It’s been a year of powerhouse womxn, fabulous page to screen adaptations, overwhelmingly binge-worthy television, and Fuck-You-Pay-Me music. The babes at Boshemia rounded up their favorite bits of pop culture of 2018.
Spike Lee’s best movie in years, Blackkklansman is an engaging and exciting retelling (ish) of a black man infiltrating the KKK. It’s funny when it needs to be, it’s dramatic when it needs to be, and on the nose when it needs to be. Despite being set in the 70’s, Blackklansman is worryingly relevant and Spike Lee doesn’t let us forget it.
This film rightfully sent the world into a frenzy of adoration. It was not only a great film cinematically but it centred and celebrated blackness in all its complex and multifaceted glory. A real triumph.
Crazy Rich Asians
A glorious return to romantic comedy. Opulent and immersive, Jon Chu’s Crazy Rich Asians is a visually rich delight with stunning performances by Constance Wu (Rachel Chu) and Henry Golding (Nick Young). The featured Mandarin cover of “Yellow” by Katherine Ho is a must-listen.
A biting tragi-comedy of manners, this film shows us Queen Anne’s court 18th England and the complex relationships between two women near her. Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz) is Queen Anne’s clandestine lover and key advisor until a beguiling servant Abigail Mashum (Emma Stone) catches the Queen’s eye and threatens to become the new favourite. Its at times absurdist style breaks the form of traditional historical dramas in a breathtaking way.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
An adaptation from the 2008 novel of the same name, it’s a romantic period drama depicting the relationship of a novelist in postwar London (Juliet Ashton, played by Lily Collins) to a literary society in Guernsey. While the war in London is over, the people of Guernsey still feel the echoes of tragedy and loss; among them are a small group of readers, seeking new reading material and human connection. The film is a heartwarming tale of how books can unite us.
I, Tonya is black comedy at its finest. The film is gripping, gritty and emotional. It makes no attempt to sugarcoat or skirt around the toxicity of Tonya’s relationships with her mother, her partner, and the sport she has dedicated her life to. The pace is excellent, the storytelling in on point, and Margot Robbie did an exceptional service to the raw, impressionable, passionate youth of Tonya Harding.
A knockout ensemble cast full of wit, style, and gravitas—qualities direly missing from traditional heist films. Simmering with sexy glamour and playful energy, Ocean’s 8 will have you consider stealing jewels and orchestrating a clever crime to settle your own lover’s quarrel.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
Miles Morales makes his big screen debut (about time!) in this colourful explosion of a film. There’s superb voice acting, starring Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson and Hailee Steinfeld. It’s a surprisingly fresh deconstruction/reconstruction of Spider-Man’s origin with tonnes of heart and heaps of fun.
A Simple Favour
Describing the plot of A Simple Favour would be both impossible and a disservice, but in short, Anna Kendrick plays Stephanie, a mommy vlogger who ends up investigating the disappearance of her best friend Emily (Blake Lively). This movie is pulpy, ridiculous, camp and stupid. In short, it’s everything Q needed from 2018. Blake Lively has never been better (and never looked hotter) in this stylish neo-noir comedy filled with twists, menswear and homoerotic energy.
Sorry To Bother You
Boots Riley’s directorial debut is dripping with cynicism and Q loves it. Lakeith Stanfield plays Cassius Green (nickname Cash … get it?) a telemarketer who ends up hitting the jackpot when he discovers his white voice. The film is a searing indictment on the current state of capitalism, where your best friend boss has no qualms about using your body, only to become celebrated for it. It’s funny, it’s shocking, it’s disturbing and it’s absolutely bonkers.
A Star Is Born
It’s been a few months since Q has seen A Star Is Born and honestly, she’s not over it yet. Yes, it has a middling middle, and it was a very odd use of Dave Chapelle, but Bradley Cooper, of all people, ended up directing an emotional powerhouse. Every emotion is whacked up to ten, the acting is phenomenal and it’s the best version of the film so far.
Honorable Mentions: Mary Poppins Returns, A Quiet Place, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Dumplin’, Mary Queen of Scots, Isle of Dogs, Annihilation, The Hate U Give
Q has spent the past 5 years trying to get people to watch this show, and just because it’s finished doesn’t mean she’s gonna stop! A show shouldn’t be defined by how it ended, but holy shit The Americans ended perfectly. The stellar final season showed the continuing effects of spy work on one’s marriage and one’s psyche, this time focusing on the emotional burden faced by Elizabeth (Keri Russell). The final season of The Americans was basically perfect, from the acting to the music (try to listen to With Or Without You again without tearing up—bonus points if you’re on a train) to the mail robot. All hail Mail Robot.
