Top 10 Films of 2018.
As 2018 comes to a finish, I’ve reviewed 79 films this year and now it’s time to narrow that down to a manageable list of the ten movies that you need to see from 2018.
Both Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians were important films to 2018, as the topic of diversity and representation becomes more and more vital. While both these films were enjoyable, they also both had their flaws.
Black Panther made the fictional world of Wakanda come alive, with vibrant and colorful costumes, some incredible fight sequences, and a strong cast of characters. Crazy Rich Asians featured an entirely Asian cast and focused on the country of Singapore, giving us a somewhat predictable story told in an interesting location with likeable characters.
I’m not a diehard fan of Clint Eastwood, I’ve hardly seen any of his older works, but I can tell you that The Mule is an incredible film, with Eastwood both acting and directing. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets several nominations come award season.
The only thing keeping The Mule from ranking higher is that half of our story revolves around a crew of federal agents tracking down a Mexican cartel. While this story is interesting, even Bradley Cooper and Michael Pena can’t compete with the powerhouse performance that Eastwood delivers, so we’re always eager to return to his story instead.
I never would’ve imagined that a Transformers movie would crack my top ten movies of the year. Bumblebee is very much unlike the others, managing to give us a personal story, anchored by an incredible performance from Hailee Steinfeld. The visual effects are much cleaner than the past films, giving us action setpieces that you can actually understand, as opposed to the constant swirling of gears that plagued the other films.
While this was a smaller story, it also delivered on enhancing the Transformers mythology, giving us some incredible sequences during the fall of Cybertron, some cameos from fan favorites, and a hope that the Transformers films in the future might take a cue from this movie’s simplicity.
Like a fine wine, Mission: Impossible is getting better with age and this latest installment Mission Impossible: Fallout is one of the series’ best. To learn that Tom Cruise is still doing his own stunts is sometimes hard to believe, with the sheer scope and intensity of these stunts on display.
This movie delivers on all fronts. We get some real suspense and mystery, we get some incredible action, and we get a strong performance from our leads. This series continues to set the bar for action films.
It’s a difficult thing to perfectly weave together things that might seem incongruent, but BlacKkKlansman manages to blend sharp comedy with a dark look at racism in the United States, specifically the prominence and power of the Ku Klux Klan.
It works primarily because of the strong performances from John David Washington and Adam Driver, making you laugh one second and cry the next. This movie covers the whole range of emotions and is both a really enjoyable film and a really important film.
It’s rare that a documentary makes my top 10, but this year’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is a no-brainer for this list. I don’t really remember watching Mr. Rogers growing up, but this movie perfectly outlines who he was and what he did, but where it really exceeds is reminding adults about lessons from our childhood that we’ve forgotten, or lessons that we never learned.
This movie is much more important than you’d think, as you see clips of Mr. Rogers trying to help kids understand intense subjects such as war and assassination and death. It’s a stark reminder of what television has become and what television no longer provides. It’s both a tragic story and an inspiring one.
In the second (of three) Bradley Cooper films on this list, we have A Star is Born. There is a lot that works here, both a foot-tapping musical and an emotional rollercoaster. Lady Gaga’s performance is surprising, while Cooper’s performance is one of his career-best. Cooper’s work behind the camera (in his first directorial effort) is also impressive.
You’ll find A Star is Born to be incredibly satisfying, that you’ll immediately want to re-listen to the songs on your way home, but there’s also plenty of gut-wrenching moments that you won’t soon forget either.
When you pair up two amazing talents, you end up with something like Green Book, a character piece for both Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. This story chronicles a black musician (Ali) who travels through the American South with a bodyguard (Mortensen). Both of them give strong performances and the movie is surprisingly funny, with Mortensen carrying most of the comedic weight.
This movie is a feel-good piece in the end, but its tumultuous ups and downs for our characters is an incredibly satisfying journey. I wouldn’t be surprised to see award nominations for both of our leads here.
This is likely my biggest surprise of the year, a movie that I was merely curious about. Searching instead became one of my favorites, a masterful suspense story and mystery. John Cho returns and delivers a heartbreaking performance as a father whose daughter has gone missing.
The real star of this film is the format however, making “found footage” more than the gimmick that it tends to be. We only view things through FaceTime or through the laptop’s webcam or through security cameras or streaming news. It’s all fascinating and incredibly authentic, leading you to believe that this mystery could be unfolding in real life, in real time.
Ten years ago, Iron Man released and kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I know this film may not rank highly for non-fans, but for me, this movie was the culmination (or at least beginning of the culmination) of ten years of excitement and investment. I’ve been along for the ride this entire time and it would’ve been easy for this film to feel like a disappointment or a let-down, but luckily it wasn’t.
The highlight of the film is the humongous cast, bringing together every star that Marvel has. And then, let’s pit them against one of the best villains created in recent years, the completely CGI Thanos, brought to life by Josh Brolin and some near-perfect visual effects. The action is larger than ever before and the movie’s climax is unpredictable and surprising, giving us nothing close to a happy ending.
You may not understand why Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is number one, especially if you haven’t seen it. It’s a cartoon! A superhero cartoon at that! What makes Into the Spider-Verse stand out is that almost everything about it is unconventional. It features an authentic story of a biracial hero, set in a mixed-media animated world, with a storyline focusing on multiversal travel. They took some major risks here and what we get is something unlike anything I’ve seen before.
Let’s start with the animation, the real star of the show. It brings a comic book to life in ways we’ve never imagined and offers some of the most unique action sequences in cinema. Our characters are even drawn in different styles, some in two-dimensional style and some three-dimensional. The soundtrack is perfect, our characters loveable, and you will immediately want to rewatch the film. It’s special, it’s full of heart, and it’s the one movie this year that captured my full imagination.