NGN’s Best of 2018: TV, Movies, and More

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

As 2018 draws to a close, it’s time once again to highlight the best of pop culture from this year. In previous years, I’ve stuck to television, but one of my goals for 2018 was to expose myself to more of a variety of media, so I watched more movies and read more books than I have in the past. That, coupled with a slight dip in the amount (and, frankly, the quality) of TV I watched this year inspired me to expand my year in review post to include movies, books, and sports in addition to television. I also hope this inspires you to share all of you favorite media from 2018, because one of the best things about these posts over the years has been all the wonderful recommendations I’ve been given in the comments. (I never would have fallen in love with The Americans without my NGN Family championing it in these posts years ago.)

Looking back on this year in media, it’s no surprise that so many of my favorite things revolved around female characters. The books, movies, and TV I loved this year almost unanimously dealt with women learning to define themselves on their own terms as brave, strong, and—most importantly—kind people. The media I gravitated toward this year often celebrated a kind of radical goodness—a message of light pushing back against the darkness, of love surviving even the most painful things life can throw at us, and of hope existing in that quiet corner of our souls that allows us to keep getting up when everything around us seems determined to keep us pinned down. This year in media taught me that we all have choices to make and those choices determine who we are. And when we choose to believe in ourselves and our capacity to love—that’s when we become our best selves. That’s the message I’m taking into 2019, and what an empowering message it is.

Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at my favorite television, movies, and more in 2018!

Television

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Source: spoilertv.com

Best Show (Drama): The Americans
The Americans changed me in ways I never could have expected when I first started watching it. It changed me as a writer; it changed me as a TV viewer. It forced me to look more closely and think more deeply about the media I consumed, and it challenged me every week to find the words to talk about its brilliance with others. Although I was sad to see it end this year, I couldn’t have asked for a better final season for what I consider the best show I’ve ever watched. The Americans was always a show about marriage and family above everything else, and this final season reinforced that in the most surprising and impressive ways imaginable as it built to a finale that was all about letting your children leave you behind as they grow. From “Don’t Dream It’s Over” to “With or Without You,” this season took us on a journey of self-definition for nearly every character that ended in a way I don’t think anyone expected. Along the way, it gave us heart-stopping chase scenes, romantic axe mutilations, line dancing, and a moment that will go down in TV history simply as “the parking garage scene.” With everyone in the cast turning in top-notch performances and masterful moments of silence balanced by lines that cut like a dagger (“You’re a whore!”), The Americans turned in one of television’s most complex and unique final seasons by staying true to itself until the very end.

Best Show (Comedy): The Good Place
The Good Place has become my TV Happy Place. It’s given us not just one of the most creative concepts in TV history, but it’s also given us one of the most hopeful messages on television at a time when hope is desperately needed. This year, The Good Place became a show about what it means to be “good,” and what it’s taught us all is that good people don’t always do everything right but they keep trying anyway. Goodness isn’t about scoring points; it’s about helping others without the promise of anything in return. It’s about creating a family of people who help you become the best version of yourself—even when that family consists of an Arizona dirtbag, an anxiety-riddled ethics professor, a beautiful narcissist, the dumbest person alive, a Janet, and an actual demon. The laughs come fast and furious on this show, and it’s forever changed the way we all think of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but that’s not what makes it so special. It’s brilliance lies in its heart—in its belief in telling a story about what we owe to each other and how trying to answer that question helps us create our own Good Place wherever we are.

Best Moment (Drama): “Home” (Pose)
Pose was the best new show of 2018, and no scene better exemplifies why it’s so special than this moment of Blanca and Pray Tell singing the classic song “Home” from The Wiz in a New York City AIDS ward in the 1980s. Blanca’s bravery in facing what she knows will be her future as an HIV-positive woman at this time is reason enough to celebrate this scene, but it becomes even more beautiful when she falters upon seeing a patient who hits too close to home. It’s at that moment when Pray Tell sees his friend struggling and does what so many of the characters on this show do for each other: He stands with her and lets his voice sing out when she can’t find hers. Watching these two HIV-positive characters (one a gay man and one a trans woman) find joy, love, and light amid the darkness of the time is unlike anything that’s ever been seen on TV before, but it would have been the best moment of the year even without its groundbreaking nature. It was a moment about the power of art to spread joy in dark times and the power of friendship to lift us up when we can’t continue on our own. And the fact that it features the stunning voices of Mj Rodriguez and Billy Porter certainly doesn’t hurt.

