Cinepunx’s Best of 2018

It’s the Best Movies and Music of 2018, as determined by your friends at Cinepunx. Because we’re egalitarian as hell, we not only let everyone determine their own lists, we let them determine their own awards, and — throwing all caution to the wind — we even invited friends of the site to join in the fun. It’s a goddamn end of the year free-for-all. Get at it below.

TL;DR: People were really into First Reformed, Hereditary, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Mandy, in terms of movies. For music, it was Tragedy’s Fury, Turnstile’s Time and Space, Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer, the Mandy score, and Nothing’s Dance On The Blacktop, to name but a few. Be thankful we didn’t start talking TV shows.

Max Davis

Twitter: @cactus_max

Movies

1. First Reformed

The themes of loss swirl heavily in Paul Schrader’s latest opus. Loss of faith, of hope, of love, drive these characters to often painful extremes in what was one of the most intensely heartbreaking yet simultaneously uplifting movies I’ve seen in some time. First Reformed is a quiet, jarring trip through the minefield of a life lived by Ethan Hawke’s Minister Toller, who finds himself the figurehead of a historic, albeit underutilized small town church. Toller struggles to support his waning congregation in the face of problems too grave for his failing faith to navigate. This is easily Hawke’s best performance to date, supported marvelously by Amanda Seyfried, Philip Ettinger, and Cedric (The Entertainer) Antonio Kyles.

2. You Were Never Really Here

3. Mid90s

4. Hereditary

5. The Death of Stalin

Albums

1. Turnstile – Time & Space

I think it would be a real challenge to argue that a better hardcore record came out in 2018. I would also consider Time & Space to be a candidate for record of the year in any category. Much like Code Orange’s Forever in 2017, Time & Space isn’t so much an epochal record as it is the band’s fully realized vision for what their sound is. It took a couple years and a couple records, but I feel like this album will be the Turnstile record they’re best remembered for. Unless they follow it up with something even better…

2. Fiddlehead – Springtime & Blind

3. Portrayal of Guilt – Let Pain Be Your Guide

4. Battle Ruins – Glorious Dead

5. Nas – Nassir

Songs

1. Turnstile – “Moon”

Turnstile’s 2015 record, Non Stop Feeling, featured an enjoyable tonal departure in “Blue by You.” Time & Space features a similar departure in Moon, a 2 minute, poppy yet soulful pit stop that features the band’s bassist Franz Lyons on lead vocals. Aside from being my favorite song on this record it also adds a level of depth to the band that I did not expect until they released the single ahead of the record’s release in early 2018. This band has a lot left to contribute, and I’d love to hear more moments featuring Lyons’ vocals.

Awards

* Prediction for biggest award season snub of 2019: Toni Collette

* Best Superhero film of 2018: Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse

* Biggest obsessive project of the year: Super-mix/preferred listening path for all Kanye West produced songs of 2018. See “Summer of Ye” playlist on Spotify

* Biggest pet peeve of 2018: People watching Mandy and reacting as if they were watching Con-Air.

Tom Alderson

Instagram & Twitter: @Suddenly_Tragic

Check out my band Drowse drowsephl.bandcamp.com/ @drowse.phl on ig – for fans of roll around on the floor punk parts/youth attack records but scarier, hardcore punk.

Movies

Chappaquiddick

I knew very little of the details of the Chappaquiddick incident itself, but I loved this movie, and once it started I was fully invested. I saw it alone (minus one other patron also by themselves) and that really let me absorb it. Jason Clarke (Ted Kennedy), a spoiled rotten New England senator, still doing his best to remain in daddy’s good graces but walking all over anyone he sees as beneath him and at the same time, completely incapable of accepting responsibility even though his guilt tears him apart. Also, I’ll say Ed Helms (Joseph Gargan) really stole the show for me. He was a perfect supporting role and I was surprised by the huge departure from his normal comedic brand.

First Man

Blackkklansman

Death of Stalin

Mid90s

Honorable mentions: Eighth Grade, A Quiet Place, Upgrade, I Tonya, The Post, Black Panther, Love

Simon, Action Point, Superfly, The Predator, Mission Impossible: Fallout.

Albums

Travis Scott – Astroworld

I will put this out there right up top: I am NOT heavily a hip-hop/rap guy in any sense. I forget how but I was strangely compelled to put this album on, the first block of 3 songs hit super hard and are immediate hits. The production on the record is tippy-top tier from the first second to the last. Sometimes I can drift away from the words and just enjoy the music, even though lyrically I also love this record. It ends with even more hits and the final track is a sort of chill-hop super groove track. If you’re not into this genre of music, this record could easily open the door to some good stuff, even as a sort of hater of the genre, it did for me. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention I was lucky enough to catch the Astroworld tour come through Philly and he put on one of if not the best live show I’ve ever seen.

Highlight songs: “Carousel,” “5% Tint,” “Can’t Say,” “Coffee Bean”

Now, Now – Saved

Highlight song: “Window”

Nothing – Dance on the Blacktop

Highlight Song: “Blue Line Baby”

Mammoth Grinder – Cosmic Crypt

Highlight song: “Grimmenstein”

Teenage Wrist – Chrome Neon Jesus

Highlight song: “Daylight”

Honorable Mentions: Vein, Innumerable Forms, Creeping Death, Black Panther soundtrack, Outer

Heaven, 1975, Spine, Flor, Candy.

