By now you’ve probably seen everyone else hit you with what they consider the best of this last year… I don’t consider myself much of an authority to much such claims. Though while we ring in the new year I guess I have some unfinished business when it comes to recommending television and films from 2018. Without further ado, here’s my top 5 things I didn’t talk about in 2018 but you still should see.
Black Mirror : Bandersnatch
The reason why I didn’t talk about Black Mirror’s interactive episode last year was because I just watched it in the new year. Black Mirror is definitely a show to respect for all the off-beat ideas they are willing to follow through with and bandersnatch is a subpar Black Mirror episode that’s gimmick does make it admittedly fun. Bandersnatch unfortunately doesn’t avoid many of the snares of your other choose-your-own-adventure media suffers, mainly your choices don’t matter ( you can deflect with some philosophical lack of free will themes but it still takes away from the experience of the viewer). Ironically, the complaints of the game review critic and how he laments how Stefan’s game lacks personal passion in multiple bad endings well… the bandersnatch episode doesn’t seem like someone’s passion project of a story but as a way to make this gimmick work. It’s certainly engaging that it does have some fun to be had and the best element is how bad/alternate endings add layers to the stories. However, the story never splitters off into unique paths and convergence of plot elements never feels more satisfying that a hodgepodge of misdirection. I recommend for the exotic experience alone but the rather shallow plot tree with the choices that just seeming more like obstacles to the true ending is why I take minor issue with Bandersnatch.
BoJack Horseman Season 5
My thoughts never completely focused in on the right words to describe Season 5 of BoJack Horseman which continues to be one of the best Television shows being produced today. Easily in my top 10 shows, BoJack Horseman continues to be one of the best written shows whether it be how it balances dark and absurdist humor, challenging the form in which TV stories are told, or tackling political and social commentary. My only complaints is how this season took a real self-reflective aspect that seemed overly defensive on this angle of how “bojack horseman” endorses bad behavior or has made bystanders more sympathetic towards immoral behavior. Why I understand where the writers were coming from, their demonizing of the character ruined the aspect of the show where the audience gets to be the judge of the moral scale, how much will we tolerate bojack’s misdeeds and how much of our empathy is deserved if BoJack continues to not change. Always having something to say and always good for a laugh BoJack Horseman season 5 was an obvious recommend.
Hilda is my feel good show recommendation of 2018. This quirky fun adventure is some weird cross-breed of Gravity Falls and The Peanuts. The child voices actors do a phenomenal job giving personality to these characters and the aesthetic of the show is this warm autumn look that feels familiar yet something all of its own. For a first season Hilda does a remarkable job of making enjoyable episodic tales and season progressions. Problems and characters boil over into future episodes while the whole season is mainly about Hilda finding a sense of home and belonging. My main criticism would be that I hope this show gets more comfortable with it’s humor that it’s quirky humor is honestly enjoyable but it is not overwhelmingly present that the show is not as charming as it can be. I think this cozy little animated series is fun for the whole family and I’m happy to see that it will return for a season 2.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse might be the biggest the surprises of the year as Sony managed to make one of the best movies of the year. The exotic visuals makes this film not just one of the greatest love letters to comic books but an enjoyable burst of energy. It is a loving homage of the history of Spider-Man and brings his comic, movie, and other media history together as multiple iterations have to come together and fight Kingpin. Kingpin was the perfect villain choice with stellar execution; when focusing on 6-ish main characters and multiple other supporting cast you want a villian you can spend a couple minutes to establish motive and make it believable that this upstart Spider-Man can conquer his first time out. Miles Morales has been a character that has seemed interesting and I’m glad we finally got his story on the big screen without him seemingly like a replacement for Peter Parker. I love how true to Stan Lee’s philosophy they were with the character and it was a wholesome story of how the real superheroes were really anyone who chooses to take the responsibility of one. I know it won’t happen but Spider-Verse deserves Best Animated Film at the Oscars .
Maybe my favorite film of 2018, First Reformed is a challenging dialogue that does a phenomenal job at showing inner turmoil and torment. If you wanted a sympathetic telling of Lord Frollo’s story than Ethan Hawke is here to deliver. No spoilers but the controversy of First Reformed is the make or break moment of how you respond to about the last fifteen minutes. In some regards it does feel unearned or unfulfilling but I do love the can of worms opened by it that honestly interpreting the ending of First Reformed seems like answering the Schrodinger’s Cat Paradox. This is a rare film that has haunting cinematography and doesn’t feel limited by it’s unusual aspect ratio. First Reformed is more about how it is written and performed rather than the story that is told or what emotion it elicits and that is why it is certainly one of the most appreciated films of 2018 but it’s absence from major awards would not surprise me in the slightest.
Which of these was your favorite from 2018? What was some of your favorite shows and films from 2018, and what are y’all looking forward to in the new year. Hoping everyone’s 2019 is off to a great start and here’s to surviving yet another year with many tales and adventures to be had. To 2019 and to our upcoming year…. at the movies!