Oscar-worthy films so far in 2018

You don’t know how thrilled I am to be writing a post like this.
I started this blog in April 2015. Being new to the avid movie-watching game, I concentrated on “catching up” with my peers and watching as many films as I could from various years and thus had little time to focus on keeping up with recent releases.
This year though, after three years of observing the countless delicious posts by my fellow bloggers listing their picks and predictions and snubs for the upcoming Academy Awards and wishing every time that I could contribute more meaningfully to the conversation, I made a resolution to focus as much as I could on watching 2018 releases so that by the time awards season came around I could finally do one of those fun posts of predictions and picks.
There still are quite a few films garnering Oscar buzz that I have yet to see–many of which haven’t had wide release in Canada yet, but a few that have (seeing First Man on Sunday though!)–but so far I’m quite pleased with the amount of 2018 flicks I’ve been able to see (44 so far) and I feel like I’ve watched enough to warrant at least an “Oscar picks so far” post! Keep in mind these are my personal picks and not what I think the Academy will choose. Comment below and let me know what you think! Click on the title to see my mini-review.

BEST PICTURE
I consider films rated 8.5/10 and up my top tier of films, ones which I’d consider worthy of a Best Picture nom. Here are the 2018 films I’ve ranked that high so far:

  1. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (9/10)
    – disappointed in the lack of buzz for this one. Two amazing performances by Hill and Phoenix in a great dramatic script that has a nice mix of straight-forward sentimentality and indie quirkiness.
  2. Paddington 2 (9/10)
    – That damn bear was just so beautiful.
  3. Hereditary (8.5/10)
    – Gut-wrenching in both its drama and its horror. Great performances, great visuals too.
  4. Isle of Dogs (8.5/10)
    – Anderson deserves more than just a Best Animated Film nomination with this one. It’s obviously visually outstanding, but the story’s great too.

 

BEST ACTRESS
Six standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Melissa McCarthy – Can You Ever Forgive Me?
    – In what is more of a character study than con-caper-flick, McCarthy shines as the tragic lead.
  2. Toni Collette – Hereditary
    – 
    The centerpiece of this family drama/horror, Collette has no trouble portraying the tortured soul of Annie.
  3. Maggie Gyllenhaal – The Kindergarten Teacher
    – Gyllenhaal’s turn is perfectly chilling and nuanced as the titular character.
  4. Emily Blunt – A Quiet Place
    – That scene walking down the stairs tho…
  5. Charlize Theron – Tully
    – A great natural performance by Theron of a touching, textured character.
  6. Claire Foy – Unsane
    – Foy’s intense turn carries this minimalist thriller.

 

BEST ACTOR
Four standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. John David Washington – BlackKkKlansman
    – The dry wit dripping from Washington’s great turn make for some of the film’s funniest scenes, and he excels in the dramatic moments too.
  2. Joaquin Phoenix – Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
    – Almost could’ve nominated him for You Were Never Really Here too, but John Callahan is just a bit more of an engaging, layered character, and Phoenix does a fantastic job with him.
  3. Nick Robinson – Love, Simon
    – The lead in a romantic comedy/drama is a bit of an unusual pick, but just like the movie itself was far from your typical fluffy rom-com, Robinson’s turn showed refreshing emotional complexity and depth.
  4. Logan Marshall-Green – Upgrade
    – Marshall-Green’s performance in this revenge sci-fi/thriller crackles with zealous energy and wry humour.

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Three standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Danai Gurira – Black Panther
    – Who wasn’t in awe of Gurira’s passionate and badass Okoye in the early 2018 hit Black Panther? Gurira’s presence on screen was strong and memorable.
  2. Anya Taylor-Joy – Thoroughbreds
    – Taylor-Joy’s performance is perfect as her character undergoes a subtle and creepy transformation throughout the film.
  3. Mackenzie Davis – Tully
    – Davis’ performance is effortlessly effervescent as the young and remarkable titular night nanny.

