My Favorite/Standout Performances of 2018

The end of the year doesn’t just mean putting out your best/favorite movies of year. It can be a time to also reflect the individuals like directors, actors, actress, supporting roles, villains and everything in between. So, that said, I’m here to do just that. We all have our favorites, and these are mine. This is of course my opinion. I tried to shorten the list as much as I could, but like every year, it was a bit too hard so I left the lists as such.

 

Also, villains are probably considered Supporting Actors/Actress in other lists, but again, to not only make the lists shorter, I want the villains to have their own category, because everyone loves a good villain, right?

 

Finally, everything and everyone will be in alphabetical order. Also, if someone is missing, it could be because I didn’t see them (aka missed the movie), or they just missed the list/had to be cut out. This is also part one of two different lists. Enjoy.

 

 

Directors

Ryan Coogler – Black Panther

John Krasinski – A Quiet Place

Anthony and Joe Russo – Avengers: Infinity War

Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey & Rodney Rothman – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Alfonso Cuaron – Roma

Barry Jenkins – If Beale Street Could Talk

 

Honorable Mentions

Christopher McQuarrie – Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman

Aneesh Chaganty – Searching

Boots Riley – Sorry to Bother You

Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born

Drew Goddard – Bad Times at the El Royale

 

Just Missed the List

Leigh Whannell – Upgrade

David Gordon Green – Halloween

Debra Granik – Leave No Trace

Timo Tjahjanto – The Night Comes for Us

Julius Avery – Overlord

 

  

Actors

Ben Foster as Will – Leave No Trace

Lakeith Stanfield as Cassius Green – Sorry to Bother You

Ethan Hawke as Toller – First Reformed

John Cho as David Kim – Searching

 

Honorable Mentions

Richard E. Grant as Jack Hock – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Richie Merritt as Rick Wershe Jr. – White Boy Rick

John David Washington as Ron Stallworth – BlacKkKlansman

 

Just Missed the List

Nick Offerman as Frank Fisher – Hearts Beat Loud

Henry Golding as Nick Young – Crazy Rich Asians

Robert Redford as Forrest Tucker – The Old Man & the Gun

Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong – First Man

Chris Hemsworth as Thor – Avengers: Infinity War

 

 

Actress

Toni Collette as Annie – Hereditary

Constance Wu as Rachel Chu – Crazy Rich Asians

Lady Gaga as Ally – A Star Is Born

Rachel Weisz as Lady Sarah – The Favourite

Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo – Roma

Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney – Vice

 

Honorable Mentions

Kelly Macdonald as Agnes – Puzzle

Melissa McCarthy as Lee Israel – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Cynthia Erivo – Bad Times at the El Royale

Elsie Fisher as Kayla – Eighth Grade

Thomasin McKenize as Tom – Leave No Trace

 

Just Missed the List

Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart – Mary Queen of Scots

Vicky Krieps as Alma – Phantom Thread

Zoe Saldana as Gamora – Avengers: Infinity War

Charlize Theron as Marlo – Tully

Hailee Steinfeld as Charlie – Bumblebee

 

 

Supporting Actor

Adam Driver as Flip Zimmerman – BlacKkKlansman

Matthew McConaughey as Ricard Wershe Sr. – White Boy Rick

Billy Magnussen as Ryan – Game Night

Brian Tyree Henry as Daniel Carty – If Beale Street Could Talk

Winston Duke as M’Baku – Black Panther

 

Honorable Mentions

Jesse Plemons as Gary – Game Night

Sam Elliot as Bobby – A Star Is Born

Julian Dennison as Russell & Rob Delaney as Peter – Deadpool 2

 

Just Missed the List

Martin Freeman as Mike Priddle – Ghost Stories

Lewis Pullman as Miles Miller – Bad Times at the El Royale

Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld – Vice

 

 

Supporting Actress

Mackenzie Davis as Tully – Tully

Michelle Yeoh as Eleanor Young – Crazy Rich Asians

Milly Shapiro as Charlie – Hereditary

Millicent Simmonds as Regan Abbott – A Quiet Place

Regina King as Sharon Rivers – If Beale Street Could Talk

Emma Stone as Abigail – The Favourite

 

Honorable Mentions

Hari Nef as Bex – Assassination Nation

Danai Gurira as Okoye, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia & Letitia Wright as Shuri – Black Panther

Lesley Manville as Cyril – Phantom Thread

Elizabeth Debicki as Alice – Widows

 

