The 2018 Film Madness
In December I intended to write up my top 20 or 30 movies of 2018 list as I do most years. To supplement the top 10 we had done on the podcast because there were so many movies we hadn’t gotten a chance to talk about that were in my 15-30 range that I just had so many things to say about. However, unfortunately for this podcast and this website and to the benefit of my landlord and the Silver Spring 7-Eleven I remain gainfully employed. And thus ran out of time; 2019 rolled around, I failed to complete my 31 movies in 31 days, I failed to write up a best of for TV or movies as I had planned and I felt bad because I know I let my fan down. And I’m sure while I may have been disappointed, he was broken up about it, downright inconsolable. And because of my fan I looked for every opportunity or gimmick I could to write up the piece I wanted to on what was ultimately an interesting and diverse year in film.
January ticked by and my chance to write a reasonably timed 2018 piece passed and then the Oscars came and went and with preparing for covering those I couldn’t find the time to write the “did the Oscars get this write piece,” to really celebrate 2018’s best. And then—March—women’s history month, the first month of spring, the month of war. March is not a special month and at the rate that this year is moving this particular March happened to be two years past 2018 as opposed to the normal three months. But when March rolls around, you make brackets. And this is the 2018 film bracket, a gimmick no doubt, but a solid one I think.
I would love to say this will be put to a public vote like many March brackets you’ve seen. But the problem with that is firstly, as previously stated I have a reader. And secondly, and most importantly, I don’t want to live in a world where Deadpool 2 is crowned best movie of 2018 and as the internet has proven time and again, you cannot, and will not, have nice things. So it’s going to be decided in house which of course is not what you want to hear for a decision as monumental as this but I (and whomever I end up going to for guidance) will be as objective as possible and if it all comes down to it and in a few week’s time I’m writing a piece about how Aquaman is the best movie of 2018, so be it.
Objective seeding is always important for any bracket. I still remember that mess of a Disney/Pixar bracket that was cycling around last year that had no concern for seeding at all with stuff like The Incredibles against Wall-E and Finding Nemo up against Inside Out in the first round.
I started with the 85 movies I saw in 2018, not an exhaustive representation of all the movies that came out in 2018 for sure but I think the ones that I didn’t get to were probably not in much danger of making an impact in the bracket anyway. My apologies to the Christopher Robin and Ready Player One fans out there. Then gave them all a weighted rating based on Rotten Tomatoes critic rating and number of critics.
Rotten Tomatoes score is problematic for a plethora of reasons that are not worth going into here because I neither have the time nor do you have the interest. But for this particular exercise it’s about a good a tool as we have to seed these films. And look at it this way, at least I didn’t use IMDb. After ranking all 85 movies based on their weighted score, I split them up into four “divisions,” action, comedy, drama, other. The first three categories are self-explanatory, other was where the movies that didn’t fit into any of action, comedy, or drama, or fit into too many of them went. I also made the decision to put foreign movies there because drama was already a packed category.
I only cheated on one movie’s place in the tournament and that was Monsters and Men, originally a 14 seed in the drama category, it just felt wrong bumping Beautiful Boy out of the bracket entirely and it made sense to instead drop Monsters and Men which was not only low ranked, it was probably the least viewed film in the bracket. And what is a March bracket without a little chicanery with the seeding anyway? And other than that, the seeding is straight from the numbers—and believe me I tried to figure out as many ways as I could to work the numbers to get Robin Hood in there, but it just wasn’t happening. At an incredible 27.59 weighted score, the modern classic, Robin Hood, didn’t even come close to sniffing the bracket. But like Ben Simmons in 2016 and Zlatan in 2018 Robin Hood is sitting this one out to give everyone else a fighting chance, and isn’t that the true moral victory at the end of it all.
First Four Out
There is no consolation prize tournament for these four teams but its still always good to rub a little salt in the wounds on selection day.
Mary Queen of Scots
An ultimately underwhelming movie that I have spoken about and written about. The most disappointing thing about Mary Queen of Scots remains its squandering of an incredible lead duo. And in a year that was defined by great female performances and female lead films, Mary Queen of Scots looked like it could have been the best of them all coming in to the year. But instead at the end it ends up all but forgotten.
I will maybe never understand why Luca Guadagnino followed up one of the most beautiful and reserved films of 2017, Call Me By Your Name, with a gruesome body horror remake of 1977 classic horror film. There are parts of the Suspiria remake that are horrifying and beautiful to look at which comes as no surprise as Guadagnino has proved himself an excellent filmmaker. But in lacking all subtlety and nuance the film ends up being an ambitious and brash failure. Let’s hope Guadagnino’s next film has more bikes and strip must and less disemboweling.
The House That Jack Built
A two-and-a-half-hour movie that is essentially five short films about murdering mostly women and small children wrapped in a dull Dante’s Inferno allusion is about the most Lars von Trier thing I can think of. One day, Von Trier will make a movie that isn’t trying to assault the audience with a fireplace poker. That day is not today unfortunately. This is the man who released a five-and-a-half-hour director’s cut of Nymphomaniac so maybe there is no saving him.
I continue to sort of like this movie despite myself. The plot is complete nonsense, the fact that the entire film has one single word of Russian in it is preposterous, and it ends up being about as sexy as it is action-packed which is to say, not at all. But I continue to be fascinated by it. Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is compelling if wasted on a one-dimensional character. It was to this film’s downfall that it marketed itself as the sexy Jennifer Lawrence spy thriller because while there is a lot of sex in this movie it is anything but sexy. But Red Sparrow is still a lot of fun to watch—even if most of that fun is derived from the sheer absurdity.