Season 2 of Atlanta leaned heavily into the surreal, and it became one of the most unique, distinct shows ever made. Much has been written, and much will be written about Teddy Perkins, a disturbing look into the price of fame for a black man in a white world, but the rest of the season hit it out of the park too! By stepping away slightly from Donald Glover’s Earn (who is kind of a little shit), and leaning on Brian Tyree Henry’s Paper Boi, we got to see some of the greatest reaction shots every put to film. No genre was off limits, and every episode was done so stylistically. Glover and director Hiro Muari appear later on in the list, proving themselves as the stand out stars of 2018.
Pose is Q’s pick for best new show of the year. Ryan Murphy chronicles the life of ballroom culture in late 80’s New York. With a cast of queer and trans people of colour, Ryan Murphy & Co tell the heartwarming tale of family and motherhood, with ballroom culture and the AIDs crisis perpetually in the background. Pose subverts a lot of common tropes associated with the LBGTQ+ community (mainly “Bury Your Gays”), and in doing so tells a revolutionary story with a cast unlike any others.
There’s not much to say about season 2 except “yas hunny”. Queer Eye is the perfect, feel-good, positivity-saturated, formulaic tonic to just about any ailment. Feeling lonely? Queer Eye. Life falling apart? Queer Eye. This season went even more to the heart than the first, with the Fab 5 helping a young trans person find their groove and helping a young gay man come out to his stepmother following the loss of his father, amongst others. Long may the Fab 5 reign!
A southern gothic whodunnit based on Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name, director Jean-Marc Vallée plays with time and reality, blurring the lines between imagination and present. Viewers wonder what is memory, what is imagined, and what is real—an interesting narrative approach for the retelling of trauma and violence. Most striking about this series is the elevation of female rage. Through actor-driven direction and a strong female cast, it’s prestige television at its best, and E’s pick for best show.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Alex was scared when they announced that there was going to be a “gritty” reboot of Sabrina that didn’t include a talking cat (Salem was an ICON). However, Chilling Adventures turned out to be a delightful surprise. The adaptation comes from a different source material to the original series, but there’s still a flavour of it there. It’s campy, but in a B-Movie style. The series doesn’t take itself too seriously which helps when we’re moved through the more outlandish set pieces. Also, Michelle Gomez is just amazing and steals every single scene.
The Good Place
Recently TV has gone through a phase of exploring what it means to be bad. We touched on this briefly in our Breaking Bad & Better Call Saul piece, but since The Sopranos, TV has been obsessed with bad people. In a world run by bad people, it’s a delight to see a show embrace goodness so much. The Good Place doesn’t just embrace goodness (like creator Mike Schur’s Parks & Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine), it actively teaches it. This half-hour sitcom runs through ethical philosophy and the meaning of life, whilst managing to be one of the most hilarious shows on TV. Watch it, and you’ll trick yourself into becoming a better person.
Honourable Mentions: RuPaul’s Drag Race, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Better Call Saul, The Haunting of Hill House, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, GLOW, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Salt Fat Acid Heat, Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, Bojack Horseman, Big Mouth
Honourable Stand Up Specials: Ali Wong – Hard Knock Wife, Hannah Gadsby – Nanette, John Mulaney – Kid Gorgeous, Michelle Wolf – White House Correspondents Dinner
Anderson .Paak – Tints (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
West Coast cool hip-hop meets that feeling of driving with the top down in the sunshine.
Ariana Grande – Thank U, Next
The breakup anthem we don’t deserve.
Cardi B – Money
The soundtrack for freelancers chasing up their unpaid invoices everywhere.
Carly Rae Jepsen – Party For One
And after your break up, a bop to beat to (literally—this song is about self-pleasure, it’s cool).
Childish Gambino – This Is America
Q + E dubbed Donald Glover our only true renaissance man after this was released.
Drake – Nice For What
Drake is more of a quantity over quality guy, but “Nice For What” hit it out of the park. Bounce anthem of female empowerment (from Drake of all people), it’s an absolute banger.
Florence + the Machine – South London Forever
Florence perfectly captures the feeling of bittersweet homecoming in ‘South London Forever Y”. You can’t help but picture the place you grew up and that feeling of when you were “young and drunk and stumbling in the street/ Outside the Joiners Arm’s like foals unsteady on their feet.”