Awards

* Funniest Scene Award: The Meg-Jason Statham vs a massive Shark. The movie was reaching a climax point so it was practically pin drop silent, minus the action on the screen. Statham is fully engaged in a 1-on-1 fight with a shark and uses a harpoon to turn the fight in his favor. I howled with laughter and not a single other person found humor in it, so it hit me even harder. Had to wipe away tears of laughter.

* Heaviest section of a song: Candy – “Joy of Life” – 0:30 seconds in; the song is barely over a minute long but when the first half of the song transitions into the second half all of the instruments drop out except for the drums, which keep a mid-tempo two step beat going and the way it hits you makes me want to throw a trash can.

* Catchiest song award: The 1975 – “TWOTIMETWOTIME” – No matter where or when I hear it come on. I pretty much have to listen to it to completion. A driving beat but still somehow understated with a super catchy melody, auto-tune and all.

Josh Sprinkle. Nobody to most, somebody to some.

Mute/block/unfollow: @2hsoj

Movies

Suspiria

Suspiria and Hereditary both stayed with me for a long time after I left the theater. Suspiria inches out Hereditary as my favorite because I believe it will be a film I can revisit at any time, regardless of what else is going on around (or within) me and that’s not true of Hereditary. I wouldn’t say either film is “perfect”. If we’re judging, Hereditary is actually probably much closer to that for me…BUT:

Suspiria was a movie that, at first, I rejected blindly (how dare someone!). Then, I grudgingly accepted its existence. Then, I anticipated it with cautious optimism. And then, this monster of a movie came along, dropped its hooks in me, and exceeded anything I possibly could have expected (or knew I wanted) it to be. Just like the progression of any true love!

Hereditary

Sorry to Bother You

Won’t You Be My Neighbor

The Witch In the Window

Music

Dreamend – Dreamend

Every Dreamend album is everything to me and this one is no exception. Dreamend is the solo project of Ryan Graveface, impresario of Graveface Records and member of The Casket Girls, The Marshmallow Ghosts, and other musical revelations. His new record comes with a heaping helping of melancholy: this may be the end of Dreamend, due to a medical condition that is causing Ryan’s hearing to deteriorate. This malady at times informs the record with a style that is unique from Dreamend’s other releases and may feel jarring at first listen. Some tracks, however, take zero effort or time to get lost in, like the outstanding “Inside the Head of a Monster”, which reunites Ryan with Phaedra and Elsa of The Casket Girls and could refer to the climate in which we find ourselves, self-loathing, a toxic relationship, or all three and much more.

Body/Head – The Switch

Zeal & Ardor – Stranger Fruit

Nothing – Dance On The Blacktop

Tancred – Nightstand

Songs

Colleen Green – “Let Go”

“Let Go” appears on the 2018 record Casey’s Tape / Harmontown Loops which was issued by the ever-lovable Infinity Cat Recordings. The release itself is a vinyl-ization of Colleen’s 2016 cassette-only self-titled EP, which was pretty damned perfect in its own right. “Let Go” was one of four tracks added to the project. and it’s also one of the catchiest songs Ms. Green has ever recorded, which is saying something indeed. Otherwise, though it may register as slight, this tune carries a sentiment I valued this year more than ever. “Let Go” can turn the world on with its smile; “Let Go” can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile.

Awards

* Books are cool, too…

Favorite Fiction: Rachel Kushner – The Mars Room, Megan Abbott – Give Me Your Hand, Ottessa Moshgegh – My Year of Rest and Relaxation

Favorite Non-fiction: Carlo Rovelli – The Order of Time, Karina Longworth – Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes’s Hollywood

* And so are comics…

Murder Falcon, Strangers in Paradise XXV, Wrong Earth, Ice Cream Man, Die

* Sorry You Got Bumped, But It Says 2017 Right There On Letterboxd!: Thoroughbreds and Cold Hell

* Stop Making Me Cry In Front of My Kid, Movie!: Christopher Robin and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

* Stop, Or My Wife Will Shoot (Me): Vinegar Syndrome and Severin Films (seriously though, don’t stop)

* You Made My Daughter Smile in 2018 and Now You Have My Undying Fealty.

Music edition: Alice Cooper, for giving her his cane in Baltimore

Movie edition: Liam O’Donnell, for getting her the Mahoning Drive-In t-shirt that I neglected to – a garment without which she refused to start 6th grade (not sucking up to the Editor-In-Chief of this fucking dope website or nuthin’)

Mike Paulshock, Whine and Cheese podcast

Twitter: @thepaulshark

Movies

Mandy

I talked about this movie at length with best-buds Joey Breeding and The Film Friends (check out episode 50 of their lovely podcast), but I have no problem re-hashing all of it. This movie rules, so to keep it brief: damn, what a vision by Panos Cosmatos. I’d like to live inside of his dream-world brain for a few days. Andrea Riseborough gives an insane performance, even with very few lines. I could see myself joining the Children of the New Dawn (Jeremiah’s song that he plays for Mandy is very tight). No one laugh at Nic Cage’s freakout scene. That’s genuinely good acting, how dare you. Oh, and why aren’t more people talking about the Cheddar Goblin? Get this creature an Oscar already.

