The Best Films of 2018
With political and social upheaval, natural disasters, and the overall feeling of optimism fading away, 2018 was a rocky year that really never seemed to end. Fortunately for moviegoers, the year did offer a way of escape through some great films, ranging from record-setting blockbusters to genre-defying indies. Now that the year is finally over and all the films have been released, I can finally release my list of what I thought were the ten best films of 2018.
Honorable Mentions: They Shall Not Grow Old, The Sisters Brothers, Mission: Impossible - Fallout, Thoroughbreds, Wildlife
10. Private Life
Coming out of Sundance, this film written and directed by Tamara Jenkins illustrates the challenges a forty-something couple goes through in order to start a family. Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti star as the couple as they go through treatments, adoption, and every method to have a child. The gripping performances from the leads along with Jenkin’s touching screenplay gave this film a ton of comedy and tragedy that led to one of the most emotional films of the year.
9. Vox Lux
Dubbed by many as the anti-A Star Is Born, this film tracks the unsettling career of Celeste as she becomes famous through tragedy and chooses to live in that dark moment. Raffey Cassidy and Natalie Portman play Celeste as a teenager and adult, respectively. They each do an incredible job at creating a conflicted character that holds a mirror up to a society that worships celebrities. With a soundtrack by Sia, this pop tale has some great music to go along with its disturbing subject matter.
8. First Man
Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling follow up La La Land with another equally great film. Trading in his piano for a rocket ship, Gosling stars as Neil Armstrong and gives us an accurate look into the turbulent life of one of America’s most famous figures. Chazelle's impeccable directing made for some of the most terrifying sequences of the year and allow us to bear witness to the immense danger that many brave men experienced in the name of exploring the unknown.
Probably one of the best directors working today, Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma is his most personal and epic film to date. The sweeping story is centered around a housemaid named Cleo. Through her eyes, we watch the domestic struggle a large family must go through in 1970s Mexico City. Along with directing, writing, and editing, Cuarón also manned the camera and gave us some of the most awe-inspiring cinematography of the century. Available on Netflix, this film is the most accessible must-see of 2018.
6. First Reformed
One of the most influential writers of American cinema, Paul Schrader both writes and directs this film about a tortured priest and the inner turmoil he struggles with as he examines the world we currently live in. Boasting some of the best dialogue of the year along with a career-best performance by Ethan Hawke, this dark and metaphorical film challenges its audience to see the effects humans have had on this planet and how we cope with our misdoings.
Spike Lee returns to form with a true story of black cop Ron Stallworth infiltrating the KKK in 1970s Colorado Springs. Both John David Washington and Adam Driver deliver great performances, and Lee’s powerful editing near the end of this comedy/drama serves as both a history lesson and a modern commentary on how our society really hasn’t changed as much as we think it has.
4. Leave No Trace
Also out of Sundance, This small film also is a quiet character study of a father and daughter that have chosen to live in the woods rather than within the confines of civilization. Sporting spectacular performances from breakout star Thomasin McKenzie and Ben Foster, the film expertly explores the idea of how we identify with home and how society reacts to the life choices we have made.
3. Avengers: Infinity War
The more you think about it, Infinity War had no right to even work, let alone be great. Credit should go to directors Joe and Anthony Russo who were able to take a project that culminated eighteen films rostering twenty-five characters and make it into a high stakes thriller that never felt overstuffed. It also delivered the MCU’s best villain and was able to leave a permanent mark on pop culture with just one snap. Hopefully, Endgame will be just as good.
2. A Star Is Born
More of a 1B than a clear #2, Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut more than lived up to its lofty expectations. The pairing of him and Lady Gaga in the lead roles was a match made in heaven as their chemistry lit up the screen both on and off the stage. With one of the best songs of the year in “Shallow”, this pitch-perfect retelling of a classic story left no dry eyes after its endearing tribute ending.
1. The Favourite
My favorite film of the year (pun intended), this 18th-century piece can best be described as Barry Lyndon meets Mean Girls. The plot follows a spiteful struggle between two women, Abigail (Emma Stone) and Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), as they battle for the affection of the unhinged Queen Anne (Olivia Colman). Combining three excellent actresses, a whip-smart script, and the uniquely awkward style of director Yorgos Lanthimos, this dark comedy was by far the most enjoyable and unforgettable film of 2018.