Ranking the Movies of 2018: Week 7

Continuing to countdown all the movies I see in 2018.

Busy week for ranking the movies, as I have added nine movies to this list in just a single week. Two of these movies cracked the top five and the strange and wonderful new indie movie, Are We Not Cats, broke into the top five movies released in 2018. It was a weird and wonderful week with a pair of revelations, a new movie that blew my mind and the other, the best classic we’ve had this year on the Everyone is a Critic Podcast.

Let’s start with the highest debut on this list, this week’s Everyone’s a Critic classic, Black Swan. We chose Black Swan to coincide with the release of the movie Annihilation, as both films star the brilliant Natalie Portman. We will get to Annihilation in a moment but Black Swan took me by surprise. I recall seeing Black Swan when it was released in 2010 but I didn’t love it then.

Watching Black Swan again eight years later and I was blown away by director Darren Aronofsky’s deft play with metaphor and his remarkable use of body horror. Black Swan is about a young ballet dancer who is wrestling with her burgeoning sexuality as she is tasked with playing the white and black swan in a reimagining of the legendary Tchaikovsky ballet Swan Lake.

The lead role requires Portman’s ballet dancer Nina to play the innocent white swan and the dark and seductive black swan. Challenged by the ballet director, Thomas (Vincent Cassell) to bring a seductive quality to the black swan, Nina begins to explore her sexuality which begins to emerge among her incredible anxiety about sex. Having been sheltered by her overbearing mother, Barbara Hershey, Nina’s psyche and her body, begins to fracture and her nightmares begin to become reality.

The metaphors for sexual repression that I ignored the first time around, really struck me on this viewing. Seeing Aronofsky’s use of obvious metaphor in Mother(!) just last year perhaps made watching Black Swan a little easier. It made it easier for me to find the obvious metaphors of Black Swan and be compelled by them through the remarkably vulnerable and exciting performance by Natalie Portman.

Speaking of Ms. Portman, she’s in the top five with two movies this week. Watching Black Swan last week was inspired by the release of the new movie Annihilation starring Portman and directed by burgeoning auteur Alex Garland. Though Garland is growing into an Aronofsky style visionary, his use of metaphor in Annihilation is much more abstract than Aronofsky’s. In fact, I can hardly tell you what metaphor Garland was seeking and yet I was still compelled and fascinated by this incredible movie.

Elsewhere on this list, of note, are the independent movie Are We Not Cats from director Xander Robin and the Foley Artist documentary, Actors of Sound. Both of these limited release films impressed me in very different ways. Are We Not Cats is weird and disturbing and yet rather true to life in its depiction of fetish and addiction. Actors of Sound meanwhile, gave me a new appreciation of the way movies are made.

For the first time in a while I was able to make time for our Everyone is a Critic Podcast feature, 30 Year Movies. Each week we look back on the movies released that weekend 30 years ago. Turning 30 this week, that I was able to make time to see, were the Roman Polanski thriller Frantic, the Pierce Brosnan actioner Taffin, and Jean Claude Van Damme’s legendary, so bad it’s fun, fight movie, Bloodsport.

Surprised to see Bloodsport highest on the list of the three 30 year movies? Me too. I had fully expected Frantic to come out on top but it disappointed me. Roman Polanski’s homage to Hitchcock lacks the urgency and fun of Hitchcock and meanders through familiar thriller tropes. Bloodsport, on the other hand, remains, thirty years later, a very easy watch. Bloodsport is bad but it is bad in the most glorious and hilarious way.

Next week, two versions of Death Wish will find a place on this list. Bruce Willis is remaking Charles Bronson’s revenge flick with Eli Roth in the director’s chair. Jennifer Lawrence will join the list with her much buzzed about spy flick, Red Sparrow and that film’s Russian setting has inspired Everyone’s a Critic to take on 1981’s Warren Beatty epic, Reds as our classic.

Here are this week's ranking of every movie I have seen in 2018.

  1. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  2. Black Swan
  3. Phantom Thread
  4. Black Panther
  5. Annihilation
  6. Just Charlie
  7. Columbus
  8. Hostiles
  9. Boogie Nights
  10. Foxy Brown
  11. Becks
  12. Game Night
  13. Are We Not Cats
  14. The Ballad of Lefty Brown
  15. 12 Strong
  16. Act & Punishment
  17. Actors of Sound: A Foley Artist Documentary
  18. Insidious: The Last Key
  19. Sheik Jackson
  20. Samson & Delilah
  21. Heat
  22. Early Man
  23. Almost Paris
  24. Bloodsport
  25. Play Misty for Me
  26. Frantic
  27. Taffin
  28. Samson
  29. Last House on the Left
  30. Burnt Offerings
  31. Paddington 2
  32. Cloverfield Paradox
  33. Peter Rabbit
  34. Proud Mary
  35. Den of Thieves
  36. The Commuter
  37. Fifty Shades Freed
  38. Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built
  39. Forever My Girl
  40. Every Day
  41. 15:17 to Paris
  42. The Greasy Strangler
  43. Maze Runner: The Death Cure 

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