What Defined 2018 For You?

Obviously, this title refers to “entertainment” and not, well, actually meaningful occurrences. Also, I sort of made a “Best Of” post but it was largely unpolished and I still had a little bit of catching up to do. Finally, I hope this post is more of an open discussion than a lecture, which blogging seems to often be. Therefore…just kidding, that’s enough of that.

What were your favorites of 2018?

Movies

  1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
    • Rarely anymore do I see films more than once or even twice in theaters (honestly, more than zero as well). So, when I got out of Spider-Verse for the third time and still loved every moment of it, I knew that it had squeezed its way to the top of my list.
  2. Paddington 2
    • People seem to sleep on this film, and that is nothing short of a tragedy. If there’s a single film I’ve seen in the past decade that offers start-to-finish entertainment, genuine laughs, beautiful characters, and a heartwarming ending that will leave you in tears, it’s Paddington 2. For people who simply see the title and are turned away…turn back around and sit your butt down to watch this. You’re very welcome 🙂
  3. Searching |
    • One element that I judge films most harshly on is how they make me feel. If I cry at all, that’s a huge point towards the quality of the entire project. If I cry throughout, however, then a film has really impacted me in ways that only an impressive few ever have and ever will. Searching is that film.
  4. Upgrade
    • Leigh Whannel and James Wan made the original Saw together, and while Wan has had success making The Conjuring movies, Furious 7, Aquaman, and shared credit with Whannel for Insidious franchise, Whannel really hasn’t had the project to launch him to the forefront of many directing shortlists. Upgrade I hope does that because this film truly is remarkable.
  5. Avengers: Infinity War
    • I really try hard to circumvent my biases for superhero movies when making end-of-the-year lists because the only films I make great efforts to go out of my way to see are such films. Avengers Infinity War was more than I could have hoped it would ever be; with only the Vision/ Scarlett Witch romance plot dragging the film down, there’s no part of the plot that feels the least bit worn out or underwhelming. This, like The Dark Knight before it, will go down as one of the defining films of a genre.

Games

  1. Red Dead Redemption II
    • I put 200 hours into this game in order to get almost all of the single-player trophies, and reach the 100% in-game statistic. 200 hours in any other game would make me never want to touch it again but in Red Dead Redemption II, I still feel as though I have so much more exploring to do. I know the map like the back of my hand but the random encounters, animals you’ll come across, dynamic weather, and ways to explore just make every moment feel fresh.
  2. God of War
    • Before June of this year, I had never played a God of War game, and I never really felt as though I was missing out. It seemed like a third-person platform-y title that I didn’t feel the need to experience. I’m glad I played through them because they offered decent-enough times but this new game is simply breathtaking. The single-shot style, gritty aesthetic, captivating narrative, and Nordic mythology is just perfect. I put around 56 hours into this game, and just wish it offered more to do.
  3. Marvel’s Spider-Man
    • How could this not be on somebody’s list? Talk about unabashed joyfulness, swinging along the skyline in the most iconic American city in one of the most iconic outfits is an unmatched gaming mechanic. On top of that, this game feels unique even though an idea like this has been run into the ground; for me, the story itself is what sets it apart from all of the rest. I just can’t wait to see more.
  4. Far Cry 5
    • If you read my Far Cry series review/retrospective, you’ll know how highly I regard this franchise as well as what I believe works best in these games. When a Far Cry game is self-aware, balances fun and grit, and delivers on a massive open-world with a tightly-wound narrative, you’re looking at some of the best gaming experiences ever. This game does just that– and it does it in spades.
  5. Celeste
    • A lot of the times on some of these end-of-the-year lists, a title will pop up that you’ve never heard of. It’s easy to blow it off and say “Hey I’ve played 4/5, good enough for me.” I can’t recommend Celeste highly enough; if you want a gaming experience that is equally challenging as rewarding, intense as inspirational, and replayable as possible then look no further. This is the game that made me want to play more indies, and I’ve played about 25 more since then.

