Best Films of 2018
2018 is one of the best year's I've seen for filmmaking. There were bold and authentic stories displayed on the screen; while many women director's rose to the occasion on delivering a tour de force in filmmaking. We had film's that captivated us, shined new light on other cultures, opened our hearts, and may have even left us in tears by the end. There's a reason why we continue to go back to the movies, and 2018 is one of them.
Noble Mentions: Private Life, Mission: Impossible - Fallout, Capernaum (کفرناحوم), The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, At Eternity's Gate, Mandy, Sorry to Bother You, Thoroughbreds, Tully, Hereditary, Incredibles 2, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, The Other Side of the Wind, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
An Arnold Recommendation (Great Film):
They Shall Not Grow Old
An experience like no other. Director Peter Jackson’s groundbreaking documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old, is riveting. Applying cutting-edge restoration techniques to 100-year-old WWI footage is breathtaking and left me in disbelief. Raw and authentic, Jackson’s documentary brings the past to vivid life. Don’t miss this cinematic event.
An Arnold Recommendation (Great Film):
John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls
John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls serves as both a living portrait and an insightful view of ‘The Maverick,’ who has helped mold our American politics and country forward. “I greet every day with gratitude … “I’m also very aware none of us live forever. … I’m very grateful for the life I’ve been able to lead. And I greet the future with joy.” Thank you for your leadership, rest in peace Senator.
An Arnold Recommendation (Great Film):
First Reformed is a haunting picture starring actor Ethan Hawke and written-directed by Paul Schrader (writer of Taxi Driver). Hawke’s terrifying performance is one of his best ever put on film. First Reformed is provocative and dark — an act of spiritual inquiry.
Annihilation is a sci-fi mind-bender that packs in a punch full of visuals and a thought-provoking story. Director Alex Garland’s exploration of challenging themes should leave viewers scratching their heads well after the end credits roll. An absorbing and hypnotic film; that gets underneath your skin.
An action-heist film infused with political undertones and social commentary. Director Steve McQueen’s Widows is a stellar popcorn movie with a message. Widows is smart, sophisticated, and fiercely led by an empowering Viola Davis. Topped with stunning camerawork, an engaging storyline, and a dash of originality; it's one of the best from 2018.
#18 You Were Never Really Here
You Were Never Really Here confirms writer-director Lynne Ramsay's prestige to the director's chair. She's one of several women director's in 2018 that rose to the occasion. Grisly and dark, You Were Never Really Here is also upheld by a committed performance by actor Joaquin Phoenix. In the end, it's a terrific piece of filmmaking.
#17 Black Panther
Believe the hype. Black Panther is more than just another Marvel romp, director Ryan Coogler was able to maintain his creative spark throughout the film sending a grandeur of Afrofuturistic escapism. This history-making masterpiece can now be helmed as one of the greatest superhero films to ever hit the theaters.
#16 First Man
The movie event of the year. First Man is an exhilarating experience, full of wonder as we watch the personal struggle it took on Neil Armstrong to become the first man on the Moon. Director Damien Chazelle's dizzying spectacle will leave you in awe.
#15 A Quiet Place
Don’t make a sound… A Quiet Place is an astonishing movie. This original creature feature will ruthlessly keep you on the edge of your seat from the first frame until the last. Actor-director John Krasinski’s masterwork came to the theaters quietly, then pounced on its prey, leaving viewers everywhere shaken.
#14 Isle of Dogs
Director Wes Anderson’s definitive canine masterpiece is a force to be reckoned with. Isle of Dogs is 2018’s hidden gemstone, full of vivid direction, gorgeous animation, lively storytelling, and a top-notch voice cast. It was one of the best films to hit the theaters in 2018.
#13 Won't You Be My Neighbor?
If there’s a film that our country needs more than ever right now it’s Won't You Be My Neighbor?, the powerful documentary film about Mister Rogers. He was an incredible person who showed the world how love and kindness always prevail. “Love is at the root of everything - all learning, all parenting, all relationships. Love or the lack of it. And what we see and hear on the screen is part of who we become.”
#12 The Favourite
The Favourite is a rich period piece full of captivating leads (Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone), timely subtext, and dark humor. A twisted satire that will be admired more overtime for cinema. Director Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite is an eccentric picture of madness.
