Similar to the two “Strangers” films, “He’s Out There” (2018, now on Netflix) strips the horror genre down to basics and tells a scary story of people in random peril at a remote cabin. It plays the requisite horror notes well, includes one moment that literally made me flinch, and offers a touch of mystery to keep a viewer wondering about the villain’s motivations. And while I wasn’t bored by the film, I knew I had Yvonne Strahovski to look at if the plot ceased to hold my interest.
“Mortal Engines” (2018) is a super-fun adventure that follows Hester (Hera Hilmar), a girl on a quest for revenge upon Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), head of the London Guild of Historians, against a backdrop of social stratification and xenophobia in the Great Hunting Ground.
“Glass,” the trilogy topper we didn’t know we needed, is a unique animal. It’s hard for me to put a finger on how I feel about it, as it is a very unconventional superhero film, choosing to focus on narrative rather than CGI battles. Today’s cinema is dominated by Marvel and DC blockbusters (most recently the CGI fest “Aquaman”), but writer-director M. Night Shyamalan grounds us in reality by keeping everything just believable enough.
A priest, a singer and a vacuum salesman walk into a hotel … What sounds like the beginning of a good joke is the basis for writer-director Drew Goddard’s newest work, “Bad Times at the El Royale” (2018), set in 1969. Goddard (“Daredevil”) channels his inner Quentin Tarantino with a layered mystery of murder and deceit, dripping with style and intrigue. The El Royale hotel, which lies on the state line of California and Nevada, clearly has a history, and it’s almost a character itself.
“Aquaman” (2018) is an artistic feast, with its underwater city of Atlantis, its bevy of sea creatures and the way the ocean peoples’ hair flows in the water. This latest DC Extended Universe film takes full advantage of the possibilities of modern special effects. Jason Momoa is a pretty good special effect, too, as the title character. As we know from “Justice League,” he isn’t like the cartoon version, but he boasts brawn and charm and makes all the punchlines about Aquaman instantly outdated.
I don’t classify myself as a gamer, but video games are definitely still a part of my life. Having played through multiple “choose your own adventure”-style games, I was excited to give “Bandersnatch” (2018) a try. I have enjoyed nearly every episode of “Black Mirror,” so I was excited to dive in to this movie spinoff of the Netflix series.
These are the movies and TV shows I’m looking forward to in the new year:
Our year-end countdown lists wrap up with Shaune’s picks for the 10 best movies of 2018:
“Bird Box” (Netflix) is the latest in the trend of apocalyptic thrillers where the end times arrive in a bizarre and sketchily explained fashion, following “It Comes at Night,” “A Quiet Place” and the “Cloverfield” trilogy. It’s easy to call this the visual answer to the audio-based “A Quiet Place.” There, creatures hunt by their sense of hearing; here, the malevolent force invades people’s brains through their visual cortex. It’s the childlike notion of hiding under the covers made into a motion picture: If you can’t see the monster, you’re fine.
The dominant genre of 2018 continued to be superheroes; even with the “X-Men” Universe and DC Extended Universe releasing only one film each, the three Marvel Cinematic Universe movies were impossible to overlook. Still, this was a less blockbustery year than 2017, and by year’s end I had seen at least one really good film in every genre. From a throwback thriller to an arthouse gem, here are my 10 favorite films of 2018.