It’s the end of another fantastic year not only for A-list cinema, but indie cinema as well. With that said, having watched 90 new films this year alone, it was going to be impossible to do a Top 10 list as most of the new films were worth watching. Therefore, this year, I have decided to do a Top 20 list with some great honorable mentions.
DISCLAIMER: This list of 20 films is based solely on the opinion of World Film Geek. As with others who do their own top lists, everyone is entitled to their opinions and it is all good.
So what are we waiting for? Let’s break it down for the World Film Geek Top 20 of 2018!
20. Dance Baby Dance (Stephen Kogon): Director Kogon is also the lead role of his “feel good” film about a former tap dancer who finds himself on a road to redemption when an upcoming showcase is coming to determine the new members of a national dance troupe. What makes this great is that Kogon shows that even when the odds are against him, he is determined and does so with a smile. A highlight scene pays homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood with him and co-star Hayley Shukiar doing a short tapping interlude.
19. Crazy Rich Asians (Jon M. Chu): The surprise hit of the summer, this adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s novel takes us from the streets of New York City to the glamour of Singapore when college professor Constance Wu learns her longtime boyfriend Henry Golding is part of the richest family in Singapore, with the family making her feel like an outcast with some notable exceptions. Some great romance, a funny cameo by Ken Jeong, and some great performances from this cast, notable Wu, Golding, and Gemma Chan, makes me wish the sequel will come very soon.
18. All I Wish (Susan Walter): Originally set to revolve around a woman in her 20’s, this indie rom-com goes out of the norm and has Sharon Stone in a great performance as a loveless aspiring fashion designer who every year on her birthday, happens to run into the same man in Tony Goldwyn, leading to a potentially successful relationship for her. A fun film that even takes shades of the classic When Harry Met Sally as interludes between “chapters” of the film make this one rom-com all will want to see.
17. Death Kiss (Rene Perez): Look out! Charles Bronson is back! Well, not exactly. However, Bronson-lookalike Robert Kovacs perfects the motions of his one-time screen idol as he unleashes justice on the streets of Los Angeles, from taking down drug dealers to going after an old enemy while helping a single mother and her wheelchair-bound daughter out. Yes, the action does tend to be a little OTT, but who cares? This is a great homage to Bronson’s iconic action film franchise.
16. Knuckleball (Michael Peterson): If Home Alone was remade as a horror film set in the wintery weather of Canada, then this would be the result and it is a good one. When 12-year old Luca Villacis visits grandfather Michael Ironside, who passes away in his sleep the next day, he turns to neighbor Munro Chambers for help. Chambers, an alumni of the Degrassi series, gives his most haunting performance to date as Jacob, a young man with ulterior motives, forcing our young hero to turn grandpa’s house into a house of traps.
15. Opus of an Angel (Ali Zamani): When William McNamara feels like he has lost it all, he finds hope again when he slowly befriends a young blind girl, who gives him a new lease on what it is like to live. The breakout of the film is Kaylynn Kubeldis, who is blind in real life, but does an excellent job in her film debut as the key to bringing McNamara down to earth and makes him open his eyes to a world that can experience even with everything he has lost.
14. Black Panther (Ryan Coogler): Marvel’s King of Wakanda is back after his amazing debut in Captain America: Civil War as he struggles with the loss of his father and his new role as the King. However, enter Michael B. Jordan, who has a dark secret that has the potential to shake up the African nation forever. Some great action scenes despite a little overabundance of CGI, but kudos go to both Chadwick Boseman, as the titular role, and Michael B. Jordan, who engage some nice action scenes together as well as Martin Freeman’s Everett Ross, who joins in as the now “token white guy”.
13. And Then I Go (Vincent Grashaw): Based on the novel Project X by Jim Sheperd, this is the story of teen friends Arman Darbo and Sawyer Braun, who finds themselves constantly bullied in both school and at home. When Braun makes a decision to put the bullying to an end, Darbo begins to question his friend’s motives despite agreeing to the plan. Some powerful performances by the two leads drive this film with a shocker of an ending that only brings to mind the realism that can occur within teens today.
12. Johnny Gruesome (Gregory Lamberson): Director Lamberson adapts his own 2008 horror novel into a fun and witty horror comedy about a troubled high schooler who is killed with his friends making it look like his death was an accident. Big mistake! The murdered teen returns from the dead and unleashes a revenge killing spree on this who have wronged him. Anthony de la Torre is great as the titular character, even having some great one-liners that make this exactly what it intends to be.
11. I Kill Giants (Anders Walter): Based on the graphic novel by Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Niimura, with Kelly himself writing this film adaptation, the film’s driving force is Madison Wolfe. Wolfe plays a bullied outcast who finds herself immersed in a fantasy world as a means to break away from the bullying, at times giving her the self-confidence she needs to stand up to those who bully her. However, there is one massive “giant” she must confront to once again lead a peaceful life.
10. Monster Party (Chris Von Hoffmann): Don’t you love films when a group of people plan to rob a place and end up in a world they never expected? Well, Hoffmann’s latest entry takes us to a lavish party where our would-be robbers become the waiting staff. However, this is one party they are going to wish they never went to as this is a party for a band of serial killers. Excellent performances from Sam Strike, Julian McMahon, and an amazing OTT performance by Kian Lawley along with a major twist that no one expects make this one indie horror film worth checking out.
