Editors Choice 2018: Our Personal Favorite Movies, TV Shows, And More
By GameSpot Staff on
What entertainment landed closest to your heart in 2018?
2018 was filled to the brim with incredible movies, TV shows, comics, and even wrestling pay-per-views. We've covered the year extensively, from the best comedies, horror, sci-fi, and superhero movies and shows to the best Netflix exclusives, performances, and TV episodes. And don't forget our definitive lists of the top 10 movies and the top 10 TV shows of 2018.
But for as much as we've already covered 2018 in entertainment, there were still some things we didn't quite get to spotlight the way we wanted to. For this list, each editor on GameSpot's entertainment team chose something close to their heart that we didn't otherwise get to cover extensively, and put their thoughts down here to explain why these movies, TV shows, and more were great.
What entertainment meant the most to you in 2018? Let us know in the comments below, and check out the rest of our end-of-year 2018 coverage right here.
Mike Rougeau: Blindspotting
As much as we discussed Boots Riley's Sorry to Bother You--a quirky sci-fi comedy that we named one of our top movies of 2018--it wasn't the only movie set in Oakland that really captured the spirit of the greater San Francisco Bay Area this year. The other was Blindspotting, and it arguably did it just as well, if not better.
After playing Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the original cast of Hamilton, musician and actor Daveed Diggs turned his sights homeward, back to the Bay Area. He and longtime friend Rafael Casal wrote, produced, and star in Blindspotting. The movie follows Diggs' character Collin, who's just days away from the end of his parole and trying to stay out of trouble when he witnesses a messy police shooting in the streets of his hometown. The incident threatens to tear him apart from his best friend, Casal's Miles, who has his own struggles with parenthood and identity in an increasingly gentrified city that he barely recognizes despite having grown up there.
Wow, that sounds really grim when I type it out. But Blindspotting is as charming and funny as it is touching and serious. The creators' and stars' real world experiences come through in every heartfelt conversation, each stupid decision that leads to unintended violence, and every impromptu freestyle rap, from the funny ones to the climactic scene that's so tense you'll be sweating. Blindspotting was undoubtedly one of my favorite movies of 2018.
Chris E. Hayner: Anna and the Apocalypse
Who knew the thing we, as a society, needed for Christmas is a funny horror musical starring a bunch of Scottish kids? Anna and the Apocalypse is essentially Shaun of the Dead meets High School Musical, set at Christmas, and it's fantastic. The cast is made up largely of unknown actors and singers who populate a strangely realistic world for a comedy musical about the zombie apocalypse, but that's what helps make it click so well.
As the titular Anna, Ella Hunt is downright delightful. She's the picture perfect disgruntled teen who can't wait to escape her dreary hometown. That is, until her hometown all but dies, leaving Anna and her friends to survive the apocalypse while singing a string of ridiculously catchy songs. Seriously, I dare you to not be tapping your feet and singing "Turning My Life Around" in the car on the way home from the theater.
This is the kind of movie where I assumed I knew what was going to happen at practically every turn. After all, I've seen enough zombie movies and the Shaun of the Dead vibes are strong in this film. However, time and again I was proven wrong. Characters I thought would go the distance met their undead end halfway through the film, while others I expected to definitely be zombie chow, somehow went on to become heroes in their own right.
Even with few survivors and heroes, Anna and the Apocalypse is an uplifting story. As an early song tells viewers outright, there no such thing as a "Hollywood ending" in this world. That's a big piece of what makes Anna and the Apocalypse such an interesting tale to follow. Whether they survive the movie or not, these characters are ultimately doomed. And yet, they're going out singing in a movie that's having so much fun in the face of the horrible world on display that it's as infectious as a zombie bite.
Mat Elfring: The All In PPV
I went to a few live wrestling events this year, and I watched a whole lot more from the comfort of my own home. Nothing this year from WWE, New Japan, Ring of Honor, etc, had the same effect on me that All In did. In case you're unfamiliar, All In was the largest indie wrestling show of all time, taking place outside of Chicago on September 1. The show was run by The Elite, an off-shoot of the famous Bullet Club stable from New Japan, who have an incredible weekly travel vlog on YouTube--where they documented a lot of putting this show together. I understand we're getting deep into non-WWE stuff, but bear with me, as the show was a tremendous success. The 10,000+ seat Sears Centre sold out in less than 30 minutes, and that's saying something for a first-time go at promoting a wrestling show.
