The best movies of 2018 (So Far)

We’re halfway through an already-strong year for movies. GQ staffers and writers pick their favorites.

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First Reformed

Jesus Christ, I love First Reformed. As a movie that centers on the slow death of Earth, it’s a certified downer—A24’s marketing strategy included the “First Reformed Challenge,” aka drinking a cocktail of whiskey and Pepto Bismol in reference to the habits of the film’s main character—but it’s also a transcendent, ultimately hopeful feature. Think of The Lord of the Rings—you know, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world besides the will of evil.” And if you, unlike me, don’t have a crippling soft spot for movies about religious conundrums, the end of the world, and put-upon priests, just know that Paul Schrader’s latest film also features an incredible turn from Cedric the Entertainer, and an ending that’s wilder than anything else you’ll see all year. —Karen Han, GQ contributor

Black Panther

You probably don’t need me to tell you Black Panther is great, because based on the massive box-office numbers it pulled, you almost definitely saw it. But damn: How great is Black Panther? I don’t have enough space here to list every praiseworthy thing about this Ryan Coogler blockbuster, so I’ll shout out the visual splendor and sheer imaginative power that went into creating Wakanda. Throw in the absurdly stacked supporting cast—which includes one of the genre’s all-time greatest villains—and it’s clear that Black Panther is simply Marvel’s best movie, and a textbook example of how a well-crafted blockbuster can infuse its thrills with a vital, cathartic, and long-overdue political message. Scott Meslow, GQ culture critic.

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Thoroughbreds

One of my favorite tricks is when you see a movie you think is about one thing but it’s really about something else. Going into Thoroughbreds, I thought it was a movie about two spoiled rich girls who try to kill one’s stepdad. But it’s really a movie about how the lower classes, whether they’re actually lower class or just upper-middle class, have been conditioned to do anything for the rich, and then think it’s the rich doing them a favor. The movie is truly funny, and dark, and suspenseful, and for days afterward I was spouting theories about class and upward mobility and how female friendship is so easily weaponized to anyone who would listen. Please watch it so I have someone to talk to. Jaya Saxena, GQ entertainment writer.

The Incredibles 2

The Incredibles 2 might be, pound for pound, the best action movie I’ve seen this year. When Elastigirl chases the runaway train on her two-piece motorcycle? Thrilling. The Incredibles vs. possessed supers battle on the mega-yacht? More clever with its super power team-ups than anything that happens in Infinity War. The first Incredibles was a Watchmen-inflected deconstruction of superheroes. The sequel leans all the way in the other direction to, instead, deliver one of the 2018’s best superhero movies in a year with a lot of great ones. Kevin Nguyen, GQ senior editor.

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Annihilation

The aliens are here! But in the subtle, creeping way of Arrival and Contact, where an extraterrestrial presence brings terror that’s beyond anything our tiny minds can comprehend. In Annihilation, that’s way scarier than any little green men with guns. Natalie Portman spearheads a troupe of scientists into The Shimmer—an iridescent bubble which is raging trippy biological warfare in Florida, splicing DNA and messing with the minds and memories of all who enter. It’s a crime that this only got a limited theatrical release; the kaleidoscopic cinematography and stomach-churning soundtrack deserve it. Stream it but turn the bass up. Owen Myers, GQ contributor.

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The Commuter

Emotional dramas about men of the cloth coming to terms with Earth’s mortality and cerebral sci-fis about scientists who journey deep into the heart of an alien unknown are all well and good, but sometimes you just need to watch a movie about a guy who fights a bunch of people on a train while trying to save his family from a sinister crime cover-up. Fresh from his fabulous woman-vs.-shark movie The Shallows, Jaume Collet-Serra was back again earlier this year with another exciting thriller that revels in the simplicity of its concept. In The Commuter, Liam Neeson plays an ex-cop everyman who rides the train every day to and from work, until one day he’s accosted by Vera Farmiga in full villainess mode, who tells him a bunch of money is his to keep if he can just find the one person on the train who isn’t supposed to be there. At first, Neeson thinks it’s a joke, but he quickly realizes that he has no choice but to play along. The Commuter is like Non-Stop combined with Murder on the Orient Express, and has one of the best “single take” fight scenes I have ever seen involving an axe, a gun, and an electric guitar. Emma Stefansky, GQ contributor.