#11 A Star Is Born
Wow, what a movie. A Star Is Born is a powerful, moving and an authentic symphonic. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga soar in this sweep-you-off-your-feet story. A modern retelling of a timeless tale. Believe the hype, Gaga’s performance and vocals will blow you away. It stands tall as one of the very best from 2018.
#10 Shoplifters (Manbiki Kazoku)
Shoplifters (Manbiki Kazoku) is a deeply affecting story full of vivid life. Director Hirokazu Kore-eda richly studies the human condition through the lens of his camera. This cinematic treasure follows an impoverished family through the streets of Japan. Blurring the lines between right and wrong, we are with the Shibata family every step of the way. Osamu, Nobuyo, Hatsue, Aki, Shota, and Yuri will be in our hearts forever.
#09 Leave No Trace
Leave No Trace is an absorbing drama, brilliantly acted by Ben Foster and Thomasin Mckenzie from the first frame until the last. Leave No Trace is a companionate character study through the lens of a father-daughter relationship. Director Debra Granik was one of many women showcasing their directing chops this year in film.
This is a film you don’t want to miss. It needs to be seen. BlacKkKlansman is a phenomenal movie, striking a parallel between our country’s past and current problems with racism. This new Spike Lee joint is a blunt force that will knock you off your feet. Fueled with realism, poetry, and anger; Lee’s newest masterpiece is telling America to wake up!
#07 The Rider
The Rider is a beautiful movie, full of life and inspiration. Oh my, what a ride. Writer-director Chloé Zhao's The Rider is a slice-of-life drama that made a name for itself in 2018. The docu-style realism is a sense of wonder, as we watch this majestic beast of a film gallop through the grasslands.
#06 Paddington 2
Paddington 2 is great family escapism. In this sweet-natured film, our furry friend's newest adventure is one you don't want to miss. Paddington's latest feat provides a well-balanced story, adorable characters, and a message of acceptance. Or as Paddington better puts it: "Aunt Lucy said, if we're kind and polite the world will be right." This is a sequel done right.
#05 Cold War (Zimna wojna)
Cold War (Zimna wojna) is a beautiful movie full of love, heartbreak, and politics. Writer-director Pawel Pawlikowski’s masterstroke of gorgeous artistry and jaw-dropping landscapes are breathtaking. Flawlessly crafted and wonderfully acted, Cold War follows the love story of one couple’s on-and-off again relationship throughout the 1950s. This dense 88-minute picture draws you in fast and will leave you speechless by the end.
#04 If Beale Street Could Talk
A beautiful film full of love and sacrifice. If Beale Street Could Talk is another masterstroke perfectly executed by writer-director Barry Jenkins. Uplifted by engrossing performances from actor’s Kiki Layne and Stephan James. While actress Regina King’s performance will bring you to tears. Beale Street is presented in a non-linear structure, while the score is meticulously blended underneath. It’s a shame The Academy didn’t give this film recognition for Best Picture. Jenkins’ masterwork deserved to be a nominee.
#03 Burning (Beoning)
Burning (Beoning) is one of the most haunting and most complex movies I’ve seen in recent memory. I highly recommend experiencing this slow-burning masterpiece. This is a film that sticks with you, long after the credits fade away. I can't get it out of my head. It’s a shame The Academy snubbed this gem from an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year. Do yourself a favor and go watch this gripping nightmare on the big screen. In the end, you won’t know what hit you.
#02 Eighth Grade
Eighth Grade is a raw and authentic look at middle school warped in the digital age. Funny, heartbreaking and, above all, real. Eighth Grade is a tour de force for Bo Burnham and his directorial debut, plus a breakout performance by actor Elsie Fisher. You’ll fall in love with this movie and everything about it. Burnham master crafts his little indie film into one of the biggest phenomenon’s put-on screen this year. This will be an instant classic for my kid’s generation years down the road.
Roma is an absolute masterpiece and is the best film of 2018, bar none. From the moment I saw the first frame, a shot looking down at floor tiles with water rushing past them as an airplane shines through from above, I knew that this was going to be a special picture. I believe Roma is the movie of the year. This black-and-white gem beautifully tells the story of a year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s. Director Alfonso Cuarón’s passion project is vibrant and visually shines. It’s a powerful portrayal of love, hope, and family. Roma is a turning point in cinematic history and will continue to shape the way we look and observe film. This is the reason why we go to the movies, to be mesmerized by enriching stories that will bring us closer together as human beings.
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