The Pop Culture Winners and Losers of 2018

From ‘Black Panther’ to Filmstruck ending its service, 2018 was filled with Winners and Losers.
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By  · Published on December 13th, 2018

Making a winners and losers list is incredibly tricky, especially in a year where it felt like everyone was either having a massive breakthrough or landing major deals. Picking the losers was easy, but narrowing down the winners to just a select few took some soul searching, but I assure you the rest of the staff will cover what I missed.

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Winner: Ryan Coogler


The critically acclaimed director of Creed and Fruitvale Station took on his biggest challenge yet, directing Marvel’s Black Panther. With that came responsibility and burdens. After all, what would it signify in Hollywood if a predominately black movie with a $200 million budget bombed at the box office? Thankfully Black Panther not only became one of the highest grossest movies of the year but was very positively reviewed as well. Now Ryan Coogler might land Disney a Best Picture nomination, among other Oscar nods. 

Loser: The Village Voice

Village Voice

What would you do if your favorite publication or job just ended out of the blue? 2018 answered that question with The Village Voice. Nobody foresaw The Village Voice shutting down, not even its staffers, as the 63-year-old New York alternative weekly publication announced it was closing shop for good. The news came a year after the publication switched to digital only, and three years after it was bought out by Peter Barbey.

Winner: Brian Tyree Henry

Brian Tyree Henry

If there is one thing we can agree on is that Brian Tyree Henry is not only talented but one of the hardest working actors of 2018. The Atlanta star had a breakout year appearing in six feature films, including Widows, If Beale Street Could Talk, and SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse along with several recurring television roles. No matter where you turn, you will either see or hear Henry’s voice before the year is over.

Loser: FilmStruck


FilmStruck may have only been available in select regions, but fans of cinema mourned all over the world when the service announced it was ending in November. FilmStruck had the largest library of not only classic cinema but also films from the prestigious Criterion Collection. Along with its library of titles, the service was known for special features and appearances from directors like Barry Jenkins. Filmmakers, actors, and critics from all over rallied together to help save the streaming service including the likes of Guillermo del Toro. The Criterion Channel was announced to take its place next spring but that is a long wait for many who used the service on a daily basis.

Winner: Lady Gaga

Gaga Star

“Tell me something, boy
Aren’t you tired tryin’ to fill that void?
Or do you need more?
Ain’t it hard keepin’ it so hardcore?”

Leave it to Lady Gaga to prove two sets of haters wrong in one year — the people who thought she couldn’t sing, and the people who thought she couldn’t act. Lady Gaga does not only look like a crowd favorite for the Oscar for Best Actress but also a likely candidate to perform at the ceremony. Who would have thought that we would be talking about Lady Gaga to this extent last year? “Shallow” has quickly become the movie song of the year, but honestly, every song Gaga sings in A Star is Born directed by co-star Bradley Cooper is quite exceptional.

Loser: Venice and Cannes Programmers


Two of the most prestigious and oldest film festivals in the world were exposed in 2018 for their lack of women-directed films across all categories. Cannes only had three women directors out of 21 in their competition category, and Venice, as if trying to win a losing competition, bested Cannes by only having one woman director out of 21 in their competition category. Both festivals have stated they would do better next year, but it seems Sundance and the Toronto International Film Festival are the only major film fests that have made active changes.

Winner: Brie Larson

Brie Larson

Brie Larson is about to become a Marvel star for her role as Captain Marvel, but before the trailers for Captain Marvel dominated the internet, the star was all over the news for something else. During her Crystal Award for Excellence in Film acceptance speech, Larson called for more critics of color and underrepresented people in the industry. “Of the 100 highest-grossing movies in 2017, less than a quarter of the critics were white women, less than ten percent were underrepresented men, and only 2.5 percent were women of color.” Her words were a wake-up call across the industry, and action took place immediately. Sundance and TIFF promised to reserve 20 percent of their press accreditations for critics of color, women, and LGBT community members. Rotten Tomatoes even took notice of this and changed how they verified critics to have a more diverse range of voices.

