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.

‘Logan’ Review

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Director: James Mangold

Writers: James Mangold, Michael Green, and Scott Frank

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, Quincy Fouse, and Richard E. Grant

Synopsis: In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.

 

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

 

17 years ago – yes, 17 years! – we saw a virtually unknown Australian actor take the role of the fan-favorite X-Men Wolverine in Hugh Jackman. While people had their doubts at the time – some still do – Jackman proved himself to handle the character well, and has earn the respect of many fans over the years. So when it was announced that Logan would be Jackman’s last go as Logan aka Wolverine, it was fair to say it has been the end of an era. So, was Jackman’s last ride worth it and the perfect way to send off Jackman? Yes, yes it was.

Set in the year 2029, mutants are almost all but extinct and there hasn’t been a mutant birth in some time. We find Logan (Hugh Jackman), who is now going by his birth name, James Howlett, as a limo driver in Texas to raise money. After long night he goes across the border to an abandoned facility where he hides and cares for an old and ailing Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) with the help of another mutant, Caliban (Stephen Merchant). Before Logan can gather enough money to buy a boat so he and Charles can live out in the ocean, they cross paths with Laura (Dafne Keen), a young girl who is very similar to Logan in almost every regard. Now all together, they must run from a military force called The Reavers, lead by Donald Pierce (Body Holbrook) and a scientist in Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant) that are after Laura and will do anything to get her back.

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While the character, of course, originated in the comics and has appeared in every X-Men film and now has three solo films in what are essentially comic book/superhero films, Logan is a whole – no pun intended – animal altogether. Not only is the film rated R, and boy does it embrace that rating – seriously, wow – the film doesn’t feel like a comic book/superhero film. It actually comes off more like a neo-western and it’s better because of it. Instead of focusing on some Earth-ending event, it focuses mainly on Logan, the man, and him protecting his girl he hardly knows in this bleak future, and finally coming to terms with his mortality. We’ve seen the mortality question come up before, but we see it more here. And it is that reason while I think so many love this movie. Director James Mangold could have easily put some Earth-ending even here, but he didn’t. He knew who the star in this film is, and what fans have been dying to see, and he finally delivers it.

Hugh Jackman has already played version of Logan/Wolverine we’re use to, but his performance in Logan is something different. We see him finally beaten down and a broken version of himself. He’s not healing like he use to, his drinking a lot and cuts himself off from the world. Not only that, he has to help Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who due to his old age, his powers have become a bit unstable, but the chemistry between Jackman and Stewart in the film is the best we’ve seen. Stewart is finally able to cut loose and not worry about coming off as a mentor or professor and instead tells everything how it is. Seeing the two together at this stage in their lives makes the film even better, especially knowing that Stewart is also bowing out after this makes his performance equally bittersweet.

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However, if you want to talk about casting, you have to talk about Dafne Keen as Laura aka X-23. Making your film debut is always tough, but making your film debut in Logan as a badass killing machine who is mute is probably tougher. Keen will definitely be a fan-favorite walking out of the film, and not just for being badass but the fact that she can express so much of her emotions into a simple stare. I don’t know where director James Mangold and the casting directors found Keen, but I can’t wait to see what she does after this. Believe me, we’ll be seeing a lot more of Keen in the future.

However, despite the great casting from the good guy side – which also includes Stephen Merchant’s Caliban – the bad guy side of the spectrum falls apart fairly quickly. Even though the film isn’t about the villains, and more about Logan, is doesn’t mean the villains should suffer. Boyd Holbrook does a descent job as the head of the Reavers, Donald Pierce, but his smooth-talking persona fades away and is just another henchmen. Finally there’s Richard E. Grant, a scientist who has a connection to Laura, but his character isn’t in the film enough to really justify him really being there. He does play a part that is pivotal for the ending, but that’s really it.