Shoplifters

A Futile and Stupid Gesture

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Wildlife

Albums

Culture Abuse – Bay Dream

Man, I heard the track “California Speedball” and was so stoked on how great the song was, while sticking to the simple, pop song structure. But I was simultaneously so bummed because I thought it was just a single release, similar to what they’d done with “So Busted” earlier in 2017. Well, I soon found out there was a whole album on the way, and listened to Bay Dream no less than 3 times a day for a month straight. I still spin it at least once a week, smiling ear to ear upon hearing lyrics like “Time keeps moving like a big slug. I get squished like a big bug.“ What’s not to like! Philly bands, I dare you to write an ode to your city that tops this album.

Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens

Hop Along – Bark Your Head Off Dog

Hurry – Every Little Thought

Spirit of the Beehive – Hypnic Jerks

Songs

Wavves – “Onie” (Electric Prunes cover)

So it turns out my favorite song of the year is a cover. I know, I wouldn’t have guessed it either. Warm and fuzzed out, Wavves cover of the Electric Prunes classic “Onie” is a callback to 1960’s psychedelia. I think this cover works so well because you don’t need to know the original to appreciate it. It stands alone nicely, but pays proper homage with its overdone flange and lo-fi atmosphere. “Onie” completely draws you into a trance with its sort of haunting melody/harmonies. It’s beautiful.

Awards

* Best Use of Plutonium in a Film: Mission Impossible: Fallout

* Best Use of an iPhone in a Movie: The entirety of Unsane

* Biggest letdowns in the Cloververse – Cloverfield Paradox/Overlord

* Shortest Songs of the Year – Tony Molina’s Kill the Lights

Gregg Harringon, host of Neon Brainiacs, an 80s horror podcast, which drops new episodes every Wednesday and can be found wherever you get your podcasts.

Twitter: @neonbrainiacs

Movies

Mandy

Many people don’t seem hip to the factoid that Mandy writer/director Panos Cosmatos is the son of Cobra director George P. Cosmatos, but once you learn this the vibe of Mandy seems to make a lot more sense. An unhinged and beautiful performance by Nicolas Cage – who I’ve always thought to be a great actor despite the opinions of others – surrounded by a demented cult, demon bikers who look like they could be stand-in Cenobites, striking lighting and a score that would make drone kings Sunn O))) extremely jealous all cemented Mandy at the top of the 2018 horror mountain for me. Not to mention the subtle metal references, which I thoroughly enjoyed; once you see the movie, you’ll never look at Celtic Frost’s logo the same again.

Halloween

The Ranger

You Might Be The Killer

Summer Of 84

Albums

Candy – Good To Feel

Candy really hit the ground running with the band’s first LP, Good To Feel. It’s all over the place in the best of ways: there’s blistering fast blast beats, punishing fight riffs, and even some Integrity worship thrown in for good measure. While it may seem short – nine songs in under 18 minutes – there are enough twists and turns to keep your attention. The biggest curve ball of the release is the final track, “Bigger Than Yours”, which is a female-sung dream pop cut that really leaves the listener scratching their head but still enjoying what perplexes them. Triple B claimed the crown with 2018 hardcore and should credit a lot of that to Candy.

Terror – Total Retaliation

Nothing – Dance On The Blacktop

HIRS – Friends. Lovers. Favorites

Creep Stare – Pain Game

Bryan Christopher, Contributor for Daily Dead and Short Horror Editor for Rue Morgue.

Twitter: @eviltaylorhicks

Movies

(Note: I’ll be sticking to non-horror for this list. For a horror-centric list keep an eye out for my best-of coming to Daily Dead)

The Little Hours

This is technically a 2017 movie but I only got access to it this year and it surprised the hell out of me. I gave it a look because I’ll watch anything with Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Dave Franco, and John C. Reilly, but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. Giving modern dialogue and sensibilities to stories from The Decameron, it winds up coming off as part farce and part sex romp with a splash of women’s prison movie. And it pulls it off by tying everything together with a level of sweetness that I didn’t see coming at all. It brings a smile to my face every time I think about it, and I highly recommend checking it out.

The Night Comes for Us

Searching

Spider Man: Into the Spider Verse

Psychokinesis

Albums

All of Them Witches – Hunter’s Moon

I’ve never been one to listen to albums the whole way through. Usually my favorite albums are based on one or two songs and the rest is just filler. The latest from All of Them Witches is an exception as the blend of electronic and atmospheric music makes for an experience that begs for a full listen whenever you pop it on. If I had to pick a favorite song I’d have to say “The Arrival,” a song that builds in a way that’s somehow dark, soothing, and uplifting all at the same time. But there’s really not a bad song to be found on the entire album and I can listen to it no matter the circumstance.

Johann Johannson – Mandy (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Gunship – Dark All Day

Colin Stetson – Hereditary (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

John & Cody Carpenter, Daniel Davies – Halloween (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Songs

Gunship (featuring Tim Capello and Indiana) – “Dark All Day”

I’ve loved Gunship ever since their single “Technoir” featured an opening narration from John Carpenter. For their new single they featured a bit more of a cult ’80s icon, Tim Capello. If you don’t know the name you’ll likely know his oiled, ponytailed, sax-playing performance from the concert scene in The Lost Boys. I have to admit that I love Capello without an ounce of irony, but my love for him here isn’t a simple case of nostalgia. His sax makes for a perfect garnish on a moody song with some very smooth vocals from featured singer Indiana. Can’t get enough of this one.

