The Best Films of 2018
Roger Ebert once referred to the movies as "empathy machines". Those machines were in full effect in 2018 with stories and characters that allowed us to walk in their shoes, take in their culture and customs and hopefully look deep into the struggles and horrors they encounter, forcing us to be better and more aware humans. When awards season is over and all of the films from this past year make their way to rental and streaming services, 2018 will be looked back on as the year where diversity ruled.
From Black Panther to Sorry To Bother You to Eighth Grade to Crazy Rich Asians to Annihilation to Roma and RBG, we saw stories that defied the status-quo and we're better for it. Diverse backgrounds and ethnicities have always been unrepresented in America, but behind the camera, filmmakers conveyed visions of their lives to the forefront where we were required to wrestle with their struggles in ways not previously shown before. Women and minorities continued to make their presence known in on-screen and behind-the-scenes in 2018 and mainstream audiences followed their every move; we cheered them on, looked to them for leadership, asked for guidance in the ways of love, friendship, legal advice, conjuring spirits and even the most difficult job in the world, parenting. Cinema exposes us to different cultures where their beauty is highlighted reminding us we've all been strangers in strange lands at some point. Each and every day is an experience and the power of a great film is to amplify our compassion. It has the power to make us confront our feelings and fears but more significantly, the visceral images force us to walk-a-mile in the heroes and anti-heroes we encounter.
Here are one-hundred films that helped me with my journey.
1. First Reformed
Paul Schrader is responsible for some of the most visceral men on cinema over the last 45 years. These are men riddled by guilt ("Frank Pierce"/Nicolas Cage in 'Brining Out the Dead'), disgust ("Travis Bickle"/Robert De Niro in 'Taxi Driver'), insecurity ("Jake LaMotta"/De Niro again in 'Raging Bull), temptation ("Jesus"/ Willem Dafoe in 'The Last Temptation of Christ') and in 2018, anguish was front and center by Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) in First Reformed.
Hawke plays a Protestant minister battling with his own soul, fixated with the nightfall that has taken over his life and the world, and yet for the majority of the film, Hawke gives a discreet performance that haunts, because he wants nothing more than to feel alive, and yet, he denies himself the joys of life. I haven't been able to get this film out of my mind since I saw it in May and despite two additional viewings, I still have questions. Schrader's script and direction are poetic as he delicately moves through a conflicted man of God who can't see past the environmental horrors, his own demons and his crumbling faith. This film will stick to your insides and never leave you. Paul Schrader has made the best film of 2018 and one of the best of his career with First Reformed.
2. Hearts Beat Loud
I love this film with every ounce of my soul. Nick Offerman plays a single dad running a record store and getting ready for his daughter to go away to college. Father and daughter come to realizations about life, their relationship, and their bonds over the music they share and create. Kiersey Clemons (who was dynamite in Dope from a few years back) shines here. She loves her Dad but needs to move on from their life, when a song they wrote and recorded takes on a life of its own. The film also has strong supporting turns from Ted Danson, Toni Collette, Sasha Lane and Blythe Danner.
Hearts Beat Loud captures the exhilaration and misery of growing up, creative dynamics and life's detours which leads us to destinations unknown. I loved this movie and the soundtrack; you'll be humming the theme song for weeks on end.
3. Eighth Grade
Bo Burnham made a perfect film about adolescence that is nothing short of astonishing. Elsie Fisher as thirteen-year-old Kayla sets the bar so high for future teen films it's almost impossible to touch. You don't have to be a teenager in 2018 to appreciate the nuances and the awkwardness she embodies. Burnham never looks down on the kids portrayed in the film and there is an ease to his storytelling and direction. You feel Kayla's joy, sorrow and fear. You cover your eyes because she's about to do something you once did and can't bear to relive it. It takes us back to specific places while highlighting our flaws and how we should explore, embrace and own them.