Best Moment (Comedy): “Don’t Kidnap” (GLOW)
This is another musical moment from a show set in the 1980s, but it couldn’t be more different from the one on Pose. I loved this scene because of the sheer absurdity of it; it’s a piece of comedic genius, and I don’t think a week has gone by that I haven’t watched it at least once when I needed a laugh. GLOW is a true ensemble show, and this moment highlights that ensemble in the most ridiculous way possible. The entire show-within-a-show episode was a creative risk that paid off, but this was the highlight of that gamble. The parody of “We Are the World” is satire at its best (and the closing shot of how people can order their own copy was very nostalgic for this 90s kid), but what made this moment work was the performances. Every single member of the cast fully committed to every hilarious line (“Get a cat if you’re lonely!”), Betty Gilpin’s facial expressions showed why she should win every award for her work as Debbie/Liberty Belle, and watching all of the cast clearly have so much fun created a contagious sense of joy unlike anything else I experienced as a TV viewer this year.

Best Performance (Drama): Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings (The Americans)
I’ve written so many words on the brilliance of Russell’s work on The Americans this season, and I think I said it best in my (sadly unsuccessful) push for her to get an Emmy: “Russell never asked you to like Elizabeth with her performance, but in this last season, she made it impossible for you not to feel for her.” Russell had one of the most thankless jobs on television—playing the ultimate “unlikeable” female lead—and I will continue to argue that ingrained sexist attitudes against those kinds of characters kept her from getting the recognition she deserved. Because how else can you explain her lack of major awards for the kind of performance that is so physical, so uncompromising, and so brutally honest that you feel every beat of it—every shaking hand and hunched shoulder and ragged gasp and hand against a train window—in your gut? Russell’s lack of vanity and her determination to make Elizabeth feel real rather than relatable was on full display in the show’s final season as she was pushed to her breaking point—and beyond it. Elizabeth Jennings should go down in TV history as one of the most complex and compelling female characters ever, and so much of the credit for that should go to the woman who brought her strength, her vulnerability, her brutality, and her beauty to life every week.

Best Performance (Comedy): D’Arcy Carden as Janet (The Good Place)
If Carden doesn’t win an Emmy for “Janets,” there is no justice in the world. But even before that phenomenal showcase of her talents, she was still turning in the most consistently funny and endearing work on television. Her line delivery is a masterclass in committing to a character, and that was used to its fullest effect in “Janets.” Her take on each of the vocal patterns and mannerisms of the humans was the single most impressive acting work I’ve seen on television this year. For that episode to work—and it worked like little else I saw in 2018—Carden needed to allow us to see each “Janet” as the human hiding behind her face, and she did that through performances that could have been sheer mimicry but instead captured the essence of each character and each actor to allow us to emotionally connect with each version of her as an individual. It was the single best acting showcase of the year, and it gets better with every viewing.

Best Episode: “START” (The Americans)
“The Americans never lost sight of the fact that it was a show about human beings. It was a show about marriage, family, and friendships—and that’s what mattered in the end. It stayed true to its deeply personal sense of tragedy and tentative hope and, in doing so, created one of the most unique and deeply moving series finales of all time.” I can’t say it any better today than I said it months ago in my deep dive into this episode. “START” was unexpected from beginning to end, but its surprises came from staying true to the ethos of this show rather than straying from that ethos to go out with a bang. This was an episode filled with moments I’ll never forget—from the horrible gasp Keri Russell gave to start it off to the garage scene and the perfectly painful moment we learn Paige’s fate the second Bono starts to wail in “With or Without You.” And each of those moments contributed to a story that was less of a spy thriller and more of a story about parents coming to discover that their children are no longer children, which felt right for a show that always prioritized character development over action. The quiet tragedy of this episode lingers long after you’ve finished watching it; I know it will stay with me into 2019 and beyond.