The PPV itself was easily the most fun I've ever had attending a live wrestling event. Every single match on the card could have been the main event for a show, and never in my years of going to wrestling events have I been surrounded by so many other fans who were so welcoming and friendly with each other. People from all over the globe flew into Illinois to attend the event, and it was a show that embraced what people love about wrestling. It truly was a love letter to the sport, and from start to finish, it was a huge triumph. I finally got to see Joey Ryan, the Young Bucks, and Jay "Black Machismo" Lethal live, and there wasn't a single moment during the evening that didn't have me on my feet, chanting something silly, like "Rest in Penis."
That's not a joke, that's something 10,000+ people shouted, in unison, during the show. Nothing else in wrestling in 2018 could compare to how amazing All In was, and this is coming from someone who interviewed Daniel Bryan in his hometown and went to the WWE Performance Center this year, which are huge highlights of my year as well.
Dan Auty: Widows
Director Steve McQueen had already proved himself to be an impressive director of serious, acclaimed dramas (Shame, 12 Years A Slave), but Widows showed he was equally adept at making slick, commercial thrillers too. It's an adaptation of the British ‘80s TV show and features an incredible cast that includes Viola Davis, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, Liam Neeson, and Daniel Kalua.
Every element of Widows was thriller perfecton, from the powerhouse acting and McQueen's stylish, inventive direction to Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn's gripping screenplay. In fact, it's all so good it seems almost effortless, but the way McQueen and Flynn slowly draw together a sprawling cast of characters and several seemingly unconnected plot-strands is masterful. The movie ticks all the boxes of an exciting heist thriller, but also includes an impressive social undercurrent too, as it explores the economic divide in modern Chicago and how political corruption and organised crime are inextricably linked. Widows was not the box office success that it should have been, but it's unquestionably one of 2018's finest movies.
Meg Downey: Rise of the Black Panther
2018 was a pretty ridiculous year for all things Black Panther, and you'd be hard pressed to find a better summation of just how and why that matters than the six issue mini series Rise of the Black Panther by Evan Narcisse, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Paul Renaud, and Javier Pina. It's a thoughtful, concise, beautifully rendered look at the history of the Black Panther mantle as it dates back well before the reign of King T'Challa, exploring the ins and outs of the complicated family tree that makes up the Wakandan royal family. Better yet, it's a perfect place for new fans--even people who have never picked up a Black Panther comic in their life--to jump on, laying out even the most complex of Wakanda's major historical moments in easily accessible terms.
Rise of the Black Panther tackles the mantle from all angles, picking apart the life and times of T'Challa's father, T'Chaka, and mirroring him against other Marvel favorites like Namor, Captain America, and the Winter Soldier. It dives deep into the parts of T'Challa we'll likely never see on the big screen--like his romance with X-Man Storm and his diplomatic contention with Latverian ruler Victor Von Doom. It fleshes out the life of T'Challa's biological mother, his grandfather, and his friends. In just six issues, it makes a compelling argument for the history of Wakanda being one of Marvel's crowing worldbuilding achievements, and an even better one for the role of Black Panther being one of the most critical heroic mantles of the modern age. Narcisse and Coates weave together a story with detail and care that Renaud and Pina render with stunning precision. If you only read one Marvel mini series from this year, this is the one to pick.
Dave Klein: Overlord
This movie was a bit of a surprise for me, as I went into it with absolutely no expectations. When I first heard the premise--pretty much Nazi Zombies from Call of Duty--I was honestly pretty skeptical. While it was a fun game mod, I didn’t think that would translate to a good movie. However, the trailer looked good, so I went in anyways hoping for the best. And I’m happy to say Overlord more than delivered.
What I found was a legit World War II film that just happened to include zombies. The film made the smart choice of taking its premise entirely serious, which surprisingly works. We watch a gritty drop into France during D-Day, as the terrors of war obliterate a team trying to destroy a radio tower. The horror peaks when the surviving team discover the Nazis are experimenting on people, turning them into zombie-like super soldiers.
And while it would have been so easy to overuse this and watch our protagonists fighting off hundreds of residents turned into zombies, the film keeps the zombie action at a minimum. Somehow, Overlord ended up being a great fictional World War II movie, that just happened to have zombies. It’s dark, it has great claustrophobic action, and is a ton of fun to watch. My expectations were exceeded, and Overlord became one of my favorite films of the year.
