My Favorite Movies of 2018

2018 was a great year for movies. There were so many great films from so many different genres. 2018 was a great year for superhero films with the socially important Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War being a monumental achievement in blockbuster filmmaking. 2018 was a great year for documentaries too, with Won’t You Be My Neighbor, a heartfelt tribute to Mr. Rogers, and Three Identical Strangers, a shocking true story of triplets separated at birth, and even American Animals, an experimental documentary-narrative hybrid that told the story of a daring book heist. 2018 marked the first time I drove to a theater to see a documentary. I did this multiple times. If that doesn’t show their quality, I’m not sure what will.

2018 was a year full of impressive directorial debuts. There was Bo Burnham’s awkward and relatable Eighth Grade, and Ari Aster’s horrifying Hereditary (more on these later). Aneesh Chaganty proved how movies can take place on a computer screen with the thrilling and surprisingly emotional Searching. Bradley Cooper showcased his range as an actor and director with A Star is Born. I still believe that the scene where Ally (Lady Gaga) comes on stage and sings “Shallow”  is one of the best scenes of the year. Cooper and Gaga are electrifying and the music is amazing. Sorry To Bother You was a stylish, absurd and highly entertaining debut from rapper Boots Riely.

There are so many other great movies that unfortunately won’t make the top list. There was Game Night, a hilarious studio comedy with the wonderful Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman. Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs showcased jaw-dropping stop motion animation. BlackKklansman was a funny, serious, raged-filled period piece from the talented Spike Lee. The Coen brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs was a funny, serious, depressing, and hopeful western anthology that featured an amazing performance from Tim Blake Nelson. Damien Chazelle’s Neil Armstrong biopic First Man was a riveting character study.

2018 was such a good year for movies that I couldn’t widdle down just 10. Here are my top 15 favorite movies from 2018

15. Mission Impossible Fallout

This comparison has been made often, but Mission Impossible Fallout is the best action film since Mad Max Fury Road in 2015. The narrative is engaging – full of twists and turns. The action is visceral, practical, and jaw-dropping. Cruise physical dedication to these movies is unbelievable. Mission Impossible Fallout is one you can’t miss.

14. You Were Never Really Here 

Joaquin Phoenix plays a traumatized war veteran in Lynne Ramsey’s hard-hitting masterwork. Ramsey’s direction is on point and her use of implied violence disturbed me. The rapid editing allows the audience to enter Joe’s mind. Also, the film has one of the best endings of the year.

13. Suspiria 

I have never seen the original Suspiria, which made this film even better. The film is a slow burn that runs 2 hrs 30 minutes, but the slowly unraveling narrative led a crazy and satisfying conclusion. Luca Guadagnino dizzying camera work and the performances from Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton create a uniquely disturbing experience.

12. Shoplifters 

Shoplifters completely transport you into the loving home of a dysfunctional family of shoplifters in Japan. It’s deeply moving, funny, and completely human. It has a wonderful soundtrack and performances from all the actors, especially the child actors.

11. Paddington 2 

Paddington 2 surpasses the original and manages to be a film that everyone can enjoy. This was the first film I saw in theaters in 2018, and it never left my mind. Hugh Grant gives one of the best supporting performances as washed-up actor Phoenix Buchannan. The film is full of colorful production design, pink prison jumpsuits, and orange marmalade. By the end, you’ll be asking yourself how a CGI bear made you cry so much. At least I did.

10. The Sisters Brothers

Jacques Audiard’s western has one of the best ensemble casts of the year. John C Riely, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Riz Ahmed are all at the top of their game here. The characters are perfectly written and highly entertaining to watch.  It’s full of dark humor, melancholy, and life. Seek this movie out.

9. First Reformed 

Paul Schrader’s character study features a career-best from Ethan Hawke. Reverend Toller’s slow mental deterioration along with his crisis of faith leads to one of the most puzzling and thought-provoking endings. Taking on subjects like the Church’s role in the world, climate change, war Schrader creates a challenging, but thoroughly satisfying film.

8. Widows

Widows shows how capable Steve McQueen is as a blockbuster filmmaker. With perfectly shot/choreographed heist sequences and car chases, but the film isn’t vapid. McQueen has a lot to say about the current state of our country.  The whole cast is perfect; Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriquez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Ervio, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, and Liam Neeson are all amazing.

7. Eighth Grade 

Bo Burham directorial debut will make you cringe, laugh, cry, and most importantly feel like you are right back in 8th grade. Anchored by a phenomenal lead performance from Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade is an authentic look at middle schoolers in today’s technological age, with an honest and genuine portrayal of social media and the internet. Also, Josh Hamilton gives a perfect performance as Kayla’s goofy but loving father.

6. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Into the Spider-Verse is pure comic book euphoria on the big screen. Dazzling and unique animation, perfectly cast voice actors like John Mulaney, Nicolas Cage, and Jake Johnson, and a lot of heart, Spider-Verse is a family movie that everyone can enjoy and that everyone should see on the big screen while they still can.

5. Hereditary 

Ari Aster’s directorial debut mixes family drama with supernatural/psychological horror to create a uniquely disturbing experience and the best horror movie of the year. The elaborate sets and slow camera work build unnerving tension that works even on multiple viewings. Toni Collette’s strong lead performance is one of the year’s best.

4. The Favourite

The Favourite has three of the years best performances from Olivia Coleman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone. Yorgos Lanthimos creates a period piece unlike any other that is only improved by the sets, costumes, and a devious and raunchy narrative. The humor lands throughout and the story leaves you guessing until an interesting and layered ending.

3. Roma

Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma is a masterpiece. He captures Mexico City in gorgeous black and white; the elaborate sound design immerses you into the movie and the first-time actress Yalitza Aparicio gives one of the best performances of the year. It’s a mundane and beautiful story of family, loss, and motherhood. It’s on Netflix, but see it in a theater while you still can.

2. If Beale Street Could Talk 

Barry Jenkin’s adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel is the best love story I have seen on screen in years. Tish and Fonny’s relationship is so pure; you can tell how much the two care about each other through their faces alone. Love seeps from every aspect of the film, from James Laxton’s beautiful cinematography (especially those close-ups) to Nicolas Britell’s soulful jazz-infused score. Its a moving story of love in a harsh and unloving world.

1. Blindspotting 

I have seen Blindspotting 4 times. Twice in theaters, and I watched it twice in two days at home. Without spoiling anything, the climactic scene puts my jaw on the floor and sends chills down my body every time I watch it. This movie stuck with me more than any other from this year. It’s amazing performances from Daveed Diggs and Rafel Casal, their screenplay that was even better, the films ability to balance laugh out loud humor with intense scenes dealing with racial injustice, police brutality, cultural appropriation, and gun violence in Oakland. Its one that many missed, seek it out if you can because it is deserving of your time and money and is my favorite movie from 2018.