As we bid farewell to 2018 and Hollywood narrows down its Academy Award selections, what better time to have a glance back at the year in movies at some of the releases that took us by surprise.
Kicking the year’s Marvel releases off early was Ryan Coogler’s, Black Panther. We all know that the Marvel machine knows how to make an excellent crowd-pleasing blockbuster. That said, nobody anticipated that Black Panther would be so ruddy entertaining. The landmark superhero film is a hot contender for the winner among 24 award categories, according to Oscars related betting sites, and the briefly touted ‘Most Popular Film’ award that the Academy proposed was in no small part down to Black Panther.
While it is safe to predict that Game Night won’t be winning any Oscars, the Rachael McAdams/Jason Bateman comedy was an unexpected high-point of the year. A weekly game night takes a murderous (and hilarious) turn when a case of mistaken identity gets wildly out of hand. R-rated comedies haven’t had a good run in recent years, but Game Night and Blockers restored faith that the genre isn’t dead, yet.
Following his impressive Ex-Machina with the equally stunning Annihilation, Alex Garland’s second outing a director was deeply undervalued. A disappointing US theatrical run forced Paramount to sell the international rights to Netflix, a sound business move to avoid a flop, but it robbed audiences of seeing Garland’s vision on the big screen. The real test will be if Annihilation picks up any Oscar nominations, while it’s not a true Netflix original, the streaming giant hasn’t had much success in that department thus far.
A Quiet Place
If I were to tell you that Jim from The Office co-wrote/directed/co-starred in one of the best horror/thrillers of the year, you’d think it was some prank orchestrated by Dwight. However, co-starring alongside his real-life wife, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place is a stark exercise in simplicity and one that deserves to bring home a couple of Academy Awards. Horror is usually recognised by The Academy, but Jordan Peele’s Oscar-winning script for Get Out has opened the doors. John Krasinski’s is currently working on A Quiet Place 2, according to online sources.
After five Michael Bay led Transformers movies, Paramount wisely opted to scale things back for a Spielbergian 80s set prequel. To be fair, the involvement of director Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings), a restrained budget, and a festive release, the signs were there that the Transformers franchise was course correcting. After six attempts, we finally have a worthy successor to the still brilliant Transformers Animated Motion Picture.
Mission Impossible Fallout
Another Paramount franchise in its sixth instalment delivers the best in the series with the show-stopping Mission Impossible Fallout. Tom Cruise risks life and limb in the name of entertainment pulling off the most ambitious stunts of his prolific career. Making a strong case that a Best Stunt Choreography category should be introduced to the Oscars, Fallout’s use of practical effects is unrivalled.
Mandy/Mom and Dad
Nicolas Cage’s Oscar days might be behind him, but the Academy Award winner continues to make so many films he is bound to make something good, that’s just the law of averages. However, Cage turned in two unchained performances in two surprisingly good movies. First, Panos Cosmatos’ psychedelic action horror film Mandy is a wild ride that defies comparison to anything. Then, there’s a fun horror comedy Mom and Dad where parents in a suburban town are filled with murderous designs on their offspring. Needless to say, Cage delivers a delightfully unhinged performance in both.