Best movies of 2018

In the order I saw them:

Annihilation

A Quiet Place

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Three Identical Strangers

Crazy Rich Asians

Widows

Free Solo

Roma

You will find my reviews behind those three links.  Overall, you could take this year and multiply it by 2x, and still have the worst year for movies in my adult life.  If anything special comes out between now and the end of the year, as it often does, I will be sure to let you know.

I also saw 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time on a large screen in a long time, review here, Barry Lyndon too, they are two of the best movies ever made though not on your TV.

Comments

Burning and First Reformed are also praiseworthy and would earn a place on your list.

No Death of Stalin? No Chappaquidick, a mediocre movie about the weak, hypocritical “Lion of the Senate”.

I wouldn't be so sure.

First Reformed is a huge oversight here, in my view. The phrase "will God forgive us" has haunted me since this film and the poignancy of its imagery has lingered in my memory pretty consistently.

Would also shout out 'Eighth Grade', which painfully recreated and even imposed the debilitating insecurities of that time in your life in a pretty extraordinary way.

Finally, Sorry to Bother You might quietly be the most subversive film of the post-GFC era and well worth a view.

Otherwise, a pretty strong list

Shoplifters and The Favourite were also excellent. BlacKkklansman was solid and the new Mission Impossible was a fun movie experience. Hereditary was a very decent horror movie, and Searching was well-executed. Overall, a very strong and balanced year in cinema, on the heels of another good year.

Barry Lyndon, cinematic Theory of Moral Sentiments... Awesome movie. That guide in Russian Ark describes the period as being a time of genius and manners. Kubrick was one of a kind.

Anybody that's read Thackeray's Barry Lyndon would have a difficult time accepting Ryan O'neal as the title character in a movie version of the book.

O'Neal was indeed the weak link in the movie; Peter O'Toole would have been much better. But O'Neal has some really good moments; the scenes with his mentor the Chevalier are very good, and his emotional distance works well in many of his scenes with Marisa Berenger (who was set up to be a major star coming out of this movie, and it never materialized...).

1987 movies: The Lost Boys, Lethal Weapon, Robocop, Fatal Attraction, The Princess Bride, Dirty Dancing, Wall Street, The Untouchables, Empire of the Sun, Full Metal Jacket, Planes Trains and Automobiles, The Last Emporer, Good Morning Vietnam, La Bamba ....

Maybe virtue signalling isn't a virtue.

Nostalgia ... New Year's Eve, December 31, 1975. My neighbor who was in the movie academy comes over and, says, "They sent me free tickets to a couple of new movies tonight that I can't use so you can have them. Do you want to see Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon" or John Huston's "The Man Who Would Be King"?

I hear The Clovehitch Killer is good, here is a review, with spoilers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4VG4L3U4Zg

Wow. I literally just finished watching that video before coming onto this site.

Crazy Rich Asians? Really? Were you just happy to see Singapore in a highly publicized Hollywood movie?

I did not see CRA, but I heard CRA did not do good in mainland China since the complaints were: (1) we already have movies with all Asian casts, so nothing special, and (2) it's not good says Mao to display conspicuous consumption of any kind. Obviously the mainland Chinese are not into 'meta' analysis and thinking outside their narrow national concerns, consistent with a national IQ that's probably in the mid-80s. Very typical Third World behavior. On the other hand, if you showed them a "Dallas" or "Dynasty" style production with lots of rich, decadent white people they might go for it, with some comeuppance of the rich in the end.

I am disappointed Ray, you have stooped to Thiago Ribeiro level trolling here

Most over-rated movie of the decade; CRA

I thought it was ok. I get tired of seeing the same white faces in Hollywood, its nice to see something different for a change.

Just saw it in flight last week. It was ok. Very basic rom-com story line. But I liked it. I did enjoy Singapore and some of the cultural signifiers.

I dont see what all the fuss was about.

Of the three 2018 movies that were hugely overrated for racial reasons, Black Panther was kind of good, Crazy Rich Asians was not terrible, but Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman was embarrassing.

I somehow missed BlacKkKlansman. Alas, I'll only see it when I can do so from my couch. Adam Driver is responsible for a number of things being overrated.

There’s no accounting for taste. BlackKklansman is my favorite of the year so far. I found Widows overwrought.

Can anyone explain to me why Crazy Rich Asians was a recommendable film? I saw it and was bored out of my mind.

It takes place in Singapore and the main character is an economist- that’s literally why TC thinks it’s good. Just shows how seriously TC should be taken.

any average bollywood movie would be better than CRA.

I had similar thoughts about La La Land. Such an average movie...