Just Missed the List

Shuya Sophia Cai as Meiying – The Meg

Abby Ryder Fortson as Cassie Lang & Hannah John-Kamen as Ava/Ghost – Ant-Man and the Wasp

Awkwafina as Peik Lin Goh – Crazy Rich Asians

Phoebe Waller-Bridge as L3-37 – Solo: A Star Wars Story

 

 

Villain

Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger – Black Panther

Josh Brolin as Thanos – Avengers: Infinity War

James Jude Courtney as The Shape – Halloween

Linus Roache as Jeremiah Sand – Mandy

 

Honorable Mentions

Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue – Black Panther

Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as Ebony Maw – Avengers: Infinity War

Dian Sastrowardoyo as Alma – The Night Comes for Us

 

Just Missed the List

The Creatures – A Quiet Place

 

Be on the lookout for Part II coming.

‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ Review

Director: James Gunn

Writer: James Gunn

Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Sean Gunn, Chris Sullivan, Tommy Flanagan, Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell

Synopsis: The team’s adventures continue as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Back in 2014, everyone was surprised by the success of, and how great, the first Guardians of the Galaxy was. The film was filled with characters not many people knew about, and everyone was saying this was going to be Marvel’s first failure – Nope! We all fell in love with the wonderful batch of misfits, a walking tree and a vividly colored galaxy while a cool soundtrack played throughout. So as the sequel approached – and showed off Baby Groot – the film jumped to almost everyone’s must-see list. So does the sequel live up to the expectation? Yes.

Vol. 2 begins by showing us a scene on Earth in the 80s with Ego (Kurt Russell), although we don’t know his name yet, and a returning Meredith Quill (once again played by Laura Haddock). We then jump to the present which shows off the Guardians – Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) – who have been hired by the High Priestess of the Sovereign, Ayesha (Elizbeth Debicki) to protect a cherished battery core from a space beast for the exchange of Nebula (Karen Gillan) aka the highly promoted scene. When the Guardians defeat the beast they go on their merry way – of course – something happens which ensues a space battle.

When all hope looks lost, the Guardians are saved by a mysterious figure, Ego, and his companion Mantis (Pom Klementieff). Ego tells the Guardians that he is Peter’s father, which leads to some doubt, but Peter is convinced by Gamora to see if Ego is who he says he is. Followed by Drax, Peter and Gamora head to Ego’s home planet while Rocket, Baby Groot and Nebula are left behind to make repairs on the ship – and they run into their own troubles with the Ravagers lead by Yondu (Michael Rooker), Kraglin (Sean Gunn) and Taserface (Chris Sullivan). What follows isn’t just a Marvel action adventure, but a more personal and emotional film that I don’t think many were really expecting.

Much like the first film, Vol. 2 is chalk-filled with humor, big action set-pieces, and is a hell of a lot of fun – of course it’s punched up to eleven for the sequel. The humor is scattered throughout the film with everyone getting their fair share of one-liners and quips, but unlike the first film, Vol. 2 does stumble in keeping the humor spot-on. A small portion of the jokes feel a bit forced for the sake of having a humorous moment, but is put right next to an emotional beat which strips the beat of its meaning sometimes. The jokes are great, but even I’ll, it didn’t need all of them in there.

Of course, the biggest focus in the film is the family aspect. We all got a good grip of who these characters are in the first film, but director and writer James Gunn does a tremendous job of fleshing everyone out more to really get down to the core. Gamora and Nebula’s relationship finally gets some time to shine (although I would have loved some more time to be honest), Drax’s family is brought back up with Mantis in one of the best pairings of the film and one of the smaller moments of the two films as well, the unlikely pairing of Rocket and Yondu works surprisingly well and finally, Peter and Ego.

Peter and Ego’s relationship is the driving force of the film and makes the film go from sci-fi adventure epic to family drama. Of course for Peter is finally finding his father and seeing if this powerful being and charismatic man is truly his father, and if he is, why did he leave his mother? Why did he never come back to Earth and pick him up personally instead of sending Yondu? These questions are answered, but they also bring another set of questions and answers that Peter may not be ready for. It’s a great dynamic, but also one that I would have loved to see a bit more of.