Best Relationship: Eleanor and Chidi (The Good Place)
Who would have guessed that a show about people living in hell would give us one of the greatest love stories on television? I never could have imagined in the early days of The Good Place that it was actually going to become what we in the fanfiction world call a “soulmate AU.” But that’s exactly what it is. Watching Chidi and Eleanor find each other in every version of their story—no matter how people have tried to separate them—is nothing short of stunningly romantic. If even demons can’t keep you from falling in love, you know what you’ve got is pretty special. But even more than their ability to rebuild their relationship in every reboot, what makes Chidi and Eleanor’s story so inspiring is that it’s a story of two people who help each other grow into better versions of themselves. This season, they helped each other remember who they are when they felt lost, and that’s all anyone can ask of their soulmate. (Well, that and the kind of kiss that makes you say “Hot dog!”)

Most Anticipated Show of 2019: Fosse/Verdon
I feel like Fosse/Verdon was made just for me. A show based on the life of my favorite choreographer, inspired by my favorite nonfiction book ever (Sam Wasson’s Fosse), and created by people I admire more than pretty much anyone else (the Cabinet behind Hamilton)—what’s not to love? When I read Fosse, the thing that stuck with me the most was how tragic the love story between Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon was, as well as what a genuinely loving and good person Gwen Verdon seemed to be. With that in mind, I cannot wait to see how their story is adapted for the small screen. I already know the dancing is going to be perfect, but it’s the relationship I’m most excited to see—and to write about. That’s right: I’ll be covering every episode of this show here at NGN in Spring 2019!

Movies

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Best Film: A Star Is Born
If you’ve been around NGN for any length of time, you know there’s one truth I’ve always subscribed to: Sincerity will get you everywhere with me. And A Star Is Born appealed to that part of my heart in a way no film has done in a very long time. My love for Bradley Cooper is long-lasting and well-documented, but even I was surprised by the vulnerability of both his performance and his directorial style. His choice to focus so much of the film on his characters’ eyes—from the first meeting of Ally and Jack to that devastating shot of Bobby reversing the car and that stunning final look at Ally—lent an intimacy to this story that grabbed my heart never let it go. This movie worked as well as it did because it never lost sight of the fact that it was a love story, and what a beautiful love story it was. Cooper’s chemistry with Lady Gaga was like lightning in a bottle—filled with an affection and awe that can’t be faked. With moments of pure movie magic (“La Vie En Rose,” “Shallow,” “I’ll Never Love Again”) coupled with moments of devastation (the Grammys, Charlie the dog!), this is the kind of moviegoing experience that somehow manages to be both cinematic in scope and personal in emotional connection, and it left me inspired, moved, and in desperate need of better waterproof mascara.

Best Performance: Lady Gaga as Ally (A Star Is Born)
It’s not easy to play a good person. There’s a tendency to make “goodness” one-dimensional, to shrink into the background and to let darker characters sear themselves into the audience’s memory. But somehow Lady Gaga makes Ally memorable, powerful, and above all else, genuinely good. There’s a warmth to Ally that seems to seep out of Gaga’s pores, and every bit of her performance seems to come from an honest place. Her eyes are the heart of the movie, and when you get one look at them, it’s easy to see why Cooper chose to film the movie with that focus. You can’t fake a performance when the camera is that intimate with your eyes. Gaga is rightly getting praised for the way she portrayed Ally’s initial nerves blossoming into fierce firepower during “Shallow,” but I also think she’s just as brilliant in the later moments in the film when she’s asked to show how hard it is to love an addict who hates himself. (Her work in the Grammys scene is so understated but so realistically filled with panic that it makes me physically uncomfortable thinking about it.) I’ve always admired Lady Gaga as a musician and an activist, but now I think she’s also one of the most natural actors I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in a film debut.

Biggest Surprise: Black Panther
When I went to the theater to see Black Panther, I expected it to be like any other Marvel movie. So imagine my surprise when it was revealed to be so much more. It’s a story about what it takes to be a leader, what it means to celebrate your identity, and what it is to discover your place in the world. The depth of this film took my breath away, and the attention to detail created a world-building experience unlike any other in a superhero film. I wanted to stay in Wakanda long after the movie ended, partly because of the atmosphere and partly because I wanted to spend more time with the people who inhabited it. Shuri, Okoye, M’Baku, and Nakia all joined T’Challa as memorable members of the MCU, and Michael B. Jordan’s work as Erik Killmonger might top even the great Tom Hiddleston’s performance as Loki as the best villainous turn in this universe. Jordan’s ability to add nuance and layers to this character made him a truly tragic figure, and it was one of my favorite performances of the year in my favorite superhero film.

