by Edward Baillargeon
Looks like it is that time of the year again where the year is coming to a close. And as we start the New Year, it is time to look back at the cinema greats of the previous year. 2018 was a fantastic year for movies with a wide variety of genres putting out some of their best. Now this list is subjective as my favorites of the year might not be someone else’s. But before we start my top ten, I would like to give out a few “Honorable Mentions”. These are movies that I really liked this year, just as much as my top ten, but didn’t quite make the list. My honorable mentions include Deadpool 2, Incredibles 2, A Quiet Place, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and Mary Poppins Returns. So with those honorable mentions mentioned, here is my list of the Top 10 Best Movies of 2018!
10. Black Panther
Marvel Studios’ first entry of the year made a massive impact both financially and culturally giving African Americans a superhero to look up to and could be the first big superhero movie to get into competition for Best Picture. After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Prince T’Challa returns home to the reclusive, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to serve as his country’s new king. However, T’Challa soon finds that he is challenged for the throne from factions within his own country. When two foes conspire to destroy Wakanda, the hero known as Black Panther must team up with CIA agent Everett K. Ross and members of the Dora Milaje, Wakandan special forces, to prevent Wakanda from being dragged into a world war. Black Panther is one of the most important films in the superhero genre with its cultural significance and thought-provoking messages. The action sequences are just as spectacular as any other Marvel movie backed by Ludwig Görranson’s epic score that takes inspiration from African rhythms. All of the actors do an excellent job in their roles with Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan being particular highlights. As entertaining as it is thematically rich, Black Panther is the film that will make the whole world say “Wakanda Forever!”
9. Eighth Grade
Former YouTube comedian and musician Bo Burnham has made an impressive directorial debut with this coming of age drama taking place in the current digital age of social media from Generation Z. It’s the story of Kayla, an anxious girl navigating the final days of her eighth grade year. She turns to YouTube to express herself, where she makes advice blogs in which she pretends to have it all together. In reality, Kayla is sullen and silent around her single father and her peers at school, carrying out most of her interactions with her classmates on Instagram and Twitter. Don’t be turned off by Eighth Grade’s R rating as this film is a timely and realistic depiction of what it’s like for the current generation of middle schoolers. Bo Burnham’s script is the right combination of timely themes, funny situations, and also others that are sure to make the audience feel awkward and cringe, but it makes sense to the story. And carrying the story is Elsie Fisher’s lead performance as Kayla showing the two sides of her between being social on YouTube and shy in real life. With a timely and truthful script carried by a stellar lead performance, Eighth Grade graduates successfully to the list.
8. Love, Simon
This coming-of-age romantic comedy made a big impact in the LGBT community and has become a sleeper hit. Based on the novel Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Love, Simon tells a young coming-of-age tale about teenager Simon Spier who is going through a different kind of Romeo and Juliet story. Simon has a love connection with a boy, Blue, by email, but the only problem is that Simon has no idea who he’s talking to. Simon must discover who that boy is–who Blue is. Along the way, he tries to find himself as well. Love, Simon is one of the biggest pleasant surprises of the year with a captivating love story full of investing characters. The performances are also really good with Nick Robinson doing a great job as the lead Simon, and also Tony Hale is a scene stealer as the principal of Simon’s school as he is so over-the-top and shows he is having fun in that role. With a well-adapted screenplay from Albertalli’s book and likable characters, Love, Simon is a love story worth sharing.
7. Sorry to Bother You
Another directorial debut makes the list with this absurdist dark comedy from the mind of rapper turned writer-director Boots Riley is a film that will likely spread a ton of questions. In an alternate version of Oakland, Cassius Green gets a telemarketing job and finds the commission paid job a dispiriting struggle as a black man selling to predominantly white people over the phone. That changes when a veteran advises him to use his “white voice,” and the attitude behind it to make himself more appealing to customers. With a bizarrely high-pitched accent, Cassius becomes a success even as his colleagues form a union to improve their miserable jobs. Regardless, Cassius finds himself promoted a “Power Caller” selling the most morally abhorrent but lucrative products and services as he learns about his boss’ sick-and-twisted plans for the workforce. Sorry to Bother You is one of those movies last year that came out and audiences either really loved or really hated so this is an “acquired taste movie”. Coming from someone in the “loved it” camp, Boots Riley has written one of the best scripts of the year as a biting satire on capitalism and telemarketing. Lakeith Stanfield gives a great standout performance as Cassius Green with a great vocal performance from David Cross as his “white voice”. Other standout actors in the film include Tessa Thompson, Steven Yeun, Armie Hammer, and Patton Oswalt. Also, the movie one of the most shocking and surprising twists of the year that is so crazy it just made me admire the movie even more for having the guts to go that far. With excellent production design, a phenomenal script, and a solid cast, Sorry to Bother You is a film that has to be seen to be believed and hopefully does not bother you.
