From 2005 through 2012, I pretty consistently wrote my Sunday Morning Tuneage blog. It continued inconsistently through 2013 before being abandoned. Each year was punctuated with a series of "Best of" lists. While the blog still remains retired, I'm revived it last year for a Best of 2017. The feedback was enough for me to compile it again this year. For your convenience, it's broken into bite-sized pieces.
BEST OF MOVIES 2018
No other blogger is brave enough to pick their favorites before they see them. Here's what I boldly thought I'd be writing about in December 2018.
PREDICTED BEST MOVIES OF 2018 (Dec. 2017)
1. READY PLAYER ONE
2. THE NEW MUTANTS
3. JURASSIC PARK: FALLEN KINGDOM
4. SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY
5. ISLE OF DOGS
6. FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD
7. ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL
8. THE PREDATOR
11-13. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, BLACK PANTHER, DEADPOOL 2.
BEST MOVIES OF 2018 (Seen in theaters)
1. WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR. This wasn't even on my radar until I saw the trailer a week or two before it came out. Like any good doc, it gave me information I didn't know at the time it occurred, it reminded me of pleasant memories, and it reflected upon current times.
2. BLACK PANTHER. I thought this was very possibly where the MCU films would end their streak. But it might be among the top two or three in the final judgement. Mostly because this film exists both for fans who have never watched any of the other films and at the same time is a reward for those who have kept up.
3. A QUIET PLACE. You don't have to reinvent the wheel to make a good film. Complete commitment to your premise will usually be enough. See last year's Get Out.
4. SUMMER OF 84. Early Spielberg filtered through Stranger Things. Should have been a wider release.
5. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. Much like the later Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings films, this is as much a Lifetime Achievement ranking as anything else.
6. SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE.
7. READY PLAYER ONE. Not a great example of book-to-screen adaptation. But as far as Spielberg goes, this fits right in the mode.
8. SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY
9. JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM
10. FANTASTIC BEASTS 2. Although you need a quick Harry Potter cheat sheet to remember who will be who in the future.
HONORABLE MENTION: THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY. Three movies, three weeks, and what feels like maybe 12 hours of screen time. It still plays better on the big screen no matter how many times you've seen it at home.
BEST MOVIES I DIDN'T SEE IN 2018
This list leaves off the few films that I didn't see in theaters but did see through other sources in 2018. So that means that very worthy films that might make the actual Best Movies that I saw at home like Isle of Dogs and Three Identical Strangers don't make a list.
1. INCREDIBLES 2. It's a sad year when I miss a Pixar film in theaters.
2. SCIENCE FAIR. I always enjoy seeing documentaries in the theaters and yet it's always easy to say I'll catch it at home later. This one really caught my attention but never saw it listed.
3. MIRAI. It was only in theaters here three days. Sigh.
4. THE OLD MAN & THE GUN. You will be missed, Mr. Redford.
5. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT.
7. ROMA. I love the work that Alfonso Cuaron is doing the past decade.
8. BLACKKKLANSMAN. Because I want to believe in Spike Lee still.
9. ROBIN WILLIAMS: COME INSIDE MY MIND.
10. BLAZE. Ethan Hawke makes my list as a director!
BEST OF SPIELBERG PART ONE (1971-2004)
I was only able to watch 75 films that Steven Spielberg directed, produced, executive produced, or had an acting role in to start this project. This felt like the best sequel to the Hitchcock project of 2017. And I'm happy to say that it does feel like he picked up most of that torch that was passed on. Steven's attention to character and his love of making films as a craft, not necessarily art, puts him in that company. These are the best films that he has been involved in from the 2018 perspective.
1. JAWS. The least surprising result ever. If you know me, this has been a Top Three movie for me since I knew there was such a thing as movies. It still is a twice-a-year watch for me.
2. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. This is a film that you must see on the big screen to really appreciate.
3. EMPIRE OF THE SUN. I love this film more with each viewing.
4. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. It's an amazing lesson in pacing a film.
5. 1941. My love for this might be more than the average folk. If you want to hear my laugh, put this film on.
