We are already in the second month of 2019, and awards season is already reaching its peak when The Oscars hit on the 26th, which means that my ‘Top Ten Movies’ list is a bit overdue. A lot has happened that has caused me to lose track of reviews last year, so it took me a long time to keep making them. On the bright side, 2018 had a lot of great movies, so much so that it was really hard to write a Top Ten list without making a few sacrifices. I will still talk about them in my honorable mentions, but these are the films that stuck out to me the most either by quality, or just how I felt about them. Without further ado, here are my ‘Top Ten Movies of 2018’
Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Roma’ has been receiving awards buzz a few months before hitting Netflix. It has even been praised by both critics and audiences as the best film of 2018, raking in directing and foreign language awards, and is now nominated for a total of ten Oscars including Best Picture. So why did I put it so low on my list? To be honest, I felt there was more style than substance, and I have a feeling that some audiences will be turned off by it because of that. However, there is something about ‘Roma’ that is hard to ignore. Not only is it truly beautiful to look at, it is the definition of a film. Cuarón is one of the most masterful directors working today, and ‘Roma’ proves it. Leaving this off my list would be a crime.
#09. ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’
There was no doubt that ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ was a huge gamble for Sony; not only was the world-famous webslinger making waves in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Sony’s animation studio has been going through a rough patch in recent years, mainly with ‘The Emoji Movie’. Thankfully, all that hard work paid off with a rich and colorful superhero movie that is not only funny and heartfelt, but one that pays respect to the hero’s legacy and many incarnations. In other words, it is a love letter to comic book fans. Not to mention, it serves as somewhat of a tribute to the late Stan Lee.
#08. ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’
Say what you will about Michael Moore, but when it comes to documentaries, he has a good point on the topics he is trying to address, no matter how far-fetched or close to his beliefs they may seem. This time, he tackles the Trump presidency and how it has affected America, as well as racial tensions, school shootings, government corruption, and the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Like ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’; which delved into the Bush Administration and the events of 9/11, ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ is thought-provoking and shocking, but also inspiring and entertaining. If you do support Donald Trump, this documentary may not be for you, but if you are looking for an insightful commentary by one of America’s most controversial documentary filmmakers, then I suggest you give it a go.
‘Tully’ is a movie I did not expect to see in theaters when it came out, but I am glad I got to catch it. It is a near honest portrayal of the struggles of motherhood. While most comedy-dramas show the joy and manic adventure of raising children, ‘Tully’ does not sugarcoat the experience nor take it lightly. It is a film as real as real can get. While its ending could be a bit hard to take in, it is a breath of fresh air to see an original piece of work that only Jason Reitman could do, and quite a shame that it is not remembered during awards season.
#06. ‘Eighth Grade’
Speaking of original, next is ‘Eighth Grade’; which was written and directed by Bo Burnham. However, unlike ‘Tully’, I missed ‘Eighth Grade’ when it came out in theaters. It was not until I found this movie at Target and decided that I just had to buy it. While watching ‘Eighth Grade’, I felt Elsie Fisher’s Kayla as she went through the awkward trials of her last week of middle school (eighth grade, to be exact). It also manages to speak to this generation’s obsession with social media and using the internet as a means to fit in. Real, touching, and at times, funny. ‘Eighth Grade’ is worth checking out, just prepare for some awkward middle school memories.
#05. ‘A Quiet Place’
Who says that originality is dead? While John Krasinski’s ‘A Quiet Place’ manages to take inspiration from other science-fiction horror movies, such as M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Signs’, ‘A Quiet Place’ manages to do something new by providing quiet tension, and almost no dialogue, making the terror seem closer. If you were one of those people who had a hard time eating their popcorn, then you are not alone. They say “Silence is golden”, which Krasinski manages to show, along with his real-life wife Emily Blunt.
(Speaking of which)
#04. ‘Mary Poppins Returns’
Years may have flown by, but like Mary Poppins herself, Disney has never lost the magic or charm in this long-time-coming sequel; even with Emily Blunt replacing Julie Andrews as the whimsical nanny. Blunt does a solid job capturing what people loved about the character, and proves that she needs to do more musicals; while the film itself is colorful, bright, and delightful. As the nanny herself put it, “Practically perfect in every way”.
Spike Lee’s return to form is a true story about black police officer Ron Stallworth’s infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan as they plan to emerge from the shadows. Believe Lee when he says that it is just as outrageous as the film that dramatizes it. Shocking, controversial, provocative, thought-provoking, and at times, funny. ‘BlacKkKlansman’ is Lee at his best, and it shows what he can do as a director who just cannot take the hatred and racism re-surging in this world.
In today’s world, it seems that horror has lost its touch; mainly focusing on buckets of gore, and cheap jump scares without any purpose whatsoever, then in comes ‘Hereditary’, a film so bleak, dark, and depressing that it almost becomes a dare to how much tension you can stand. It is a film that deserves to be watched late at night, in a dark room, if you can get past it. Horror may be dying, but it seems that the Indie scene has become close to resurrecting it in a big way, and it would be my number one pick had it not been for….
#01. ‘They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead’
Most people would probably not count this as a real movie, as much as, let’s say a featurette, or a special feature. Yet, it was released on Netflix as a stand-alone documentary, it is marketed as a movie, and therefore, I will call it a movie. Not too many people will know this, but ‘They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead’ is a look at the making-of ‘The Other Side of the Wind’; Orson Welles’ last feature, as well as an intimate portrayal of the man himself; his earlier years, and the struggles he has faced while reaching completion. It is a study on a director so well-beloved, and so brash that inside a hard shell of a man was someone who wanted to be appreciated by everyone. It is a testament to the late director and the work he has given us, as well as an understanding of his life. It is also one of the few instances in which I have given a film a perfect grade!
‘Before I Wake’
This movie had a troubled fate when it came to a release date, and was scheduled to be released in 2016, but financial troubles with its past studio Relativity Media caused the film to be left in the shadows and forgotten. Luckily, Netflix came to the rescue and released it in early 2018. Beautiful, meaningful, dark, and deep. ‘Before I Wake’ is one of the instances in which horror can be touching.
Lately, ‘Black Panther’ has become more of a cultural phenomenon; breaking records and making history as the first superhero movie to be nominated for the ‘Best Picture’ Academy Award, which I can understand. While not one of the “best” movies that has come out in recent years, ‘Black Panther’ is fun, exciting, culturally relevant, and stunning. Wakanda forever!
‘Love, Simon’ is a romantic teen comedy that is told with love, respect, relatability, and vulnerability, that it makes you feel all the feels that you would expect from a coming-of-age high school movie. It is a story of acceptance, and staying true to yourself, even when all hope is lost. While it does get sentimental at times, the message remains clear, and teens can learn a lot from this movie.
‘Ready Player One’
Starts off slow, but just when you think it bathes itself in too much CGI spectacle, Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s novel manages to wow you with its stunning visuals, thrilling action, and sweet nostalgia which only a master craftsman like Spielberg can cook up.
I will be the first to admit that I enjoyed ‘Deadpool 2′ over its predecessor. It does what it is set out to do by keeping the stakes high, the action heavy, and the humor self-deprecating. It works because Deadpool makes it work, especially with Ryan Reynolds’ charm and charisma.
Another superhero movie I enjoyed more (or maybe just as much, it has been a while) than its predecessor. Fourteen years have passed and the animation is top-tier Pixar quality, while the action and humor land in ways you expect. An animation studio like Pixar only gets better with age like a fine wine.
‘Sicario: Day of the Soldado’
I will never know why ‘Sicario’ had to have a sequel, but at least, it was not as bad. Though not as well-done as the first, it still manages to have some thought-provoking political commentary relevant to today’s society. I am, however, satisfied with just there being only one sequel.
‘Crazy Rich Asians’
Starts off slow, but still filled with so much beauty, wonder, amazement, and lush gorgeousness. Words are not enough to describe and can only be seen to be believed. Puts all other romantic comedies before it in the dust.
Jonah Hill’s directorial debut is a trip down 90’s nostalgia lane, with so much of it crammed in your face. People who grew up around that decade will point out the many things they recognize from that era. ‘Mid90s’ is more than that, however, it has a significant style and language that does not seem to come from any movie that came out last year. It stands out from the pack despite its uncomfortability and ending. It is a journey back in time worth taking.
‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’
Even though it may not compare to its predecessor, ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ still has a fun and entertaining look at internet culture the way it was meant to be. It is what ‘The Emoji Movie’ could have been with its pop culture references and understanding how the internet works. Remember when I said that Disney has not lost its touch? This is what I meant.
‘The Other Side of the Wind’
Orson Welles’ final picture is many things; provocative, controversial, entertaining, insightful, satirical, and so much more. Modern audiences may not be able to comprehend it, but those looking for art will know where to find it. It is on Netflix if you need to watch it.
‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’
The Coen Brothers are at it again with a series of stories; each different and unrelated to each other, but by storybook, about cowboys, outlaws, and the like. Each one is just as interesting and compelling as their other movies. I would say that this may be their best work in a long time.