Awards

* Ending of a Movie I Can’t Get Out of My Head Award: “Ito’s Charge,” The Night Comes For Us

* Fuck You, I Like This Song Award: “Party for One,” Carly Rae Jepsen

* Funniest Depiction of Political Obsessions from Medieval Italy: Nick Offerman, The Little Hours

John Wren, host of The Mandate

Twitter: @WRENxxx

Movies

Hereditary

This is my #1 by a mile. Even though I’m a sucker for Marvel films and I genuinely thought the ending, post-snap, stuff in Infinity War was bone chillingly eerie, there hasn’t been a film that has sat with me like Hereditary since 2007’s [.Rec]. I saw this movie in the 2nd week of January and knew then this would top my list. There are parts, particularly one involving a piano wire, that still sit with me as if I watched the movie yesterday and that isn’t even the most powerful scene in the film. Toni Collette, who will unfortunately go unappreciated by the Academy, puts on a Best Actress performance and is the backbone of a film that had me feeling legitimately uncomfortable from the opening scene until the end. Not to mention, the last 20 or so minutes is absolute insanity. On a technical level, I’m sure there were better made/filmed/written films this year but nothing packed the punch of Hereditary.

Bad Times At The El Royale

Widows

Avengers: Infinity War

Blackkklansman

Black Panther

The Favourite

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Spider-man: Into The Spiderverse

Halloween

Albums

Wake – Misery Rites

This could also go down as the most under the radar release of the year as well as most people I know have either no idea who Wake is or they didn’t care enough to know that they put out a record. However, this album is absolutely punishing and it’s criminal that it’s not getting the attention or respect it deserves. 10 songs of downtuned grimey deathgrind from Cananda. The album starts out with a massive pressure cooker slow jam that just pummels you into to submission and then from there it comes at you like a fully automatic shotgun to your senses. The riffs, the blasts, the breaks, the high and low vocals…there is something very evil afoot on this record. If you are completely unaware of who Wake is, you need to change that immediately and you can start with this record.

Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse

Behemoth – I Loved You At Your Darkest

Rezz – Certain Kind Of Magic

Ghost – Prequelle

Pusha T – Daytona

Sick Of It All – Wake The Sleeping Dragon

Dimmu Borgir – Eonion

Alison Wonderland – Awake

Terrorizer – Caustic Attack

Awards

* Most overhyped release: Vein – .errorzone – While there is certainly a high level of talent in the band, specifically in the drumming department. The same could be said about Mudvayne and their bassist but we all clown on them. No matter the ties the band members may have to the hardcore community, this is a nu-metal record comprised mostly of things we’ve been shitting on for the last 20 years. Good for them for the attention they are receiving but I, for one, am not stoked that the new generation is influenced by a fad in which they weren’t even around for and is generally revered as an unfortunate joke in the metal community that we lived through for 10 or so years.

* Biggest letdown: The Predator – I mean, we all knew this wasn’t going to be some best picture film, but going into it there was such a level of expectation and things that had going for it in terms of cast and director. Then came the controversy with Shane Black casting a sexual offender in a minor role (one in which Olivia Munn was the only member of main cast to shoot a scene with), which definitely took some of the piss out of the film before I saw it. Then the final product was a mess of cliché, poorly written comedy with the occasional predator mauling. What could have been a “take your shirt off and chest bump the person next to you” action/cheese fest was nothing more than a deflated mess of an action comedy that missed the mark on almost everything that made any of the other standalone Predator films enjoyable.

Ryan Silberstein, editor at Cinema76.com and host of the Shame Files Podcast

Twitter: @silberwhatever

Albums

1. Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer

A masterpiece. A tour de force in every sense. This is probably one of the best albums of the decade. The way it weaves together Monae’s personal identity with the larger conversation around those issues while also being a perfect pop record is just mind blowing. This album contains multitudes and I hear something different each time I come back to it. The “Nevermind” of queer female power?

2. Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

3. Kendrick Lamar et al – Black Panther: The Album

4. Superchunk – What a Time To Be Alive

5. The Decemberists – I’ll Be Your Girl

Awards

* Best Checkov’s Jawn of 2018: The shot of the lobster tank at the beginning of the restaurant scene in Venom. It’s a great establishing shot, and by god Tom Hardy ends up in that lobster tank chowing down on some hand caught crustacean sushi.

* Best New Exploitation Film: Knife + Heart – My favorite aspect of this film – about the cast and crew of a gay pornography studio being stalked by an unknown killer – is the way it’s really about how we use art to process trauma. Anne views her work, making low-budget porn films, as art, and furthermore she uses it to honor the deaths around her as well as her emotional trauma while still being true to their titillating purpose. It may seem insensitive and cold (as well as a different kind of exploitative) to those around her, but her emotions come out through her art in a way that the rarely vulnerable Anne could never allow.

Dan Donahue

Twitter: @deathmetaldan13

Movies

1. Bohemian Rhapsody

These were the only two movies I watched in 2018. I don’t mean the only movies I watched that came out in 2018. To the best of my recollection, I didn’t watch any other full length films from any time period in any setting this year. I’m just not a big movie person. I realize that admitting this may disqualify me from this Year End list altogether. C’est la vie.

Anyway, I dug this movie. I wish it delved deeper into Freddie Mercury’s childhood – I’d love to have learned more about how he came to sing and play piano, but otherwise, it told the band’s, and Freddie’s, story fairly well.

