Well, we’re finally here. The end of the 2018 movie year (I’m aware we’re almost half way through January, but you get it). This final list will officially send 2018 off into the sunset. Overall, 2018 was a really good year for movies, particularly the second half of the year. I saw 203 films in 2018, a personal record, and with seeing that many movies, I was able to see more foreign films, documentaries, and smaller films that I would have missed in previous years.
Like every year, there are a number of films that could have made this list. But when deciding the films that would make the final cut this year, I picked the films that affected me the most. What were the films that I was thinking about long after I saw them? What films would I randomly think about on a random Tuesday afternoon? What films hit me emotionally? Which films do I get more out of the more I watch and think about them? These are the films that made my list.
So without further ado, here are my picks for the best movies of 2018.
[In Alphabetical Order]
- With a great cast, top-notch filmmaking, and immersive world building, Black Panther is a game-changing comic book film.
- This tragic love story is one of the best looking movies I’ve seen this decade.
CRAZY RICH ASIANS
- A charming, heart-warming romantic comedy.
- Ethan Hawke gives one of the year’s best performances in Paul Schrader’s complex look at the loss of faith.
MARY POPPINS RETURNS
- A delightful sequel with a pitch-perfect Emily Blunt.
A QUIET PLACE
- John Krazinski’s impressive directorial debut is as suspenseful as movies get.
- Chloe Zhao’s debut merges narrative filmmaking and real life seamlessly.
- A compelling look at what it means to be family with an earth-shattering finale.
And now, my top ten films of 2018.
10 – GAME NIGHT (John Francis Daily & Jonathon Goldstein
When I think about my favorite comedies of all-time, what makes them great is the rewatchability and the way the movies continuously make me laugh every time I watch out. Game Night is a movie that I have a number of times and it makes me laugh every time. The jokes never get old, the script is incredibly smart and twisty, and the cast is stellar. This is a soon-to-be comedy all-timer and the best comedy of 2018.
9 – IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (Barry Jenkins
If Beale Street Could Talk is writer/director Barry Jenkins’ follow-up to his Oscar-winning Moonlight and it is a film that solidifies Jenkins is the real deal. Beale Street is a heart-breaking love story that shows that love knows no bounds. With the stunning cinematography, moving score, top-notch performances, and tremendous filmmaking from Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk is an intimate, relevant, moving look at the power of love.
8 – THE GUILTY (Gustav Möller)
The Guilty is my personal pick for Best Foreign Language of the year. This is a tightly wound, white-knuckle thriller all set in real time and in one location. Jakob Cedergren gives one of the best performances of the year as a street-wise cop who is stuck answering the phones when he gets a call of a woman who has been kidnapped. What unfolds is completely unexpected. Led by Cedergren’s performance, a tight script, a claustrophobic feel, and simple, yet effective filmmaking, The Guilty will keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time.
7 – WIDOWS (Steve McQueen)
You don’t get too many films that combine high art with hard-hitting action, but that’s what co-writer/director Steve McQueen accomplished with Widows. Boasting the best ensemble of 2018, Widows takes a B-movie plot and turns it into a film that deals with politics, capitalism, greed, corruption, inheriting the problems of your past, and women empowerment. This is a slick, gritty, tough film that utilizes the city of Chicago as good as any movie has in history. It is blasphemy that this movie didn’t get enough love this year, at the box office or in terms of awards, because this is one of the best crime thrillers of the decade.
6 – FIRST MAN (Damien Chazelle)
When it comes to First Man, the only thing I can do is marvel at it. Marvel at the performances, led by an intense Ryan Gosling and an awards-worth Claire Foy. Marvel at the film’s technical achievements, from the powerful score, to the smooth editing, to the moon-landing sequence that will blow your mind. And marvel at director Damien Chazelle. At only 33 years old, Chazelle has shown a diversity in his work unlike any director at his age. From the blistering Whiplash, to the whimsical La La Land, to First Man, Chazelle understands cinema like an old pro. First Man is his best work as a director and only makes me wonder how high Chazelle’s ceiling is as a filmmaker.
5 – MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT (Christopher McQuarrie)
The Mission: Impossible franchise has quietly the best franchise in all of cinema. From the first film in 1996 to Fallout this year, the films have continuously gotten bigger and better. Mission: Impossible -Fallout is the best of the series. Director Christopher McQuarrie and star Tom Cruise (who should get Oscar consideration) are a match made in heaven when it comes to action movies and this franchise. The stunts in this film are jaw-dropping, making you question how they did them. Then you realize they are all practical effects and that Tom Cruise did every single one of his stunts, and your draw drops even further to the floor. The H.A.L.O. jump sequence will have your heart beating out of your chest. Mission: Impossible – Fallout is one of the greatest action movies ever made.
4 – INCREDIBLES 2 (Brad Bird)
After a eleven year hiatus, Brad Bird returned to the animation game and he did not miss a beat. Incredibles 2 is the long-awaited sequel to The Incredibles and it was worth the wait. Bird is working on so many levels here, it requires multiple viewings to peel all the layers away. Along with being the best superhero movie of the year, Bird made a film that deals with gender roles, commercialism, consumerism, our obsession with watching a screen, and the question that we’re thinking about all the time in this current state of film, do we need superheroes? It’s heavy stuff for an animated film, but it only elevates the film and the genre for the better.
3 – BLACKKKLANSMAN (Spike Lee)
It feels so good to have a Spike Lee joint on my best movies of the year list. Not since 25th Hour back in 2002 has Lee had a movie this strong, this good, and this Lee. Telling the incredible true story of how black police officer Ron Stallworth (John David Washington, in a star-making performance) infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970’s is a story only Lee could have made. I haven’t seen Lee this focused in a movie in decades. There is an anger and fury in the way Lee tells this story. There are plenty of visual flourishes, along with a stellar ensemble, that bring this story to life. For a film set in the 1970’s, Lee ties it back to our current time and forces us to look in the mirror. The America of the 70’s isn’t much different than the America we live in today, and that message is hammered home in the finale montage. Lee made a shocking film, yet the most important film of the year.
2 – A STAR IS BORN (Bradley Cooper)
A Star is Born‘s greatness all relied on Bradley Cooper, who co-wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the film. With wearing so many hats, it is very easy for one to fault. But not here. Cooper knocks it out of the park on every front. There is a passion and love in this movie that I did not see in any other movie in 2018. This is the fourth rendition of A Star is Born, yet Cooper made it feel fresh and original. His performance is the best of his career, and his co-star, Lady Gaga, is equally as good. This film never felt like it was made by a first-timer. Cooper knew the story he wanted to tell, knew how he wanted to tell it, and made sure he, his cast, and his crew told it right. Well they did, in every single way, they told this story right, in a truly sensational form.
1 – HEREDITARY (Ari Aster)
I saw Hereditary at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and I immediately knew it was a special film. But it was after the film that I realized how special it really was. It was all I could think about the remainder of the festival and it was all that I talked about after the festival. But it was the repeated viewings that made Hereditary the best movie of the year. Every viewing offered up something new and different, whether it was deeper meanings, stylistic flourishes, or small nuances in the performances and the directing that continuously made the film engaging. On the other hand, every viewing of the film reminded me of everything I loved the first time I saw it. The endless tension, the control Aster has of his script and the pacing, and the performances, particularly from Toni Collette, who gave the best performance by any actor in 2018. Hereditary is a horror classic and a film that will having you thinking about it long after the credits roll, which is why it is my pick for the best movie of 2018.
So long, 2018. It’s been real.
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