Loser: The Predator


Another year, and another attempt to try and revive the Predator franchise. What could go wrong with acclaimed director Shane Black at the helm and a solid cast at his disposal? Well, shocking maybe a dozen people, The Predator is not only one of the worst movies of the year, but it also had a major problem on set. Black apparently hired a registered sex offender without disclosing this to the cast, crew, and studio either before shooting began or during production. Olivia Munn, one of the stars of the movie, aired all this information out during the promotion run of The Predator. As you can tell quite a few Fox higher-ups were not happy. Don’t even get me started about the silly plot of the movie, which involves climate change and autism.

Winner: Ethan Hawke

Hawke First Reformed

Best known for his roles in the Before Trilogy, Training Day, and Boyhood, the iconic actor has had an incredible year. Hawke is not only a favorite for best actor this year, but he also stars in arguably the best picture of the year, First Reformed. There are only a few things possibly stopping Hawke from success this year, and First Reformed director Paul Schrader‘s Facebook post might be one of them.

Loser: The Pacific Rim Franchise

Pacific Rim Sequek

Pacific Rim: Uprising, the sequel to the first movie directed by Guillermo del Toro, released earlier this year. Unfortunately, it was reviewed poorly and was such a box office bomb that the third movie was canceled. Blockbusters don’t always strike gold, but Pacific Rim represented an untapped genre of giant robots vs. monsters that was severely lacking in modern cinema.

Winner: Nicolas Cage

Cage Mandy

Make no mistake, Nicolas Cage has starred in some of the worst movies this decade. Often, his performances in said movies have reached cult status for how terrible they are. Cage has starred in or had a supporting role in eight movies this year, but it is one in particular that contains one of the most memorable performances of his career. Mandy, directed by Panos Cosmatos, proves that maybe Cage has been miscast all these years, and all he needed was the right movie to channel his inner beast.

Loser: Roseanne


Out of all the biggest losers on this list, Roseanne might be the only one that started as a winner. After all, it is not every day a classic American sitcom gets a revival, receives record-breaking viewings, and is renewed for a second season before its fourth episode. Now, if you have no idea what happened, allow me to tell you how one person’s words ruined it for everyone. Star of the show, Roseanne Barr decided to go off on a racially charged Twitter rampage that resulted in not only her being fired but the whole series being canceled. A spinoff premiered months afterward called The Conners with great reviews, but the damage was already done.

Winner: Horror Revival


Listing a whole genre as a winner might seem strange, but it is not every year we get two great horror revivals accompanied by some of the best performances of the year. Horror in 2018 began early with one of the best films of the year, Hereditary, from breakout director Ari Aster and starring Tori Colette, who should honestly be praised more for her performance. The year only got better as we saw a worthy revival of two iconic horror films, Halloween and Suspiria. Just when you think you couldn’t handle any more horror goodness we get a second wave in the form of Overlord and Netflix surprise hit Cam. The horror genre was never in a dire state, but 2018 puts doubters at ease.

Loser: The Netflix Sci-fi Push

Netflix Mute

This loser will puzzle some, but hear me out! Remember when Netflix promised 80 original movies for 2018. Well, Netflix is hoping you might forget, because of the atrocities they unleashed on us earlier this year. Let’s start with The Cloverfield Paradox. Netflix gathered millions of people’s attention when they teased the movie during the Super Bowl and then made it available right after the game was over. It was a great strategy especially considering the success of the last Cloverfield movie. That being said, the result was only the beginning of Netflix’s original movie nightmare dilemma. The Cloverfield Paradox is so terrible that most people by this time of the year blocked it out their memory. Just when you thought Netflix had bad luck of the draw, they released another big sci-fi release in Mute, which was directed by Duncan Jones and serves as a spiritual sequel to his 2009 hit Moon. The previous sentence might be the only positive thing one can mention about Mute besides the neon color palette. It is honestly surprising that a worse sci-fi movie than The Cloverfield Paradox not only released in the same year but the following month.

