In 2018, thanks to the wonder that was pre-crash MoviePass, I managed to see 35 films in theaters. This is a lifetime high for me, and while it’s still not the level of actual reviewers or cinephiles (or Star Wars fans that just saw the two SW movies over and over again) I have to say, I’m pretty hooked. I feel like going I’m through withdrawal now that MoviePass’s demise has left me having to decide which movies to pay for again. Movies are pretty great, and it’s even better going out and seeing them in a theater, making an event of it, really immersing yourself.
So of course, now that I’m cinematically literate, there was nothing left to do but make a definitive top 10 list of the movies released in 2018 (that I saw and liked). There may be some spoilers.
10. Green Book
Green Book was an interesting movie. The story of two men from completely different cultures coming together and teaching each other on a long road trip was fun all by itself. Add on top of it the stories of race: the uneducated white man getting more respect than the talented black man, the white man fitting into black places while the black man is rejected from white ones, and the white man’s struggle to comprehend black discrimination. There’s some power behind seeing a talented, educated man be personally invited and praised by the wealthy and elite and invited into their homes, and then be told he can’t use their bathroom due to the color of his skin.
My problems with this movie are also related: I feel like it focuses too much on the white man’s story and perspective of the black man’s struggles. Which, while it has its merits, still kind of feels like it misses a point. The fact that Viggo Mortensen gets nominated for “Lead Role” awards in a movie about a black man’s problems while Mahershala Ali gets “Supporting Role” feels wrong somehow, but that’s how the story was told. Still, overall the movie is fun to watch, both actors are amazing, and it makes you think and feel and hopefully makes you aware of discrimination, both historically and modernly.
9. Bohemian Rhapsody
What’s not to like about Queen? Bohemian Rhapsody does an excellent job of telling a dramatic history of the band and its forerunner, Freddie Mercury. Rami Malek does an excellent performance. Parts of the movie are like watching a hilarious “How It’s Made” video of some of the best music of the century, parts of it are literally just watching concerts and listening to awesome music. Most importantly, there’s the story of Mercury’s evolution, which is a story arc any writer could only dream of: a British-Indian man abandoning his heritage, struggling to balance love for a woman with being gay, being manipulated by a manager turned lover, being scrutinized by the media, and eventually being able to be comfortable with who he is, all the while using his talent to push the band to create more and more musical innovations. It’s so good.
8. Crazy Rich Asians
I loved Crazy Rich Asians for a bunch of reasons. First of all, it’s a love
7. Hearts Beat Loud
THIS MOVIE IS SO PURE. Hearts Beat Loud‘s tagline is “The Feel Good Movie We Need Right Now” and I don’t know if I can describe it any better. It has great acting, great music, a great story about relationships and love and real-life problems, great design and editing, great everything. I could try and go into details but it just feels like I can say “every bit of it feels good” and tell you the music will be stuck in your head for months and call it a day.
6. Black Panther
There’s not much that I can say about Black Panther that hasn’t been said before. It’s a Marvel movie, it tells a great story, it has really stylish fight scenes, amazing costuming and set design, lots of cool technology. It’s awesome to see an all-black cast really kill it in a blockbuster movie and makes you want to see more of it. It celebrates African and African-American cultures in interesting ways, and the main problems and climax of the movie ties into real-world problems. It managed to be everything Marvel films do well and also be different and shiny.
5. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Boy, do I love me some Star Wars. While Solo doesn’t have the story depth of The Last Jedi, it does do some things very right: it takes us on a quirky adventure through a colorful universe with a bunch of strong personalities that have great chemistry. And that’s really what we loved about the original Star Wars films, wasn’t it? I love every character in the movie, from Han to Qi’ra to Dryden Vos and L3-37. A lot of it is everything you could want from a prequel: It shows some of the traits that you love exactly how you know them, and it develops others through the course of the film. Plus it has one of the best endings, both in terms of poetic
4. Sorry to Bother You
Man, this movie is going to stick in my head for a long time. I can only describe Sorry to Bother You as a trip. I honestly went into it thinking “wacky comedy, probably with some messages about race and white-collar work”. But I was not prepared for the genius lampooning of workforce exploitation and corporate hierarchies that it became. The sheer amount of metaphor they managed to stuff into what is ostensibly a comedy is astounding, and the movie manages to touch on not just labor issues, but also racial issues, poverty, and the corruption of money, all in a way that makes you wonder how such an outlandish movie can feel like it might actually happen. And all of that is before I mention that the filming, style, editing, and acting are all incredible. It’s a must-see if you’re okay with movies that are rated R for a good reason.
3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
I honestly need to see this movie again before it leaves theaters. You may have heard that Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse is a cinematic marvel, a first-of-its-kind blockbuster that innovates on animated styles in incredible fashion. Not only does it do a bunch of crazy things that all work and look amazing, but a lot of it has been documented on Twitter. Just look at this:
You can find a lot of cool stuff on the twitter of animator Nick Kondo, and even the composer Daniel Pemberton has written threads on how the movie was made, and that’s awesome. While watching the movie I had a thought strike me that “This kind of story could literally only be told in animation.” We can all cross our fingers that it means we’ll be seeing more animated movies in the years to come.
2. Avengers: Infinity War
The thing that makes Avengers: Infinity War amazing is that it’s a movie 12 years in the making. It crazy to me that with each new movie Marvel releases they’re adding something to a project that’s now 20 films long (not to mention tv shows, shorts, etc.). And sure, not all of those films hit it out of the park, but they’re all connected, and almost every film affects the next film in the world and story of The Avengers, and the films just keep getting better.
Infinity War is the penultimate film in a storyline that’s reached unheard-of length and has the investment of so much of the population. So it was a bold choice to make so much of the story about the
By the time I’ve reached the end of this list, I’ve questioned everything about it, as all of these movies are
Some honorable mentions that didn’t make the top ten: Isle of Dogs, Mary Poppins Returns, Tag, The Happytime Murders, and Juliet, Naked.
Acclaimed movies I didn’t get to see: Blindspotting, Annihilation, Eighth Grade, and Love, Simon, plus a bunch of others.
Feel free to roast me and my tastes in the comments below, or let me know what I should see this year. Here’s to 2019!