It’s been a big year for film, television and streaming. Below are our takes on what were the best, and worst, of visual media this year.
Best Actress: D’Arcy Carden, The Good Place – Carden is the unsungiest (I know that’s not a word) of unsung heroes for her part in one of the best comedies on TV. In this season’s midseason finale, where she had to play six different characters (four of which included channeling her costars), she solidified herself as one of the top talents of the year.
Worst Actress: Roseanne Barr, Roseanne – Is it really that difficult to not be racist and get your wildly successful show cancelled in 2018? Seriously.
Worst Actor: Grant Shaud, Murphy Brown – Shaud’s neurotic schtick was fun in the show’s original run (1988-1998), but now in this year’s revival, it just felt forced and dull.
Best Ensemble: This Is Us – A show like This Is Us is only as strong as its weakest link, and there are no weak links in this show’s supporting cast.
Best Storyline: Brooklyn99 – Captain Holt’s (Andre Braugher) pursuit of becoming the NYPD Commissioner in Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox then, NBC now) – This storyline led to an unresolved cliffhanger to the show’s fifth season, which also served as the impetus for a massive fan campaign to get the show un-cancelled in less than 24 hours. That’s gotta mean something.
Best Actor: Christian Bale, Vice – No actor embodied their character in a film more this year than Christian Bale. And when your character is a real person, in this case Dick Cheney, that’s no small feat.
Worst Actor: Jamie Dornan, Fifty Shades Freed – Dornan’s a decent actor, but he couldn’t possibly look more disinterested to be where he is in this movie. There are also rumors that he and co-star Dakota Johnson abhor each other and it shows.
Best Actress: Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born – It takes serious talent to have small parts in Machete Kills and Sin City 2 and then jump to being talked about in Oscars circles. Gaga brought her A+ game.
Worst Actress: Dakota Johnson, Fifty Shades Freed – See Above…
Best Ensemble: Vice – A movie about Dick Cheney but with a comedic, hyperbolic spin? Something like that would only fly in the hands of a talented cast. Vice’s supporting cast, from Amy Adams to Jesse Plemons and everyone in between, managed to pull that off.
Worst Ensemble: A Wrinkle in Time – This movie had a truly talented cast and a great director at the helm, so what could possibly go wrong? Well, something did because everybody is both over the top ridiculous and yet still somehow boring as all get out.
Best Script: Love, Simon – The best thing about the script for Love, Simon is that despite the enormity of its subject matter, it treats it as if there’s nothing new or serious about it. This Is Us’ Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker turned in a beautifully written script.
Worst Script: Acrimony – Tyler Perry’s scripts are known for their ridiculousness, but that absurdity normally works in his favor. Here, in a tale about a woman pushed to the brink by her lying, cheating, deadbeat husband, that absurdity just feels too ridiculous for its own good.
Best Film: Love, Simon – In a year that was a massive push for representation across the board, Love, Simon stood less as a monument for giving a minority something to look up to and more as a long-needed mirror for themselves. With a phenomenal cast and beautiful writing, this movie took my #1 spot early on in the year and never faltered.
Worst Film: The 15:17 to Paris – Clint Eastwood has made some hardcore propaganda movies in the past, but none so obvious than this one. I’m not sure what contributed to his decision to cast the real-life people involved in the scenario as themselves, but using non-actors here blew up in his face.
Best Show: New Amsterdam – Cheese, but damned addictive
Worst Show: The Walking Dead – It needs to die and not resurrect
Best Actor: Jensen Ackles – Supernatural – Because shut up
Best Actress: Thandie Newton – Westworld – The woman is stunningly amazing.
Best Storyline: Manifest – I love the premise of time jumps and Lost type mysteries. The acting needs to improve.
Best Ensemble: New Amsterdam – I have yet to find an annoying side character which is saying a lot.
Best Film: Black Panther – Perhaps the finest hour for Marvel films.
Worst Film: Rampage – This film was not worth the 2 hours I lost from my life
Best Actor: Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody – How this man becomes the character he portrays, I’ll never know.
Best Actress: Saoirse Ronan – Mary Queen of Scots – This young lady is having an epic career
Best Script: Black Panther – It had everything you could want, family, conflict, loss. Amazing for a superhero film.
Best Ensemble: Deadpool 2 – Ryan Reynolds is always watchable but Josh Brolin and Zazie Beetz made it better than the first.
Best Show: The Haunting of Hill House – Absolutely mind blowing. I still think about it at night. And get chills when I see anything red.
Worst Show: Lost in Space – God, I wanted to like this. It just really missed the mark.
Best Actor: John Krasinski – Jack Ryan – I finally felt like I was watching Jack Ryan from the Clancy novels.
