As we just said goodbye to February, why not put a final touch on a year that’s been over for two months already?
The Academy Awards just took place this past Sunday, which means we now have a decision on what the best movie of 2018 was, and it was a choice that everyone agreed with.
Now, I’ve still only seen three of the Best Picture nominees and, spoiler alert, Green Book is not one of them. If you listen to They Called This a Movie, we covered this very topic, but for those that like to read, here is my list for the Top Films of 2018.
For three-quarters of this film, I thought I could give this film a perfect score. It was one of the most inventive films of the year, perfectly creating a taut, suspenseful thriller utilizing all the media we consume on a day-to-day basis. Essentially a one-man show, John Cho successfully pulls off the role of a father coming apart at the seams. While I felt the final reveal undoes a lot of what the main character learns throughout the runtime, I still think that the overall film is one of the best film experiences of the year.
I went into Overlord with very little expectations. I had seen maybe one trailer, and just decided on a whim to go see it on a lazy Saturday. I expected it to be a zombie film first, war movie second, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was actually the other way around.
Overlord succeeds mostly on the performance of Wyatt Russell. I’ve seen him in a few things now, and I find him to be a great onscreen presence, whether he’s playing an affable failed artist (Ingrid Goes West) or a charismatic heavy akin to what his father would’ve played in his time like in this film, I totally love seeing this guy onscreen.
This film is violent, bloody, and I love the fact that it plays the crazy parts completely straight. This one was a nice surprise.
8. Black Panther
I like Black Panther, and while I think it’s an important movie in terms of the representation depicted, I’m not quite sure that it’s the film that should buck the trend of genre films being largely ignored at the Oscars. But, you know what? Good for Black Panther.
Almost like a James Bond movie, Black Panther feels different that the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and with a unique style that fully embraces its roots in African culture, this film does a great job of having something to say without really ever having to say it. A great cast, excellent music, and wonderful art direction, Black Panther is another excellent film from Marvel and has one of the best villains in Erik Killmonger.
7. A Quiet Place
In terms of crowd-pleasing horror films, it didn’t get better in 2018 than A Quiet Place. Tense, well-crafted, and wonderfully acting by the entire cast, this was a remarkable turn by actor-director John Krasinski.
It’s amazing to hear absolute silence in a movie theater and I think the unique viewing experience aided my enjoyment of this film. It also didn’t hurt that Emily Blunt is a joy to watch on screen in just about anything she’s in, and in A Quiet Place, she gives her best performance of the year. I don’t want to hear anything about Mary Poppins Returns; she owns in this one.
There are gut punches and then there are the dramatic moments of Hereditary. Few films have ever made me feel dead inside quite like this movie, and it features my favorite performance of the year by Toni Collette. The emotional rollercoaster that is her turn as the mother (and daughter) forced to deal with loss and the complicated feelings associated with both an unexpected, tragic loss, and the inevitable loss of an older family member. The film balances the real with the fantastical, sobering moments with absolute insanity with a very skilled hand. This is a horror film I will be revisiting often in the future.
Much like Overlord, I went into Upgrade with very little expectations, but what I got out of it was one of the most fun times I’ve had in the theater all year. Upgrade feels like a 1980s John Carpenter film, and more specifically, it feels like how John Carpenter would tell the story of Venom.
Logan-Marshall Green is derogatorily known as “Not Tom Hardy”, but he’s actually a really good actor, and this is his film. He does a great job of playing a guy that’s hell-bent on vengeance, but at the same time, completely bewildered by the powers that he has at his disposal. It’s a comical performance in a film that ups the violence to 11 and it’s the balance of comedy and horror that makes this film such a fun time.
4. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse
After countless iterations of Spider-Man, three attempts at separate franchises, six headlining live-action films, as well as appearances in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, how can you keep Peter Parker and Spidey from going incredibly stale? Obviously, you hire the guys that turned the world’s favorite toy brick into its own multi-million dollar franchise.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse isn’t only the freshest take on one of the most popular superheroes, it might be the freshest take of any superhero. The numerous iterations that appear onscreen in the film works as a perfect love letter to the comic book story that has always been about how anyone can be a hero, and it sometimes just takes doing the right thing when asked to do so. Brilliantly bold art and wonderful voice acting from the entire cast, this film is as good a movie as there was this year, and to be honest, just as easily could have been the top spot on the list.
My more or less default choice for Best Picture, given the nominations, BlacKkKlansman is quintessential Spike Lee. While I think he’s made better films, this one is just as unflinching, just as unsubtle as one expects from a Spike Lee movie. When coupled with a timely story and the intrigue that accompanies a police thriller, BlacKkKlansman works well to reach a wide audience without sacrificing what it wants to say.
John David Washington and Adam Driver are the standouts in the film, as Spike Lee’s sharp screenplay. It’s biting, it’s funny, and it can be downright tough to swallow. And that’s what separates this film from some other films that attempt to tackle racism. Make no mistake: BlacKkKlansman is a crowd-pleaser at times, but it doesn’t let its audience off-the-hook, leaving some of the strongest, albeit obvious, messages for the very end.
2. Avengers: Infinity War
A movie 10 years in the making, Avengers: Infinity War was exactly the movie that I wanted it to be. The ability for this movie to pull all the movies that preceded it together and stick the landing is an incredible feat, and that’s exactly what Avengers: Infinity War is: an incredible feat.
This film lands near the top of the Marvel pantheon for me, and most of that has to do with Thanos. We all know that these films are a lot like comics, and by that, I mean that the heroes will never stay dead for too long. But even with that in mind, this was the first time that the stakes felt real. Thanos is formidable and much like Killmonger, his motive is understandable. All of it culminates into a finale that is a wonderful assault of fan service, fist-pumping moments, and then, ultimately, a gut punch. Marvel knows how to get you to see their next movie, and Avengers: Infinity War successfully delivers a satisfying movie while punching your ticket for the next one.
Alex Garland is hardly a household name, but he’s quietly been behind some of the best thinking-man’s genre films of the past 20 years. Screenwriter for films like 28 Days Later…, Sunshine, Never Let Me Go, Dredd, and the writer-director of the very excellent Ex Machina, Garland has created a filmography that pleases both genre lovers and film snobs around the world.
Annihilation is a divisive film, in that it doesn’t go out of its way to answer all the questions it brings up. I love a great science fiction movie that doesn’t hand-hold and that is putting it lightly for this film. This is a movie that chooses to answer the questions of life with a literal interpretive dance, as it tries to parse out the answers to what is loss, death, regret, and what is it that makes us who we are. It’s stunning, haunting, and the music is phenomenal. This was my favorite film of 2018. Don’t @ me. Or @ me. I really have no control over that.