Top 10 films released in 2018
10. The Tale
There’s a moment in Jennifer Fox’s The Tale that is so real and so startling, I’ll never be able to think of memory the same way again. In the film, Jennifer (Laura Dern) reexamines a “relationship” she had with an older man when she was a young girl. She flashes back to her teenage self in the first moments of thrall with her horse riding instructor (Jason Ritter) – the young actress playing her a solidly mature-looking 15-year-old. But when Jennifer looks at actual photos of herself at that age, her memories morph and the younger actress shifts to a small 13-year-old. We finally see her as she truly was when this man entered her life: a child.
9. Crazy Rich Asians
Crazy Rich Asians is probably the most fun I’ve had at the movie theater all year. John M. Chu’s gossipy, glittery, technicolor romp is a fairy tale disguised as a rom-com, complete with a charming prince, chirpy sidekicks, and a few trickster villains. The film had me in its first few moments, when two fashionable spies spot Singaporean princeling Nick Young (Henry Golding) on the town with his American girlfriend, Rachel Chu (Constance Wu): Immediately the screen lights up with a zippily-animated cross-continental social media rumor exchange with other Asian socialites. These fantastic visuals set the stage for the film’s whirling cheekiness and lush buoyancy.
8. Eighth Grade
Eighth Grade is the second-best horror movie of 2018. Filmed with grasping, aching realness, Bo Burnham’s directorial debut succinctly captures the nightmarish awkwardness of middle school in such a way that forced me to watch half the movie through my fingers. Elsie Fisher is masterful as Kayla, an anxious (involuntary) loner in the last days of eighth grade; the young actress calculates every stammer, grimace, and fumble. The film forces you to reconcile your own history: were you a Kayla or someone who would have made fun of her?
Spike Lee is one of my top directors, and BlacKkKlansman is my favorite of his films since 2000’s gut-punch Bamboozled. It’s also probably his broadest work since Inside Man, as he dials down some of his signature rawness in favor of more overtly comic appeal. (Not something I’d expect to say about a film that explores the inner workings of the Ku Klux Klan, but that dichotomy between wrenching black truth-telling and humor derived from racist buffoonery is the true beauty of the film.) John David Washington and Adam Driver carry this 1970s-set biographical film, which tells the sort-of-true story of a young black police detective who joins up with a Jewish fellow officer to infiltrate a local KKK chapter in Colorado.
6. Black Panther
I don’t think you realize how hard it is to get me to like an action movie, let alone a superhero-based one. (I’m probably one of the only people in the world who was completely bored through all those chase sequences in The Dark Knight. ) Black Panther stands out to me not only because of its visionary Afrofuturism and its effective Hamlet/Lion King-level daddy pathos, but the fact that I was actually enthralled during it’s fight sequences, mesmerized by Ryan Coogler’s zingy pacing and glitzy CGI. And, um, let’s not even get into Michael B. Jordan’s Oscar-worthy empathetic villainy. Wakanda Forever.
5. Ralph Breaks the Internet
Hands-down, the funniest comedy I’ve seen all year. Wreck-It Ralph was one of my favorite films of 2012, a sharp and emotionally-resonant comedy that perfectly satirizes (and pays homage) to gaming culture. Ralph Breaks the Internet does the same for the Web we love and hate and love to hate, personifying toxic masculinity and examining how abuse can manifest even from people we love. But, you know, while making me guffaw until I nearly peed. I sincerely hope Sarah Silverman’s hilarious and surprisingly full-bodied A Place Called Slaughter Race gets the Original Song Oscar nomination it deserves.
4. The Favourite
A grotesque comedy darker than a black hole, this story about the treacherous court of Britain’s Queen Anne features astoundingly barbed and complex performances from Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone. (I even loved Nicholas Hoult.) Yorgos Lanthimos beautifully inverts 18th century gender roles: every man a weak fopling, every woman a machinating virago. You can also never go wrong with a period piece that uses vomit as an actual motif.
Roma is easily one of the most human films I’ve seen all year. Months later, I’m still a little speechless. Director Alfonso Cuarón is delicate with the life story of his childhood nanny, showcasing Cleo, Mixtec woman who works for a wealthy middle class family in Mexico City. His sweeping camera work took my breath away, using it to elucidate how politics, class tensions, and gendered expectations mold the life of a young woman with few options.
I’m neither easily shocked nor frightened. But after I saw Ari Aster’s horror masterpiece, Hereditary, I spent days explaining and examining the film with friends and ended up re-traumatizing myself over and over again. That is how much of a mindfuck this film is. I don’t want to reveal too much here, but not only does it contain some of the most shocking and heart-pounding visuals I’ve ever seen put to film, but it also does something rare in the genre: Sink deeply into its familial pathos to give its skin-crawling imagery true weight. The ending moments wrecked me.
1. A Star is Born
Beautiful, devastating, epic. (And I typically do NOT like romance or ballads.) I loved every moment of this: The performances, the music, the script, the costumes, the makeup, the lighting, the photography, the directing. The concert sequences fizz with numinous energy. I’m digging Jeff Bridges-flavored Bradley Cooper and there are no words for Gaga. They’re magnetic together. (Sam Elliott and Andrew Dice Clay are also perfect.) It feels more like The Rose than any other iteration of this story, which is hugely in its favor. When the leads come together to sing “Shallow” – oh man, I haven’t felt that way since I first heard “Let It Go.” So I guess the question is how mad is Madonna going to be when Lady Gaga wins the Oscar?
Top 10 Older Films I Saw in 2018:
1. Bambi 
2. Beetlejuice 
3. Margaret 
4. Withnail & I 
5. An Officer and a Gentleman 
6. The Night of the Hunter 
7. Interview with the Vampire 
8. Portnoy’s Complaint 
9. Parched 
10. Wonder