2018 Leaman Awards - The Part-Time Critic

Sunday, June 7, 2020

2018 Leaman Awards

*Last Updated 7/24/2022

2018 Films Seen: 104
Number of Films with A or A+ Grade: 0
Key Films Still to See: n/a

Brief Summary: n/a
Not a "best of" list or a "favorite" list - but a list of the films and sequences (action, drama, comedy, & musical) that I think represent the best the year had to offer. So think of it as a strange mixture of favorite, best, and defining. Once you get to the top ten films, it definitely becomes more defined as a Top Ten list of the year. The number one film is my favorite of the year. 

Honorable Mentions: God's Not Dead: A Light in the Darkness, Won't You Be My Neighbor?, First Man, I Can Only Imagine, Incredibles 2, Three Identical Strangers

25. Eighth Grade (B)
24. Operation Finale (B)
23. American Animals (B)
22. Creed II (B)
21. Free Solo (B)
20. Prayer Before Dawn, A (B)
19. Isle of Dogs (B)
18. Death of Stalin, The (B)
17. Bird Box (B)
16. Green Book (B)
15. Chappaquiddick (B)
14. Ballad of Buster Scruggs, The (B)
13. A Quiet Place (B+)
12. Crazy Rich Asians (B+)
11. Widows (B+)

THE TOP TEN
10. Shoplifters (B+)
9. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (B+) 
8. Roma (B+)
7. The Guilty (B+)
6. BlacKkKlansman (B+)

5. Mission: Impossible - Fallout (B+)

4. They Shall Not Grow Old (A-)

3. Searching (A-)

2. Paddington 2 (A-)

1. Avengers: Infinity War (A-)
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE ACTION SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
The Very Good:
  • "Apartment Fight: Ito vs. the Operator" -The Night Comes for Us
  • "Aquatic Finale: Kingdoms at Battle" -Aquaman
  • "Attack on Greenwich Village: Black Order vs. Strange, Spider-Man, & Iron Man" -Avengers: Infinity War
  • "Bathroom Carnage: Fistfight with Lark" -Mission: Impossible - Fallout
  • "Finale: Battle on Planet Doom" -Ready Player One
  • "Ito vs. Warehouse Gang" -The Night Comes for Us
  • "Mountain Duel: Helicopters & Hand to Hand" -Mission: Impossible - Fallout
  • "Operator Finale: Taking Out the Gang & Lotus Lesbians" -The Night Comes For Us
The Great:
  • "Finale: Fighting for the Lab in the Streets & Bay of San Francisco" -Ant-Man & the Wasp
  • "Paris Mayhem: Ambush, Chase, Escape" -Mission: Impossible - Fallout
  • "The Battle of Loudon Hill" -Outlaw King
  • "Coaxium Train Heist" -Solo: A Star Wars Story
The Best: "Finale: Thanos vs. the Avengers on Titan & War on the Wakandan Plain" -Avengers: Infinity War
Commentary: This is a bit of a cheat in my opinion, but I don't think there's a better way to appropriately honor the last hour of action in Infinity War. Although it takes place in two distinct places and in several phases for each fight, it is clearly one well-integrated masterpiece of an action finale and every attempt I made at breaking it up into smaller pieces just lost sight of the whole. The last hour or so of the film takes place in two major places. At this point, Marvel set the standard for production quality. By 2018, there was no (for several years) doing large scale battles with settings, costumes, cinematography, direction, stunts, creative imagination, and storytelling quality like the teams at Marvel. The first place for the finale is on the planet Titan where one half of the Avengers are fighting Thanos and attempting to keep the time stone away from him. The other place is the Wakandan plains where the other half of the Avengers (along with the Wakandan army) are attempting to keep Thanos' army from acquiring the mind stone. The sequence on Titan is the first real time we get to see Thanos fight our beloved heroes. This fight can be broken into three major parts: first you have the action beats of different people taking shots at Thanos. There is a lot of creativity and fun here as we imagine how the strengths of our heroes could possibly take out such a bad guy and Thanos responds by absorbing the blow and giving some kind of counterattack (he literally throws a moon at one point). A note here on the creative use of the power stones and how the filmmakers did an excellent job making it clear how and when Thanos was using each stone. The visual clarity is much appreciated and only really noticed when a filmmaker gets it wrong. The second major portion of the fight is the major plan to subdue and hold down Thanos using every major character. This is of course famously undermined by Star Lord's ego. The final portion of the fight is Thanos taking down the members one by one as they try to give their final shot. The two standouts here are Doctor Strange who gets an extended imaginative sequence and Iron Man who is clearly giving it his all and coming short...with the filmmakers teasing the audience with his demise. This sequence is masterfully intercut with the war going on back in Wakanda where a forcefield is used temporarily to keep Thanos' army out. Eventually, his army breaks through and we get a full-on battle from each side. Everyone gets stand out moments here - Nakia, Okoye, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, Black Panther, and Rhodey all given memorable beats. The biggest crowd pleaser is easily the arrival of Thor with his new axe and the incredible damage he is able to do. It's a splendid moment. Of course, Thanos eventually wins on Titan and makes his arrival in Wakanda where we get the most memorable ending of the entire Marvel universe. I have to admit, I absolutely love the sequences on Titan (they are the epitome of fantasy action to me) and I really like the Wakandan war. I felt like every moment against Thanos was a surprise and I never knew what everyone was fully capable of, how they might work together, or what cool trick Thanos might respond with. The Dr. Strange/Thanos stuff just felt like they could do anything they wanted - while I always knew it was still going to be grounded in the logic of the stones that had been established. Glorious stuff. While I don't think this action sequence is the overall best Marvel ever produced, I think Infinity War is the best overall film Marvel has produced. A large part of that is the ability to keep so many characters and storylines balanced alongside of the action in this finale. The guts to end the finale as they did may not leave the audience with the emotional high of 2012's Avengers, but it certainly was remembered for the stomach punch instead.


