A List Of Must-See Movies From 2018—How Many Have You Seen Here So Far?
With the year dusted and done with, we can look back at 2018 and call out these films of the year that was. The list is completely subjective, and limited by what films I did manage to watch. As there are a number of films that, on paper, seem worthy of considering, but I haven’t viewed yet.
So the following is a list of the ones that gave me viewing pleasure; and quite often, was even more enjoyable the second or third time I would watch them—for me, one of the true tests of a film’s hold on me.
In no particular order:
Two race-centric films, BlacKkKlansman and Sorry to Bother You which both knew how to blend humor with trenchant social commentary about race relations, bigotry, and capitalism.
Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman is a period piece, set in 1970s Colorado, but has so much to say about today, as evidenced by the 2017 news footage tacked on at the film’s end. With great performances from Denzel’s son, John David Washington, and Adam Driver.
John David Washington and Adam Driver in BlacKkKlansman
While Sorry To Bother You took the world of telemarketing and turned it into a psychedelic hothouse of observations about instant fame, getting ahead, and race, kudos to director Boots Riley for keeping it all together, even when this comedy was slipping off the deep end of fantasy.
Tessa Thompson and Lakeith Stanfield in Sorry to Bother You
Comic superheroes can make for strong original film-making in Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
With so many films in this genre falling into familiar, formulaic territory, Black Panther took us by surprise by being so epic and grand, and yet managing to be personal and character-driven. Yes, there are shades of Lion King, but kudos to Coogler for making this a film about a male superhero yet also about women empowerment.
Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther
As for Spider-Verse, look to this to get nods for Best Animated film. The storyline was original and inventive, the animation a stirring blend of computer generated and hand-drawn work. The Spideys from alternate universes make for the highlight of this enjoyable romp.
Roma and Cold War a.k.a. Life can look better in black and white.
Much has already been said about Roma, so I’ll just say here that if it’s balck and white cinematography that astounds, seek out these two films.
Marco Graf, Yalitza Aparicio, and Daniela Demesa in Roma
Tomasz Kot and Joanna Kulig in Zimna wojna (Cold War)
Story-wise, I know there may not be that much to crow about with these two films, but Roma is a wonderful Valentine’s card from Cuarón to the yaya who raised him; while Cold War reminded me of the French films of the 1960s that made magic of love and following a single relationship stretched over the years. Pawlikowski turns cinematography into veritable poetry with this film.
A Quiet Place and Hereditary
When horror demonstrates, it can transcend its own genre by going old school, and not merely concentrating on jump scares.
John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe, and Millicent Simmonds in A Quiet Place
Gabriel Byrne, Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, and Milly Shapiro in Hereditary
John Krasinski and Ari Aster go old school with these two films, and come up trumps in big ways. Two films that approach horror in quite different ways, but surprisingly, in this day and age, rely on really good acting to pave the way. And I loved how both relied on a nuclear family to weave the tale, rather than going for widespread destruction or mayhem.
Widows and The Favourite
Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo in Widows
Widows saw director Steve McQueen and writer Gillian Flynn collaborating on a dense film that’s set up as a simple heist film; but had so much to say about a wide range of topics. From political corruption, to women empowerment, domestic violence, and racial stereotyping, there was so much going on within this film; and the ensemble cast was beyond terrific.
Emma Stone and Olivia Colman in The Favourite
From the director of The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos comes this period film (18th century England), The Favourite. It’s about ambition, madness, the English royalty, and greed, a movie cocktail I’ve always had a preference for. And with three actresses pulling out all the stops and giving us pitch-perfect performances (Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone), there was so much to love in this film.
Honorable mentions go to Searching, Eighth Grade, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, and Isle of Dogs. I liked, but wasn't crazy about A Star Is Born, First Reformed, The Sisters Brothers, and Leave No Trace just in case you were wondering what I thought about these 2018 releases.
Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody
And I laughed/moaned/rolled my eyes for the wrong reasons at Aquaman, Crazy Rich Asians, Unsane, and Bird Box; so the less I say about these films, the better—as kindness is still a virtue we film reviewers can painfully learn.
Michelle Yeoh, Constance Wu, and Henry Golding in Crazy Rich Asians
All in all, it was a good year; but I think it pales in comparison to 2017, where a stronger overall output was achieved, and there were more films that made truly strong impressions.
Photos from iMDb