The 2018 Year End List Episode (Ep. 7 of Out of Focus)

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Yes there are two weeks left in the year, but who wants to do a year end list episode at the beginning of 2019? Once the new year starts I never really have too much interest in the goings on of yesteryear, so going over the bulk of what is pretty much an entire year seemed appropriate.

You can listen to the latest episode of Out of Focus on your favorite podcast app or Anchor!

That all said, the whole point of having a website with my name on it, as well as a podcast hosted by the same name is that I don’t have to explain myself. I suppose it is my respect for my small audience that keeps me making sure that I assure you that episodes are on the horizon. Since this is a long-term project, however, I do appreciate feedback so I can make it enjoyable to listeners and perspective listeners alike. 

While yes, I call this a "year end list episode”, we didn’t go into “top tens” or anything so arduous. A more apt term for this “year end list episode” would be “our favorite things episode”. I would say it was more in a Oprahtic (meaning in the style of Oprah, a term that I’m sure will be used my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, much like Dickensian or Socratic or Shakespearean) style then a ranking of anything. 

We talked about our favorite experiences of the year, which would in some form or another include our cross country road trip, which I’ve gone on about at length already. Then we talked about things we’ve learned throughout the year, which would include the meaty topic of “loving the process” (which I believe I’ve gone on at length about in one form or another as well), as well as the idea of not being the victim of your life. Of course after some philosophical talk, we took the natural segway into our favorite movies and tv shows:

Anna’s favorite movie of the year was Annihilation, the weird semi-book-based film starring Natalie Portman. It was a hypnotizing movie for sure, but not one for mass audiences. I believe one review from a fellow in our theater was, “What the hell just happened?” And that basically sums it up. If you are predisposed to like stranger sci-fi films, then you’ll probably like this. If you’re one to think a movie like Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom is too weird for you, (*cough* Mom *cough*) then stay far away. 

The Haunting of Hill House has the honor of being my wife’s current TV obsession. If you see her on the street, just ask her about this show and she’ll go on about how it’s the greatest show of our generation and not since Citizen Kane has world of cinema reached such heights. 

Since Anna’s not here right now, that’s about all the airtime she gets on this post. Now, it’s time for me to self-indulge with my full Year End List. That’s right, you’re getting some exclusive content that you can’t get anywhere but willmalone.com

My Top Five Movies of 2018:

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A Star is Born- I’m a sucker for anything Bradley Cooper makes, including that kinda crappy chef movie, Burnt. He’s a jack of all trades, master of all, and of course his first directorial debut would be a truly great film. While this movie lost me in the third act, I loved it for the music, the cinematography, and the chemistry of Cooper and Gaga. 

Avengers: Infinity War- Honestly, in terms of craft, this film and Star is Born are really neck and neck. That sounds crazy, but hear me out: Never have we seen a film with this many stars, and I mean, stars, that was not only interesting and entertaining, but coherent. As I scan the annals of movie history with my mind, I don’t believe a movie this big has ever been created before. The fact that it totally works as a film and the first half of a TV series finale is something that really only shows up once a generation. I was going to try and resist  Empire Strikes Back comparisons, but it’s the only movie that can even come close to the scale and structure of Infinity War. This movie also required 10 years of patience and character development, which goes against the nature of Hollywood itself. It has obviously paid off. 

Mission Impossible: Fallout- Somehow, this slipped my mind during the podcast. I don’t know how, because this movie has done things that no other movie has ever done, and Tom Cruise wants you to know it. The stunts are real, satisfying, and absolutely incredible to look at. The plot makes almost no sense, but that’s okay, because you’re having too much fun to notice.

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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs- The latest Coen Brothers film is actually six films, short films, actually. It’s a series of vignettes with an eclectic cast of characters that each have something to say. It’s hard to describe, so you’ll just have to watch it. It pushes against themes we’ve come to love and accept in westerns in intensely clever ways. A movie like this can only exist in the Netflix era, in fact, it’s tough to even think of it as a standard film. 

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Creed II- As a sequel to Creed and Rocky IV, you wouldn’t think that this film would work. That’s kind of the story of Rocky movies: movies that shouldn’t work, but do, despite there being now 8 films in the Rocky Cinematic Universe. While it wasn’t made with Ryan Coogler’s deft hand like the first Creed, the story it tells is an interesting expansion of the events of Rocky IV. Turns out, Ivan Drago’s life has been pretty terrible since Rocky beat him, and that’s really the best story in Creed II. Overall, it lacks the style of its predecessor, and the music isn’t even as good, but the story is just interesting enough to work.


Honorable Mentions:

Crazy Rich Asians (a incredibly fun re-definition of the romantic comedy)

Ant Man and the Wasp (a light, enjoyable romp that’s a breath of fresh air after watching “The Decimation)

Black Panther (a little overrated, but Michael B Jordan steals the show)

Isle of Dogs (one of Wes Anderson’s best)

Game Night (hilarious, unexpected, and really fun)

Blockers (reminds me of the crude films of old, like Superbad)

The Quiet Place (a little overrated as well, but very Shyamalan-ian and inventive. I’m a firm believer that Emily Blunt is one of the greatest actors today) 

Had to get that out of my system. Now to photography-related news: The Will Malone Photography relaunch is upon us. Over the next couple weeks, I’m relaunching my business and I have some exciting announcements. I’m also coming to the end of this year’s 365 Project, 365 Strikes Again! (#365strikesagain on Instagram), which will probably be my last proper 365 project for a while. I also have quite a bit of client editing to do, so the rest of 2018 should be pretty crammed. 

In the meantime, my wife and I’s annual Christmas Carol podcast, You, Me, and Carol, will be out on Christmas Eve as usual. This year we watched The Man Who Invented Christmas, which was very enjoyable and I highly recommend you all watch it (especially if you’re going to listen to the podcast). You can find the podcast on iTunes in it’s own feed. I’m planning to also release it in the Out of Focus feed this year as well, so you will be able to listen to it there. 

You can follow the last couple weeks of my year long photo project on Instagram ( @willmalone), and stay tuned for some announcements and promotions I’m doing with the re-launch of Will Malone Photography!