Monday, December 31, 2018

Katy's Top Movies of 2018

Ryan and I saw 59 new movies this year at the theatre. And I am including a Netflix release in my list here, since the film on my list never got a theatrical release. These are all films I want to watch again, films that left an impression, or inspired me somehow. The films in the list are presented in almost the order I viewed them. I may have mixed them up a bit. The point is, they are not ordered from best to worst or favorite to least favorite. 

And take note! Just because a film isn't in my list, doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it, or didn't think it was a great movie, either. I, Tonya, Death of Stalin, Deadpool 2, Ralph Breaks the Internet, The First Purge, RGB, Love, Simon, Lady Bird, Incredibles 2, these are all really great movies! I think there were only three movies I watched this year that I didn't really find any value in and do not want to see again. There are some great movies NOT on my list, and films that probably deserve some attention like The Hate U Give, but it's not included because, well, I actually enjoyed the book more. There are some great performances that aren't included like Michael Shannon in the Shape of Water, where the film doesn't find its way into my list. Films that I found to be a lot of fun like Infinity War or The MEG, but just didn't make the final cut.

Okay, so... here's the list!!

Black Panther 

Yes. This movie will likely be on everyone's lists for 2018. My main attraction to this film is all of the incredible women who dominated the movie on screen and behind it. In particular, I read an interview before the film came out about the costume designer who sourced her inspiration for costumes from a wide variety of African nations and bound them together through one beautiful film. And there's an incredible episode of sound exploder about the Killmonger theme. The movie was bright in both senses - colorful and smart. I can't really find fault with it. 


Here's a conversation I had this summer about Annihilation... Him: "... what I don't get is why did it have to be all women?" Me: "Would you ask that question if it were all men?" Him: "No." Then I think he went on to say something like "you have a point there" but I can't recall the exact wording.  This conversation is *exactly* why we should have more films like this, like Ghostbusters, like Incredibles 2, like Widows, like Ocean's 8. It should *not* be special, unique, or "odd" for a film to be led by an all or predominately female cast. Plus, this film was weird and pretty. Weird and pretty is good. Good sci-fi, with some really astounding visuals. 

Game Night

This movie is fun. I don't think I should have to justify it any more than that. It has some unexpected turns too, which add to the value of the story. Plus, this is one of the movies we saw not long after losing Jack and it made me smile and laugh. I think I'll always be grateful for this movie for it's levity and charm. 

A Quiet Place 

For someone who had never directed, and who was not a fan of horror by his own admission, the guy from the office made a pretty damn good horror film! I love hearing stories of people afraid to eat their snacks in the theatre because the film was so quiet. I also love that they cast a young actress, Millie Simmonds, with the same hearing challenge as the character she portrays. This shouldn't be unique, but it is, and needs to be pointed out so that it happens more, right? If the character is deaf, why shouldn't a deaf actress get the role? She was phenomenal in A Quiet Place. She made the film work for me. 

Isle of Dogs

This films, like most of Wes's movies, is aesthetically pleasing, a tad emotionally upsetting, and has charming characters. Plus it has Yoko Ono and puppies! What else do you want? Hmmn? More cats, I guess... 

Bad Samaritan

Here's one of the movies that stuck with me. It's a messed up tale that you should go see without knowing too much about it! David Tennant is horrifying. I get the creeps just thinking about it, honestly. I had to include it on my list even though I don't think I'll rewatch it, because I want everyone else to watch it too. 


Ah, now here is a case for great advertising and how it can shape your movie viewing experience for the better. Not to spoil anything... but something happens. Not to spoil anything else... I did NOT see it coming. I am not sure how to talk about this film without spoiling it, so go see it and get back to me. Scary, creepy, thought provoking, gross, scary, beautiful, yikes. 

Hotel Artemis 

Sterling K. Brown's voice is blissful. Jodie Foster is a great character actor. Batista clearly really likes acting even if he isn't the best at it yet. Sofia Boutella is gorgeous and deadly. The film is simple, pretty, entertaining, takes a turn here and there, but won't leave you feeling car sick, and Sterling K. Brown's voice is blissful.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

In a post Infinity War world, I think I am allowed to give any Marvel super hero moves a bit of credit just for standing up on their own plots. We only saw this movie once, and I can't remember all of the points that I made, but I distinctly remember walking out the theatre listing all the things I thought the movie did well. Here's what I can recall... the Wasp is in the title. She's smart and strong and nothing would get done without her. The mother figure is powerful and composed, even though she needs others to help her, she holds her own. Antman is a decent dad. Especially when you compare him to some of the other father figures in the movie. The movie was fun and bright and kept its threat level in check. While Infinity War was great, I put this movie over it simply because I, Katy, would rather sit down and rewatch Antman and the Wasp over all the avengers sloshing about in space for two hours.

Jurrasic World: Fallen Kingdom

We saw it twice because it's fun AND scary! Also, Bryce Howard Dallas's character got some reasonable foot ware this time! The movers and shakers behind the scenes actually listened to the complaints of their fanbase and made the change. Plus, that adorable little baby pachycephalosaurs was, well, adorable!

