Superhero epics, supernatural horrors, dark comedies, big-budget blockbusters, biographical dramas, period pieces, and indie films — 2018 offered a wide variety at the movies.
It was the biggest year in U.S. box-office history with four of this year’s releases making the all-time worldwide box-office list. Marvel’s Black Panther, which grossed $700 million domestically, pretty much set the tone for the year, being both a critical and box office smash hit. Other big hits like Avengers: Infinity War, Crazy Rich Asians, and Deadpool 2 soon followed.
Of course, as true cinephiles know, the box office numbers don’t necessarily dictate what the best films of the year are. Plenty of awful films bring in a lot of cash. In fact, it’s often the case that the best films often go unrewarded or unseen by the general audience. Have no fear, we’ve assembled a list of films from 2018 that should definitely be on your must-see list.
10. Thunder Road
Driven by director Jim Cummings’ vulnerable performance, Thunder Road offers a memorable depiction of a police officer who is ill-equipped to deal with the circumstances of his life, which includes his mother’s death. It’s a film that finds the right balance of comedy, drama and believable characterisation. As an audience, it’s easy to connect and feel his pain, even when we’re laughing at the awkward situations he finds himself in.
9. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Westerns have made a great comeback over the last few years. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, a six-part anthology film, is some of Coen Brothers’ finest work. The stories are cynical, existential, poetic and have just the right touch of the directors’ signature dry humour. Each story has its own merits and they’re all worth seeing.
8. The Sisters Brothers
John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed create movie magic with The Sisters Brothers, a bittersweet, half-witted Western adventure that mashes a handful of genres. Sure, there’s loud gunplay but most of the film’s finest moments can be found in the quiet dialogue between the various characters. It’s probably an unfamiliar horse for many, but the journey is fun and rewarding.
7. Bohemian Rhapsody
Easily the most underrated film of the year, Bohemian Rhapsody is an escape from reality and a celebration of one of the greatest showman of our time, Freddie Mercury. Forget all the inaccuracies that critics are ranting about. They are genuinely harmless changes. This is a film well worth seeing again and again. Rami Malek is captivating as the Queen lead singer, even when he isn’t lighting up the stage and prancing around like a peacock. There’s been some noise about their win at the Golden Globes recently, but the cast and crew deserve every accolade. Bohemian Rhapsody is exhilarating.
6. A Quiet Place
Forget the casual jump scares and cheap theatrics of the genre. A Quiet Place is an inventive feature that carefully carries its gimmick and intriguing premise towards being a deeply affecting movie. While it certainly is taxing on your nerves, it has emotional resonance too. John Krasinski does a great job balancing the film’s family values theme with genuine palm-sweating tension.
5. The Shape of Water
An empathetic tribute to ’60s Hollywood monster films, visionary filmmaker Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is undeniably gorgeous (with amazing production design), creepy and filled with heart. You know, del Toro stuff. Think of it as a classic Disney fairytale turned on its head. Also, Hawkins shines!
4. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
There were many superhero films in 2018. But none like Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. In an industry where CGI, explosives and loud, action-packed sequences are king, this animated feature focuses on heart instead. When it does focus on action, of course, it does that exceptionally well too. Fans have been begging for a Miles Morales Spidey film for years. Thankfully Sony finally delivered and exceeded everyone’s expectations.
3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Even with a sad and heart-breaking backdrop, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a sharp black comedy that explores guilt and redemption. With strong etched-out characters, played by Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, and Peter Dinklage, the film delivers emotional impact even when you’re laughing. It’s gripping stuff!
2. Green Book
In Green Book, the roles of white and black are interestingly reversed, allowing us to see race and racism with a new eye. Together, Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen give extraordinary performances that is sure to win them Oscar gold. Even within its predictable context, it remains a neat and engaging film that tackles very human issues. Entirely heartwarming!
2017’s Get Out really set the bar for psychological indie-horror films. Ari Aster’s Hereditary, a picture that combines occult horror and domestic drama, pretty much ups the ante by offering the most haunting experience of 2018. It’s a film with a number of earned shocks that needs to be watched and rewatched in order to fully enjoy all the intricate details hidden within each frame. Like The Shining before it, Hereditary, which is genuinely unsettling, has the makings of cult classic. It might not be an instant hit with fans of the genre right now, but it’s something that filmmakers will study in years to come. Plus, Toni Collette is flawless.