Wait… I just remembered that I came home and watched Wayne’s World right after seeing Bohemian Rhapsody. So make that three movies. Excellent!

2. Won’t You Be My Neighbor (watched it on an airplane… cried 4 times)

Albums

1. Panopticon – The Scars Of Man On The Once Nameless Wilderness (I and II)

I discovered Panopticon in 2018 even though this one man US black metal act has been around for 11 years (too much music, too little time). I was absorbed almost immediately with their mix of black metal, post rock and some bluegrass/Americana (yes, there’s banjos). Aside from writing catchy, killer tunes that don’t sound like a host of other black metal bands, their message is legit – they’re anarchists and urge a healthy respect for nature. This record makes me want to take a long walk in the woods by myself and very often during, or after, listening to it, I do just that.

2. Emma Ruth Rundle – On Dark Horses (female ambient/folk tunes written with a metal heart

3. Ghost – Prequelle (even I’m not immune to the silky smoothness of these jams)

4. Tragedy – Fury EP (d-beat kings triumphant return!)

5. Behemoth – I Loved You At Your Darkest (needs no explanation)

Kody Coats

Twitter: @swarmreigns

Movies

Roma

Alfonso Cuaron’s semi-autobiographical love letter was precisely what I wanted from a film in 2018. Netflix giving Cuaron such freedom to recognize his vision showcases how incredible Cuaron’s filmmaking abilities are. The film retains all the signature stylings that we’ve come to expect from his films, and this drives home the emotional tangibility of the story. Fantastic sound design makes this so worth seeing in theaters, and if you’re watching this on Netflix, wearing headphones is the best way to go about it. The sound production team essentially put on grand-scale ASMR with great results. Yalitza Aparicio’s portrayal of Cleo is incredible. All of the actors do incredibly well in their roles, and their stories feel relatable. Without giving away any spoilers, there are two scenes, one in the forest and the other in a hospital that hit with the weight of a freight train. Absolutely my favorite film of 2018, and will definitely rank highly on my list of favorite films of the decade next year.

First Reformed

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Hereditary

The Night Comes For Us

Albums

Vein – Errorzone

This album isn’t one that came out of nowhere, but it was the album I didn’t know that I wanted to hear in 2018. I remember stumbling across their 2016 demo while looking through Bandcamp and falling in love. It reminded me of the bands that I was listening to when I first got into hardcore and all of its offshoots. Chaotic drumming, maniacal vocals, cool effects and insane guitarwork made this an album I listen to frequently approaching 2019. Their live performance is frantic as hell from beginning to end, and I hope they make a return to Salt Lake City soon.

Hopesfall – Arbiter

Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth

Spanish Love Songs – Schmaltz

The Nietzsche – Finals.

Songs

Hopesfall – “To Bloom”

From late spring through the summer I was working almost exclusively graveyard shifts. I didn’t really mind it, and it gave me an opportunity to catch up on music that was coming out. When the Hopesfall record came out, I went into it with a bit of hesitancy. Reunion records are hit or miss, and are, more times than not, miss. Fortunately for me, I was met with what is now my favorite Hopesfall release besides The Satellite Years. It was different, but in a very good way. To Bloom was the song that caught my attention the most, and while I could have put any song from this record in this spot, this one was the best. Something about that guitar tone really hit me, and the chorus drove it home.

Jacob Roberts

Twitter: @xjacob_robertsx

Movies

1. Hereditary

Like a telephone pole to the face, this movie is devastation incarnate. I’ve never experienced crushing despair like this before while sitting in a theater. As the creeping terror and oozing dread settled, I could feel the unease building in everyone around me. I swear the air had been sucked out of the room multiple times throughout the viewing. It was amazing. The terror of helplessly watching the Graham family struggle against an unbeatable evil was the worse kind of relatable. I was in awe as I gathered my jaw from off the floor as this poor family fell apart before my eyes. Hereditary demanded my attention from the first frame to the last soul sucking shot which manages to drain any and all hope in a film that was already drowning in hopelessness.

2. Mandy

3. You Were Never Really Here

4. Blindspotting

5. Let the Corpses Tan

Albums

1. Johann Johansson – Mandy Original Soundtrack

I was going to go with either DAYTONA or Excalibur for the number one spot since I had a blast with both albums. However, I played the hell out of this soundtrack over the past several months and since Johann Johansson has been snubbed by the Trophy Trolls, I will be placing Johansson’s Mandy soundtrack at the top of my list. His score is the tone of the film; without it, I don’t even want to know what Mandy would be like. Every track accompanies the dreamy-nightmarish visuals perfectly. The “Mandy Love Theme” might be my favorite part of the score. The track manages to be haunting, mysterious, somber and sweet in a way that doesn’t feel grounded in reality. What I respect most is that in a genre oversaturated with eighties synth porn nostalgia, Johansson’s score rises above being another bland, modern take on retro scores.

2. Pusha T – DAYTONA

3. Mindforce – Excalibur

4. Candy – Good to Feel

5. JPEGMAFIA – Veteran

Songs

Pusha T – “Come Back Baby”

This song may have singlehandedly ruined my very crappy car speakers and I have no regrets on the matter. I loved DAYTONA, but this song in particular had a rawness that I connected with. The shift in tones from a simple bass driven thump to George Jackson’s soulful “I Can’t Do Without You” is infectious. Pusha T effortlessly flows through the track with veteran-like precision, what’s not to love? The song doesn’t break the mold, but it’s a perfect example of gritty music that just hits a sweet spot for me.