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Six standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Michael B. Jordan – Black Panther
    – Jordan’s villain is intimidating, but not in the usual way, and he does well in portraying that.
  2. Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman
    – You’ve got to have lots of depth to your performance when your character is also acting half the time, and Driver pulls it off with ease.
  3. Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?
    – Grant somehow manages to portray both eccentric joy and deep sadness within the same scene and even at the same time. A beautiful performance.
  4. Jonah Hill – Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
    – Hill is just so good here in a character that’s effortlessly chill but hiding deep brokenness. Great hair too, obviously (but with long hair myself, I’m biased).
  5. Domnhall Gleeson – A Futile and Stupid Gesture
    – Gleeson seems to be one of those guys that elevates anything he’s in (see, for example, the otherwise bad Peter Rabbit, also from 2018). Here he plays the long-suffering business and creative partner to Will Forte’s frustrating free-spirit Douglas Kenney, and he’s great as usual.
  6. Alex Wolff – Hereditary
    – Wolff exudes great emotion as the troubled brother in this disturbing drama.

 

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
I guess all I’ve got here would be Isle of Dogs, because I sure ain’t putting Peter Rabbit here, Early Man wasn’t amazing, and I haven’t seen Incredibles 2 yet. Unless Paddington 2 is eligible?

 

BEST DIRECTOR
FIve standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Anthony Russo, Joe Russo – Avengers: Infinity War
    – I didn’t know how they were going to pull off this kind of ensemble cast and culmination of storylines, but the Russo bros. did remarkably well.
  2. Spike Lee – BlackKkKlansman
    – A daring, radical outing from Lee.
  3. Gus Van Sant – Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
    – I thought Van Sant perfectly walked the line between mainstream accessibility and indie quirkiness in this wonderful drama.
  4. Wes Anderson – Isle of Dogs
    – Anderson’s a true “auteur” of cinema who deserves acclaim for yet another great outing.
  5. Lynne Ramsay – You Were Never Really Here
    – Just brilliant directorial choices here by Ramsay who lets the strong emotion and violence bleed out “between the lines”.

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Three standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Isle of Dogs – Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, Kunichi Nomura
    – Funny and quirky as expected from Anderson, but also dramatic, with interesting political undertones.
  2. Thoroughbreds Cory Finley
    – Darkly humourous, dryly witty, and it takes some interesting turns near the end.
  3. Tully Diablo Cody
    – I wasn’t completely convinced by the twist, but it was certainly engaging, and the dramatic/comedic scenes about parenthood leading up to it were on point.

 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Five standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty
    – Amidst the con game is a unique character study touching on themes of social exclusion, loneliness, and personal fulfillment.
  2. The Death of Stalin – Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin, Peter Fellows
    – Hilarious, irreverent satire in the vein of Monty Python.
  3. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot – Gus Van Sant, John Callahan, Jack Gibson, William Andrew Eatman
    – an effectively emotional portrait of recovering from addiction and finding happiness, uniquely constructed.
  4. The Kindergarten Teacher – Sara Colangelo
    – A chilling yet nuanced character study.
  5. Paddington 2 – Paul King, Simon Farnaby
    – Hits all the perfect emotional beats without getting sappy.

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Five standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Come Sunday Peter Flinckenberg
    – A fairly average drama but I found myself often marveling at the gorgeous shots throughout.
  2. Hereditary – Pawel Pogorzelski
    – You know the cinematography in a horror movie is good when the movie wouldn’t be as scary if it wasn’t.
  3. Mission: Impossible – Fallout – Rob Hardy
    – That helicopter chase… drool.
  4. Thoroughbreds – Lyle Vincent
    – That one-take shot with Amanda sleeping on the couch = super cool.
  5. Unsane – Steven Soderbergh
    – No, it’s not just because he shot it on an iPhone- though I think that highlighted his literally picture-perfect framing and movement choices. It’s great to watch.

 

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Five standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Annihilation
  2. Ant-Man and the Wasp
  3. Avengers: Infinity War
  4. Hereditary
  5. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

 

BEST EDITING
Five standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Ant-Man and the Wasp
  2. BlackKkKlansman
  3. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
  4. Unsane
  5. You Were Never Really Here

 

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Four standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Black Panther
  2. BlackKkKlansman
  3. Ocean’s Eight
  4. Paddington 2

 

BEST MAKE-UP/HAIRSTYLING
Two standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Avengers: Infinity War
  2. Black Panther

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Five standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Annihilation
  2. BlackKkKlansman
  3. A Quiet Place
  4. Thoroughbreds
  5. Unsane

 

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Umm… I don’t think I’ve seen any with an original song yet? Correct me if I’m wrong!