Lady Gaga – Hair Body Face
It’s better than “Shallow” and better than any of Gaga’s pop songs since ArtPOP. Don’t @ us Bradley Cooper.
Kali Uchis feat. Jorja Smith – Tyrant
Even though it was released in 2017, “Tyrant” hit it big in 2018; the song is dreamy, velvety and the most ambient; a beautiful collaboration of two rising superstars.
Kasey Musgrave – High Horse
So Q likes country now? Kasey Musgrave released an entire album of dreamy country bops, but “High Horse” is outstanding. It’s glittery & fun, and a shining beacon of joy in a miserable year.
Kendrick Lamar & SZA – All The Stars
Their first collaboration (“Doves In The Wind”) was fire, their second collab did not disappoint. A beautifully produced track that’s enthralling to listen to. Fab video too.
Lana Del Rey – Venice Bitch
A sad bitch anthem, and possibly E’s most played song in 2018.
Troye Sivan – Bloom
Troye has slayed this year with all his releases, but for Alex this was the breakaway hit. And it’s about bottoming.
Blair St Clair – Call My Life
Six absolute bangers, this album gave L her entire life this summer. Blair has some serious pipes y’all, and this record is equal parts feel-good, sexy and bubbly—the kind of vibe that makes you want to slap on your heels and dance around your house like a stripper because it is just too dang good. Good for partying at home, also could comfortably be a club banger. Call My Life more than deserved its #1 spot on the Dance & Electro charts in the USA. Personal favourites are Irresistible and Now or Never.
Cher – Dancing Queen
Yes yes yes 1000 times yes. In case you didn’t already know, L is a HUGE Cher fan and an adoring ABBA fan. On this album Cher has found the absolute perfect marriage between their two iconic, signature sounds. She has skilfully put her Cher stamp on ABBA classics whilst managing to preserve the very best elements of each, which makes for an incredible, camp, cheesy listening experience.
Half Waif – Lavender
Moody indie-chill-synth-pop but with more depth than that label suggests. Lauren saw them live in Paris back in December and was wooed in.
Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer
This album was an entire Mood™ for L from May through to July. Her soulful slick caramel-smooth voice lilted on the UK heatwave and manifested in L’s bones. It’s truly a celebration of queerness, womanhood and blackness. Personal highlights are “Django Jane”, “Make Me Feel”, and “Screwed”.
Kendrick Lamar & Various Others – Black Panther Soundtrack
Who gave them the right to make this album so good? Who allowed it! Movie soundtracks are normally average, with the occasional good compilation record, but the Black Panther soundtrack was even better than the movie! Kendrick Lamar curated 14 original songs featuring superstars like The Weeknd and soon to be big names like Jorja Smith. The album is a celebration of Afrofuturism and black excellence, and it goes above and beyond for all future soundtracks. Take note Hollywood.
The Carters – EVERYTHING IS LOVE
With this surprise joint album happily streaming on Spotify (fuck you, Tidal), Beyoncé and Jay-Z gave us another confrontational record for us to contemplate their marriage. It’s a celebratory powerhouse album with larger than life personas speaking across confessional rap verses and luxury pop excellence.
Honourable mentions: The Internet – Hive Mind, Brandi Carlile – By the Way, I Forgive You, Ariana Grande – Sweetener, Kasey Musgraves – Golden Hour, Christine & The Queens – Chris
Alice Isn’t Dead
A truck driver travels across the USA in hope of unravelling the mysteries surrounding her wife’s disappearance. The show delves into supernatural horror and the liminality of roadside America. This year saw the show enter its third season and episode three, “Means of Escape,” stands out not only for its pulse-pounding action but gives us a real insight into the eponymous Alice and her motivations.
Dressed: A History of Fashion
Two fashion historians explore the complex history behind the clothes we wear. “Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up” is a deep dive into the history of Frida’s self-construction as an artist and how she presented herself to the world, from her iconic red lipstick and monobrow to her traditional indigenous textiles.
Everything is Alive
An unscripted interview show featuring inanimate objects. “Louis, Can of Cola” is a bizarrely poignant interview with a can of generic cola that has been forgotten in the fridge and wishes to experience the sensation of being drank by someone.
Feminist Folklore explores myths and fairy tales through a feminist lens. “The Invisible One” episode examines the Mi’kmaq legend of a young woman who takes a chance on an invisible man.