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All in all, Logan is one of the best X-Men and best solo Wolverine film there’s been. It’s a beautifully done character film that ends the era of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine in the best way possible. A brutal one, but a respectful and proper way to send off Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, while introducing Dafne Keen. Logan is one of the films that will have you talking afterwards and have you thinking back at how great it is.

Logan

4.5 out of 5

Mini-Reviews: Jackie, Assassin’s Creed, Hidden Figures, Passengers & Sing

Hey everybody!

Welcome to another edition of Mini-Reviews. So let’s get to it, shall we?

 

*As always, these will be spoiler free reviews*

 

Jackie

Director: Pablo Larrain

Writer: Noah Oppenheim

Cast: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Carroll Lynch, Max Casella, Beth Grant, Richard E. Grant, Caspar Phillipson and John Hurt

Synopsis: Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband’s historic legacy.

 

I’ll admit, I didn’t know too much after Jackie Kennedy before the film, besides of course her being the First Lady, and being the widow of John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated when riding around Dallas. It’s a bit of shame that that’s the only thing most people, probably, know about her. However, here in Jackie, we get to see a glimpse of what she potentially – films based on true stories are already up for interpretation – through after her husband was shot.

The film starts off with a reporter, played by Billy Crudup, coming up to the house in Massachusetts where Jackie (Natalie Portman) is staying. The reporter starts to ask her questions and we flashblack to a couple of different events: her televised tour of the White House in 1961 and the week of the assassination. Through all of it, we see Jackie as she deals with the tour, and after the assassination of her husband, the grief of she is consumed by and how history will remember him.

Jackie is not an easy film to watch, not because it’s not any good, but because the majority of the film is Jackie Kennedy trying to keep herself composed after losing her husband. And I don’t know about most people, but I think some people sometimes forget that Jackie didn’t lose the President of the United States, she lost her husband, and that’s something the film bring up. Jackie lost her husband that just so happens to be the President. It’s a fine line that the film balances pretty well.

Another fine line the film balances is not making Jackie too much of a sympathetic character. The film has no problem making her a flawed person, and if you find her actions odd or even questionable, you’re not alone. The film isn’t there to make Jackie a saint, even though she lost her husband, the things she does make you believable she may be just a bit unstable. But that’s also the beauty of Jackie, Natalie Portman does an impressive job of creating and explore the layers to this public figure that went through it all, and through a very personal tragedy in the public eye. Once you get past the accent, you can really enjoy watching Portman hit every emotion to a tee.

All in all, Jackie rests in the capable hands of Natalie Portman as she brings Jackie Kennedy to life and walks a fine line between sympathetic and flawed that makes the film and character feel real.

Jackie

4.5 out of 5

jackie

 

 

 

Assassin’s Creed

Director: Justin Kurzel

Writers: Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Michael Kenneth Williams, Denis Menochet, Ariane Labed, Matias Varela, Callum Turner, Khalid Abdalla, Hovik Keuchkerian, Brendan Gleeson, and Charlotte Rampling

Synopsis: When Callum Lynch explores the memories of his ancestor Aguliar and gains the skills of a Master Assassin, he discovers he is a descendant of the secret Assassin’s society.

 

Based off the highly popular and successful video game series, Assassin’s Creed was many people’s hopes to finally have a good, or at least descent, video game film. Well, while the film has some really cool and great moments, Assassin’s Creed is not the film that will change people’s perspective of the video game films. Also, for fans of the game, the film doesn’t follow a lead character from the games, but does have some big elements – at least from the games that I have played.

The film opens with a crawl of text that sets up the historic storyline and gives us the glimpse of the Assassins and their fight with the Templar. The film then jumps time as we see a young Cal finding his mother killed and his father the prime suspect. We jump again as see Cal (Michael Fassbender) getting executed to only wake up in a mysterious facility owned by Abstergo Industries. It’s there he meets Sofia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard), the daughter of the company’s CEO, played by Jeremy Irons, who runs the Animus project. A device that allows the user to see, feel and experience their ancestor’s life and memoires.

