2018 was, in the end, a solid year for film, and was at least better than the cinematic wasteland of 2017. While good movies came sparsely in this year’s months, they at least came in great chunks and the ones that were good were outright amazing. So without further ado, here are my picks for the best movies of 2018 as of this article’s publishing.
10. Death Wish
One of the most engrossing, engaging, subversive and transcendent movies I have ever seen, this is a remake that can easily stand on its own, not to mention a stellar revenge film and a return to form for the legendary Bruce Willis. Directed by Eli Roth, the movie is loaded with high-octane thrills, snappy one-liners, goopy blood, social commentary and tons of badassery. A modern iteration of the Charles Bronson classic, “Death Wish” transports you into its dark, seedy world and keeps you there until the final frame, providing unparalleled cinematic escapism in the process.
9. The Predator
The original “Predator” is a stone-cold classic in the action and sci-fi genres. After a 1990 sequel, two epic “Alien vs. Predator” crossovers and a 2010 reboot, the story of an intergalactic bounty hunter on the loose gets another installment with this crowd-pleasing, fan-service-filled extravaganza. With callbacks to the original movie, excellent action sequences, buckets of blood, bombastic shootouts, a frenetic pace and a surprising amount of humor, this reboot isn’t only a great action/sci-fi romp, but a perfectly suitable means of bringing more stellar “Predator” movies into the public consciousness.
8. A Quiet Place
Good post-2010 horror movies are rarities, with the majority being derivative, gore-free, low-budget bushels of cheap jump scares. But every once in a while, a horror film comes along that isn’t only good, but well-made, original and actually scary. Directed by John Krasinski, the suspense in “A Quiet Place” is unbearable, as the slightest noise spells doom for anyone in the movie’s post-apocalyptic world. The lack of sound and dialogue creates an eerie atmosphere that makes the characters and the audience jump at the slightest sound. The ending is not only an epic showcase of horror movie ass-kicking, but leaves the door open for a sequel...which is slated to come out in 2020. Get hyped! But keep your voice down.
7. The Meg
After reports surfaced that the studio cut out the bloodiest moments to secure a PG-13 rating, I was hesitant about this one. While I love Jason Statham, I was worried that the lowered rating would sanitize an otherwise perfectly fine monster movie. To my relief, a PG-13 rating did not hurt “The Meg” at all. Sure, the beach attack scene was shortened and bloodless, but a movie as adrenalizing and exciting as “The Meg” doesn't need gore to be good. Tongue planted firmly in cheek, this aquatic monster mash mixes humor, supremely-thrilling action sequences, wonderous special effects and exquisitely-frantic pacing into a sensational exhibition of amazingness. “The Meg” also contains the single greatest action hero scene in all of cinema, rivaling anything from the 1980s. If you’ve seen the film, you know what it is. If you haven't, stop reading this and go watch it!
6. The Hurricane Heist
What do you get when you cross the rollicking battles of an action movie with the wanton destruction of a disaster movie? You get “The Hurricane Heist!” From director Rob Cohen, this bank heist/storm escape flick not only has enthralling action and shootouts, but also some truly awesome special effects and destruction sequences. Imagine the tension, danger, and devastation of “Twister” combined with the gunplay, elaborate plans and stolen cash of “Heat.” But “The Hurricane Heist” can easily be its own great movie, thanks to Cohen’s direction and attention to thrills and escapism. The action sequences are gripping, the destruction breathtaking and your jaw will undoubtedly drop during the climactic race against the raging storm that will make or break the characters, the money and the ill-fated trucks carrying it all. Make it rain!
5. Mile 22
Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg have been striking cinematic gold with their true-story action films since 2013’s “Lone Survivor.” Berg’s directorial skills mesh well with Wahlberg’s motormouthed delivery of dialogue and tendency to kick bad guy butt. It all perfectly comes together in this astonishing thriller. This film alone has more action and adrenaline than similar movies. With a roster of certified action heroes and heroines including Lauren Cohen, Ronda Rousey, and Iko Uwais and a non-stop barrage of electrifying action, this is one film that means serious business. Try not to have your adrenal glands pop as Wahlberg and friends blast their way through scores of baddies with high-powered weaponry, recklessly drive vehicles through city streets and engage in epic hand-to-hand combat. It’s a rush, and it’s awesome.
