A 2018 Recap: The Best Of Lists That Never Were

You may have noticed an annual staple of The Sacred Wall was conspicuously absent during the past year. You see, despite all intentions to finish my Best of 2018 lists from last year, forces outside my control – and oftentimes in my control – prevented those lists from being finished. I am incredibly sorry about this. I had so many great lists half-finished, ready to be shared, and dedicated to some underrated films that I desperately wanted to write up. However, just because I won’t be able to do a full write-up on the best and worst films of last year doesn’t mean I can’t give you a little taste of what was to come. So I thought I’d present the lists, without the full write-ups, for your perusal. And I’ll even throw in a few summaries of the list as a whole, just for your benefit! I hope you enjoy, and I look forward to remedying this mistake and shortcoming in the coming months for the miracle that was 2019.

Worst Films of 2018

Boy, there were some real stinkers in 2018. I don’t mean in terms of quality – it still feels wrong to bash a film where everyone’s trying their best. I’m talking about films that distill children’s and blockbuster themes into a series of clichés, as a means of taking advantage of viewers. Peter Rabbit, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and Mortal Engines all offer a series of lazy clichés and bad decisions to tell the most typical stories possible (at least Peter Rabbit is so ridiculously bad it’s good). Other films are just lazy, like The Happytime Murders, Mile 22, and Fifty Shades Freed. Oscar-nominee Mirai is one of the most insufferable films of all time, despite looking quite lovely – it’s just a three-year old screaming loudly for eighty minutes. And then there are films that, while admittedly big swings, just make every wrong decision, in glorious fashion. This includes Life Itself, which I’ve since watched three times in its ridiculous pomposity, HBO’s Fahrenheit 451, which an was unwatchably bad adaptation of the novel, and my Worst of 2019, Gotti. Travolta’s crime epic is what happens when you fail to understand the mob genre and try to make a movie. I loved its terribleness. But don’t take my word for it – look at the list below and judge for yourself!

10. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
9. Peter Rabbit
8. Mortal Engines
7.  Mirai
6. The Happytime Murders
5. Mile 22
4. Fifty Shades Freed
3. Life Itself
2. Fahrenheit 451
1. Gotti

Top Ten Films of 2018

2018 was not a great year for film, but it was a consistently good one. In fact, the best film I saw in 2018 was Donald Glover’s This Is America, the culture conquering music video that tackled weighty issues and topics in a series of sometimes comical, sometimes terrifying vignettes that still haunt me to this day. It was the best film of 2018, and it wasn’t even a film, per se! As for narrative features, I had a tie for tenth place – a result that will likely repeat itself this year. This tie followed two alcoholics attempting to make art – Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? and Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born. Both films were technically stunning tales of characters dealing with human connection despite misanthropy, childhood trauma, and crippling addictions, all featuring some of the best acting of the year. Also tackling alcohol abuse and weighty issues was Paul Schrader’s First Reformed, a 70s throwback with an all-time great performance from Ethan Hawke. My Top Eleven featured a respectful mix between artsy Oscar contenders, including Alfonso Cuarón’s introspective Roma and Yorgos Lanthimos’ gonzo satire The Favourite, as well as big budget blockbusters like John Krasinski’s remarkable A Quiet Place and Ryan Coogler’s superhero-defining Black Panther. Two of my favorite films of the year were Bo Burnham’s generation-defining Eighth Grade and Spike Lee’s all-time great BlacKkKlansman, two films that everyone needs to see. But at the end of the day, there were two films that I knew would battle it out for the top slot. I only gave one A+ last year – Damien Chazelle’s First Man, a terrific look at what humans have to give up to achieve perfection. But if there’s one film I’m still thinking about months (and at this point, a whole year) later, it’s Lynne Ramsey’s Taxi Driver takedown You Were Never Really Here. Ramsey’s film is powerful and haunting, showing the fracturing of the human soul, and the honesty and love required to mend that breaking. It’s a film where the violence has weight, and even two enemies can come together in dying moments to hold hands and sing each other to sleep. It’s a contender for Best of the Decade, and easily my choice for Best of 2018.

10. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
10. A Star Is Born
9. First Reformed
8. Roma
7. The Favourite
6. A Quiet Place
5. Eighth Grade
4. BlacKkKlansman
3. Black Panther
2. First Man
1. You Were Never Really Here

Special Citation: This Is America

Top Ten Albums of 2018

2018 was a pretty good year for music, when all is said and done. It was a year that gave us two worthy soundtracks in A Star Is Born and Black Panther. It was the year where rising pop stars like Ariana Grande (Sweetener) and Robyn (Honey) could rank alongside legends like David Byrne (American Utopia) and the late Prince (Piano & A Microphone 1983). We had albums as varied as Father John Misty’s folky God’s Favorite Customer and Mitsky’s indie hip-hop masterpiece Be The Cowboy. But at the end of the day, only two albums emerged as contenders for best of the year. I was particularly fond of Kacey Musgraves’ Grammy-winning Golden Hour, which is easily the best country album in a decade. But it was Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer which won my heart, thanks to its stunning visual album, its all-time great music videos, the incorporation of artists like Prince and Brian Wilson, and some of the best songs of the century/millennium. And these albums offered up some of the year’s Best Songs, too, as Monáe’s “Make Me Feel” also takes the Top Song title, joined by Gaga and Cooper’s “Shallow,” and Grande’s “Thank U, Next.” Also making the list is Glover’s aforementioned “This Is America,” and Zedd’s “The Middle.” 2018 was a phenomenal year for music, and this list of ten proves as much.

10. American Utopia – David Byrne
9. Sweetener – Ariana Grande
8. God’s Favorite Customer – Father John Misty
7. Piano & A Microphone 1983 – Prince
6. Be The Cowboy – Mitsky
5. Honey – Robyn
4. Black Panther: The Album
3. A Star Is Born: The Soundtrack
2. Golden Hour – Kacey Musgraves
1. Dirty Computer – Janelle Monáe

5. “The Middle” – Zedd
4. “Thank U, Next” – Ariana Grande
3. “This Is America” – Childish Gambino
2. “Shallow” – Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
1. “Make Me Feel” – Janelle Monáe

The Sacred Wall Awards

And finally, we have The Sacred Wall Awards, my own personal version of The Oscars. It’s a shame I didn’t get to write this article up – not only because of the support I wanted to give for clear “best” performances like Elsie Fisher in Eighth Grade, Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born (the only nominee shared in that category with the Oscars), or Tim Blake Nelson in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, but also for a litany of films that didn’t receive their due come Oscar time. Films like Support The Girls and Blindspotting, Suspiria and Vox Lux, the best documentary of the decade Minding the Gap, and of course the feel-good classics Christopher Robin and Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! Hell, I didn’t even have a chance to write about how Hereditary’s gonzo twist was the best movie moment of the year! Oh well, c’est la vie. The full list of Sacred Wall winners are listed below, and I’ll even throw in clips of the scenes in question for good measure. I implore you to look at the list – these are films and moments that mean a lot to me, and I hope they’ll someday mean a lot to you, too!

Best Actor in a Leading Role

  1. Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born
  2. Joaquin Phoenix – You Were Never Really Here
  3. Ethan Hawke – First Reformed
  4. Robert Redford – The Old Man and the Gun
  5. John David Washington – BlacKkKlansman
  6. Ryan Gosling – First Man

Best Actress in a Leading Role

  1. Elsie Fisher – Eighth Grade
  2. Carey Mulligan – Wildlife
  3. Melissa McCarthy – Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  4. Lady Gaga – A Star Is Born
  5. Olivia Colman – The Favourite
  6. Emily Blunt – Mary Poppins Returns/Regina Hall – Support the Girls/Joanna Kulig – Cold War (THREE-WAY TIE) 

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Mahershala Ali – Green Book
  2. Michael B. Jordan – Black Panther
  3. Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman
  4. Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?:
  5. Josh Hamilton – Eighth Grade
  6. Armie Hammer – Sorry To Bother You/Steven Yeun – Burning/Tim Blake Nelson – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (THREE-WAY TIE)

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Rachel Weisz – The Favourite
  2. Tilda Swinton – Suspiria
  3. Emma Stone – The Favourite
  4. Letitia Wright – Black Panther
  5. Haley Lu Richardson – Support the Girls
  6. Natalie Portman – Vox Lux

