- Avengers: Infinity War: I said this in my review when the movie hit in April but Infinity War is a stunning achievement in the way it brings together almost character in the MCU in a way that seems effortless in how well the story flows and how great the character interactions are. Thor and Iron Man meeting the Guardians is something we’ve been dying to see for years and Infinity War did not disappoint and Josh Brolin’s performance as Thanos justified all the build-up, giving us one of the greatest villains in superhero film history and demonstrating why it would take 20+ superheroes just to stand a slight chance at stopping him. The action and scale of the movie is also stunning and hopefully, this year’s Endgame is a worthy closing chapter to not just this but the entire first decade of the MCU.
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: Speaking of stunning superhero achievements, Spider-Verse is an amazing film that pushes animation into places we’ve never seen before to tell a story that is not only a great telling of Miles Morales’ origin story but a crazy, universe-jumping love letter to all things Spidey. The voice cast is amazing, especially Nicolas Cage as Spider-Man Noir (2018 is definitely the start of the Cagaisance) and John Mulaney as Spider-Ham, both offering up great comedic relief to Shameik Moore’s Miles. Spider-Verse was an absolute blast and one of the few movies in recent memory that I can remember walking out of with a literal endorphin rush.
- Mission: Impossible Fallout: Much like The Fast & Furious franchise, the Mission: Impossible franchise has only hit the heights of greatness deep into the franchise (not to say the first few MIs were bad but the series only truly got great with 4, Ghost Protocol). Tom Cruise again proves how he’s some sort of superhuman being, doing stunts that no normal person would even attempt, let alone one of the biggest movie stars in history, with highlights being hanging off a helicopter and a roof jump that caused him to break his ankle. The movie also smartly does something the franchise almost never does and brings back the excellent Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust and Sean Harris’ Solomon Lane and picks up from Rogue Nation, giving the franchise continuity that has been largely been missing and letting it build off relationships and events from the prior film. There’s also a ton of fun fan service nods to prior films and a great, fun performance from Henry Cavill, playing the CIA’s black ops wrecking ball August Walker and the bathroom fight with Ethan, Ilsa, and August fighting some random henchmen is one of the best action sequences of the year.
- Ant-Man and The Wasp: A much-needed bit of levity after the spectacular carnage of Infinity War, Ant-Man and The Wasp took everything we loved from the first Ant-Man and gave us all of it plus more, especially with Evangeline Lilly taking up the mantle of The Wasp. Paul Rudd continues to be the absolute best as Scott Lang, thoroughly charming and hilarious and a constant bit of positivity even when the MCU is at it’s lowest and darkest point. Ant-Man and The Wasp is a fantastic romp of a movie that does essentially boiled down to a game of hot potato playing out across San Fransisco but everyone involved is a ton of fun, like Walton Goggins, and there’s so much more fun set pieces and gags with Ant-Man and The Wasp’s ability to shrink and grow (or cause other objects to shrink or grow) that makes this corner of the MCU unique from everything else.
- Deadpool 2: Man, there were so many comic book movies out this year. The first Deadpool was an absolute raunchy, violent blast and while this sequel doesn’t have quite the same impact, it was still so much fun to hang out with the Merc with a Mouth for another two hours or so. Ryan Reynolds is still absolutely perfect in the role of Wade/Deadpool and the movie does a great job of expanding the world to include more jabs at the X-Men and more mutants joining in on the fun. David Leitch brings his action chops to the film and ups the action exponentially over the first film but also proves adept at comedy, including a sequence involving X-Force that is probably one of the top 3 most hilarious things on film this year. Josh Brolin also continued his domination of Summer 2018 with an excellent portrayal of Cable, making him equally as badass but definitely distinct from Thanos and Deadpool and Cable’s back and forth was everything comic fans could hope for.
- Aquaman: Aquaman is a big, fun, goofy blast that fully embraces both the epic scale and wackiness of its source material to deliver an almost three hour epic that’s full of things like sharks that fire laser beams, Dolph Lundgren as an underwater king, crab people and Julie Andrews voicing a giant sea monster. Jason Momoa brings his charming broness from Justice League and Patrick Wilson does a great job devouring scenery as Orm and James Wan delivers some truly excellent action, including a rooftop chase across the buildings in Sicily, and everything culminates in basically Lord of the Rings but underwater. It could probably be shorter but Aquaman is a crazy visual feast along the lines of Avatar and easily the second best DC movie behind Wonder Woman.
- Bad Times at the El Royale: Drew Goddard’s underseen 60’s thriller was a fantastic follow-up to Cabin in the Woods, although the scale and cast were definitely ramped up from that horror blast. The cast across the board in El Royale was amazing, especially Cynthia Erivo and Chris Hemsworth takes absolute control when he arrives in the final act. The set design and soundtrack choices were also superb and completely transported you to the late ’60s and Goddard directs some sequences that can stand up to the best of Tarantino as far as drawn out tension goes. There have been many attempts to replicate a Tarantino movie but Bad Times at the El Royale is one of the few that can stand alongside QT’s library.
- Creed II: Creed II was everything you would want and have come to love from the Rocky series, delivering a solid and thoroughly entertaining follow-up to Ryan Coogler’s film while lacking a bit in the style department as he moved into a producer role. Creed II is definitely one of the best films of the year if, for nothing else, making Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) a fully formed character and the saga of Ivan and his son Viktor (Florian Munteanu) was a shockingly dramatic and interesting arc paralleling the continuing story of Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan). Stallone was just as great as the previous two entries in the Rocky franchise, the boxing was exciting, there was a great training montage, if you’re a fan of Rocky and didn’t enjoy Creed II, I don’t know what to tell you.
- Black Panther: I really liked Black Panther but it was definitely not the best MCU movie of the year, mostly for it’s kind of terrible finale and especially the messy, CGI filled final battle between T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) but the South Korea sequence was phenomenal and the world building was exceptional for introducing us to the world of Wakanda and the characters within, with Danai Guirra’s Okoye and Letitia Wright’s Shuri being definite standouts. Michael B. Jordan, despite the aforementioned weak final battle, was also a great villain, with a strong point of view that made you understand his goals, even if his methods were extreme and Chadwick Boseman built off T’Challa’s introduction in Civil War and offered more proof of the MCU’s perfect casting accuracy, making T’Challa both convincingly regal but with a charming lighter side as well.
- Overlord: Probably the biggest surprise of 2018, Overlord’s only claim to fame before it’s release in October was that it might have been a Cloverfield movie but it turned out to be a gory, fun piece of pure B-movie goodness as it combined an extremely solid World War II story with a Wolfensteinesque horror plot and it changed the ratio of both until the end, where it’s just crazy Nazi zombie madness. The cast was great, including Wyatt Russell finally truly channeling his bad ass dad for the first time, and there were some excellent set pieces, including the opening paratrooper drop into France and the turning point toward the middle where the movie reveals the true horror of what’s going on under the church of a small French town.
- A Quiet Place- Extremely solid horror and a great showcase for John Krasinsky’s directing chops
- Incredibles 2- Loses some points for being kind of a rehash of the first movie but it was just great to spend time with the Parr family again after over a decade without them.
- Upgrade- Crazy sci-fi action from Leigh Whannell that’s the over the top in the best way
- Mandy- Pure Nic Cage insanity that was a little too bizarre and esoteric to make it into my top 10
- Game Night- The best pure comedy movie of 2018 with fantastic performances from Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Jesse Plemons and the rest of the cast.
I’m like the J. Jonah Jameson of Everything Action, writing and editing and constantly demanding pictures of Spider-Man.