As usual, I would like to start with my Honorable Mentions, my 11 through 15, because I loved a lot of movies this year. I could go on and on about how Hold the Dark stuck with me for days, not to mention it’s outstanding gun fight. Blackkklansman had some unbelievable sequences from a legendary director. I was fascinated by Three Identical Strangers. And there was no way both Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War were not going to be mentioned in this year’s wrap up. But on to the ten that made the cut.
10. Tully: Sure, it’s not my ‘front runner’, but Jason Reitman has a way with capturing human relationships (I have no problem defending Labor Day). A stand out performance by Charlize Theron in a film that lovingly shows the struggles and hardships of motherhood.
9. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs: I’m pre-destined to like Coen Bros movies. I love genres pieces, mediations on religion, and dark comedy. Their latest anthology brings those with the appealing motif of “life’s a struggle and then you die a joke”. Tom Waits’ Prospector is a gem, but honestly, there really wasn’t a segment I disliked. It could have been higher on the list if maybe just one of the pieces came from the perspective of a Native American instead of only being used as faceless, stereotypical villains or perhaps a woman could have had a more active role. I would have loved another 2-3 stories.
8. Roma: Who’da guessed that one of the best shots of the year was of water washing over concrete? Well, that’s what comes with the most technically impeccable film of the year. Black & white cinematography at it’s finest.
7. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: There’s only one superhero movie that can really handle a team-up of a menagerie of characters with twenty years and multiple films behind it. And I was halfway through writing down my thoughts about Infinity War when I saw Spider-Verse. The animation looks nothing like I’ve ever seen before a bit of CG mixed with a Golden comic age style watched through broken 3D glasses, and that’s a compliment. This is the hippest and funniest movie of the year with the best ensemble in a year of great ensembles. And Brian Tyree Henry’s first appearance on our countdown.
6. Won’t You Be My Neighbor: There is no cure for dark days better than the reminder that there once was a person who truly was kind and worked for a warmer, friendlier world. Plain and simple, a loving tribute to a man many of us grew up with. Clean storytelling from Neville and he knows just when to pull the heartstrings. The most cathartic cry I’ve had all year.
5. Widows: Every successful heist movie has an inherent slickness to its heist scene; the writing quickens, the editing sharpens, the shots get silkier. McQueen keeps those qualities at full throttle while keeping an eye on Chicago’s social politics. we’re all still talking about that car ride with Colin Farrell. Brian Tyree Henry is everywhere you want him to be this year.
4. The Favourite: Fourth favorite! Coleman and Weisz give the two finest performances I’ve seen all year. This is my fourth Lanthimos film and I still can’t believe his control of tone. That dance is better than anything in Save the Last Dance*.
*last dance movie I saw
3. If Beale Street Could Talk: Tender and sweet. Wall to wall great performances. Layne and James are great, King makes her case for an Oscar, and Coleman Domingo adds himself to my list of favorite actors. Beautiful, soft, and compassionately made. Gorgeous shots. Impeccable lighting. Jaw dropping style. And I don’t care that Dave Franco is in this movie, the invisible apartment scene is one of the most romantic moments all year. And I didn’t even mention the family feud! Or Brian Tyree Henry!
2. Minding the Gap: A skateboarding documentary that turns into a very earnest look at domestic violence. The intimacy and honesty shown by the director, Bing Liu, and his friends and family makes this a very emotional film, but the compassion and patience Liu has in the face of such anger and pain make this an extraordinary film.
1. Sorry to Bother You: Socially provocative, sharply satirical, and constantly surprising, it may not be the most perfect movie made this year, but it was the one that delivered me everything I wanted from a movie in 2018. A Witty, angry, and hilarious film from the fresh voice of Boots Riley. And Tessa Thompson’s earrings deserve a special award.