The year is coming to an end and as we look back on what we’ve been through in our lives, whether it be a bad break up or finally graduating college, let’s also take a look back at what the wonderful world of film has brought us this year with the best movies of 2018.
Director: Ryan Coogler
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o
Audiences saw three entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe this year, including the wrecking ball, “Avengers: Infinity War,” but the best of the group was hands-down the first to hit theaters, “Black Panther.” Though the visual effects definitely could have used some extra work, including the final fight between the lead hero and villain Eric Killmonger, the film’s deep and powerfully layered story, rich illustration of African cultures, exhilarating soundtrack by rapper Kendrick Lamar and incredible performances from its cast, namely that of stars Boseman and Jordan, made this not only the best Marvel movie this year, but one of the best in the franchise.
Director: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
Stars: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Jesse Plemons
The concept of a simple game going wrong has been the subject of numerous films, some that hit the mark such as “Jumanji,” and some that have fallen flat such as “Truth or Dare.” This year saw a film beat the high standard set by last year’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” in the dark comedy “Game Night.” Thanks to a combination of hilariously sharp writing, stylish direction and strong performances from its ensemble, especially Plemons in the role of a wonderfully bizarre former game night group member, this was a laugh riot and compelling joy ride from start to finish.
Director: John Krasinski
Starring: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds
After an incredible year for horror in 2017, the genre saw some mixed results in 2018, including one of the freshest and most successful entries, “A Quiet Place.” Following a family struggling for survival in a post-apocalyptic world, dominated by sound-sensitive aliens, the film’s use of American Sign Language and sound design was unique as well as the direction from Krasinski in his debut, and the performances from its small cast were captivating.
Director: Boots Riley
Stars: Lakeith Stanfield, Armie Hammer, Jermaine Fowler
So often, films with a political or social message behind it take the same dramatic and formulaic route to delivering their desired themes, but “Sorry to Bother You” is one of the craziest and wildly original examples of breaking genre trends. With an intelligent plot centered around some dark and all-too relevant themes, a director showing some flair behind the camera in his debut and a powerful breakout performance from Stanfield in his first mainstream leading role, this is one of the smartest and sharpest social satires to date.
“Mission: Impossible – Fallout”
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Stars: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Henry Cavill
It’s been 22 years since the action blockbuster film franchise, “Mission: Impossible,” got its start, and while many series would have faltered or worsened over time, the movies starring Tom Cruise have aged like a fine wine, with the sixth installment in the franchise, “Fallout,” proving to be one of the best in the series and one of the best action films this year.
Director: Spike Lee
Stars: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Topher Grace
Spike Lee, once one of the most influential and revered directors in Hollywood has, for the past few years, been missing from the spotlight. The few films he’s made, such as “Chi-Raq,” have created the wrong kind of waves, earning significantly lower reviews from critics and audiences. Lee finally returned to form with his telling of the incredible true story of the first African-American police detective in Colorado Springs in the ‘70s and his infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan. Thanks to effortlessly stylish direction from Lee, a sharp script that is equally hilarious and gut-wrenching and a powerful performance from Washington, this was truly one of the most well-crafted and stellar films of the year.
Director: David Lowery
Stars: Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, Casey Affleck
After being one of the most suave and charismatic personas on the big screen for almost 60 years, Robert Redford announced he would be retiring after one more film. There was no better project for him to end his career with than “The Old Man & the Gun.” Based on the true story of renowned escape artist Forrest Tucker and his life of bank robbing, Redford oozes charm in the lead role and is helped along by a heartwarming journey through Tucker’s later years that is beautifully shot by Lowery and features a soothing soundtrack made up of an original score from Daniel Hart and songs including “Lola,” by the Kinks and “Blues Run the Game,” by Jackson Frank.
Director: David Gordon Green
Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Will Patton
It’s been over-sequalized, remade and rebooted too many times with little to no success, but finally after four decades of trying, the “Halloween” franchise finally found fortune with this year’s semi-reboot. Acting as a direct sequel to the original film, the eleventh installment into the classic horror franchise breathed new life into the series thanks to a return to its roots — a suspenseful and simple story that keeps the characters grounded in reality while still proving to be gleefully bloody all the while featuring an incredible performance from Curtis.
Director: Bradley Cooper
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Dave Chappelle
Just as the horror film preceding it on this list, “A Star is Born” is notable for having an acclaimed original followed by remake after remake. Eighty years after the first film’s release, the story struck gold once again. Cooper stepped behind the camera for the first time on this project and proved he had the eye for directing as his choice to film the characters up close and intimately helped truly capture the powerful emotions on display from Cooper and Gaga, who both shined like stars.
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
Directors: Bob Perischetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Stars: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Mahershala Ali
You might think Sony Pictures would be hesitant to move forward with an overstuffed “Spider-Man” film following the failures of “Spider-Man 3” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” But thanks to Phil Lord and Rothman, “Into the Spider-Verse” finally learned how to balance an excessive number of characters with a story that properly developed all the various iterations of the web-slinging hero. The film was also all the more exhilarating thanks to its stellar and stylish animation, its heartwarming and energetic tone, meta-fueled humor and incredible ensemble voice cast.
There were still plenty of other films that came close to making it to the list and deserve some acknowledgement.
This was the year of social progress and change, which many films captured through various stories that were all important in their own ways. “Love, Simon” was the first gay teenage romance film from a major Hollywood studio and simultaneously a heartwarming and smartly written project that hearkened back to the romance films of John Hughes in the ‘80s.
After numerous shocking news stories in the past few years of police shootings, this year saw two groundbreaking stories regarding the subject with “Blindspotting” and “The Hate U Give.”
In addition to “Simon,” adolescence was revisited a little further back with Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade” and Jonah Hill’s “Mid90s” in their directorial debuts, both of which proved not only to be intelligent and captivating, but also evidence the filmmakers have a promising future behind the camera.
While Marvel’s Cinematic Universe dominated the box office all year, there were other blockbuster hits that won’t go unrecognized, including the highly-anticipated sequel, “Deadpool 2,” which proved to be nearly as funny and thrilling as the first, and in some ways even better. “Ready Player One,” though featuring numerous differences from its source novel, proved to be an exhilarating, fast-paced and downright fun adventure.
The horror and thriller genres saw a lot of entries this year and while the best are listed above, two that proved to be unique and reaching different milestones started with “Hereditary,” which became acclaimed indie studio A24’s highest-grossing movie to date and featured one of the most powerful performances from Toni Collette of her career. It was followed by “Searching,” which was the first mainstream Hollywood thriller to feature an Asian-American actor in the lead role and was unpredictable and stylish.
This year saw a wide variety of films hit the big screen, from comic book blockbusters to powerful social commentaries, and if studios learn from what they got right this year, 2019 could prove to be an even bigger and more exhilarating year for audiences.