Tony's Take

TOP 15 FILMS OF 2018!

TOP 15 FILMS OF 2018!!

It’s that time of year again!  Time to reflect-back on the past year of film and decide on my fifteen favorite (and five honorable mention) films from 2018.  As always, the list was difficult to put together, but it’s always so much fun to look back at all of the movies I’ve seen!  So here we go, sound-off in the comments with your agreements and disagreements, and we can all look forward to 2019 and all the mayhem it has in-store!

 

First, the honorable mentions (in alphabetical order): AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, ANNIHILATION, HEREDITARY, INCREDIBLES 2/ISLE OF DOGS/SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE, MARY POPPINS RETURNS, and WIDOWS!

 

In a year filled-with incredible animation, it was hard not to choose four of them to include in my honorable mentions.  Fourteen years after the original, Incredibles 2 picked-up right where its predecessor left and gave us an incredibly fun and entertaining ride!  Isle of Dogs was a genius idea, coupled with a brilliant storytelling method, gorgeous animation, and one of the most talented and diverse voice casts ever assembled; it truly was a captivating movie-going experience!  Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a phenomenal achievement as well!  An incredible story, filled with gorgeous animation; it has everything you love about superhero films and none of the stuff you find repetitive!  Annihilation was an early surprise, mixing terror with science fiction in a masterful way, creating one of the most jaw-dropping and underrated films of 2018!   Then came April.  Avengers: Infinity War was the culmination of ten years and eighteen films; and it’s safe to say that it delivered!  One of the most fun, chaotic, but organized action films of all time, we’re all counting down the days until Avengers: Endgame!  The incredibly intense, haunting, and terrifyingly-original Hereditary was a masterful debut for Ari Aster; and that jaw-dropping ending kept people for weeks!  Steve McQueen’s powerful, smart, female-led heist film Widows stayed with me long after the credits rolled, as did Davis’ powerhouse performance; but it’s the intricate detail and storytelling that resonated with me!  Last but not least, I was thoroughly surprised at the effect Mary Poppins Returns had on me.  I never had a profound connection to the 1964 classic, not to say that I didn’t admire it though.  However, Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda are wondrous and the film can only be described as pure happiness and joy; I dare you to try and leave the theater without a smile on your face!  These are my five honorable mentions of 2018 and, while it was tough to construct, there are many others that deserve recognition as well!

 

TOP 15 FILMS OF 2018!

 

  1. FIRST REFORMED

 

The legendary Paul Schrader’s best film in years, First Reformed is one of the most underrated and polarizing films of 2018!  Featuring, arguably, the greatest performance of Ethan Hawke’s career, the film follows a middle-aged pastor who is struggling with his personal and pastoral life as he is faced with his own series of hurdles.  This dark, powerful drama goes to places you would never expect and the final 20 minutes are something you will truly never forget.

 

  1. FIRST MAN

I truly believe this film will stand the test of time!  Released around the same time as another phenomenal film (more on that later),Damien Chazelle’s La La Land follow-up First Man is a tremendous character study of Neil Armstrong.  Led-by Ryan Gosling’s innovative and profound performance, the films follows his life from young adulthood to famous moon landing and nearly-everything in between as we see into the life of the quietly-brave hero.  Claire Foy provides an incredible performance as Neil’s wife and the rest of the cast is strong as well; not to mention the year’s finest score from Justin Hurwitz.  I truly hope this film finds an audience after its disappointing box office performance!

 

  1. BOY ERASED

One of the most difficult films to watch of 2018, Boy Erased is an extremely-powerful true story that follows a young, homosexual boy as his parents send him to a Conversion Camp in an attempt to free him from (what they see as) the devil’s influence.  Proving that he’s one of the best of his generation, Lucas Hedges gives an outstanding performance alongside Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman in one of the most powerful and heartbreaking films of the year!  This film is not to be missed!

 

  1. BLACK PANTHER

Everybody had high hopes after Black Panther’s debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Ryan Coogler, Chadwick Boseman, and Michael B. Jordan had an enormous amount of pressure on them; but boy did they deliver!  Incredible action, fun and dynamic characters, and just a well-structured story makes Black Panther the best superhero film of 2018!  The female-led cast is just as strong as well, something that couldn’t have been said for Marvel films is years past.  Not to mention Kendrick Lamar’s accompanying soundtrack featuring plenty of great songs as well!

 

  1. A QUIET PLACE

One of the biggest surprises of 2018 is John Krasinski’s incredibly-raw and original thriller.  Featuring his actual wife (Emily Blunt) as his opposite onscreen, A Quiet Place is a beautifully-constructed, shot, and portrayed story that delves-into hidden undertones with its subtext; much in the same way Jordan Peele’s Get Out did.  If you haven’t yet, make sure to check out this film on the biggest screen and in the quietest room of the house!

 

  1. IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

Barry Jenkins’ powerful follow-up to 2017’s Best Picture winner Moonlight follows the lives of a pair of young lovers in Harlem as one of them is wrongfully-accused and imprisoned and the other must prove their innocence with a baby on the way.  Surprisingly heartfelt and timely, If Beale Street Could Talk causes the viewer to believe they are just looking into the lives of a New York family, as the film feels so very genuine and authentic.  KiKi Layne and Stephan James are fantastic, but Regina King gives us a powerhouse performances for the ages; be sure not to sleep on this film!

 

  1. SUSPIRIA

Easily one of the most jaw-dropping films of 2018, Luca Guadagnino’s follow-up to his 2017 critical darling Call Me By Your Name, Suspiria stayed in my mind weeks past my first screening.  The story follows a young American woman as she auditions for a premiere ballet in Berlin.  Dakota Johnson gives a career-best performance, but the true star of the show is Tilda Swinton.  As the girl begins to uncover more about the Dance school’s history, she quickly learns that there is much more beneath the surface.   The film is an absolutely wild, insane, macabre ride that left me thoroughly entertained; and the ending left my jaw on the floor!  Be sure to check this one out if you’re not squeamish!

 

  1. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT

Who said action films don’t deserve a seat at the table?  Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Christopher McQuarrie’s second entry in the franchise, defeats all clichés and preconceived notions delivers a well-rounded, multi-layered, story-driven action spectacle!  Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, and Rebecca Ferguson lead the way, alongside Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames; creating one of the best action films of the last decade.  There are plenty of awe-inspiring shots, impressive stunts, and gorgeously-shot action sequences, making this on the best movies of the year!  I can’t wait to see how they up-the-ante next time around!

 

  1. BLACKKKLANSMAN

Spike Lee is known for his films to be, at times, racially charged and divise.  In BlackKklansman, the issues of racial inequality are brought to the forefront in this hilarious, incredibly-true story about how one black police officer in Colorado went undercover and integrated himself into the Ku Klux Klan.  John David Washington and Adam Driver are superb, but the most incredible aspect of the film is how, scarily, it connects to our Nation today.  The ending is purely polarizing and will leave you speechless; undoubted one of the best uses of cinema in 2018 and the finest film of Spike Lee’s career.  If you haven’t already, make sure you check this one out!

 

  1. MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS

One of my favorite films of the year has us venture-back over five hundred years ago to the time of a battle for hierarchy in Scotland and England.  Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie are truly divine in Mary Queen of Scots, a gorgeous, stunning tale of Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I!  The film features an emotionally-driven story, accompanied by breathtaking visuals and a genius score, composed by Max Richter; combining to give us one of the finest films of 2018, strongly-deserving of its regal ancestry!

 

  1. A STAR IS BORN

Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut is one for the record books!  Back for its fourth interpretation, A Star is Born is one of this year’s most popular films, but also one of its most powerful and heartbreaking.  Following the life of an aging musician as he meets a young, undiscovered talent; the film is driven by Lady Gaga’s outstanding talent and is coupled with Cooper’s brilliant melancholy.  Accompanying the film is an original soundtrack filled with original songs performed by both of them as well, and one is sure to take home the Academy Award for best original song in a few months (I still find myself listening to it)!  One of the biggest surprises of 2018, the ending will leave you filled with emotion.  Bravo Bradley Cooper!

 

  1. THE FAVOURITE

Director Yorgos Lanthimos returns with his unique and vision to give us one of the most entertaining and outrageous films of 2018!  Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone are a truly stunning trio in The Favourite, the story of Queen Anne and the incredible rumors that surrounded her life.  The stunning cinematography, zany plot elements, and layered-symbolism are masterfully constructed, creating a truly one-of-a-kind work of art.  While not aiming for historical accuracy, the film is a rare gem and one of the best and most entertaining films of 2018!

 

  1. ROMA

Alfonso Cuarón returns with his first film in five years with perhaps his greatest cinematic achievement.  An incredibly-introspective look into his childhood, ROMA follows the story of a young maid working for a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s.  The film is gorgeously-shot on a black-and-white canvas and carries a rare authenticity in its direction and storytelling method.  Entirely spoken in Spanish, the film is powerful, vibrant, and incredibly intimate; completely transcending any language barrier.  What Cuarón has constructed is no easy feat, a rare cinematic foreign-language masterpiece that will undoubtedly stand the test of time; truly one of the best films of 2018!

 

  1. GREEN BOOK

Peter Farrelly’s first venture without his brother is far-and-away one of the best films of 2018!  Green Book follows the true story of Tony Vallelonga and his unlikely kinship with Dr. Donald Shirley that is formed upon a concert trip throughout the Southern United States.  Tackling the important issues of racial equality and exploring all of the hurdles African Americans faced during the 1960’s, the film handles these masterfully with rawness and delicacy.  Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali give tour-de-force performances in one of the best and most entertaining films of the year; and it’s destined to become a new Christmas classic!

 

  1. VICE

My favorite film of the year is also going to be known as the most divisive film of 2018.  Adam McKay, fresh off the success from his 2016 critically-praised The Big Short, brings us the incredibly story about one of the most powerful men in the history of the United States, Dick Cheney.  Vice is incredibly entertaining and is equal parts hilarious and disturbing.  Christian Bale disappears into the role of Cheney (who is sure to garner plenty of praise and accolades), but the rest of the cast is just as remarkable!  Amy Adams truly becomes Lynne Cheney, Steve Carell gives his best performance in years as Donald Rumsfeld, and Sam Rockwell’s portrayal of George W. Bush will make you completely forget about any past incantations!  The film is full of creative energy, as McKay breaks the fourth-wall on more than one occasion and uses other off storytelling methods with mammoth payoff and effect, but it tells its story without judgement; which is perhaps its greatest achievement.  The film relies on an intense amount of research to get all of the possible facts, but still it admits that there is just no way to know everything and that it never passes everything off as a fact; be sure to stay for the mid-credit scene!  I love how polarizing and divisive this film is (and will become) and it is my absolute favorite film of 2018!

It truly has been a great year for cinema!  From comedies, to blockbusters, to the smaller, dramatic films; 2018 was filled with so many memorable films!  Sound-off in the comments about which films you agree and disagree with!

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