Armageddon > Deep Impact. Dante’s Peak > Volcano (confession, I’ve never actually seen Dante’s Peak). Tombstone > Wyatt Earp. Olympus Has Fallen > White House Down. The Prestige > The Illusionist. No Strings Attached > Friends With Benefits (I think?). Patriot’s Day > Stronger. A Quiet Place > Bird Box (Yo, FUCK Bird Box).
It’s quite common for Hollywood to produce two competing projects about the same concept or event in the same year. Two stubborn studios are in a race to get their version released before the other and almost always the first one to come out is significantly better. No one ever remembers the second movie or frankly cares about it at all. It’s like when you and your friend take a great pic and there’s a quick draw to see who can post it faster to Instagram. Whoever posts it second is forever deemed a fraud by mutual followers, or something.
So all of these movies above came out in the same year, but what I haven’t seen before is two such projects coming out within a week of each other like Hulu’s Fyre Fraud and Netflix’s Fyre. This was just a masterfully orchestrated move in deception on Hulu’s part. I have to assume both projects were aware of each other during production, but Netflix had their release date on the books (Friday, January 18th) for at least a couple months. Hulu, on the other hand, kept their cards close to the chest and surprise released their documentary the Monday before Netflix’s dropped, without even any advertisement. How cunning. Now, Hulu’s footprint on streaming commerce will not eclipse Netflix anytime soon, but this small victory should at least feel good for them.
For those who don’t know what Fyre Fest is (Hi Mom!), Fyre Fest was a lavish music festival marketed towards wealthy, party hungry 20-somethings slated to take place in the Bahamas in April 2017, however turned out to be one giant scam that created a lord of the flies type situation at the abroad concert venue for 24 hours. Because many victims of this crime were the type of assholes that would pay $10,000+ to see Major Lazer, it was mostly regarded as a hilarious occurrence on Twitter when the news broke. While both of these documentaries ARE very funny when looking at it from that perspective, each film also takes a step back does a good job of shedding light on the real victims of the scam, the people of the Bahamas that were never compensated for their time and materials (The Netflix version is particularly heartbreaking in a few scenes). Since the release of the films there’s actually been a GoFundMe created to help these people if you want to help out.
Both of these movies are good and I would recommend either depending on what subscription you have, but there are no ties on Rated Greg. So which one is better?
I strongly believe that Hulu’s Fyre Fraud is the superior film. I’ll admit I did see the Hulu doc before Netflix’s and viewers are obviously inclined to like the one they saw first in these situations, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on here. There are two main reasons why Hulu’s Fyre Fraud is better.
1. Netflix’s Fyre is fairly straightforward when it comes to this story. It examines the creation of Fyre Media, the bonkers planning of the April 2017 event, and the aftermath of the festival failure. Hulu covers all of this just as well, but also does a better job at looking at the bigger picture. There’s a great section that assesses how Instagram influencer culture came to be and it’s consequential effects on a FOMO-ridden millennial generation. It explains why Billy McFarland, the villain at the center of this debacle, was able to sell ridiculously priced tickets to a fantasy festival in the first place.
2. Speaking of that villain, Hulu’s doc has a sit down with McFarland whereas Netflix does not and it turns out to be a crucial aspect in fully absorbing the story. Remember HBO’s The Jinx? Imagine watching The Jinx without the interviews with Robert Durst. It might still work, but definitely not as well. Apparently Netflix also tried to get a sit down with McFarland but they failed to meet his compensation demands. Now, it is a little fucked up that McFarland is still profiting off of this scam, but the optimist in me hopes that the Hulu money is going directly to his victims and not his lawyers. I understand if people are hesitant of Hulu giving McFarland a platform to explain himself, but in no way does the sit down paint him in a positive light. For such a criminal mastermind, the guy is sort of a doofus and repeatedly shoots himself in the foot (kinda like The Jinx). Hulu also has an interview with McFarland’s current girlfriend who’s quite strange herself, but she’s never mentioned in the Netflix doc.
Anyways, you really can’t go wrong with either, but if you have access to a Hulu log in, I would go with the Hulu doc before Netflix.
There were 146 movies released in some form or another in 2018 that I wanted to see. As someone who doesn’t watch trailers, here are the various reasons how something gets added to that watchlist.
