Every year, I take a look back at all the movies that I saw over the year, as well as think about major news headlines and stories that broke during the year, and I reflect. What did we learn? What did we see? Is there a new trend brewing? What shook cinema this year? Here are the things I learned and took away from the movie year that was 2018.
5 – WHERE WERE ALL THE LAUGHS?
As I was scrolling through the movies that I saw in 2018, I made a startling discovery: comedy sucked in 2018. Sure, we got two truly great comedies in Game Night and Blockers, but that’s really it for good comedies. And I’m not talking comedy in the absolute broadest sense, but movies that are pure comedies. There were a number of movies that touched on the comedic genre, like Crazy Rich Asians, Sorry to Bother You, and Instant Family, all of which offered up comedic moments, but had other elements of drama, romance, or whatever the hell you consider Sorry to Bother You (satire? maybe?). But as far as pure comedies go, they were few and far between, because after Game Night and Blockers, the best comedy was Book Club? Life of the Party? Venom? Is this a representation of our time? Where the world is so sad and the news keeps getting more and more depressing each day putting us in the state of numbness? 2018 was a very dark year for movies, so hopefully 2019 lightens up a bit.
4 – ASIAN DOMINATION
The Asian community is one of the many under-represented groups in Hollywood. Aside from foreign films and the occasional Asian actor popping up in a movie, Asian cinema was a really small piece of Hollywood. But that all changed in 2018, as Asian culture was everywhere and it was glorious to watch. Here are a few things that happened to Asian cinema in 2018:
- Crazy Rich Asians dominated the box office and was nominated for a few Golden Globes.
- Awkwafina starred in two $100 million movies, as well as hosted SNL.
- John Cho continued to prove his worth as an actor in Searching
- Shoplifters and Burning are considered two of the best films of the year and two of the best foreign films of the decade.
- Speaking of Burning, The Walking Dead‘s Steven Yeun got tons of awards buzz for his terrifyingly calm and cool performance in the crime film.
This might not seem like much, but this is the start of a new, exciting movement in Hollywood that I cannot wait to watch.
3 – WOMEN-DIRECTED FILMS TAKE THE SPOTLIGHT
Speaking of under-represented groups, 2018 was a great year for women directors. In the past when thinking about a woman-directed film, most people’s minds would go straight for Katherine Bigelow, Nancy Meyers, or maybe a Nora Ephron. But this year, we got a slew of women behind the camera, ranging from micro-budget indies to blockbusters. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Leave No Trace (Debra Granik)
- The Rider (Chloe Zhao)
- The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Desiree Akhavan)
- What They Had (Elizabeth Chomko)
- Blockers (Kay Cannon)
- Can You Ever Forgive Me (Marielle Heller)
- You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay)
These are just some. We also got Ava Duvernay’s A Wrinkle in Time, a film I was not a fan of, but a blockbuster film with a gigantic budget that Duvernay made her own. Here’s the full list of movies directed by women in 2018. The fact that women filmmakers are making big strides forward in Hollywood is amazing. It ushers in new voices and fresh perspectives on life and filmmaking that are much needed in this franchise-obsessed world we live in. Like the rise of Asian cinema in Hollywood, the rise of women filmmakers and giving them opportunities to make big budget blockbusters has me excited for the future of Hollywood.
2 – BLACK PANTHER DEFEATS THANOS
Sure, T’challa may have vanished into a pile of dust after Thanos snapped his finger, but not so much at the box office. At the beginning of 2018, all eyes were on Avengers: Infinity War, as we had waited ten years and nearly twenty films to see the Avengers fight Thanos. This was to be the biggest movie of 2018. But Ryan Coogler had other ideas. Black Panther came out in February to glowing reviews from critics and audiences, claiming it one of the best movies in the MCU (it is). But nobody expected what was to come next. The film opened huge ($202 million, respectively), but the staying power was the story. In a run only similar to that of a James Cameron film, Black Panther was a box office juggernaut, grossing over $100 million in its second weekend and continuing to be at the top or near the top of the charts for months. Even when Infinity War came out at the end of April, Black Panther was ranked fifth that weekend. Black Panther stayed in the top ten until the middle of May, staying thirteen weeks in there and grossing just short of $700 million. The film ended up grossing a sliver of $700 million domestically, making it the third highest grossing movie of all-time (surpassing Titanic, which is insane), and being the highest grossing movie of 2018. With this gigantic box office, great critical response, and the cultural importance of the film, Black Panther has become too big to ignore and will most likely become the first comic book movie ever nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars and could even pull off a win.
1 – NETFLIX IS NOW AN AWARDS CONTENDER
Since Netflix began making original films back in 2015, they have tried their best to be a legitimate studio for awards, particularly Oscar glory. Their first film, Beasts of No Nation, looked bound to get a nomination for Idris Elba, as he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild that year. Yet Oscar had other ideas and snubbed Elba. Word around town was that the Academy didn’t see Netflix movies as “real” movies, that streaming movies isn’t the same as seeing it in theaters. For the last few years, Netflix bought up and created tons of original content. They had hopefuls in Okja, Tallulah, The Meyerowitz Stories, all to no avail. But in 2018 Netflix became a surefire awards contender with Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, which is an Oscar favorite and almost a guarantee to bring Cuaron his second Oscar for directing. But on top of Roma’s success, Netflix has been working with awards-caliber directors, like Paul Greengrass and the Coen Brothers, giving them big budgets and free rein to make the film they want without studio interference. They also changed their release strategy by giving these awards contenders week-long theater runs before they being streaming. With the right film and a new release strategy, Netflix has changed the game and now must be taken seriously when it comes to awards. In 2019, along with whatever films they pick up at Sundance, SXSW, and Cannes, Netflix will be releasing The Irishman, Martin Scorsese’s $100+ million gangster epic starring Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, among others. Because of this new found legitimacy, this is an Oscar frontrunner next year. But beyond that, this might be the new way we see movies. There were rumblings of streaming big, theatrical films on-demand before, but now that we are getting them on Netflix, what’s next? This could be a changing of the guard in terms of how we see movies forever.
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