4. Isle of Dogs
Say Isle of Dogs really fast ten times and you will find yourself saying "I love dogs". There's always earnestness to Anderson's films beneath the initial iciness. You watch characters transform, learn something about themselves and by the end of the film, their hearts warm over, reducing some of the anxieties of life. The animated film takes place in the not too distant future where an outbreak of dog flu forces the mayor of a Japanese city to expel all dogs to an island, where one 12-year-old boy crash lands in order for find his best friend. It's quite a metaphor for our state of the world and Anderson's direction is something that continually makes me happy. His films take me on a whimsical journey and give me a sliver of hope for the world.
5. Sorry to Bother You
I've never seen a movie like this. Ever. Lakeith Stanfield plays black telemarketer Cassius Green in a look at an alternative reality of Oakland with a Tessa Thompson as his artist girlfriend. Injected with wit, humor and sheer horror, Sorry To Bother You is unlike any other film released in 2018 and will be a signal post for future filmmakers. It's a comedy that isn't afraid to take its punches at big corporations, limited job growth and the impossible nature of what America has come to be. It's about the here and now, but more importantly, it is a peak into our future if we don't take action.
6. Paddington 2
The original Paddington was a charmer but they upped their game for the second one, which may be as perfect as any film released this decade. Paddington wants a pop-up book for his dear Aunt Lucy and he gets jobs to earn money for it, until a villain, played with great relish by Hugh Grant, steps in and creates so much chaos it finds Paddington in prison. There's humor, tears, Peter Capaldi, pink prison outfits, a prison break, marmalade and enough love to feel as if you've been enveloped by a great big bear-hug at its conclusion.
7. The Favourite
Director Yorgos Lanthimos goes to 18th century England where Queen Anne takes center stage in a film driven by a trio of female performances, Olivia Coleman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. Two cousins vie for the affection of the queen and will do anything to come out on top. The performances are delicious and divine with all three woman leads worthy of Oscars, each of whom performed their roles with winking witticism.
Spike Lee deserves more credit than he gets. He consistently makes one film a year and while they vary in quality, he makes at least one masterpiece a decade and BlacKkKlansman checks the box for this decade. John David Washington (Denzel's son) is incredible as Ron Stallworth, the real life detective who helped bring down a segment of the Ku Klux Klan. The film is mesmerizing while finding a way to inject humor throughout. The film's ending is something that we will all have to come to terms with. Lee isn't afraid to exhibit the revulsions of these men, what they stood for and how it's still infecting our society today as he highlights the Charlottesville tragedy of 2017. His ability to tie a forty-year-old story to modern times is something Lee excels at compelling the viewer to grasp that we still bridges that need building before we are able to better our world.
9. Leave No Trace
Director Debra Granik has made a discreet yet crushing film. Ben Foster plays a veteran with PTSD whose pain is inaudible while Thomasin McKenzie is his daughter who lives with him in a park, living off the land, because the thought of a normal life is suffocating. We watch these characters interact as they navigate the world yearning for simpler pleasures. It's a PG rated film and one that should be viewed by everyone to help provide awareness of the sacrifices our soldiers make and how just because they're home doesn't mean they not still fighting a war.
10. BlindspottingWritten by Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs, who are also the films leads, it tells the story of a man on his final three days of probation in Oakland. Diggs won a Tony for Hamilton where he performed dual roles as the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson and he took that notoriety to make this passion project a reality. Blindspotting isn't afraid to blow the lid off of race relations in America but does so in such a manner that it forces you to come to terms with class differences. How do crime, capitalism, gentrification and societal prejudices define our country? How are individuals impacted? All of these questions swirled in my head for weeks after I saw the film, unable to shake the inequality and biases the characters face. How do we heal interior wounds in a world that refuses to liberate someone just by the color of their skin? There are no answers to these questions, but the film arouses discussion.
11. Won't You Be My Neighbor?
Mister Rogers was a man who brought a sense of stillness to every situation and this pleasing documentary which proves that his persona off-screen was eerily similar to his one on-screen. In a day and age where we drown ourselves in pessimism, this is a film that will inspire you and make you rethink what we can do to make this world a better place.
Director Alex Gardner has made yet another sci-fi masterpiece, but this time, the cast was led by a team of five women; Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson and Tuva Novotny. The mysterious disappearance of Portman's husband (Oscar Isaac) leads her to an equally mysterious place referred to as "Area X" for answers that takes the characters, and the viewers, into the unknown. Ex Machina was a refreshing slice of sci-fi a few years back, but the depth of the female characters here makes Annihilation a novel piece of cinema in the world of sci-fi.