Winner: Lana Condor

To All The Boys

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before proved quite a few things this year: there is still a huge market for romantic comedies, Netflix has original movies worth watching, and of course the winner of this section, Lana Condor. Hands down, this movie put Lana Condor and her co-star Noah Centineo on the map, to the point it dominated Twitter the month of August. Condor now has numerous endorsement deals and was just recently featured in the Teen Vogue 2018 Summit. She is set to star in the new Deadly Class series airing on Syfy this January and in the sequel To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Loser: Gotti


“Audiences loved Gotti, but critics don’t want you to see it… The question is why??? Trust the people and see it for yourself!”

Gotti is the prime example of how being a sore loser is never a good thing. After being reviewed terribly by Critics, the Gotti press team fired back with a “fake news” spin that would make our current President proud.

Winner: Josh Brolin

Josh Brolin

Josh Brolin had an incredible year playing the time-traveling Cable in Deadpool 2 and CIA agent in Sicario: Day of the Soldado, but his biggest role was playing the mad titan Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. Brolin brought much-needed freshness to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as he played a complex villain that received praise across the board.

Loser: Life Itself

Life Itself

Terrible movies come and go over the years, but when you have a cast like this, you have to ask yourself what the hell happened. Starring Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening, Antonia Banderas, and Mandy PatinkinLife Itself proves how a great cast can’t save a movie from the director. Life Itself is this year’s biggest tragedy porn as terrible events happen to every character in the movie and everything is explained with the most pretentious and silly ways.

Winner: Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade

Comedian Bo Burnham surprised audiences and critics alike when he directed and wrote one of the most accurate portrayals of youth to grace the big screen. What makes it crazier is that this is his first directing role. Breakout star of Eighth Grade, Elsie Fisher, is being regarded as giving one of the best performances of the year and is being praised for her authenticity and vulnerability. Both recently won Gotham Awards for their breakthroughs and continue to be nominated for more awards.

Loser: Robin Hood

Robin Hood

In what might potentially be not only the worst movie of the year but worst Robin Hood iteration to grace the big screen, audiences and critics are left with one gaping question: how did this go so wrong? In what might be considered the funniest or craziest idea ever, director Otto Bathurst admitted to The Hollywood Reporter that he never actually watched prior Robin Hood adaptions before making this movie, and it reflected. Not only is Robin Hood the least historical accurate iteration, but the movie has yet to make back it’s 100 million dollar budget.

Winner: Claire Foy

Claire Foy First Man

Often regarded for her award-winning role as Queen Elizabeth of the Netflix series The Crown, Claire Foy proved how versatile she was on the big screen. From starring in Unsane, a psychological horror, to playing the wife of Neil Armstrong in Damien Chazelle’s first biopic, First Man, then finally the girl with the dragon tattoo and avenger of women in The Girl in the Spider’s Web. To top it off, she recently was the host of Saturday Night Live.

Loser: Terry Rossio


Terry Rossio is the perfect example of what happens when keeping it real goes wrong. Known for writing ShrekPirates of the Carribean, and Aladdin, the famed screenwriter compared the term anti-vaxx with the n-word, and what surprised even more people is that he wrote out the whole word on Twitter. Rossio recently apologized on Twitter, but his career will be tainted. 

Winner: Constance Wu

Constance Wu Crazy Rich Asians

Known for her role in Fresh Off the Boat, Constance Wu proved she deserved to be on the big screen after her lead role in the 2018 mega-hit Crazy Rich Asians. What makes her a true winner of 2018 is what she is doing off the screen. Wu is one of the biggest activists in Hollywood and fights for Asian-American girls, the Me Too movement, and voting rights.

