2018 is over and as we head towards award season, it’s LIST TIME!!! This will not be a traditional Top 10 “Best of” list as there are plenty of Golden Globe nominees and potential Oscar contenders still on my must-see list. Instead this will be a straight up Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2018 list. I for one thought 2018 was a stellar year in film. A lifelong horror geek, my Top 10 horror list ballooned into a Top 25 extravaganza. Genre films did make my Top 10 favorites, but the list also features theatrical blockbusters, straight to Netflix offerings, and an incredible five films from first-time feature-length directors. Here we go!
A few honorable mentions: (in no particular order):
Love, Simon, Cam, Revenge, Black Panther, The Ranger, The Witch in the Window, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Deadpool 2
And now to the Top 10…
10. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Right away Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is a controversial pick as many might count this as an “episode” rather than a film, but since it was released as a standalone, I count it. I haven’t had that much pure fun watching a movie in a long time. The interactivity of the choose-your-own-adventure style story is from the twisted mind of Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker. You sit there holding your remote control like a video game controller making choices as insignificant as what cereal to have at the beginning before the mind-trippy craziness of Black Mirror’s typical tech noir style kicks in. I wish I had an entire day to sit there watching, playing, rewatching, and trying other options. This could become one of the most rewatchable films ever. Available on Netflix.
If you would’ve asked me on January 1, 2018 which film I most wanted to be on my year-end Top 10 list it would’ve been David Gordon Green’s Halloween. A pessimist at heart, I refused to believe it would be good until I sat in the theater and watched it. To my wonderful surprise, this was the scariest Halloween film since the 1978 original; a movie that somehow lived up to the hype and my expectations. It’s not a flawless film, but it needed to get two things right: Laurie Strode and Michael Myers. Jamie Lee Curtis was perfect and her Laurie was both strong and wounded. James Jude Courtney was the best man in the mask since Nick Castle and accomplished what other Myers’ portrayers had failed to do: make Michael scary again! Available on VOD.
First-time director Aneesh Chaganty brilliantly executes the gimmick of having the whole film done through internet and online systems. This is the best cyber thriller out there, but the gimmick would be just that without the career-making lead performance from John Cho. As a father of two myself, I immediately sympathized with his character and felt all the stress and panic of a father desperate to find his lost daughter. Available on VOD.
Spike Lee’s best film since Do the Right Thing, BlacKkKlansman is constantly entertaining and poignant throughout. Lee is never one to be subtle with his social commentary, and what might seem heavy handed during the film pays off with a gut punch in its closing moments. This film, which proves that Lee he is a still a visionary voice in the industry, will likely stir up debate and some controversy but if you’re angry by it, you might want to look in the mirror. John David Washington delivers a star-making performance and Adam Driver has never been better. Available on VOD.
6. Mission: Impossible: Fallout
The most entertaining and frenetic film of the year and proof that age is nothing but a number for Tom Cruise, Fallout combines all the insane stunts and practical effects of an M:I film with a truly interesting spy story, tremendous villain, and great script. I had not seen a M:I film since the 1996 original, 22 years earlier, but the previews were so exhilarating that I went to see this, then went and watched all five previous films before seeing this one again. Available on VOD now.
5. A Star is Born
Another directorial debut, although this time you’ve probably heard of the guy. Bradley Cooper already is an Oscar-nominated actor, but he will likely get a director’s nod for this modern take on the classic story of a troubled star who meets a diamond in the rough with an amazing voice. Cooper and Lady Gaga have the best chemistry of any on-screen couple this year and when Gaga joins him on stage to sing “Shallow,” it is pure perfection and a real goosebumps-inducing moment. The songs, the direction, the performances make this is an amazing tour de force from all involved. A Star is Born on DVD/Blu-Ray/4K is available for pre-order on Amazon.
4. Avengers: Infinity War
What can I say? I read Jim Starlin’s Infinity Gauntlet series in 1991 and for 27 years this was my dream project. A film literally a decade in the making, The Russo Brothers helped make dreams come true and it somehow, someway lived up to all my expectations. Josh Brolin is a revelation as Thanos and Avengers: Infinity War provides some of the MCU’s funniest, saddest, and most shocking moments in a decade-long, twenty-plus film span. My son and I saw this 5 times in theaters and my only regret was not seeing it more. Available on Netflix.
Hereditary is not just my favorite horror film of 2018, but maybe the best horror film in years. The feature-length debut for writer/director Ari Aster, Hereditary is a haunting portrait of grief that builds tension throughout until it snaps into total insanity. Reminiscent of classics like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, the film is carried by what is an Oscar-worthy performance by Toni Collette, who’s dealing with her mother’s death, pressing work deadlines, and a family in disarray. There are moments in this film I still cannot believe. The ending, which I obviously won’t spoil, is 20 of the scariest minutes put to film and I still checking my ceiling every night before bed. This film gave me PTSD. Available now on Amazon Prime.
Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal wrote and star in an amazing modern piece of social commentary. Diggs plays Collin, a man with three days left on his probation, and best friend Miles navigate through the streets of Oakland in their moving truck with Collin desperately trying to stay out of trouble. After witnessing a police shooting, he is understandably shaken and the days left on his probation get longer and longer. Director Carlos Lopez Estrada, another first timer, along with his writers and stars, crafts a poignant and devastating look at race and perception in the United States. While Blindspotting is consistently entertaining, it’s also dark and haunting, containing several of the best scenes of the year. Available on VOD.
And # 1…. JURASSIC PARK: FALLEN KINGDOM… No, I’m kidding…
1. Sorry to Bother You
In his directorial debut Boots Riley creates the most original film I’ve seen in years, a film dripping with social commentary about race, class, working, art, and resistance all framed in an alternative Twilight Zone-ish world future. It’s hilarious at times, moving at others, and you’ll be yelling “WHAT THE F*CK!?” so often that when the movie ends, you literally won’t believe what you just watched. Featuring break-out and Oscar-worthy performances from Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, and Armie Hammer, Sorry to Bother You was, from the second the credits rolled, my favorite film of 2018. Available on Hulu.