What stood out as the best and worst events of 2018? Which movies and TV shows impressed or didn’t? Which musical acts and artists dominated the year? And what is the biggest hope for 2019?
Let's get all list-o-licious, and start with …
Politics and Pop Culture
The 10 “Biggest Politics and Pop Culture Moments of 2018” according to Variety:
- Kanye’s Oval Office soliloquy Oprah’s Golden Globes speech Stormy Daniels/Karen McDougal/AMI/Michael Avenatti Christine Blasey Ford/Brett Kavanaugh testimony Meghan McCain’s eulogy Michael Wolff’s Trump book Saturday Night Live regular Pete Davidson apologizes to Dan Crenshaw Omarosa does Big Brother, then turns on Trump Roseanne is fired Trump woos Kim Jong Un with a video that is made to look like a movie trailer
When Kanye West visited the Oval Office in October, President Trump invited cameras in to capture the moment, live and unfiltered, for about 20 minutes. The result was surreal, particularly when West went on in a stream of consciousness soliloquy about politics and culture, and when he explained just why he came to admire the man sitting across from him behind the Resolute Desk. Wearing a MAGA hat, West told Trump that the headwear “made me feel like Superman. You made a Superman cape for me.” The ostensible purpose of the meeting was to talk about criminal justice reform and reinvigorating blighted communities, but the meeting, and Trump’s decision to allow reporters to televise it, reflected the president’s determination to use fly-on-the-wall reality show tactics to draw attention to himself and the White House, whether it be a meeting with West, a Cabinet debate or a confrontation with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. It also underscored how Trump’s relationship with pop culture in general is far different from his predecessors. He embraces those who embrace him, even if a celebrity figure risks obscuring his own agenda. Weeks later, West said that he felt “used” by politics, but the moment was like no other in the West Wing.
The “Most Political TV Moments of 2018” according to Vulture:
- The Good Fight finds the pee tape ABC shelves Black-ish’s kneeling episode Child separation on The Handmaid’s Tale Miss Tammye’s family reunion on Queer Eye The end of Roseanne Jane the Virgin’s Alba and One Day at a Time’s Lydia become American citizens Hannah Gadsby at the Emmys Last Man Standing returns The Bachelorette’s Instagram scandal The Brett Kavanaugh hearings Matt Damon plays Brett Kavanaugh on SNL The Kinder-Guardians sketch in Who Is America? Murphy Brown’s Steve Bannon episode Superstore tackles maternity leave Every minute of America to Me
The Starz docuseries America to Me is not a “moment,” and pulling out any single scene would do a disservice to the series as a whole, which is a masterful portrait of an American high school in a diverse Chicago suburb. America to Me is the best thing about the current state of America I watched all year, even though (and maybe because) it has almost nothing to do with Donald Trump. While so many of the examples on this list are just that — examples, short blips of political flag-waving inside of longer stories — America to Me’s entire premise is to provide a probing, lengthy, multilayered look at the realities of institutional politics. Its political content is neither accidental, nor is it performed through cameo-style shout-outs. The docuseries lingers. It shows moments of real sadness, tragic family backstories, and maddening institutional blindness. And even while it tells a story about seemingly faceless administrations and bland, apersonal policies, the show’s strengths are in how mundane and human it all feels. As much as the rage and injustice, America to Me is about the compassion and humor and happiness it finds in its portraits of several high-school students. There was nothing on TV that moved me more this year, and nothing that touched America to Me’s capacity for putting sweeping historical and institutional bias in the context of everyday life.
The “Best Moments for Women in 2018” according to Cosmopolitan:
- Women in Hollywood start the Time's Up movement Feminist activists attend the Golden Globes Aly Raisman delivers a chilling and powerful victim impact statement Medieval Times replaces its kings with queens Michelle Obama's portrait is unveiled in the Smithsonian El Salvador frees a woman who was imprisoned for a decade under the country's abortion ban Emma González delivers a moving speech at an anti-gun rally in Florida Mirai Nagasu lands a triple axel in PyeongChang Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph ditch their heels at the Oscars Sarah Zorn, 21, becomes the first woman to serve as a regimental commander Beyoncé blows minds at Beychella Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey win the Pulitzer Prize for their Harvey Weinstein report Cardi B breaks a Guinness World Record Tammy Duckworth votes with her newborn baby by her side Bill Cosby is found guilty of assault
On January 1, 2018, hundreds of women in Hollywood unveiled an anti-harassment plan and legal fund as a continuation of the #MeToo movement. Time’s Up is dedicated to helping women fight sexual misconduct in the workplace and the fallout that often comes with reporting it.