Most Entertaining Moment: “Super Trouper” (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again)
Sometimes you go to the movies just because you want to feel good, and nothing in film made me feel better than the finale of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. The cross-generational interaction, the Meryl appearance, the Cher…It all combined to create a joyful celebration of music, dancing, friendship, and family. The cast looked like they’d never had more fun in their lives, and I carried that joy with me for a long time after leaving the theater, which is all you can ask for from a film like this one.

Most Heartbreaking Moment: “I don’t want to go…” (Avengers: Infinity War)
I cried a lot during A Star Is Born, but I cried the hardest during the moment in Infinity War when Peter Parker fades away. Tom Holland’s delivery of “I don’t feel so good…” took a moment we all knew was going to be sad and made it devastating by making it feel so real. And then when he started falling into Tony Stark’s arms, repeating that he didn’t want to go, I was an absolute wreck. (The kind of wreck where my sister had to tell me to get it together because people were staring at me.) Tony and Peter’s relationship is one of the most believable and warm ones in the MCU, and that familial chemistry between Holland and Robert Downey Jr. was used to heartbreaking effect in that moment. I cried for Peter, the kid who just wanted to help but suddenly had to face the reality of his own death, and I cried for Tony, losing the closest thing he has to a son and being left alone on an alien planet. And if you’re crying now, welcome to my world every time I think about this moment.

Most Anticipated Film of 2019: Star Wars: Episode IX
In case you’re new here, I love Star Wars. A LOT. And I loved The Last Jedi. A LOT. I’m so excited to see how this story wraps up and what’s in store for Finn, Rey, Poe, Rose, and yes, even Ben Solo. I’m waiting with bated breath to see how they handle Leia’s fate and what J.J. Abrams does with Rian Johnson’s twists. And I’m anticipating a movie that will take all of my theories and expectations and gleefully smash them, giving me a story I never could have expected but will almost certainly love. From the moment the trailer drops to the moment the film is released—and beyond—I will be insufferably nerdy about it, and I can’t wait.

Everything Else

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Source: JAMIE SQUIRE / GETTY IMAGES

Best Fiction Book: Leia, Princess of Alderaan (Claudia Gray)
Technically, this book came out in 2017, but I read it in 2018, and it was the best piece of fiction I read this year. If you love Star Wars, read this book. If you love YA novels, read this book. If you love stories of women learning to discover who they’re meant to be, read this book. It’s a powerful story of young womanhood, first love, friendship, and self-definition all told in a universe we know and love. It will show you new depth to characters like Amilyn Holdo and the Organas, and it will make you love Leia even more, which I didn’t think was possible. This is an essential piece of Star Wars mythology, and it’s the kind of backstory tale that does what Solo tried to do, but a million times more successfully.

Best Nonfiction Book: Becoming (Michelle Obama)
Just when you think you can’t miss the Obamas more, Michelle Obama comes out with a memoir that’s so honest, so relatable, and so beautiful that you find yourself crying at your desk while reading it. Becoming is so much more than a political memoir; it’s a story of a woman coming into her own and figuring out how all the events of her life have helped her become the woman she is today. And in telling that universal story of self-discovery, she connects her story to all our stories, which is something she and her husband have always done so well. Becoming is funny, heartbreaking, romantic, and deeply hopeful. It was the perfect book for me to read at the end of this year because it made me feel optimistic about the future in a way that I haven’t felt in a long time—and in a way that only Michelle Obama can.

Best Album: A Star Is Born Soundtrack
As someone who often gravitates toward pop music but has a soft spot for singer-songwriters, the soundtrack for A Star Is Born is the best of both worlds for me. From the memorable melody of “Shallow” to the power of “I’ll Never Love Again” and all the big ballads (“Always Remember Us This Way”—my favorite) and country twang (“Maybe It’s Time”) in between, this soundtrack is a musical journey that doesn’t really have a low point. I even like the music from Ally’s pop phase. (“Why Did You Do That?” is a genuinely entertaining pop song. Fight me.) The inclusion of dialogue from the film on the soundtrack makes this an immersive listening experience, and when you can’t go the movies every day to cry over Ally and Jack, being able to do it in your car while listening to the soundtrack is the next best thing.

