Best Films of 2018

2018 bore witness to great entries into almost every single genre of film. We got great animated features, compelling dramas, strong comedies and plenty of tense thrillers. This year was once again strong for movies, so it was difficult to cut down the 40 (yes, 40) movies I saw this year to just ten, but I did it. I give you the best movies of 2018.

Honorables Mentions: Aquaman, A Quiet Place, Love, Simon, Widows, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

10. Upgrade

(Leigh Whannell • Blumhouse Productions)
  • Directed by: Leigh Whannell
  • Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Betty Gabriel, Harrison Gilbertson

Upgrade is a science fiction gem with a lot of greatly paced action that left me wondering if I had just watched an Alex Garland film because that’s the feeling it gave me. In the director’s chair for just the second time, Leigh Whannell crafted a film that reminded me so much of Ex Machina and Netflix’s Black Mirror in the best way possible. Logan Marshall-Green delivers a performance to die for with great stunt coordination on his part as well. The film challenges reality itself and leaves us with a scary, lasting image about the dangers of taking technology too far.

9. Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade
(Bo Burnham • A24) 
  • Directed by: Bo Burnham
  • Starring: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton

The directorial debut from writer/comedian Bo Burnham perfectly explores that awkward phase that everyone goes through in middle school. Eighth Grade follows Kayla Day, a shy, unsure girl portrayed brilliantly by newcomer Elsie Fisher. Burnham’s script is full of dry comedy that has sublime delivery from everyone in the cast. I can’t get enough of this movie.

8. First Man

First Man
(Damien Chazelle • Universal Pictures)
  • Directed by: Damien Chazelle
  • Starring: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke

Despite sort of falling off the radar at the box office due to more commercial releases, I still think Damien Chazelle’s First Man is absolutely out of this world. This biopic about Neil Armstrong, one of the greatest Americans in modern times, is a tale of perseverance under pressure and courage in the face of uncertainty. The film’s lack of a ton of dialogue plays in its favor as the gorgeous cinematography and gripping sound design gives the movie theater the atmosphere of actually feeling as though you’ve left the surface of the Earth.

7. Beautiful Boy

Beautiful Boy
(Felix Van Groeningen • Amazon Studios)
  • Directed by: Felix Van Groeningen
  • Starrting: Steve Carell, Timothee Chalamet, Amy Ryan

Felix Van Groeningen’s Beautiful Boy is a perfect adaptation of the novels from Nic Sheff and David Sheff. It does the best it can to leave a lasting message about the dangers of addiction, though its true focus is on the inability to make someone else change. It’s tense, heartbreaking and frustrating as you watch Timothee Chalamet as the younger Sheff, who time and time again falls back into his addiction to crystal meth. The relationship between his character and Steve Carell’s David (Nic’s father) is the core of the film. I can’t brag on this vulnerable masterpiece enough.

6. Roma

(Alfonso Cuaron • Netflix)
  • Directed by: Alfonso Cuaron
  • Starring: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira

Outstanding direction and monochrome cinematography fuse with a beautiful performance from first-time actress Yalitza Aparicio in Netflix’s Oscar juggernaut Roma. It’s Cuaron’s semi-autobiography dedicated to his early life in Mexico City and the maid who helped raise him. Just like in Cuaron’s Gravity, the visual aspects of the film are astounding. I’ve only seen a few of this magnificent filmmaker’s movies, but after the beauty of Roma, I will be back for more.

5. A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born
(Bradley Cooper • Warner Bros. Pictures)
  • Directed by: Bradley Cooper
  • Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott

In a cinematic world that feels filled with half-cocked remakes and sequels, a fourth rehashing of A Star Is Born is an absolute necessity. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga portray a deep, swelling love story set against the glamor and heartache of fame. The film includes a great soundtrack and spectacular performances that are both award-worthy and quite endearing. It doesn’t hurt that some moments in the film feel like you’re at a real concert, which happens to be my favorite part of the whole thing.

4. Black Panther

Black Panther
(Ryan Coogler • Marvel Studios)
  • Directed by: Ryan Coogler
  • Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Danai Guerrera, Michael B. Jordan

Black Panther changed the game for not just Marvel, but for superhero movies in general. It portrays an internal struggle between tradition and innovation in T’Challa’s character and its amazing score. The film feels primal, formal and futuristic all in a single note. The cast is incredible, the setting is gorgeous, and the action is the best I saw all year.

3. Isle of Dogs

Isle of Dogs
(Wes Anderson • Fox Searchlight)
  • Directed by: Wes Anderson
  • Starring: Bryan Cranston, Greta Gerwig, Bill Murray

Is it Isle of Dogs…or I Love Dogs? Either way, the title is perfect. This movie boasts an amazing voice cast of Wes Anderson regulars that deliver deadpan humor in contrast to the darker nature of the story underneath. While Isle of Dogs may seem like another quirky entry into Wes Anderson’s ever-growing filmography, it is truly a symbolic story with roots in xenophobia and immigration. Anderson has once again made a great film with a mood-setting score and thought-provoking story.

2. Boy Erased

Boy Erased

  • Directed by: Joel Edgerton
  • Starring: Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe

Boy Erased is a film that will pull your heart right out of your chest. It’s a conversation starter on the horrors of modern-day conversion therapy and the use of the Bible as a living weapon. It plays on themes like toxic masculinity, rationale between God and man and how critical it is to be yourself. Boy Erased demands to be felt and presents an important issue in society that we can’t sit by and allow to continue existing. Garrard Conley’s story is not one of despair, it represents hope for change.

1. The Favourite

The Favourite
(Yorgos Lanthimos • Fox Searchlight Pictures)
  • Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos
  • Starring: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz

There is no way that anything other than Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite could top the list for my best films of 2018. This high stakes Mean Girls is more than just a beautifully scored and costumed period piece. All three of the best performances this year live within the walls of this film thanks to Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. It strikes the perfect harmony between a Shakespearean comedy and a pure tragedy and presents a great story that is funny, female-led and still feels relevant in our times. 

Well there you have it! What was your favorite movie of 2018? Let me know!

(I own no photos)