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The Day After

What a cinephile blessing to be living through the Hong Sang-soo renaissance, this current creative spout for the Korean auteur who’s been releasing multiple masterpieces a year. So far, my top two favorite films of 2018 are both Hongs—Claire’s Camera and The Day After, tied—but the former, boasting the international star power of French acting grande dame Isabelle Hupeprt, seems to have eclipsed the latter, its (unofficial) companion piece, which was released two months later and shares a star in Hong muse Kim Min-hee. Here, Kim plays a newly hired employee of a small publishing company, unaware that she’s stepping right in the middle of an infidelity minefield (she’s the replacement for another woman who had an affair with the boss). As the politeness of new coworkers wears off, the film, shot in black and white, unveils its raw emotions in unfiltered, snotty weeping, slaps, screams, and freely pouring soju (a Hong trademark). The web of lies and miscommunication make for borderline slapstick comedy, but the frequent ruminations on spirituality mark this one of Hong’s most philosophical films. Perhaps that’s why watching The Day After almost feels like a religious experience. Kristen Yoonsoo Kim, GQ contributor.

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Do you like nostalgia? Do you miss nice things and simpler times, but want some context and depth to your memories of bygone eras? Do you like crying so hard you feel like you might heave in the middle of a press screening in a basement theater near Bryant Park (sorry, that one was just me I guess)? This tight, beautiful documentary about Fred Rogers tha god will take your heart, spike it into the pavement, and stomp all over it. You’ll leave knowing more about the show that may’ve defined your earliest days of development, and you’ll walk away with newfound reverence for the man behind all the make-believe. At a bare minimum, you’ll want to reevaluate your life in search of the quieter moments we all seem to have left behind. Isn’t that enough to ask of a movie? Brennan Carley, entertainment associate.

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Love, Simon

Love, Simon doesn’t subvert the tropes of its genre, but that only makes it feel more revolutionary—it’s a sleek, mainstream teen movie which just happens to have a gay lead character. Though the plot follows Simon (Nick Robinson) as he tries to track down his anonymous gay email buddy, this is no basic love story. Performed with immense charm by a talented and commendably diverse young cast, it’s a warm and witty film about friendship, identity, and self-acceptance. Nick Levine, GQ contributor.

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Tully

The film’s “twist” dominated conversation around Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman’s unromantic ode to parenthood, but there’s a lot more going on in Tully than just unraveling the mystery of its titular Mary Poppins-esque hero. Charlize Theron, who has made a habit of giving her all, gives her all as Marlo, the run-down mother of three. Cody and Reitman have helped each other evolve over the years, and this funny, charming, unsentimental view of parenthood, of partnership, of the unspectacular miracle of kindness, is their best work yet. Tom Philip, GQ entertainment writer

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Game Night

Generally speaking, I hate when people tell me to see a comedy because it’s so funny and hilarious, I swear. This is absolutely the worst way to sell me on a comedy because it jacks up my expectations and I’ll constantly wonder why my ass is still attached to my body, when I was promised that I would be laughing so hard it would slide right off. Game Night, however, is the rare comedy that is as funny as I was told it was, and almost guaranteed to be a cult fave in a couple years once people finally get around to seeing it. The story of a game night that goes horribly wrong when a staged kidnapping turns out to be a real one, the movie is also tremendously clever, taking actors that you already knew were funny (Sharon Horgan) actors you suspected were funny (Jesse Plemons) and actors that have been criminally underused despite being proven as very funny (Rachel McAdams) and finds unexpected ways to mix and match them all while taking them on a twisty ride on par with most thrillers. There’s also a great dog. (That’s how you pitch a comedy, by the way: Go see Game Night. It has a great dog.) Josh Rivera, GQ entertainment writer.

Paddington 2

Who knew a wee British bear and a delightfully dancey, no-career-fucks-to-give Hugh Grant would be the perfect salve for living through 2018? With love and lots of sweeter-than-marmalade moments, Paddington 2 gently massaged my world-worried mind with its utter affection for humankind and Paddington’s evidence-based philosophy that, “If we are kind and polite, the world will be right.” Watching Paddington work odd jobs (and consequently end up in the slammer) to buy a pop-up book of London for his dear Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday in this latest adventure, the followup to 2014’s eponymous charmer of a film, was easily the most heartfelt, spirit-lifting two hours I’ve spent in a theater this year. Besides, I dare you to try to hate a movie that scored a record-breaking 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, because of course it did: It’s a goddamn delight, and the Band-Aid this broken world needs. And yes, I’m still crying, shut up- Chris Azzopardi, GQ contributor.

[Via GQ]

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Michael Jackson was gender fluid, says photographer

Harrison Funk, the former photographer of Michael Jackson, has claimed that the American pop star was gender fluid.

Harrison Funk worked with the chart-topping pop legend from the 1970s until his death in June 2009, and he’s suggested that Michael’s make-up routine was a sign that he didn’t solely identify as one gender.

‘It wasn’t so much femininity on Michael’s part as androgyny – he was fluid around gender. Michael had no interest in assigning a gender to anybody.’