Best Sports Moment: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir Win Ice Dance Gold at the Olympics
Sometimes the best moments on TV aren’t scripted, and that’s certainly the case with Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s gold medal free dance at the Winter Olympics. No matter what you think about their “are they/aren’t they?” relationship, there’s something magical about watching two people who genuinely care about each other tell a story that means something to them and achieve a dream along the way. This was the most romantic, most exciting, and most satisfying thing I watched this year, and it was the perfect reminder that happy endings really do exist.

Now it’s your turn, fellow nerds! I want to hear all about your favorite television, movies, and more from 2018! (And of course, check out all the wonderful 2018 wrap-up posts over at TVexamined and Marvelous Geek Circles. As always, Heather and Giss were on fire with their year-end content!) 

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12 thoughts on “NGN’s Best of 2018: TV, Movies, and More

  1. I love how you chose to do this post this year!

    THAT INFINITY WAR MOMENT IS GOING TO RUIN ME FOREVER. I love Peter and Tony so much individually and their father-son/mentor-mentee/whatever you want to call it dynamic. Then combine it with Tom and RDJ’s chemistry and I was done. Peter is just a kid and he was scared (and it reminded me a lot of Buffy in the s1 finale when she tells Giles that she was 16 years old and didn’t want to die) and now Tony is now actually the one left standing when everyone else is dead and I have a lot of feelings.

    I also really love everything you wrote about the “Home” scene in Pose. This show was such a beautiful gift and you perfectly captured what made it so special.

    • I knew you’d appreciate my choice of that Infinity War moment! 😉 It was one of those things that would have been sad no matter who the actors were, but the chemistry between them made it a billion times worse. And now I just want to keep imagining the joy of their reunion because PETER IS GOING TO BE FINE. IF I SAY IT ENOUGH IT WILL BE THE TRUTH.

  2. I realized I had more movie things to talk about since I watched more of them than usual for me this year.

    My biggest surprise of the year was Ant-Man and the Wasp. I had fortunately gotten into Marvel fic earlier that month so I had some frame of reference for the movie but I wasn’t really excited when it was picked as our office movie field trip. Then Paul Rudd was on screen for about 5 minutes and I was completely charmed. He’s so good as Scott and I wasn’t expecting it. He was cute with his daughter, Randall Park’s character’s general annoyance with him was terrific, Hope was obviously incredible, and I got to fangirl over Hannah John-Kamen more which is always a plus. It was fun in a way I wasn’t expecting and I loved it.

    I think my favorite movie of the year had to be Ocean’s 8. I love a good heist story and there were SO MANY amazing ladies in it. The press tour was incredible and I just wanted to watch them all hang out and steal things forever. And of course, I need a sequel so Debbie and Lou can be canon because they’re clearly into each other 😉

    • I still need to see Ant-Man and the Wasp! I asked for it for Christmas but didn’t get it, so it looks like I know what one of my gift cards will be used for. 😉 Paul Rudd is a gift to humanity, and I just want him to spread his sunshine in every movie.

      And you know I’m with you on wanting an Ocean’s 8 sequel where Debbie and Lou are shown to be the couple we all know they are. 😉

    • I also really enjoyed Ant-Man and the Wasp and think it was better than the first installment. I think my favorite part is the non-traditional family dynamic between Scott and his ex-wife. The first Ant-Man had more of a cliched dynamic between Scott and his ex-wife’s new beau but its great to see it evolved here into something more healthy and supportive. As someone who grew up with 3 parents I always appreciate when I see that reflected in media as not being a bad thing.

  3. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. I love the approach you took because I agree, TV this year was great, but it was lacking, which I imagine you noticed when I didn’t have the yearly number of moments. But this is so perfect because so many of these are highlights I want to scream about from the rooftops.

    As per usual, your means of writing about The Americans never fails to floor me and what you said about Keri Russell not intending for Elizabeth to be likable but real may have just broken me. That’s it right there. That’s what’s made her so noteworthy as a performer. And D’Arcy Carden my goodness, I’m obsessed. I still can’t believe it took me so long to watch The Good Place because I now want to constantly rewatch it. Chidi and Eleanor own me.

    And A Star is Born. Oh God, where do I even begin. You said it best some parts of that movie make me physically uncomfortable to think about, which is such a great showcase of how well it did in telling a real, thought-provoking love story. I don’t think I’ll be done talking about Bradley Cooper’s directing for a while, if he’s not nominated, we riot.