6. Avengers: Infinity War
The biggest event at the cinema this year lived up to the hype set by 10 years and 18 films in the making for an unforgettable experience. As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos. A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality. Everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment, the fate of Earth and existence has never been more uncertain. Avengers: Infinity War is the most ambitious film that Marvel Studios has ever crafted arriving fully loaded with a large cast of characters and exciting action. But what makes Infinity War stand high above a majority of the Marvel movies is with the main villain of the feature, Thanos. Unlike many of the other Marvel villains, he has a goal that doesn’t want to take over the world because the movie needs a bad guy, but instead has an ideology where many won’t agree with him, but can understand where he is coming from. Topping it off with a cliffhanger ending that makes the three months before Avengers: Endgame even more excruciating. With a cast as big as its ambition and an excellent villain, Avengers: Infinity War is one of the best films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
5. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
The Mission: Impossible franchise has been one of the most consistent action movie franchises in recent years as Tom Cruise and company have created one thrilling action film that pushes him to his limits after another. But with now up to the sixth film in the franchise, they might have reached their peak. Two years after Ethan Hunt had successfully captured Solomon Lane, the remnants of the Syndicate have reformed into another organization called the Apostles. Under the leadership of a mysterious fundamentalist, the organization is planning on acquiring three plutonium cores. Ethan and his team are sent to Berlin to intercept them, but the mission and the Apostles escape with the plutonium. With CIA agent August Walker joining the team, Ethan and his allies must now find the plutonium cores before it’s too late. Not only is Mission: Impossible – Fallout the best film in the franchise, but also one of the best action films ever made. Writer and director Christopher McQuarrie directs all of the movie´s action scenes spectacularly with an intensity set to 11 because of Tom Cruise´s commitment to doing all sorts of insane stunts like jumping out of a plane or holding to and flying a helicopter. It is not just Cruise and McQuarrie that I give major credit to, but also all of the other actors like Simon Pegg, Henry Cavill, Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames, and Rebecca Ferguson are all really good in this movie. With its thrilling action, Mission: Impossible – Fallout chose to accept the impossible mission and it payed off.
4. A Star is Born
A well known and tragic love story gets its third Hollywood retelling from actor turned director Bradley Cooper, but he is not the only star that is born from this movie. Seasoned musician Jackson Maine discovers-and falls in love with-struggling artist Ally. She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer – until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally’s career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons. A Star is Born is an example of a remake done right as its story is still as impactful as it was the past couple of times. Bradley Cooper not only proves himself as an actor in the lead role of Jackson Maine, but also as a director and a singer. But Cooper is not alone in stars being born in A Star is Born, as Lady Gaga gives her first lead performance in a film showing a promising potential future as an actress. The songs in the film are also fantastic and each serve a purpose to the film’s overarching story. Heck, there is no instrumental score accompanying various scenes as the songs are the music over the course of the film. And to any people who thought Avengers: Infinity War had the saddest film ending of the year, you have not seen this. Combining great music and the chemistry between the two leads, A Star is Born is one of the best remakes of the year.
3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
A year and a half after Sony Pictures Animation had their reputation destroyed after the release of the universally despised The Emoji Movie, they made the biggest comeback of the year with their take on the popular Marvel superhero and reteaming them with the dynamic duo behind The Lego Movie, Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, writing and producing the feature to bring them back into the spotlight, but in a great way. Miles Morales is juggling his life between being a high school student and being Spider-Man. However, when Wilson Fisk uses a super collider, another Spider-Man from another dimension, Peter B. Parker, accidentally winds up in Miles’ dimension. As Peter trains Miles to become a better Spider-Man, they are soon joined by several other Spider-Men from across the “Spider-Verse”. As all these clashing dimensions start to tear Brooklyn apart, Miles must help the others stop Fisk and return everyone to their own dimensions. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is one of, if not, the most unique superhero films I have ever seen. Most of that is due to the impressive animation that has a comic book style and manages to make all sorts of different styles from other universes work together. All of the voice actors do a great job in their roles like Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Bryan Tyree Henry, and particular scene-stealers like Nicolas Cage as Spider-Man Noir and John Mulaney as Spider-Ham. This Spider-Man movie is unlike any other not just because of its film medium, but also because the main character Miles Morales is thankfully not like another Peter Parker, which helps to make this one stand out and in my opinion be the best one. Combining a clever script, stunning animation, lovable characters, and amazing action, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the best superhero movie of the year.
The latest joint from Spike Lee, the writer-director of Malcolm X, and producers Jason Blum and Jordan Peele, the producers of Get Out, is a crazy and fascinating true story to check out. In the midst of the 1970s civil rights movement, Ron Stallworth becomes the first black detective on the Colorado Springs Police Department. He sets out to prove his worth by infiltrating the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan and convinces his Jewish colleague to go undercover as a white supremacist. BlacKkKlansman is one of the most important movies of the year. The script has the right combination of delivering both great laughs and heavy social commentary about racism. I applaud Spike Lee’s direction and the studios’ decision for not sugar coating that racist behaviors like in this movie are still happening today. John David Washington gives an incredible lead performance as Ron Stallworth showing his commitment to infiltrating the KKK with other great supporting performances like Adam Driver as Stallworth’s partner Flip Zimmerman, and especially Topher Grace as the head of the KKK David Duke. Combining a tight script, excellent direction, a great cast, and commentary not afraid to show its colors, BlacKkKlansman is one film to infiltrate for yourself.
1. Isle of Dogs
Visionary director Wes Anderson makes his long-awaited return to stop-motion animation in my pick for the best film of the year. Set in the futuristic Japanese city of Megasaki, the film tells the story of Atari Kobayashi, a young boy who is on a quest to search for his lost dog Spots after his uncle Mayor Kobayashi issues a decree banishing all dogs to an island when a dog flu virus spreads. Atari hijacks a plane and crash lands on Trash Island and is rescued by five dogs, Rex, King, Duke, Boss, and Chief. Now Atari must find Spots before Mayor Kobayashi wipes out the dog population. Isle of Dogs combines everything I want out of an animated to make this the best film of the year because it is all stop-motion and not CG, it is original, and is directed by one of my favorite directors. The excellently written script is heartfelt, hilarious, and refreshing with a great social commentary on political corruption. The all-star cast to be expected in a Wes Anderson movie give a great performance to each dog or human character they portray with standouts from Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson, Greta Gerwig, Liev Schreiber, and Tilda Swinton. Alexandre Desplat’s amazing score is very catchy and memorable with its use of various Japanese instruments and inspirations from the country’s culture. With a hilarious and touching story, fantastic animation, and a great cast, Isle of Dogs is a one of a kind purebred movie and my pick for the best film of the year.