2018: The Skinny

Welcome to the EIGHTH Annual Skinny!

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Hello to all 3 of my readers!

It is time to take a look at 2018, henceforth known as “The Year Moviepass died”!

The purpose of this annual post is to review the films and TV of 2018. I do this in list format. As is standard for this site, I give “Skinnys”, short blurbs, on each subject.

Before we get started, I have provided links to all 505 films I have seen in theaters.  I will repeat; these links are the list of EVERY MOVIE I have seen in a theater. As a film lover, that means a lot to me. The act of sitting in a darkened theater is almost religious. It is a sacred space where artists transport us to different worlds. It took quite a while to compile this list. It represents 32 years of film-going, and I am honored to share it with you.

Disclaimer: This is the place where I mention that I have not seen everything. I am not a professional reviewer and am only able to see a very small fraction of the major releases, never mind every indie movie that is the darling of film festivals. This is also not a list of the BEST films of the year. This is a subjective list of my personal favorites. My biases will influence my choices. Judge me accordingly.

After joining in Fall 2017, this was to be the year of Moviepass. Well, we started out okay, then everything went to shit. By summer, Moviepass stopped working, completed. Members were not being allowed to check-in for movies. By the Fall, once they got some funding, they would release a list of what movies we would be allowed to watch on any given day. There would be maybe 1 film that you could see. Not a limit of 1 film per day, but only 1 film to choose from. That is when I tapped out. Even though I had a 12-month subscription, My last Moviepass film was in June.

I looked into the alternatives, and AMC has the best subscription service. The only problem there is that the nearest theater is 30 minutes away. Showcase Cinemas has an inferior deal, but they also have 2 theaters within a 5-minute drive from my house. Therefore, I am now a member of Showcase Subscribe! This allows me to see 3 films a month for about 15 bucks. It’s no Moviepass, but perhaps unlimited movies was just a pipe dream. Three films (minimum) a month puts us at 36 films for 2019, which is a cute number as I saw 34 in 2017 and 35 this year!

Anyway, enough prattling. Without further delay, let’s see what I saw!


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This was a strange year for TV. Being laid off for 3 months, you would think that I would have watched a lot of television, but I did not. Aside from Star Trek repeats,  I threw myself in video games. I created a YouTube channel where I primarily play a survival game by Klei Entertainment called “Don’t Starve”. (https://www.youtube.com/superponte) I highly recommend the game, and my page. I also watched a lot of twitch, especially Fortnite tournaments. I have an account there, but have not started streaming regularly. I am trying to find my voice before I dive in.

So, what did I watch? It’s more a question of what am I not watching. This was a year of astonishing television and I saw almost none of it. A big part of that is my old faithful:

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Star Trek – In 2016 I began re-watching Star Trek, at a leisurely pace, to celebrate the 50th anniversary. 2 years later I have finished TOS, TAS, Films 1-8, TNG, and am about to finish season 5 of DS9. Not too shabby. This is the primary reason I have not seen the amazing new shows out there. I intend to make that up in 2019 with some serious binge watching.

So, Here is what I did see in 2018. It is in alphabetical order because I don’t have a clear favorite.

The War Without, the War Within

Star Trek Discovery: So much hate has been thrown at this show, but I’ll stick my neck out. Aside from the 1966-67 season, this was the best FIRST season of a Star Trek series. Many could not get past the redesign of the ships/uniforms/tech. I am okay with it. IDIC, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations is one of the oldest mantras in Trek and I embrace it here. The actors were excellent, and I defy anyone to find fault in the effects. This is TREK. Good Trek.

Disenchantment

Disenchantment – 30 years ago, Matt Groening created an animated spoof of the sitcom – The Simpsons. 20 years ago he created Futurama, an animated spoof of sci-fi shows. 10 years ago he resurrected Futurama from the grave for a few seasons. Now, he sets his sights on fantasy with Disenchantment! This is a cute show, with great potential.

