The holidays are upon us and I’ve seen pretty much all the new movies I’m going to see this year, so it’s time to pick the Best Movies of 2018. In past years I was picking top 17, 16, etc. movies but 18 is so close to 20 that would be egregious. Also there weren’t really more than 15 standouts. Honorable mentions to Sorry to Bother You and Blindspotting though. They may have made the cut in a different year.
13-15. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse/Teen Titans GO! to the Movies/Smallfoot – Three stellar animated films this year each with a unique approach. Titans was the funniest, Smallfoot the most emotional with the most profound message, and Spider-Verse was the most clever with a unique animation style.
12. On the Basis of Sex – The biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg dramatizes just how sexist micro aggressions work, and shows how a strong partnership can persevere. I wish we could just skip the fight and go right to the progress but RBG showed how we can penetrate through resistance.
11. Skyscraper – This is the kind of action movie The Rock should be making. He takes it and his character seriously, and Rawson Marshall Thurber came up with multi-faceted action set pieces with several things happening at once.
And it’s still Die Hard in a building!
10. The Night Comes For Us – Just a tremendous, relentless martial arts action movie. They sure can think of creative ways to mutilate each other graphically.
9. Mission: Impossible – Fallout – This franchise just keeps getting better and better. With Tom Cruise’s high standards and real stunts, with Christopher McQuarrie’s sense of building action, Fallout is the gold standard for action movies this year.
8. Tag – Taking the game of Tag seriously as adults was the best comedy of the year and a touching (get it?) story of friendship among grown-ups whose lives went in different directions.
7. Bird Box – In my favorite genre of post-apocalyptic survival movies, this is an intense twist. My full review.
6. Bodied – To make me like a movie about rap it must be good! But seriously, Bodied deconstructs the “white kid discovers urban culture” myth and punishes him for it. It’s scathing, yet rousing.
5. The Hate U Give – While the reality of police shootings needs to be dramatized, the even more powerful story of The Hate U Give is Starr (Amandla Stenberg) finding her voice. She should be nominated for Oscars and other awards but more importantly I hope her example shows kids they can speak up, and teaches their friends to be allies.
4. Blackkklansman – This is Spike Lee at his most vital and powerful. It is invigorating to know there were people like Ron Stallworth and Flip Zimmerman and gives me hope there are still people to fight hate. It’s also Lee at his funniest embracing the absurdity of these tragically hateful people.
3. Searching – The most extraordinary narrative film of the year. Searching would work as a mystery told conventionally, but using the computer screen reinvents cinematic language for the online age. It’s so seamless it blends right into the story. Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohanian solved the problem that other filmmakers used as a gimmick.
2. The Sentence – I hope airing on HBO got this doc in front of eyeballs. Cindy Shank and her brother Rudy Valdez are heroes who endured a screwed up justice system to illuminate for us why it needs to be changed.
1. Won’t You Be My Neighbor – Admittedly, Fred Rogers did a lot of the heavy lifting hereby living an extraordinary life.
But Morgan Neville presented it beautifully and emotionally. Turns out Rogers was even more extraordinary than I ever knew, a lot of it before I was even a child watching his show.