A great director (First Man worked out, Buster Scruggs didn’t)
A great cast (Widows worked out, Tag didn’t)
A high rotten tomatoes score (Spiderman: Into The Spiderverse worked out, Bumblebee didn’t)
Friend recommendation (Private Life worked out (thanks Juan), Bird Box didn’t (I take it back Juan))
Passing praise on a blog or podcast (Minding The Gap worked out (thanks Sean Fennessey)), First Reformed didn’t (fuck you Sean Fennessey))
Blind obligation because it’s a sequel to something I loved (The Predator and Creed II are both ok, but they did fail to reach the hype in varying degrees)
Only because my mom won’t stop asking if I saw it (RBG worked out, Green Book is TBD).
Unfortunately nothing is foolproof, as each of these avenues will let you down occasionally. Of the 114 movies that I’ve seen thus far from that list, I only liked 69 of them (Grade C or above). Yes, I’m fully aware how ridiculous that sounds to watch 100+ movies, who has the time, blah blah blah. Look, some people go to church on Sunday mornings, I go to the movie theater. Can I live?
But anyways, 114 movies in 2018. 69 for 114 isn’t a terrible shooting percentage I guess. If you watched 100 basketball games over the same span, a similar % would be considered “good” games. But I have a hard time assessing the overall current year compared to prior years as it takes a full 12 months post premiere, at the very least, for a film to become fully appreciated. For instance, I can’t believe I rated Get Out behind Atomic Blonde and I, Tonya last December. That is absurd, given that I now view Get Out as perhaps THE film of the decade.
I count eight A+’s in 2018 at the moment, but who knows what movies might actually be gems a year from now. Upon re-assessing 2016, I moved American Honey and Popstar up into the top tier. But upon reassessing 2017, I also moved Baby Driver, Apes, and Logan down into the second tier. It’s all relative. It’s possible that The Favourite might turn out to be a masterpiece, it’s possible that The Predator (bonkers as it is) might be a cult classic, and it’s certainly possible that my bullish stance on Sicario 2 was skewed by my BAC on that Friday night viewing.
Nonetheless, you’ll find below the highlights of 2018 along with a complete ranking of the 114 as I see it today. But before I get to that, one more thing. It’s hard to say how much I’ll keep up with this blog in 2019. I’m sure I will still see plenty of movies and continue to catalog them like the dork that I am, but as far as actual posts go I might be running out of takes. We’ll see what inspires Rated Greg. Nonetheless, thank you for your continued support of this hobby, whether feigned or genuine. I always appreciate the feedback, and formally apologize if Rated Greg led you towards a terrible movie night decision. If that happens please let me make it up to you and I bet I can redeem myself.
Official 2018 Report Card and further Superlatives are below:
For the record, Tag is still better than The Shape of Water.
And now, The Rated Greg Superlatives:
Best Lead Actor
Christian Bale* – Vice
Ryan Gosling – First Man
Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born
Benicio Del Toro – Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Alden Ehreneich** – Solo: A Star Wars Story
*I think I enjoyed Vice less than others, just kinda seemed like a mess, but I will say that the best part about it is Bale’s incredible performance.
**Taking on the role of Han Solo is an impossible task and the fact that Alden pulled it off, at least in my opinion, deserves some praise. Granted, this is a VERY shallow field outside of the top 3.
Best Lead Actress
Carey Mulligan – Wildlife
Emily Blunt – A Quiet Place
Toni Collette – Hereditary
Viola Davis – Widows
Elsie Fisher* – Eighth Grade
*On the other hand, Lead Actress is extremely deep. It pains me to leave Natalie Portman (Annihilation) and Lady Gaga (Star Is Born) out, but there’s just nowhere to go. I thought about removing Elsie Fisher given that she’s very likely just playing herself, but that movie doesn’t work nearly as well without her very authentic performance.
Carey Mulligan appears in Wildlife by Paul Dano, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.
Best Supporting Actor
Colman Domingo* – If Beale Street Could Talk
Sam Elliott – A Star Is Born
Jake Gyllenhaal – Wildlife
Josh Hamilton – Eighth Grade
Shia LaBeouf** – Borg vs McEnroe
*This could easily go to Brian Tyree Henry as well, but I’m trying to limit to one per movie. Domingo gets the nod since he has more screen time.