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Doctor Who: Series 11 – I am quite the Who-vian. I enjoy all eras of the show (My favorite Doctor is Patrick Throughton from the original run and Matt Smith in the new). Jodie Whitaker steps in as the first female Doctor and I am really digging it. She hasn’t had that one big “Doctor-defining” episode yet, but she has some excellent companions. My favorite is Bradley Walsh as Graham, but Yaz and Ryan are fun as well. This was a great start to the Chibnall era.

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Inside the Freemasons – Being a Brother for 14 years, 2 terms as Master of a lodge and a few Grand Lodge appointments, I know “The Craft” fairly well. This was an excellent look at lodge life and the men who choose it. There was a good emphasis on the family life of the men, which I enjoyed. Being an American Mason, I marveled at how close the ceremonies in the UK are to the ones performed here. The differences were also fascinating. A good show.

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Lost in Space – Netflix has made quite the show with their remake of Lost in Space. I admit to having not finished the series, but that has more to do with my time than the quality of the show. Well done. I plan to finish asap and anticipate the 2nd season.

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Narcos: Mexico – If I was picking a #1 show of the year, and I’m not, it would probably be this. Narcos seasons 1-2 were awesome. I had worries about season 3 being able to move past Escobar, but they handled it perfectly. Now we have the spin off. The story of the rise of the Mexico cartels will make for several great seasons. The actors were fantastic, Don Neto (Joaquín Cosío) being a particular standout behind Michael Peña and Diego Luna.

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Riverdale – If you had told me that a dark and gritty re-imagining of The Archies would be one of my favorite TV experiences of the year I would have called you nuts. Not after binging seasons 1 and 2 though. This show is excellent.

THE GOOD FIGHT

The Good Fight – I thought The Good Wife was one of the best legal/political shows ever put on television. The spin-off is just as good. The casting is perfect as Diane Lockhart, of the old show, joins a primarily black law firm in the Trump era. Like her character’s dad in the original, Sarah Steele is my favorite character as Marissa Gold. I hope season 3 features a guest spot by Alan Cumming, Marissa’s father, who stole the show on Good Wife.

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The Good Place – An excellent comedy of the afterlife starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. A group of people die and go to heaven. Renewed for a 4th season, this is a show worth checking out.

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The Toys that made us – Season 2 of this amazing nostalgia trip aired in May. I don’t know why, but the behind the scenes drama of my favorite toys is fascinating to watch. Season 3 is in production.


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2018 was another banner year for me, tallying the most films in a single calendar year! These are, mostly, movies everyone had access to at the local cinema. I cannot see everything. There are several I wish I had seen, and many others I am glad to have missed. My crap filter has developed to the point where I can save myself a lot of aggravation. Despite this, some garbage does make it’s way in.

Original reviews can be found on the 2018 Movie Page as well as below.

My 35 films of 2017


Gerard Butler took this prize in 2016 and 2017. Will he win this year??

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Pacific Rim: Uprising – Nope, sorry Gerard! To be fair, if I had bothered to see “Hunter Killer” he would have pulled off the three-peat. The honor this year must sadly be given to Pacific Rim 2. It retroactively ruined the original for me. A very sad film. Come on Boyega! I expect more from you! (Review)


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These 20 films are listed under “Okay” because that is what many of them are- OK. Some of these are outstanding. The quantity of films being seen make it tougher to narrow down a top 10. In Alphabetical order.

Action Point Mary Poppins Returns
Ant-Man and the Wasp Molly’s Game
Aquaman Ocean’s 8
Bumblebee On Chesil Beach
The Crimes of Grindlewald Phantom Thread
Deadpool 2 RBG
First Man Ready Player One
Game Night Solo: A Star Wars Story
Gringo Super Troopers 2
Hostiles Venom
I, Tonya

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These films, while technically the first time I’ve seen them in theaters, are not 2018 films. These special events and anniversary re-releases are an excellent way for me to see my absolute favorite movies, and specials, on the big screen.

