I tried really hard to work this list down to ten like every other list I’ve done over the last two weeks, but there are just too many great movies that have come out this year. And, honestly, too many great ones for you to go and see this holiday season. So, I have broken this down to 20 films and some special mentions. So, without further ado, here are the very best films of 2018!
- On the Basis of Sex / RBG
Felicity Jones gives one of the finest performances of her career in a film that illuminates just how Ginsburg got her start on changing the laws that discriminated against. This is a fascinating and accessible piece of history.
- Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse
Who would have thought that the problem with Spider-Man was that there just wasn’t enough of him. This film balances all those personalities with an origins story that you won’t soon forget.
- The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
It has long been known that the Coen Brothers were some of the best directors working, but being able to take this series of shorts and shape them into one of the most entertaining films of the year was truly an achievement. The first chapter may be the best, but it’s so worth sitting through the rest.
- The Hate U Give
This story about a teenager balancing the black and white world after witnessing her best friend get wrongfully shot down by a police officer is about as timely as it can be, but it’s also accessible. This is one of those movies that if you get white people through the door it could actually change hearts and minds.
- First Man
This movie may have some small flaws that kept it from my top ten, but that does not change the fact that it is a beautiful film with some wonderful performances and one of the most awe inspiringly moving final acts of the year.
- Leave No Trace
This movie might be a slow build to it’s emotional climax, but it is well worth it. It’s a movie that sneaks up on you and opens your eyes to a situation that most people don’t really talk about. Not to mention the fact that the relationship between Ben Foster and young Thomasin McKenzie is about as moving a father/daughter relationship as you’ve ever seen on screen.
Spike Lee returned this year with another cop thriller that was not only entertaining, but an enlightening look into the world of the Klu Klux Klan and how one black cop made a dent in their network. John David Washington and Adam Driver give career best performances in this unforgettable joint.
- Can You Forgive Me?
This look into the life of a woman who forged letters, would seem like a tough sell on paper. Yet, when you see it on screen it is so clear why Melissa McCarthy had to have this role. This is the best role of her career and a character that we don’t see on screen very often. You may love her, hate her, or just sympathize with her, but you won’t be able to take your eyes of her.
- The Favourite
This film is a perfect showcase for the talented female stars that grace the screen. There is so much backstabbing, lying, cheating, sex, and other shenanigans that you fill into 3 other movies. And Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, and Olivia Coleman are more than game for the chaos. The audience reaps the rewards for this brilliantly written little slice of royalty.
- Avengers: Infinity War
The biggest film of 2018 is also one of its best. Marvel built the stakes of this film up for 10 years and then delivered an ending that truly shocked most of the world. I won’t ruin it for the two or three people that have left to see the film, but the rest of you are surely still holding your breathe for the next chapter.
- Mary Poppins Returns
It has been over 50 years since Mary Poppins graced the silver screen and nobody honestly thought that anyone could step into the large footsteps of Julie Andrews. Well, Emily Blunt not only stepped into them, but she made them her own. This wonderful film is a perfect nostalgia trip back into the hay day of movie musicals and I am all about it. Some may frown at all the songs, but those of us who love a good bit of song and dance will be rewarded handsomely. Don’t miss this film this Christmas season.
- Fahrenheit 11/9
The first of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit films was what kicked me into politics and this film reminded why it was so important that I be more active in my democracy. Moore also helped me truly understand how Donald Trump managed to get elected and that alone is worth a watch if you are at a loss as to what is going on with your country.
- Ready Player One
This movie is easily the one I have watched the most this year and will probably be the movie I continue to watch in the years to come. Steven Spielberg basically gave people of my generation a gift with this movie and I will covet it for as long as I can. The Oasis is truly a dream world, that I would disappear into if it existed. Oh, and the race scene and the scene where they go into ‘The Shining’ are the two best scenes of the year! Thank you Spielberg!
- Green Book
Out of every drama I have seen in the last few months, this is the one that I’m likely going to see again over the holidays. And it all boils down to characters. Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali are fantastic as Tony Lip and Don Shirley. I would watch these two in anything, but watching their characters transform and build such a good friendship over the course of this film was a truly something worth remembering.
- A Quiet Place
Not only is this one of the best horror movies in years, but it is a brilliant film about the difficult responsibility that we all have to take care of our children and try to make the best out of the worst situations. John Krasinski channels Hitchcock and Spielberg that few filmmakers could and what he delivers is a movie that should be getting strong consideration for a Best Picture Oscar!
- If Beale Street Could Talk
This movie is like watching a beautiful tone poem that rewards your every glance. Yet, it also tears into your soul with the juxtaposition of an unforgettable love story and the harsh realities of the prison system locking up black males simply for the color of their skin. You will leave this film both discouraged at the state of our justice system and inspired by the power love holds to break through even bars. Not to mention the fact that Barry Jenkins and James Laxton shoot black actors with such beautiful lighting that you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen. This is the movie that black audiences have deserved for years and hopefully more directors follow suit.
Alfonso Cuaron could have made any big budget Hollywood film he wanted to at this point and he decided to return to Mexico and tell a very personal story about the essence of the Mexican family he grew up in during the 1970’s. He does this through the eyes of a poor housekeeper and Cleo will become the yes of this time for generations to come. In this film, audiences are rewarded with one of the most stunning films to grace any screen this year. You can choose to watch it on Netflix, but it really is best on the big screen.
- Black Panther
This film was the cultural phenomenon of 2018 and for good reason. It is not just a superhero movie with a mostly black cast (that made a billion dollars), but it also manages to balance the needs of superhero action movies with a story that says more about the state of African people than any film I have ever seen. And it does so much of this through the plight of its villain. Which miraculously makes a character, who you want to be stopped at all cost, be the most clear example of what centuries of oppression can truly do. Audiences walked away from this film with excitement over a new character, the future of black cinema, and the hope that there is truly hope for equality in this world if those who have power opens their hearts to those who need them most. That’s the essence of heroism and this movie showed this with a grace seldom seen in this genre.
- Mission Impossible : Fallout
This film is the most expertly crafted film of 2018 and damn near made the top of my list. This film has some of the most expert cinematography of the year, some of the best stunts you have ever seen, easily the best sound mixing of 2018, and editing that is breathtaking. The fact that this film is not being mentioned more in the Oscar race is a travesty. From the moment these characters step foot in Paris, this movie delivers the most exciting filmmaking that any film dared to try and make this year. And they did it all in camera and without the use of visual effects. That is the kind of craftsmanship that we go to the movies for and being able to see Tom Cruise in a close up while jumping out of a plane, hanging off a helicopter, or falling off a motorcycle is more than just icing on the cake. It’s a rarity that the Academy should be rewarding with trophies.
- A Star is Born
Chemistry like what exists between Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in this film is a once in a generation thing. From the moment these two actors lock eyes we are locked right along with them. Which makes their beautiful trip up the ladder of stardom and their fall from grace feel so intimate that it touches your very soul. No film touched me more than this one this year. And I don’t know if it’s because I grew up around a mother and father who were singers or if this movie is just so damn good that it won’t let me go, but it has stuck with me for months now. I can’t wait to see it again. I can’t wait for it to raise my spirits and then tear my heart out. I can’t wait for it to let me fall in love and then feel the most terrible loss. I can’t wait to spend time with these characters again and that’s the very reason we go to the movies.
BEST OF THE REST
Isle of Dogs
Ralph Breaks the Internet
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Three Identical Strangers
Mary, Queen of Scots