Ah, another year, another ‘Best Of’ list. 2018 was a wild year. We got some great films, as we’re about to see, and boy did we got some terrible films. I considered doing a ‘Worst Of’ list, but there’s only so much breath one can waste on films I wouldn’t recommend seeing (But for completion’s sake, the worst movies I saw this year (in ascending order of bad-ness) were Robin Hood, Tomb Raider, and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom). Instead, it seems prudent we focus on what I think you should see, the best of the best, the cream of the crop that 2018 had to give us.
Best Of 2018, Part I.
And by best of, I really mean my personal favorites, but who’s keeping track?
10. The Favourite, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
Oh, Yorgos, my sweet, sweet Yorgos. Right off the bat, if you enjoy the stylings Yorgos Lanthimos’ directorial choices, you will enjoy this film. If you don’t, you’re bound to have a bad time. The Favourite is a beautiful 18th century England period piece exploring two women fighting for the favor of a frail-minded queen, a hectic nightmare of plotting and scheming. The dialogue, sets, and costumes really shine here, The Favourite is positively gorgeous to look at. It also really nails that Barry Lyndonesque 1700’s lighting, the warm glow of candles and dark blur of shadows. Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, and Nicholas Hoult put in terrific performances, I could watch them politic and banter with each other all day. Like Lanthimos’ previous pictures, the third act and ending may not be to everyone’s taste, but it if you enjoy the first two-thirds, it’s about what you’d expect.
The more I think about it, the more similarities The Favourite has with another favorite of mine from earlier this year, Death of Stalin: excellent characters, witty dialogue, ends curiously, great to look at, and the general love-it-or-hate-it style.
9. They Shall Not Grow Old, directed by Peter Jackson
Over the two years (on and off) that I have been doing this blog, They Shall Not Grow Old is the first documentary to make a ‘Best Of’ list, or to even be reviewed, and it certainly deserves its place here.
It’s so rare that a single documentary can breathe new life into a historical period but Shall Not Grow Old succeeds at exactly this. The restoration of the footage is an incredible technical marvel and the addition of sounds and voices gives new perspective to the once grainy early 20th-century footage of the war. Peter Jackson really aims for a low to the ground, eye-level experience, what it was like to be a soldier in the Great War. This perspective, combined with the restored clips, really makes one realize how human these men are, with heartbreaking success. What was ‘old-timey’ grainy footage with awkward movement becomes crisp and clean, brimming with color and life. The addition of voices, sounds, conversations is incredible to hear. You’ll never see World War I quite the same way again.
Easily my favorite documentary of the year, maybe my favorite ever, They Shall Not Grow Old is one of this years must-see films. Despite having a limited release, Fathom Events is bringing back screenings on the 21st of January, go see it if you can.
8. Avengers: Infinity War, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo
Of all the big-budget, live-action superhero movies of 2018 (of which there were many), Avengers: Infinity War is easily my favorite. Now, before I get EMAILS, I’m not necessarily saying this was the eighth best movie made this year, it was merely an incredibly solid action-adventure popcorn flick, with enough sci-fi, surprising twists and turns, and an overall solid conclusion to be probably the best blockbuster of the year. If you wanted to see it, you’ve already seen it, so there’s not a whole lot else to be said that hasn’t been said already.
7. Eighth Grade, directed by Bo Burnam
I had no interest in seeing Eighth Grade. Coming of age movies really aren’t my thing, particularly modern ones. I lived it for god’s sake, why would I want to watch it again? And yet, Bo Burnam really knocked me off my feet with this one. I would go so far as to say that Eighth Grade is the definitive twentieth-century coming of age movie and should be watched by everyone who grew up after 1995 or, honestly, anyone who went through eighth grade. Even though the experience has changed, the emotions and tribulations have not, making this a piece anyone with a heart can resonate with. I laughed, I teared up, I cringed, all the pieces of a coming into adulthood are there, and executed well. Elsie Fisher puts in an incredible performance, especially for someone her age. A wholesome movie that will fill your heart with warmth, I cannot recommend Eighth Grade enough.
6. Ballad of Buster Scruggs, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
What did we do to deserve Netflix? Honestly, they gave us a new Coen Brothers movie, what else could you even ask for?? It’s an anthology, at that, a western anthology. I don’t think the Coens could have made anything more perfect or more tailored to my taste As you might have guessed, I absolutely loved Buster Scruggs. They got me, I’m a sucker for anthologies. You can get a taste of a little of everything the director(s) can do, different tones, characters, ideas, etc. The framing device is also one of the most clever uses of connective tissue in an anthology I’ve seen. I kept finding myself haphazardly scrambling for the remote to pause at the end of every segment so I read the storybook. It adds that much more the ending, particularly the Gal Who Got Rattled. The Coen brothers are perfectly suited to the Western setting, their black humor ideal for the mortality and grim living of the era. Buster Scruggs is a delightful, sometimes morbid, collection of tales that showcase the breadth of the Coens storytelling mastery.
Let’s rank the chapters real quick, but bear in mind that I loved them and all were, at bare-minimum, wonderful.
- The Gal Who Got Rattled
- All Gold Canyon (if you didn’t like this one, you need to seriously re-examine your priorities)
- Near Algodones / The Mortal Remains
- Meal Ticket
- Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Well, that’s all for part I. Keep your eyes peeled for part II, due out next week.
Disagree with me? Did I miss something you think I absolutely must see? Let me know in the comments below!