FAVORITE DRAMATIC SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
The Very Good:
  • “Removing the Librarian” -American Animals 
  • “The Girl Gets Rattled” -The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • “Who is Gonna Look at the Rapids?” -Bird Box 
  • “Bob Macnamara and his Team Counsel Teddy on What to Do” -Chappaquiddick 
  • “Landing on the Moon” -First Man 
  • “Iben’s Snake Revelation” -The Guilty 
  • “Finale: Windsor Gardens is Present for Lucy’s Birthday Present” -Paddington 2 
  • “Finale: Paul Finishes His Race” -Paul, Apostle of Christ 
  • "Billy vs. The World Punching Bag” -A Prayer Before Dawn 
  • “I Love You” -A Quiet Place 
  • “A Surprising Birth” -Roma 
  • "Shopping for Clothes - Why They Hit You" -Shoplifters
  • “Going Over the Top and Battle” -They Shall Not Grow Old 
  • “Grey lets STEM takeover for the first time and win his first fight” -Upgrade 
  • "Heist at the Mulligans” -Widows  
The Great:
  • “The Climb – Boulder Problem” -Free Solo 
  • “Imagining Aunt Lucy in London’s Pop Up Book” -Paddington 2 
  • “Opening Family Computing Montage” -Searching 
  • "Police Questioning: Family Revelations" -Shoplifters
The Best: “The Snap & Enjoying a Sunrise Finale” -Avengers: Infinity War 
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE COMEDIC SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
Not a category I kept good track of - One of the toughest TBH
The Very Good:
  •  n/a
The Great:
  • n/a
The Best: n/a


FAVORITE MUSICAL SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
Not always a lot to choose from in this category
The Very Good:
  • “Performing ’Shallows’ for the First Time” -A Star is Born 
The Great:
  • n/a
The Best: “It’s Too Late to Turn Back Now Dance” -BlacKkKlansman 
Commentary: n/a

BEST DIRECTOR
Nominees:
  • Aneesh Chaganty Searching
  • Alfonso Cuaron Roma
  • Joel Coen The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Christopher McQuarrie Mission: Impossible - Fallout
  • Anthony & Joe Russo Avengers: Infinity War

BEST ENSEMBLE ACTING
Nominees:
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • BlacKkKlansmen
  • The Favourite
  • Roma
  • Shoplifters
  • Widows

FAVORITE MALE PERFORMANCES
Nominees:
  • Mahershala Ali Green Book
  • Christian Bale Vice
  • Josh Brolin Avengers: Infinity War
  • Jakob Cedergren The Guilty
  • John Cho Searching
  • Joe Cole A Prayer Before Dawn
  • Colin Farrell Widows
  • Hugh Grant Paddington 2
  • Ron Livingston Tully
  • Viggo Mortensen Green Book
  • Jesse Plemons Game Night


FAVORITE FEMALE PERFORMANCES
Nominees:
  • Sakura Ando Shoplifters
  • Yalitza Aparacio Roma
  • Sandra Bullock Bird Box
  • Toni Collette Hereditary
  • Olivia Colman The Favourite
  • Viola Davis Widows
  • Cynthia Erivo Bad Times at the El Royale
  • Elsie Fisher Eighth Grade
  • Regina King If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Emma Stone The Favourite
  • Rachel Weisz The Favourite

FAVORITE SCREENPLAY
(original or adapted)

Nominees:
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • BlacKkKlansmen
  • Chappaquiddick
  • Green Book
  • The Guilty
  • Paddington 2
  • Roma
  • Searching
  • Shoplifters
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Nominees:
  • Free Solo
  • They Shall Not Grow Old
  • Three Identical Strangers

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Nominees:
  • The Incredibles 2
  • Isle of Dogs
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
BEST FILM EDITING
Nominees:
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Mission: Impossible - Fallout
  • Searching
  • Widows
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Nominees:
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • The Favourite
  • Mission: Impossible - Fallout
  • Roma

BEST ART DIRECTION
Nominees:
  • Isle of Dogs
  • The Favourite
  • Outlaw King
  • Paddington 2
  • Roma

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Nominees:
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp
  • Aquaman
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • First Man
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Nominees:
  • First Man
  • If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Isle of Dogs
  • Paddington 2
  • Widows

BEST SOUND DESIGN
Nominees:
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • First Man
  • Mission: Impossible - Fallout
  • Sicario: Day of the Soldado
  • Roma

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Nominees:
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Black Panther
  • The Favourite
  • Ocean's Eight

BEST MAKE-UP & HAIR DESIGN
Nominees:
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Black Panther
  • Mary Queen of Scots
  • Vice

BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE
Nominees:
  • Debt Collector
  • The Night Comes For Us
  • Rampage

MOST SURPRISING FILM
Nominees:
  • BlacKkKlansmen
  • Searching
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

MOST DISAPPOINTING FILM
Nominees:
  • Action Point
  • First Reformed
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet

MOST UNDERRATED FILM
Nominees:
  • Bird Box
  • Death of Stalin
  • God's Not Dead: A Light in the Darkness

MOST OVERRATED FILM
Nominees:
  • Black Panther
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Hereditary

WORST FILM


Nominees:
  • The 15:17 to Paris
  • Action Point
  • Halloween
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet
  • Vice
BEST COMPILATION OF WORK

Nominees:
  • n/a

ERIC BANA AWARD
*Given for the best performance in a bad film (See 2004's Troy)
Nominees:
  • Woody Harrelson Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • Mark Rylance Ready Player One


THE END!

"Fred Rogers: Love is at the root of everything - all learning, all parenting, all relationships. Love or the lack of it. And what we see and hear on the screen is part of who we become." -Won't You Be My Neighbor

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