6. POLTERGEIST. Writer or producer, you can say what you want, but this has his fingerprints all over it.
7. E.T.: THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL.
8. JURASSIC PARK. As time passes it falls down the list mostly for technology issues.
9. THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS. Funny that this doesn't get more love.
BEST MOVIES OF 1988
I started a 1988 project based on an opinion I've espoused for at least 20 years. I've claimed that 1988 was the worst year for pop culture since the mid-1960s. I decided that I better back up that claim and test the waters. And the verdict? I was right. The year 1988 is the terrible death throes of the Eighties. It's the end of all that was the Me Generation - Disco, New Wave, Hair Metal, Reagan, Cold War. It's the last hurrah for a wave of old directors and actors trying to release movies like it is still 1973 or trying to figure out how to appeal to a new generation. There are some outliers - there will be in every year - they are here to set the table for what will be an explosion of great movies for the next five years. Here's the best of what I saw as filtered through the past 30 years.
1. BIG. I've seen this probably every couple years since 1988. It's got its share of jokes that haven't aged well with technology. But the basic premise is solid and reminds us all that as grown-ups we need to just say "I don't get it" sometimes.
2. MISSISSIPPI BURNING. This movie feels like something HBO would have on as a mini-series this year. Powerful and timely.
3. THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST. Sometimes it's just a cast that make a movie irresistible. William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, and Geena Davis chew up scenery and make this a really enjoyable film. It helps to be on the other side of 50 when you watch this.
4. RUNNING ON EMPTY. River Phoenix should have been a huge star.
5. RAIN MAN. Oscar winner for a good reason. I like this better now than if I had actually watched it in 1988 - which I didn't.
6. DIE HARD. Why isn't this the best of the year? It started a genre. But when judged against current films, it has pacing problems. Watch those first 30 minutes and wonder if you couldn't find some plot shortcuts.
7. THEY LIVE.
8. WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? I feel like new generations don't get most of the references and that really takes away much of the appreciation for this film.
9. A FISH CALLED WANDA. Still makes me laugh like the first time.
I only watched 75 films from 1988 this year. From memory, this is probably the best of what I didn't see this year: Bull Durham, Red Heat, Dangerous Liasons, Cinema Paradiso (one of my Top Ten films!), and Eight Men Out.
I would have a hard time ranking some of the worst of the year but it would look something like this: 18 Again / Vice Versa / Big Business (the body double/body changing films of the year that weren't Big), Rambo III, Poltergeist III, and Crocodile Dundee II.
BEST TRAILERS OF 2018
1. THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN. I love that an icon of the '70s has a trailer for his last film that feels like a film from the '70s.
2. FIRST MAN. Space!!!
3. GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS. The monster reveal alone in tune with the music is as exciting a moment as I saw this year
4. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT. Nothing groundbreaking - just a combination of exciting scenes and a cool song.
5. BLACKKKLANSMAN. Spike movies make excellent trailers.
6. HEREDITARY. Kudos to a trailer not giving away the plot but still making me want to see the film.
8. SUSPIRIA. I am guessing this film is a mess. The trailer almost makes me want to try to power through it.
9. HALLOWEEN. I haven't seen the film yet but this feels like it gives away all the kills. And there's something about seeing the trailer in theaters that gives me chills.
10. SHAZAM! I may never see this film. But showing me Big reimagined as a superhero film is pretty entertaining. And if DC needs something, it's a sense of humor.
Next is my most uninformed list of the year. I don't read many magazines or watch TV shows about upcoming films anymore. I tend to find out through osmosis and YouTube telling me I might like a trailer. I lean on the comfort of favorite directors, favorite actors, franchises, and sequels. Here's what is on my radar for next year.
BEST MOVIES OF 2019
1. AVENGERS: ENDGAME (Apr) It feels like the end of an era as the dawn of the reboots are on the horizon.
2. ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD (Jul) It's hard not to envision a Tarantino take on Charles Manson not being one of my favorites of the year.
3. X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX (Jun) How close will they play it to the comic books and how far do they want to drive the franchise. This could be a very key moment going forward.
4. MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL (Jun) I have lots of love for this franchise and faith in this next entry.
5. ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL (Feb) Let's try this again another year. Hollywood doesn't do anime adaptations very well but at some point they will break that streak.
6. CAPTAIN MARVEL (Mar) I've always been hit and miss on Carol Danvers as a character. The trailer has me convinced this can work.
7. THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART (Feb) I was surprised how much I liked and still watch over again the first entry of this franchise.
8. PET SEMETARY (Apr) This King story needed a reboot with more gore to really capture how disturbing the book is in parts.
9. TOY STORY 4 (June). My heart wants me to move this further up the list. My brain tells me that the story ended in the last movie.
10. GODZILLA II: KING OF THE MONSTERS (May)
Best of TV to follow tomorrow.