    THAT MAMMA MIA SUPER TROUPER SCENE. I have never in my life wanted to be a part of a scene more. Whatever price they had us pay to be extras in that scene, I would’ve been paid it. (Goes to listen to it right away.)

    But my ultimate bone to pick with you comes from the fact that you HAD to talk about THAT scene from Infinity War. Marvel’s made me cry heavily a few times before, (cough, anything related to Steve and Peggy.) but I don’t think anything could’ve prepared me for the weight of Peter Parker’s “death”. And I think knowing full well that he’s coming back made that scene bearable, but even with that, my chest was physically aching. RDJ and Tom Holland were just, indescribably remarkable in that scene. You felt every ounce of the pain, the fear, the heartache, and I don’t think it’ll ever be easy watching that scene even after Endgame releases. I can’t even talk about it without choking up because we know that this will break Tony so badly and ugh, the genuine fear of a kid not being ready to die is something that I wish never existed in this world. It’s so hard to even watch in the fictional realm.

    This was an excellent list, you wrapped up the year up beautifully and I loved reading all your movie thoughts. (We really don’t talk about them enough now that I think of it.) Which makes me want to say that the biggest surprise for me in the film category was how much The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society spoke to me. It’s a huge inspiration for the news I shared with you a while ago. I found another all-time favorite female character in Juliet Ashton and I want everyone to know her!

    Also, perfect choice to finish with Virtue/Moir. We can all blame you for our fascination with their perfection!

    • I love everyone yelling at me for writing about Infinity War. That’s when I know I’ve done something right. 😉

      Thank you so much for always being so supportive of me and my writing, Giss, even when I go MONTHS between posts. Just reading your comments about the movies we loved this year makes me want to write about film more around these parts, and I’m going to try to make a real effort to do that in 2019 because I’ve reconnected with movies in a way I haven’t felt since high school, and I want to scream from the rooftops about what a magical medium it can be.

      Also, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has been on my list for a while, and it just moved up MANY slots! I’m so excited that it inspired you so much, and I cannot wait to see where that inspiration takes you in 2019 and beyond. ❤

  4. Love the format of this list! You can talk about ALL of your favorite things!

    On the TV front, I think a part of me is still mourning the hole left by Once Upon a Time. It was such a huge presence in my life for years, and this being the first full year without it just felt like something was missing. I have yet to find that replacement, although ‘The Magicians’ has gotten pretty close. It has me scouring Tumblr for gif sets and listening to podcasts so its nice to have that level of passion for a TV show again. ‘The Americans’ ended in a satisfying way, but on one hand the end of the series feels a bit like a relief after all the tension of the final season. Also, I think my enjoyment of the show suffered a bit after the election and things felt a little too real. I was no longer able to watch it with a detached comfort knowing it happened in the past and things are different today.

    The other show that had me scouring Tumblr was the new She-Ra. Its fun, with a crazy amount of girl-power and its something that can be enjoyed by all ages. Sean also loved it.

    Nothing on the movie front really grabbed me this year. I did really love ‘Into the Spider-verse’ and there were plenty of movies I enjoyed, but none that really stayed with me. I might be one of the few that has read ‘The Infinity Gauntlet’ graphic novel, so nothing in Infinity War was all that surprising for me. If anything I was slightly annoyed that Infinity War was mostly just a prequel to ‘The Infinity Gauntlet’ since the series STARTS with Thanos destroying half of all living things. The “deaths” in the movie were a little hard to take seriously when you dont really know what is permanent or not, but I will give credit to the scene between Tony and Peter for making me feel the loss anyway. As a viewer you know its likely not forever but the characters dont, and they managed to pulled me into that feeling even though my brain knows better. I am interested to see how Endgame plays out knowing how the comic goes. There are plenty of differences between the setup and established characters between the movie and comic to keep it interesting.

    2019 looks a bit more promising on the TV and movie front. There is a lot more I am looking forward too, like the final season of GoT and Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, the new Star Wars, and even the new Downton Abbey!

    This was also the year I got into watching ‘Critical Role’, which is a web-series where a group of voice-actors get together and play Dungeons and Dragons. These episodes range between 3-5 hrs a piece, so its a crazy time commitment I wasnt able to make until the rest of my TV watching hit a lull. I watch it at the gym in increments and its successfully fulfilling my ‘gym show’ slot for the time being and helps me get my RPG fix between my campaign with my friends (its insane how hard it is for 5 adults to find one day a month where we are all free, and none of us even have kids).

