Well, That Was a Pleasant Surprise!
While this year certainly had its fair share of disastrous cinematic outings, there were a few unexpected diamond sin the rough. While from the outset these films looked like they would be dead on arrival, they somehow managed to win us over by the time the credits started rolling!
#5: “Mandy” (2018)
There was a time when Nicolas Cage was one of Hollywood’s most esteemed actors, even winning an Academy Award. His over-the-top acting eventually veered into self-parody territory, but even then, we were always on board for a classic Cage freak-out. In recent years, however, Cage has been mostly phoning it in, giving retrained performances in awful movies that don’t even fall into the “so bad, it’s good” category. Although we anticipated more of the same with “Mandy,” this gritty Sundance favorite was a return to form for Cage, who turned in his most magnetic and badass performance in eons. It’s also a major breakthrough for director Panos Cosmatos, who’s made an instant cult classic.
#4: “Blockers” (2018)
Another comedy that proved funnier than the previews suggested, “Blockers” looked like an “American Pie” retread, with the focus on teenage girls trying to lose their virginities rather than teenage boys. Much to our delight, however, audiences were treated to an often uproarious and even insightful film with meaningful themes. Leslie Mann, John Cena, and Ike Barinholtz are terrific as a trio of concerned parents who go to extreme lengths to prevent their daughters from going through with their pledge. Everyone walks away from the experience a wiser person, as the parents learn to let go and the kids all come to individual realizations about their own sexualities.
#3: “A Star Is Born” (2018)
This remake of the 1937 classic appeared destined to crash and burn. Bradley Cooper has great range as an actor, but he had yet to prove his abilities as a director or singer. Lady Gaga has a few acting credits to her name, but most of her past roles have delved into sheer camp. On top of all that, we’ve seen this story retold multiple times now and it’s not like another had to exist. Against all the odds, though, this modern interpretation was an enthralling, heartbreaking, and beautifully acted masterstroke with one of the past decade’s most replayable soundtracks. Whether or not this goes down as the definitive version, award buzz is certainly circulating.
#2: “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies” (2018)
We’ve all heard the criticisms directed at “Teen Titans Go!”: its humor is immature, its lessons are negative for children, it’s inferior to the OG series, etc. When it was announced that the Cartoon Network show would receive a theatrical film, the haters were ready to rip it a new one. Who would’ve thought that “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies” would actually be a clever parody of the superhero genre? What’s especially refreshing is how the film unapologetically pokes fun at DC’s overly familiar tropes and even the company’s failures, most notably 2011’s “Green Lantern.” It might not be “Incredibles 2,” but it does strike just the right balance of smart, stupid, and silly.
#1: “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” (2018)
Whether you loved or hated the original “Mamma Mia!,” the ship for a sequel had seemingly sailed a long time ago. Aside from being a decade late, this sequel downsized Meryl Streep from a leading lady to essentially a glorified cameo. Plus, musical sequels have a reputation for being notoriously bad, from “Funny Lady” to “Grease 2.” We really didn’t expect “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” to be the movie that broke the mold, but critics and audiences were charmed by the film’s upbeat cast, sincere story, and infectious use of ABBA’s greatest hits. Becoming a box office smash and earning even better reviews than its predecessor, we guess the winner takes it all.
Be sure to check out the video below to see our picks for the Top 10 Disappointing Movies of 2018.