Awards

* Destroyer of Fragile-Trumpesque Masculinity Award: Andrea Riseborough as Mandy – Mandy

* Movie I Loved and Will Regret Not Putting in My Top Five Award: Lowlife

* Non-2018 Album I Loved To Hate Rude People To While at Work: Impalers – S/T LP

* Life Changing Cinematic Discoveries of 2018: The Devils and Possession

Alex Klump

Twitter: @A2Klump

letterboxd.com/dontwearthering

I don’t think I listened to five 2018 albums so here’s my top ten 2018 movies instead:

1. Paddington 2

Paddington 2 was wire to wire my favorite movie of the year. It was the first 2018 release I saw and it was the only one I knew was perfect as I watched it. You see, I’ve learned to not trust my intial feelings on movies. It takes time and distance to really appreciate art. First Reformed & Shoplifters are fantastic movies, yet I’m still wrestling with their near perfectness. Shouldn’t it surprise me that Paddington broke that mould? It is a kids movie with well worn themes, afterall.

That little bear is just so fucking charming. And the film itself is a perfectly constructed conduit for that charm. Every beat hits its mark. The pacing is easy and assured. There’s never a false moment and it rivals The Favourite as the funniest movie of the year. So, yeah. Paddington’s warmth and whismy never needed to convince me otherwise.

2. First Reformed

3. Shoplifters

4. The Favourite

5. You Were Never Really Here

6. Eighth Grade

7. Madeline’s Madeline

8. Private Life

9. Mission Impossible: Fallout

10. Roma

Favorite scenes of 2018

* MI: Fallout bathroom fight

* the girls showing up to work high in Never Goin’ Back

* Rachel McAdams dancing around with a gun in Game Night

* A Star Is Born‘s buildup to and the performance of “Shallow”

* the last twenty minutes of Madeline’s Madeline

* Rachel Weisz throwing books at Emma Stone

* fireworks scene & beach scene in Shoplifters

Joshua Toledo Alvarez, Cinepunx / Crossed Keys

Twitter: @pogifatboy

Instagram: @joeyangel

Movies

1.The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

I’ve always been a sucker for vignette movies as well as movies by the Coen Brothers, so it’s no surprise that The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs be the first on my list of movies that I’ve loved in the year of our lord, 2018. While still embracing signature Coen Brothers tropes, this movie manages to push the boundaries of what we all feel comforted by in Coen Brothers movies, While leaning in to the scenic wild west that they explored in True Grit, we are given six separate reflections on grand and profound meditations of the human condition, all encased in a visual storytelling that is both familiar and new. Stellar performances by the star studded cast (specifically by Tom Waits and Zoe Kazan) deliver their intentions with as little fluff as is required, making each statement and inflection profound in their own right. All of these things combine to tell the vulnerable and open story of the fears and wonders that haunt us all under starry nights and on long journeys. Both wistful and at the same time severe, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs accomplishes for me what few other movies have managed to do; it brings me to an edge where I am uncomfortable and it asks me to explore the very questions that I’m afraid to ask. In a year that gave us so many movies both thought provoking and entertaining, The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs is my favorite all around movie.

2. Hereditary

3. Lowlife

4. Isle Of Dogs

5. Sorry To Bother You

Albums

1. Dark Thoughts – At Work

It’s no secret that I think of Philadelphia as the city with the best punk hardcore scene forever and ever, ad infinitum, so long as we live and and breathe, amen. To this end, my favorite record of the year comes from Philly locals, Dark Thoughts. Their first full length LP, At Work, is 12 songs of break neck Ramones inspired punk rock. It’s fast and catchy without being trite or contrived, breaching topics from the soda tax to psycho wards. For those unfamiliar, I’d urge you to seek this record out if the sound of basement singalongs and fist pumping anthemic punk rock is your thing.

2. Black Thought – Streams Of Thought Vol 1&2

3. Namatay Sa Ingay – Gera Kontra Droga

4. HIRS – Friends. Lovers. Favorites.

5. Hotel Neon – Inward

Awards:

Movies

* Best utilization of a mildly unnecessary wallet chain in a gigantic DC winter blockbuster: Aquaman

* Most Nicolas Cage movie wherein I felt that I got a fair depiction of what it must be like inside Nicolas Cage’s head: Mandy

* Movie that most caused me to clench my butt cheeks for 94 consecutive minutes due to sheer parallel embarrassment: 8th Grade

* Most shark movie without enough shark (and consequent shark joy) in it: The Meg

* Best movie that gave me enough stuff to talk to co-workers and non-rockers about for 2018: Mission: Impossible – FALLOUT

* Most unfulfilling cash grab on 80’s nostalgia: Summer of 84

Music

* Best recording that I sang on in 2018 (aka : shameless self-promotion) – “Everything Breaks” (demo) – Crossed Keys

* Recording that best captured the feeling of eating an exponentially too powerful weed cookie at New York comic con: Windhand – Eternal Return

* Best Rites of Spring tribute record in 2018: Sunstroke – Second Floor / Seven

* Best record that sounds like a British dude being real mad at you while his mate plays with a computer: Sleaford Mods – S/T