The “Best TV of 2018” according to the A.V. Club:
- The Americans (FX) The Good Place (NBC) Atlanta (FX) Killing Eve (BBC America) GLOW (Netflix) Pose (FX) Better Call Saul (AMC) Lodge 49 (AMC) The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon) Barry (HBO)
All other signs to the contrary, we must be living in the Good Place to get a sitcom as funny, smart, and endearing as The Good Place. In its second and third seasons, the show offered up a dizzyingly inventive array of stories, resetting its fundamental narrative in ever more ambitious and absorbing ways as it followed the afterlife adventures of four humans trying (and failing, and trying again) to learn how to be better people. It’s impossible to explain the arc of the narrative without spoiling massive plot twists (even from episode to episode), so instead let’s praise the talents who make this freewheeling exploration of life and how to live it: There’s the writers, who have all captured a unique tone that expertly balances absurdist wordplay, rapier wit, gonzo physical and visual comedy, and profound human drama; the actors (Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, Manny Jacinto, and the dynamic duo of Ted Danson and D’Arcy Carden), who manage to pull off the high-wire act of goofball comedy and genuine pathos on a weekly basis; the set designers and effects teams that bring to life the best sight gags on television; and the sure hand of creator and showrunner Michael Schur, who has made a career out of building uncommonly decent places in which audiences can find a respite from the cruelty and coldness too often running through not just real life, but the rest of the TV landscape. What a wonderful world, where our protagonists are dead—and long may they live/
The “10 Worst Shows of 2018” according to TV Line:
- Megyn Kelly Today (NBC) The Proposal (ABC) Kevin Can Wait (CBS) Insatiable (Netflix) I Feel Bad (NBC) Here and Now (HBO) Rel (Fox) Happy Together (CBS) Camping (HBO) Arrested Development (Netflix)
It’s only fitting that an unscripted program is topping this year’s list, because you couldn’t write a bigger TV disaster in 2018 than Megyn Kelly Today. The former Fox News staple was never cut out for morning television, as evidenced by the forced Ellen DeGeneres-like persona she tried to adopt (complete with occasional dancing!), which only added to the show’s disingenuous vibe. Given how offensively bad it was from the start, it’s actually appropriate that the show’s downfall ultimately came as a result of its host defending blackface. (As for Kelly’s subsequent “apology,” she seemed about as sorry for saying it as America was sorry to see her go.)
The “Best Episodes of TV in 2018” according to TV Guide:
- 'Teddy Perkins,' Atlanta 'START,' The Americans 'Not Yet,' One Day at a Time 'The Sincerest Form of Flattery,' Counterpart 'Two Storms,' The Haunting of Hill House 'Scoobynatural,' Supernatural 'Chapter Seventy-Eight,' Jane the Virgin 'House by the Lake,' ACS: Versace 'God Bless Gay,' Queer Eye 'Free Churro,' BoJack Horseman
Donald Glover in a spooky mask, evoking Michael Jackson at his most disturbing. A twisted plot that involved Atlanta's existential doofus Darius (Lakeith Stanfield) going to an old man's spooky old house to get a piano off Craigslist. Chilling silence. Sad Stevie Wonder music. Gore. A shocking twist. Atlanta -- already exquisitely crafted, out-of-left-field, Emmy-worthy and Emmy-winning television — upped the ante with "Teddy Perkins," which explored what African-American stars do to remain successful and weighed the costs of the limelight. It was a universally lauded episode of television that even Steven Soderbergh raved about on Twitter, and it will absolutely be remembered as an event — especially after "Teddy Perkins" showed up to the 2018 Emmy Awards, haunting the sh-- out of the audience once more.