Best Actress: Sonequa Martin-Green – Star Trek: Discovery – As the disgraced Burnham, she lights up every scene in a slow burn series.
Best Storyline: The Haunting of Hill House – It did exactly what it advertised: It haunted me.
Best Ensemble: Glow – These ladies bring hilarity and class to a mid 80’s operation that thrived on exploitation.
Best Show: Tie – Supernatural/Doctor Who – While this has been a banner year for television I’m going to have to give a nod to two of the longest running shows in television history that somehow manage to reinvent themselves, over and over, while still staying strong to their core ideals.
Worst Show: The Walking Dead – there are so many things wrong with this show that it’s hard to pick just one. What a waste of a such a talented cast.
Best Actor: Jensen Ackles – Supernatural – the fact that Ackles hasn’t been nominated and won an Emmy or Golden Globe is a damn shame and shows how the industry blatantly ignores genre actors for their less talented mainstream comrades; his range has been evident for a while but this season watching him slip seamlessly from Dean Winchester to the Archangel Michael and back has been a revelation.
Worst Actor: Norman Reedus – The Walking Dead – it’s time to admit that Norman Reedus is a terrible actor. It was easier to ignore when Daryl Dixon was actually a person and not a walking cliche but that time has long passed and Reedus’ inability to change facial expressions or show anything with his eyes is one of the main reasons TWD is the hot mess it is.
Best Actress: 3 Way Tie – Thandie Newton – Westworld ; Jodie Whittaker – Doctor Who; D’Arcy Carden – The Good Place – The one thing these three actresses have in common, despite being on drastically different shows, is their ability to shift everything about themselves from moment to moment. Whether it’s Maeve going from loving mother to warrior; The Doctor rapidly adjusting to regeneration and being a woman for the first time; or Janet literally playing every other character perfectly on The Good Place, these ladies prove that sisters are indeed doing it for themselves
Worst Actress: Emily Bett Rickards – Arrow – Much like Norman Reedus, Emily Bett Rickards has limited range. When working with a good script she can give a decent performance, unfortunately Arrow – until very recently – hasn’t had good scripts to work with. This combined with the increasingly awful characterisation for Felicity, that has somehow gotten worse with each season, pushes past what Rickards can do. Simply put she’s not skillful enough to bring nuance to such a polarizing character and it shows.
Best Ensemble: Tie – Doctor Who/The Good Place – To put it mildly neither of these shows would work without kick arse supporting cast. Doctor Who went back to its roots by going back to the dynamics of the very First Doctor’s companions and somehow made each character feel like we’ve known them for years. The Good Place deepened the characters this year and played with how they each related to other in different ways, showing how these messy benches have become so much more together than they are apart.
Bonus: the shows follow each other on Twitter and if you’re not following their feeds when the other is airing you’re missing out on some genuine hilarity.
Worst Ensemble: Arrow – I am far from an Original Team Arrow elitist but at least the cracks in the writing of the show weren’t that noticeable when they were writing for actors who were capable of actually more than one expression. Unfortunately – with the exception of the returned Katie Cassidy, the vastly improved Juliana Harkavy and the always electrifying Kirk Acevedo – the cast of this show, including its lead, are at best one note, at worst charmless and off putting. It’s become clearer and clearer that the Birds Of Prey spin off needs to happen, sooner rather than later, so that we as viewers can just cut bait.
Best Storyline: Westworld – Maeve is The Chosen One – Though the final execution wasn’t quite what it should have been the overall storyline was fantastic, with Thandie Newton shining as Maeve. Slowly realizing just how powerful she is, Maeve has to make choices on just what to do with that power. The nuance she brings to every scene as she struggles with the ethics of being able to change reality, at will, and trying to decide what’s more important: freedom or revenge – for herself and every other host in the park – is phenomenal and deserving of every accolade she can get. Frankly Newton was robbed of the Golden Globe, hopefully the SAG Awards and Emmys will do better.
Worst Storyline: Legion – Suddenly David’s a Rapist. – One of the things that Legion does well is make all of its characters morally ambiguous. None of them (except possibly the K/Carys and Ptonomey) is shown to be completely pure or good. However there’s a line and that line was firmly crossed, not by David but by Sid. We finally get the story of how she lost her virginity and it’s full of her mind raping, and actual raping, of her mother and her mother’s boyfriend respectively. This has become an ongoing problem with Marvel films and TV shows – with the exception of the Netflix MCU- wherein their female characters do terrible things and we’re supposed to ignore them while male characters get crucified for the same things, or less. On Legion David, out of nowhere, decides to sleep with Sid while they’re on the astral plane, without her consent and it’s just as gross and upsetting as it should be. It is not, however, any less gross than what Sid did, yet it’s supposed to be David’s most awful act. Instead it pretty much killed my interest in the show overall and highlighted Marvel Entertainment’s problems with writing female characters.