* Best record that requires listeners to wear a butt flap / battle vest to truly enjoy: Tragedy – Fury

* Most New Jersey band – Beach Rats

Rob Marvin

Twitter: @cannedricewater

Movies

First Reformed

Paul Schraeder’s remake of Bergman’s Winter Light (already one of my favorite films) may not be the best film I saw this year, but it was the most affecting. It’s hard for me to even approach it the same I would other films on this list. Exiting the theater it took every bit of my conscious energy to maintain my composure during the 15 minute walk to my car, where I then sat in the dark sobbing for the next hour. Having recently been diagnosed with PTSD partly related to close friends’ suicides, I guess this film was triggering. But having been the typical disaffected white 20-something male that related to Travis Bickle’s (mostly) quiet alienation from society, a film about an older, fairly myopic guy suffering an identity crisis overdriven by failing another lost soul that came to him for help (while also minimizing his own alcoholism, brushing off severe intestinal issues, and finding himself incapable of accepting love from the people in his life), this is the best spiritual sequel to Taxi Driver I could ask for at this point in my life. I don’t know if I would generally recommend this film, but if you’re me, it works.

Sorry To Bother You

If Beale Street Could Talk

Hereditary

Burning

Albums

Body/Head – The Switch

I generally consider noise music more a live experience than something to casually put on in the car or at home. That said, this ethereal, droning, and yeah, at times a bit grating, sophomore release from guitarists Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth) and Bill Nace (Probably like 500 bands, duos, and trios?) is just… good. I’m not great at the Pitchfork-hyphenated-LSD inspired-onomatopoeia-sound description thing. Basically, I discovered this album while delivering Indian food at 11am during my worst hangover of 2018. Honestly, I probably shouldn’t have been driving. But the amorphous low pitch droning and wooshing, and the choppy, tremola’d higher pitches (I warned you I’m not good at this) mixed with Gordon’s sparse, familiar vocals on “You Don’t Need” soothed my throbbing brain better than Tylenol ever has. Also, they’re incredible live. Albeit performing just short of 40 minutes, their sound is larger than any room, filling every corner and swallowing the audience whole. That they performed against a 1fps clip of Elliott Gould chasing Nina van Pallandt into the ocean from the climax of The Long Goodbye heightens their pleasant surreality. If that could be considered a live score, that’s actually the best film I saw this year.

Priests – Nothing Feels Natural

Beach House – 7

Of Montreal – White is Relic/Irrealis Mood

Spiritualized – And Nothing Hurt

Songs

The Smudge – “Color at Different Times of the Day”

I love the Smudge. I love all my friends and their weird music and movies, but most of them don’t produce nearly as much and with as much erratic consistency as The Smudge. I first met Billy at Indiana Noisefest 2016, an obscure noise festival in a live stock auction barn in the middle of nowhere, Indiana, where the only non-performers in attendance were me, my ex, and my friend. I’ve since occasionally checked in on Billy’s 100-odd releases a year and I think this song perfectly encapsulates what attracts me to him. Part noise, part demented half-baked children’s song, part vaporwave, part plunderphonics, but all the Smudge. Describing the Smudge’s general aesthetic is hard because he’s constantly evolving and at odds with himself and the very concept of music. He’s like an optimistic Frank Zappa recording every day with The Residents and the cast of Sesame Street. His music and influences, like his dress and any conversation with him, are boundless. Start here, but have a drink and click around and you’ll find something weird, or even delicately melodic and charming, that’ll become a part of your being and make you better for it.

Joey Breeding, Whine & Cheese

Twitter: @wooderworld @whinecheesepod

letterboxd.com/cooljoey

Movies

1. Blindspotting

This film is infused with the spirit of hip-hop and full of heightened language, a complex expression of what’s happening around us every day. It’s a perfect balance of buddy comedy and angry drama about the racial differences & struggles between POC and non-POC, gentrification, uncontrollable law enforcement, PTSD, and identity. It provokes questions without the need for answers, just closer examination. Blindspotting pulled at my heart and my brain with the sincerity and hilarity that most films think they can pull off. Unfortunately, the people that need to see this movie the most probably won’t.

2. The Favourite

3. Mandy

4. Hereditary

5. Minding The Gap

Albums

1. Mitski – Be The Cowboy

There were more films this year about horses and cowboys than there were about skateboarding – and BTC is their collective soundtrack. Skating and being a cowboy are all about exercising extreme amounts of control on one’s self, powerful within your own limits while still powerless and constantly unraveling. This record is the universal experience of being an exhausted adult which really resonated with me at this point in my life. I didn’t forget about the horses, I just know nothing about them and they scare the hell out of me. Yeehaw.

2. Hank Wood & The Hammerheads – s/t

3. Tierra Whack – Whack World

4. Fiddlehead – Springtime And Blind

5. Pusha T – Daytona

Songs

Mitski – “Nobody”

This song is playful indie-pop-disco ballad about loneliness, inadequacy, but most of all self-assurance.