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The Room – There is no other way to say it; The Room was my 2nd favorite experience in cinemas this year. (More on #1 later). This is a movie that MUST be seen on the big screen. This can never be replicated. It is a perfect piece of cinema. (Review)

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The Big Lebowski – Seeing this in a theater was a big deal. This is my  favorite movie. What can be said? It was awesome. (Review)

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They shall not grow old – Peter Jackson’s astonishing documentary of The Great War. Technically this was released on British TV first, but its one of the better films of the year. (Review)


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Here we are. The cream of my 2018 crop.

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10: Won’t you be my Neighbor – The Mr. Rogers documentary was an emotional roller coaster. It was just the film I, and maybe the nation, needed to see. It is OK to be quiet. It is OK to be decent. It is OK to be yourself. A great message and a heck of a man. (Review)

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09: The Rider – a powerful independent film about a rodeo rider who struggles with a career ending injury. This was a special movie. I would not be surprised to see it pop up at the Oscars. (Review)

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08: Black Panther – I was surprised that this place as low as it did. I had it pegged as a top 5, but this was a weird year. The cast is perfect. The story is perfect. This is one of the strongest MCU entries. Wakanda Forever! (Review)

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07: A Star is Born – Talk about an emotional movie! Bradley Cooper has directed an excellent film, the best adaptation of the material to date. Lady Gaga has the makings of a movie star. Sam Elliot was perfect as usual. This is why I go to the movies. (Review)

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06 Annihilation – Natalie Portman leads a phenomenal cast in the best Sci-Fi film of the year. It is well executed, creepy as shit, and its a damn shame that Netflix did not give this a proper release. (Review)

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05: Avengers: Infinity War – What?! This is only #5?!! Yeah, this was a crazy year. This movie was the result of a 10 year build-up, and it absolutely delivered. The story and performances were excellent. The effects were superb. The final scenes were shocking. This was the greatest in-theater experience of the year. The “Snap” in a full theater was something I’ll never forget. The gasps, the shrieks! A great movie. (Review)

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04: The Shape of Water – A 2017 film that I did not see until 2018. This might have beaten Blade Runner 2049 if I had seen it last year. This movie is pure magic. Del Toro has crafted his masterpiece. I considered dropping this lower in favor of 2018 movies but it kept rising in my thoughts. The acting, the creature, the music! This was worthy of the Oscar wins. (Review)

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03: Isle of Dogs – Wes Anderson gave us another perfect film. The story of a Japanese ban on dogs, this stop-motion flick is pure artistry. The voice cast was perfectly used, Cranston in particular. (Review)

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02: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – I was not ready for this movie. The animation style was very fresh/modern whatever you want to call it. The voice cast was spot on. The story was excellent. This was a comic book brought to life. Seriously. This was the closest I’ve seen to the actual comics in a film yet. This was better than Black Panther. This was better than Infinity War. This is better than any other Spidey film. This rivals Batman: The Animated Series. Fucking Amazing, Spider-Man. RIP Stan. (Review)

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01: The Death of Stalin – I’ve been patiently waiting for another film to knock this one off its pedestal, but it never happened. Armando Iannucci’s second film is his best yet. The man who created/co-created Alan Partridge, The Thick of It, and VEEP, brings us back to the Soviet Union on the day Stalin died. It is insane. It is hilarious. It is brutal. It is also a comic book film, believe it or not.

The ensemble cast is astonishing. Steve Buscemi delivers one of his best performances as Khrushchev. Simon Russell Beale is pragmatically evil as Beria. Rupert Friend, Michael Palin, Jeffrey Tambor, Paddy Considine, and Jason Isaacs?! That is one hell of a cast, and each are used expertly. Isaacs was particularly good as General Zhukov.

This is a superior film, my favorite of the year. (Review)


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Well, that’s it folks! 2018 is behind us! I think 2017 might have been a better year for film, but this was no slouch. I expect several of the films I missed to appear in my early 2019 viewing. 2019 is also a special year as it is the final of the decade!! As mentioned at the start of this article, I have divided my film watching into 6 distinct parts. 1987-97, 98-99, 2000-2004, 2005-2009, 2010-2014, and 2015-2019! In addition to the best/worst of each part, I christen the best/worst of each decade! I can’t wait to see what 2019 brings in store for us!

speak now, or forever hold it

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