No Man’s Land
A podcast about women who were too bad for your textbooks, hosted by Alexis Coe of The Wing. The “Sylvia Plath” episode contextualizes the life of Plath before her suicide and encourages her readers to understand her life and literary craft beyond her mental illness and death that stigmatizes her legacy.
Punch Up The Jam
Miel Bredouw and Demi Adejuyigbe are on a mission to make all music better. They pick a song, dissect what’s wrong with it, and give it a good old punch up. “L.A Woman” features a hilarious punch up of an objectively terrible song and features podcast superstar Paul F. Tompkins.
Honourable Mentions: You Must Remember This, My Favourite Murder, The Bechdel Cast, Call Your Girlfriend, BackTalk, Believed, The Guilty Feminist
If the current state of political discourse is anything to go by, Youtube and the Internet were a mistake, but Natalie Wynn is here change everyone’s mind. From topics like gender pronouns to the environment, Natalie portrays her arguments with a philosophical background, detailed character work and a whole lot of style. Best episode Incels; it’s easy to make fun of incels, but Natalie takes a surprisingly empathetic view on incels, even managing to relate the trans struggle to the incel struggle, whilst never letting them off the hook for their terrible views and actions. All hail the Queen.
Lindsay Ellis is an old school video essay pro, however this year her videos continued to improve. From Marxist analysis’ of Transformers to dissecting why this new batch of Disney remakes are so actively average, Lindsay’s sharp analytical eye on media has become required watching for any film fans. In her two three-part opus on The Hobbit, not only does Lindsay go into why they films suck, but she also takes a look at the fraught film production and how there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism.
Honourable Mentions: Be Kind Rewind, FoldingIdeas, Jenny Nicholson, Hbomberguy, Nerdwriter, BrowsHeldHigh, PhilosophyTube, Demi Adejuyigbe
On the ‘net
The emergence of moth lamp memes
Know Your Place edited by Nathan Connolly
This year part of L’s major growth both, both personal and as a writer, has been acknowledging and processing my poor childhood and intergenerational poverty thereof. She found this book at the perfect moment. It is a compilation of essays by and about the UK working class, which started to come together after the Brexit vote result in 2016. The short essays range to cover topics such as the fondness and importance of the seaside in poor childhoods, the strange food-aspirational attitudes we foster as poor children, and how class, mental health, and access to the arts are entwined. L highly recommends this read to everybody. It provides a unique snapshot insight into the lives of the working class, free from demonising headlines or victimising accusations.
New Erotica for Feminists: Satirical Fantasies About Love, Lust, and Equal Pay by Caitlin Kunkel
This collection of satirical vignettes was originally a McSweeney’s column, but was elaborated upon for book form. A favourite is this take on manspreading:
“I can see his massive bulge from all the way over here, despite the crowd. I feel a bead of sweat drip down my forehead, my blood boiling with every second that passes. I’m about to explode.
“Excuse me,” I finally say to the man whose legs are open to an impressive 180-degree angle on the short park bench. “Can you move over a bit?”
“Wow,” he says, horrified, snapping his legs shut with a THWAP. “What a reasonable request! I am so sorry I was dominating a shared space with my privileged body.”
Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
This is a hilarious and charming essay collection about Alderton’s own coming of age in the suburbs of London and finding her footing in her 20s. She writes about sex, dating, and friendships in this achingly honest way that had me laughing and crying in the Parisian cafes E read it in (sunglasses emoji). Beneath her sterling veneer of sharp humor is a reluctant softness that is so endearing. Once at odds with women around her, her essays take us through her reconciliation with self and the female friendships that define her.
Circe by Madeline Miller
E’s favorite novel of 2018, Circe is a feminist retelling of the Odyssey that refigures Circe as the protagonist and Odysseus as a love interest. We witness Circe’s journey from exile to her transformation to an empowered witch. It’s lyrical, witchy, and gorgeously contemplative, and breathes a brilliant new life to the historically-maligned character.
Am I There Yet?: The Loop-de-Loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood by Mari Andrew
Essentially a book adaptation of Andrew’s Instagram, this is a collection of personal essays and watercolor illustrations that capture Andrew’s experience of navigating adulthood. Her doodles are casually expressive and sentimental in the best way, giving us candid insight into her ambling journey to self-understanding and the places she visited and people she loved along the way.
Honourable Mentions: Florida by Lauren Groff, This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins, Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson, Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship by Kayleen Schaefer
So long, 2018! We thought you’d never end, but at least you were good for pop culture moments!