Sunday, 30 December 2018

Ross's Wrap Up: Top 10 Movies of 2018 (with 2 bonus lists)

And so it is another year passes and I get to reflect on the time that passed. Unfortunately I haven't been able to see every movie that's came out this year but that's something I aim to remedy in 2019 as I'm sure there's movies I missed this year that would have easily made this list. So what made it to the top? Let's take a look.

10. Ready Player One

Starting at the top we have one of the best Spielberg movies not even made by the man himself. This is one I actually got to see twice in the cinema. As a movie it's an absolute blast as you find yourself totally rooting against the evil corporation, and the pop culture references felt like they were made just for me. Also that Stanley Kubrick's Shining sequence will forever remain in my heart. If you love retro movies and video games, definitely give this a shot.

9. Deadpool 2

This movie had the unfortunate distinction of having to follow up what has to now be considered a modern classic in the first Deadpool. While this may not have been quite as good, it was still a worthy sequel to the original as you can tell everyone involved is just having fun with this. Ryan Reynolds is still fantastic in the lead role and the addition of Josh Brolin as Cable was just brilliant. One of the funniest movies of the year and hopefully we'll get a sequel.

8. A Star Is Born

I feel like I'm gonna get crucified by some people for putting this so low on the list. I feel like this movie had an insanely strong Act 1 and 2, but Act 3 just fell a little short for me and didn't have the same emotional impact for me as it seemed to for so many others. Still this is a great look into the difficulties of fame and fortune and how we deal with it. The soundtrack is great (even if a few relatives have played it into the ground) and worth checking out. 

7. Bohemian Rhapsody

I'm a big fan of Queen and so this was a biopic I was eager to see when I first saw the trailer and heard everyone raving about it. While it wasn't perfect and the life of Freddy could have been explored a little more, I can't fault the performances as Rami Malek was phenomenal as Freddie Mercury and deserves many accolades for his efforts. The final 10-20 minutes of the Live Aid performance was just tremendous and it's a movie moment I can't wait to revisit again. 

6. Black Panther

I almost totally forgot that this movie came out this year as it feels like it's been out forever but that might just be because it was February that it was originally released. This one has already been critically lauded to hell and back and for good reason. This is one of the MCUs standout out movies and seemed to come out of nowhere as we'd only seen Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War. I think it's safe to say that Black Panther has entered the hearts of millions seeing as the movie is now the 9th highest grossing of all time and in terms of the rest of the MCU, it only trails behind the huge Avengers movies so this is an impressive feat to say the least. Check this one out immediately. 

5. Ralph Breaks the Internet

I'm surprised myself that this one made it so high onto the list, but I genuinely adored this. I was already a big fan of the first movie and this one was even better in my opinion. It managed a balancing act of telling an engaging, emotional story (one that got to me) while also providing some hilarious moments in the form of Disney's many many intellectual properties and even some observations on modern society that surprised me. Disney knocked it out of the park and I don't think they can do any wrong at this point. 

4. Hereditary

This movie. Jesus this movie. I'm gonna be honest I don't think I've had a movie psychologically affect me like this since The Babadook. There are some images and sounds from this movie that are forever burned into my mind and I'm afraid that they'll never leave. The atmosphere is almost deafening in how dreading it is and the performance of Toni Collette has to be commended as this couldn't have been easy for her. I want to make it clear that this isn't a movie filled with jumpscares and monsters in closets. This is is psychological horror that burrows itself under your skin and refuses to leave until you've torn your flesh in an attempt to remove it. I love it. 

3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I have to be honest and say that I wasn't really looking forward to this one before release. I'd been so accustomed to a live action Spider Man that an animated one (and one that wasn't Peter Parker) made by Sony didn't really appeal to me and even the trailer didn't tempt me. Thankfully I was very incorrect in my assumptions and this turned out to be better than I could have hoped and I'll even say it's better than any live action Spider-Man we've ever had. The story is interesting, the multiple Spider-Men, Women and..... animals were all great and all had their own unique personalities to the point where I'd love to see them in their own adventures. While the Kingpin wasn't the greatest villain, he wasn't really the focus. This was a blast from start to end and I had a huge smile on my face all the way. Consider me a fan of Miles Morales now. 

2. Halloween

Yes while this isn't better than most movies on this list or even the best horror on the list, this is one I just personally adored to the point where I've now seen it 3 times in the cinema and plan to purchase the Blu Ray as soon as it's released. Hell I even bought the damn soundtrack on vinyl. The original Halloween is one of my all time favourite movies and this movie felt like a true sequel to that. Michael Myers was once again scary. He wasn't some plot point like Laurie Strode's brother or the tool of a satanic cult. He was just pure evil incarnate and I loved him more than I have in a while. Also Jamie Lee Curtis was just superb as Laurie and deserves some kind of award. Just please no more sequels Hollywood. This was the perfect ending for such a hallowed character. 

