Every Movie I Watched for the First Time in 2018: An Analysis


Movies impact us.

In 2016, I argued that if “movies can impact a moviegoer’s worldview (by stimulating creativity, encouraging empathy, and raising awareness), then moviegoers should thoughtfully consider which movies they choose to watch.” And I stand by that argument.

But now, in 2019, I offer two clarifications:

  1. Twitter is not the place to “thoughtfully consider which movies” to watch. Twitter, though not evil, has become a cesspool of opportunistic grandstanding and exaggerated disgust. Film discussions on Twitter often devolve into aggressive GIF-filled fights in which every combatant attempts to showcase originality by hating the favorites of the others. This social media strutting would be amusing if it weren’t for the rising levels of tunnel-visioned discontent and toxicity that have penetrated most film-related fandoms. As I observed in an article about Cinema Sins, “Steven Universe fans ridiculed and chastised a fan artist until she attempted suicide. Actress Ruby Rose quit Twitter last summer because of aggressive Batwoman/superhero fans. And in July of 2018, Logan director James Mangold warned fans that creators will simply stop creating if fans don’t minimize the vitriol . . . Countless other examples of toxic fandoms exist—Google Star Wars or ‘diversity in comics’ at your own risk—and these types of situations are increasing in both number and intensity.” Twitter exacerbates toxicity. If you are serious about discussing film (or anything else, really), avoid Twitter.
  2. Watch any and all movies. My 2016 advice was not a suggestion to be hypercritical or picky when determining which movies to watch. In fact, the intention was to suggest the opposite. Too many moviegoers watch only large-budget American films that receive a certain amount of hype online. There is nothing inherently wrong with high-profile films—Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was my favorite film of 2018—but those who limit themselves to these types of stories miss out on an abundance of rewarding film experiences. In this context, to “thoughtfully consider which movies [you] choose to watch” means to thoughtfully consider watching a wider variety of movies.

Raw Data

Of the 152 movies I watched in 2018

13% of them are animated films.
17% of them are foreign films.
6% of them are documentaries.
45% of them are sci-fi, fantasy, or apocalyptic movies.
40% of them feature female protagonists.
33% of them were released in 2018.


Women in Film: Even with viewing habits that were more intentional than those of 2016 Big B, 2018 was still dominated by male-directed films. According to San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, “women comprised 20% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films” in 2018, which was a 2% increase from 2017 (though “women accounted for 8% of directors, down 3 percentage points from 11% in 2017”). My collection of 2018 viewing experiences (of which 33% were 2018 releases), has similar numbers. Only 17% of the films I watched for the first time in 2018 were directed by women. But 40% of them feature female protagonists, which is similar to the rate of female characters on television in 2017-2018: “Overall, females comprised 40% of all speaking characters on television programs appearing on the broadcast networks, cable, and streaming services, a decline of 2 percentage points from 42% in 2016-17.” (Side note: Film criticism is also dominated by men. A different study from the same source found that “men wrote 71% and women 29% of all reviews” that were included on Rotten Tomatoes in 2018.) I will continue to try to do better in 2019.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Frenzy: I watch a lot of science fiction. Like, a lot. Nearly half of the 152 movies I watched for the first time in 2018 were labeled as science fiction, fantasy, or apocalyptic. And I continue to be confused by the fact that science fiction narratives are often relegated to the margins of respected media. Critics are beginning to talk about science fiction films with some respect: Black Panther may get a Best Picture nomination this year, and (more importantly) most Black Panther reviewers effectively noted the technical and narrative impressiveness of the film. With that in mind, some cinephiles may be tempted to argue that science fiction and fantasy movies are simply better now than they used to be. But I look at movies like Akira (1988), and I can’t agree. I mean, good God, science fiction and fantasy films are no strangers to Oscar nominations. Gravity and Her were nominated for Best Picture in 2013; Inception and Toy Story 3 were nominated in 2010; Avatar, District 9, and Up in 2009; Beauty and the Beast in 1991; E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in 1982; Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981; Star Wars in 1977; Mary Poppins in 1964; and each installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was nominated for Best Picture (2001, 2002, and 2003)—and Return of the King won the Oscar. The idea that science fiction and fantasy genres are somehow lesser artistically is laughable, and movie buffs should remember that fact when they discuss them.

Documentary Deficit: I need to watch more documentaries. I tend to favor fiction because I value nuanced characterization, and my habit has been to search for that in fictional stories. But I need to remind myself that real people are profound characters too. I need to play the monologue from Brian Cox’s version of Robert McKee in Spike Jonez’s Adaptation. over and over again in my mind:

The real world? . . . The real f*****g world. First of all, you write a screenplay without conflict or crisis, you’ll bore your audience to tears. Secondly, nothing happens in the world? Are you out of your f*****g mind? People are murdered every day. There’s genocide, war, corruption. Every f*****g day, somewhere in the world, somebody sacrifices his life to save somebody else. Every f*****g day, someone, somewhere takes a conscious decision to destroy someone else. People find love, people lose it. For Christ’s sake, a child watches a mother beaten to death on the steps of a church. Someone goes hungry. Somebody else betrays his best friend for a woman. If you can’t find that stuff in life, then you, my friend, don’t know crap about life. And why the f**k are you wasting my two precious hours with your movie? I don’t have any use for it! I don’t have any bloody use for it.

