Sunday, February 24, 2019

Looking Back at 2018

The tradition continues! Whoever you are, wherever you are, thank you for reading this, no matter how you found it.

I can't speak for the average movie goer or the avid film aficionado, but I thought last year was a fantastic one. Of course, my tastes veer towards the nerdier side, and with less idle time, I prioritize seeing those films made for me, rather than than those like Roma or The Favorite who's accolades would have grabbed my attention in the past.

Horror films in particular have had a solid year, both critically and at the box office, and it appears the rest of the world has caught on to what had been a quiet genre renaissance. This was possibly the strongest list of top 20 films I had compiled for the Dark Discussions 2018 Review episode, with the possible exception of 2015. I had little trouble carving out a top 20 list, and didn't feel like I was reaching to complete it. What was especially nice to see what the sheer variety of films that received acclaim. We had lockbusters like Halloween, arthouse horror like Hereditary, and streaming microfilms like The Endless. Even the various subgenres were well represented, unlike in many past years in which we may have seen a preponderance of zombie films, found footage, possession films, etc.

Comic book films have also had a banner year. I know people like to complain about there being to many of them (9 by my count) but they all did great at the box office (even Teen Titans Go! which made $50m on a $10m budget). Even DC picked up its end, with Aquaman defying weak reviews to gross over $1b worldwide. Even the reviews tended to be better than worse, with Black Panther, The Incredibles 2, and Into the Spider-Verse garnering major award nods.

On a personal front, the Dark Discussion Podcast was again invited to attend Scare-A-Con New England, this time with the opportunity to host some of the celebrity Q&As. As a con-goer for the last 35 years, it was incredible to sit on stage (oft joined with co-host Philip Perron) with Danny Lloyd (The Shining), David Naughton (An American Werewolf in London), Jason Lively (Night of the Creeps), and Doug Bradley (Hellraiser), but the real highlight was getting 30 minutes with Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson(I was "amazing"). That's going on my tombstone! Thanks so much for the folks at the Dorkening for inviting us to play along. We'll be back again this year, hopefully joined by the rest of the DDP crew.

We were also able to raise a good amount for the Scares That Care charity, and STC Weekend 5 was yet another phenomenally fun time, and for the first time I was joined by DDP founder and co-host Philip Perron. We did a panel on Night of the Living Dead, and Amie Davis-Tobin of After-Dark Analysis invited me to discuss New Wave Extreme French Horror, which you can see below:  

The podcast itself hit 366 episodes by the year's end, along with a new season of the Westworld podcast Bullets, Brothels, and Bots. We had our third meetup - our second in Mystic, Connecticuit, and the first with all five co-hosts, along with the Dorkening's Leo Pond and listener Kevin Letts. We recorded two episodes - one on The Meg and a second that looked back at our favorite films since the podcast started. We are expecting another gathering this summer, and if you would like to join us, please the Dark Discussions Facebook group.

So now for my awards, which mean nothing except to me. As always, I try hard not award a single film twice, just to spread the wealth around.

Favorite Film of 2018
Avengers Infinity War. Black Panther and Into the Spider-Verse may be getting most of the accolades, but this was a comic nerd's dream come true. Despite its length, its the film I've watched more than any other this year, and I think there is a lot more to it when you scrape away the spectacle and marketing.

Favorite Horror Film
The Ritual. This was a close call, but I love me some creature features, and this is the best I've seen in years.
Runner Up: Hereditary. Almost certainly the finest crafted horror film of the year, and I had a great theatrical experience, but just doesn't hit my heart the way The Ritual did.

Favorite SF Film:
The Endless. Also a top 5 horror film for me, and the most Lovecraftian film in years.
Runner Up: Annihilation.

Favorite Comic Book Film
Black Panther. My exclusivity rule won't let me take Infinity War a second time. I don't really think this deserves best picture status as I found the final act a mess, but so much great craftmanship went into the design of the film, and they gave us a solid ensemble of characters.

Favorite Action Film
Mission Impossible Fallout. A weak year for non-genre action, but MI:6 would be tough to beat in most years.
Runner Up: Upgrade

Favorite Comedy:
A Simple Favor: This was a total surprise and a total delight.
Runner Up: Game Night. This was very close.

Favorite Animated Film:
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Runner Up: Ralph Wrecks the Internet

Favorite Zombie Film:
The Night Eats the World

Favorite Foreign Horror
Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil 

Favorite Retro Horror
Summer of '84. Maybe it's because of Stranger Things, but there were a number of films like this in 2018.

Favorite Found Footage 

Favorite Horror-Comedy
You Might Be the Serial Killer

Favorite Predator Movie
Primal Rage. Really, its so much better than The Predator.

Favorite Halloween Movie
Hell Fest. Sorry, Michael and Jamie Lee just don't feel like the holiday any more.

Worst Movie of the Year
Death House. Saw a screening at Scare-A-Con NE in 2017. Had to wait over a year for it to be released to say just how awful it really was.

Most Disturbing Moment
The attempted murder of a newborn in Mom and Dad

Cheese of the Year
Nicholas Cage. Forget Mandy - you want to see Nic Cage going nuts, you need to see him  
singing the praises of the Sawzall with Fruit Loops on his face.

Best Ending
Infinity War. And I knew it was coming.

Worst Ending
Bad Samaritan. Ruined what had been a nice little thriller up that point.

Best Nightmare Fuel
Terrified, the Argentinian ghost film.

Kill of the Year
So many possibilities. Hereditary, Terrifier, Infinity War all can lay claim, but I've got to hand it to the death at the start of A Quiet Place. Even though it was the center of the marketing campaign, it came as a shock, and set up the film perfectly.

Most Fun Kill of the Year
Ryan Reynolds. Deadpool 2.
Best Marketing
Deadpool 2. From the Bob Ross trailer to the Celine Dion music video to the rebranding of DVDs on WalMart's endcaps to the PG-13 Fred Savaged infused re-release, the marketing was better than the film itself.

Best Creatures
The Ritual
Runner Up: Errementari

Deserved Better
Runner up: Overlord

Scream Queen of the Year
Jamie Lee Curtis retakes her crown (as if anyone could really take it from her).

Hero of the Year
Thanos (hey, Infinity War was his movie!)

Villain of the Year
Killmonger (Black Panther)

They Put Who In This Movie?
Man-Ape (Black Panther)
Runner Up: Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse).
Best Surprise
The Endless
Runner Up: A Simple Favor

Biggest Dissappointment
The Predator 

Most Overrated
Runner Up: Mandy
Career Boost
Jason Mamoa. Let's be honest  - his charisma and muscles are the reason Aquaman grossed a billion dollars in the theater, and left half their seats wet.

Career Block
Aaron Ehrenrich. He had a steep hill to climb in playing Han Solo, and despite early rumors of a disaster, I think he pulled it off ably. Unfortunately, Disney is likely to let the Solo trilogy die in its crib.

Best End Credits Scene
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Runner Up: Deadpool 2