I had an intense experience during the end of this film. Spike Lee chose to show the neo Nazi terrorist attack that took place in Charlottesville. I had not seen the video footage before then. I'd seen images, read reports, but chose not to expose myself to the video. So the end of the movie hit me right were it was supposed to hit. It was akin to watching the Twin Towers crumble for the first time. It was difficult and horrible and real. So thank you, Spike Lee. It was unforgettable. Besides that, the film was intelligent, funny, uncomfortable, thought provoking, and definitely worth everyone's time. 


I've been a fan of Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal for a little while now. I enjoy their music, poetry, and have been following both of their blossoming careers on Instagram. I knew the film was coming out for a long while and almost missed seeing it on the big screen. We drove to Rhode Island, the next state over, to catch it in a cinema, and I'm glad we did! The film lived up to the hype I'd been fed on IG for months. Seeing and enjoying the movie was almost like seeing friends succeed. I feel proud. The film also gave me a new vocabulary word - blindspots. The parts of the world, the perspectives, that we're blind to due to our lives and experiences. If we as individuals can acknowledge that we have them, then perhaps we can begin to change our view enough to see them and see others better for who and what they are in the world we share. It's a valuable way to think about other people's experiences compared to my own. And I'm still really enjoying the soundtrack EPs. 


It is a rare treat to go see a movie at the theatre and know nothing about it. Well, not nothing... I knew it was called Mandy, that Nick Cage was in it, and that, according to Ryan, the poster was pink (because I hadn't even seen the poster!). Unlike most of the other films on this list, I don't know how eager I am to sit down and rewatch this movie, but it was one heck of a fun ride the first time around. Nick Cage is so enjoyable when he goes full throttle into a role. There was nothing left of the actor by the end of the movie, just this … completely deranged emotionally driven character. And the lighting was fantastic. Seriously. When the light alone can make you question what is and isn't really happening... that's fantastic. 


Another super hero movie that isn't Infinity Wars dependent! Venom didn't even feel remotely Spider-Man dependent to me.  What Venom was, actually, was a great relationship movie. The relationship between Eddie and Anne was complicated and real, with realistic motives by both parties. The fact that Eddie simultaneously won't give up on Anne, but also sort of likes her new BF is really … nice. Eddie isn't a jerk. He's just sort of selfish, but he knows better than to let his selfishness hurt the person he cares about most in the world. It was nice to see that human dynamic played up against the alien relationship Eddie got sucked into also. And then there were the special effects, which have made me pine for a The Maxx movie! Quick honorable mention to Upgrade, which maybe... probably... certainly did the whole body possessed/symbiotic relationship thing better than Venom. If that's what you're into, the action and emotional transition, maybe see Upgrade instead.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 

Ryan talked this movie up, but I sort of put my blinders up before seeing this BEAUTIFUL, SMART, FUNNY, WHOLESOME movie. I'm grateful that I didn't pay too much attention to it before I saw it, because it was SO NICE to see something SO GOOD without knowing very much. Okay, we all know Spider-Man's story pretty well... but honestly, I am way more familiar with the white Peter Parker story than the Black/Hispanic Miles Morales story, so this was a really pleasant change and we need more. More Miles! Plus, look, more Nick Cage! Oh, and PETER PORKER!? A SPIDER who got bit by a PIG!? Okay, Marvel, whatever, you do you and I'll get into it. Plus the soundtrack is uplifting and exciting.


This was a Netflix release, and I wouldn't usually count films we hadn't seen in the theatre, but the world is changing. So too, are the qualifications for such a list. Apostle was very reminiscent of The Wicker Man in its format. A man goes to an island inhabited by a cult to find a person. Things don't go super great. There are some unexplainable and weird, dark moments that make the film last beyond the viewing experience. It's a film people can discuss and dissect together after seeing, and I love films that bring people together through conversation. That, to me, is a marker of good story telling; the stories that teach us something, make us think deeper or differently, that give us community.

I'd also like to shine a light on an actress who kept popping up and surprising me this year - Jenny Slate. In both Hotel Artemis and Venom she plays smaller roles, but both are absolutely necessary and both are catalysts for the drama. And she doesn't overplay these roles. She's sort of perfect. I look forward to seeing her in lots more in the future! Mona-Lisa in the HOUSE!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Katy's Books of 2018

This is the first year (ever) that I have kept a record of my reading, and the first time I have ever made an effort to read female authors. 

I am not going to do a "top" or "best of" list because these are not all current, they are not all by female authors, but many of them are also not what I would have normally read. This year marks a good change in reading for me. I've read more, I've read different, and I'm proud of my little list here.

Castle of Crossed Destinies by Italo Calvino 
The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace 
The Night Circus by Erin Morgrnstern 
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo 
My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris 
Persepolis by Majane Satrapi 
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin 
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'engle 
Crash Overdrive by Zoe Quinn 
Park Bench by Chaboute 
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel 
The Witch Doesn't Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace 
Depression & Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim 
Milkbar by Christina Tosi 
The Future by Neil Hilborn 
The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas 
Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente 
The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, and Carey Pietsch 
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones 
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin 
#NeverAgain by David Hogg and Lauren Hogg 
Sharky Malarkey by Megan Nicole Dong 
Limping To The Big Bad by Beth Ayer 
Crystal Fighters by Jen & Tyler Bartel 
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor