My Top 10 movies of 2018, with the usual two extras thrown in for good measure, plus one special mention that I snuck in. My criteria for a 2018 movie is any non-reperatory film I saw in 2018 that was new to me and had a theatrical release. That means this list may include a film that was technically released in 2017 or only played at a film festival in 2018.
1. SCHOOL’S OUT – I saw this quiet French film at Fantastic Fest and really didn’t expect much going in. It destroyed me, literally bringing me to tears during the film and upsetting me every time I thought about it after. I’m holding back tears just typing this now, months later. This has a lot to do with my kids and where they’re at in their lives, and the fact that I’d just seen my second and last son off to college a few weeks before.
2. ROMA – Tonia and I saw this as one of the closing night films at Denver Film Festival this year. They set up special Atmos speakers in the Ellie Caulkins Opera House just for this one screening. Even though I have an Atmos capable home theater in my basement I’m so glad I saw this on a large screen with an audience, as it should be seen.
3. TUMMBAD – Another surprise out of Fantastic Fest! This movie is captivating. Beautiful FX, set design, story, soundtrack and cinematography combine to tell a great fantasy tale that captivated everyone who saw it.
4. BURNING – Caught this at Denver Film Festival and loved it. A very ominous, unsettling, low key film that leaves questions unanswered as it should.
5. THE FAVOURITE – Yorgos Lanthimos has yet to disappoint me, which is pretty amazing because I have some very high expectations for him now. This is probably my second favorite of his fims (ain’t nothin’ gonna knock DOGTOOTH out of the #1 spot my friends). This story is a perfect vehicle for his focus on absurdity and it’s bolstered by some great technical details like using 8mm lenses. I especially loved the not-quite-period costumes, dances and language.
6. ANNIHILATION – I saw this very early in the year, so I suppose it’s easy to forget just how unsettling and challenging this movie is. This is what great sci-fi is for me and it very much reminds me of one of my favorite authors, J.G. Ballard.
7. HEREDITARY – Despite a lackluster viewing experience in the theater (we were moved from our Atmos theater to a generic screening with subpar sound because the digital print wasn’t working correctly), this movie was both unexpected and everything I was hoping for! I can’t wait to re-watch it in my home theater with proper sound.
8. SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDERVERSE – What an unexpected surprise! I love seeing an animated movie that both ups the ante from a technical standpoint and manages to tell a great story with great, human characters (and has Nic Cage in it! WHAT?!).
9. THE NIGHT COMES FOR US – This is just flat-out balls-to-the-wall action and had our Fantastic Fest screening crowd climbing the walls in craziness! Easily the MOST FUN I’ve had in a theater in recent memory. I’m so glad I got to see this on a big screen with an enthusiastic audience and the director in attendance. I NEED to own a Blu-ray of this so I hope Netflix releases it on physical media at some point (I can dream right?).
10. DONNYBROOK – Not for everyone but I really liked this a lot. It took a pretty dark turn right up front and never let up. No one walked out of this movie feeling a zest for life. This could have been something entirely different and more focused on action. Instead it’s a much bleaker version of reality, with more in common with post-apocalyptic films than action dramas. Looking forward to revisiting it.
11. DESTROYER – I spent a good portion of this film being actively displeased until the final act flipped it all on me. I’ve continued to think about this film since seeing it at FF and really look forward to revisiting it. Kidman is great, which goes without saying. I love the films she’s been choosing to participate in for the past few years.
12. BIRDS OF PASSAGE – While not entirely what I was expecting (not even sure what that was), this film managed to win me over when Tonia and I saw it at Denver Film Festival. We had a long discussion about it on the ride home. I love it when a film inspires us to talk about it for a while afterward. Another film best viewed in a theater.
13. LEAVE NO TRACE – Ok, I cheated and snuck this one in even though I didn’t see it until January of 2019. Kind of unforgivable that I didn’t make time to see this in the theater. And it makes sense that both my first and last films on this list both destroyed me and brought me to tears. This is just a very quietly powerful, emotional film that’s definitely going to stick with me for a long time.
HONORABLE MENTIONS – As usual there are films that were great but didn’t make my list. Some surprises include DEN OF THIEVES which plays out like a lesser version of HEAT and transcends its standard genre origins because of it; and the final film of the Maze Runner series, MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE, which shocked me because I didn’t much care for the previous two entries in the series. I also really liked UPGRADE, another film that’s much better than it seems like it has any right to be.
I had high hopes for A PRIVATE WAR, which, even though it didn’t meet my expectations, was still pretty damn good. THE SISTERS BROTHERS and FIRST MAN were both very good as well. I especially wrestled with trying to fit THE SISTERS BROTHERS into my top ten but I just couldn’t quite justify it. PIERCING was a fun bit of genre that deserves attention, and FIRST REFORMED deserves high praise too. FIRST REFORMED feels like a bookend with TAXI DRIVER being at the other end. I would love to watch those two as a double feature.
Anyone who knows me is probably surprised that MANDY isn’t in my top 10. I wrangled with that a lot. I like MANDY a lot but it just didn’t have a great of an effect on me as BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW. Still worthy of attention though.
WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE, while not entirely living up to its potential, is still a film worth watching. One of the better films I saw at Cinepocalypse Film Festival this year.
This was the second full year of having my home theater and I definitely took advantage of it! It also spurred me to continue purchasing a lot of Blu-rays and 4K discs, mostly because it’s the best, highest quality way for me to experience a film in my theater.
For Christmas of 2017 I had gotten a new 4K capable receiver and a 4K Blu-ray player, which led to more 4K discs this year. I’m more picky about the 4K stuff and there’s still not a huge selection of discs yet.
AMC’s A-List service has also had a strangely positive effect on my movie-watching. Because our two best theaters here are both AMC’s, it’s really been a benefit to my wife and I, especially now that both our kids are out of the house.
|1||School's Out||Sébastien Marnier||2018|
|3||Tumbbad||Rahi Anil Barve||2018|
|5||The Favourite||Yorgos Lanthimos||2018|
|8||Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse||Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman||2018|
|9||The Night Comes for Us||Timo Tjahjanto||2018|
|12||Birds of Passage||Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra||2018|
|13||Leave No Trace||Debra Granik||2018|