2018 is mercifully close to being over. However, one of the traditions that makes any year fun is compiling end-of-the-year lists. Now, loyal listeners of our podcast know that Travis and I will be doing our Top 15 Films of 2018, but due to scheduling (and playing catch-up with as many movies as possible), that episode is going to post in January. So, I wanted to compile something for this month that y’all might enjoy.
I’ve decided to highlight five films from the year that I think deserve way more discussion than they’re getting. Now, I’m not saying these are the best films of the year or even my favorites, but some of them might end up on my official Top 15 list. This is simply an opportunity to put some films on your radar that might have slipped by. And because everyone likes ranking, I’ll start at the bottom and work my way up. I’ll also provide links to any podcast episodes where they were mentioned.
I’m putting this at the bottom because it’s probably the one film on this list that’s actually getting some decent (and deserved) hubbub. This is a stunningly assured debut from a multitude of talents; director Carlos López Estrada better be getting every possible studio picture pitched at him, and lead actors Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal just became two of the hottest performers in the game.
Why Ain't We Talkin' About It?: It's been such a landmark year for films that showcase an underserved perspective, and it's possible that Blindspotting has gotten lost in the shuffle. Plus, this is a movie that explodes with such a specific personality that it might not click with a lot of viewers. Their loss.
4. Bad Times at the El Royale
[discussed in Episode 205]
The incredible cast and performances should be reason enough to be chatting about this dark little period thriller, but Bad Times at the El Royale offers up an impressive amount of world-building, stylish (but not showy) filmmaking, and a story that's able to deliver more than just its mystery trappings.
Why Ain't We Talkin' About It?: Reviewers couldn't help but stack this up against Tarantino's oeuvre, and that caused a lot of folks to dismiss it as something supposedly lesser. Folks need to view this on its own merits and they'll find an abundance of riches to enjoy. This has the makings of a cult classic. Give it a few years.
3. Mom and Dad
[discussed in Episode 171]
Brian Taylor's bugfuck evisceration of parental woes is as hilarious as it is horrifying. It's genuinely surprising that a movie in which children are gleefully murdered by their parents isn't being held up as some kind of taboo champion. If this had come out ten years ago, it would have been an unavoidable talking point for parties supporting it and those labeling it an example of our society's moral decline.
Why Ain't We Talkin' About It?: Besides the intentionally sickening subject matter turning a good amount of people off, this is a victim of a few factors. It's early-in-the-year release is certainly a contributor, but 2018 was the year Nicholas Cage delivered two of his career-best roles with Mandy and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This got overshadowed by those films, and it's a bummer because Cage is just as in fire in Mom and Dad . Don't let this slip by.
2. The Night Eats the World
[discussed in Episode 210]
I'm always elated when someone can come along and inject something really new into a zombie apocalypse story. The Night Eats the World does so by doing the most extraordinarily simple thing: showing the event from the perspective of a single character. And for the majority of the film, that character is completely alone. It's a somber mediation on self-induced solitude and what it's like when you feel truly alone. And the zombie horror feels very, very real.
Why Ain't We Talkin' About It?: It's hard enough to keep up with all the domestic releases we get, but the real victims are often unique foreign films that get utterly shafted. Not to mention that this ain't a zombie flick that caters to the vicarious fantasy that a lot of apocalyptic fiction tends to lean into. This is a quiet, melancholy approach that makes you feel just how much of an actual bummer this scenario would be.
1. Bayou Caviar
[discussed in Patreon exclusive More Currently Consuming - October 2018]
How in the HELL aren't we all tearing our hair out over Bayou Caviar ? No other film in 2018 has made me so confused, appalled, and genuinely stunned as Cuba Gooding Jr.'s directorial debut. I can't believe Birth.Movies.Death or The A.V. Club didn't highlight this foolhardy endeavor and turn it into one of the year's most deserving punching bags. It's impossible to describe just how wrongheaded and icky this flick is. I tried my best on our extended Currently Consuming episode, but even that wasn't capable of completely capturing everything Bayou Caviar has to offer. You should just watch it and report back to me so I can have someone else to help me decode how this came to be.
Why Ain't We Talkin' About It?: Beats me. Okay, I get that it's an incredibly small production and had a nearly imperceptible release. It feels like they tried to hide this one after whoever decided to fund this finally saw what it was. As far as that is concerned, it makes total sense why it's off everyone's radar. But as far as its content? We need to be talking about this more than any other film in 2018. More than the misplaced ironic appreciation of Venom or even the clownfest that is Gotti. THIS is the nuttiest flick of the year.