Top Ten of 2018
This was one of the harder lists of the decade to compile. While there were a lot of good films this year, there weren't a ton that I really really loved. But here's a good solid ten that were my favorite.
10. AMERICAN ANIMALS
American Animals was one of the highlights of this year's Sundance Film Festival. I loved how it combined the documentary and narrative style into a piece where it almost felt interactive to how the real life counterparts were telling the story. The film is great in setting up how these young guys fantasized and idealized the scenario vs. how it was to actually live through it. The heist sequence was one of the most tense moments I've seen in a movie since Whiplash. I loved this.
9. A QUIET PLACE
John Krasinski directs and stars with his wife Emily Blunt in this suspense thriller about a family desperately trying to survive a new world in which aliens prey based on sound. This movie keeps you on the edge of your seat and holding your breath all throughout. You become conscious of every sound around you and it's hard not to be completely absorbed by everything going on. Any movie that demands your attention in that way that you can't just be a passive viewer is a winner in my book.
8. IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK
If Beale Street Could Talk is one of the most beautiful films of the year. The story jumps in time (similar to (500) Days of Summer) during this couple's relationship as they navigate their love amidst a false rape accusation and charge. The filmmaking here is all top notch from the performances, to the score and cinematography. The pacing is very deliberate and I wish things moved along a little quicker, but it's all done very thoughtfully.
7. WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
The Mr. Rogers documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor just gives you so much faith in humanity and is one of the most wholesome films of the year. It's hard not to be moved by this portrait of someone who did so much good in the world and inspired so many people. While I was never the biggest fan of the show as a kid, it gave me a new found respect for all he accomplished in his life and how many people he touched through his show.
6. SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
Who knew an animated version of Spider-man could be so good? The key here is how beautiful that animation is and how much it pops (one of the rare films these days that feels like a must to watch in 3D.) the story is also excellent as different Spider-men from various dimensions cross paths and discover they have to team together to save the world. This take on the familiar story feels so fresh and is very much welcome.
5. CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?
Melissa McCarthy is excellent in this true story of Lee Israel, a struggling writer who can’t sell her own stories anymore, so decides instead to sell her own fiction disguised as memorabilia from famous writers. I thought this movie was absolutely fascinating as you witness Lee go further and further down the rabbit hole of desperation. Her destructive behavior makes it so hard to watch and yet you can’t take your eyes away. Like watching a train wreck... but a very thought provoking well made train wreck.
4. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT
Mission Impossible Fallout is one of the best action films in years. Each action sequence is so perfectly executed and absolutely wondrous to behold. Tom Cruise is a machine in this film and it’s a total thrill just to watch him in action. But Rebecca Ferguson is a great addition to the franchise as well and a great partner for Cruise.
3. EIGHTH GRADE
Coming of age films always speak to me, and oh man this one sure had a way of transporting me back into all the awkwardness junior high has to offer packed within 2 hours. For real, this movie is packed with all the insecurities of adolescence and I FELT it! This movie was a great window back to the past of what all teens go through growing up, but this time with all the added pressure of social media heaped on top. I really loved this movie from start to finish and feel like it’s essential viewing for any parent with a preteen, as uncomfortable as it may be to watch.
2. A STAR IS BORN
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s electric chemistry lit the screen on fire in this fourth iteration of the classic story of A Star Is Born. The first half of this movie is pure movie magic as we witness Gaga’s character Ali’s rise to fame. The moment when she joins Jackson Maine on stage and belts out Shallow is perfection. The second half leans into the drama and Bradley Cooper brings it with the best performance of his career. Unlike other versions of the story this one actually feels bittersweet because we want these chargers to be together. The movie is made even better by its fantastic soundtrack.
This movie took the top spot on my list all the way back in January and never gave it up. Toni Collette is phenomenal in the best and scariest horror film I’ve seen in ages. The best part of it is while you think you have it figured out, director Ari Aster is always two steps ahead of you to pull the rug out from under you. It makes it all the more impressive that this happens to be his debut film!
HONORABLE MENTIONS: HEARTS BEAT LOUD, WILDLIFE, BLACKKKLANSMEN, FIRST MAN, PRIVATE LIFE, FIRST REFORMED