Eastside Year in Review 2018: Movies and TV

January 5, 2019

Practically perfect in every way is not exactly how the film industry functioned in 2018. Some 2018 movies (Avengers: Infinity War, Incredibles 2) performed amazingly at the box office, raking in billions of dollars. Some others (Annihilation, The Predator)… did not. There was an oversaturation of superhero movies along with a handful of sequels for much beloved properties. Eastside Online presents our take on the movies and TV of 2018.

The Best Movies of 2018, Reviewed by East Film Club

During a meeting of Film Club, students chose their overall favorite movie of the year through a bracket. They kept in mind both cinematographic and story elements along with their general enjoyment of the movies. They chose their favorite movie of the year, not the objectively best movie of the year, as they enjoyed most of these movies. Members of Film Club include President Jonathan Cohen (‘19), Louis Bovino (‘19), Aviva Lerman (‘19), Aaron Oppenheim (‘19),  Sam Grossman (‘19), Macey Baran (‘20), Joey Hay (‘21), Theo Rudderow (‘22), Faith Ortega (‘22) and Lindsay Batzar (‘22).

Film Club would also like to acknowledge that this bracket was made before Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse came out.

Jacob and Sean’s 2018 Film Review Podcast

Jacob Kernis (’20) and Sean Coen (’20) review the past year in film.

OPINION: Teen actors in movies

“Teen” movies that supposedly encapsulate the high school experience have been a staple of American culture for years. From Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to Mean Girls to more recent movies like the recent Netflix hit To All The Boys I’ve Loved before, it seems that these movies always been around to show the trials and tribulations of teenage life. Despite their consistent popularity, one thing always seems to stand out, especially to their teenage audience: the actors and writers of the script are clearly not teenagers themselves.

In many movies and even television shows, a character who is supposed be a freshman in high school looks like they could be a college graduate. When a character appears inaccurately aged, the ability for the film to relate to teen viewers (who are the target audience for this type of content) is completely compromised. How is a casual viewer supposed to realistically engross themselves into the world of a film modeled after their lives when none of the actors fit the main role? One great example of this is the aforementioned To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. In the movie, Noah Centineo and Lana Condor play two high school juniors. Juniors in high school are usually between 16 and 17, but both Centineo and Condor are over 20. While this may not seem like a big jump, to someone who is in high school it makes the movie seem completely unbelievable. If you were to put those two in a class full of actual juniors, chances are they would stick out like a sore thumb. Real teenagers look nothing like the manicured adults in backpacks that can be found in a frightening amount of teenage media.

Having an accurate portrayal of teenagers doesn’t exactly seem to be the number one priority for most big-screen producers and casters for media geared toward younger audiences. They are trained to create the content that will have the most publicity and ability to generate revenue for their companies. That’s why they cast older heartthrobs like Centineo, who they know will garner attention for their film (which Centineo certainly did, displayed by his massive following from girls on social media almost akin to an early 2010s Justin Bieber) in ways that the typical scrawny, pubescent boy could not. However, this practice of casting older actors is not the only way for a film to get attention, a concept beautifully displayed this year by Bo Burnham’s breakout film Eighth Grade. The movie was critically acclaimed for its accurate depiction of adolescence, in all of it’s awkward, funky glory. His movie used real teenagers, with Elsie Fisher playing a protagonist named Kayla. Teenagers and adults alike rejoiced at the accuracy of the casting in the movie, which led itself to an authentic feel for the viewer, and whether or not they hit puberty last week or thirty years ago, they felt it all over again in that hour and a half.

However, looks are only part of the problem. Screenplays for these “teen” movies are often written by people who are not in their teens themselves. For example, in the classic Clueless, the screenplay writer and director, Amy Heckerling, was in her 40s. More recently, Kelly Fremon Craig, screenplay writer of The Edge of Seventeen, was in her 30s. These are just two examples, but many times those who write the scripts are not teens themselves, and they obviously write with no input from teens themselves. While yes, teens are still in school and probably not out writing movie scripts, it doesn’t change the fact that, from a teen’s perspective, these movies can come off as extremely out of date and awkward.

The solution? Hire young people. When auditioning for the next big teen movie, try to find someone close in age to that of the character. When writing the scripts consult young viewers. There are plenty of young people interested in working in film, and there are no shortage of young, talented actors, something 2018 showed us this year.


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