With all of my 2018 film viewings finally coming to a close, it’s time to reveal what my absolute favorites were. Obviously, this is not the be-all-end-all of lists, but this is what has stuck with me throughout the year and will stick with me for years to come.
Runner Up – “Assassination Nation”
Maybe my most surprising experience of 2018, “Assassination Nation” will not be for everybody. Made for angry young women sick of being told what to do, it is violent, and loud, and on-the-nose as hell. But its style and message spoke to me and made me hunger for more, earning a rare second in-theater watch. This won’t be the best movie of 2018 by a long shot, but it will be one of my most remembered.
#10 – “Blockers”
It’s “Superbad” for girls! Maybe the first time I’ve felt the high school girls were actually written and portrayed as they are in real life. The three leads are fantastic, the dialogue is witty, and the whole package is held together with an immense level of heart and consideration. This is a comedy I see myself returning to again and again.
#9 – “First Man”
I wasn’t “nervous” for many releases in 2018, but this was the one I was most anxious about releasing. I loved “La La Land,” and I was so excited to see whatever Chazelle would follow it with, but I was not particularly stoked on having to see Ryan Gosling be sad all the time. I should’ve trusted my guy Damien, however, because “First Man” was beautiful, complex, heartfelt, and epic all at the same time. The outstanding visuals (hello – that moon shot anybody?) and incredible score put me over the top. This will be one everyone regrets sleeping on.
#8 – “Widows”
There’s not a ton to say about “Widows” other than it is a genre film at its peak. It soaks up everything there is to be gained from a heist story and wrings the cloth dry, with an unbelievable screenplay and masterful direction by Steve McQueen. Apparently general audiences weren’t fans of this (and to that I say, how????) but it was definitely a highlight of my year.
#7 – “Cold War”
All the best movies are 90 minutes or less, and “Cold War” absolutely proves this rule true. How Paweł Pawlikowski managed to tell such a sweeping love story spanning 20 years in only 88 minutes, but he did a beautiful job. “Cold War” managed to be impactful, relatable, and historical all at the same time, and reminded us that love is who (or what) you choose to pay the most attention to, day after day.
#6 – “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
There’s a strong argument for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” being the best film of the year. It is a story built for a generation who has grown to love, and maybe to hate, the Marvel machine, and forces us to look at the same lessons in a whole new light. Paired with innovative visuals and a killer soundtrack, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” reminds us what heroism is, even in a landscape filled with superhero fatigue.
#5 – “The Favourite”
If you haven’t seen “The Favourite,” go see it. You have to. It is a very good movie. Each creative aspect is firing on all cylinders, with incredible performances, costume design, production design, dialogue, story, direction, and cinematography. If this movie won every single award it was ever nominated for, I don’t think it would be a bad decision. A masterpiece of 2018, and even hilarious to boot.
#4 – “Hearts Beat Loud”
This is my obligatory nostalgia pick. This movie was never destined to get awards attention, but it still holds a special place in my heart. It is a perfect movie to cuddle up with whenever you feel sad and lost, and I think that is valuable, especially in today’s environment. Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons are magic together, and not just in the music they play. Plus, Ted Danson is in it. There really isn’t much to go wrong with here.
#3 – “Blindspotting”
A surprise hit that I did not see coming. “Blindspotting” manages to tell a story of gentrification and oppression in such a human way, without ever feeling victimizing or exploitative. The conflicts the two leads have with the outside world and each other so accurately embodied the difficulties of race relations in the present day that I was astonished. Many people had issues with the tonal shifts between comedy and drama, but it felt true to life to me. This is a movie I wanted to re-watch the moment it was finished, and I think will pave the way for more thought-provoking modern films on race in America.
#2 – “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Speaking about thought-provoking modern films on race in America, “If Beale Street Could Talk” was another impeccable example of how to succeed in making a point. Equally romantic as it is heartbreaking, “If Beale Street Could Talk” portrays the love between two young black people so authentically that even though it is set in the early 1970’s, it could have been set yesterday and I would not have been removed from it. Truly gorgeous cinema, dripping in love for the characters, the place, and the style. Perhaps my #1 recommendation for any single fan of movies, no matter your taste.
#1 – “Annihilation”
I saw “Annihilation” early in 2018 and never fully shook it. The scope, the themes, the performances… all haunted me throughout the year, unable to be fully eclipsed by any other (much deserving) film I saw. It may be the most ambitious movie released last year (with “Spider-Verse” coming in a close second), and I believe it executed at every single point. It was beautiful to look at, the score was amazing, the performances were on point, the pacing was there, and the message…. Well it is an idea you could think about forever and probably never land on a side. Where is the line between who you are and who you used to be, and does that mean you are still yourself? I’m not sure. I will be thinking about “Annihilation” for years to come, more than any other movie on this list, probably. That alone makes this my favorite movie of 2018.
Something missing from this list you think should be there? Check out the rest of my 2018 rankings and reviews here!