1. Avengers: Infinity War

Of course this had to be number 1. I've raved about this movie all year and I'd easily slot it into my top 5 movies of all time. I saw it 3 times in cinema and have seen it a further 2 times since it was released on Blu Ray. This movie had the seemingly impossible task of making the culmination of 10 years of work and effort satisfactory and it did it in spades. Every major character got a chance to shine, Thanos was a fantastic villain and one of the best we've ever seen in terms of comic book movies. It did all this and still had the balls to give it's audience the bleakest ending possible, making even Empire Strikes Back seem like a happy ending in comparison. This is a movie I've been waiting years for and the wait was worth it.

And now for a little bonus I thought that I'd list my 5 least favourite films of the year. Like I said earlier, I haven't seen every movie this year so I' sure that there were others that could make the list, but these were the ones I witnessed that deserved to be panned in my eyes.

5. Fifty Shades Freed

This one's a bit of a cheat since I haven't actually seen this outside of the trailer, but the fact that this movie exists and the fact that I have seen the first one and know that this is more of the same except with an actual ending earns its place here. Let's hope Twilight fan fiction never sees the light of day again.

4. The Cloverfield Paradox

While not a distinctly terrible movie, this one was just a big disappointment. I'm a big fan of Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane, but sadly this movie doesn't even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as those ones. This was just a complete bore from start to end and then it tried to salvage itself by showing the monster from the first Cloverfield to try and tie into the franchise in a move that felt lazy and uninspired.

3. The Nun

In fairness I wasn't really expecting much from this, but come on surely there could have been some effort put in here. I thought the filmmakers had learned their lesson after the first Annabelle movie, but sadly this might have been even worse with a boring plot and even more infuriating scares. How do you fuck up the potential of a zombie nun! That should have been golden. Unless she makes an appearance in the next Conjuring movie, I think this may have been the last we'll see of The Nun.

2. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Boy was this a disappointment. I feel like I'm one of the only people that really enjoyed the first Jurassic World and it's one I've watched a few times since. So when the trailer dropped I was pretty excited. I don't know what happened here but this was a mess. Many of the plot elements from the first are copied here (scientists creating an even more dangerous dinosaur, evil corporation involved) and with that, they even added a confusing and uninteresting clone storyline that didn't need to be here. The actors barely even try as everyone here is just in it for the paycheck and it sets up for a sequel that I'm no longer interested in.

Oh and when you advertise Jeff Goldblum, I expect way more that just the trailer scenes in the movie. That might have been the worst sin this movie committed.

1. Fantastic Beasts: The Crime of Grindelwald

I'm not gonna lie, I hated this movie. HATED it. When the end credits hit I couldn't help but think "Was that it?" This was such a lazy movie and it feels like the whole thing was written in autopilot by whoever scripted it. Trip to Hogwarts for the fans? Check. References to the Harry Potter movies that weren't needed? Check. A boring plot that ignores elements from the first movie for the sake of a plot that moves slower than a snail on a broken lift? Check. Keep in mind this is coming from someone who adores the Harry Potter movies and books to a point where I've spent obscene amounts of money on merch and have visited the Harry Potter studio in London and Harry Potter land in Florida. This movie was a disgrace to the franchise and I didn't enjoy any of it. Just bin it.

And now for a bonus list that's a bit different. I thought I would show a bit more personality for anyone that may not know me and thought I'd give a bonus list of my 10 favourite albums that came out this year. This year has been huge musically for me as I've discovered dozens of new bands I'd never listened to before and have been to more gigs than ever before.

I've had the Download Festival which featured some favourites like Avenged Sevenfold, Ozzy Osbourne and Guns N Roses, I went all the way to Newcastle for an Iron Maiden gig which still may be the best night of my life, got to witness the final gig of Slayer in Glasgow, and had one of the more emotional nights of my life where I got to see Bring Me The Horizon live. If it's possible, 2019 looks like it may be even better. With that said, here's the 10 albums that made my year that little bit better. Hope you enjoy.

10. Biffy Clyro - MTV Unplugged Live at the Roundhouse London

Might be a little bit of a cheat here since this is a live album with only one new song, but this is one I've been listening to since it's release and I friggin' love it. Biffy are one of the best bands in the mainstream just now and their performance here was just great from some of the better new tracks like Medicine, Re-Arrange and Small Wishes, to the modern classics we love like The Captain, Many of Horror and Bubbles all sounding great even when stripped down to an acoustic set. The version of Machines on this album is a song I use whenever I'm feeling a bit down and with that kind of power, I couldn't leave this off. 

Recommended songs: Machines, Many of Horror, Opposite

9. Evanescence - Synthesis

Again this one's a little bit of a cheat as most of these songs have been released before and there's only a couple of new tracks, but every song has been updated with an orchestra behind it and it makes almost every track sound better than it ever has. Amy Lee's voice is better than ever and I'd highly recommend the live album that recently came out as I got the chance to see these guys live back in April and the performances were just stunning. 