    I always enjoy watching Virtue and Moir skate and when do we get our ice-skating romantic musical featuring the two of them because the world needs it.

  5. I loved this post so very much. I love that it ran the gambit of pop culture. So many things to love and so many mediums to love it in. Here’s my 2018 stream of consciousness:

    Television:
    I am with you 100% on POSE best new show this year because of the possibility it open and the humanity it gave week after week. It is the show that singularly gave me hope at the end of each of the 60 minutes. For me One Day at a Time proved its depth of character development and provided truth and dignity of navigating a multigenerational Latinx family with humor and forgiveness. That final episode provided some of the best acting I saw on TV this year and their absence of nominations is CRIMINAL. I well up with tears when I think about this show because it is the show I’ve literally been waiting all my life to see — myself authentically represented on television. That the scripts have only gotten stronger speaks volumes to the integrity and strength of the writers’ room. My greatest surprise is the strength of season 2 of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I was excited to return to these characters, but the sharpness of season 2 giving Midge a journey to self-realization and ultimately a choice based in autonomy, not circumstance was truly interesting without retreading on last season. The expansion of her parents stories in Tony Shaloub and Marin Hinkle offering the true love story for the show was a wonderful discovery. And Mrs. Maisel is also responsible for my single favorite scene/episode of the year when she and Zachary Levi go to Stage Deli. Everything about those initial two episodes was bright, funny, hearkened back to Sorkin banter/flirting that I loved from his early shows.

    Honorable Mentions — Killing Eve – a show that is simply stellar in every way. It wasn’t my favorite simply because my heart pulled me to POSE. Also, this season of Insecure solidified for me that Issa Rae is one of the singular best voices in television. The 3rd season advanced characters maturity and humor without ever sacrificing their vulnerability. Castlevania – I loved this series so much and was so surprised when I did. The scripts are fantastic and the women of season 2 everything I love about complex female characters

    Movies – What a year for female performances? Lady Gaga, the women of Black Panther, Emily Blunt (TWICE) and oh Olivia Coleman. I would watch Olivia Coleman read a phone book. That said I loved your picks too. However for me the best film I saw this year was A Quiet Place. This with the understanding that I still haven’t seen 8th Grade, If Beale Street Could Talk, Widows and Roma. But for me, A Quiet Place was great filmmaking combined with definitive storytelling. The agony and suspense were real and visceral. I never pulled a punch – as thrillers sometimes fall into the trap of doing — and it managed to tell a story that mattered without ever explaining why we were in the circumstances we were in. It’s the movie that stayed with me. I also agree with you about Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger. His performance was one of my favorite all year. And as much as I loved so many women this year – As amazing as both Lady Gaga and Emily Blunt were, Olivia Coleman gets best performance on screen for me. Her turn in The Favourite is an epic journey of madness, loneliness and need. It complexity of movement but simplicity of gestures would pivot on a moments notice and I left the theater in awe.

    However I would be remiss if I did not mention the singular most important moment for me in the movies this year. The idea that I took my then 12 year old to 3 movies in a row (Annihilation, Black Panther, and Wrinkle in Time) where people (and women) of color were the heroes and center of the story was profound. And I knew how much so when upon exiting the theater from Wrinkle in Time my child looked at me and asked to start auditioning for TV and Film. Seeing herself in the young protagonist of that film mattered. It created a path to what’s possible. I am so grateful for that moment. It reminds me that change is happening, even in these dark times when it feels like more often than not we are going backwards.

    In the category of everything else

    Musical Theater — This year gave many retreads of 80s/90s pop culture. However, it also gave way to one of the best revivals I have ever seen. Once on this Island is a show near and dear to my heart, but I truly ache for anyone who didn’t get the chance to see it. I go back this Friday before it closes and I can’t wait to return to the fable that proves love is stronger than death. That our stories are the reason we live and the reason we see our collective humanity. I loved it so much. And I can’t wait to savor it one more time.

    Alongside that served up a new devastating musical Miss You Like Hell – a show that gave music and truth to the journey of immigrant families, the cruelty that comes from fear and the restorative power of forgiveness. It’s a unique and original show that I hope finds legs for more to see. I am so thrilled there was a recording and I get to treasure that music on a regular basis. Sunday will haunt me forever.

