Gregg’s Tenaciously Transformative Top 10 Films of 2018

This year was the first time since I started doing this ten years ago where my ‘worst of the year’ list was compiled before my ‘best of’. Both have since fluctuated with the titles on those lists, but the moral of the story is that while 2018 had some great films, I never felt it was a great year for films. In the final weekend before this article was due, I crammed in four theater visits in 48 hours for the most accurate top 10 list I could compile (unfortunately Vice came out too late to be viewed for this list). Little did I know three of those four wouldn’t even come close to making this list (sorry, Aquaman, I’m elated you finally got a film but it’s just too long and the Black Manta actor was awful). Nevertheless, the films that did make this were very worthy of my movie-loving appreciation for any number of reasons. As always, here’s my disclaimer that this list isn’t claiming each of these films are super artsy or award-worthy. Some of them will likely walk away with a Golden Globe or Oscar. Others are just definitive popcorn movies that were pure fun. Either way, it’s quite a mash-up of action, emotion and great storytelling.

#10 – Solo: A Star Wars Story

Everyone’s favorite smuggler gets his own movie as Alden Ehrenreich does an exemplary job of portraying a young Han Solo. Not to be outdone, co-star Donald Glover gives viewers a delivery of uncanny likeness to Billy Dee Williams. Glover, of course, portrays future tibanna miner Lando Calrissian while the Game of Thrones reptile-loving Emilia Clarke plays Solo love interest Qi’ra. It’s not the best Star Wars film, but despite its production woes, Solo delivers a fun ride and a little history on the reluctant rebel.



#9 – Bumblebee

No film based on toys should be three hours (or close to it).  Michael Bay struck gold with the first Transformers movie, but he’s since gone past the point of no return.  Enter Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings).  Knight gives us the second-best Transformers film to date, even providing some awesome nods to the 80’s like an original Shockwave, Soundwave and Ravage.  The soundtrack also delivers with Reagan-era tunes that include Duran Duran’s ‘Save a Prayer’, a-ha’s ‘Take on Me’ and Tears for Fears’ ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’.  It’s the film’s yellow namesake though who shines brightest here in a respectable two-hour runtime as Bumblebee is as lovable and ass-kicking as a robot could be.


#8 – Prospect

Prospect is a low budget sci-fi film that hit theaters nationwide for an intended one weekend only in early November. Featuring Game of Thrones’ actor Pedro Pascal and newcomer Sophie Thatcher, the film does a lot with a little as a father/daughter team seek to mine rare minerals on an unfamiliar planet. Prospect very effectively develops its characters and wastes no time in delving into their duress. Death, greed and fear sum up for some effective storytelling and great suspense, proving you don’t need eight or nine figures to make great sci-fi. Prospect did it on $4,000,000.



#7 – Mission:Impossible – Fallout

“It’s the best one yet!” I was told this numerous times about the sixth Mission Impossible film, Fallout. Personally I found that hard to believe seeing as incredible Ghost Protocol was. Well, Fallout certainly made a strong argument to take that bragging rights mantle. The story was solid, the action intense and Henry Cavill made for a great bad guy. Ghost Protocol is still my favorite Mission Impossible film, but Fallout runs an extremely close second.




#6 – Pacific Rim: Uprising

Though the dialogue was a bit cringe-worthy at times, the Pacific Rim sequel did not disappoint. John Boyega takes the lead role in this gigantic smash-em-up, fisticuffs as the kaiju and jaegers face off once again. There aren’t going to be any awards for acting in this film so take it for what it’s worth, pure world-saving excitement. While every filmmaker and their mother seem fixed on turning every franchise into a trilogy, I’m totally fine with Pacific Rim stopping at two films. For me, this ended on a high note.



#5 – Creed II

Sequels are never as good as the original.  This is something else I’ve heard countless times, though I’ve never believed it.  I’ve always enjoyed Return of the Jedi more than A New Hope, Terminator 2 more than Terminator and so on.  Creed II is yet another example.  The first one was great and the 2018 sequel is even better.  The chemistry amongst the cast, the continuing storyline, the real life stressors of the characters, it all meshed once more with Michael B. Jordan leading the way as Sylvester Stallone serves as the mentor in his supporting role. Creed II is a great stopping point for the Rocky/Creed franchise(s), lest we have another Rocky V.



#4 – Green Book

A Jamaican-born American and an Italian Catholic team up for a music tour in the deep south in the 1960’s. Sounds like fiction, right? As in, who would ever want to tempt fate with such a journey? Dr. Don Shirley would and he did. The accomplished pianist structured the concert series and ended up hiring the talents of a New York City nightclub bouncer (Tony Vallelonga played by Viggo Mortensen) to aid him along the way. While the duties were managerial on paper, sometimes Vallelonga’s unconventional talents were called into use. As for Mahershala Ali who is almost Shakesperian at times in his portrayal of Shirley, well, we know who the Best Supporting Actor Oscar should go to.


