Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths has been a unique experience. The physical prerelease, of course, was cancelled (along with society at large) due to communist bioweapon Covid-19, so we’ve all been interacting with the set digitally. Definitely a bummer, as prereleases at my LGS are some of my favorite events throughout the year.
For me, the most exciting thing about Ikoria’s digital release had nothing to do with the set itself. For the first time, we got human draft tables on Magic Arena, which is huge. I did so many of these I lost count. The first couple weeks of the format were a blast, some of my multicolor piles reminded me of the halcyon days of Khans of Tarkir draft. Eventually people figured out the RW Cycling deck, though, so I’m kind of over it.
And that’s the thing: I’m over it. Like no other set I remember, I feel I have thoroughly explored Ikoria, especially in draft, and I already want to move on. I know that in every draft run I’m going to play against the Cycling deck (or I’ll be piloting it myself) and I’m just not interested. I don’t necessarily blame Ikoria itself. The circumstances of this whole Corona thing gave me the time on my hands to chew through the content way faster than I typically would have.
Moving on to Constructed: holy shit Companion sucks. It’s just awful. I don’t understand how anyone thought this was a good idea. They’ve already banned Lurrus in Legacy & Vintage and I have no idea why they didn’t include Modern & Pioneer – or, yes, even Standard. I think they should just go back in time and smother the entire mechanic in its crib. Working from home, I’ve been able to put on Twitch streams off to the side for background noise and Companions are everywhere. It’s simply incorrect not to play one if you’re trying to win. I’m seeing Modern Humans and Mono Green Tron decks play a Jegantha, the Wellspring just as a free something to do if circumstances line up. A guy won a MTGO Modern PTQ with a Blue-White Miracles deck that mise’d a Kaheera, the Orphanguard in an otherwise creatureless control deck. That’s stupid – and those are the inoffensive cases. Lurrus of the Dream-Den and Yorion, Sky Nomad are utterly toxic. WOTC needs to nut up and erase the whole sordid affair, somehow.
I find it absolutely hilarious that dorkus malorkus spastics were writing listicles about “All The Ways Rian Johnson Was Dissed in Star Wars 9” – meanwhile Rian Johnson just went out and made a great, original new movie. Oh, and by the way? The most interesting things that happened in the new Star Wars trilogy were in Rian Johnson’s Last Jedi script.
Liam Neeson has sort of become a genre unto himself and Cold Pursuit is a prime cut. It’s a remake of a Norwegian film, In Order of Disappearance, which was directed by the same guy and features Stellan Skarsgard in the lead role. Both versions are great.
I usually turn my nose up at killer animal stuff, but Crawl was made by Alexandre Aja, who I’ve always enjoyed. It’s a super solid flick, and I saw it St. Joseph, MO during Crypticon with my Dead Lantern bros, which made it even more fun.
Speaking of which, The Furies would make for a pretty good double-feature with Ready or Not. To be frank, this one is borderline. It’s not that great but as I said, I’m a sucker for this subgenre and a gory horror iteration is always gonna work for me.
It’s true that the John Wick series has gotten silly at this point – e.g. it seems like there are more people in the assassin society than not, like the fry cook at McDonald’s is probably an assassin – but who cares?! So cool, so much fun. I just hope they can continue to deliver.
Rambo’s back and ready to kill everybody all over again. Hey, it works. In fact, it’s kinda wild how these old guys are still better at doing this than the younger guys. See also Ahnold in Terminator: Dark Fate, which did not make my list but is still markedly better than, say, Hobbes & Shaw Sniff Their Own Farts.
Okay, look: I’m sorry. This movie does not belong on a “best of” list. I’m just a sucker for the work of Mr. Robert Zombie, ever since House of 1000 Corpses. I enjoy his shtick and this is more of it. RIP Sid Haig.
Let me look back for a second to include a movie I missed last year. While we all appreciate the original Argento version, I think this remake is an all-around better film. Also, I’m generally confident that I could win a fistfight with the sort of person who might take umbrage at this hot take so let’s go, nerds, I’m right here.