However, one big highlight from the cast, besides Baby Groot of course – I mean, come on, look at him!, is Michael Rooker’s Yondu. His arc in the film is arguably the best one in Vol. 2 and Rooker handles the character gracefully and never lets up until the end of the film. I won’t go more, although I want to, but say what you will about the cast, Rooker’s Yondu is the best character in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Another big highlight is the special effects. Gunn didn’t hold back at all upping everything up to eleven, and when we get to Ego’s planet the film’s color spectrum is all over the place. We never really feel lost when you’re there and even the background images and shots look fantastic. It’s the ending however, where Gunn really shines in the special effects, it’s really quite remarkable really.

All in all, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a great fun ride with bigger set-pieces, special effects, humor, character depth and emotion. Is it better than the first film? Well, I’ll leave that up to you, but there are certain parts that will make certainly make you think that. There’s also a ton of easter eggs and cameos that fans will love. Moreover, there is one big scene that I can’t believe Disney let James Gunn put in. It’s one for the fans that they’ve probably wanted to see for a while, and one that left me pretty dumbstruck. I guarantee one thing, you’ll leave with a smile on your face.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

4.5 out of 5

‘Everest’ Review

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Director: Baltasar Kormakur

Writer(s): William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy

Cast: Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Michael Kelly, Keira Knightley, Emily Watson, Elizabeth Debicki, Naoko Mori, Martin Henderson, Ingvar Eggert Sigurosson, Thomas M. Wright, Robin Wright, Sam Worthington, and Jake Gyllenhaal

Synopsis: A climbing expedition on Mt. Everest is devastated by a severe snow storm.

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review (despite it being based on a true story)*

 

 

Based on a real life event in the late 90s and several books, including one by someone that has climbed Mt. Everest and was at the event that the film is depicting, Everest is not your typical disaster movie. In fact, this is more a freak of nature film. I don’t remember the event happening when it did – I was young at the time and didn’t pay too much attention to the news anyway – but I found out about it later on. It really is one of those stories that is primed for a big screen treatment.

 

Everest follows famed Mt. Everest climber and now guide, Rob Hall (Clarke) as he and his company Adventure Consultants is ready to take another group of climbers up to the peak of Everest. The group consists of John Krakauer (Kelly), a journalist writing a feature about the expedition, Beck Weathers (Brolin), a Texan pathologist who is eager to climb Everest, Yasuko Namba (Mori), an experience climber who has already reached six of the seven highest peaks in the world, and Doug Hansen (Hawkes) a mail man who has failed to make the summit a year before and is eager to finally reach his goal and make the peak. The thing is, at the same time, there are other groups including Mountain Madness, which is lead by a free-spirited Scott Fischer (Gyllenhaal).

 

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Hall and Fischer eventually agree to have their groups climb the mountain together despite their clash of cultures. Once they climb the mountain Hall’s base camp leader Helen Wilton (Watson), a doctor, Caroline Mackenzie (Debicki), and another expert climber and Hall’s friend Guy Cotter (Worthington) notice a storm brewing that is moving in quickly and will hit them hard.

 

I’m not going to lie, Everest is hard to watch. Not in the sense that it’s a bad film, but in the sense that it’s a heavy film to take in and experience. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s a freak of nature kind of film in where anything that could go wrong, seemed to go wrong or at least be in the way of going wrong. And then the storm hits. The storm looks terrifying and the way that director Baltasar Kormakur films the storm and the mountain, it does look a bit like you’re with the climbers as they go higher and higher and as they try to make their way down the mountain.

 

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While it feels like Kormakur is trying to make the mountain feel like its own character, since the mountain is so massive and everything is pretty much covered in the storm, the geography is hard to figure out. Characters will name off parts of the mountain and while we may have seen those parts previously, everything almost feels like the same location.

 

As for the real cast, they fare better for the most part. Jason Clarke’s Rob Hall is equal parts control freak and motivator, which is the exact man you want leading and putting your trust in him to the highest and most dangerous peak on the planet. Josh Brolin handles himself as Beck as he appears to be the least experienced climber of the group, while John Hawkes’ Doug, or Dougie, is there to prove himself to everyone including himself as his drive is what makes his character one of the most sympathetic characters of the film. Jake Gyllenhaal doesn’t get a ton of screen time, but it looks like he’s having fun playing the role.

 

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Emily Watson and Keira Knightley are the only real actress, of the four in the film, that get to do anything substantial. Although most of their moments come from talking on the phone or walkie-talkies, but the scenes are powerful enough to overlook that issue. This goes into another problem in that when everyone has their masks on, you can’t really tell who anyone really is, until they start to talk, and even then it is still pretty hard to tell with the high wind and snow blowing around everywhere.

