Last week my good friend Jorge Castellanos and I got together to discuss our favorite films of 2018. We had a blast recording and it was really fun just talking about what we liked and disliked about some of the biggest 2018 movies.
You can listen to our podcast here, and see Jorge’s List here. Other than that, below is my full list, plus a few runner ups and my overly honest list of movies I wasn’t able to see.
Let me know what you agree with or disagree with on my list–Especially if I missed any obvious top-10 films!
MY TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2018
- Free Solo – My pick for best film! Going into the screening, I knew the characters, I knew the plot, I even knew how it ended, and not only did it keep my attention throughout (both times), but it inspired me, challenged me, and pulled at my heartstrings, and really never let me go until the credits rolled. All things that a documentary doesn’t often do. It’s probably cheating for a film to feature Yosemite–one of my favorite places in the world, but it definitely helped Free Solo edge out Spider-Verse in the contest for Ben’s Favorite Films of 2018. (Something I’m sure was on a lot of filmmakers’ minds last year.)
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – Similarly genre and medium-transcending just as Black Panther, but is much less supernatural and other worldly than Wakanda and big time superheroes. The way the film focuses in on a young mixed race kid growing up in New York City and doesn’t tokenize, or stereotype, but instead paints a very genuine, realistic portrait of what that experience is like, while also using the sci-fi idea of alternate dimensions to help provide a filter into what it’s like to grow up, makes this film truly a masterpiece. Not a dull moment and no wasted scenes–it clips along as a brisk pace, but everything along the way seems meaningful. From a story and technical perspective, it just seemed perfect.
- Annihilation – Layers upon layers of metaphor throughout. Alex Garland did a great job of hiding the potential questions and potential plot holes that would normally arise, with thought-provoking questions, deliberate and well-thought-out mysteries (not just JJ Abrams-like mystery box puzzles). It’s a thriller, or even a horror movie, but it’s also a slow-paced, deep-thinking, methodical mystery. Not a film I’d want to watch over and over b/c my brain might explode, but filmgoing experience that was so unique, I hadn’t had anything similar since probably Arrival.
- Sorry to Bother You – A film for our time, a great twist that carries willing suspenders of disbelief into an even greater revelation. The questions it makes viewers ask of themselves, specifically about how much of your soul you’d sell…and for much, is asked unpointedly and very deliberately across a lot of the film. It’s specific at times, ambiguous at others, artful and technically proficient. Amazing accomplishment by Boots Riley, esp as his first feature length writer/director credit.
- Roma – An amazing achievement of filmmaking in which I didn’t really enjoy any single scene or moment, but as a whole it’s an endearing, inspiring story. Does a superb job of building up the world of 1970’s Mexico City, slowly scene by scene developing character and story in a pretty uneventful way, until at the very end just punching me in the heart. Ours is the only timeline in which Green Book could take best picture of this film.
- Black Panther – Genre-transcending, record-breaking, but also the best villain in the MCU (sorry Thanos), the best acting, and least-expositive origin story for a superhero. Amazing group of actors, and not just for a superhero movie–all on point whether they’re being quippy and funny, intensely serious, earnest and heartfelt, or just kicking ass. So great to see an amazing writer/director (Ryan Coogler) take the reigns of one of these giant blockbusters and seemingly not compromise his greatness.
- Widows – A great heist film with very little actual heisting. Wonderful performances from…really everyone involved. While the plot is a bit meandering and a few of the story beats don’t land or ever really find closure, each scene pulls me in deeper and deeper with sincere and intense acting throughout.
- Hold The Dark – A slow developing, super creepy action, horror, drama. Jeremy Saulnier is combining the best of Green Room and Blue Ruin (and Macon Blair) into this methodical, psychological thriller. It’s simultaneously intriguing and off putting throughout, but turns into a thoughtful, purposeful telling of a some horrific and slightly mystical happenings in a small town in rural Alaska.
- Black Mirror: Bandersnatch – A medium that was so divergent from other films that it propelled a B-level story into an A+ film/event for me. There’s not a lot I can say without getting into spoiler territory, but suffice it to say, it’s the most unique movie-watching experience I’ve ever had–and not in a Koyaanisqatsi or Anaconda way.
- Avengers: Infinity War – The film I’d most want to see a dozen times—and have already seen several. The most fun I’ve had in a theater in awhile, but also a little emotional at the end. Great banter, solid story, fun bad guy, intriguing heroes. All around good fun.
- Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Cohens be Cohening. Solid vignettes, and loved the performances, but wish there were more ties between them, aside from “the wild west”.
- A Quiet Place – Jaw-dropping performances, heartbreaking moments, and overall an inspiring story.
Notable But Not On My Top 10:
- Isle of Dogs – Extremely Wes Anderson with some delightful performances and funny moments. Problematic throughout, but a fun romp. Not heartfelt or emotionally engaging enough to vault it into the top 10.
- A Star Is Born – Thought it was laughably bad on several occasions. Gaga was fine, so was Bradley for the most part, but the choices the characters make just ripped me out of the film over and over again. They seem senseless and unrealistic, and I found myself just asking “Why?” at seemingly ever turn. By the end I had zero buy-in to any character or plot point.
Wished I’d Seen:
- First Reformed
- Eighth Grade
- You Were Never Really Here
- The Favourite
Didn’t get to see:
- Crazy Rich Asians
- Borg vs. McEnroe
- If Beale Street Could Talk
- First Man
- Mary Queen of Scots
- Creed II
- Bohemian Rhapsody
- The Endless
- Bad Times at the El Royale
- Cold War