Cal finds out that he’s part of the company’s latest big project to find the Apple of Eden. The idea is the Apple of Eden will eradicate free will. In order to get the artifact they need Cal to get the memories of his 15th Century ancestor in Spain, Aguilar de Nerha, who was the last to have seen the Apple.

The film has a descent set-up, but the problem becomes the film moves too fast for its own good, and doesn’t live any of the characters breath. The first time we meet Cal really is right before he’s executed for a crime of killing someone – we find out later that he may have deserved it, but it felt like a throwaway line – but Cal is just someone walking through the paces. We never really feel connected to Cal in the real-world, which is a bit of a bad sign considering we spend a lot more time in the real-world than the past. Speaking of the past, that’s when we get to see Fassbender shine to the extreme. Aguilar doesn’t need to say much as his presences is enough to tell the story. Next to him is Ariane Labed’s Maria, who unfortunately doesn’t get fleshed out as much as she should, but shines in her small screen time with Aguilar.

The rest of the cast is just okay. Marion Cotillard’s Sofia is there to lead the “science” to the audience and give the feeling that she actually cares about Cal, while Jeremy Irons does the best he can with what he’s given. Brendan Gleeson, Michael Kenneth Williams and Charlotte Rampling are heavily underused in their small roles which is shameful in a lot of ways.

The saving grace in the film is all the past scenes. It also happens to be where most of the action takes place. Combined with the heavy score, the action scenes make the film actually worthwhile, and once they stop, it does take a lot of the air away from you. It could have also helped that all the present/real world scenes fall rather flat and the concept of what they want the Apple of Eden seems rather, to not make it sound harsh, stupid. There’s also the “bleeding effect” concept that is rather cool, but near the end of the film the effect could have used better, especially since it seemed important.

All in all, Assassin’s Creed is a film that has a descent enough set-up, but the overall execution is poorly delivered. The action scenes make up for it, but it would have been better if they spent more time in the past than the present. Things aren’t fleshed out enough and the plan by the villains is rather dumb. Assassin’s Creed won’t change the opinion of video game movie doubters, but it’s serviceable enough.

Assassin’s Creed

3.5 out of 5

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Hidden Figures

Director: Theodore Melfi

Writers: Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder

Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons, Kirsten Dunst, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, and Glen Powell

Synopsis: A team of African-American women provide NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program’s first successful space missions.

 

Based on the novel by Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures is set in the early days of the space race and is also based on a true story. We focus on three African-American women who work for NASA in Katherine (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy (Octavia Spencer, and Mary (Janelle Monae). Katherine is a brilliant mathematician, Vaughan acts as the supervisor – although she isn’t – over the African-American “Computers” (the African-American women that worked the calculators), and Mary works with the engineers and hangs with the best of them. We follow the three as the space race comes to a head when Russia successfully sent Yuri Gagarin into orbit. Katherine is placed in the special task group to get the math right, Dorothy works to get her girls more important positions and be seen as an equal, while Mary takes the advice and tries to become a certified engineer. Each of them deal with their own hardships and discrimination in a time that was trying to progress.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really that excited for Hidden Figures, but I’m glad I went to watch the film. The film is really well done and has great performances by the whole cast that is lead by Henson, and Kevin Costner’s Al Harrison, the supervisor of the program. While the film follows Katherine, Dorothy and Mary, its Katherine that we mostly follow, which is fair considering we see her story at the very beginning of the film. Dorothy has to deal with Kirsten Dunst’s character Vivian Mitchell, and Janelle Moane’s Mary has a great story, but seems to take a backseat to Katherine’s and Dorothy’s arcs. Overall, their stories are an important part in NASA and the space race’s history, but each of them have their own part to play within the film itself.

The film does of course touch heavily on the race issues during the time. It doesn’t tiptoe around the issue too much, and shows how hard people of color, especially women, had during the time. There is a montage that involves Katherine running from building to building that effects her and her work, and while some will see it as heavy-handed or played out, it pays off in full effect later on in one of the most powerful scenes in the film, and one that is carried by Henson.

