Top 10 Movies of 2018

Sarah Posted by Sarah at December 14, 2018 19:37:08 December 14, 2018 19:37:08

2018 was a good year for film—a REALLY good year. Narrowing down a Top 10 was difficult and came down to which films left the biggest mark, whether it be creating a cultural phenomenon or lingering in my mind for the better part of a year. I looked for films I found myself recommending over and over, and the ones I couldn’t wait to revisit. 2018’s Top 10 are the films that made the best impression in an exceptional year. As always, this list is alphabetical, not ranked.

Annihilation

Alex Garland’s trippy sci-fi nightmare is an existential pop quiz walking around with a horror movie skeleton and philosopher’s brain. Annihilation is as beautiful as it is sad, and has some of the most inventive and creepy visuals of the year—and it was a GOOD year for horror. Also, nothing in 2018 was as unsettling as that goddamn skull bear.

Full review here

Bad Times at the El Royale

Drew Goddard’s sophomore effort is a kitsch homage set in a Lynchian other-world, where time and place are not quite marching with reality. This film rewards re-watching and consideration, with its meandering back-and-forth narrative that takes the time to languidly contextualize its characters and tell side stories that are, at best, tangentially related. For all its wandering, though, Bad Times never loses sight of the oncoming train headed for its characters. This is one of the year’s best ensembles chewing on some of the year’s best dialogue, all set in one of the year’s best art-directed spaces. 

Full review here.

Black Panther

No movie was bigger this year than Black Panther, which transcended every demographic to become not just the biggest movie of the year, but also a major pop culture event. Also, it’s just plain good, telling a superhero story of mythic proportions while maintaining the intimacy of a family drama. And it’s proof that superhero movies do not have to be empty spectacle, but can carry weight as commentary and critique, too. 

Full review here
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Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Marielle Heller’s caustic biopic of literary forger Lee Israel is the only biopic this year to not worry about making its subject look good, literally and figuratively. Melissa McCarthy gives an unglamorous performance as the acerbic, unpleasant Lee, reminding us how good she can be, and she’s joined by Richard E. Grant in one of the most fun, affecting, and effective supporting performances of the year. Forgive is a sympathetic, surprisingly sweet portrait of an unapologetic liar, and it’s the best biopic of the year.

Full review here

Eighth Grade

Bo Burnham’s debut film is painfully, cringingly awkward, capturing the unease of adolescence with almost unbearable clarity. It would be easy for Eighth Grade to be satirical, even mean, but Burnham and breakout star Elsie Fisher approach thirteen-year-old Kayla with a sincerity that makes this film a kind, forgiving portrait of one of the most uncomfortable periods in anyone’s life. And Burnham’s unique insight into YouTube youth culture gives the film a ring of truth that only adds to the agonizing honesty of the piece.

Full review here

The Favourite

Yorgos Lanthimos takes a step back from his usual outright weirdness to tell the only slightly weird story of privilege and power in eighteenth century England. Flavored with Lanthimos’ particular brand of bonkers, this is Heathers as historical drama, with sumptuous costumes and lunatic staging, drawing humor from random bouts of absurdity, but it also has an eye for the loneliness at the heart of the story. It also features three of the best performances of the year.

Full review here.

If Beale Street Could Talk

Equal parts romantic and frustrating, Beale Street is one of the most resonant films of the year. Barry Jenkins’ lyrical adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel makes you fall in love with Fonny and Tish, only to then drag you through the years of frustration and disappointment they suffer as young black lovers whose hopes and dreams are of no account in 20th century America. But Jenkins’ work is not hopeless, and his film ultimately echoes with devotion and love.

Full review here.

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Paddington 2

It is the textbook definition of “heartwarming”, and no film this year will make you feel happier than Paddington 2. Beyond the lovely art direction, whimsical adventure, and Hugh Grant’s performance as wicked thespian Phoenix Buchanan, what makes Paddington 2 stand out is its message of kindness. It’s not a mealy platitude, but a very specific moral about the importance of everyday kindness in our everyday lives. If you’re kind and polite, the world will be alright, indeed.

Full review here

The Rider

Every year there’s a film that slides under the radar only to be discovered years later when the director breaks out, and this year that film is Chloe Zhao’s The Rider. Despite winning an award at Cannes in 2017, The Rider has been slow to be recognized, but it’s one helluva calling card for Zhao. Based on the real life story of Brady Jandreau—who stars as himself, along with his sister and father—The Rider has a documentarian’s eye for detail and a storyteller’s instinct for drama. Lyrical, poetic, mesmerizing, The Rider is a sharply drawn portrait of life on the fringes of the rodeo circuit, an intimate glimpse into a life few ever see.

Sorry to Bother You

Boots Riley’s film debut is a searing satire, funky sci-fi, and workplace comedy all rolled into one colorful package. Wild, intense, bizarre, and uncompromising, Sorry to Bother You is one of the year’s strangest visions. A blazing indictment of gentrification and twenty-first century corporate culture, Sorry vibrates with as much anger as it does life. It feels like a new movement in cinema unto itself, a major work that will be in conversation with films yet to come for years. In a year full of the strange, the horrible, and the just plain bizarre, Sorry stands out as the boldest and most daring film of the year.

Full review here

Runners-Up

BlacKkKlansman
First Man
Hereditary
Roma
You Were Never Really Here

Okay Movies Featuring Stellar Performances

Glenn Close – The Wife
Lady Gaga – A Star is Born
Mahershala Ali – Green Book
Steven Yeun – Burning 
Zoe Kazan & Bill Heck – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Making the Most of 2018

Awkwafina
Brian Tyree Henry
Joe Alwyn

Are You F-cking Kidding Me?

Death Wish
Peppermint

Metal AF Movie of the Year

Mandy
 

Photos:
John Lamparski/ Dominik Bindl/ Michael Loccisano/ Mike Coppola/ Kevin Mazur/ Getty Images

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