We live in times when some take delight in exacting moral leverage over others by judging yesterday’s actions against today’s standards. Those of us who aren’t as self-certain in matters of virtue can ponder films like “Chappaquiddick,” the 2018 retelling of the 1969 car accident that killed a young lady and altered Ted Kennedy’s life. It’s fascinatingly ambiguous and will get you thinking – if you’re someone still inclined to do that. As the Kennedy machine tries to save his political career, we’re reminded that Ted isn’t the victim, the girl is. But are we really talking about the car wreck?

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Back in 1981, Brian De Palma was right in the middle of his run as The Next Hitchcock and John Travolta was close to peak stardom. They teamed up for a classic that mixes murder mystery, political conspiracy and a look behind the scenes of low-budget filmmaking. The camerawork goes for a lot of home run shots (but swings and misses sometimes). We get introduced to John Lithgow and Dennis Franz. What’s not to like? “Blow Out” was one of the first movies that made me understand how much I loved good movies (and curly redheads – thank you, Nancy Allen).

Whenever I’m watching a movie like “Beirut” (2018), where nobody changes clothes for days and the sun is beating down, I’m thinking how bad I’d be smelling and how much I’d want to take a shower. But I also pay attention to the plot, because it’s like a big game of poker where the winner is always the person who doesn’t give a shit the most. If I were Jon Hamm, I’d be pretty happy at my transition away from TV (and far away from “Million Dollar Arm”) to a starring role in a major espionage thriller alongside Rosamund Pike.

These are all the films released in 2018 that I watched in 2018. Links to my reviews where available:

  1. Gringo
  2. Red Sparrow
  3. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  4. Hearts Beat Loud
  5. Isle of Dogs
  6. Three Identical Strangers
  7. Beirut
  8. Ready Player One
  9. Chappaquiddick
  10. A Quiet Place
  11. The Equalizer 2
  12. Eighth Grade
  13. Leave No Trace
  14. The Death of Stalin
  15. Deadpool 2
  16. Ideal Home
  17. 12 Strong
  18. The Commuter
  19. Unsane
  20. I Feel Pretty
  21. 7 Days in Entebbe
  22. The Happytime Murders
  23. Tag
  24. Thoroughbreds
  25. Social Animals
  26. Game Night
  27. Night School
  28. Pacific Rim: Uprising
  29. Searching
  30. Arizona
  31. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
  32. The 15:17 to Paris
  33. Proud Mary
  34. Siberia
  35. Death Wish
  36. The Hurricane Heist
  37. The Con is On
  38. You Were Never Really Here
  39. Shock and Awe
  40. First Reformed

Apparently, “Bad Moms” was such a surprise hit (as if it was still a surprise that in 2016, there was a market for R-rated shock-comedies starring women) that the makers got Mila Kunis and everyone else back together to crank out a sequel in a little more than a year. Even better (as in not better), it’s Christmas themed. So we have “A Bad Moms Christmas” (2017) trying to catch lightning in a chimney. But whereas the original had just the right amount of mommy pathos, this one overdoes things (sequels always do) by pitting the moms against their moms.

Danny McBride wasn’t trying to make a “good” movie when he decided to star in “Arizona” (2018). Of that I’m fairly certain. If he was hoping for a watchable dark comedy about the housing market crash in suburban Phoenix, he succeeded. Somewhat. What he really ended up with was a so-so horror flick for a Halloween weekend opening. Except it opened in August. And the stars (him, Rosemarie DeWitt, David Alan Grier, Seth Rogen, Luke Wilson) are a little too big for a Halloween weekend flick. They shoulda saved money on fake blood and budgeted a little more for hijinks.

Yeah, I know “Office Christmas Party” (2016) is stupid, but it’s appropriately stupid for the plot (epic gesture needed to save the company). It’s necessarily stupid for its genre (R-rated farce). Simply put, it’s just the right amount of stupid (although I saw the unrated version, so, technically, what I saw was extra stupid). Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman have made like 377 films in the past few years, so they seem to be homing in on a formula in which they’re both uptight and everyone else is crazy (although I do wish the formula involved my seeing fewer penises).