While we’re only two months into 2018, the year’s most eagerly anticipated film has already arrived with Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, which is a decidedly stunning addition in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed) directs the long-running franchise’s first black-led film with dazzling, groundbreaking results, ultimately becoming a true cause for celebration.
The character of Black Panther (played by the wonderful Chadwick Boseman) made his impressive MCU debut in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, instantly becoming a fan favorite through the slight appearance. Here, T’Challa, the recently-crowned king of Wakanda — which is a fictional, secretly prosperous African nation in possession of virtually infinite supplies of a made-up super metal called vibranium — is really allowed the chance to be the A-list superhero he was always destined to become. It was no question that this film and this character would end up being an important milestone in the superhero genre as well as an inspiration to countless children around the world, but it’s extremely gratifying to be able to relay that Black Panther is also the stellar solo-outing that so many of us wanted it to be.
The beginning of the new year has turned out to be pretty great in terms of new music, and this past week was no exception. Courtney Barnett released a new single and announced her upcoming solo album for May. Meanwhile, Car Seat Headrest and Born Ruffians had entire full-length records that came out on Friday.
I’ve highlighted multiple tracks from Car Seat Headrest recently, so I’ve gone ahead and skipped adding a track by them this week. However, Born Ruffians and Courtney Barnett are highlighted in this week’s playlist, alongside Sufjan Stevens, Young the Giant, Khalid, and 15 other artists.
Have you heard that recently released Black Panther soundtrack yet? The one that Kendrick Lamar and Top Dawg Entertainment curated 14 new tracks for, featuring the likes of SZA, Future, Khalid, and a slew of other great artists? Yeah, it’s pretty damn good, so go right now and check it out!
When you’ve returned from listening to that record, you’ll find that one of the featured tracks on the Jukebox this week comes from said soundtrack, but we’ve also added a number of brand new singles from other artists like MGMT, Kero Kero Bonito, and Car Seat Headrest. As always, there’s another 16 tracks on the playlist, making for a grand total of 20 awesome songs all compiled in one place for your listening convenience.
Following several delays and months of speculation, the first look at the new entry in executive producer J.J. Abrams’ Cloverfield franchise came in the form of an ad spot during the Super Bowl. It was the first-ever official announcement ofJulius Onah’s The Cloverfield Paradox, and with it came the surprise that just two hours later, the film would be released worldwide on Netflix. It‘s an absolutely unheard of, crazy marketing strategy that worked, instantly making me as interested in watching the new film as I was in continuing the excitingly close football game that, for a mere 30 seconds, a brief trailer had managed to steal the spotlight from.
But with the film’s unique release aside, Paradox unfortunately watches quite pitifully. Stocked with a complicated mess of a plot, a large cast of insubstantial characters (even more damning due to the sheer talent of the actors that comprise the roles), and barely any driving force behind its uninteresting narrative, Paradox as a film remains stranded — not so much unlike its focal-point space station and its crew when they’re seemingly left helpless in a separate dimension from their own.
So last week’s big release was Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods, but really, does anyone care?
Instead, Jake and I have added our own favorite releases from the past few weeks and beyond (we apologize for missing the deadline last Tuesday), including new tracks from The Voidz and Albert Hammond, Jr., as well as other recent releases including the likes of BROCKHAMPTON and Charli XCX.
Outside of those, we have another 16 tracks that round out our 20-song playlist, so there’s got to be a little something for everyone.
Would it be a cop-out if I were to concede and say that there were simply too many exceptional films this past year? So many, in fact, that even ranking a top 10 is quite near impossible for me? Because in forming this list (which you’re likely eagerly scrolling through to the bottom only to see my number one choice), I’ve had to not only sacrifice a number of extraordinary films, but have also infinitely gone back and forth on where each of these movies fit into the order. Really, in a year with less competition, each of my top six choices could have easily sat atop a year-end list at the number one spot.
As always, I wasn’t able to catch every film that I wanted to — although I did make it out to theaters over 50 times this past year. And it’s because of that that I can safely say that 2017 was the best year for film in recent memory; I was consistently amazed week after week by the incredible work reaching into theaters and beyond. Before we get to the official list, I have included a handful of honorable mentions as well.