**This is a MUCH better movie if it’s just a McEnroe biopic starring Shia.
Best Supporting Actress
Emma Stone* – The Favourite
Claire Foy – First Man
Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk
Anne Hathaway – Ocean’s 8
Rachel McAdams – Game Night
*I wasn’t sure who’s the lead and who’s supporting in Favourite, so this may be cheating. But whatever the case Stone is en fuego this entire movie.
Jatemme Manning (Daniel Kaluuya) – Widows
Killmonger (Michael B Jordan) – Black Panther
Ray Merriman (Pablo Schreiber) – Den of Thieves
Cactus Bill (Paul Rudd) – Mute
The Screaming Bear – Annihilation
Best Sidekick/Comic Relief
Drug Dealer Tim (Anton Yelchin) – Thoroughbreds
Luis (Michael Pena) – Ant-Man and the Wasp
Kevin (Lamorne Harris) – Game Night
L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) – Solo: A Star Wars Story
Drax (Dave Bautista) – Avengers: Infinity War
Worst Character and/or Performance
Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman)* – Black Panther
Halliday (Mark Rylance) – Ready Player One
Detective Vick (Debra Messing) – Searching
Duncan (Pete Davidson) – Set It Up
King Orn (Patrick Wilson) – Aquaman
*Why the F is he in this movie? Is Martin Freeman the first ever token white guy?
Best Ridiculous Performance
Gerard Butler* – Den of Thieves
Chris Hemsworth – Bad Times at the El Royale
Olivia Munn- The Predator
Tom Hardy – Venom
Mark Wahlberg – Mile 22
*Sure Christian Bale is incredible in Vice, but THE MOST ENTERTAINING performance of the year is whatever the hell Butler is doing in Den of Thieves. He’s chewing up and spitting out every scene he’s in.
Best Volume Year**
Brian Tyree Henry (Widows, Beale Street, Spiderverse, Atlanta)
** Lucas Hedges could also be on here with Mid90’s, Ben is Back, and Boy Erased, but I haven’t seen the latter two yet.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Ralph Breaks The Internet*
A Quiet Place
*The parents who took their young children to the Wreck-It-Ralph sequel were likely thanked with a week’s worth nightmares from the kids. The movie starts off pretty straight forward but the third act has some legitimately creepy, yet profound metaphors on the correlation between social media, neediness, and depression.
If Beale Street Could Talk*
A Star Is Born
Minding The Gap
I didn’t get the chance to write about it, but If Beale Street Could Talk is a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL work of art. Barry Jenkins follow up to Moonlight is a must see.
Sicario: Day of the Soldado
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star is Born
Isle of Dogs/Spiderman: Into The Spiderverse**
*Another very deep field. Is it just me, or has cinematography evolved exponentially in the past few years? I’m not just talking about high definition, but it seems like experimental angles, wide frames, and tracking shots are used more and more to cool effect each year. Wildlife, Hereditary, The Favourite, First Man, Minding The Gap, MI6, and A Quiet Place all also look amazing.
**I generally wouldn’t include animated here, but these two both look like nothing else I have ever seen.
Best Action Scene
The Paris Chase – Mission Impossible: Fallout
Training Montage – Creed II
The Ambush – Sicario: Day of the Soldado
The Stampede – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
The Highway Shootout – Den of Thieves
Best Non-Action Scene (I’ll be vague going down)
The Duet – A Star Is Born
The Freestyle – Widows
Old Friends Catching Up – If Beale Street Could Talk
The Drug Deal – Hot Summer Nights
The Incident – Hereditary
The Bathroom – Mission Impossible: Fallout
Creed v Drago – Creed II
The Butcher Shop – The Night Comes for Us
Elastagirl vs The Screenslaver – Incredibles II
The Final Battle – Outlaw King
Best Use of a Song (Non-Star Is Born)
Whitey on the Moon (Gil Scott-Heron) – First Man
Helplessly Hoping (Crosby, Stills, and Nash) – Annihilation
Too Late To Turn Back Now (The Cornelius Brothers) – BlacKkKlansman
*The Strangers 2 is a REALLY bad movie. I do not recommend it. Except is does have this fantastic motel pool kill scene set to the tune of Bonnie Tyler. I know it seems sacrilegious for a film to use Total Eclipse of the Heart after Wedding Crashers, but this really works.