Staff Picks 2018: Biggest Disappointment
You know that feeling— that rush of euphoria— when a movie really exceeds your expectations? Well, this isn’t it. If some movies are like a surprisingly good first date, these ones are like hard break-up. These are the Besties Staff Picks for the Biggest Disappointments of 2018.
Let’s be honest, we all wanted this to be good. It’s about a giant, prehistoric shark who has broken through a sealed entrance to the deep, and is hungry for blood. It. Looked. So. Effing. Good. We know you were lying when you said that the idea of the Meg chowing down on beach-goers like a game of Pacman didn’t give you goosebumps. The Meg had the potential to be good, to really expand that genre of violent shark-porn we’ve grown to love. And then, the studios decreed: “She shall be PG-13!” That was the hook and sinker; our beachgoers merely eyed, never eaten. Film is an industry, and a film like The Meg is clearly a money-grab, but where do we draw the line? You cannot have a film about a violent prehistoric shark without the waters getting bloody— creating a chowder of missing limbs and fallen fins. The point of the film is too be ridiculous, so the gore must be ridiculous! That's what we wanted to see! We never asked for the movie to be the pinnacle of quality, or something we can bring our kids to see. We asked for it to be stained in blood. You know a movie missed the mark when your star, mid-promotion cycle, is quoted saying “Yeah but you go, ‘Where’s the fucking blood?’ It’s like, ‘There’s a shark.’” Well stated, Jason Statham. —Emily Figueroa
Bohemian Rhapsody was one of the most anticipated movies of the year, and its marketing campaign put Rami Malek’s face in virtually every theater America. The Bohemian trailer was inescapable for the second half of the year. As a Queen fan, my expectations were high: Freddy Mercury had such a unique life and the biopic had been marketed as a major awards contender. Unfortunately, I was let down by the film. The whole thing is too formulaic, safe, and borderline unethical in its depiction. Malek did everything in his power to keep the film afloat, and he should surely be recognized for his performance, but the impact of the on-set drama (Malek and director Bryan Singer argued over artistic differences, and Singer was later fired) proved far too overpowering in the end. —Michael Murphy
I remember reading A Wrinkle in Time for the first time, crouched in a corner of my bed, letting Madeleine L’Engle’s fantastical worlds overwhelm me. Ava DuVernay’s film adaptation was also overwhelming, but not in the magical way. The characters were hollow (Oprah played a beatific version of herself), and the whole thing just felt one step removed— like I was watching my memory of reading the book for the first time, rather than experiencing the story itself. Overall, DuVernay’s adaptation landed on the heavy-handed side, like a tribute rather than a retelling. —Bessie Rubenstein
The biggest disappointment for me in 2018 was 12 Strong. I felt that while the subject of the movie was so incredible, the Hollywood-produced version of the story fell flat. I have a somewhat unique experience with this movie because I was invited by a family member to a gala for the Green Berets, where the movie was screened. Following the screening, the real-life counterparts of some of the characters gave speeches. The real-life Mitch Nelson (played by Chris Hemsworth in the movie) seemed a bit disappointed in the way the events were portrayed. Nelson lived through such traumatic circumstances, saw so many atrocities, and had to live with those intense emotions— emotions that are virtually impossible to replicate, especially on-screen. Just hearing him speak was more affecting than the entirety of the movie. But aside from all the things that were “lost in translation,” the movie was quite long, causing me to lose whatever focus I started with. —Emma Steiner
It breaks my heart to write this, but my biggest disappointment of the year year is Steve McQueen’s Widows. The ensemble heist thriller had so much going for it: the cast is incredible, McQueen is a master, and Gillian Flynn is a great writer. But for some reason Widows is not greater than the sum of its parts. I think it might have something to do with the length and complexity of the narrative, but I can’t blame it all on Flynn and McQueen’s script. The highlight of the film are its four best performances: Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Daniel Kaluuya, and Brian Tyree Henry. The other actors do a good job too, but they are easily outshined when any of these four are present. Let me be clear— I liked this film. But in the months leading up to Widows, I (maybe naively) assumed that it would be one of my top five movies of the year, possibly even number one. Suffice to say, it’s not even top twenty. I’m sorry Steve, but Widows was nowhere near as good as I wanted or expected it to be. —David Merkle
To check out our upcoming Staff Picks — including Most Overrated, Worst Movie of the Year, and Best Movie Nobody Saw — check the Staff Picks 2018 page under the Opinion tab!