My Favorite Films of 2018

I have been for the last couple of years sharing what have been my favorite films of the year.  This will be tough because there were so many good films I saw, especially in the theater.  They are in no particular order except from around the beginning of the year until the end of the year:

Mary and the Witch’s Flower

A film with a definite Studio Ghibli vibe, this was the first film I saw in a theater in 2018 and immediately was one of my favorites.  The animation, the voice acting, it was all top notch.

I Can Only Imagine

Based on the life of MercyMe lead singer Mark Millard, it is one of the best film depicting the Christian faith I have seen.  There were several really good Christian films in 2018 but this one was the best and my personal favorite.

Ready Player One

I still need to read the book but the film version is tremendous.  Lots of good 80s and video game references and callbacks and the visual effects were great.  It was such a fun journey through the story.

The Miracle Season

Based on the true story of a girl’s volleyball team in Iowa that overcome the tragic loss of their team captain to win a state title.  It was so good I saw it twice in the theater.  One of my top five favorite sports films of all time.

Avengers: Infinity War

The culmination of ten years of Marvel Studio films, this first part of a two part saga was tremendous.  To see all the superheroes in one film was something I wouldn’t have ever imagined ten years ago but it was real and it was awesome.  I’m looking forward to next year and Avengers: Endgame

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

One of the best documentaries and probably my favorite of 2018, the story of Fred Rogers is one that is always good to remember and share with others.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Sequel to one of my favorite films of 2015, this one did not disappoint.  I love how not only they did a great job continuing the storyline of the first film but also brought a fresh aspect to it with new characters and maturing of old characters.

Mission:  Impossible Fallout

The Mission: Impossible film series has seemed to have gotten better with each film especially the last couple of ones.  Fallout is not only right at the top of the series but one of my favorite films period.  It not only called back to previous films and tied up storylines from them but also sets the stage for always going forward with new stories.

Christopher Robin

This was a very fun movie (though I still think that Tigger looks off in this version).  It feels almost like an alternate reality of the real life Christopher Robin Milne that was portrayed in last year’s Goodbye Christopher Robin but I do love the story of this film and I always have a soft spot for Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood gang in my heart.

Operation Finale

Based on the true story of the capture of Adolf Eichmann, the acting in this film is top notch.  Both Oscar Isaac and Sir Ben Kingsley give award winning performances.

Little Women

A modern retelling of the classic novel.  I love how the filmmaker stayed true to the heart of the Alcott story while giving it a modern feel.  This was another film I saw twice in the theater because it was so good.

A Star Is Born

I had not seen the previous versions of this film but when the trailers dropped for it I was super interested and it didn’t disappoint.  Loved the performances of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga (also Sam Elliott had a great supporting role as well).

The Old Man and The Gun

Based on the true story of career criminal Forrest Tucker, it’s one of the best performances of Robert Redford’s career.  It was both retro (given the time period) and modern at the same time.  I loved it.

The Front Runner

Based on the 1988 Presidental campaign of Gary Hart, it is a film very timely given the nature of politics in America today.  Hugh Jackman gave (in my opinion) an award winning performance and I walked out of the film wondering how things would’ve been different in America had things went differently in that 1988 election

Creed II

Sequel to the first Creed (which was one of my favorite films of 2015).  This one not only built on the legacy of the first film but also into the deeper Rocky franchise.  I loved how it tied a lot into Rocky IV (which is one of my favorite films of all time).  If they wanted to keep it going with a third film I would be more than happy to see it.

Green Book

Based on the true story of the friendship between Dr. Don Shirley and Tony “Lip” Vallelonga.  This was not only a well acted film but a great story told as well.

Mary Poppins Returns

The long (coming? awaited?) sequel to the the 1964 original film, Mary Poppins (this time played by Emily Blunt) returns to help the Banks family (the kids now grown up and one with kids of his own).  It is a fun film and definitely has that vibe that the original film had.

Bumblebee

This is the best live action Transformers film.  It definitely has the vibe of the 80s cartoon and animated film.  I would hope if they make more live action Transformers film, they abandon the canon of the earlier films and just start fresh with this one as the first one.

So that’s my list of favorite films of 2018. What is your list? Do we have similar films or are there other films that you have on your list? I’d love to hear what your films are and I’m excited to see what film will make the list in 2019

The Five: Five Films That Define Me

It has been awhile since I had a series of posts.  I like doing series but sometimes I either finish them or run out of inspiration.  I mentioned recently how I was in a writer’s block for a time but I feel like (at least at the moment) I’ve got some more inspiration to write more often again (which is good because it helps me express myself).

One of the big trends the last couple of months on Twitter are these questions that people ask that get trending where people ask about favorite films or books or TV shows and such.  And I’ve participated in some of that on there.  And I thought, “Hey, how about I do like a series on such things on my blog?”  Hence the creation of “The Five”.

What “The Five” will be is a series where I will take a topic and give a list of five that ties into that topic.  It’s not necessarily a ranking but just a list (so in no particular order).