Harrison recalled that at one point in his career, Michael ‘didn’t overtly identify as one particular gender’.

However, Harrison claimed that Michael – who had kids Prince, 21, Paris, 20, and Blanket, 16 – made a conscious decision to change his image when he became a father.

Speaking to The Guardian newspaper, Harrison shared: ‘He became a strong man in that sense.

Harrison also revealed the ‘Beat It’ hitmaker was prone to dramatic outbursts during his Victory Tour of the US and Canada in 1984.

The photographer said: ‘Don’t be fooled. Michael had very demanding moments. If he didn’t like something, he let you know. Michael was never ridiculing to me ever, but if someone messed up the design of his stage, then he would yell at them. He expected perfection.’

During the 1990s, Michael’s music became more socially conscious, as he delivered hits such as ‘Earth Song’ and ‘Black or White’.

However, he also attracted controversy when he struck a Jesus-like pose in one of Harrison’s most famous photographs.

Looking back on the incident, Harrison said: ‘People say Michael had a Jesus complex, but that p***es me off, as it just wasn’t true. There was a practical reason for me taking that photo. Michael had huge hands and I wanted to make the most of them as they were expressive – and a good way for him to embrace the world.’

‘At that stage, his whole existence was geared towards healing the world, so having big, expressive hands was a very important way to speak to the people.’

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Adonis risks it all In the first trailer for Creed II

But most importantly, the dragos are back.

One of the most anticipated sports film sequels in decades is finally set to hit screens soon, with MGM releasing the first look at Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone’s Creed II to the world.

 

Straight off the bat, Creed II seems to jump a significant chunk of time ahead from the events of Creed. Adonis, a talented (yet, it seems, beatable) light heavyweight boxer now has a kid with girlfriend Bianca, and is torn between his family obligations and the inherent risks that define his chosen career path. Making his decision all the more difficult comes the opportunity to fight against Viktor Drago, son of the infamous Ivan Drago, who killed his father Apollo in Rocky III.

According to MGM’s synopsis, ‘Rocky Balboa is there by his side through it all and, together, Rocky and Adonis will confront their shared legacy, question what’s worth fighting for, and discover that nothing’s more important than family.’

Creed II is about going back to basics to rediscover what made you a champion in the first place, and remembering that, no matter where you go, you can’t escape your history.’

It’s been known for a while that Dolph Lundgren will be reprising his role as Ivan Drago for the film, while real-life boxer Andre Ward will also reprise his role as Danny ‘Stuntman’ Wheeler, who famously knocked Adonis out in a sparring session in the first film. Steven Caple Jr. is set to direct.

Creed II is set to hit cinemas on November 21.

[Via GQ]

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Steve Komphela’s new gig already has many talking

Steve finds a new home. 

Former Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Komphela is the new coach at Bloemfontein Celtic. Komphela who struggled at Chiefs, as many expected him to lead the team to constant victory, will no doubt want to use this new coaching gig to prove he still has what it takes to lead a team to victory. 

Komphela’s new gig has been received with mixed feelings by supporters. Here’s what some of them are saying; 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Netflix picks up cancelled controversial series

Digital streaming entertainment platform, Netflix has renewed Lucifer for the fourth season.

The sci-fi, fantasy and crime-drama show was previously cancelled by Fox because the ratings tanked.

Fox chairman, Gary Newman told Deadline that it was simply ‘a ratings-based decision.’

‘We felt like performance-wise, we needed to make that change.’

Tom Ellis, who plays the lead Lucifer Morningstar confirmed the news on his Instagram account.

TVLine spoke to the show’s co-runners, Joe Henderson and Ildy Modrovilch, who confirmed that Netflix bought 10 episodes for the fourth season but also alluded to a possibly change as everything is ‘open to negotiations’.

Much of the revival is due to the fans of the show, who threw a fit following the cancellation announcement and we guess Netflix has an ear on the ground and decided to come to the rescue.

The pair said the show may stick to its 43-minute running time. They also mentioned a possible availability of the previous seasons on Netflix at some point, soon.

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Josh Brolin doesn’t want to play ‘grumpy old dudes’

Veteran star, Josh Brolin has revealed he has no ambition to play the ‘grumpy old dude’ in his movies.
The 50-year-old actor has insisted that in spite of celebrating his landmark birthday earlier this year, he has zero interest in accepting more placid on-screen roles.He told New York Times newspaper: ‘I’m 50. So what’s the thing, to start playing guys that are the next-door neighbour who’s the grumpy old dude who’s married in the rom-com, and then Jennifer Aniston goes and [expletive] the other guy who’s cooler and he’s an [expletive]? Like, no. I’ve been offered a lot of those parts, and I’m like, no, man. Don’t want to do that. It’s not interesting to me.’