13. Black Panther
Director Ryan Coogler leads Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan and Lupita Nyong'o in what may be the best Marvel Universe film. My opinion changes weekly, so it's hard to state that definitively, but Black Panther is a film that pushes the Marvel envelope every way imaginable; futuristic worlds, an all-black cast but it's the human element within that speaks to us as a whole that makes it stand out from the films that came before.
14. Avengers: Infinity War
You have to give Marvel credit, instead of getting lazy and taking shortcuts, they up the ante with every film and while not everyone is perfect, they deliver minimally one knock-out a year and the latest Avengers film left us shattered and stunned when it ended.
15. The Old Man & the Gun
Robert Redford's swan song is a great movie to go out on. Redford plays Forrest Tucker, a lifelong bank robber who never knows when to hang it up, the film takes us through his journey and his infectious smile which opened more than doors for him, but bank vaults as well.
16. The Hate U Give
2018 may stand as the year that African-American filmmakers were thrust to the forefront. Their voices were heard louder and valued more than ever before. Amandla Stenberg who is best known from her brief but lingering presence in The Hunger Games gives an Oscar worthy performance that will make you re-think your life, how you've lived it and how you want to live it. Teetering between two worlds, the film is audacious and shows a divided country, neighborhood and culture on the brink. Like many of the best films of 2018, it's a thought provoking work of art that deserves our attention and dialogue.
Alfonso Cuarón created a tribute to his mother in this striking black-and-white film that gradually pulls you in, where you watch sorrow continually unfold. However, it was the 123-minute mark that opened the water ducts (shown on the film's poster) that has stuck inside my heard, where voices, wails and the crashing water culminate into resolution. Roma is a love letter to his mother, to those seeking a better life and to his greatest muse, cinema.
Ari Aster devised this modern horror classic that leaves you with more questions than answers. The first three-quarters of this film are perfect and a second viewing brings the arc of the story into clearer focus. There are subtle hints, subtext and Easter eggs to be found and it's all conveyed by Toni Collette's mesmerizing and gut wrenching performance. Watching her on a darkened screen in the spring of 2018 was one of the greatest moments in a movie theater of my life. I was curled into a ball during a few scenes not ready for what was about to unfold, and you will be as well.
19. Let the Sunshine In
Director Claire Denis has crafted a film where the characters live, love and wallow in predictable anguish from lack of commitment. Juliette Binoche is nothing short of ravishing in this role as a woman who doesn't quite know what she wants and yet her journey is splendid as we watch it unfold. Binoche is uninhibited on her search for something real and tangible and the story leads to a one-of-a-kind final scene with one of the world's best known actors. You sit there smiling at the screen as it reveals itself, because it captures the joy and essence of our daily lives along with the hope that something dreamlike could be right around the corner.
20. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
There wasn't a better pairing of actors in all of cinema in 2018 than Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant as conspirators who sell literary forgeries in 1990s New York. Grant's performance is one of pure bliss. McCarthy plays all the right notes from bitterness to loneliness in a studiously and dazzling film I can't wait to see again.
Charleze Theron was Oscar worthy as a mother at her wits end who has just given birth to her third child as she tries to hold her family and her sanity together. This is one of her most stimulating roles and she doesn't hold anything back showing a level of vulnerability that hits much too close to home for many. Without revealing too many spoilers, viewers should take note of how the film unfolds for a shocking reveal at the end.
22. RBG / On the Basis of Sex
The most essential double feature of the year; Mimi Leder directs a remarkable Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Jones inhabits the role with bite but never overplays her hand which is made all the more relevant by the audience pleasing documentary RBG which puts her extraordinary life into focus from tragedies she experienced in her youth to her endurance during law school to the constant discrimination against her in the field of law, these two films are treasures one should turn to whenever they need inspiration.
The family that steals together stays together. Hirokazu Kore-eda Japanese drama about a group of individuals who act like family live off the pension of one woman's dead husband and the ability for the others to steal and make ends meet. The film delicately unfolds until the ending, which splinters your idea of what defines a traditional family.
24. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
A sprawling animated adventure about Spider-Man that could arguably the best cinematic version of this character. Into the Spider-Verse is a film that isn't taking cues from what came before, but has moved into a valiant direction with a look to the future where Spider-Man is black, a girl, white, moody and even a cartoon pig. It's takes everything you know about the superhero genre and throws it into a blender defying many of the norms to showing us a new way to look at comic book movies.
Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams defy norms as one-time friends who reunite at the funeral of Weisz's Orthodox Jewish father. The past isn't far behind as they share where they've been, what they want and ultimately what they yearn for. Both actresses are magnetic in a film that grapples with identity amidst tradition.
Aneesh Chaganty directs John Cho in a film that takes place entirely on phone and computer screens about the disappearance of Cho's teenage daughter. Inventive and intoxicating, you'll want to see it again for the hundreds of Easter eggs the filmmaking team hid in the film giving clues and hints.
27. Lean on Pete
Andrew Haigh directs Charlie Plummer as a teen with no home and a deep love for horses. There's no easy way to say this, but the film will steal a piece of your soul as Plummer's passage is one that would destroy most but endurance is plentiful which keeps his faith alive.
28. You Were Never Really Here
A modern day Taxi Driver where Joaquin Phoenix plays Joe, a former FBI agent who tracks down missing girls until one job goes horribly wrong. Director Lynne Ramsay gives attention to details like a hammer, Phoenix's overlong beard, and his penetrating eyes all of which is underscored by Jonny Greenwood's palpitating score. It's not one of the year's cheeriest films, but it's easily one of the most memorable.
29. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Disney bungled the release of Solo by making it too soon, firing the original directors and re-casting possibly the second most iconic character of the Star Wars universe. In spite of all of this, Solo plays like an old fashion western that is nothing short of a blast to watch. The screenplay by Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan is a joyride while Alden Ehrenreich puts his own spin on Han Solo while Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover and Thandie Newton provide great support on a film that deserved better.
30. 22 July
Paul Greengrass may be best known for making most of the Jason Bourne films but United 93 and Bloody Sunday gave the viewer a first-person perspective of tragic days we would rather not relive. He does the same with 22 July which is focused around the terrorist attack in Oslo in 2011. His story doesn't shy away from the radical nature of the attack but the time is shared with a survivor and the lawyer chosen to defend the terrorist. It's a riveting film you won't be able to look away from.
Sandi Tan dreamed of making films as a child growing up in Singapore. Along with a few friends, and an older man who had guided the young women, they set out to do just that in the '90s. When they finished filming a movie, the man they looked up to disappeared with the footage. Decades later, the friends who set out to change the world of film re-grouped to retraces their steps from all those years ago and in turn, they uncover answers to long gestating questions and experience more artistic despair. The documentary found a home on Netflix and it's one of the best offerings on the service.
Sometimes simple films, when done well, can be as good as those films up for Oscars. Kelly Macdonald is a house wife who has never done much for herself because she's always taking care of everything for everyone. A gift of a puzzle awakens something in her which forces her to confront her own identity. Wanting a challenge she pairs up with a stranger for a puzzle competition, performed with great ease by Irrfan Khan. Puzzle is a wonderfully engaging film that will elicit a smile and I loved the way this movie made me feel for weeks after my viewing and sometimes, that's all a movie needs to be great.
The grittiest performance of Nicole Kidman's career finds her playing the same character a decade-and-a-half apart. Her past doesn't haunt her; it lives within her tearing the very fabric of her life apart including her family and her job. The film's secrets are revealed to the audience via flashbacks and Kidman embodies two different souls before they meet at the intersection of tragedy.
34. At Eternity's Gate
Willem Dafoe plays Vincent Van Gogh in a torturous film covering the last few years of his life. Dafoe makes you care about the art, the passion and the drive to create.
35. Three Identical Strangers
Triplets separated at birth and studied from afar for decades until a chance encounter leads to the three of them finding each other. Their reunion will warm you, the celebrity aspect of their lives will entertain you and the wounds from their psyche will haunt you. One of the best documentaries of 2018.