The story celebrates heterosexuality, you know, boy meets girl. This is incredibly rare these days.

I rather liked First Man myself, but I grew up around NASA and have known several astronauts, so I may be biased.

I thought First Man was underrated by critics too. Loved this film. Beautifully shot as well.

I liked "Leave No Trace" by the ladies who made "Winter's Bone." It's sort of the flip side of Winter's Bone: this time, all the rednecks are extremely kind and thoughtful to a girl whose military vet father has such bad PTSD that he can't live indoors.

"Searching" was a solid "screen life" thriller in which everything takes place on LCDs.

Both were solid, interesting movies and worth seeing.

But not must-sees. Thinking about it, Tyler may be right that this was one of the worst years for movies. Some decent ones but few really good ones.

I'm going to try to see "Prospect" and a movie that another commenter listed, "Borders". I expect that they'll be good maybe even top 10 good but not enough to lift this year's overall rating up.

Also: "Leave No Trace" is based on a novel by Peter Rock, "My Abandonment". The novel has a couple of major differences from the movie; it's darker and not necessarily better than the movie. Both were based on a true incident: a father and daughter were discovered living in Forest Park, a huge wooded park in Portland OR. Social services people found them a place to live, but as in the movie they disappeared. AFAIK in real life no one knows what happened to them.

House that Jack Built is technically 2018.

Anyone seen it yet ?

Only those thrilled by misogyny. Von Trier is its King.

Surprised you didn't see First Man. I thought it was a good historical film but with an unexpectedly dark focus on Armstrong's personal grief.

I agree this was probably the worst year for film in my adult life. The superhero films are annoying. The action films insipid. The year makes Cowboys and Aliens look good.

I've often said there are no good ideas left in Hollywood. Is the average over? Has the low hanging fruit been picked? Is Hollywood complacent? Do they have anything left but mood affiliation? It is uninteresting throughout.

When does the Trump two-hours hate come out? Long overdue.

TC saw it. Stagnation was on his mind, as it often is. https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/10/first-man-great-stagnation.html

The collapse of superhero movies cannot come soon enough.

There's plenty of good ideas left in Hollywood, the problem is we're unlikely to see those anytime soon because right now studios have to produce (very expensive) movies that will play in Asia and the US. So we're getting the worst of all worlds.

Also is it me is CGI worse than what it was 20 years ago?

20 years ago they still used a lot of modelling and sets because the CGI had sharp limits. Today the CGI is much better, but still not as good as a combination of modeling, large crowds of extras, good props and scenery. However, CGI is significantly cheaper.

We now have a century of feature films. Unless you've seen every single good film made in history, I wouldn't worry too much about how bad a year it is.

2001 and Barry Lyndon are great films on any size screen.

The only good thing you can say about 2001 is that the cinematography was excellent. The film is basically a cameraman in search of a movie.... and he doesn't find one. He finds a few scenes, which he dutifully films, but then obviously there is no ending.

And yes, this was a terrible year for movies -- again. I don't know how many years of this it will take before you stop being surprised. It was clear we hit rock-bottom when something as half-decent as Three Billboards needed to be proclaimed "brilliant" and "edgy."

Hollywood is Over. They'll keep making money by pushing out the same crap to the same people every year, Krugman-style.... the onus is on you to realize it, stop being annoyed by it, and just walk away.

There is more than enough good stuff on Netflix and Amazon Prime. If you find that there isn't enough, you watch WAY to much television.

The end of the year is really turning things around with a lot of great things coming out. I haven't seen all of these yet, but based on the critical response and the pedigree of the directors/actors, the below are worth checking out:

- Cold War
- Shoplifters
- The Favourite
- Burning
- If Beale Street Could Talk

I would also strongly suggest Sorry to Bother You. Arguably the most important movie of the year from an (American) social/cultural point of view.

Cowen, two suggestions:
1. SKIN directed by Guy Nattiv
2. July 22 directed by Paul Greengrass

Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Unsane
The Other Side of the Wind
Zama
The Land of Steady Habits
Isle of Dogs

+1 Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Wow, I thought it was a really tough movie to like. The dark souled comedies of the Coens usually at least can carry you off as a large cinematic vision, or work on the level of an extended characterisation, but BoBS was purely bleak and empty (in service of a few bad punchlines!) on anything but the level of providing beautiful North American landscapes to be lovely on the eyes. The anthology structure seems like it forces all their worst qualities as filmmakers to the fore.

Didn't go to see any movies in theaters this year, so the best movie I saw on Netflix this year was Aquarius from 2016 with Sônia Braga. Something for us geezers to relate to.

I'd care more about movies being generally poor nowadays if TV wasn't so great. TV does almost everything movies do, except better. Sheer spectacle is an exception, yes, but the abundance of superhero stuff shows that niche is already well-served.

TV still has the same fatal flaw as always: there has to be another season.

While I agree that the commercial pressures are always there, many TV series have had a limited, pre-set number of seasons. British TV is generally better about this, but even some of the most popular American shows, like Game of Thrones, have sometimes had a planned, definite end.

After all, there is some commercial incentive to make a cohesive, limited story as well. The good shows that don't overstay their welcome will have more success on streaming services and box sets, as well as merchandising. The bad ones, like Lost ended up being, will fade out of the zeitgeist.

"While I agree that the commercial pressures are always there, many TV series have had a limited, pre-set number of seasons."
Don't kid yourself.
As for that definite end to GoT, HBO is working on about a half-dozen spin offs.

And successful movies turn into franchises that never end, how is that a point regarding TV?

Because movies don't have to, although they often do. And you don't have to watch them. TV tends to depend on a knowledge of what has come before more than movies, even franchises like James Bond or the MCU.
Even the Netflix model is set up for continuing seasons.

You don't have to watch the GoT spinoffs either. My point was simply that you can consume TV series that have definite endings, just like movies do.

I agree with msgkings. Certainly classic TV kept adding seasons until the ratings "jumped the shark", Today it seems more common today to pull the plug while the TV show still has some decent life in it.

I'd argue they jump the shark much sooner these days due to the more narrow focus.

Also, I'm not sure movies are any more resistant to this pressure. That's the entire basis for the "cinematic universe" approach increasingly taken by film, and the reason we'll see Marvel superhero stuff continue to saturate cinemas.

Also sometimes I just want to sit down and enjoy a piece of entertainment that is only somewhere between 90-150 minutes. TV cannot do that.

Anthology TV like Black Mirror does precisely that.

I enjoyed TV so much more when everything was satisfyingly wrapped up in 60 minutes, not dragging into an interminable "story arc."

You must be a big fan of 'Law and Order' then. Added benefit is you will never run out of episodes until the Sun engulfs the Earth.

5-0, Mission Impossible and Mannix, actually. Bob Newhart, Star Trek, Outer Limits ... When we stay with relatives who watch current TV I can't believe how evil is venerated

BORDER (GRÄNS) - The less you know about it, the better
https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/border_2018/

It was a terrible year for movies. Tyler can't even name 10 to finish his top 10 list.

I'm all about the TV lately. But I dunno, maybe 'Isle of Dogs' ? probably the only film I've ever seen whose target audience appears to be Japanese children that speak English.

Well at least you had the diviersity and political correctness. No Woody Allens or Weinsteins. You got what you asked.

I also saw 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time on a large screen in a long time, review here, Barry Lyndon too, they are two of the best movies ever made though not on your TV.

Barry Lyndon is of interest only to those seriously into period fashion. Otherwise, it's the most soporific production ever made, with the possible exception of Withnail and I. Stanley Kauffman quite liked Withnail and I, of course. There's critics and there's human beings. The intersection between the two is a null set.

Saw Barry Lyndon when it came out and thought it boring, tho I'd give it another try.

Withnail and I is very British, but funny! Just Google Withnail quotes.

One of my favorites:

Marwood: You never discuss your family, do you?
Withnail: I fail to see my family's of any interest to you. I've absolutely no interest in yours. I dislike relatives in general and in particular mine.
Marwood: Why?
Withnail: I've told you why. We're incompatible. They don't like me being on stage.
Marwood: Then they must be delighted with your career.
Withnail: What do you mean??
Marwood: Because you so seldom are.

I saw the second Ant-Man movie and it should have nostalgic appeal for those who played with Matchbox cars. I saw the Avengers movie too and will not pretend I wasn't entertained; I was, perfectly so; however, when the Ant-Man movie seen just a couple months later called back to the ending of the Avengers movie, my husband had to explain it to me - and let's just say, it was a pretty significant plot point I had completely forgotten.

The only other trip to the multiplex was for "Fantastic Beasts 2: the Crimes of Grindelwald." My husband's verdict was Nazi fatigue and mine was: cozy Potterworld - beautiful sets - but something crucial's missing without children in the story.

A recommendation:
Lean on Pete

Not a single person mentioned Bohemian Rhapsody, good or bad.

I loved every minute of it. Saw it in IMAX.

I second the votes for Leave No Trace and Cold War above.

