2018: The Year in Movies
Our reviewers are sharing their perspectives on this year in the movies.
Best Family Film of the Year
For overall family viewing, we have to give the prize to Christopher Robin. Its lack of negative content, strong message about the importance of family and friendships, and all-enveloping charm make it a sure winner. (Viewers who like lots of action might want to look elsewhere.)
Paddington 2 takes our runner up spot. This sweet sequel about the London adventures of a little bear from Darkest Peru combines a gentle script with top quality CGI. Mishaps, zany antics, and love and kindness work together to make an irresistible family film.
An Honorable Mention award goes to The Incredibles 2.
Best Teen Film of the Year
Looking for movies you and your teens will enjoy but might be a bit much for younger kids? The big winner this year is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This movie has an adequate superhero plot with an engaging lead character. But what really makes it stand out is spectacularly explosive animation. Aside from the usual superhero violence, the film has virtually no negative content and is a big hit with viewers of all ages.
Our runner-up spot goes to The Hate U Give for a plot grabbed from the headlines. Amandla Stenberg gives a riveting performance as an African-American teen whose friend is accidentally shot in front of her by a police officer. This well-made film avoids demonizing specific racial or ethnic groups but takes an honest look at racial issues between black and white Americans and at struggles within the African-American community. Powerful messages about courage, loyalty, integrity, and family make this a must-see for teens interested in thoughtful films.
An Honorable Mention award goes to First Man.
Best Restricted Film of the Year
In the fall of 2018, we began reviewing Restricted movies because we know parents watch films without their kids but still want to avoid excessive violent or sexual content.
Our favorite Restricted movie this year was Eighth Grade for its harrowingly accurate portrayal of adolescent life. Elsie Fisher’s performance is Oscar worthy as Kayla Day, a socially awkward but courageous thirteen-year-old navigating the final days of middle school. The movie contains some cringe-worthy sexual conversation but no actual sexual activity. We believe this film is valuable for parents of teens and tweens and can serve as a useful conversational springboard.
Our runner-up award in this category goes to The Children Act, starring the inimitable Emma Thompson as Madam Justice Fiona May of the British High Court. She faces an agonizing court case which will determine the fate of a 17-year-old boy, and the ripples from the case spill over into her personal life. We do not believe this film was fairly rated and its relatively mild content issues actually merit a PG-13 rating. This movie is recommended for teens and adults who enjoy debating deep topics.
Biggest Surprise of the Year
After watching trailers and doing our research, movie critics usually have a pretty good idea of what to expect when we walk into a theater. But sometimes we are pleasantly surprised.
Having not been impressed by the trailer, our reviewer walked into Mortal Engines with very low expectations. Instead she found a teen action film with a fast-moving plot and visually appealing steampunk aesthetic. The characters were a bit flat and the constant Star Wars allusions can be annoying or amusing, depending on one’s perspective but this is still a fun action movie for teens and up.
Runner up goes to Dog Days which we expected would be a predictable bit of sentimental fluff. Which it was. But it was filled with such sincere sweetness; such kind and helpful people, that our reviewer was unexpectedly charmed. This is safe family viewing for almost everyone. And the dogs are so gosh-darn cute that they are irresistible to anybody, even non-doggy people like our reviewer.
Biggest Disappointment of the Year
Sometimes we head into the theater, all excited about a new film, only to emerge feeling a bit let down.
Our biggest disappointment this year was A Wrinkle in Time. This beloved sci-fi classic novel translated poorly to film with its sense of wonder being replaced by boredom and confusion.
Runner up in the disappointment category goes to The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. A lush musical score and stunning visual design couldn’t compensate for a weak plot and some creepy special effects.
Worst Film of the Year
We have a tie for worst film of the year. The first is Show Dogs. Ostensibly a children’s movie about a police dog going undercover at a dog show, this movie had a horrible subtext which taught children to permit unwanted genital touching, to dissociate from their bodies in such situations, and to be groomed for these situations by adults whom they trust. The movie caused such an uproar that the studio took the unprecedented step of pulling the movie from the theaters and editing the offending scenes.
The other unbelievably bad film this year is Holmes & Watson, an un-funny parody of Sherlock Holmes mysteries. The film’s repulsive sexual content – particularly an eroticized autopsy – left our reviewer feeling physically nauseated. A predictable plot and annoying characters further weighed this movie down on its race to the bottom.