Awards

* Best Wrestling Match I Saw In Person: PCO vs. Walter 3: Montreal Street Fight (IWS 7/14/18)

* Worst Movie I Watched In 2018 For The Sake Of A Podcast: The Purge: Election Year

* Best Scene In An Otherwise Simply OK Movie: Angela & Jessie going to work after accidentally taking an edible at a party, Never Goin’ Back

* Writer/Director/Actor Triple-Threat Award: Jim Cummings, Thunder Road

Nick Spacek, From & Inspired By podcast, Starburst Magazine, The Pitch

Twitter: @nuthousepunks @FromInspiredPod

Instagram: @niklausmaus

Movies

Black Panther

I feel like I should have some sort of deep thing to say about my top movie of the year, but other than the fact that the CGI is a bit distracting if you see it in 3D (because there are no other tickets available), it’s otherwise impeccable: A villain with a moral authority, rather than just a sense of self-importance, lets Black Panther climb to heights rarely seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Black characters unencumbered by disenfranchisement, women standing on equal footing with men, and a main character whose worldview is changed in a way both plausible and organic. The amount of cheering at this movie outpaced every Marvel movie thus far. It’s fun and has moral weight, which is just astonishing.

Hereditary

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Anna And The Apocalypse

The Night Comes For Us

My Friend Dahmer

Mandy

Avengers: Infinity War

Upgrade / Venom (I’m not gonna lie – these are essentially the same movie, but they’re hella fun)

Halloween

Albums

Neko Case – Hell-On

I probably played Turnstile’s Time & Space more, but that’s just because it came out first. It’s astonishing that any artist could turn out an album that’s as uplifting as this in a time such as we live in, while also acknowledging that things are bad. It’s especially amazing that Case would put out a record this strong for her seventh (!) release. It’s not even one of those “it’s pretty good, considering” albums – it’s just fucking fantastic. My wife and I drove three hours to Lincoln to see her play on the tour for Hell-On, and I have never heard cheers as loud as I did for “here’s one from the new record” as I did at that show. It’s catchy, and it’s heartbreaking, and it’s beautiful, and every time I think about it, I want to listen to it again, so that’s what I’m going to go do right now.

Merlin – The Wizard

Black Panther – The Album

Turnstile – Time & Space

Skeletonwitch – Devouring Radiant Light

Deadly Avenger – I Am Godzilla, You Are Japan

Bad Sports – Constant Stimulation

Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel

Windhand – Eternal Return

Johann Johannsson – Mandy OST

Songs

Neko Case – “Curse of the I-5 Corridor”

This is a grown-up love song. It’s about two people acknowledging that, while they care very much for one another, they might be broken in ways that could damage the other, and sometimes, you have to take a step back and not rush things along because you don’t want your shit to hurt another person. It might be painful to you – and hell, even the other person – but you recognize that you’re learning how to communicate this shit, so you tell them “Baby, I’m afraid/ But it’s not your fault,” and so you’re maybe not going to let the things you did in your youth affect this person you know now.

MGMT, “Little Dark Age”

Turnstile, “Real Thing”

Bruno Mars ft. Cardi B, “Finesse (Remix)”

Migos, “Walk It Talk It”

Beyonce & Jay-Z, “Apeshit”

Videogram & Andrew Claristidge, “The Demogorgon”

Emmaline Twist, “Desperate Measures”

Childish Gambino, “This Is America”

Oh Pep!, “Your Nail and Your Hammer”

Anna & the Apocalypse Cast, “Hollywood Ending”

Sleep, “Leagues Beneath”

Courtney Barnett, “Nameless, Faceless”

Windhand, “Halcyon”

Jon Spencer, “Do the Trashcan”

Anderson .Paak ft. Kendrick Lamar, “Tints”

Awards

* Biggest Cinematic Disappointment: Incredibles 2 – It’s fine. Basically, if this were Mr Incredible being a parent or Elastigirl getting her groove back, it’d be hella fun, but bouncing between the two lends Incredibles 2 a disjointed aspect. Plus, it robs Helen of Elastigirl’s full journey. The original saw Bob being in the driver’s seat for most of the film, but we can’t get an entire movie with Helen? That’s unfair. Her elation at getting to be a super once more should carry through to an entire feature.

The end result is a dark film which is nowhere near as much fun as it could be, and astonishingly dark with too much mean-spirited nature imbuing it. Maybe a third film will give us the balanced family blast we deserve. That said, more Jack-Jack and more fight scenes probably would’ve helped.

* Best Use of Profanity in a Film: Anna, Anna & The Apocalypse – “Shitwank.”

Liam O’Donnell, Cinepunx

Twitter: @liamrulz

Disclaimer: I have not seen many of the movies on other people’s lists or even the movies on the list of movies I want to see.

Movies

1. If Beale Street Could Talk

Barry Jenkins is some sort of savant God-man. His films have mastered the art of capturing actors in such a way that you can see an entire novel of emotion on their face. This film is beautiful and powerful and amazing. I guess you can skip it if you hate life and love and everything wonderful, but chances are if you are a human who can emote this film will bowl you over.

2. Burning

3. Support The Girls

4. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

5. You Were Never Really Here

Albums

1. Tragedy – Fury

2. Blood Orange – Negro Swan

3. Tierra Whack – Whack World

4. Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer

5. Mindforce – Excalibur

Nick Spacek

Nick Spacek writes about films scores in his monthly OST column for Starburst Magazine (http://www.starburstmagazine.com), and can be found talking about movie soundtracks via the From & Inspired By podcast (http:///www.fromandinspiredby.com). He was once a punk, but realized you can't be hardcore and use the word "adorable" as often as he does.
Nick Spacek
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