The 20 highest-grossing films at the domestic box office (i.e., the United States and Canada) for all movies released in 2018 to date, according to Box Office Mojo:
Best-reviewed movies of 2018 (minimum 40 reviews required), according to Rotten Tomatoes:
- Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour Snail Mail – Lush Ariana Grande – Sweetener Cardi B – Invasion Of Privacy Beach House – 7 Flasher – Constant Image Soccer Mommy – Clean Low – Double Negative Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer Mitski – Be The Cowboy
When Kacey Musgraves says “Love Is A Wild Thing,” she isn’t talking about the feral passion that animates so many rock songs. Animal lust on the order of the Troggs is left to the imagination on Golden Hour. Rather, Musgraves is comparing love to an unstoppable force of nature: a river dead-set on finding the ocean, a flower blooming through cracks in the concrete. It won’t be denied. “If you try to hide it, it’s gonna shine even more.” She speaks from experience. Musgraves wrote and recorded Golden Hour while basking in the glow of her young marriage to fellow singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly. Apparently, theirs is a casual but all-consuming affection, one that turns an evening at home into an easygoing swoon and makes a weekend apart feel like an endless toil. It’s a comfortable, lived-in kind of love, realistic about fears and flaws even as it sends her heart aflutter and sets her world on fire. Musgraves translated those sensations into the year’s most spectacular album, a collection of songs as irresistible as the romance that inspired it.
The top 10 on Pitchfork's list of the "The Best 50 Albums of 2018."
- Mitski – Be The Cowboy Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour DJ Koze – Knock Knock Robyn – Honey Snail Mail – Lush Rosalia – El Mal Querer Earl Sweatshirt – Some Rap Songs Low – Double Negative Tierra Whack – Whack World Yves Tumor – Safe in the Hands of Love
Many voices float through Knock Knock, like spirits. One of them is the sampled croak of what sounds like a thousand-year-old man. He talks about his kinship with music—how he sells it, listens to it, and plays it during most of his waking hours. In a metaphysical flourish, the old-timer boasts, “Look at my teeth: You see music on it.” The line is a joke, but he means it—and it’s easy to think of this mysterious guru as an avatar for DJ Koze himself. The German DJ, producer, and label owner has spent the last few decades cultivating a parallel musical universe, one based on a collector’s knowledge and a sense of play, where the histories of dance music and hip-hop and psychedelia are all pulled together by the same gravitational force. In this utopia, Knock Knock, a life’s work, plays on a continuous loop, and no one tires of it.
The top 10 songs on Apple Music/iTunes's Best Of 2018 list:
- “God’s Plan” — Drake ”One Kiss” — Dia Lipa “Nice for What” — Drake ”This is Me” — Keala Settle & The Greatest Showman Ensemble ”Rockstar” (feat. 21 Savage) — Post Malone ”Shotgun” — George Ezra ”These Days” (feat. Jess Glynne, Macklemore & Dan Caplen) — Rudimental ”Freaky Friday” (feat. Chris Brown) — Lil Dicky “Havana” (feat. Young Thug) — Camila Cabello “In My Feelings” — Drake
From Shirley Halperin at Variety:
As much as competitors might want to credit something otherworldly for Drake’s all-out dominance in 2018, it wasn’t so much a higher spirit at work as the well-oiled machine that is Aubrey Graham Inc. “God’s Plan,” the top song of the year with a consumption total of 5.5 million, started with a leaked snippet that instantly garnered a strong reaction. “It was clear [right away] what we had,” says Drake’s longtime producer Noah “40” Shebib, who is credited on the track alongside Cardo, Yung Exclusive and Boi-1da. “We knew it had to be released.”
