It’s week two of my ranking the movies of 2018 and so far, not much has stood out in terms of themes. I have seen 13 movies so far in 2018 with three classics, only one that wasn’t a disappointment, and ten new movies—three of which I have recommended but only one I have raved about and could remain near the top of this list for a few months. This week did bring one movie I am sure not to forget for the rest of this year, though not for a good reason.
12 Strong is the best new addition to this list, ranking as the best NEW movie of 2018. It could not top the surprise that was Foxy Brown, but it’s a terrific movie with a great performance from Chris Hemsworth. The film is flawed with minimal characterization and some clichéd choices intended to create a cheap emotional connection to the characters, but these are minor issues.
12 Strong is based on an incredible true story that was only recently declassified. 12 American Special Forces soldiers entered enemy territory in Afghanistan just over a month after September 11th and delivered to the worst beating the Taliban and Al Quaeda had ever taken, beating them back from a strategic stronghold. The heart of the story, with Hemsworth acting as both Special Forces Captain and Diplomat trying to hold together the volatile forces of the Northern Alliance, is remarkable, as is the action, which is authentic and genuinely exciting even as we know how the story turned out.
The other good new movie that arrived this week is the limited release documentary, Act & Punishment. The film creates a historic defense of the protest musicians of Pussy Riot. The film details how Pussy Riot isn’t merely a group of punk rock protesters but rather are part of a centuries old tradition of protesters in Russia—one that dates back all the way to Alexander the Great. It’s no joke. The movie makes a strong case and, while I was a little disappointed that the film didn’t cover much of what Pussy Riot was actually protesting, it was still fascinating to see how something called Pussy Riot could genuinely be considered historically relevant.
Two other new movies opened this week and I was a little surprised at which one I hated less. Den of Thieves stars my least favorite actor, Gerard Butler, as a cop who, surprise, surprise, "doesn’t play by the rules." I disliked Den of Thieves because it is a rather idiotic movie that plays police violence for kicks and plays to Butler’s worst instincts as an actor, calling on him to do a lot of his loathsome macho posturing. But, that said, I didn’t completely hate Den of Thieves.
Don’t misunderstand me and think I recommend it—I surely do not—but the film features O’Shea Jackson, the son of Ice Cube; a pretty good young actor who is far better than this movie. Jackson elevates the material ever so slightly to make me not completely hate the movie; though I did hate how his character is making a more interesting movie in the background than the movie we are watching. The ending reveals something about Jackson’s character, Donnie, which leads me to believe the producers had two movies in mind and decided to film the wrong one while making the other a twist.
We may not have a new number one Best of 2018 this week, but we do have a brand new "Worst of the Year" movie: the country music romance Forever My Girl takes country music, a genre already prone to mediocrity, and makes something somehow even more bland. It’s astonishing, really, just how unremarkable the music in this music-based romance is. I sat awestruck listening to the ungodly mediocrity of this music, which is only eclipsed by how ludicrously unremarkable the non-musical scenes in this movie are.
What irks me even more, however, about Forever My Girl is that is stars Jessica Rothe, an actress I think is a future star. Rothe was the star of the surprisingly ingenious and terrifically fun horror movie Happy Death Day. Seeing her in Forever My Girl and watching her dim her talents to match this dim premise, poor execution, and her incredibly boring co-star, ticked me off to no end. Rothe is so much better than this movie.
With all that said, here are the newly updated rankings. Next week, The Maze Runner: Death Cure and Hostiles will be joining the list as the week's only announced wide releases. The classic on this week’s "Everyone’s a Critic Podcast" is the Dustin Hoffman movie Little Big Man, which I have never seen but I am looking forward to. It’s been recommended to me on Netflix for a very long time.
1. Foxy Brown
2. 12 Strong
3. Act & Punishment
4. Insidious The Last Key
5. Sheikh Jackson
7. Almost Paris
8. Burnt Offerings
9. Paddington 2
10. Proud Mary
11. Den of Thieves
12. The Commuter
13. Forever My Girl