I love revenge movies. The cathartic feeling of seeing vile evildoers get their big-screen comeuppance by the hands of the wronged is simply undeniable, and the films themselves are usually action-packed and impeccably made. Add “Peppermint” to this list of exceptional cinematic tales of vengeance in terms of crowd-pleasing brutality and explosive action. Jennifer Garner is all guts and glory as she avenges her family’s murder in bloody, merciless style, showing no remorse and single-handedly taking down an entire drug cartel. Through energizing shootouts, brawls, assaults, explosions and fights, the audience I was with would cheer, whoop and clap after each baddie met his maker. Gotta love a film that brings out the audience participation. This just goes to show the sheer power of revenge cinema and the catharsis it can shed on audiences. Skip the therapist and watch Garner kick some butt to calm your anger.
3. Deadpool 2
It’s nearly impossible to top the original 2016 “Deadpool,” a legendary entry in the comic book genre that fans have been clamoring for for years. Yet the sequel takes everything great about the Merc with a Mouth’s first outing and cranks it up to 11. “Deadpool 2” is funnier, bloodier and raunchier than its predecessor, adding in fan-favorite characters like Cable and taking jabs at fellow comic book franchises and, of course, Wolverine. Filled till bursting with wall-to-wall jokes, highly-quotable dialogue, hilariously adrenalizing action sequences, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sight gags and plenty of fourth-wall-breaking, it does everything a good sequel needs to do and then some. Bonus points go to a certain scene that made me laugh so hard I almost choked. It’s not every day you get a movie that’s fatally funny.
2. Rampage and Pacific Rim: Uprising (TIE)
For the third year in a row, I had to include a tie for the #2 spot on my Top 10 Movies list. “Rampage” is a film I’ve been hyped for since it was announced. A movie about giant mutated animals destroying cities was always bound to be awesome, but add in Dwayne Johnson, director Brad Peyton, and eye-popping special effects and you have one crazy monster mash. The movie is action-packed, funny and touching, and contains some of the most glorious devastation ever committed to film, including the first-ever full destruction of a certain Chicago skyscraper. “Pacific Rim: Uprising” is a follow-up to the best movie of 2013 (and another film hyped by me for multiple years), and it matches the awesomeness, action, effects and carnage of the first film...but in broad daylight! Being able to better see gargantuan robots pummel powerful aliens is sheer cinematic pleasure, and one scene sees entire buildings used as projectiles. Both “Rampage” and “Pacific Rim: Uprising” are equal in their own astonishing, captivating ways, and giving one the edge over the other just isn't fair. Plus, it would spark a massive battle between giant robots, aliens and beasts. Actually, I wouldn't mind that.
1. Ready Player One
No movie in 2018, or any movie ever, has the escapist powers of this mind-blowing sci-fi action epic. Cinema is meant for escapism, entertainment and transporting audiences to other, fantastical worlds and allowing them to experience the impossible. This is just what “Ready Player One” does. Adapted from Ernest Cline’s book and directed by Steven Spielberg, this movie is the ultimate in everything cinema stands for. The extended action sequences bring together elements from all over to create an adrenalizing amalgamation of excitement and thrills, the special effects are wondrous and Oscar-worthy, the myriads of pop culture references and Easter eggs are fun to keep an eye out for, and the overall story and themes of escaping a troubled world via an immersive, perfect virtual reality truly resonated deep in my cinema-craving heart. I have never felt at home in the real world, and only film could give me the escape I needed, much like how the OASIS, the VR experience at the film’s core, provides freedom from the characters’ dreary world. People come to the OASIS for the things they can do, but they stay for the things they can be. That’s why I love movies, and also why “Ready Player One” isn't just the best film of the year, but one of my favorite movies of all time. First to the key!