If you missed out on the first part of our Best Films of 2018 breakdown, be sure to check out the picks from Garrett, Jordan, S0leb, Boltz, and Becky. If you’re all caught up and ready for more, the rest of our team is ready to discuss their top five movies for the year.
2018 was a fascinating year for movies. There were a lot of unforeseen hits and a surprising amount of sequels. We even had a bunch of books made into movies. Some movies (re)created movie magic, while others flopped so hard, it made studios rethink strategies. My list of favorite films of 2018 are flicks that had me grinning like an idiot when I got out of my seat.
Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse – When 2018 started, I didn’t expect that my favorite film would be an animated picture. No disrespect to the hard workers behind animated films, but this was a year with some heavy-hitting live-action films. Nevertheless, the story of Miles Morales becoming Spider-Man stands head and shoulders above the rest for its clever storytelling, phenomenal artistry, and mind-blowing action. This one is a multi-watch and a must-own.
Crazy Rich Asians – I spoke in my opening paragraph about unforeseen hits. In the month of August, Crazy Rich Asians owned the box office, and with good reason. This wasn’t just a movie, this was an event, and a spectacular one at that. Crazy Rich Asians captured Singapore, like few films could, and featured an all-Asian cast that made book-lovers, movie-lovers, and the Asian community proud.
Ralph Breaks the Internet – A few years ago, Disney delivered a hilarious, heartfelt love letter to the classic arcade games we grew up loving with Wreck-It Ralph. In Ralph Breaks the Internet, Disney’s latest letter extends out to the broader reaches of the internet, and it’s just wonderful. This film captures the essence of the internet, today’s video games, and wraps it up in a loving bow. It’s a series I hope continues, because it’s a blast each and every time.
Marvel Films (Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Ant-man and the Wasp) – This is a total cop-out, but I have 0 shame about it. Marvel produced 3 incredible films in one year and deserves mad recognition for it. Ant-man and the Wasp was the weakest of the bunch, but that doesn’t say much. Despite not being a film post-Infinity War like we wanted, Paul Rudd & co. turned out to be much-needed comedic respite. As for the aforementioned Infinity War, this was the culmination of 10 years of storytelling and it absolutely delivered. It gave goosebump moments, hilarious anecdotes, and scenes that don’t tug out your heart-strings, they rip them out and show you Temple of Doom Style. We began the year on a high-note, though, with Black Panther. It featured a mostly all-Black cast and told a memorable story that did the King of Wakanda justice. Plus, Michael B. Jordan gave us a unique and intriguing villain that I sympathized with. Overall, it was just an incredible superhero season at Marvel.
MIKE (Casual Cinecast)
First Reformed – This film stars Ethan Hawke as a pastor who wants to help. But when he begins rapidly losing hope in society and his own church, he begins to look for newer and darker outlets for his sorrow. This came out pretty early in the year and was mostly overlooked by general audiences, and it’s easy to see why. I still have yet to see a movie this year, or the past few, that has so perfectly captured my anxieties and fears about the state of the world and where we’re all headed. This is not a feel-good film…. That said, for my money, it’s the most thought provoking, well written and well acted drama all year.
Roma – This film (from director Alfonso Cuaron) is a very personal, yet universal love letter to all those people in our lives who might have helped raise us or been there for us, but were never appreciated the way they should have been. Roma is about a housekeeper named Cleo who living with an upper-middle class family in Mexico City in 1970. Throughout the film we see her laugh, cry, experience tragedy, nostalgia and love. She watches the children and cleans up the family dogs poop… and by the end, we realize people like her a miracle.
The Favourite – This film almost ranked higher on my list. Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone and Olivia Colman are all so wonderful in this film. In fact there are so many scene stealers, that it’s hard to believe they all hold their own against one another. That said, if there is any justice in this world (and their likely isn’t), Olivia Colman will get an Academy Award for her portrayal of Queen Anne. However, you should know that this is not another awards-bait costume drama…. Yorgos Lanthimos’ is known for his off center style and The Favourite is certainly that. It’s dark, smart and most of all, relentlessly funny.
Eighth Grade – This is a film that probably best captures my entire grade school experience from start to finish. Eighth Grade is about an introverted girl named Kayla (Elsie Fisher) who is having a difficult time in school. She is not good at making friends. But instead of over the top bullies treating our main character badly, like in so many times in movies, this film is about the process of discovering social skills, and figuring out what kind of person you are. It never feels false, or contrived.
Mission Impossible: Fallout – I’ve always been a fan of the MI films and I’ve seen them all in theaters throughout my life. Tom Cruise seems to be the only old school style movie star left these days who actually cares about giving the audience proper action scenes… Not the blue/green screen blandness that we have gotten used to in so many major “action”films. The stunt work is obviously what this franchise is known best for, and with this film… It’s easy to see why. Not to mention, director Chris McQuarrie seems to have an unmatched eye for filming action scenes. In this film, each scene out does the previous one and by the end, you feel exhausted from the ride.