 

BEST SOUND (sorry sound experts, the difference between editing and mixing is still a little unclear for me)

  1. Annihilation
  2. Avengers: Infinity War
  3. A Quiet Place
  4. You Were Never Really Here

 

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Four standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Avengers: Infinity War
  2. Black Panther
  3. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  4. Isle of Dogs
  5. Paddington 2

 

Sorry, haven’t seen any documentary/foreign/short films… I’m a basic Hollywood bro.

What are your thoughts on my picks thus far for 2018?

 

Black Panther (2018)

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T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who was a childhood victim of T’Challa’s father’s mistake. (IMDb)
The people, sets, and costumes of the fascinating Wakanda are a fantastic breath of fresh air, and the supporting characters especially (Nakia, Okoye, Shuri) all beg for further fleshing out. As an action film it worked better with Serkis’ simpler villain (see the awesome South Korea sequence) than Jordan’s more complex one, as the good vs. evil nuances he introduced deserved a slower drama instead of a sudden civil war and typical superhero climax (though the epilogue was of course touching).
7/10 (Good)

 

RANKED: Marvel Cinematic Universe films

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There are a lot of superhero films coming out these days, but that’s not to say that there aren’t, or haven’t been a lot of good ones, especially the ones put out by Marvel Studios. They’re not always super deep and they’re sometimes formulaic, but you can almost always count on them being entertaining at the very least. Props must also be given to Marvel for their intentional crafting of a multi-character (even multi-world) narrative universe that is threaded through each of their films in subtle and explicit ways. It’s cool to have such an epic scope, and it’s always fun to anticipate their trademark mid- and/or after-credits scenes that give a little teaser as to what’s coming next.
What follows are my “Worst to Best” rankings for all the MCU feature films. As always, I would love to hear your feedback on how I rank the MCU films, and what your own rankings would be! Thanks for reading!
22. Thor (2011)
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My rating: 6.5/10 (Alright)

I just found everything from the story to the setting a little too cheesy to really make this anything more than an “alright” film.

Read my full review here.

21. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

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My rating: 6.5/10 (Alright)

If I had bought the reason for the whole war, I certainly would have rated this much higher. But unfortunately, the writing just didn’t do it for me here. Hopefully that won’t negatively affect my perceptions of future Avengers movies to come!

Read my full review here.

20. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

My rating: 6.5/10 (Alright)

Again, just a little cheesy like the first Thor movie, and Portman’s character still adds pretty much nothing to the movie’s substance. And I hated the ending twist, but maybe I’m just a sucker for a happy ending.

Read my full review here.

19. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

My rating: 6.5/10 (Alright)

A little messy and ridiculous, plot-wise. With even more characters, it’s understandable, but at least there was a lot of good action again.

Read my full review here.

18. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

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My rating: 6.5/10 (Alright)

Norton’s mature turn and the solid first couple acts following him as he seeks to get rid of his power (a unique premise) elevate this to the top of the “alright” pile here. A kind of lame ending fight and mediocre supporting characters keep it just “alright” and not “good.”

Read my full review here.

17. Doctor Strange (2016)

My rating: 7/10 (Good)

A little cliche at points, and the humour that I’ve heard a lot of people talking about didn’t really do it for me, but overall it’s a solid origin story with enough fresh elements (like the non-violent end to the conflict) to entertain.

Read my full review here.

16. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

My rating: 7/10 (Good)

I really liked the first half or so: Captain America’s origins were quite compelling and different. The latter half didn’t do as well, in large part due to the whole Hydra premise that I’ve just continued to find cheesy in movies afterwards.

Read my full review here.

15. Ant-Man (2015)

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My rating: 7/10 (Good)

Still a lot of the same superhero-movie plot cliches, but Paul Rudd and Michael Pena as his sidekick are just a lot of fun throughout. The shrinking concept puts a cool twist on a lot of the action too.

Read my full review here.

14. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

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My rating: 7/10 (Good)

Follows up its predecessor with more of the same great humour and even more fun shrinking/growing action thanks to some great visual effects. The story has its good moments but bad ones too, much like the first Ant-Man.