Chastity Vicencio: Eighth Grade
Eighth Grade is one of the most cringe-inducing movie experiences I’ve ever had, because it feels like a personal attack on my painfully awkward pre-teen experience. This comedy drama, written and directed by Bo Burnham, follows the life of introverted eighth grader Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) as she is about to graduate middle school and move on to high school. Elsie Fisher gives an impressive, honest performance as young Kayla, and you can feel her anxiety and social awkwardness in your bones.
Kayla makes videos that get no views on her own fledgling YouTube channel, where she gives advice on qualities in herself she doesn’t actually have--like how to be confident. She’s obsessed with social media and is always attached to her phone. She has a crush who she awkwardly lies to about her sexual experience in an attempt to impress him. She is forced by her parents to go to a party she’s not actually invited to and has an anxiety attack in the bathroom. Burnham perfectly captures the reality and struggles of adolescence in its truest form seen on film without much of the typical Hollywood coming of age story tropes.
The film has garnered critical acclaim, earning a Metacritic score of 89, and Fisher has been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture. Eighth grade is a hellish time for anyone, and watching this film will definitely transport you back to painful memories. But there’s beauty in how honest and genuine Eighth Grade feels to watch.
Greg Thomas: Pose
It’s safe to say that Ryan Murphy is having a pretty great year. Murphy signed a multi-year mega deal with Netflix back in February, The Assassination of Gianni Versace is poised to snatch every trophy during awards season, and American Horror Story had a well-received return to glory with its eighth season, Apocalypse. With all that listed above, Murphy’s greatest accomplishment for 2018 is arguably his newest drama for FX: Pose.
Created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Steven Canals, Pose is a story about the ballroom rivalry between the House of Abundance and the House of Evangelista. The series focuses on an assortment of characters, including Blanca Rodriguez (by M.J. Rodriguez), who breaks away from the House of Abundance to establishing a house of her own and making a mark, much to her house-mother Elektra Abundance's chagrin. Don’t worry, you don’t need to know much about the ballroom scene, as Canals and crew do a great job at explaining the setting and rules in the first few episodes.
The largely unknown actors are exceptional. Pose features several trans women of color as its leads--No matter the order in the top billing promos, Rodriguez shines as the show's star, chewing up screen time in the scenes that demand your attention. Rodriquez, just like the series, does not waste time or opportunity. With such a wonderful cast, we can’t forget about the incredible performance from Kinky Boots Tony winner Billy Porter as house emcee Pray Tell. Porter’s charisma and nurturing presence onscreen is something to behold.
Pose is touching, funny, and a very accessible viewing experience, whether you’re well-versed in the ballroom community or your only point of reference is a few episodes of Rupaul's Drag Race. Of all the shows on Ryan Murphy's stacked 2018 plate, Pose may have snatched the crown as his best series on television.
Ryan Peterson: Killing Eve
There’s no shortage of cat-and-mouse thrillers in television and film, yet BBC America’s Killing Eve was a timely, unique, and welcome take on the genre. Both the hero and the sadistic, yet charming, villain were played by women.
The show is based on Luke Jennings’s Codename Villanelle novella series and brought to life onscreen by Emmy nominated writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Killing Eve follows its titular character Eve Polastri, played by decorated actress Sandra Oh, an MI5 officer with an obsession for female killing machines. She spends Season 1 tracking down the extremely efficient Villanelle, and Jodie Comer’s work as the merciless psychopath with an insatiable taste for high end fashion solidifies the character as one of the best villains to ever grace a television screen.
Aside from the excellent performances by these leading women, the story itself evolves into much more than your run-of-the-mill crime drama. While the hunt heats up, the show examines the human psyche, including the desires and curiosities of the fateful pair. Their respective jobs turn into a mutual and passionate obsession, as the role of cat and mouse swaps throughout its run.
The chemistry between Oh and Comer is obvious even without them sharing the screen all that much. Thankfully though, we’re rewarded with an incredible face-to-face showdown by season’s end. It’s the Heat diner scene with shepherd's pie. Once you finish the first season of Killing Eve, there’s no doubt that you too will join the ranks of the obsessed.