It's not quite as good as the original, but I thought that Incredibles 2 was excellent. The fight between Jack-Jack and the raccoon is worth the price of admission in itself.

Hated Annihilation.

This reminds me of one of my favorite movie debates. Which sequel(s) are better than the original (in movies)? I'm not including Bond films and that ilk, with a recurring character in different adventures, I mean a legit sequel advancing the narrative.

I think you can throw out all comedy sequels as they are never as good as the original, for the obvious reason that comedy is about surprise and freshness and sequels don't deliver that.

I can only really endorse Godfather II and The Empire Strikes Back but there has to be others I would think...

Hmm, here's my list for "Sequels that are noticeably better than the original". My criteria being that if presented with both the predecessor and listed movie in the list, I'd pick the latter to watch, without hesitation.

Army of Darkness, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, Aliens, Silence of the Lambs

I'd add Terminator 2. Star Trek 2 is clearly superior to its predecessor. Aliens was remarkably good but I might still prefer Alien. Have not seen any of the Army of Darkness movies and only saw parts of the first Natl Lampoon Vacation movie.

Was Silence of the Lambs actually a sequel?

Although the Godfather 2 was very good I still prefer the original The Godfather. I've pretty much sworn off of watching movies about gangsters but if The Godfather comes on TV I find it hard to avoid watching it, there are so many good or memorable scenes. I don't feel the same compulsion about The Godfather 2.

"Was Silence of the Lambs actually a sequel?"

Yes it was.

"[Silence of the Lambs] ... was the second adaptation of a Harris novel to feature Lecter, preceded by the Michael Mann-directed Manhunter (1986)."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Silence_of_the_Lambs_(film)

"I'd add Terminator 2."

That occurred to me. Yet if I were offered both to watch, I'd pick the first one to watch. After watching the first one I might then watch the second one. But I wouldn't just automatically skip to the second one, which was my criteria.

"I think you can throw out all comedy sequels as they are never as good as the original"

_The Pink Panther_ was a comedy that did well, but its main character was the thief played by David Niven. Peter Sellars' Inspector Clouseau was so popular however that he was made the main character in the sequel, _A Shot in the Dark_, which is generally regarded as being better than the first film.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Shot_in_the_Dark_(1964_film)#Reception

Obviously, "Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco."

The latest trilogy of Bond films 'advance' a narrative. Mission Impossible sequels are better than some predecessors, as well as Fast and the Furious. For comedy, Deadpool 2 hits its stride after Deadpool.

Theres "as good" and "as iconic" here. Going by the second definition, "Aliens" and "Rambo" fit. Its tough for derivative sequels to be as iconic, so the more memorable break the mold and go in another direction.

I liked Solo too...highly underrated. I thought it came out last year though... Not a big issue if you got that wrong...glad you liked it! Critics overweight the 1970s.

You mentioned two Kubrick films which got me wondering if you have seen the documentary Filmworker about Leon Vitali and the work he did for Kubrick. I happened to watch it last night and was amazed by the story. I had never heard a hint of Mr. Vitali's work but after watching the documentary it is hard to imagine the versions of Kubrick's films we have today without his work.

I'm glad you liked Annihilation. I thought it was really good, and it inspired me to read the books. I actually think I liked the movie's take on the storyline better than the books. The books seemed as though something important had been heavily edited out.

My review of the books and the movie can be found here:
http://www.stationarywaves.com/2018/03/book-review-annihilation-and-southern.html

If the eight titled films qualify as "best of 2018"--and if the superlative form enjoys any close relationship with the absolute form--then perhaps possibly maybe NO "good" films were released in 2018: which given all the fanfare surrounding Hollywood production practices over the past year would not amaze in the least.

"'Mortal Engines' D-O-A, ee-ii-ee-ii-ohhh" . . . .

Forget film, forget movies: CGI production values only showcase CGI production values. (What would line-item budgets for our virtual spectaculars reveal about production choices: CGI expenses vs. screenwriting costs, special effects expenses vs. "acting" costs, et cetera?)

Odd that "dystopian films" remain dedicated to tech glitz: why would anyone care about their superfluous depictions of so-called "human beings"? (Do theatre shootings begin to persuade us that audiences are not reading the films "the way they're supposed to"? How is it that audiences have begun dispensing with "the culture reception codes" routinely thrown at them?)

Why should production values alone be accorded so much aesthetic significance by vapid journalists and academics?)

If the Minions are in it, I'm there. Otherwise, bleah ...

Mission Impossible 6 was good, though I say that as someone who didn't watch 2-6.

I believe that you'd watched Kiarostami's 24 Frames, it would have easily earned a place here.

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