Let’s get this out of the way first: you will more than likely disagree with this list. In fact, I encourage disagreement when it comes to movies. This is a medium that is meant to be subjective. Everyone’s favorite movies should be different because we are all individuals who like different things.
This list is solely what I believe to be the very best movies that I watched this year and trust me when I say that I saw a lot (27 to be exact). Of course, I did not get around to every single supposedly good film just yet (Bohemian Rhapsody, Aquaman, Eighth Grade, The Favorite, etc.), but thanks to my Movie Pass I was able to see a very well-rounded group of films.
What stood out the most to me this year was just how many non-terrible movies I watched. Out of the all movies I watched I saw only a few that were sincerely terrible (I’m looking at you Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Venom, and Bird Box).
Without further ado, here are the very best films of 2018.
Honorable Mention: Green Book, Creed II, Ant Man and the Wasp, and Deadpool 2
10. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
I know starting this list off with a documentary isn’t exactly the sexiest pick but trust me on this one. I can’t urge you enough to take time out of your day to watch this beautiful film.
This documentary about the life and philosophy of Fred Rogers from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is the perfect film for 2018. The current social and political discourse of this year has been fueled so much by hate and negativity, and it is so incredibly refreshing to see a picture that displays perfectly to us all why it is so important to simply be kind to your fellow man.
There are so many moments in this documentary that will have you reaching for the tissues but allow me to give you what is without a doubt the most moving sequence of the film and possibly the entire year.
If that wrecked you then just be ready for the full-length documentary. Possibly more than any other movie on this list, I urge you to show this to your family and to your children. We will all be better for it. Here’s to you Mr. Rogers. We miss you dearly.
9. A Quiet Place
Ohhhhhh man this might have been my personal favorite movie of the year. I positively loved this movie as its everything I look for in a suspense thriller. The idea behind this movie is ingenious: A family must survive in the woods without making any noise or terrifying monsters will come and kill them.
The result is a mostly silent movie. There is maybe a paragraph or so of overall spoken dialogue as the family often communicates to each other using sign language. This provided me with one of the most unique film experiences I’ve ever had. The audience around me was completely silent (until the scary stuff happened). I could feel the entire room tensing up through the silent parts as if the monsters would come get them as well if they made any noise.
However, A Quiet Place isn’t a truly a great film because the premise is so great, or that the performances and direction are perfect, or that it’s great incredibly entertaining. It’s one of the best movies of the year because the film deals with the toughest kind of family issues such as overcoming tragedy, acceptance, and forgiveness. Every parent should go see A Quiet Place just for the moral given in the film’s poignant climax alone. It never once felt preachy, but this movie has something very important to say.
Of course, this isn’t a perfect flick. There are a few fake-out jump scares spread throughout the runtime which was frustrating and unnecessary. Also, the very last shot of the film was incredibly cheesy.
Only time will tell if this film will be deemed as a horror classic, but I won’t be forgetting A Quiet Place anytime soon. When I walked out of the theater I found myself thinking about the relationships in my own life while I was admittedly still not trying to make any noise out of fear. It turns out that the old saying is very true – nothing is louder, or more effective, than the sound of silence.
Hereditary deeply scared me on a mental level. To be clear, jump scares when used effectively can scare me. But what truly scares me is the type of terror that lingers within yourself. The only other time I ever left the theater feeling that type of dread after a movie was when I watched The Conjuring.
The difference is, however, that I would love to watch the Conjuring again. It’s a great and entertaining scary movie. Hereditary on the other hand deals with real horror in the realms of mental illness, family issues, and eventually even the supernatural.
Which is where my one nitpick comes in to play. The ending will be too “out there” for general audiences which is really a shame. This movie takes a really strong supernatural turn in the final act, and boy do they realllllly go for it. I understood what was happening, but if you didn’t pay much attention during the film, then you will leave completely lost.
However, there are two scenes in that I would argue are all-time great horror movie sequences. The first being the legendary surprise that happens around the 30-minute mark, and the second being Toni Collette’s devastating wall crawl in the film’s finale.
This movie made me feel absolutely terrible after watching it, and I genuinely don’t want to watch it again (which is a good thing). The bad news is that does not even matter, because the scenes and images I witnessed are still at the forefront of my brain and are still upsetting me. And that is what true horror in its purest form should accomplish.