36. First Man
Ryan Gosling is Neil Armstrong in Damien Chazelle's latest (La La Land, Whiplash) and it's a study of a man who sacrificed almost everything for his country and the advance of science. The film gives the audience a first-person perspective as there are trial runs, death and destruction few could have imagined in their race to make it to the moon. Clare Foy plays Armstrong's wife in an understated and nail-biting performance that is overlooked and unappreciated. Whatever demons Armstrong was trying to escape, he did so through work, while the women anxiously paced waiting for their husbands to return home alive.
37. A Star Is Born
Bradley Cooper's remake lives up to the hype, mostly because he made his character sympathetic while Lady Gaga holds nothing back in a performance that's tender and unflinching. The film's greatest moments come from the musical performances which are alive and overflowing with intensity; "Shallow" and "I'll Never Love Again" are amongst the greatest musical performances ever committed to a cinema screen.
38. Cold War
Paweł Pawlikowski's created the best love story of 2018 told with exquisite black-and-white images that cover over fifteen years of two lovers zigzagging in and out of each other's lives. The leads are modeled after Pawlikowski's parents who had their own volatile relationship, but what makes Cold War so unforgettable are the lead performances by Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot whose needs shift and mature throughout the film and yet we shadow their story fervently amidst opulent cinematography and impossible odds.
39. Green Book
One of the most controversial films of the year about the true story of Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) and pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) as they take a trip through the south in 1962. The film plays on all the standard buddy clichés, but beneath them are a pair of performances that elevate the material. You believe every breath from these two as they work through their differences in a lovely story. In a year where African-American filmmakers and actors rose to new heights in their art, is Green Book revolutionary? No, but its subtle nature has the power to make people think twice about their lives, experiences and advantages and most importantly, it moving enough to change hearts and from where I sit, this is never a bad thing, especially in 2018 when we need empathy more than ever.
40. If Beale Street Could Talk
Love knows no bounds in Barry Jenkin's follow-up to Moonlight which follows a couple's courtship, engagement and separation due to racial prejudices that derail their plans as a family. The film is immersive and affecting with Kiki Layne and Stephen James breathing life into these characters in a non-linear film that will simultaneously confound and inspire you to be better. Special mention for Regina King who is dynamite in everything she does, but in her limited screen time she makes a weighty impact whose actions are every bit as powerful as her words.
41. Christopher Robin 2018
Disney had a rather ingenious idea to find Christopher Robin as a grown-up. The film, while wholly predictable, allows Robin and the audience to seek out the good in life. People may say these themes are overused, but too many of us require a reminder to take a moment to find that inner joy, time for family and picnic time with Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, Owl, Tigger, Kanga and Winnie the Poo.
42. Happy as Lazzaro
Hidden on Netflix, Alice Rohrwacher takes us to the Italian countryside where a kindhearted and happy-go-lucky teen boy, Lazzaro befriends someone who will alter his trajectory. The less you know about the film, the better, because the magical realism is so surreal, you'll want to watch it twice to grasp the goodness of Lazzaro and his peculiar journey.
43. Mary Poppins Returns
Emily Blunt is splendid in this next chapter. The dialogue is clever, Lin-Manuel Miranda is every bit as good as you hoped he would be, there's a decent amount of fan service from the novels and there's even Dick Van Dyke. Need I say more?
Jessie Buckley is a troubled young woman who is trying to move forward with her life, but the past has a way of not allowing her, until a young shadowy man enters her life. She's intoxicated by him, but his sudden appearance comes simultaneously as several young women are being murdered on their small island. Is he the killer? Is the community judging a book by its cover? Who is the beast?
45. The Rider
Chloé Zhao has made a remarkable movie about a rising star from the rodeo circuit, who after a tragic accident struggles with identity and what it means to be a man. Can he survive the shame of not riding? Can he walk away from the one thing that makes sense to him? Brady Jandreau provides great sensitivity to the role in an unsuspecting movie that will take you by surprise.