Hereditary is an instant classic, it ranks right up there with Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining and The Exorcist. The trailer alone is better than most other films I’ve watched this year. I think some critics feel it goes a little too bananas in a couple spots but I say tally ’em up because this movie rules. It’s all the more impressive when you consider it’s writer/director Ari Aster’s debut feature. Do yourself a favor and NEVER EVER watch his only prior work, the short film The Strange Thing About the Johnsons. Holy cow, dude. No.
Mandy leans hard on the whole neon-soaked drippy-trippy thing, but I think it works out splendidly. Nicolas Cage is perfect; could anyone else even come close in this role? Not to mention Cheddar Goblin, whose presence alone more than justifies the entire production.
Revenge is not just a glitzy take on the terminally icky rape-revenge subgenre, it’s a cracking good action flick in its own right. It’s amazing that this, like Hereditary, is a debut feature. I can’t wait to see who director Coralie Fargeat cuts to ribbons next.
I know The Predator was a box office flop, but I loved it and I don’t blame the film at all. I think the contemporary audience simply does not care about this franchise anymore. Too bad, I’d like to have seen a sequel.
I haven’t given a crap about Spider-man for years but Spider-Verse won me over easily. It’s full of heart and fun, with just enough serious stuff to give it weight without being too dark for kids. I saw both Spider-Verse and Teen Titans Go! with my older two daughters (ages 12 & 8). They loved the movies and my own experience was greatly enhanced by sharing it with them.
Puppet Master is a garbage-tier franchise. However, when I saw that this latest installment was written by S. Craig Zahler, I had to check it out. Zahler wrote and directed Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99, both of which are excellent. Brawl would have been at the top of my “Best of 2017” list, if I had bothered to make one. As an aside, Zahler’s latest, Dragged Across Concrete, may have technically debuted in 2018 but I can’t find it available to watch anywhere. I assume it’s rad.
So, anyway, yes, Zahler and directors Sonny Laguna & Tommy Wiklund came through and made an entertaining Puppet Master movie. It’s still goofy as hell – how could it not be? – but it’s also got actual characters and the gore gags handily surpass anything the previous dozen or so films in this misbegotten series ever mustered.
There was a serial killer whodunnit last year called Summer of ’84 that a lot of people liked, but I just didn’t care for it – although I do appreciate how it threw a bucket of cold water on the ’80s nostalgia trend with its ultragrim final act. The Clovehitch Killer, on the other hand, reeled me in with its portrayal of an otherwise idyllic small community picking up the pieces after being menaced by a killer who was never caught. If you only have time for one sicko-next-door movie, I recommend The Clovehitch Killer.
The Endless is unique in that it’s a sort-of sequel to a completely separate movie, but even mentioning that fact is a spoiler of a sort. For those of us who were fortunate enough to see the movies in the correct order and without any inkling of the connection, The Endless was a really cool, really novel experience. Shout-out to my friend Rachel who subtly led me there.
Yes, the helicopter chase is neat. Sure. But that may as well be a Red Bull promotional stunt, there’s no movie wrapped around it. Mission: Impossible – Nonsense Subtitle sucks. Nothing happens in this movie (killing Alec Baldwin doesn’t count). There are no stakes and Tom Cruise is getting doughy. Ving Rhames and the English nerd guy destroy the credibility of the whole affair; their characters don’t belong anywhere near any peril. I don’t think Ving Rhames could probably tie his own shoes, so yeah, of course he loses the MacGuffin in the opening scene. And don’t link me any dumb gifs of Henry Cavill “reloading his biceps.” Some behind-the-scenes footage of the cast of The Night Comes for Us getting lunch at the craft services table is certainly more badass than Henry Cavill in this movie. Lastly, we’re supposed to believe the bad guys are super-geniuses but if they were really so smart that one guy would have known he was being lied to as soon as he saw Wolf Blitzer.
I became a fan of Joe Bob Briggs back when he hosted TNT’s Monstervision in the late 1990s. In 2018 the genre streaming service Shudder brought Joe Bob back to do a 24-hour marathon, and it was glorious. The movie choices were fine, but they honestly could have been anything – it’s all about the Joe Bob segments. The Last Drive-In was billed as a farewell to movie hosting, but it was so popular that Shudder has had Joe Bob back to do two more mini-marathons since that first one.
Thus concludes my Dopest Movies of 2018 list. I know there are a few things I missed that probably would have made the cut – I hear great things about Suspiria and Overlord, for example, but I just never got around to seeing them.