Dr. Ron's #5: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Just after the beginning of the year, I approached my friend and fellow movie aficionado, Ron Graham, to compose a list of his favorite movies of the year. Not only did he do that, but he brought his son in tow as well. The result? Two fresh points of view regarding the year that was in film circa 2018.
Dr. Ron Graham’s Top 10 of 2018
10. Mandy – A happy couple has its lives destroyed by a cult – revenge follows.
9. A Star is Born – A veteran country music star introduces a younger talent to the stage, and their performances and relationship come into conflict.
8. Widows – Four women team up to devise a heist to recover a debt caused by their dead husbands
7. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – Miles Morales teams up with spider-powered counterparts to stop a multi-dimensional threat.
6. Eighth Grade – Hey, I hated eighth grade, too. No surprise that it was hard on Elsie Fisher.
5. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Tales of life and violence in the Old West, some of them very strange.
4. First Reformed – A pastor has had his own problems, and yet his church faces even worse.
3. BlacKkKlansman – A black police officer infiltrates the KKK as a white supremacist.
2. Sorry to Bother You – A call center means to supply warring powers with super-powered horse-people.
1. Black Panther – King T’Challa is challenged for the rule of Wakanda – and his life.
Honorable Mentions: Isle of Dogs; Aquaman; Love, Simon
Shitlist: Ready Player One, Rampage, Hereditary
Rob Graham’s Take
10. Mom and Dad – It was a lovely day in your typical all-American town… when suddenly a mysterious television signal causes all the neighborhood parents to go homicidal and attempt to kill their own children. A gonzo, darkly-humorous look at mid-life crises and inter-generational conflict. Nicolas Cage absolutely deserves the Academy Award for Best Hokey-Pokey in a Motion Picture.
9. Paddington 2 – Upon first viewing, I walked out of the theater in a huff after declaring “Wait a minute… BEARS CAN’T TALK! WHAT IS THIS SHIT?!” After subsequent viewings, I’ve decided to overlook this APPALLING scientific inaccuracy and enjoy this candy-colored comedy-adventure for what it is.
8. A Star Is Born – Speaking of scientific inaccuracies, until this point I was under the mistaken belief that stars were born when molecular clouds of gas collapse under their own wait, causing fusion. It turns out a star is actually formed when an alcoholic country music legend gives Lady Gaga a big break after hearing her perform at a drag-queen bar. Wrong again, Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Rob Graham's #7: Mandy
7. Mandy – A lumberjack goes on a quest for revenge against the evil cult that killed his wife and/or girlfriend. And this time……. it’s PERSONAL. 2018 may have been a pretty lousy year in many ways, but at least we got two great Nicolas-Cage-goes-insane-then-goes-on-power-tool-aided-killing-spree movies out of it.
6. You Were Never Really Here – Gritty neo-noir wherein a brutal, psychologically-damaged war vet attempts to rescue an under-aged girl from forced prostitution. Feel-good movie of the year.
5. November – A star-crossed romance combining various elements of Estonian folklore into one demented, beautifully-photographed whole. Features werewolves, devils, talking snowmen, and robots made from farming tools who self-destruct when told to make ladders out of bread. ‘Nuff said.
4. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse – Various spider-themed superheroes from alternate universes converge in one playful, psychedelic gloriously-nerdy delight. May very well be the first Marvel movie to have an end credits sequence that’s ACTUALLY WORTH WAITING THROUGH THE CREDITS TO WATCH. I’m as shocked as you are.
3. First Reformed – A small-town priest slowly descends into madness before resorting to the use of a terrible weapon against the forces who would ravage the environment and destroy our natural resources. The better version of Infinity War.
2. The Other Side Of The Wind – A bitingly-funny yet tragic story of an aging filmmaker who hosts a party vainly find completion funds for his pretentious but amazingly-edited avant-garde art film/porno.
1. Sorry To Bother You – A young, financially-struggling black man finds unexpected success working as a telemarketer when he adopts a “white voice”, then rises through the ranks of the company and discovers their EVIL PLOT. This was the most misunderstood movie of the year; misinterpreted by critics as an absurdist science fiction black comedy rather than the documentary it truly was. Probably because those critics never worked at a call center.
Honorable Mentions: Aquaman, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Dirty Computer, Hereditary, Upgrade
Shitlist: Ant-Man & The Wasp, The Hate U Give, Ready Player One, Solo: A Star Wars Story
Click HERE to read Ted Zep’s Favorite Films of 2018
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