Oh yeah! MOVIE DIARY 2018 is back yet again for one last time! We’re celebrating a few milestones today, which is pretty exciting; everybody loves milestones. This is the 50th post on MOVIE DIARY 2018! It’s also MOVIE DIARY 2018’s first birthday! I started this blog exactly one year ago, and it’s pretty wild to me that I’ve managed to stick with a blog for a whole dang year! Which brings us to the big one: this is the final post of MOVIE DIARY 2018! It’s the end! We made it to the end of the road! “Wait, what? End of the road? What do you mean, there’s not going to be any more MOVI––” LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT SOME END OF THE YEAR LISTS!
200+ pages written on Google Docs
170 movies watched
129 first watch
42 2018 releases
Oldest movie - She Done Him Wrong (1933)
Movies from the 1930s - 1
Movies from the 1940s - 5
Movies from the 1950s - 6
Movies from the 1960s - 11
Movies from the 1970s - 6
Movies from the 1980s - 16
Movies from the 1990s - 18
Movies from the 2000s - 32
Movies from the 2010s - 75
Worst of 2018
Fuck these movies in retrospect.
Pacific Rim: Uprising
Fifty Shades Freed
Big Surprises! Not from 2018!
These were movies that were delightful surprises or movies that I was shocked I hadn’t seen before because they’re so incredibly up my alley!
The Lion In Winter
Big Disappointments of 2018
These are movies that I was very excited for that just crumbled under the weight of my expectations and also because they weren’t that great, sorry everyone who stans for Mandy, but I tried, I really did.
Crazy Rich Asians
A few movies I really really liked from 2018, I guess you could say they’re my TOP MOVIES OF 2018! (These aren’t in any particular order, mostly because sometimes I think I like Burning more than First Reformed and also I think rankings are stupid and meaningless anyway.)
Is this recency bias? Maybe, I don’t know, but this movie really is very good. It’s a movie about keeping love and hope alive and being black in America, but it manages to feel fresh and vital and essential. I think that’s due to Barry Jenkins approaching this story less with the aim of showing how awful America is to black people (we should know, to not know is to be willfully ignorant) and more of the goal of showing that these characters’ love for each other can persist and needs to persist during these dark times. It’s meant not to show how the characters overcome their dire circumstances (Fonny is still in prison, Tish still has to raise her son on her own), but how they are able to keep their love alive in spite of everything. I walked away impressed by the effectiveness of the message and the overall warmth of the movie.
I really liked how pleasantly meandering this movie felt, like you’re living in this world and you’re with all of these characters that are so clearly fleshed out and real, and you could be watching all of this just play out for hours on end without ever wondering how long you’ve been watching this movie. So much of that is down to Regina Hall turning in this level-headed, compassionate, and vulnerable performance that makes you feel like you’re right there with her, experiencing all the frustrations of an ordinary person doing her best to be good and do the right thing.
A genuine surprise of a movie that’s able to balance out its more maudlin/melodramatic dad moments with a genuinely engaging thriller plot. These movies that are styled to look like they’re shot on a laptop always take some getting used to, but thinking back on it I think I’ve kind of come around to liking them. I think they’re fun, so what. It’s also nice to just watch John Cho aging gracefully. It seems like he’s fully into the dad phase of his career, and it feels well-earned.
No movie was meaner, more cutting, or funnier this year than The Death of Stalin. The movie is relentless in showing off the cunning, cowardice, and selfish stupidity that’s baked into the fabric of the rich and powerful, and I guess it’s probably tempting to draw some Trump parallels in here, but honestly this is more a timeless indictment of how ridiculous it is that there are people out there who’ve decided that they want to be the ones in charge. The only reason I would’ve been interested in catching Vice (2018) would’ve been to see how it stacks up to this as I feel like they’re both in similar camps of creating a comedy out of something horrific, so hopefully someone else out there has that essay.
Here’s a movie that I wasn’t so sure that I was super into when I first saw it, but it’s really stuck with me all year, particularly that ending. One of the things I’ve been dwelling on with this movie is how much trust Lynne Ramsay puts in her audience to understand this movie and to have a sense of understanding towards Joaquin Phoenix’s Joe. A lot is left unsaid, because it doesn’t need to be said. We’re able to fill in the blanks here because we’ve been witnessing the effects of the trauma that soldiers and survivors of abuse put themselves through everyday in our world. Really haunting stuff, and Joaquin Phoenix is perfect here, acting less like a special forces badass and more a broken, forgotten man who will never again fit right with the world.
A loving portrayal of the idea of digging in your heels and being unwilling to change while the world changes around you, it’s extremely my thing. Melissa McCarthy is probably the best she’s ever been here, conveying some real complexity with her depiction of Lee Israel. She’s stubborn, she’s mean, and she’s uncompromising — at least until the point where she starts to compromise to pay the rent (and even then she’s convinced herself that these forgeries are valid works of art in their own right). It’s fun to watch her run her scheme and be an old b, but it’s those moments when Lee recognizes she’s alone because she’s the one pushing people away that really got to me. It reads as kind of a cliche, the grump who just wants to be loved, but Melissa McCarthy imbues it with such humanity and it feels so real, like I know this person lashing out at everyone around them because they feel the world has failed them, I’ve been that person too. Finally some big Taurus feelings in a movie.
This was probably the best movie-going experience I had this last year, in a crowd of people generally just thrilled to be watching something as big and as loud as this movie. The two guys in front of me were literally high-fiving every time something awesome happened. I was being kind of sour about it at the time, but I also acknowledge that was probably because I wanted in on those high-fives so bad. What gets Mission: Impossible – Fallout up on this list was the entire experience of being there and getting caught up in the thrill of watching a man jump out of a plane and get struck by lightning, the real feeling of clenching your teeth as you watch Tom Cruise, who recently learned how to fly helicopters just so he could fly a helicopter in this movie, crashing multiple times. It’s been a while since I’d seen an action movie that just felt this big and overwhelming, something makes you wonder, “How did they do that?” It’s incredible that the answer for these is usually that they just actually did do that.
What a powerhouse of a movie. It’s so compact, but everyone involved is delivering their best, and they’re all so effective at bringing out the strangeness and quiet aggression of this story. I think that’s what I enjoyed the most about it, that each character has the same goal (power, staying in power), but that they have their own internal logic about why they need it and how best to get it and keep it. It’s incredible watching Rachel Weisz desperately making a play for the favor that’s slipping out of her hands and it’s equally impressive watching Emma Stone rising to the top and letting her mask of innocence/obliviousness slip to reveal her true, cunning self. The story is pretty straightforward, but so much of the movie I found myself just staring with my mouth agape like an idiot, in disbelief at the casual cruelty of these characters and how bizarre some of the scenes could get. A mean-spirited little movie with one of the most unsettling endings of the year.
Burning is mysterious and filled with tension and the payoff was incredibly satisfying— they really stuck that landing in a way that affected me, and I still feel like I’m trying to figure out why it hit me so hard. I just flat out loved everything about this movie. All the performances from our three main characters were phenomenal, and I was fascinated by their ability to really depict that feeling of being adrift in the world through the perspectives of their own characters, each of which feels like a dimension of any young person out there trying to make sense of themselves and their place in the world (even Ben, because don’t the people who seem to have it all figured out today seem like psychopaths sometimes?). That it’s done through the lens of an exciting thriller really kind of heightens those feelings and gives it another layer of entertainment.
This movie fucked me up and stayed with me all year. It really struck a nerve with me, just generally riled me up. I think First Reformed is so challenging and so frustrating because I feel like the issues that Paul Schrader is examining here are all issues and problems I kind of carry with me in the back of my mind every day, and it was difficult watching them play out on screen and feeling like I had to confront these feelings right in front of me at the theater. I keep these things at the back of my head for a reason and that reason is that I don’t want to face how we’ve all doomed ourselves! My mind has a hard time with it! But even that feeling is part of the fabric of the movie! I loved how First Reformed was able to honestly and compassionately depict that feeling of grappling with complex ideas that are bigger than yourself; I loved that it didn’t have an answer, and I loved that it was never really trying to say that it had the answer, just that it was as lost and overwhelmed and as small as we all are.
THE MOVIE DIARY 2018 QUARTERLY REPORT (Q4)
I started MOVIE DIARY 2018 last year as an excuse to try to write something regularly throughout the year. I figured I typically find myself watching a lot of movies so it could be fun to just write something about movies every week or so. If I couldn’t think of anything to write about I could always fall back on writing about movies. It was a pretty clever scheme to trick myself into writing, but I guess the problem was that I was just having fun writing about movies and I never really got to writing about much else, which is fine because I really did love running this little blog.
In my opinion, the real magic of all this came when I decided to start publishing writing from special guests. It started when I asked Tessa to write about Lady Macbeth and eventually it became a pretty regular thing. It was really surprising to me that people were agreeing to write for my blog and that people were starting to approach me about contributing, and I am so grateful for all of that. I loved publishing all of my special guests and I’m so proud of all of the work that they did writing for MOVIE DIARY 2018 and sharing the blog with their friends and followers. This blog would not have been half as successful or fun for me if it weren’t for the special guests turning in writing that pushed me to keep up with their talents, so a big thank you to all my special guests!
As for what’s next for MOVIE DIARY 2018 — NOTHING! I meant it when I said that this would be the last post for MOVIE DIARY 2018. There will be no MOVIE DIARY 2019, I won’t continue publishing this blog under the banner of MOVIE DIARY 2018 in the year 2019 as a funny joke. I feel like MOVIE DIARY 2018 has run its course. It was a really fun year of learning to talk about movies, relearning how to blog, and meeting a couple of new friends along the way, so I feel like it’s best to end it all while I’m still riding high on this. I’d like to continue writing here, and I think I’ll almost certainly write about movies again sometime, but I’m not going to promise it’ll be like how MOVIE DIARY 2018 was. Maybe I’ll do longer pieces, more considered essays, maybe I’ll come up with something else to write about, maybe someone out there who’s read and enjoyed MOVIE DIARY 2018 would like to pay me money to write about something, I’m available for that! I don’t know, I’m very open to all those possibilities, particularly the one where someone gives me money.
I obviously had a lot of fun doing MOVIE DIARY 2018, so thanks again to all the special guest contributors (I can’t thank them enough for being such a big part of all of this), thank you to my friends who helped out by sharing the posts on the internet, thank you to everyone who had nice things to say about the work on MOVIE DIARY 2018, and of course thank you to everyone who followed along with MOVIE DIARY 2018 this past year!