Loser: The Most Popular Movie Oscar


The Oscars took major heat a few months back for trying to make a “Most Popular Movie Category,” and of course they received unanimous disapproval. By making this category nine months into the year, it proved how worried they were about the potential of Black Panther and other popular movies not being nominated for Best Picture. It was an act of damage control that was unneeded, as the category only served to belittle the achievements of anyone who might have been nominated for this potential category. The “Most Popular Movie Category” is postponed this year, as the Academy realized it was in poor taste to change the awards so far into the year.

Winner: Ava DuVernay

Ava Duvernay Wrinkle

Ava DuVernay being a winner isn’t just about what she delivered this year. Being the director of A Wrinkle in Time, which struggled with both critics and at the box office, probably isn’t good enough to make the winners list. What makes DuVernay a winner is what happened months later. In late November, the director signed a $100 million multi-year, and multi-genre deal with Warner Brothers Television setting her up to make more diverse works and making the next few years a potential win for everyone involved.

Loser: MoviePass

Moviepass Card

Have you ever heard the expression “this is too good to be true”? Well, MoviePass was so in 2018. MoviePass is a subscription-based movie-ticket service that for $10 a month allowed moviegoers to see one movie a day. As you can tell just by seeing one movie a month already made this subscription a steal, unfortunately for the company, they were going bankrupt — last quarter alone they lost $137.2 million. To make money, they not only changed the pricing but restricted what subscribers could see, thus resulting in a huge backlash. MoviePass is hoping to bounce back, but other Companies like AMC have hopped on the pass-based service and are hoping to profit off the idea made infamous by MoviePass.

Winner: Tessa Thompson

Westworld Tessa Thompson

Thompson is the queen of 2018 as the actress not only starred in some of the biggest movies and television of the year but also had offscreen wins as well. Thompson starred in Annihilation, Westworld Season 2, Sorry to Bother You, and box office hit Creed II. In her biggest move of the year, the acclaimed actress came out as bi-sexual and encouraged the message of being proud of who you are to millions. Thompson is set to star in the Men in Black spinoff with her Thor: Ragnorak co-star Chris Hemsworth next year.

Loser: Muppet Movies for Adults


From the studio that was sued by Sesame Street, The Happytime Murders shortly after release made everyone wish the children’s television series had won the legal battle. The movie proves that being vulgar just for the hell of it never works out, and it was Melissa McCarthy’s worst-reviewed role to date.

Winner: Michael B.Jordan

Michael B Jordan

If there is a queen of the winners, there has to be a king, and even though he is no longer the king of Wakanda, Michael B. Jordan had a huge year. Jordan proved that he could be a convincing villain when he starred in Black Panther as Erik Killmonger, but he also proved he had what it takes to be the champion when he reprised his role of Adonis Creed in Creed II. The latter of the two movies had the biggest debut for a live-action Thanksgiving holiday release. Not only is the actor worthy of being A-list, but he might even land a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role in Black Panther.

Loser: Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart

The final loser on the list is none other than the famed comedian and actor Kevin Hart. Recently Hart was announced as the host for the 91st Oscars ceremony, and what should have been a time of celebration turned into the biggest disaster. It was revealed by bloggers and Twitter users that Hart made homophobic tweets and harsh comments during his comedy tours from years ago. Due to the backlash, the Academy gave Hart a choice that seemed like a no-brainer to any rational person: just apologize. Instead of apologizing, he doubled down on what he said. “I chose to pass on the apology,” he said. “The reason why I passed is that I’ve addressed this several times. This is not the first time this has come up. I’ve addressed it. I’ve spoken on it. I’ve said where the rights and wrongs were. I’ve said who I am now versus who I was then. I’ve done it. I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I’ve moved on, and I’m in a completely different place in my life.” Hart recently stepped down as the host, and now there are many questions regarding how the actor will bounce back from this PR nightmare.

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Central Florida based Film Critic striving to be the best. Fighting for the ten percent.