7. Avengers Infinity War
This is the movie that absolutely should not have worked on any level. Dealing with so many characters and plotlines while still making an entertaining and emotional movie should be impossible. But this is Marvel and the Russo Brothers we are talking about here. The impossible is possible for them.
By mainly focusing on the villain Thanos (played masterful by Josh Brolin) we get one of the MCU’s best overall villains. How Marvel actually made me sympathize with someone who wants to kill trillions of people, is both disturbing and amazing. His story is just so compelling. It’s the best aspect of this movie.
Infinity War also manages to be at times hysterical (WHY IS GAMORA???) and of course always so entertaining. This movie also contains one of the very best scenes in superhero movie history: Thor’s entrance into Wakanda.
Overall, this is a very hard movie to review. The problem is that it does not stand on its own well at all. That may sound obvious but imagine not watching several other MCU movies before this. You would be completely lost and more importantly you would not care as much about any of the characters.
That may not sound fair, but that’s why it is not higher on my list. If it stood on its own better (which I think Avengers Endgame will do) than it would have been higher.
Look, I know I’m not winning any fans by putting a black-and-white foreign language Netflix movie higher than Infinity War, but some men just want to watch the world burn.
— The Playlist ? (@ThePlaylist) December 26, 2018
In all seriousness, Roma is a literal piece of art. This is the most beautiful-looking picture of the year as the camera work by director Alfonso Cuaron might just be the best of this decade. This may win best picture at the Oscars, and honestly, I wouldn’t mind if it did.
From a technical perspective, this film is close to perfect. The editing, directing, and acting is all at the highest level possible. The negative aspect of the film is that its overall story is just lacking when compared to my top-five. I’m not saying that it isn’t incredibly emotional or important, because Roma is those things.
Also, the first 20 minutes of this movies are incredibly hard to sit through because it really is that boring before the story really gets moving. If you don’t mind having to read subtitles, then I fully recommend Roma. As an art film it’s basically perfect. As a movie with an emotional story it might just move you to tears in its climax.
5. Black Panther
Look, I know I’m not winning any fans by putting what might just be the most divisive MCU movie ever over that universe’s hugely important Infinity War, BUT SOME MEN JUST WANT TO WATCH THE WORLD BURN.
You can get mad all you want, but I genuinely think that Black Panther is one of the five best movies I saw this year. If you are mad now, just wait until this movie gets an Oscar nomination for best picture because that will happen folks.
Updated odds to win the Oscar for Best Picture (@betonline_ag):
A Star is Born -125
Black Panther +750
Green Book +900
First Man +1000
If Beale Street Could Talk +1200
The Favourite +1800
The Rider +3300
— OddsShark (@OddsShark) November 28, 2018
This movie fixes all of Marvel’s biggest flaws. Unmemorable soundtracks? Pulitzer Prize-winning artist Kendrick Lamar fixes that here. Bad Villains? Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger is the best villain in this entire universe. Lack of strong female characters? This movie has the strongest female characters in the MCU.
Black Panther engages with intense themes such as isolationism, colonialism, the legacy of slavery, immigration, and OH MY GOD HOW DID MARVEL SUCCESSFULLY MAKE THIS MOVIE ENTERTAINING??
The best movies give something back to its audiences while also being incredibly entertaining. Black Panther does that easily while transcending its own genre. You will think about your place in the world after watching this movie. This isn’t just the pinnacle of MCU movies, it might just be the peak of all superhero movies.
For some context here, I’m honestly not a very big Spike Lee fan at all. I think “Do the Right Thing” is really his only masterpiece and all his other films are anywhere from decent to just bad.
That changed completely for me when I watched BlacKkKlansman. I think this is sincerely Lee’s best movie, and he will easily earn his first Oscar nomination for directing with this picture. This was one of the most emotional movies of the year as scene after scene completely leveled me.
Lee takes a story about a black police officer who infiltrates the KKK and perfectly translates it to our current political state. This leads me to my warning for you: BlacKkKlansman is unapologetically political.
The film has some very, very serious things to say and Lee pulls no punches at all. The movie is better for it. There is no tiptoeing or missed opportunities to showcase powerful opinions. It delves head first into these and creates a powerful dialogue about race in our country that I believe everyone should at least hear.