 

All in all, Everest has its problems, but at the end of the day the cast, performances and gut-wrenching scenes make the film worthwhile.

 

Everest

4 out of 5

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‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ Review

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Dir: Guy Ritchie

Writer(s): Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram

Cast: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Luca Calvani, Sylvester Groth, Misha Kuznetsov, Jared Harris and Hugh Grant

Synopsis: In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons.

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

2015 really does seem to be the year of the spy genre. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation came out a couple weeks ago and the next James Bond film, Spectre is coming out in November. Both films are totally different so it’s nice to see something a little more loose and fun with The Man from U.N.C.L.E. coming out his past weekend. Not to say the film doesn’t have its moments of seriousness, but The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a nice alterative to some of the other films out there.

 

Directed by Guy Ritchie, the film is based on the old 60s shows of the same name, is set in the early 1960s at the height of the Cold War, and follows CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Cavill) having to team up with and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (Hammer) to work with an East German mechanic Gaby Teller (Vikander), whose father – a known scientist and ability to make a nuclear bomb – has been kidnapped by Victoria Vinciguerra (Debicki) to build a bomb. The plan is for Illya to pose as Gaby’s fiancés in hopes that Gaby’s Uncle Rudi (Groth) can arrange an introduction, as Solo tries to charm Victoria so they can get the Intel they need to rescue Gaby’s father and stop the bomb from being sold and used.

 

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The film works as a pseudo-prequel to the TV show, as it shows how the group came to be. Solo is one of the CIA’s best agents, like Kuryakin is the best the KGB has to offer and are focused to work together in order to, for all intent-and-purposes, save the world. The two aren’t on the best terms since the film opens with an impressive chase scene – that also involves Gaby – and right before they team up, they beat the crap out of each other. They also have their own ways of going about a mission and it also doesn’t help that their respected agencies have their own agenda. However, despite being on different sides of the war, the two form a weird and competitive friendship and mutual respect for each other.

 

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In fact, one of the best aspects of the film is the relationship and chemistry between Cavill and Hammer. The banter they exchange with and about each other is funny and brings another layer to them. Cavill – who actually replaced Tom Cruise after he left the project – brings a great dose of charisma and is heavily suave when need be. Cavill is easily enjoying himself here and loves chewing up some of the scene. Hammer, goes against the usual stereotypes of Russians as bad guys, and makes Illya more of earnest character that balances his anger than the other way around. Hammer also seems to be having fun playing the character and putting on the Russian accent.

 

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Alicia Vikander, thankfully, isn’t a female character that is put off to the side and actually gets to be involved in the mission, for the most part. Vikander is becoming one of my early favorite actresses after seeing her in Ex Machina, and she doesn’t disappoint here. She stands out in her bigger scenes, especially one that involves her and Hammer in a hotel room. By the end, she does get a bit lost in the background.

 

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The rest of the supporting cast really doesn’t work out that well, unfortunately. Elizabeth Debicki’s Victoria and Luca Calvani are supposedly to the villains of the movie, but they don’t essentially earn that title. Maybe we’ve been spoiled by good spy film villains with the James Bond and Mission: Impossible films, but The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is its own thing in being a bit looser, but still no excuse for not having a good villain. Sylvester Groth’s Uncle Rudi does okay, but by the time we know more about his character and is finally growing, the film is done with the character. Jared Harris plays Solo’s CIA contact and boss, but it really is nothing more than an extended cameo for Harris, and the same goes for Misha Kuznetsov who plays Illya’s KGB boss. Finally, Hugh Grant’s Waverly character pops in around the middle of the film and disappears until the final act, and I have to say, I wish he was in it just a tad bit more. The character feels more like he was a character they were building up for potential sequels, but I wish they gave him a little more to do in the actual film beforehand.

 

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Guy Ritchie is sometimes known for choosing style over substance in his films, and while that rings true here in some areas, the other areas he find a nice balance in some of the scenes. But, the film almost lends itself in some areas to choose style of substance, especially in the beginning action sequence – which is a hell of a lot of fun – and in some instances during the final action sequence. Speaking of the final action sequence, it almost saves the film, in the sense that the final act makes up for some of the slow pace during the second act. The final action sequence is also elevated a bit more because of the score. The score adds another great layer to the scene that makes it even more fun to watch.

 

All in all, The Man from U.N.C.L.E is a ton of fun. Cavill and Hammer bring a lot of the fun and humor to the film that sets it apart from the other spy genres that are coming out this year.

 

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

4 out of 5

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