When I look back at 2018 in film, I will remember a few things: this was a great year for documentaries; foreign and world cinema are on the rise; smaller studios are creating the majority of original content and interesting projects right now; the superhero genre continues to grow and still has the ability to break the hearts of their fans, both positively and negatively. Overall, I’d like to think that 2018 was a very strong year for film – filled with its ups and downs, successes and failures. Many studio films balanced monetary and critical success excellently and smaller films challenged many perceptions we have and placed them under a sometimes uncomfortable microscope.
This list might not be the same as others and I don’t expect it to be. And that’s the fun of discussing such highly subjective matters! If someone has a different list of their top 10 movies of 2018 or more than 10, please share it! We are all guilty of being prisoners of the moment in life; there might come a time where I want to re-evaluate these films and this list (along with others that might not have made the top 10). This list could change at any moment after some time has passed. But again, that’s the fun in it all.
But first, here are some honorable mentions that deserve some type of recognition for their craft:
Hearts Beat Loud
Definitely give those movies a look! But now to the main event:
10. A Star is Born
This film was on everyone’s radar upon its announcement and featured many firsts: Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut along with Lady Gaga’s debut as a leading lady in a feature film. With this film being the third remake of the original 1937 film, this romantic drama hit all the right notes although the length could have been shortened.
A Star is Born follows a popular musician (played excellently by a crooning Bradley Cooper) helps a young singer (Lady Gaga) find fame, while age and alcoholism sends his own career into a downward spiral. This movie could easily have been a Lady Gaga documentary film but this format helped proved the singer has a future in film. These emotional music-laden films can always pull at the heartstrings of audience members.
To read my review for A Star is Born, click here.
9. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Mission: Impossible. For a film franchise that started in 1996, I don’t think anyone believed this film or idea, outside of that other fictional agent across the pond, had this kind of longevity. But here we are, twenty-two years later after the first mission, still enthralled to see how far Tom Cruise can push his body.
Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team, along with other familiar allies, race against time to stop world destruction after a mission goes wrong. We’ve all seen this plot before time and again but ever since 2011’s Ghost Protocol, the execution of the story keeps getting better, despite its predictability. The action pieces are mesmerizing to watch, stunts keep getting bigger and better, and a heavy plot that works; this installment has the benefit of feeding off the connections with Rogue Nation. This is all lead by the indestructible Tom Cruise. But I’m begging the producers and directors, can you slow this man down just a bit?
To read my review for Mission: Impossible – Fallout, click here.
8. Crazy Rich Asians
This movie isn’t going to be on everyone’s list but it landed on mine because of how groundbreaking it is: the first film by a major Hollywood studio to feature a majority Asian American cast in a modern setting since The Joy Luck Club in 1993. Coming off the demand for more diversity in film over the last few years and the success of Black Panther earlier in the year, the arrival of this movie was perfect.
Based on the best-selling novel by Kevin Kwan, this contemporary romantic comedy follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s (Henry Golding) family. The visuals explode with vibrant colors throughout the entire movie. The refreshing part of this film is that it doesn’t rely on fully on rom-com tropes that’s we’ve seen over and over. While they are classic and still effective, they served more as an inspiration. Crazy Rich Asians was a major step forward in on-screen representation and I hope it continues.
To read my review for Crazy Rich Asians, click here.
7. Avengers: Infinity War
If you’ve read my blog or any of my previous reviews, you know that I can’t leave my superheroes out. While I understand these might not make everyone’s top 10 films list, you can’t ignore the magnitude of these films and what they represent to the fans of this art form. With a film that had a decade-long build-up, Marvel didn’t disappoint.
The Avengers and their allies, both on Earth and in the far reaches of space, must join forces and be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful titan, Thanos (Josh Brolin), from achieving his goal of collecting all six Infinity Stones and use them to devastate the entire universe. I can’t say enough about this superhero ensemble film because I’ve been heavily invested in these characters since the first Iron Man movie way back in 2008; you can feel how big the stakes are for the heroes. A brave, brilliant, and bold film in the genre, you are desperate for more after the post-credits scenes.
To read my review for Avengers: Infinity War, click here.
6. Black Panther
The first film this year to start the screen representation train was a superhero film. A film that has been in development hell finally saw the light of day…and it was all green. The highest-grossing movie of 2018 earned every penny during its theatrical run. The first superhero film with a predominately black cast delivered an adventure
In the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), heir to the hidden but technologically advanced African kingdom of Wakanda, must step forward and lead his people as the country’s new king while confronting challenges from within his own country and from his family’s past. Ryan Coogler’s masterful direction, the cast’s acting, screenplay, and computer-generated effects were all top notch. Sprinkle in that Marvel superhero flavor and you have Black Panther. This movie did the masterful job of standing on its own and only having a brief connection to the overall arc of the MCU. It’s just that good. Add in another cinematic masterpiece to Coogler’s resume.