46. Support the Girls
Regina Hall is a treasure; she had a supporting role in The Hate U Give and is best known for the Scary Movie franchise, but here she is the manager of a sports bar and all the drama and intricacies that come along with it. She has to balance her own struggles against everyone in their orbit where she serves as a mother to all of them from the waitresses, the cooks and even the customers.
47. Ant-Man and the Wasp
Marvel's game was really strong in 2018 and Paul Rudd continues to make us all smile along with the help of Evangeline Lilly and comic relief from Michael Peña.
48. A Quiet Place
John Krasinski crafted the year's best white knuckle film, which makes the audience a participant in the extreme tension fueled horror film. Krasinski delicately wrote and directed this film where he ensures the audience will stare bug-eyed at every noise, creek stair whisper which at any moment can be the signal of the end.
49. Mission: Impossible - Fallout
Tom Cruise has found a way to remain strikingly relevant with this madly entertaining franchise, which is close to entering its fourth decade.
50. Crazy Rich Asians
Blockbuster entertainment is redefined with an inventive story, stunning sets, the exquisite Michelle Yeoh and Awkwafina, who steals every scene she's in. It's refreshing to see a Hollywood movie reflect other cultures in such a mainstream fashion. If there's a sequel, I'll be there.
After more than a decade and five films, this is the Transformers film fans have been waiting for and deserve. Rebooted and taking place in 1987, Bumblebee is a personal story that isn't anything like the first five films. Hailee Steinfeld adds heightened weight to the film with a heartfelt performance that even a cynic would find affecting.
Wicked fun with Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy and Anton Yelchin (in one of his last performances) hatch a plot to kill one of their stepfathers, which doesn't go as planned. The three leads are icy and subdued wonders in this black comedy that flew under the radar.
53. Love, Simon
We need more mainstream films like this; diving into the romantic aspects of being a gay teen in high school that is unexpectedly outed. Nick Robinson is effortless and endearing as the lead in a film that deserved a larger audience.
54. A Private War
Rosamund Pike gives her all as real life journalist Marie Colvin which traces her desire to get a story at all costs. She leaves her life behind as she dives headfirst into worldwide conflicts for the sake of the story. Pike disappears into the role and you can't help but feel her pain, exhaustion and the search for the truth within herself.
55. Creed II
While it could never reach the heights of the first Creed, the sequel is a worthy successor with standout performances once again from Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson and the return of Dolph Lundgren, who may be the best of the bunch.
56. Ready Player One
Steven Spielberg brings the best-selling book to life with Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke and Ben Mendelsohn making the CGI effects feels secondary in a film about those in search of answers, hope and love.
57. Incredibles 2
Pixar's game is always strong and this is a worthy sequel.
58. Ralph Breaks the Internet
One of the best original Disney films in recent memory takes on the internet in a high energy sequel that has some cameos that justify its existence. The scenes where Vanellope interacts with the Disney princesses is worth the price of admission alone.
59. Juliet, Naked
Based on the book by Nick Hornby, the film adaptation is surprisingly fresh with Rose Byrne playing the female lead and Ethan Hawke all but disappearing into the role of Tucker Crowe, a once heralded musician who has disappeared causing rampant speculation amongst his adoring fans, including Byrne's boyfriend played by Chris O'Dowd. The best scenes are between Hawke and Byrne as they learn about each other and in the process, discover more about themselves as well.
60. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
The major motion picture from the television show has a lot of laughs and includes a Michael Bolton song titled "Upbeat" you won't be able to get out of your head. I am not making this up.
61. God's Own Country
A 2017 release that was so moved me deeply that I had to include it here. This is a beautiful love affair between two men on a Yorkshire farm that dives into family drama, expectations and masculinity which the leads have to confront and come to terms with.
62. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Dismissed by many, I found the latest film in the Harry Potter universe to be a delight, while not quite capturing the high points of the first film, but it is still a delight to see Eddie Redmayne sink his teeth into this role and seeing Jude Law embody Albus Dumbledore was as good as a treat from Hogsmeade.
Luca Guadagnino has made some of my favorite films this decade including Call Me By Your Name, I Am Love and A Bigger Splash and yet his remake of the 1977 horror classic is bewildering and yet, I couldn't take my eyes off the screen.
