So, last year before the Oscar’s Award show, I made a little list of my favourite films from the previous year. To continue on with that tradition, I thought I would make a list of my top 20 favourite films of 2018. In 2018, I saw 116 new films (100 of those I saw in theatres), so putting this list together was challenging. There was a lot of great films to pick from this year and there are still loads of 2018 films that are still on my list to see. Nonetheless, here it goes:
20. The Strangers: Prey at Night
Walking into this film, I was expecting to hate it, get a few laughs from how bad it was, forget I even saw it by the end of the year and then move on with my life. Critics hated this movie and on most occasions my feelings usually line up with the critics, in short: I’m a film snob. But this movie really surprised me and I walked out not understanding the hate it got. The film is lit with a distinct neon glow that makes the tense, horrifying hunt of a psychopath in a deserted trailer park community that much more chilling and badass. This John Carpenter-esque throwback is definitely a must-see.
19. Game Night
This movie was so, so, so much fun. It was genuinely funny and captivating with an interesting story and great performances all around. I can see myself re-watching this for years to come.
18. Juliet, Naked
Such an understated and unlikely romance. Incredibly grounded and cautious, this film made me what to take a trip out to the ocean. It was introspective and made with care, also funny and only slightly ironic (you had to be there).
17. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
This story is scooped up from a place of deep, deep desperation and longing and I love it. I wish we got to see this side of Melissa McCarthy more often. I think McCarthy’s depiction of Lee Israel is one of the most relatable of the year. I’m not saying she was right, but I understand her. Also director Marielle Heller did such a good job of bringing this biopic to life.
Charlize Theron paints one of the most realistic versions of motherhood to ever grace the screen. Although this film is so down-to-earth and incredibly relatable, it also uses new friendship and societal expectations to look at mental health in a surprising a slightly weird (in a good way) kind of way. We also got an incredible performance from both Theron and Mackenzie Davis. So, what more could you ask for?
Tense, a word that cannot even begin to describe how this film made me feel from start to finish. This film shows what amazing potential Dakota Johnson has when given good roles. Seriously I love her and she is STUNNING in this film. And don’t even get me started on one of the most brutal scenes in a movie this year (no spoilers but it’s in a ballet studio and I actually gasped aloud when it happened).
14. A Quiet Place
Coming from literally out of no where, director, co-writer and star John Krasinski (aka Jim from the Office) delivered us a thriller for the ages. This film not only successfully crosses over genres, it also keeps you on your seat throughout the entire run time. I feel bad, because this came out at the beginning of 2018 and I almost forgot about it when I started to sit down to make this list. However, after re-watch I still stand by the fact that this was one of the best films of the year. Way to go Jim.
Based on a NYC photographer named Ronit who returns home to the UK after learning that her estranged father has recently passed away. When Ronit gets back to this small Orthodox Jewish community where she grew up, she is forced to deal with unfinished feelings with her former high school lover. Staring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams, this film dealt with romance in the most passionate way possible.
Okay, so where do I even begin with this one. Admittedly, I saw this film after I had already cemented my list, which just makes it that much more difficult to figure out where to place it on this list. Buuuut, all of that aside, this film had such a delicate, heart-warming and frustrating tone. One of the most interesting questions it raised for me is, just because you gave birth does that automatically make you a mother? I’m still torn. Seriously, go see this film and give it the love and attention it deserves.
11. Bad Times at the El Royale
Dakota Johnson makes her second appearance on this list. All I really want to say is that this movie is so damn cool and a lot of fun to watch. Love the aesthetic they were able to achieve here.
10. If Beale Street Could Talk
Barry Jenkins has a way to make his films feel like a wave, at first slowing moving in towards the shore and then crashing in towards the sand all at once. If Beale Street Could Talk is a frustrating film, one that makes you angry for the characters. A film that makes you wish things were different and that people didn’t suck so much. I love this film, I love it’s message, I love everything about it.
Based on real events and a novel by Ron Stallworth. Let me just start off by saying, I love learning about true crime and this is one of the most interesting investigations of hatred I’ve ever heard of. Amazing script, great acting and beautiful cinematography. I really have nothing bad to say about this film.
I thankfully was able to see this one on the big screen, however it is a Netflix original if you want to go give it a watch. This film takes place in Mexico City and follows the life of Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) who works for a rich family. Subverting expectations and painting a beautiful portrait of Cleo’s life and the struggles she faces. Honestly, I would expect nothing less from director and writer Alfonso Cuarón. Brilliant.
This dark thriller gives a fresh take on the genre as it looks to a childhood friendship that is now being forced back together. Starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke, these two gave some truly enthralling performances. This film probably has one of my favourite screenplays of the year and tackles one of the most horrifying things known to man… Suburbia.
6. Isle of Dogs
Truly the best animated film of the year in my opinion. Packed with dynamic characters, an excellent story and some of the most drop-dead gorgeous stop-motion animation I’ve ever seen. I really, truly adore this film.
Okay, well I actually have a lot to say about this film and about the events it was based on but I’m going to try and keep it short. First off a big round-of-applause to Christian Bale for one of my favourite performances of the year. This film did everything “The Big Short” (2015) was trying to do but in a much better way. Also before seeing this I had no idea who Dick Cheney really was but now I do and I don’t know how to feel about this new information that I have. It makes me feel angry and a little gadded about American politics. I also never knew I liked President Jimmy Carter so much, so that was neato. I feel like no matter where you fall on the political scale, everyone should watch this film and think about the content with your critical thinking hat on. (Also on a side note, Amy Adams could definitely play a young Hillary Clinton in literally the same costume/makeup).
4. Red Sparrow
Starring Jennifer Lawrence as a ballerina turned Russian intelligence weapon, this film tells the story of a woman who is more commodity than person. I haven’t seen this film on any of “2018 favourite’s” lists, and it’s disappointing to see it get forgotten. But this film has been stuck in my head since the day I saw it in the theatre.
3. A Star Is Born
Since seeing this first trailer, this was my most anticipated film of 2018. And boy oh boy, it did not disappoint. The song “Shallows” will forever be stuck in my head as I dream about a truly mesmerizing performance by Lady Gaga.
2. The Favourite
This was one of those movies that I was like, “yeah I guess I want to see that” but wasn’t super hyped for. But I was so excited by director Yorgos Lanthimos’ newest creation once the first shot was broadcasted across the big screen. It also had my fav costume design of any film in 2018. I love the way they portray power dynamics and the show just how far some people will go to get power.
1. Eighth Grade
I personally haven’t watched any of Bo Burnham’s standup but this film he made, it’s so freaking special. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s funny and grounded and captures those awkward transitional pre-teen to teenage years in the most perfect way. Why is Elsie Fisher not nominated for an Oscar?!
Honourable Mentions: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Colette, First Man, Bumblebee, Mary Queen of Scots, Mid90s, Halloween, A Simple Favor, Oceans Eight, Hereditary, First Reformed, Destroyer, Widows & To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
I know this was a long list, and if you’re actually still reading then you rock! Comment below and tell me your favourite film of 2018 or a movie that you saw and liked in 2018. And if you are interested to hear individual reviews and ratings of all of the films I see, here is a link to my Letterbox account: https://letterboxd.com/jennwill/