JUSTIN (Casual Cinecast)
5. Leave No Trace – I missed this one in theatres and regret it. Although it still worked well on the small screen (my TV, not a phone or tablet). This story of a father trying to live off the grid and off the land with his teenage daughter was infinitely fascinating. Ben Foster is great as always but the shining star here is Thomasin McKenzie. Her character goes through the biggest journey and is the crux of the film. Its cinematography feels raw and minimal while still being beautiful and the film avoids giving too many surface level answers about why the characters do what they do and, instead, allows the viewer to ask the questions and search for the answers themselves. It’s a travesty if there’s no award recognition for this film or its director, Debra Granik.
4. The Favourite – This was one of the films I’ve been looking forward to most from the awards season. Yorgos Lanthimos’ last film, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, blew me away with its mysterious story, uncomfortable tone and shot composition. The Favourite is more of the same minus the mystery and add in dry comedy. I think this genuinely might be one of the funniest films of 2018 but audiences won’t realize it until a second or even third viewing. Olivia Colman should win an Oscar. Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz also turn in great performances and shine in their scenes together. Costume dramas are typically a tough sell for me, but this unique film kept me involved and smirking to myself from start to finish.
3. Blockers – Comedy is my favorite genre and I am always happy when a decent comedy film comes out of nowhere and surprises me. This is a great comedy film that came out of nowhere and completely caught me off guard by not only being hilarious, but by having a ton of heart and great characters. The story revolves around three parents who find out their three kids are planning on losing their virginity on prom night. Determined to stop it, the parents try and track their kids down and stop them from “making a mistake.” What sounds like a reverse American Pie ends up containing less raunch and less uptight parents than you might expect. Some of their reasons are so likable that you end up rooting for the parents. John Cena embraces his awkward size and manliness, Leslie Mann is hilarious as always but Ike Barinholtz steals the show as the funny and likable loser dad. Do not sleep on this film if you want to laugh and have a good time.
2. Thoroughbred – Olivia Cooke is fast becoming an actress who will cause me to be intrigued by any film she’s starring in. In this film, she turns in an incredible performance of a sociopath who feels no emotions attempting to reconnect with a friend who is played by Anya Taylor-Joy. The two are upper class teenage girls who have issues that need to be resolved in very dark ways. This film focuses on the psyche and mental state of these two girls and turn them into fascinating characters a la Patrick Bateman. While there’s not much action or overly dramatic scenes, the dark humor, tone and performances in this film will keep you hooked until the end credits roll.
1. Eighth Grade – This is the only film of 2018 that was even in contention for my number one spot. It’s a wonderful film about a socially awkward eighth grader named Kayla. It deals with her social anxiety in a way that is at times laugh out loud funny and at times cringe worthy and, yet, at other times completely relatable and heart-wrenching. Elsa Fisher should win the best actress Oscar. Her performance is incredible and nails every nuance perfectly. Bo Burnham surprised everyone and me with this film. I was never a fan of his stand up but I will be right in line for whatever he makes next. Please do yourself a favor, if you haven’t already, and watch this film. You don’t have to be an eighth grade girl to completely relate to Kayla and her attempt to navigate her final weeks before entering high school.
CHRIS REAVES (Casual Cinecast)
Roma – I’m always excited for a new Alfonso Cuarón movie and Roma didn’t disappoint. This deeply personal film about his family’s maid is as heartfelt and earnest as it is beautiful. It left me an emotional mess. Do me a favor and watch it on your tv or even better if it’s at a theater near you it’s a film that deserves the best.
Eighth Grade – 2018 had a lot of wonderful films from first-time directors and Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade is the best. This warm and charming film is worth your attention you won’t regret it.
Tully – It’s really too bad this film came out so early in the year. The Academy forgot about Charlize Theron’s great performance in Tully, about growing up and getting older. It really resonated with me.
Thoroughbreds – Another film by first-time director Corey Finley that completely surprised me, starring two up and comers Olivia Cook and Anya Taylor-Joy and the late Anton Yelchin. For a first-time director, Finley shows that he is one to watch. There is never a dull moment in this film, and it’s worth your time
Mission: Impossible – Fallout – Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie team up again for what is the biggest spectacle movie of the year. Non-stop action and Tom Cruise literally learning how to fly a helicopter to do his own stunts make this movie a marvel and leave you wondering how he survived the filming.
Honorable Mentions – You Were Never Really Here and Hereditary
While the selections from our team on their favorite films of the year have been wonderfully diverse and from a broad range of genre’s, there are some clear frontrunners overall (Mission: Impossible and The Favourite definitely stand out). As we begin to look ahead to what 2019 will bring, we hope to see more awesome films that will stick with us the way these movies from 2018 have. Don’t forget to share your TOP FIVE films of 2018 with us online by using the #Top5Films2018 tag on our Twitter!