64. Game Night
A madly entertaining film with Jesse Plemons stealing every scene he's in with much needed comic relief in a rather ingenious comedy with Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams and Kyle Chandler navigating the waters between humor and horror with ease.
Keira Knightley is Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a woman who ghost-wrote for her husband. Knightley devours this role and it is her greatest performance to date, where she doesn't posture or overact, but embodies Colette in every frame.
66. The Cakemaker
This Israeli-German drama is unlike anything you've seen before. A young German baker is having an affair with a married Israeli man who suddenly dies leaving behind his lover and a family in Israel. The baker makes his way to Israel initially seeking answers, but slowly infiltrates the family his lover left behind. These characters rarely mention the man but his presence is within all of them and you can feel the weight of their loss in every scene. We live, we love and we mourn, but we plow forward with life, because this train doesn't stop. The Cakemaker is a distinct film about loss and is worth seeking out.
Chloë Sevigny plays Lizzie Borden with a piercing edge, while Kristen Stewart plays a servant in her household. The interactions between these two actresses are something to behold with Stewart showcasing why she is growing into one of our finest actresses. Her roles are often defined not by what she says or does, but by what her eyes tell us and she's a standout in Lizzie.
68. American Animals
A unique pseudo-documentary that shifts seamlessly between interviews and the dramatic recreations of an art heist taken on by four college men at their college library in Kentucky.
69. Minding the Gap
This is a marvelous documentary about three teens in Rockford, Illinois who have to leave their skating dreams behind and tackle the responsibility of being adults in a refreshing and honest look at small town America.
70. Deadpool 2
You can only experience a character like Deadpool once, but it doesn't stop the second film from being any less fun.
71. Skate Kitchen
Director Crystal Moselle made Skate Kitchen with real New York skaters. What makes this film standout if her focus is around a group of female skaters, who are often underrepresented on popular culture when it comes to this sport and hobby. While the story is fictional, it has the gritty aesthetic of a documentary where you sense the acting in this film comes from first hand experiences. The film is currently streaming on Hulu.
72. The House with a Clock in Its Walls
This is highly entertaining with Jack Blank and Cate Blanchett bringing this young adult novel to the screen under the direction of Eli Roth. Looking for Saturday afternoon escapism, this one is for you.
Over-the-top, gratuitous, ridiculous and you know what? It works. The DC super universe was saved by this film which went big and bold on everything embracing who the character is, where he came from and where he's going.
Jonah Hill gets behind the director's chair and is nostalgic for his time where cd players ruled, skating was religion and you try desperately to grow up over the course of a summer. It's more than a play on nostalgia but a deeply personal and a surprisingly affecting film.
75. The Wife
Glen Close plays the woman constantly in the shadows of her husband, a winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Close devours this role and anything in her path. Even when she's not on-screen, every scene evolves around her presence. This would make for a superb double-feature with Colette.
Also worth seeking out :
76. Death of Stalin
78. Summer 1993
79. On Chesil Beach
80. Lu Over the Wall
81. My Happy Family
85. Thunder Road
86. Red Sparrow
87. A Wrinkle in Time
88. Ocean's Eight
89. A Simple Favor
90. The Tale
91. Goosebumps 2
92. Andre the Giant (documentary)
93. Bohemian Rhapsody
94. The Escape
95. I Feel Pretty
96. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
97. The Sisters Brothers
98. White Boy Rick
99. Mary Queen of Scots
100. The Grinch
Flawed But Notable 2018 Films: Boy Erased; Vice; Vox Lux; Beautiful Boy; Nostalgia; Halloween; The Ballad of Buster Scruggs; Sicario: Day of the Soldado; The Frontrunner; Assassination Nation
Notable 2017 Films Seen in 2018: Don't Talk To Irene; Allure; Happy Death Day; Professor Marston and the Wonder Women; BPM; American Made; Last Flag Flying; Lucky
Anthony Kuzminski is a Chicago based writer and Special Features Editor for the antiMUSIC Network. His daily writings can be read at The Screen Door. He can be contacted at tonyk AT antiMUSIC DOT com and can be followed on Twitter
The Best Films of 2018
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