick Lorenson’s review of the film here.) 

2. Avengers: Infinity War

Wow.  

That’s all that millions of dedicated Marvel fans could utter after they first witnessed the snap heard ’round the world. The ending of this movie is perhaps the boldest ever seen in a mega-franchise; sure, some movies have shocking deaths, but killing off half of your entire universe? That takes guts. Sure, it’s imminent that the devastating aftereffects of Thanos’ snap will be reversed in Avengers: Endgame, but the initial shock factor at seeing dozens of heroes you’ve spent years watching wither away before your eyes hits with the force of an M. Night Shyamalan twist. Even disregarding the ending, Infinity War is incredibly ambitious. Giving 20+ A-list stars quality screen time was perhaps the movie’s most difficult task, and it absolutely nailed it; every hero felt integral in some way. While all the heroes have a role to play, it’s clear that Infinity War’s true star is Thanos, and therein lies Infinity War’s greatest achievement: making the audience sympathetic to a genocidal purple titan by the end of the movie. Josh Brolin’s motion-capture performance was easily among the best in Marvel’s history, selling the idea that the “Mad Titan” had legitimate, unselfish reasons for killing off half of the universe. Although it’s clear that many of the deaths in Infinity War aren’t permanent, the MCU’s choice to allow the villain to win was a bold move that sent shockwaves through pop culture and will likely have consequences for years to come. (For more about Avengers: Infinity War, read Jack Corcoran’s review of the film here.) 

1. Black Panther 

While many were anxiously anticipating Black Panther, not even Marvel Entertainment’s most optimistic projections couldn’t have predicted how culturally resonant the film would be. For months after its release, Black Panther was the zeitgeist. It had near-universal acclaim from fans and critics alike, a phenomenal soundtrack headed by none other than Pulitzer Prize winner Kendrick Lamar, and one of the most complex villains in Marvel history in Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger. As Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa is the first black superhero to headline an MCU movie, it was always a concern that Marvel would either completely ignore important social issues or handle them with kid gloves. Luckily, this was not the case; under Ryan Coogler’s impeccable direction, Black Panther tackles important cultural issues with vigor. As strange as it feels to call a Marvel movie “woke,” Black Panther fits the term to a tee. By highlighting and celebrating diversity within one of the MCU’s best stories, Marvel has created a cultural phenomenon that most would have never thought possible. Wakanda forever.