    Concerts – So many good ones I got to this year David Cook’s acoustic tour was everything I’d waited 10 years to experience. Cynthia Ervio’s Subculture performance with Jason Robert Brown was epic. P!NK put on a show the likes of which I haven’t seen since Michael Jackson. But the concert/reading that simply blew me away was the Encore’s staging of Songs for a New World. Another recording that is coming down the pike in 2019. It was a revisit of music from the 90s that has, like a fine wine, aged and blossomed into a treasure trove of truth and human frailty. You know something is profound when you see it on a Wednesday and buy a ticket for the Friday the next morning.

    Books — I rediscovered books, specifically, novels this year. Audible and a little bit of personal patience with training my ear to listen rather than read. This may be one of the singular greatest personal joys that returned to me in 2018. My favorites — Non-Fiction – I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (a true crime story about the golden gate killer. Bone chilling and fascinating and possibly the scariest thing I’ve read since In Cold Blood); Self-care – Failing Up (Lesley Odom Jr’s anecdotes remind me that we are the authors of our stories and the lessons in failure are anchors for focus) ; Fiction – Their Lost Daughters (Joy Ellis’ 1st in a series of thrillers, it’s Broadchurch in a book and I love everything about, especially Richard Armitage’s narration); Repeat listen – Hamlet (a novelized version that is GLORIOUS. The authors make Ophelia a fully realized character and that alone makes it worth everyone’s time).

    Honorable Mention — This year finally pushed me into the world of Podcasts. Wolverine The Long Night. I love Logan as a character. That said, this 10 episodes are pure listening sensory overload. It’s so well done and executed and that’s before you get to the fantastic script and actors involved. It was a gripping serial that left me with my mouth gaping open in shock.

    Thanks for the forum that is NGN — I love this corner of the world so much. Happy New Year to you all!

  6. Pingback: Nerdy Girl Predicts: The 2019 Golden Globes | Nerdy Girl Notes

  7. Hi Katie! I’ve had this open in a tab for like 10 days, and as seems to be the usual these days it takes me a while to get around to a tab lol. Sorry!

    I love that your favorites are so focused around female characters – I’m finding as I grow older that generally, if there aren’t many women in a work then I’m just not that interested in it. I also, like you, found myself pulled more towards works that celebrated the goodness in humanity, the works about kindness and hope and friendship and love. It felt necessary to my well-being to take in these kinds of messages in a year where the world often felt so unspeakably cruel.

    I think The Good Place takes my top spot for favorite show of 2018, but some others I really enjoyed were God Friended Me, Brooklyn Nine Nine (as I slowly make my way through it), and Sense8, all of which contain themes about kindness and human connection.

    I sadly have not gotten the chance to see A Star Is Born yet but it’s on my list of movies to try to watch in 2019, and seeing clips of it at the Golden Globes last night only reminded me of how awesome it looks. My favorite movie of the year has to go to Black Panther, but there were a lot of others I really enjoyed, from Love, Simon, to Ocean’s 8, to To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, and the two Mamma Mia movies which I adored (the first of which I finally saw for the first time this year). My most anticipated movie for 2019 has to be a tie between Episode IX and Captain Marvel, as I am so excited to see ladies I love being awesome and I fully expect to be surprised at least once.

    Scott and Tessa’s Moulin Rouge routine was definitely one of my favorite moments of the year, and I can’t believe that was 2018 and not longer ago lol, I swear this year felt like an age. I don’t think I will ever forget watching them perform it while practically holding my breath because it was such an intense and emotional experience that I was thoroughly blown away.

    Another of my personal favorite sports moments from 2018 was the Sounders final regular season home game. In MLS you play the final game simultaneously across the league, and so over the course of the last 20ish minutes of the game all of us in the stands begun to realize that we had a chance at taking second place in our conference, after being last place for a good chunk of the year and at one point having only a little over a 1% chance of making the playoffs, and the roar of jubilation that went up around the stadium when our striker scored the game-winning goal that would secure 2nd place is something that you just don’t experience very often. It’s like an avalanche of joy and exhilaration and community, and for a brief moment I felt like I was connected to every single other person in that stadium. Moments of pure joy like those are my favorite thing about being a sports fan, and it’s one of those moments I’ll remember for years to come.

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