Excellents of Eighteen

This past year may go down as the hardest year for me to craft my top ten list. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the main one is that there wasn't a clear number one movie for me. In year's past there has always been a single cinematic experience movie that jumped out, grabbed me and held on strong as I continued to watch other films. But in 2018, this never happened, and I never had that "singular moment." Despite this, I did force myself to rank my movies, but if I'm being completely honest, depending on my mood or the type of genre I'm looking for, any one of these ten movies could be my number one. There is horror, animation, super-hero, fictional biopic, semi-historical biopic, action, and a new genre I'm calling post-modernist mish-mash where director Steven Spielberg reflects on and actively processes the decades-long oeuvre of Steven Spielberg.

Ranking my favorite TV shows was a much simpler endeavor, mainly due to the fact that I had very clear emotional responses to certain TV shows. These feelings were conveniently elicited in such a way that they were was easily rankable. The year in television (and this has been the case for a while now) was once again the more exciting and interesting venue for compelling visual storytelling. Whether it was Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) brilliantly bumbling along as she chased a sociopathic assassin or Barry Block (Bill Hader) brilliantly bumbling along as he hid the fact that he was a sociopathic assassin (big year for assassins). Over on FX, Donald Glover continued to push the envelope for the 30-minute format as his Atlanta got weirder and more insightful while Glover continued to explore his voice as one of the most exciting and creative story-tellers working today (Teddy Perkins anyone?). And (unfortunately) it was on the small screen where we found the finest cinematography of any movie or TV show within Sam Esmail's Homecoming (yes even better than the master Alfonso Cuarón's ROMA*). Television continues to take risks with its cameras and its characters that many Hollywood studios are still too scared to take, and it continues to provide to the most rewarding and imaginative viewing experiences on any screen anywhere.

If I step back and quit gushing about television I am able to admit that risk taking and imagination is a theme you will find amongst my top ten movies as well. You had some risky business like Tom Cruise jumping out of an airplane over 100 times to achieve one of the most magical movie moments of the year, and Sony entrusting the creative mad-men, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Rodney Rothman, with one of the most revered (and mishandled) comic book franchises we have – allowing them to imaginatively revitalize a genre that desperately needs direction in this post-MCU world. My top ten list is also the scariest it's ever been, with 3 horror movies making the list. I swear I don't really like horror movies, and they take a lot of "courage mustering" for me to watch, but for whatever reason, some of the most innovative moviemaking is happening in this genre.

The Georgie Banks Honorary Top Ten Movies of 2018

  1. Hereditary
  2. A Star is Born
  3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  4. First Man
  5. Mission: Impossible - Fallout
  6. Bohemian Rhapsody
  7. Ready Player One
  8. Suspiria**
  9. Avengers: Infinity War
  10. A Quiet Place

The Jason Mendoza Honorary Top Ten TV Shows of 2018

  1. Killing Eve (S1)
  2. Sharp Objects
  3. Barry (S1)
  4. Better Call Saul (S4)
  5. Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cleveland Browns
  6. Atlanta (S2)
  7. Santa Clarita Diet (S2)
  8. Succession (S1)
  9. Homecoming (S1)
  10. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Shifting to music, 2018 may go down as the year that contemporary music broke me. By  principle, I'm an advocate of the album. I believe in it conceptually. And I always try to invest the time to not just listen to the singles, but to engage with the songs within the full context of the album. As well, I'm a subscriber to Spotify, so I have access to all the new album releases that come out in a given week. Despite these principles and privileges I found myself lacking any complete albums that I really latched onto. There were a couple, but not enough to create a decent ranking. So instead of sharing a truncated list, I thought I'd turn my back on my reverence for the album and share a 10 song playlist which ranks the tracks that really stood out to me this year. I hope as you read and listen that you'll view this list as an endorsement of the musicians themselves, and take some time to look into their albums as a whole. But between Kanye's label releasing five 7 song albums and Drake releasing one album with 450 songs, it seems that popular music is confused about what an album should be, and that confusion has been hard for me to escape as a listener. I still believe in the "album" as a concept, and I hope popular musicians recover the art of it. But until that day comes, I'm acquiescing to what the culture has given me and giving it right back.

The Rivers Cuomo is a Sell Out Honorary Top Ten Songs of 2018

  1. Gold Rush by Death Cab for Cutie
  2. Shallow by Lady Gaga & Jackson Maine
  3. This is America by Childish Gambino
  4. Shred Cruz - Audiotree Live Version by mom jeans.
  5. King's Dead by Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future, & James Blake
  6. Ghost Town by Kanye West (feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR)
  7. How Simple by Hop Along
  8. Under the Rainbow by Cursive
  9. Tornado by Tomberlin
  10. In My Feelings by Drake

Don't use Spotify? Click here to listen on YouTube.

* – I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I didn't acknowledge the fact that ROMA did not make my list. The only person at fault for this is me. ROMA is an objective masterpiece, and another contribution from Cuarón which pushes film culture forward both technologically and in terms of storytelling. But subjectively I wasn't enraptured by the film. It was a story I had a hard time connecting to, and I think Cuarón's intentional objectivity made the film feel too detached at times. I found Cleo to be a riveting character, but the camera work impeded my ability to ever get too close to her and her plight. I also took issue with Netflix's release strategy and I thought it was a disservice to the movie to not give it an exclusive theatrical run before releasing it online. I wish they would've adopted the strategy that Amazon takes of doing a theatrical run and then after several months, releasing it to their online platform. Please don't view my omission as me not being willing to endorse objectively great cinema, but rather it was just a movie that didn't subjectively connect with me, which is a high criteria for my lists. As you can see from my rankings, prestige isn't a major factor in my list.
** – Viewer discretion is advised. Suspiria is a very disturbing movie, and I was reluctant to include it, but out of every movie I saw this year, this was the one I had the hardest time forgetting and the one I still regularly think about. Tilda Swinton's bravado in tackling three divergent roles, the haunting dance choreography, and the uncertain allegories that are uncovered throughout the film all contribute to Suspiria being one of the most compelling movies of the year. All that said, it is NOT easy to watch, and not for the faint of heart. Please tread cautiously if you choose to endeavor towards this film. It is challenging, but I think the questions it leaves you with are worth pondering.
*** – Still Haven't Seen: Burning, If Beale Street Could Talk, Won't You Be My Neighbor

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