For this edition of “The Five” I wanted to look at the films that define me.  As in, if I was meeting someone for the first time and they asked me what films should I watch to get a definition of me, these would be the five films I would recommend.  For people that know how much I love films this is a tall order.  I will add this caveat.  For a film series, I will only pick one film in that series.  Like instead of watching the entire Lord of the Rings I could say Return of the King (that’s not one in “The Five” but just an example)  So here’s “The Five Films that Define Me”:

1) Return of the Jedi

Of course there had to be a Star Wars film in the list.  I don’t think it would be even possible to have a list without one on there.  So why Return of the Jedi?  First, it was the first Star Wars film I ever saw in the theater.  Granted it was a year after it released and I was 4 and I barely remember it then but that’s the record.  Second, as a kid I loved the Ewoks (and to be honest I still do).  But really as I’ve gotten older I’ve really resonated with the maturation that Luke has in the film.  He’s not the young farm boy he was in A New Hope.  He’s not the impetuous Jedi student he was in The Empire Strikes Back.  He is battle tested and carries scars with him.  He still struggles but he has grown.  Plus Jedi has the iconic scene in the Emperor’s Throne Room when Luke is hiding from Vader and the light catches his face in such a way that half his face is lighted and half is in darkness.  Such an iconic moment that sticks with me to this day.  If there is one Star Wars film that defines me, it’s Return of the Jedi

2) Short Circuit 2

I went back and forth between the first Short Circuit or the sequel.  Both are films that are a part of my life growing up.  But I think I would lean with Short Circuit 2 because of one particular scene (which I have blogged about before here).  That scene in and of itself merits watching (and being included in The Five) but the film as a whole is good as well.

3) The Holiday

I am a hopeless romantic.  So anytime there is a romantic film, I’m usually sucked into watching it.  Yes I’m a single guy who loves romantic films.  And out of all the romantic films, this one I connect with.  Particularly with the character of Iris (played by Kate Winslet).  Unrequited love is a dagger and it is one I have dealt with personally.  And yet, I still am hopeful that someday I will find the right one and get married.

4.) From Up on Poppy Hill

I figure to best include a film that is an anime in “The Five” because of my love of anime (especially of Studio Ghibli films).  So out of that list I would say From Up on Poppy Hill.  From the animation to the story to the music, it all comes together in a manner that just clicks.  And while in my ranking of Studio Ghibli films I had The Wind Rises ranked higher, in defining my story I would say From Up on Poppy Hill resonates more.

5.) I Can Only Imagine

My faith is a big part of my life.  I would not be who I am without Jesus Christ.  So I have to have a film that reflects my faith and to me that film is I Can Only Imagine.  Not only is it a good film that speaks on faith, love and forgiveness but that song released at a time in my life (college/grad school) when I say that I really took ownership of my faith.  So that song resonated with me then and still does and the film does the same as well.

So this is the first edition of “The Five”.  I hope to have more of these to come.  I would love to know what you would say are the films you would recommend someone to watch that define you?

MoviePass Adventures: Month 5

Into my 5th month of MoviePass, after last month’s record of 9 films, here’s what I saw this month:

1) Early Man

From the makers of the Wallace & Gromit & Shaun the Sheep films, Early Man is the story of Dug & a group of cave people who are trying to save their valley from the evil Lord Nooth and the impending Bronze Age.  It’s a fun little film with a really good voice cast featuring Eddie Redmayne, Maisie Williams and Tom Hiddleston.

 

2.) Samson

Based on the biblical story from the book of Judges, Samson tells the story of Samson, one of the Judges during the time before kings in Israel.  As a film, I thought it was good. It had a pretty interesting cast with Billy Zane, Lindsey Wagner among others.  Putting on the theologian hat, it got most everything right.  There were some things that were taken liberties with.  But overall I thought it was fair to the scriptures in telling the story.

3.) Peter Rabbit

Based on the children’s stories by Beatrix Potter, Peter Rabbit has all the lovable characters in a modern setting with a new Mr. McGregor  (played by Domhnall Gleeson) dealing with the rabbits and other wildlife.  It was a lot of fun.  I really enjoyed it and laughed out loud a lot of times.  Great kids movie and for adults as well.

4.) Red Sparrow

This film (based on the first of a trilogy of novels) centers around a former Russian ballet dancer who gets injured and has to help our her uncle who works for Russian intelligence.  This then leads her to live a live as a spy working to find out who the mole is in the Russian government.  She does this to save her own life and to help out her mother who is sick.  It is a very deep film with lots of layers.  Has a great cast.  I think though seeing it once was enough for me. It isn’t a film I would want to go back and see over and over.

5.) I Can Only Imagine

Based on the story of the life of Bart Millard, the lead singer of Mercy Me & the writer of the song “I Can Only Imagine”, the film tells the story of his life growing up in Texas with an abusive father and a gift for singing.  Along the way of pursuing a dream of music, Bart had to learn forgiveness for his father and also to find his voice as a singer.  It is a tremendous film and one that I would highly recommend to everyone.

Total films seen overall with MoviePass: 28