All in all, Hidden Figures is a great true story that many people may not know too much about. Carried together by its great cast, the film hardly lets up and if you feel yourself get angry over the treatment our main characters feel, I think the film has done its job.

Hidden Figures

4 out of 5

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Passengers

Director: Morten Tyldum

Writer: Jon Spaihts

Cast: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne and Andy Garcia

Synopsis: A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early.

 

When you get two of the biggest and popular stars in Hollywood in Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, you have to think it has to be great, right? Well, that is the case for Passengers, most of the time. The film follows Jim Preston (Pratt) and Aurora Lane (Lawrence), passengers on the spaceship Avalon that is destined to a new planet to start anew called Homestead II. However, the hibernation pods malfunction and they wake up ninety years too soon. With only a bartender android named Arthur (Michael Sheen), the two eventually develop feelings for one another until the ship starts to malfunction putting everyone still asleep and them in danger.

There is a lot more to Passengers than the marketing lets on, so I’ll keep everything to a minimal in this already mini-review. Like noted before, when Passengers works it really works. Everything is compelling, well-acted and Pratt and Lawrence’s chemistry is spot-on, with each getting their individual big moments. Sheen as Arthur the android bartender brings the comedic relief to the film.

I will admit, it’s a bit hard to talk about the big theme and decision a character makes in the film without spoiling something, but that decision is much better to see for yourself, instead of being spoiled. The decision is something that lingers throughout the film and when its bought up it really is the heart of the film. The good thing is the film doesn’t pick a side on it. It lets the characters really be weighed up it and feels like it lets you decide whether it was right.

The film does falter at times, and that’s when the film takes a plunge. The romance story almost gets too heavy handed in the sci-fi elements, but with Pratt and Lawrence leading the charge it makes it pretty okay.

All in all, Passengers has a good setup that works when it’s in full effect, but when the film slows down too much is when the film takes a dive.

Passengers

3.5 out of 5

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Sing

Directors: Garth Jennings and Christophe Lourdelet

Writer: Garth Jennings

Voice Cast: Mathew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, Jennifer Saunders, Jennifer Hudson, Garth Jennings, Nick Kroll, Nick Offerman, Leslie Jones and Rhea Perlman.

Synopsis: A koala named Buster Moon has one final chance to restore his theater to its former glory by producing the world’s greatest singing competition.

 

Illumination Entertainment has been pushing Sing for a while now. The film has been promoted since early this summer, non-stop. This meant that the studio had really high hopes for the film. After seeing the final product, I can somewhat see why, but Sing doesn’t do too much to separate itself from the crowded animated crowd this year.

The film follows Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), a koala bear who runs a failing theaters. Desperate to return the theater to its former glory he decides to put an open casting call for a singing competition. The casting call gets more attention than he thought after an error and the auditions bring a bevy of talent to Moon. The ones we follow are overworked housewife Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), rocker Ash (Scarlett Johansson), smooth talker Mike (Seth MacFarlane), showman Gunter (Nick Kroll) and trying to break free from his father’s life of crime Johnny (Taron Egerton).

The film has other characters like a shy elephant in Meena (Tori Kelly), who actually can sing, but is too shy in front of crowds, John C. Reilly as Buster’s best friend Eddie, Jennifer Saunders as Eddie’s rich Grandmother, and director Garth Jennings as Buster’s secretary Miss Crawly.

Like I mentioned, Sing doesn’t really do anything special to separate itself from the other animated films this year with the expectation of having songs you may recognize. The characters are great when they have their individual moments to shine, but it’s nothing we having really seen before.

All in all, Sing has its moments, but compared to the other animated films released this year, it doesn’t really come that close. Filled with some genuinely funny moments, and standout song sequences, Sing is just an okay animated film.

Sing

3 out of 5

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