Best Film of 2018: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse – Have you ever watched a film and known as you were watching it that it changed everything? It makes you laugh, and the next moment makes you cry. The performances of the cast are so nuanced and varied, showing so much heart and love for the characters and the material that you’re moved beyond the telling of it? The visuals so breathtaking that you know you’ve missed something and can’t wait to see it again so you can appreciate it the second time? That is what seeing Into The Spider-Verse is like. If you haven’t seen it, what are you waiting for?
Worst Film of 2018: Peppermint – There is so much to unpack here where do I start: the racism? The poor script? Jennifer Garner’s odd and ticky performance? Honestly, just ugh. Just. Ugh.
Best Actor: Shameik Moore – Miles Morales – Into the Spider-Verse wouldn’t work, at all, if Shameik Moore didn’t infuse the character with so much sweet awkwardness that you cannot help but love him and root for him to live up to his full potential.
Worst Actor: Will Ferrell – Sherlock Holmes – Holmes and Watson – For every Elf there are 10 other movies that show that Will Ferrell should not have a career. His performance in Holmes and Watson is a prime example of why.
Best Actress: Emily Blunt – Evelyn Abbott/Mary Poppins – A Quiet Place/Mary Poppins Returns – Only Emily Blunt could turn in two such polar opposite performances within the same year…and make bathtubs the most feared and fun places to be.
Worst Actress: Jennifer Lawrence – Dominika Egorova – Red Sparrow – So boring. So one note. So dead eyed.
Best Ensemble: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse – As an actor I don’t think people realize how hard it is to cast actors for voice over roles, which is why the cast of Into The Spiderverse is so amazing. There are no throwaway roles or characters as each actor shows up all the way, with special shout out to Nic Cage giving one of the best performances of his career as Benjamin Parker aka Spider-Man Noir and Brian Tyree Henry for putting so much love into Jefferson Davis that he breaks your heart.
Best Script: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse – I’m probably going to get hate for this but, of the two, Into The Spider-Verse has the much tighter, logical and heartfelt script than Black Panther. Not as burdened with carrying mythology from 20 previous movies frees Spider-Verse to be its own thing and it rises to the challenge. It also makes me wonder what we would’ve gotten if Lord and Miller had been allowed to finish Solo unencumbered.
Best Actress: Elisabeth Moss – The Handmaid’s Tale – Moss’ turn on The Handmaid’s Tale is riveting, bringing a viciousness to June that is always just under the surface, while at the same time showing a softness in her interactions with her fellow Handmaids and children. It’s a fascinating performance that deserves all the kudos.
Best Actor: James Callis – Castlevania – As I’ve noted before, voice work is hella hard. Which is why James Callis’ work as Alucard on Castlevania stands out. Callis brings his impressive skills to bear as the horribly lonely, super powerful and strangely innocent Alucard, the half-human son of Dracula. Blessed with all of Dracula’s powers – with none of the nasty vulnerabilities – and the kindness and genius of his mother Lisa – a brilliant physician – he’s caught between his grief at his mother’s brutal murder and his father’s utterly insane revenge plot on all of humanity. That he’s also barely a teenager, and Callis manages to bring all of that through in his voice work, is amazing.
Best Show: Tie Castlevania & The Haunting of Hill House – Castlevania’s first season was fantastic but its second season raised the game, not just for the show but for all other American animated series. Much like Batman: The Animated Series, everything else will be playing catch up for years to come to touch the brilliance that Castlevania pulls off seemingly effortlessly. As for Hill House, its terrifying, sad and soulful look at grief, family and the supernatural lives up to everything you’ve heard and more.
Best Ensemble: The Haunting of Hill House – The cast of Hill House, from top to bottom, is phenomenal. Kudos to Tara Feldstein; Anne McCarthy; Chase Paris and Kellie Roy whose casting of both children and adults was on point and is the reason this show works so well.
Best Storyline: Mariah is Grooming Luke to be King – Luke Cage – I love a good plan and, I really love a good plan that is a Xanatos Gambit and Mariah Dillard’s plan to turn Luke into her replacement is one of those. Watching Luke, and everyone else, get played by Mariah – even in death – was a treat and one of the reasons Season 2 of Luke Cage was a standout.
Those are our picks for the best and worst of 2018, what are yours? Let us know in the comments and follow us @pcuncovered on Twitter and Instagram and Pop Culture Uncovered on Facebook!