That said, I did watch For the Love of Spock (inspirational), Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (fascinating), The Dwarvenaut (insightful), Batman & Bill (informative), Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf (plants), Roll Red Roll (harrowing), Time for Ilhan (motivational), and Faces Places (moving). And I appreciated all of them.

Other Observations and Subjective Awards

Disappointing movies of 2018: Tomb Raider and Robin Hood

Hidden gems (meaning impressive, non-blockbuster, semi-obscure movies that I stumbled upon somehow): Birdboy: The Forgotten Children (2015), Daphne & Velma (2018), and Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf (2018)

Film maudit (films “unfairly maligned” by critics): Venom (2018)

2017 movies I saw in 2018 that might have made my “Top Movies of 2017” list if I had seen them in 2017: Anna and the Apocalypse, The Insult, A Fantastic Woman, and The Shape of Water

Movies I FINALLY watched after years of neglect: Akira (1988), Hocus Pocus (1993), Heat (1995), Rushmore (1998), The Emperor’s New Groove (2000), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), and Coraline (2009)

Movies that delivered exactly what I expected—no more, no less—and a note about whether or not that fact has positive or negative connotations: Queen of the Damned  (positive), No Reservations (negative), The Trip to Italy (positive), and The House with a Clock in Its Walls (negative)

Top ten movies of 2018: click here


Okja (2017) dir. Bong Joon-ho
The Bad Batch (2016) dir. Ana Lily Amirpour
Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009) dir. Peter Chelsom
The Good Dinosaur (2015) dir. Peter Sohn
Blade Runner 2049 (2017) dir. Denis Villeneuve
Priest (2011) dir. Scott Stewart
Jupiter Ascending (2015) dir. Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016) dir. Burr Steers
Akira (1988) dir. Katsuhiro Otomo
Batman: Bad Blood (2016) dir. Jay Oliva
Hamlet 2 (2008) dir. Andrew Fleming
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) dir. Jake Kasdan
The Emperor’s New Groove (2000) dir. Mark Dindal
Black Panther (2018) dir. Ryan Coogler
Phantom Thread (2017) dir. Paul Thomas Anderson
Lady Bird (2017) dir. Greta Gerwig
The Shape of Water (2017) dir. Guillermo del Toro
Bright (2017) dir. David Ayer
Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016) dir. Alessandro Carloni, Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Darkest Hour (2017) dir. Joe Wright
Call Me by Your Name (2017) dir. Luca Guadagnino
The Post (2017) dir. Steven Spielberg
The Emoji Movie (2017) dir. Tony Leondis
The Boss Baby (2017) dir. Tom McGrath
The Secret Life of Pets (2016) dir. Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney
The Angry Birds Movie (2016) dir. Clay Kaytis, Fergal Reilly
A Wrinkle in Time (2018) dir. Ava DuVernay
Coraline (2009) dir. Henry Selick
Strangers on the Earth (2016) dir. Tristan Cook
Scarred Hearts (2016) dir. Radu Jude
Xamou (2016) dir. Clio Fanouraki
Beware of the Klowns (2015) dir. Tim Wolak
Love, Simon (2018) dir. Greg Berlanti
Earth to Echo (2014) dir. Dave Green
Claire’s Camera (2017) dir. Hong Sang-soo
Unsane (2018) dir. Steven Soderbergh
No Reservations (2007) dir. Scott Hicks
Ready Player One (2018) dir. Steven Spielberg
Freaky Friday (2003) dir. Mark Waters
Blockers (2018) dir. Kay Cannon
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000) dir. Curt Geda
The Florida Project (2017) dir. Sean Baker
I Kill Giants (2017) dir. Anders Walter
The Dwarvenaut (2016) dir. Josh Bishop
The Trip to Italy (2014) dir. Michael Winterbottom
The Magnificent Seven (2016) dir. John Sturges
Isle of Dogs (2018) dir. Wes Anderson
Blame (2017) dir. Quinn Shephard
Avengers: Infinity War (2018) dir. Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
StarStruck (2010) dir. Michael Grossman
Lemonade Mouth (2011) dir. Patricia Riggen
For the Love of Spock (2016) dir. Adam Nimoy
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017) dir. Chris Smith
HairBrained (2014) dir. Billy Kent
Without (2011) dir. Mark Jackson
High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008) dir. Kenny Ortega
Short Term 12 (2013) dir. Destin Daniel Cretton
Daphne & Velma (2018) dir. Suzi Yoonessi
Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins (2009) dir. Brian Levant
Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster (2010) dir. Brian Levant
Deadpool 2 (2018) dir. David Leitch
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) dir. Ron Howard
Last Flag Flying (2017) dir. Richard Linklater
