Volume Seven, Issue Fifty-Two!
“The Best of 2018!”
2018 was a massive year for pop culture, so much so that there’s things on this list that I had to remind myself that they even came out this year. Seriously, the amount of great entertainment that came our way in 2018 was enough to fill three years, so why don’t I just get out of the way and break down some of my favorite things of the year 2018?
Avengers: Infinity War/Black Panther
I know what you’re thinking (“no duh”), but in a year of massive movies, the impact that both films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe made on pop culture was undeniable. Black Panther broke box office records AND inspired a whole new generation of kids with a truly awesome depiction of Wakanda, and the Avengers teaming up with the Guardians of the Galaxy to take on Thanos was the team-up to end all team-ups. This is going to be a difficult year for Marvel Studios to top, but I can’t wait to see them try.
Marvel’s Spider-Man/God of War/Red Dead Redemption 2
Video games also made big strides in 2018, and while I don’t like playing the “Console War” game, if there was going to be a winner this year, it was easily the Playstation 4. Boasting two of the best games of the year as console exclusives with Spider-Man and God of War, and hosting the massive time suck that is Red Dead Redemption 2, the year of video games really did belong to Sony.
Podcast: The Ride
As someone who listens to way too many podcasts, it’s rare for me to completely fall head over in heels in love with a show after the first episode. But Podcast: The Ride, which features comedy writers Mike Carlsen, Jason Sheridan, and Scott Gairdner’s humorous (and borderline obsessive) knowledge about theme parks and the things that surround them immediately makes for some quality entertainment that you’ll never want to stop listening to. The “Good Boys” have delivered some of the funniest podcast moments of the year, but their highpoint is the nineteen part, extremely necessary “Citywalk Saga” that breaks down Universal Studios’ shopping and restaurant experience.
Mission: Impossible Fallout
What other movie franchise could deliver the best action movie of the year in it’s sixth outing? Okay, Fast and the Furious, but Tom Cruise’s delivery machine of death wishes changes action movies in a way that hasn’t been achieved since the first John Wick. From the awesome bathroom brawl to Cruise literally hanging from a helicopter, Mission: Impossible Fallout will thrill even the most jaded of movie watchers.
A Star Is Born(specifically the soundtrack)
Speaking of things being more entertaining than they should be, who knew that Bradley Cooper could not only direct, but rock out? Yes, A Star Is Born is a fantastic film and one of the best of year, but the music is the real star. I’ve listened to the soundtrack so much that I’ve forgotten at times that Bradley Cooper’s Jackson Maine isn’t some new country music star. Even if you haven’t seen the film (which come on, you should) the music is definitely worth giving a spin.
Better Call Saul
Now that the narrative threads to Breaking Bad are becoming more apparent, Better Call Saul has transformed into not only one of the best shows on TV, but has the potential to even surpass the show it spun off from. Bob Odenkirk, Rhea Seehorn, and Jonathan Banks are all giving career best performances, and the fact that it’s not already being showered with more praise is a real shame.
Thanos/Cosmic Ghost Rider
When it came to big, cosmic level comic book action, nothing came close to Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw’s Thanos, which found the big bad going toe to toe with his future self, and the monstrous Silver Surfer that plagues him. There were big surprises in every issue of the run, but nothing was more surprising than the reveal behind the identity of future Thanos’ “herald”, the Cosmic Ghost Rider. As the best new character to come out of Marvel since Spider-Gwen, Cosmic GR immediately hit big and was given his own spin-off miniseries from Cates, and is even going to appear in the new Guardians of the Galaxy series by, you guessed it, Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw.
We’ve had a lot of reboots over the past few years. Some have been great (Force Awakens), and some have been bad (X-Files), but for my money, none were as well-done as David Gordon Green’s Halloween, which wisely threw out every movie except for the original to tell a sequel to John Carpenter’s classic tale. Anchored by Jamie Lee Curtis’ fantastic return as Laurie Strode, Halloween (2018) was not only a love letter to the original horror classic, it was a return to form for the Shape.
The Good Place
Holy forking shirtballs, if this isn’t the greatest show on TV, I don’t know what is. Every episode of this deliriously hilarious finds new ways to subvert audience expectations, so much so that it’s impossible to just drop in on a random episode. But newcomers shouldn’t see that as a knock against the show, but a sign to take the leap into the Good Place to see what all the fuss is about.
I was very late to the party with FX’s The Americans, but now that I’ve caught up with the rest of the world, allow me to say this: HOLY. CRAP. This is what you get when you have a show runner, crew, and cast all at the top of their game. The hype behind The Americans when I started the show was “it’s the best show on TV that no one watches”, and now that I’ve seen it, I can easily say that it’s the best show on TV that no one watched.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
Miles Morales’ debut into the mainstream shouldn’t have worked as well as it did. Introducing Miles, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Ham, the idea of alternate dimensions, and fitting it within a two-hour runtime was a tall order, and yet the creative team behind Into the Spider-Verse not only made it work, they made it into one of the best comic book films of all time. A love letter to everything that makes Spider-Man and comics so unique and special, Into The Spider-Verse is a clear watershed moment for comic films and animation.
Speaking of things that shouldn’t work, the Jason Momoa led film is an extremely goofy time at the movies. But embracing that goofiness is what makes Aquaman work so well. There’s no way anyone watching/suffering through Batman V Superman would think that THIS cinematic universe would include a drumming octopus, but here we are. Aquaman is a film that can easily be picked apart if you want to, but it’s so ambitious and fun that it’s hard not to get swept up in it.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
This really shouldn’t be a surprise. I was amped up to 11 for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and even then I was still blown away by how much I loved it. From the title sequence featuring art from the comic series to the clever twists on classic religion, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was a blast from beginning to end, and will easily win the title of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer for a new generation”.
Daredevil Season 3
Weep not for Daredevil’s Netflix series, cause if this is the last time that we see Matt Murdock on our screens, he went out on top. A return to form for the series, Daredevil’s third season simplified everything in the Man Without Fear’s narrative, and then threw in a new enemy in the form of Bullseye (played by a stellar Wilson Bethel), and the return of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk. It’s the comeback story Matt Murdock deserved.