I saw over 200 films in 2018, and I will say that narrowing the list down to the Top 10 was much more difficult this year than in previous years. It was a great year for film, both in groundbreaking storytelling and for outstanding performances. Films like Spider-Man: Into the Universe, Mission Impossible – Fallout, Tully, Black Panther, and Destroyer could have easily made the cut if my list were 20 deep. Ultimately they get honorable mentions. Here though are my Top 10 films of 2018:
10. First Man
Both Whiplash and La La Land made my Top Film lists of 2014 and 2016, so it’s not surprising that Damien Chazelle’s First Man kicks off my Top Films of 2018. Ryan Gosling is great as reserved NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong, but it’s Claire Foy as his wife Janet who is the driving force of the film. What stands out most though is the stunning cinematography and sound design. Every shuttle and space sequence is more intense and exhilarating than the last, culminating in glorious fashion with the moon landing itself.
9. Paddington 2
It’s no fluke that Paddington 2 still sits at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with 215 reviews. No other film will make you feel as warm or as happy. And with real life news being all doom and gloom lately, everyone could use a little bit of Paddington Bear and his wonderful marmalade jam.
8. Eighth Grade
I never thought of comedian Bo Burnham as a filmmaker, but that has all changed with his directorial debut that is as amazing as it is ambitious. Much of that is because of his sharp script that has a way with connecting with audiences of all ages, but it’s also due to Elsie Fisher’s star performance. She’s everything from kind to charming to vulnerable. Eighth Grade is everything you want from a coming-of-age movie.
7. First Reformed
First Reformed is a film that subtly builds in tension and suspense with Ethan Hawke delivering a commanding performance at the brilliant direction of Paul Schrader. It’s a dismal story so you have to be in the right mood, but every moment is worth watching. It’s a stick-to-your-bones type of film, and one I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
6. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
I thought I wasn’t going to cry during this loving tribute to Mr. Roger and nearly succeed until towards the end when it delivers a devastating punch to the tear ducts. Fred Rogers was for many of us the definition of our childhood, myself included, and Won’t You Be My Neighbor? brings back those fond memories.
5. A Quiet Place
There’s no other film that’s quite like A Quiet Place. It’s a brilliant horror film that turn what could have been considered a gimmick into a terrifying centerpiece. John Krasinski is a tour de force as both actor and director. Despite coming out towards the beginning of the year, it’s a film that I’ve continue to look back on throughout 2018.
Alfonso Cuarón’s love letter to Mexico is a masterclass in filmmaking. Every shot is framed perfectly. Every movement of the camera draws your eye to something new and wonderful. Roma’s story can be heartbreaking, but like real life, there’s beauty in it as well.
I saw Blindspotting at the 2018 Atlanta Film Festival back in April and knew right then that it was going to be one of my favorite films of the year. The way Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal intertwine a story about gentrification and police brutality with comedy and spoken word is hauntingly beautiful and unlike any other film I’ve seen this year. This is a film that comes from the heart, and it shows with every scene.
2. A Star is Born
And her name is Lady Gaga. Already a music star in her own right, A Star is Born shows that her acting is just as good as her singing. The film could also be called A Director is Born because Bradley Cooper proves he is a man of many talents in his phenomenal directorial debut. Everything about this film, from the acting to the music, is simply wonderful.
1. The Favourite
Normally I’m not a huge fan of period pieces, but since when is anything from Yorgos Lanthimos normal? Ironically, The Favourite is perhaps his most straightforward film. Powerhouses Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz are all jockeying for love and power in 18th century England, each contributing their own unique brand of humor and wit to a scene. One moment they might be shooting birds outside on the lawn, while the next they’re doing an obscure dance during a dinner party; you never know what going to be coming next, only that it’s something spectacular. It’s gorgeous, weird, unpredictable, hilarious, and my favorite film of 2018.