long time no see. It seems that the year of our Lord, 2018, is finally ready to move on and shuffle off this mortal coil into the vast emptiness known as the past. Hark! The mysterious year of 2019 is upon us! Repent!
What I’m really trying to say is happy New Year to all and everyone, especially those poor fools who are reading (and writing) blog posts during New Years eve. This year was again marked by some great movies. And like everyone else on the internet, I want strangers to know my totally unsophisticated opinions about them! Seriously though, I feel like 2018 was the year that I saw many of my new favorite movies. And the spectrum of genre was wide: comedies, horror, action, drama, thrillers, and many combinations of two, if not all of these genres.
Before I give you the list of my absolute favorites of 2018, I’d like to note some movies that I didn’t see, but should have. Movies like the newly released, and highly touted, Netflix special of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. Granted, it was just released a few days ago, and movies don’t actually disappear into the void when the year of their release vanishes from our calendars. Still, I can easily acknowledge that I missed some real gems this year, and I have to go back into the future past and see some. For example, the directorial debut of noted internet longboi/comedian Bo Burnham with Eight Grade. I love his comedy, and apparently the word on the street is that the man can also direct movies. Moving on, I’ve never been a huge Spider-Man-fan-man, which is a fun thing to say out loud. Still, the animated film Into the Spider-Verse caught my attention, but I never got around to watching it at the cinema. Other animated movies like Isle of Dogs and The Incredibles 2 were also released this year, but somehow avoided my gaze. Going back to all of these is a must for me.
A slight detour.
These next films however, did not avoid my movie-seeing gaze. Au contraire, these next ones are the movies that I saw during 2018, but were not the actual best of the best of this year. Yes, another detour from the list that I promised. But this detour is a valuable one, for I’d like to recommend them even though they were not the brightest stars on the golden screen hoc anno. These movies were good, but maybe not for everyone.
1 – Black Panther
Another solo-superhero banger from Marvel that raked in a heap of cash in 2018 (over one billion dollars to be not-so-exact). The movie was praised for the atmosphere, and afro-futurism that it depicted quite effortlessly. It was good entertainment, but it also felt slightly rushed at points. Another feature in the long line of Marvel Cinematic Universe-factory conveyor belt that has kept churning a steady stream of superhero-films for over a decade now. That is an accomplishment in itself to be sure, but it also slightly shows in the quality. Black Panther felt rushed; specifically so in the special effects department. One could almost argue that some of the effects looked cheap in comparison to other MCU-flicks. Maybe most of the special effects budget went into the fantastic intro.
2 – Sicario: Day of the Soldato (Sicario 2)
Let’s start off by saying that the original Sicario is a masterpiece of thrilling movie making. The director, Denis Villeneuve absolutely nails the brutality and struggle of people living and waging war at the US-Mexico-border. Mr. Villeneuve was not the director of Sicario 2. This is a decent thriller that unfortunately exists in the shadow of the first movie. Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro again act their way through some grueling situations, just as in the first one, while Emily Blunt is M.I.A. Sicario 2 also suffers from sequelitis, and at points feels like is just building up to a sequel, and setting up a trilogy (I wouldn’t mind a third Sicario to be fair). Good thriller, absolutely fantastic soundtrack.
Other good-but-not-great movies from 2018: Solo: A Star Wars Story, Deadpool 2, Annihilation, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Avengers: Infinity War (which is actually great but I’m lazy).
The actual list.
I could babble on and on and on about movies that were pretty good but not great, but that is not why I wanted to write this post in the first place. We’re here to talk about the best movies of 2018, so let’s do it. Note, these movies are not in any specific order. They are all really good in my opinion, and it would be difficult to rate them in order of ‘this great movie is better than this – other – also great movie’. Here they be:
1 – Hereditary
Let’s start off with an easy one; short and sweet (because my fingers are getting tired and I’m hungry). This is the best horror movie I’ve seen in the past decade, and I’ve seen a few. Psychological horror? Check. Creepy atmosphere? Check. Creepy in every other way as well? Check. Incredible cinematography? Yaaaaas. Toni Collette delivers a chilling performance as the mentally deteriorating mother of a family. If you want to know more in-depth about my opinions on this fantastic piece of fright, you can read my review here. If you don’t want to read (why are you here?), just go watch the film, and prepare to dream about witches and creepy children for the next year or two. Click.
2 – The Death of Stalin
Since we started off with a spooky film, let us continue the list with the funniest movie I saw in 2018. The Death of Stalin was laugh-out-loud funny in the theater, with a hilarious bunch of actors to boot. The political satire hits bang-on, and does not feel tired or too politically referential to modern issues at all. Moreover, satirical portrayals of important historical politicians bumbling and fumbling about, which are executed (sometimes literally) perfectly by the cast. Casting is definitely the strong suit of the film, with Steve Buscemi stealing the top spot from all the other hilarious performances, from actors and comedians such as Jeffrey Tambor, Michael Palin, and Jason Isaac.
I literally burst out laughing during a funeral scene dialogue between Buscemi and Tambor. Watch the film and laugh.
3 – A Quiet Place
Another new favorite of mine in the horror genre. Written, directed, produced, and acted in by John Krasinski of The Office fame, A Quiet Place brings a new type of horror in to the midst of a loud, jumpscare-laden genre. The film is almost completely without sound, which is quite an unusual experience in the movie theater when everyone watching it is also trying to be as quiet as possible. It is not just a horror movie, but a dramatic and tense story of a family trying to survive. Krasinski’s real-life wife Emily Blunt co-stars in the movie, and their chemistry is unsurprisingly great. Watch it and prepare to hold your breath during a tense and frighting horror film. I am definitely looking forward to more films from Krasinski.
4 – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Now, the most astute in the crowd might be screaming at their computer screen: “But this movie came out in 2017 you philistine!” Ah, so it did in the civilized world, but it was released during 2018 in Finland. AHA! Therefore, I can talk about it even though it did come out in 2017 and Finland is a country where everything cool happens too late.
It is hard to put into words all the emotions that this movie puts you through. It is an emotional roller coaster, if you will. It’s funny, it’s sad, and sometimes it’s funny and sad at the same time. The emotional range of the movie would not be possible if not for the amazing acting range of the cast, who in unison won the Screen Actors Guild award for best performance by a cast. Frances McDormand (Academy Award for best actress), Sam Rockwell (Academy Award for best supporting actor), Peter Dinklage, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish etc etc. McDormand really steals the show with her dramatic and powerful role as a grieving mother, who decides to put up three billboards that critique the local police force’s handling of her daughter’s death. Watch the movie and laugh, and cry, and maybe do both at the same time.
If I’d have to choose (and I don’t) Three Billboards would be my favorite movie of 2018.
5 – BlacKkKlansman
Ridiculous name aside; this is a fantastic joint by director Spike Lee. Based on an incredible real life story of Ron Stallworth, an African-American detective who infiltrated the KKK during the 1970’s. The movie is highly political, mirroring the happenings in the current political climate (The sitting president of the U.S is alluded to), but it is not a ham-fisted attempt at being topical; the movie is actually topical and funny, because the actors are playing it straight. Funny, thrilling, intriguing, and sad. Rarely do you see people laughing during the film, and then crying during the end credits, but that is what happened with BlacKkKlansman. John David Washington (as Ron Stallworth), Adam Driver, and Jasper Pääkkönen (from Finland, yay!) all deliver serious and award-worthy performances. Washington and Driver particularly exhibit a terrific chemistry with each other.
Also, Topher Grace as notorious racist David Duke.. What?
Thanks for reading! We can only hope that 2019 is equally good for film as 2018 was.