The list of Spin’s “Worst Songs We Heard in 2018”:
- MAX — “Lights Down Low” ft. gnash Zedd, Maren Morris, & Grey — “The Middle” Juice WRLD — “Lucid Dreams” Kendrick Lamar — “All the Stars” ft. SZA 6ix9ine — “FEFE” ft. Nicki Minaj Maroon 5 — “Girls Like You” ft. Cardi B Noah Cyrus & Lil Xan — “Live or Die” The Chainsmokers — “Beach House” Paul McCartney — “Fuh You”
“Girls Like You” should have languished as a bland, unremarkable deep cut on Red Pill Blues, the bland, the unremarkable sixth studio album from toothless pretty boys Maroon 5. However, a remix released in 2018 dominated the charts, thanks in no small part to walking charisma factory Cardi B. In an interview with Variety, Maroon 5’s lead spokesmodel Adam Levine said he’d told Cardi to “put something down that shows your fierceness as a woman and say it however you want,” which is kind of like Levine trying to teach a fish how to swim. Perhaps he should have tried to bring some fierceness to the rest of this snoozefest, which trafficks in sentimental and borderline meaningless platitudes like, “I need a girl like you, yeah yeah / Girls like you love fun, and yeah, me too.” Levine and company tried to inject this profoundly shallow song with depth by pairing it with a video featuring Jennifer Lopez, Tiffany Haddish, Gal Gadot, Rep. Ilhan Omar, and anti-DAPL activist Jackie Fielder, but the end result is a hamfisted and aimless message of female empowerment meant to enhance a song where a 39-year-old man sings about “girls.”
The “12 Best Video Games of 2018” according to Kotaku:
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Celeste Dragonball FighterZ God of War Gris Hitman 2 Into The Breach Monster Hunter: World Red Dead Redemption 2 Return of the Obra Dinn Tetris Effect A Way Out
The “Best Fashion Trends of 2018” according to feedback from Vogue readers:
- Beige Catsuits Fans would rather wear Gvasalia’s boxy outerwear than Margiela’s shapely layering sequins and paillettes beat out scarf dressing 67 percent of followers said they would rather not wear a bra at all than wear an exposed one something short and sexy for evening wear over a couture-minded dress short shorts versus bike shorts
From Brooke Bobb at Vogue:
Who actually wears head-to-toe beige in real life? Is she a fashion editor, a high-powered executive, a Park Avenue philanthropist? Does she own an art gallery? Does she ever step in a dirty puddle or spill coffee on herself on the subway? The Spring 2019 collections begged these questions as they offered up a range of monochromatic looks in tan, camel, flax, and cream. Labels like Burberry, Christian Dior, Balmain, Loewe, and many more showed beige pants with beige blouses, beige skirts with beige knits, and beige dresses with beige accessories. Beige on beige on beige. It seems like a sterile styling trick, but in fact, at least according to the expert we’re profiling here, this serene hue is surprisingly versatile.
The 10 best-performing stocks in the entire S&P 500 in 2018.
- Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. ABIOMED, Inc. Fortinet Advance Auto Parts, Inc. Tripadvisor Inc. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. Red Hat Inc. Keysight Technologies Inc. O’Reilly Automotive Inc. Boston Scientific Corporation
The 10 worst-performing stocks in the entire S&P 500 in 2018.
- Coty L Brands Inc. Mohawk Industries, Inc. General Electric Company Invesco Ltd. Newfield Exploration Co. Perrigo Company PLC Western Digital Corp. Affiliated Managers Group, Inc. cimarex energy
From Michael Sheetz at CNBC:
Cosmetics giant Coty is on pace to be this year's worst performer, cratering more than 67 percent. The stock has sold off nearly ever month of 2018. Coty replaced both its chief executive and chairman in November, as the company has struggled to find benefit from the 41 brands it acquired from Procter & Gamble in 2016. General Electric is set to finish a tumultuous year down over 57 percent. This year, GE revealed federal investigations into its accounting practices, was kicked off the Dow index, replaced its CEO with outsider Larry Culp, split up its struggling power business, slashed its long-beloved dividend to a token amount and is fighting to keep its bonds from becoming junk-rated. But the stock has rebounded since touching $6.66, the lowest close of the financial crisis. Two widely-followed Wall Street analysts upgraded GE's stock in December, pointing to opportunity amid the company's