2018 was a mighty fine year for movies. Miiiiighty fine. My top two from this year are honest candidates for my all-time Top 10, and #s 3-7 would all be perfectly acceptable #1s for me most years. 2018 was a garbage fire of a year but the movies were great.
A disclaimer: As always, there was only so much time for movie-watching in the year and I didn’t get to some stuff that I suspect I would really like. Obviously this is even more extreme for films that couldn’t be streamed before year-end due to release schedule. Thus, no: Burning, First Man, Widows, A Star Is Born, Suspiria, Halloween, First Reformed, or Eighth Grade.
Finally, while sometimes I struggle to round out my top 10, I really struggled about some I left off this year. My #10 finally edged out Blindspotting and Bird Box, but I’m not sure I would say the same thing tomorrow. (For that matter I’m not sure I would keep my 1/2 ranking in that order if I did this list over right now).
10. Black Panther
A fantastic morality play / superhero movie that I thought might be my favorite film of the year when I saw it, but ultimately barely made the list. Michael B. Jordan was incredibly compelling and very refreshing as a “bad guy” who had motivations that weren’t “he’s the bad guy.” Makes for a much better story when the villain thinks he’s the hero.
There is a plot to Mandy, but I’m honestly not sure why they bothered. Nic Cage at his most flamboyantly insane and yet the movie is still kind of something of a tone poem….just one where the tone can shift very quickly from pastoral to 70s comix psychadelia to blood-spattered madness. Thought it was a bit of a trifle when I first saw it but my mind kept coming back to it.
8. Game Night
I can be a sucker for a well-crafted silly romp of a movie, but what really elevated Game Night for me was the performances of McAdams and Bateman. The movie didn’t inherently require them to work too hard but they picked up on the bits of personality in the script and really worked with it to make fun, interesting people. You can feel why Jesse Plemons desperately wants to be their friend.
Thank goodness that the filmmakers didn’t stay too true to the book, which I found too smart by half and lacking any characterization that could draw me in. There are deep themes here about identity and change as well as pretty terrific visuals and….well….a demon bear-thing.
6. The Favourite
I’m a sucker for Emma Stone (who is only getting better, by the way), but Olivia Coleman’s utterly vanity-free performance as the vapid power-center around which Stone and Weisz revolve and scheme may be my (ahem) favorite of the year.
5. Mission Impossible: Fallout
One has to wonder how many more years we have of Tom Cruise (56 years old now!) putting his body at risk doing ridiculous things for our entertainment. Who would’ve thought that it would be Mission Impossible that finally updated the James Bond formula and became the best action spy franchise?
4. Minding the Gap
My heart broke. While you obviously end up rooting so hard for Keire, Bing, and Nina, it was the final long interview with Zack that did me in…especially because he’s not wrong about his self-assessment. I hope that all these kids can escape their traps, external or internal, imposed or self-made.
3. Isle of Dogs
I’m sure it’s been pointed out before that Wes Anderson’s stop-motion pictures are his most humanistic. This is a story about love, loss, and life told through a frankly ridiculous medium, and it was an absolute blast to watch.
2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
I have not laughed harder than I did upon the introduction of Peni Parker in….ever? It is possible that I died at that point and everything thereafter has been a hallucination. I mocked those who told me this was the best Spider-Man movie ever, as I completely adore Homecoming, but yes this is the platonic ideal of a superhero movie, and I honestly feel bad about not having it ranked at the top. I wanted to watch this again the moment we left the theatre and I want to watch it again right now.
OMFG. Movies that don’t follow the formula are some of my favorites and at 40 minutes in I knew I was watching something where I had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what was going to happen next. It takes a certain kind of person to appreciate this and I’m still not sure that I was old enough to see this movie, but it really broke me and I couldn’t tear my eyes away even when I desperately wanted to. I watched the entire credits just because I couldn’t move. I think I stared at a blank tv screen for a while too.