Best Director

  1. Lynne Ramsey – You Were Never Really Here
  2. Damien Chazelle – First Man
  3. Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman
  4. Yorgos Lanthimos – The Favourite
  5. Alfonso Cuarón – Roma
  6. Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born

Best Original Screenplay

  1. The Favourite
  2. First Reformed
  3. Eighth Grade
  4. Sorry To Bother You
  5. Roma
  6. Blindspotting

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. BlacKkKlansman
  2. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  3. If Beale Street Could Talk
  4. Wildlife
  5. Burning
  6. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Best Original Score

  1. If Beale Street Could Talk
  2. Suspiria
  3. First Man
  4. The Other Side of the Wind
  5. Mary Poppins Returns
  6. The Old Man and the Gun 

Best Original Song

  1. “Shallow” – A Star Is Born
  2. “All The Stars” – Black Panther
  3. “Wrapped Up” – Vox Lux
  4. “Suspirium” – Suspiria
  5. “When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  6. “A Place Called Slaughter Race” – Ralph Breaks the Internet 

Best Animated Feature

  1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  2. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  3. The Incredibles 2
  4. Isle of Dogs

Best Documentary Feature

  1. Minding the Gap
  2. Watergate
  3. Won’t You Be My Neighbor
  4. Three Identical Strangers
  5. Love, Gilda 

Best Foreign Language Film

  1. Roma
  2. Burning
  3. Cold War
  4. Shoplifters
  5. Capernaum

Best Horror Film: A Quiet Place
Best Comedy Film: Blockers
Best Superhero Film: Black Panther
Best Blockbuster: Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Best Sound Mixing: A Quiet Place
Best Sound Editing: First Man
Best Production Design: Bad Times At The El Royale
Best Cinematography: First Man
Best Costume Design: The Favourite
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Suspiria
Best Film Editing: The Other Side of the Wind
Best Visual Effects: First Man
Best Ensemble: The Favourite 

Best Voice-Over/Motion Capture Performance

  1. Jim Cummings – Christopher Robin
  2. Shameik Moore – Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  3. Ben Whishaw – Paddington 2
  4. Bryan Cranston – Isle of Dogs
  5. Sarah Silverman – Ralph Breaks the Internet

Best Young Actor/Actress

  1. Elsie Fisher – Eighth Grade
  2. Ed Oxenbould – Wildlife
  3. Millicent Simmons – A Quiet Place
  4. Raffey Cassidy – Vox Lux
  5. Zain Al Rafeea – Capernaum

Best Use of a Song

  1. “Leaning On The Everlasting Arms” – First Reformed
  2. “What’s Up” – The Miseducation of Cameron Post
  3. “Helplessly Hoping” – Annihilation
  4. “Mamma Mia” – Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!
  5. “Dwa Serduszka” – Cold War
  6. “Yellow” – Crazy Rich Asians

Best Nostalgic/Tear-Jerking Moment

  1. The Ending – First Reformed
  2. “But I Found You” – Christopher Robin
  3. The Neighborhood Fights For Paddington – Paddington 2
  4. Killmonger Dies – Black Panther
  5. “Can You Check The Closet?” – Halloween
  6. Kayla Hugs Her Dad/Cleo Holds Her Daughter” – Roma

Best Scene of the Year

  1. The Nuts Scene – Hereditary
  2. Singing Into Death – You Were Never Really Here
  3. Crash Landing Opening – First Man
  4. The Creatures Are In The House – A Quiet Place
  5. The Ball – The Favourite
  6. Shallow – A Star Is Born
  7. The Bathroom Fight – Mission: Impossible – Fallout
  8. The First Vlog – Eighth Grade
  9. When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings – The Ballad of Buster Scrugs
  10. Returning to the Mansion – Widows
  11. What’s Up – The Miseducation of Cameron Post
  12. Dancing Queen – Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!

Special WTF Mention: The Twist – Life Itself

Well, I hope you all enjoyed this look back on 2018. I’ve got some lists from 2019 all lined up for this week and going forward, so I hope you stick around. See you all real soon!

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