In recent years, talk of gender pay inequality has become a big issue for the movie business.

But the Hollywood veteran – who recently starred in Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2 – has admitted he’s never personally witnessed any pay inequality on the films he has worked on.

‘The women are the ones that shape everything. I’m not saying in general. I’m saying for me. So I would look at those women, and there was just a lifted respect for those women.’

‘Anyway, the whole point is that I’ve never been privy to women that haven’t gotten theirs, or women who weren’t listened to, or women who weren’t respected. I’ve only known the opposite. Do you know what I mean?’

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Jay-Z named Head of Puma’s relaunched Basketball Division

The brand is relaunching its program by signing a couple top NBA prospects—and one iconic rapper.

In the modern era, the story of basketball shoes is largely the story of two companies: Nike and Adidas. The Swoosh has owned the sport ever since it started making shoes for a guy named Michael Jordan in 1984. But a decade before that, Puma became the first brand to pay a player to wear a signature shoe when it signed legendary New York Knick Walt “Clyde” Frazier to a deal in 1973. Even with the head start, though, Puma couldn’t find a way to make basketball a profitable part of its business, and it hasn’t endorsed a player since it signed Vince Carter in 1998. Now, the brand’s tagged Jay-Z to head up its relaunched basketball program, according to Complex.

And Hov isn’t alone in joining Puma’s newly created roster. In a flurry of activity, the brand also inked deals with DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, and Zhaire Smith—all prospects expected to be first-round picks in this week’s NBA draft. Puma also signed Fraizer to a “lifetime” deal, similar (at least in the name) to the arrangement Nike gives to its highest-profile stars, like LeBron James. Ayton, in particular, is a huge coup for Puma—he’s the player strongly rumored to go number one overall in this year’s draft.

But no matter where Ayton goes, the biggest signing for Puma is undeniably Jay-Z. The rapper, who’s been linked to the German-based brand since last August, gives Puma immediate credibility—a cool factor it would have taken years to build with only NBA rookies and one Knicks announcer in the fold.

The relaunch of basketball comes at an interesting time for Puma, too. Basketball shoe sales are declining as customers gravitate towards lifestyle shoes and the funkiest of designer sneakers. Adidas is putting way more stock into its celebrity partnerships with the likes of Kanye and Pharrell, while Nike is beefing up its partnerships with fashion designers like Kim Jones, Riccardo Tisci, and Virgil Abloh. Puma’s new relationship with Jay-Z feels like an acknowledgment that success as a sportswear brand just can’t be about basketball. It has to encompass all the lifestyle elements that come with the sport, too. “We’re looking at basketball through the lens of culture, and thinking about the fashion of basketball, the music of basketball, all the aspects of culture around basketball,” Adam Petrick, Puma’s global director of brand and marketing, told Complex. The brand currently works with ambassadors like Big Sean and The Weeknd but might have a hard time keeping up with Adidas’s star power Adidas. Basketball is the arena where there might be an opening.

Jay is a huge asset to Puma in another way, too. The rapper owns his own sports agency, Roc Nation Sports, and can now presumably use his connection with players to funnel them towards the sneaker company he now has a large stake in. Does that feel like a potentially huge conflict of interest? Absolutely: now, a negotiation between an athlete represented by Roc Nation and Puma theoretically puts Jay-Z on both sides of the table. But that’s most likely the point: Puma presumably gets a stronger shot now at every big name athlete that signs to Roc Nation, and Roc Nation can advertise its frictionless relationship with a sneaker company to potential clients. Leveraging Jay-Z’s name has had some success at his sports agency, where he’s signed a couple big-name athletes like Kevin Durant, Todd Gurley, and Robinson Cano.

If Jay isn’t enough, though, the money might be. Puma, clearly hoping to make a splash in its return to basketball, is outbidding the competition, according to Ayton. “Nike is Nike. Adidas is Adidas. I’ve played in their circuits and stuff like that, but now it’s a business,” he told Bleacher Report today. “You don’t want just product. You’re not a kid anymore. You’re really trying to get bank. That’s about it.”

For Puma, relaunching with Jay-Z feels like the only way to guarantee immediate relevance. New draftees are hardly ever great right away—and even the best aren’t big enough stars to carry entire brands from the jump. In Jay-Z, though, the brand’s found a tested veteran and Hall-of-Fame rapper that brings cachet to potential signees and customers. Puma has had success putting celebrities in charge of large portions of its business before. You might remember that Rihanna technically holds the title of creative director at Puma. And since she was installed at the very top of the brand’s org chart Puma’s seen huge gains on the women’s side of its business. So Puma’s really just following an ironclad rule of modern celebrity: when in doubt, follow Rihanna.

[Via GQ]

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