Recommended songs: Imperfection, Lost in Paradise, My Heart is Broken

8. Satan - Cruel Magic

This is one I've only listened to recently, but where the hell has this band been all my life? This is exactly what I was looking for. This is classic 1980s heavy metal to a tee and something that we need way more of in the current metal scene. The vocalist Brian Ross is just totally on point here and deserves a ton of praise. If you like your classic Iron Maiden, Dio or Black Sabbath then this is a band you'll want to listen to. 

Recommended songs: Into the Mouth of Eternity, Cruel Magic, The Doomsday Clock

7. Horrendous - Idol

Horrendous is a band I've quickly fallen in love with since I first listened to this album and while they've only been around since 2012 and have four albums, their music is intricate and their album covers epic. I mean look at that thing! It's horrific and it's already my wallpaper. Lovecraftian nightmares always go down well with me (as you'll see later) and this is what first attracted me to them. The entire album is definitely worth a listen for death metal enthusiasts from the quiet, dread-filled opening of ...Prescience to the epic ending of Obulus, this one is worth your time. 

Recommended songs: Soothesayer, Golgothan Tongues, Devotion - Blood for Ink

6. Zeal & Ardor - Stranger Fruit

Another one I've only listened to recently but my god has this one stuck in head since. I'm not even sure how to describe this band as I feel like they can be listened to by all kinds of music fans and find themselves loved. They tend to mix the worlds of scream metal, blues and even slave chants for what is quite the muscial experience. After this I'll definitely be checking out more of the band's work. Every track stands out on it's own and the instrumental breaks lend themselves well to the experience. Check them out no matter your musical preference. 

Recommended songs: Gravedigger's Chant, Don't You Dare, We Can't Be Found

5. Anaal Nathrakh - A New Kind of Horror

I might lose a few people with this but this is the kind of music I need in my life. This might just be the most visceral band I've ever listened to and I love it. This album was made in reference to the 100th year since the end of the First World War and the horrors that came with it and even includes many machine gun sound effects that add to the experience. This isn't a happy album but is short at 32 minutes and not a single second is wasted. I imagine this is what serial killers hear in their head while they commit their atrocities. Definitely not recommended for everyone. 

Recommended songs: Obscene as Cancer, The Reek of Fear, Forward!, The Horrid Strife

4. Judas Priest - Firepower

This was one was a bit anxious about before it's release as Judas Priest are one of my all time favourite bands and their recent work hasn't exactly been stellar. Thankfully Priest were more than up to the task and released what it probably their best album since the fantastic Painkiller. Every song here is a hit with a few that can more than live up to Priest's classics from decades past. I'm seeing them in February and I can't wait to hear some of these in person. 

Recommended songs: Lightning Strike, Never the Heroes, Rising From Ruins, Spectre

3. Revocation - The Outer Ones

This is another one that's quite recent, but it's one I've quickly fallen in love with as it just hits all the right notes for me. The band doesn't stick to one kind of metal and tends to mix the best elements of thrash and death metal for a refreshing sound. That's not to mention some of the face melting guitar solos that are some of the best I've heard in a while. Also just look at that cover! I already have a poster for this on my wall due to it's cosmic nature. Many songs also feature stories that you would likely hear in many of H.P. Lovecraft's tales of the unknown. All killer no filler. Consider me a fan. 

Recommended songs: Of Unworldy Origin, That Which Consumes All Things, Fathomless Catacombs, The Outer Ones

2. Architects - Holy Hell

This is an album I've been looking forward to for some time and there's a bit of a story behind it. Sadly back in August 2016, the band's founding member and guitarist Tom Searle passed away after a three year battle with skin cancer. It didn't seem like the band would ever make an album again, but then decided to make one that Tom would be proud of. Mission accomplished lads. This album is just terrific and you can just feel the emotion dripping through every song as the guys unleash their grief through their stunning music and especially the juggernaut of a single that is Doomsday. I'm getting to see these guys in a few weeks and I can't even imagine how emotional the night will be. Metalcore is in safe hands.

Recommended Songs: Doomsday, Hereafter, Royal Beggars, Modern Misery, Holy Hell, A Wasted Hymn

1. Ghost - Prequelle

I did keep going back and forth between the number 1 and 2 slots, but I think I'm happy with this at the top. Ghost is band I first listened to in June this year, and since then they've gone on to become of my favourite bands as I just can't get enough of them. Their songs are filled with satanic references and tales of rituals and the darker side of religion that I gravitate towards. Prequelle might actually be their best as it's the sound of a band maturing for the best and not sticking to one sound. 

This album features some of their catchiest songs and some slower ones that are definitely worthy of a listen as well. There's even two great instrumental tracks with Miasma (that sexy saxophone solo!) especially being a true highlight of the album. It's not heavy or metal or even rock a bit of the time, but it doesn't need to be. It's just Ghost and travelling down to see them with Metallica next year will be an honour.

Recommended Songs: Rats, See the Light, Pro Memoria, Dance Macabre, Witch Image, Miasma, Life Eternal

Have a happy new year everyone. And thanks for reading. It means the absolute world for me. 

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