#3 – Hostiles

Very rarely do films released at the top of the year make crack my top 10 list. It’s not something I set out to prevent. It’s just that some of the best films are usually released in the summer or late in the year for Oscar season. Bucking that trend was director Scott Cooper’s Hostiles, a film with a 2017 release date according to IMDB. However, its more widely dispersed cinematic time frame was January of 2018, which was when it was first available for viewing in my neck of the woods. Christian Bale takes on the role of a late 1800’s U.S. Army officer and former Indian fighter, forced to escort prior enemy Chief Yellow Hawk to the territory of his ancestors. Along the way, Capt. Blocker (Bale) discovers a young woman (Rosamund Pike) who just witnessed the complete execution of her family by a rogue group of Native Americans. The character development is exceptional, forging bonds along the path of tragedy and perseverance.


#2 –  A Star Is Born

Remakes rarely succeed these days, right? The reasons being are either because they weren’t done right or no one wanted it in the first place. Bradley Cooper’s version of A Star is Born is the fourth Hollywood rendition of the movie as he takes on both directorial and lead actor duties. This was also the only version I had ever watched, despite the praise for the 1976 version starring Barbara Streisand. This time around music superstar Lady Gaga takes over the female lead and does so rather exceptionally. The film is an emotional magnet first and musical tale second. Cooper is more than deserving of a Best Director Oscar here as well as Best Actor. This movie is absolutely complete and makes me wonder if it’s even worth the time to visit the previous renditions. Best Picture at the Oscars? Here it is.


#1 – Avengers: Infinity War

Kevin Feige is not the only person involved in organizing the continuity for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  He is, however, a very key person in making sure that MCU ship stays the course (something the folks at Warner Bros. and DC continue to attempt blindfolded).  Marvel’s cinematic efforts are ten years in the making and all came down to this, the first of a two-part finale. Previously working on Captain America: Winter Soldier, directing duo and brothers Anthony and Joe Russo brought everything they had and then some to this third Avengers film.

I don’t have the figures on the movie’s payroll, but the cast was an absolute who’s who of A-listers all coming together for a breath-taking struggle to save humanity as we know it. The soundtrack was orchestrally epic, the acting was top tier and the writing succeeded in lassoing all that for one fantastic ride. As for the action, it was like Marvel and Braveheart had a kid. Thanos unquestionably cements himself in the hall of great cinematic villains, courtesy of Josh Brolin’s voice work and some exceptional animation. My greatest fear of combining too many elements from all of the previous MCU films was quickly extinguished as they all blended seamlessly in Avengers: Infinity War. It all comes to a close in April 2019 with Endgame. What a magnificent ride it has been.


5 Responses to “Gregg’s Tenaciously Transformative Top 10 Films of 2018”

  1. Brandon Peters

    Nice list, Gregg! Brian tells me we have almost identical opinions on Aquaman haha!

    I’m jotting down Prospect from your list to check out sometime. You usually have a film on your list that surprises me and I feel the need to check out. That one will be 2018’s.

  2. Brian White

    You did it man. You managed to knock me off my breakfast chair.
    Pacific Rim Uprising over Mission Impossibile say it ain’t so? Haha 🙂
    I was just so disappointed in the Uprising and many cringeworthy moments within, but hey that’s just me.
    I’ve honestly never heard of Prospect so good job there!
    This is a first for me, but I have no superhero movies on my upcoming Top Ten list 🙁
    I really thought A Star Is Born was going to be your number 1. You had me convinced in that.
    Never watched Hostiles due to the subject matter, which didn’t call my name.
    Aaron has told me that Green Room is a Brian Film so I need to check this one out!!!
    Never heard you speak any good about Solo so you shocked me there too!

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    Fun list!

    I remember a time when Revenge of the Fallen was your favorite films of the year 😉

    I had a screener for Prospect but it expired by the time I sat down to watch it. Still, want to catch up with it for sure!

    I enjoyed Pac Rim 2 more than most, but wow, high praise here. And I agree with Brian, better than Fallout?

    Creed II has done better than Creed, you can bet we’ll be seeing him again, even if there’s no Rocky involved. But maybe Drago will return on his seahorse!

    Not sure how Hostiles bucked any trends, since, as you said, most award contenders hit in the fall/early winter, which is exactly when Hostiles came out, much like many films audiences generally see when they spread wide in January.

    I too was impressed with Star is Born’s direction, and would be happy to see Cooper take an acting prize (he’s got 3 previous noms already, so it seems like they like him well enough). That said, the Judy Garland version is the one hailed as a true masterpiece, that Streisand version is generally not given much praise, seen as the least of the 4 versions.

    And don’t forget, The Russos also had Civil War under their belt too.

    (You couldn’t do 2 seconds of research to write more than “Black Manta actor” 😉 )

  4. Gregg

    @Aaron, no it wasn’t worth the effort to research Mateen’s first name. Horrid performance. LMAO at Transformers 2! I remember it well! I still like the movie but oh to have a time machine.
    @Brian, Pacific Rim 2 didn’t have the mature script or involved plot that MI:F did, but PR2 was just so much fun for me. It’s exactly what I wanted in a humongous punch fest.
    @Brandon, thanks!

  5. Gerard Iribe

    Oh wow, Prospect only played at Regal Theaters out here, so I skipped it. Too far. I hated Pacific Rim 2 because it felt like a downgrade and obvious YA cash-in. I have not seen Solo, Green Book, or Bumblebee yet. Hostiles was awesome, though!