Books

  1. A Romantic Comedy by Blake Carson Schwarz
    • So, I didn’t read any books this year but I published my own short story on Amazon! Shameless plug, I know. Anyways, hope you enjoy it:)

Songs

  1. “The Pact” – Slaves
    • I almost changed this category to “Albums” just so that I could put more Slaves songs on this list, but I decided to keep it the way it was and pick this song to represent the rest of them. “The Pact” is a song that I love for many reasons, the most important reason being that I love how it sounds. The soft intro, slow buildup, and heartbreaking climax offers an experience that only the best songs can; touring you through emotions not only from instrumentation but lyricism as well. As the closing track to their newest studio record, “The Pact” is a song that promises the fans and bandmates of Jonny Craig that he’ll get better, and leave his drug addictions behind him once and for all.
  2. “Ghost” – Ryan Caraveo
    • Songs about feeling lonely and misunderstood are a dime a dozen these days, but it’s hard to ignore a smooth beat, great voice, and poetic lyrics as this song offers. It’s almost been a year since I first heard this song but I still find myself humming its lines because they’re so well-written and meaningful. Not only that, but even if you were completely unaware of the story Caraveo is telling, you could still nod your head and tap your foot from beginning to end. Truly a great and catchy track.
  3. “Thank God It’s Friday” – Ice Nine Kills
    • Ice Nine Kills is a band that I’ve cherished for years (excluding the awkward handshake Spencer Charnas and I had at Warped Tour a few years back), and when I realized they were making an entire album inspired by classic horror movies, I became even more impressed with them. I mean, their name is a reference to Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s work, and they love movies– sounds like this blog wrapped up into a band. Anyways, this song is just fantastic. They know how to make songs that simply must be listened to at max volume; the catchiest, most head-bang-iest songs ever and this is one of their best. 100% badass and incredible.
  4. “Sunseeker” – In Vice Versa
    • This is a song that came up on my Discover Weekly back in March or so, and I had to listen to it a few times to even decide if I liked it or not. Over the past 10 months, it has come to be one of my favorite songs (obviously) of the last year. It’s so unique that at first seems offputting, but you listen to the story it tells, study the lyrics it presents, and pay attention to the emotions that run through you, there’s really nothing like this song in terms of what it offers the listener. The former half of the song is completely different than the latter, but their juxtaposition only strengthens each of them in terms of lyrics and aesthetic.
  5. “See Through Me” – Orbit Culture
    • I had this song on repeat for the last two weeks of 2018 and still listen to it often in the New Year. I’ve shown friends and family this track and just can’t get enough of it. It’s mellow and melancholy while being empowering and inspirational; it’s like two songs in one. Literally, there are like two songs here. An average artist would end this song around the four and a half minute mark as it’s climax and feels like it would end there. However, Orbit Culture brings it back for the most beautiful sections of the song and (hands-down) the most epic finale in a song I’ve heard in a very, very long time. This is anthemic and had I heard this earlier in the year, I’d feel more comfortable putting it higher on this list.

TV Shows

  1. The Haunting of Hill House
    • One week before this show popped up on Netflix, I was thinking how much I wanted a good horror TV show. I heard that Scream and Slasher were okay, but I was looking for something more paranormal (because that’s the only thing I find remotely frightening). And then, like a prayer being answered, The Haunting of Hill House found it’s way into my life and exceeded any possible expectation I could have laid before it. Mike Flanagan is pretty much the king of horror at the moment, and this is just the cherry on top of his already monumental filmography.
  2. Love, Season 3
    • The reason I got into this show was that my (then) girlfriend said the relationship in it reminded her of us. I was the sweet, funny, geeky dude and she was the disaster-ridden monster of a human being that totally ruins his life (totally kidding). But, I kept watching it because it was genuinely sweet and original; Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust make the most precious forbidden-love sort of characters, but their forbidden love is contemporary, being because the world gets in their way more than anything else. It’s heartbreaking, heartwarming, memorable, and beautiful. I’m so sad it has been canceled but it was just long enough to leave an impact without having a chance to overstay it’s welcome.
  3. Others…
    • I’m going to save us the time: I watched four 2018 television seasons and the last two on my list probably wouldn’t be if I had seen more than 5 seasons. The New Girl final season was entertaining and lovely, but I honestly can’t remember much about it at all and it sort of just had that “last season” feel to it that every FRIENDS-esque show falls into. And Riverdale Season 2 was relentlessly entertaining but I feel like it’s something I only really enjoy while watching but love to rip on in retrospect. I started Big Mouth, Maniac, and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina but none of them grabbed me, so I bailed in order to focus on other 2018 media.

Anyway, comment below what your favorites were! Was 2018 surprising, or disappointing for you, and in what media? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Published by Blake Carson Schwarz

Indiana University graduate in Media and Creative Writing. I love to write my own stories as well as experience the work of others. On this site, I post reviews, essays, and other fun posts that I hope you have as much fun reading and I have writing. Please share any comments you have, I'd be happy to hear what you think! *Never a critic, always a fan*

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