The Best Films of 2018
As the year draws to its close it’s time to once again look back at the year in film and list the best of the best. I had my work cut out for me since this was a pretty good year for film in general, with even a Transformers movie that turned out pretty good. In fact, I decided to forgo a worst of the year list since, of the films I watched, I only managed to have a true hatred for about five; Nutcracker And The Four Realms, Jurassic World 2, Red Sparrow, Crimes Of Grindelwald, and, upon further reflection, Slender Man. Here are the ground rules for my list: The list is not ranked since I don’t really feel one of these is objectively better than all the rest, though I may have my favorites. I can’t put it on my list if I’ve not seen it, so anything that didn’t release wide enough to come to northern Wisconsin is out. Which is too bad because from everything I’ve heard, Eighth Grade and The Favorite probably would have earned a spot. Finally, this list is only my opinion as a film critic. Let’s start.
(Written and Directed by Alex Garland)
The screenwriter of the then genre defying 28 Days Later and the Writer/Director of 2014’s sleeper sensation Ex-Machina is back with another great sci-fi story. Natalie Portman gives one of her best performances since Black Swan and her supporting cast from Gina Rodriguez and Tessa Thompson to Oscar Isaac is phenomenal. At once a high concept sci-fi story and a more personal tale about people and how they deal with tragedy, this will be one you and your friends can discuss long into the night. Also there is a mutant bear that screams like a human and it is still one of the creepiest images of 2018.
(Directed by Ryan Coogler, Screenplay by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole)
Not only does it have one of the best villains the Marvel Cinematic Universe has put forth so far, not only does it bring the nation of Wakanda to life in a way that I don’t think even Lee and Kirby ever dreamed of, not only does it have fantastic performances across the board, but it also has a thumpin’ soundtrack, a groundbreaking crew, and the most complete story of the MCU. Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger might just net him an Oscar, playing a villain who is undoubtedly wrong, but at the same time completely sympathetic in his motivation. Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther was perfect casting, as we new from when he was in 42 that he could more than hold his own in playing dignified, larger than life heroes.
A Quiet Place
(Directed by John Krasinski, Screenplay by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods)
In a year that saw it’s ups and downs in horror, John Krasinski’s directorial debut was the first great one of the year. The chemistry between him and Emily Blunt is undeniable (it should be, they’re married), the children act well and it shows us the really clever ways in which people could survive in a world invaded by monsters that detect prey by sound. The relationship between Krasinski’s character and his son is tragic but somewhat understandable. With some of the most intense moments in horror this year, A Quiet Place is a home run.
(Directed by Kay Cannon, Screenplay by Brian and Jim Kehoe)
There is no better compliment I can give a comedy than that it is an uproariously funny movie, and that is Blockers. Like all good comedies, it also has a big heart. The performances from both the adults and the young are great, but Ike Barinholtz steals the movie as Hunter, and it is a nice surprise that his character, who is treated like a hard partying screw up, is actually the only one who is doing what he is doing for the right reasons. A genuinely funny movie who made three new stars in Kathyn Newton (who was also in Paranormal Activity 4, so she’s been moving up the last few years), Geraldine Viswanathan, and Geraldine Adlon (daughter of Pamela “Peggy Hill” Adlon).
Avengers: Infinity War
(Directed by the Russo brothers, Screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely)
This is it, the culmination of ten years of storytelling, and it was pulled off without a hitch. How effective was this movie? Usually the preview showing is a raucous place for big movies, but as the movie went on, the theater got more and more quiet. I have never seen a preview screening go that silent than it was in the last twenty minutes of the movie.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
(Documentary, Directed by Morgan Neville)
If you want to watch a movie about one of the truly good men in history, his life, and his impact, this documentary about Fred Rogers is just the thing you need. You may even have a little bit of faith in humanity restored to you.
(Written/Directed by Ari Astor)
With some of the most inventive cinematography in horror this year, and brilliantly acted by Toni Collette and Alex Wolff, Hereditary might just be one of the most intense experiences you’ll have in a while. Not so much scary as it is unnerving, watching a family fall apart amidst a terrible tragedy while supernatural shenanigans happen in the background is more horrifying than what the actual endgame of the film is. The only drawback is that the last thirty minutes of the movie are such a misfire that it faceplants just before the finish line. Everything up to that last thirty minutes is gold though.
(Directed by Spike Lee, Screenplay by Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel, Kevin Willmott)
The true story of two Colorado cops, one black and the other Jewish, who infiltrated the Colorado Springs chapter of the Klan by a really clever act of subterfuge, and narrowly stop a terrorist attack. David Washington proves he is at least at the talent level of his father, Adam Driver gives another great performance. but it’s Topher Grace’s turn as a buffoonish but intimidating David Duke that is most surprising.
Crazy Rich Asians
(Directed by Jon M. Chu, Screenplay by Peter Chiarelli Adelle Lim)
With the utterly charming Constance Wu and Henry Golding leading a great cast, this romantic comedy is both of those things. Add a little culture shock (of the world of the super rich) and one of the most intimidating mother’s in a while. I truly hope the other two books are adapted, because I want to return to this world.
A Simple Favor
(Directed by Paul Feig, Screenplay by Jessica Sharzer)
At once a satire of mysteries in the vein of Gone Girl and one of the best of those type of stories, A simple Favor is a funny, intense, roller-coaster of a movie that grips you from scene one to the closing credits. Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively give what could be their best performances to date, Henry Golding is charming and the mystery is genuinely engaging.
A Star Is Born
(Directed by Bradley Cooper, Screenplay by Bradley Cooper, Eric Roth, Will Fetters)
A movie of stunning debuts, from both Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. A truly affecting and powerful film that also has a great soundtrack. Sam Elliot needs to be nominated for an Oscar for his role as Bradley Cooper’s older brother, who is a powerhouse when he’s on screen. This movie broke down my skepticism and sank it’s way into my heart.
(Directed by Sean Anders, Screenplay by John Morris)
An utterly wonderful film that really sinks it’s teeth into the concept of fostering children and the comedic and dramatic consequences that comes from it. Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne are always good in comedies, but here they at their most genuine and likable. Isabella Moner continues to make a name for herself as a rising young actor, and the two younger children do pretty good as well. A genuinely uplifting movie that will warm your heart.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
(Directed by Bob Persichietti,Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, Screenplay by Phil Lord and Rothman)
This one is still in theaters so I won’t say too much, but in the hierarchy of Spiderman movies, this is second only to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2. Go see this.
Hostiles (2017, came to my theater in January of 2018)
Mission Impossible: Fallout
Bad Times At The El Royale