Batman & Bill (2017) dir. Don Argott, Sheena M. Joyce
Landline (2017) dir. Gillian Robespierre
The Intervention (2016) dir. Clea Duvall
Kodachrome (2017) dir. Mark Raso
Hotel Artemis (2018) dir. Drew Pearce
Pride (2014) dir. Matthew Warchus
Upgrade (2018) dir. Leigh Whannell
Incredibles 2 (2018) dir. Brad Bird
Annihilation (2018) dir. Alex Garland
Adrift (2018) dir. Baltasar Kormákur
Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf (2018) dir. Tom Piper
Tomb Raider (2018) dir. Roar Uthaug
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) dir. Juan Antonio Bayona
The Host (2013) dir. Andrew Niccol
Justice League: Doom (2012) dir. Lauren Montgomery
Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002) dir. Wych Kaosayananda
Mysterious Object at Noon (2000) dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010) dir. Eli Craig
Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2017) dir. Sam Liu
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) dir. Peyton Reed
Ghost in the Shell (2017) dir. Rupert Sanders
Tag (2018) dir. Jeff Tomsic
Ingrid Goes West (2017) dir. Matt Spicer
The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter (2018) dir. Jody Hill
Blade (1998) dir. Stephen Norrington
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) dir. Ol Parker
Dracula Untold (2014) dir. Gary Shore
Game Over, Man! (2018) dir. Kyle Newacheck
Spread (2009) dir. David Mackenzie
Roll Red Roll (2018) dir. Nancy Schwartzman
Faces Places (2017) dir. Agnès Varda, JR
Anna and the Apocalypse (2017) dir. John McPhail
The Insult (2017) dir. Ziad Doueiri
A Fantastic Woman (2017) dir. Sebastián Lelio
Streaker (2017) dir. Peter Luisi
Time for Ilhan (2018) dir. Norah Shapiro
Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018) dir. Steven S. DeKnight
Flower (2017) dir. Max Winkler
Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018) dir. Christopher McQuarrie
Stardust (2007) dir. Matthew Vaughn
Like Father (2018) dir. Lauren Miller
Blade II (2002) dir. Guillermo del Toro
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) dir. James Foley
Moon (2009) dir. Duncan Jones
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) dir. Michel Gondry
Heat (1995) dir. Michael Mann
The Adderall Diaries (2015) dir. Pamela Romanowsky
Queen of the Damned (2002) dir. Michael Rymer
Adult Beginners (2014) dir. Ross Katz
Rushmore (1998) dir. Wes Anderson
Next Gen (2018) dir. Kevin R. Adams, Joe Ksander
Night School (2018) dir. Malcolm D. Lee
Halloweentown (1998) dir. Duwayne Dunham
Venom (2018) dir. Ruben Fleischer
The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018) dir. Eli Roth
Hocus Pocus (1993) dir. Kenny Ortega
Carnage (2011) dir. Roman Polanski
Paper Man (2009) dir. Kieran Mulroney, Michele Mulroney
Private Life (2018) dir. Tamara Jenkins
The Company Men (2010) dir. John Wells
First Man (2018) dir. Damien Chazelle
The Lifeguard (2013) dir. Liz W. Garcia
Woman Walks Ahead (2017) dir. Susanna White
The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017) dir. Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, Bob Logan
Eighth Grade (2018) dir. Bo Burnham
I, Tonya (2017) dir. Craig Gillespie
Pass Over (2018) dir. Spike Lee, Danya Taymor
The Iceman (2012) dir. Ariel Vromen
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005) dir. Garth Jennings
Daddy’s Home 2 (2017) dir. Sean Anders
Outlaw King (2018) dir. David Mackenzie
The Other Side of the Wind (2018) dir. Orson Welles
BlacKkKlansman (2018) dir. Spike Lee
Beautiful Boy (2018) dir. Felix Van Groeningen
Robin Hood (2018) dir. Otto Bathurst
Race to Witch Mountain (2009) dir. Andy Fickman
A Quiet Place (2018) dir. John Krasinski
Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay (2018) dir. Sam Liu
Into the Wild (2007) dir. Sean Penn
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) dir. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017) dir. Bharat Nalluri
Assassination Nation (2018) dir. Sam Levinson
The Nutcracker (1993) dir. Emile Ardolino
Support the Girls (2018) dir. Andrew Bujalski
The Night Eats the World (2018) dir. Dominique Rocher
Roma (2018) dir. Alfonso Cuarón
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018) dir. Susan Johnson
Birdboy: The Forgotten Children (2015) dir. Pedro Rivero, Alberto Vazquez
Mandy (2018) dir. Panos Cosmatos

Ben Boruff is a co-founder of Big B and Mo’ Money, and he has reviewed comics for ComicBastards.com and ImpulseGamer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BenMagicAwesome. And read more at BenBoruff.com.

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