2018 was a pretty terrible year by many measures, but it was a damn good year for movies. While big budget sequels of varying quality continued to dominate the box office, there was still room in theaters for new and original stories to stand out while streaming options give them a shot at reaching the wider audiences they deserve—including me, in a couple of cases. My top 10 favorites (plus 4 honorable mentions) were unexpectedly tough to sort out, but they represent a more varied list than I would have initially guessed at the beginning of the year.
Between The World and Me, is one of the most important books to be published this decade, surely, possibly even this young century. In context of the long list of tragic events of the past few years (from Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland, to Ferguson, Baltimore, and Charleston), it is timely, but that's the easy part. It's the combination of Coates' framing (a letter to his son) and his raw, unapologetic tone (no white gaze-y appeasement here) that makes it stand out as a singular work that has drawn deserved comparisons to James Baldwin.
When it comes to technology, I'm generally an early tester, late adopter, especially when it comes to gaming. We got a Wii about 1.5 years after it had launched, and didn't buy an Xbox 360 until last December, but something about the Xbox One grabbed my attention from the moment it was announced. More importantly, though, it grabbed my non-gaming wife's attention, who then shocked me by pre-ordering it from Amazon the first day they opened pre-orders!
"Wow..." That was my whispered, slack-jawed reaction to the final 30 minutes of BioShock Infinite, arguably the most compelling video game experience I've ever had. It's not a perfect game by any stretch of the definition, and since completing the game, I've thoroughly enjoyed reading some of the more measured reviews that haven't been afraid to point out its flaws, but to borrow a phrase from Grace Jones, it might not be perfect, but it's perfect for me.
In an alternate dimension, where we're a less cynical culture and hollow crap like Avatar and The Lorax tank at the box office, John Carter would be lauded for what it is: an unapologetic, old-fashioned swashbuckling adventure for all ages.