To read my review for Black Panther, click here.
5. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
With Sony and Marvel sharing the web-slinger, a new film was bound to come from Sony Pictures (no, we’re not talking about the barely decent Venom). Sony had to create something new instead of the same Peter Parker story we’ve seen three times now and Peter now existing in the MCU. What we got was better, taking the legacy of the mask in a familiar direction for comic book fans.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse tells the origin story of Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) as he is bitten by a radioactive spider and develops spider-like abilities. He soon faces his first test as a superhero when he teams up with other spider-people from different universes to save New York City from Kingpin. The animation was so different to watch and fit in with the colorful characters and the story. The humor was on point and this film was so good, it knocked Incredibles 2 off as my favorite animated movie of the year. Into the Spider-Verse is the best Spider-Man movie ever. A charming coming-of-age tale that holds the spirit of Stan Lee’s vision of your friendly neighborhood hero.
To read my review for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, click here.
4. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
This is the film we all need in 2018. As Twitter and social media spats have become more hostile and hatred has apparently begun to seep out into the world, it is more essential now that we remember the simple teachings of Fred Rogers.
Filmmaker Morgan Neville makes an impactful presence in this moving masterpiece. My theater experience watching Won’t You Be My Neighbor was one that I won’t soon forget: by the end, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. This wasn’t due to any emotional manipulation by Neville; it was simply thinking about how the world is and how Fred Rogers just inspired you to be a better person in a dark world. Mr. Rogers was truly a beautiful man and his teachings were much more layered than simple cliche speeches. He’s the best example of what we, as people, can be when we give ourselves up to love and decency. We need a person like him now more than ever.
This film crept into my top three after one viewing. Normally, I didn’t think a Netflix film would find its way onto here but after a 98% match on my list, I gave it a look. And I was not disappointed.
Set in 1970 and 1971, Roma is a semi-autobiographical take on writer-director Alfonso Cuaron’s upbringing in Mexico City, and follows the life of a live-in housekeeper to a middle-class family. The film’s narrative is the very definition of a “slice-of-life picture.” While it is a love letter to Cuaron’s childhood, this movie shows how life was and always is equal parts beautiful, harsh, mournful, and mundane. Our problems may mean absolutely nothing to the person sitting next to us and we may be totally different emotional states, but that is how life goes. Roma is Cuaron’s most intimate film and tells a specific story and capturing imaginative scope.
2. Mary Poppins Returns
Musicals aren’t usually my cup of tea; mostly because their stories tend to be repetitive and hardly original. But what do I know? Disney’s classic Mary Poppins remained one of the many properties untouched by remake-happy Hollywood. But it had to happen sooner or later. Luckily, Disney had the foresight to build on the legacy.
Mary Poppins Returns is set twenty-five years later after the events of the original film, it sees Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) return to the now adult Jane and Michael Banks (Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw) after a family tragedy. Director Rob Marshall and the actors understood the legacy they were taking on and did a spectacular job to create their own story while not losing the heart of the first film. Emily Blunt’s performance and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s experience on stage helped lead the way accompanied by a terrific score and musical numbers and visuals along with the sense of nostalgia. Relying on the magic of the first film to cast an effective family-friendly spell brought this film near the top of my list.
To read my review for Mary Poppins Returns, click here.
1. Green Book
Last, but certainly not least, is a film that I saw twice; a movie that tugged at my heart strings while also making me laugh and smile at the spirit of friendship shining through the darkness of adversity.
Green Book is a comedy-drama film about a tour of the Deep South in the 1960s by African-American classical and jazz pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), an Italian-American bouncer who served as Shirley’s driver and bodyguard. Named after The Negro Motorist Green Book, a mid-20th century guidebook for African-American travelers, this film is more than a role-reversal on Driving Miss Daisy; it as surprisingly smooth ride through a bumpy subject matter that still has ties to today’s current social climate. Mortensen and Ali match well and play off of each other excellently in this buddy road-trip film. This film stays true to the time depicted, the respectful nature of its characters who you initially wouldn’t think they’d get along, and has a big spirit, it slowing gains a bright glow by the end that warms the heart and soul.
To read my review for Green Book, click here.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to review all the movies (this can count as a mini-review) but links are included to the movies that I did get a chance to review. Did any of my movies make your top 10? Any that you thought I missed? Please leave a comment! What will 2019 bring us? We’ll have to get our tickets and just see!
Thanks for reading, everyone! Think you’ll check out this movie during the holiday weekend? Definitely leave a comment! Also check out my Facebook page for this blog and show some love! Until next time!
Happy New Year!