Read my full review here.

13. Iron Man 2 (2010)

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My rating: 7/10 (Good)

Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark/Iron Man continues to be what I feel is the most well-fleshed out and intriguing character of the Marvel universe, so even though this script is quite messy, there’s a lot of good parts to hold on to.

Read my full review here.

12. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

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My rating: 7/10 (Good)

I’ve seen this at the top of a lot of other people’s lists, and there certainly are some great elements-the fight choreography for the fun duo of Evans and Johansson being the most prominent-but the character work remains too underdeveloped to make this truly “great.”

Read my full review here.

11. Black Panther (2018)

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My rating: 7/10 (Good)

I didn’t think this was worthy of its 2019 Best Picture nomination–underneath its cultural importance and refreshing setting and set of characters was what turned out to be a fairly standard superhero flick–but it had enough sparks of unique greatness in its plot (Killmonger deserved a better fate both at the end and in the story as a whole) to elevate it to the top of my “Good” rated MCU flicks.

Read my full review here.

10. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

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My rating: 7.5/10 (Really Good)

Pretty much equals the surprisingly good first volume. A change in pace is able to dig into the psyche of our favourite characters a little more, which enables it to walk the fine line of giving us “more of the same” good stuff while not still simply treading on the same territory as its predecessor.

Read my full review here.

9. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

My rating: 7.5/10 (Really Good)

Ultimately it turned into a pretty standard “save the world” plot, but everything else here just felt so fresh, from the quirky rag-tag group of characters, the great humour, the colourful outer space-setting, and the just as colourful 80s pop soundtrack. Lots of fun.

Read my full review here.

8. Captain Marvel (2019)

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My rating: 7.5/10 (Really Good)

Had its share of hitches in the script and CGI, but I found myself very much enjoying this one. The story goes places you don’t expect, the humour is great, and of course Brie Larson’s lead character is excellent.

Read my full review here.

7. Iron Man (2008)

My rating: 7.5/10 (Really Good)

Like I said before, Tony Stark/Iron Man is by far the best character for me in the Marvel universe, so it should be no surprise for you to see that his origin story is near the top of the heap for me. I thought the way they portrayed his moral transformation while he still maintained his unabashed arrogance was brilliant.

Read my full review here.

6. The Avengers (2012)

My rating: 8/10 (Great)

Not perfect, but so entertaining. There was actually a moment during the final fight scene (which somehow so perfectly put the spotlight on each hero in turn) where I found myself just shaking my head in amazement. Just awesome, and there was enough good dramatic and comedic substance before that to make the entire film a great watch.

Read my full review here.

5. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

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My rating: 8/10 (Great)

A breath of fresh air in the MCU, and just at the right time, as it injected into a world dominated by wild superpowers and cosmic world-saving some down-to-earth high school comedy, a teenage hero, and a blue-collar villain.

Read my full review here.

4. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

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My rating: 8/10 (Great)

I don’t know how they did it, but they did–balancing their largest cast of characters yet without ever feeling disjointed or disappointing. The cross-over of characters provided lots of laughs and some great action in this simply huge movie with, at that time, the biggest stakes yet in the MCU.

Read my full review here.

3. Iron Man 3 (2013)

My rating: 8/10 (Great)

The best character work of the MCU so far was in this film, no question. Add in one of its best villains (Kingsley was sooo good), and you have one of the top films of the MCU.

Read my full review here.

2. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

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My rating: 8.5/10 (Amazing)

The funniest film in the MCU by far, as probably my previously least favourite hero, the eye-rollingly stoic Thor, gets a welcome comedic makeover within a colourful new setting. Taika Waititi and co. did wonders in rescuing the Thor storyline and character here.

Read my full review here.

1. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

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My rating: 8.5/10 (Amazing)

It just feels right to have this in the number one spot, you know? Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but I really couldn’t have asked for any better of a culmination of the MCU so far. The three hours simply flew by- I was thoroughly engaged throughout. Great humour, great action, great character work.

Read my full review here

 

Thanks for reading! Fellow MCU fans: How do you rank them? Let me know in the comments!

And if you’re interested, my other “RANKED” lists thus far are here: