Best of 2018 #25: Upgrade, Rampage, Creed II and Old Man & The Gun 5

Troy’s #25: Upgrade

Troy previously reviewed Upgrade during the summer. His views haven’t changed.

Upgrade

Daniel’s #25: Rampage

The third time was the charm for star Dwayne Johnson’s team-ups with director Brad Peyton. Based on the popular ‘80s videogame franchise of the same name, this film sees a bunch of giant mutated animals wrecking havoc on the United States, particularly the city of Chicago. Giant monsters! What more do you need?

You do need more? Fine. You can tell what’s going on in the action sequences, which automatically sets it above most blockbusters from the past decade. The cast is utterly game for everything going on around them, particularly Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who chews through scenery like a chainsaw through Paul Partain. It’s fun for the whole family, assuming your family is cool enough to love kaiju cinema. As I write this out, the film is currently playing on HBO. I can’t imagine a more fitting residence for a monster epic that will continue to make people of all ages grin for years to come.

Mike Flynn’s #25: Suspiria

The disorienting pendulum swing from the swooning Call Me by Your Name to this epic but fast-paced rebirth of Dario Argento’s 1977 giallo bellwether might be one of the best gear shifts ever made by a filmmaker. Luca Guadagnino, a visionary filmmaker with a sumptuous eye for European beauty, is well aware that a straight retelling of Susie Bannion’s studies at a coven-run dance academy is not going to please anyone. Instead, he foregoes the film’s entire existence—down to swapping Argento’s signature color palate for the overcast grays of war-torn 1977 West Berlin—for a physically and emotionally disturbing exercise in expressionism. The horror Argento tapped into was what haunted the hallways; Guadagnino wants you to figure out why. It’s a challenging endeavor that succeeds by virtue of giving the film a gorgeous reinvention, channeling Fosse, Lynch, and Cronenberg in his insidious odyssey to the rotting heart of darkness. Tilda Swinton gives one of the year’s most multi-faceted efforts by an actor in at least one role, while Chloe Grace Moretz has never shown more vulnerability in a performance. The big surprise is Dakota Johnson, who shatters her Hollywood-royalty beauty for her skeptical but graceful interpretation of Susie.

The one shame was the film’s release: after seeing the film’s premiere at the Arclight Hollywood’s Cinerama Dome—its unsettling, complex sound mixed in Dolby Atmos—Amazon didn’t shell out an attempt to at least find a venue that seated more than a few dozen patrons. The cinematic experience is crucial to Guadagnino’s vision, and the paltry release failed it.

Extremely self-indulgent fun fact: While using the bathroom before the film began, I swore that I walked past Moby. Months later, a Google search revealed that, yes, the man I remember walking past was, indeed, behind one of my favorite albums of all time, Play.

Jamie’s #25: The Old Man and The Gun

Best 25

Jamie declined comment, as he believes his selections speak for themselves.

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