9. Lasso (Evan Cecil): This is one rodeo you will wish you never went to. An active senior citizen group heads to a rodeo only to learn that the cowboys behind it are a band of killers. Enter Sean Patrick Flanery as a one-armed rider who attempts to help put an end to the chaos. The film is truly a welcome departure for Little House on the Prairie’s Karen Grassle, who plays a feisty senior citizen who will go to great lengths to survive this killer rodeo.
8. Accident Man (Jesse V. Johnson): The great Scott Adkins returns, this time in an adaptation of a 1990’s British comic about an assassin who makes his hits look like accidents, hence the titular name. When his ex-girlfriend dies, he is convinced that one of his fellow group of assassins is behind it and goes on a mission of revenge. A great action ensemble cast including Michael Jai White, Ray Park, and in her best role yet, Amy Johnston, unleash mayhem under the guidance of fight choreography extraordinaire Tim Man, who has a cameo as a motorcycle riding killer who gets his from Adkins early in the film.
7. Slay Belles (“SpookyDan” Walker): Slay Belles ring…are you watching? If you want a fun as hell Christmas horror-comedy, look no further than the feature directorial debut of VFX wizard Walker, who invokes not only the spirit of Christmas by having Santa Claus and the Krampus engage in a battle, but add the titular ally to Santa, who invoke the spirit of say…The Powerpuff Girls, with Kristina Klebe, Susan Slaughter, and Hannah Wagner as the titular trio with a fun performance by the legendary Barry Bostwick as the Jolly Big Man himself!
6. A Prayer Before Dawn (Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire): The true story of Billy Moore, a British drug addict who is in one of Thailand’s harshest prisons. In an effort to redeem himself, Moore begins a training regimen in Muay Thai as a means to not only fight his demons, but earn his freedom by fighting in the ring, a procedure known in Thailand’s prison system today. Joe Cole, replacing Charlie Hunnam, churns out a very powerful performance as Moore, combining emotional range with the physical ability to perform the Muay Thai action sequences in the ring.
5. Along Came the Devil (Jason DeVan): A modern day take on the classic horror film The Exorcist. Sydney Sweeney has become a breakout star in the industry today and in this film, she churns out an excellent performance as a young woman who begins to go through some changes after a séance that soon become a nightmare for not only herself, but those around her. The husband and wife team of Jason and Heather DeVan unleash the madness that plagues Sweeney’s Ashley into a full demonic entity that may be rendered helpless by the final reel and in such a good way that it breaks the stereotype for most of this brand of horror.
4. Euthanizer (Teemu Nikki): This Finnish import was a major surprise that melds emotional drama, a bit of action, and some of the insanity that would make even Takashi Miike proud. Matti Onnismaa, fresh off his role in the superhero film Rendel, plays the titular character, a car mechanic who euthanizes animals as a side job. However, he deals with both his dying father as well as a skinhead who offers our man to kill his family dog as a means to shut his family up. When he refuses to euthanize the dog, he “adopts” it instead and finds himself in a complicated relationship with his father’s nurse. Erotic asphyxiation, brutality, and revenge all come to a hell of an ending that has to be seen to be believed.
3. Avengers: Infinity War (Joe and Anthony Russo): 1 decade, over twenty films, has led to this moment. The long awaited Infinity War, where Thanos, a very powerful being from planet Titan begins his road to destruction by collecting the Infinity Stone with all of our heroes from Iron Man and Captain America to Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy as well as Doctor Strange and Spider-Man amongst the others, attempting to stop him. The final fifteen minutes are perhaps some of the most, if not the absolute most shocking in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It all leads up to April 2019’s big finale, Avengers: Endgame.
2. Redbad (Roél Reine): While the Dutch-born Reine is known in the U.S. for more of his straight-to-video fare, in his homeland, he clearly has one thing in mind: to bring the history of the Netherlands to everyone all over the world. After the successful Admiral in 2015, Reine returns to the historical epic of an ousted Frisian prince who allies himself with Vikings in the 9th century to take on the Franks, who force those around them to make the choice of following their religion or be persecuted to death. The nearly three-hour time is perfectly suited for the film with some epic action and some amazing performances by Gijs Naber as the titular Redbad and Loes Haverkort as his Viking wife, Frea.
And World Film Geek’s #1 Film of 2018 goes to…
Mandy (Panos Cosmatos): 2018 has been a heck of a year for Nicolas Cage, from Mom and Dad and Looking Glass to 211. However, those films don’t compare to this one, where he brings out the best range from regular Joe to his trademark over the top all in the name of vengeance. When a psychotic cult leader kidnaps and ultimately kills Cage’s titular girlfriend, Cage becomes an OTT one-man army against the entire cult, bringing some amazing visuals, OTT gore, and a hell of a chainsaw duel that ranks up there with the likes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Tiger on the Beat. A great homage to 1980’s grindhouse horror with a just as awesome OTT performance by Linus Roache as the cult leader make this one for all grindhouse and horror films fans to want to put on their lists as soon as possible.
Check out WFG’s previous post to see some honorable mentions who came very close to making this list. Here’s to both a great year for film in 2018 and some more great films for 2019!