Aside from the serious aspects of this movie, Lee’s film is surprisingly hilarious at times on purpose. Actors Adam Driver and John David Washington (Denzel’s son) work off each other amazingly well as their comedic timing is perfect. This is easily Lee’s most entertaining movie which is another reason why it’s so high on my list.
The biggest reason this movie is so high on my list is because of the ending. It’s so impactful because of its brutal honesty and timeliness. Just be ready for it. No matter what your political stance is, it will create some type of emotional reaction out of you and that’s what the very best films accomplish.
3. Mission Impossible: Fallout
I’ve only seen the first three movies in this series and I just thought they were solid action films. I haven’t even seen the fourth and fifth installments because in all honesty I just wasn’t that interested in doing so.
But WOW was “Fallout” not only the year’s best action movie, but it is hands down the best action flick of this decade. To be clear, this movie follows the same basic formula that most high stakes action films do. However, what makes it the best is the amazing real stunts that are pulled off and how they are filmed.
Every single action-packed scene is filmed in beautiful wide shots, so the viewer can clearly see what’s happening. There is little to no CGI used at all which makes every moment feel real. There is one scene towards the end of the movie which features an awe-inspiring helicopter chase which has some of the best real stunts ever put to screen.
However, the real moneymaker here is a bathroom fight featuring Tom Cruise and Henry Cavill that will go down in cinematic history as perfection.
Cruise is over 50 years old and the fact that he does all his own stunts in an insanely good action movie is just unbelievable. This is his film and he is having the time of his life. Henry Cavill also eats up every bit of the scenery as the best villain in the entire franchise.
Coming into 2018 I had zero intention of putting “Fallout” as one of the year’s best movies. However, it completely blew me away with wall-to-wall action and amazing cinematography. It really is that good.
2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Yes, I’m completely serious, and I couldn’t be happier to put this movie as my second favorite film of the year. Allow me to start off my argument with the following scene:
Spider-Verse is an absolute experience as the animation might be the most creative I’ve ever seen in a theater. Within the first few minutes you will be fully immersed in the world of this movie without even realizing it.
I firmly and honestly believe this animated superhero movie has earned all the following accolades: the biggest surprise of the year, the best superhero movie of the year, the best Spider-Man film ever made, and the second-best superhero movie of all time.
Of course, it isn’t all those things just because of the outstanding animation and action. It’s a truly great film because of the story that Sony has created. It’s so moving and inspiring in the way that a Spider-Man movie should be. Spider-Verse is never afraid to be completely unique in its hysterical comedy and heart-rendering moments.
I cannot urge you enough to go watch this movie with your entire family because it truly is a movie for everyone. Spider-Verse’s beautiful main point is to show that anyone can step-up and be a hero. Anyone can be Spider-Man. However, I now prefer my Spider-Man to be wearing Nikes as he flies across the New York skyline to save the day.
1. A Star Is Born
This is hands-down the movie of the year. In today’s time you really don’t find a film that is universally loved by everyone, but that’s exactly what director Bradley Cooper has given us with A Star Is Born.
Let’s start with Lady Gaga. I can say confidently that I’m not a fan of hers, but wow did she give the performance of a lifetime here. It will be an utter disgrace if she does not walk away with the Oscar. The same can also be said for Cooper and Sam Elliott who give their career-best performances as well.
I’m expecting close to a clean-sweep at the Academy Awards. This should easily win best picture. The acting and directing is so amazing in this movie that it truly feels as if you watching real-life moments taking place.
However, this is the best movie of 2018 because of how it managed to affect me personally. Cooper created a story which deals with investigating relationships particularly between a man and a woman in love and what happens when the man is crippled by something is his past that won’t let him go.
This hit me at my very core by coincidence as I was going through something like that in my own life when I watched the film. Movies hit us in different ways at different moments in our lives. I just found myself completely taken back by Cooper’s character Jackson.
Luckily for me, A Star Is Born managed to touch me on a personal level in ways that I was not prepared for, but I needed. The very best movies successfully entertain us, move us, and shatter our emotions all at once. That’s exactly this film did, and I’ll always be thankful I watched it.
This was sincerely a great year at the movies, and I hope it was for you as well!