Top 15 Films of 2018 – Allen’s Picks
The beauty of cinema is how it works as a reflection of our society – our hopes, our fears, and our desires. Films are a timestamp of who were, who we are, and what we could possibly be. A thousand years from now, people can look back at the movies of today and see how we dressed, how we spoke, and how we treated each other. Out of all the art forms, none have the ability to operate as a time capsule as effectively as cinema. Imagine being able to see video footage from the year 900 – that is the gift we are giving to future generations.
2018 – perhaps more so than any other recent year in theaters – has proven to be a mirror of our current lives. When division and fear have become hot topic issues on a daily basis, movies have turned around and pushed those themes to the forefront. Different voices have come to life – both young and old – and the fact they have been given the opportunity to be heard shows us how we have grown and matured, and much further we still need to go.
As per usual, limiting my favorite films of the year to just fifteen (let alone ten) is impossible. There was just too many good to great films released this year that deserve your attention that I could make multiple lists naming them all. That’s the give and take of being a movie lover, you get to see great work (and sometimes, you’ll get write about some of them) but in the end there will always be a few that get overlooked when they shouldn’t.
But since this is my own personal list, I’ll start off with the traditional practice of going over my Honorable Mentions. These were all worthy of note, and it would do you a great service to seek them out:
Honorable Mentions: Black Panther, A Wrinkle in Time, Isle of Dogs, Thoroughbreds, Unsane, Blockers, Tully, Upgrade, Sorry to Bother You, Blindspotting, Eighth Grade, Hostiles, The World Before Your Feet, Game Night, A Quiet Place, Crazy Rich Asians, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Mandy, A Star is Born, Halloween (2018), Suspiria (2018), Overlord, Creed II, Shirkers, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Mary Poppins Returns, Aquaman, RBG.
With all that said, let’s get into the countdown. Grab your popcorn, folks – away we go.
Andrew Bujalski’s Support the Girls works like sleight of hand. Trailers and advertisements would have us believe that this is yet another raunchy comedy, but what it really does is gives us a reflection of America in all of its different aspects. Regina Hall gives a career best performance as the manager of a highway sports bar. Throughout one single day, she has to contend with a staff that all have their own personal issues to deal with and a customer base that includes those that have little respect for the servers. In a place where women are routinely objectified, Bujalski and his team have created a surprisingly empowering and innovative story that treats these characters as they should be: flesh and blood people.
In his feature length debut, director/co-writer Aneesh Chaganty delivered a tense mystery/thriller that also works as a personal drama in the age of technology. John Cho gives a tremendous performance as a father whose daughter has gone missing, utilizing 21st century social media to gather clues of her whereabouts. But as he digs deeper, revelations are made that forces him to question their relationship. The approach Chaganty takes – making use of computer and phone cameras – has been done before, but none have been nearly as effective. This is a tight, suspenseful film that had me on the edge of my seat all the way up to the end.
13) First Man
Damien Chazelle has quickly jumped the ranks as one of the premiere directors working today. He has followed up Whiplash (2014) and La La Land (2016) with yet another fantastic work in First Man. Detailing the events that made Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) the first man to step foot on the moon, Chazelle shows us the great pains and immense danger the crew undertook to reach that goal. The moon landing has become somewhat of a foot note, reserved for our high school textbooks. But here, we witness firsthand how much of a risk it was, especially at a time where people questioned if the journey was worth it. Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy are both powerful in their roles, and the special effects and sound design place us firmly in the cockpit with the crew as they make their way to their destination. No other film this year has shown us what could be achieved with the power of the imagination and an unwavering sense of will.
12) The Favourite
The Favourite is a deliciously nasty period drama involving backstabbing and cold-blooded cunning. Director Yorgos Lanthimos weaves a twisted 18th century tale between two women (Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone) and their attempts to gain favor of the frail Queen of England (Olivia Colman). We watch as the two connive, conspire, and plot against each other in increasingly cruel and unusual ways. This is not your stuffy period drama, this is a dark black comedy that is hilarious, sexy, and full of intrigue. The production design, costumes, and make up amplify a world where status is everything, and where people are willing to sell their souls to attain it.
Genre filmmaking made a big presence this year, and one of the best is the horror/thriller Revenge. Writer/director Coralie Fargeat spins a tale of a woman (Matilda Lutz) who is first victimized by the men around her but then develops into an empowered force, storming back with vengeance on her mind. Not since Wes Craven has a filmmaker given us a story this brutal and yet with something interesting to say about society and the predatory culture many have to deal with. This is also one of the bloodiest films I’ve ever seen – Fargeat and her team not skimping on the gallons (and I mean gallons) of viscera spilled out on screen. But it’s the thoughtfulness, themes, and execution that elevates this far above the generic body horror films we routinely get. This may be gruesome, but even more so, it’s smart.