My Favorite Films of 2018

As I am wont to do at the end of the year I organize my favorite films into a list. 2018 was a bleak year and many of the films on this list reflect that. There were also some bright spots, but I felt film as a whole lacked in a way I don’t think it has since the late 90’s. Of all my favorite filmmakers only the Coen Brothers and Orson Welles released a film this year. But there were a lot of good works by good filmmakers, and some pleasant turns by filmmakers whose films I wasn’t the biggest fan of in the past. Without further delay, here are my 20 most enjoyed films of 2018.

20. Venom – Reuben Fleischer

Venom played like a big budget Cronenberg body horror comedy, with out paying to much attention to the actual science of the stuff. It was hoot of a romance and slapstick physical comedy where a good monster bites bad guys heads off. What’s not to like?

19. Assassination Nation – Sam Levinson

A chilling portrait of a near future, Sam Levinson’s satire scared the shit out of me. Imagine if a town like Twin Peaks dirty laundry all hit the fan at the same keystroke. It is a brilliant, if somewhat ham-fisted, takedown of our modern culture.

18. Bad Times At The El Royale – Drew Goddard

Bad Times is about as good as Tarantino-lite can get. Much like Romain Gavras The World Is Yours, Bad Times At The El Royale uses an ensemble of likeable hoods and groovy tunes to guide us through a pulpy narrative. What Gavras films is lacking that El Royal has is moral center and MVP Darlene Sweet. The last two minutes of this film is perfect.

17. A Quiet Place – John Krasinski

Working from a suspense filled premise, John Krasinski shows ample control guiding this tense thriller that had me on the fence until we see the awesome monsters. Not the best horror film of the year, but a very good one.

16. Vice – Adam McKay

A polarizing look at a man who sought power and gained it. I was surprised that I came out of this film with a more humanized view of Cheney even if it was somewhat morally compromised. I loved the scene where he demands the whole of intelligence briefings whether confirmed or not. It had me believing that nearly anyone in those circumstances would develop a crippling paranoia about the world. That said, the guy is still a Dick.

15. The Night Comes For Us – Timo Tjahjanto

This is the most brutal film of the year, (but not the most Metal, that’s Mandy). The Night Come For Us is action adrenaline straight to your cerebellum. The meat plant scene alone is worth your time but the whole thing just burns like whiskey. I can’t wait to see what this guy does next.

14. Sorry To Bother You – Boots Riley

Most years you get no satires this year we got 4! That’s what happens when people are unhappy. Sorry to Bother You might be the roughest of them, using a horse dick for a hammer to nail it’s points home. This is what the future looks like. Be afraid.

13. The Favourite – Yorgos Lanthimos

I hated the Lobster. So I skipped the Killing of A Sacred Deer. But now I will certainly go back to it, because I loved The Favourte. It was hilarious. Colman, Weisz and Stone are spectacular. I left wanting more.

12. The Other Side Of The Wind – Orson Welles

How lucky are we Bob Murawski and Netflix (and so many others) saw this through to completion? It was worth the wait. Film is rarely as alive and experimental as it was in this movie, and every time I see it, Welles is further revealed to me. Like looking back in time into the mind of an artist at peak power.

11. The House With A Clock In Its Walls – Eli Roth

I have never been a fan of Eli Roth’s films, but this one is the adaptation of a book I loved as a child. So, I was curious. He nailed it and even improved the material. It’s a great and scary spooktacular film for kids and adults. It would have placed even higher on the list if I hadn’t felt the lead was miscast. In the books he is overweight which I felt would have lent even more empathy to his character but I still loved the film.

10. Anna and the Apocalypse – John McPhail

Anna and the Apocalypse is a blast. I really didn’t think I had room for another zombie movie in my life then this Scottish Christmas end-times musical comes into my life and…well, what I’m trying to say is more like this please.

9. Apostle – Gareth Evans

Apostle is like a Clive Barker circa Books of Blood era story with a third act from the director of The Raid. Dan ‘muthafuckin’ Stevens cements himself as a genre icon between this and The Guest. I’m sure he has many more great roles to come. Apostle is a truly great turn by Evans, who had established himself as an action filmmaker into horror territory, creating a film whose specificity is thrilling.

8. Avengers: Infinity War – Anthony and Joe Russo

Here it is. This is the film where they would define Thanos, the threat for the decade old MCU. Would they drop that ball? No they would not. Thanos reasoning is justified and his justification reasonable, despite his lack of morality. It is the rare film that portrays only the ascent to power and not the fall of despot. In that it cuts the narrative off when Thanos is at his peak power it is unique.

7. Annihilation – Alex Garland

Annihilation is the best adaptation of The Color Out Of Space, despite deviating from the source material through several iterations. It feels Carpeter-esque, with echoes of both Assault on Precinct 13 and The Thing, (and The Fog), but the fact that it is a women-on a mission update of a Lovecraftian classic and a meditation on past trauma as transformation makes it a new classic.

6. First Reformed – Paul Schrader

Don’t feel bad Ethan Hawke. Choose hope.

5. Paddington 2 – Paul King

This film is so earnest and sweet and full of brilliant visual gags I had a hard time not being caught up in Paddington’s perfect worldview. Look for the good in people and you will find it.

4. Alpha – Albert Hughes

A coming of age/man vs nature story the likes of which we rarely see, let alone one this good. This film is Albert Hughes masterpiece. The storytelling is so visual and the design and performance by Kodi Smit-McPhee so flawless. Alpha is a beautiful tale for people of all ages.

3. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Joel and Ethan Coen

It’s no surprise this film is on my list but it is a surprise how good it is, even coming from masters like the Coens. Buster Scruggs uses the six tales that comprise its runtime like biblical parables, warning of all the perils of the world. It is a harsh world, with death being right around the corner for all the sad characters the Coens summon to torment. This is the most thoughtful film of the year, though, it can be a bit bleak, seeing the universe through the Coens filter of near-nihilsm.

2. Mandy – Panos Cosmatos

Mandy is a paperback fantasy novel cover come to life. It is a distillation of the romantic with in a revenge film and one of many high-water-marks for Nicolas Cage. Its unique world building and sound and visual design make it an immersive cinematic experience.

1. Sense8: Amor Vincit Omnia – Lana Wachowski

This was the most emotionally invested I was in a film all year. At two and a half hours the finale of Sense8 was more than a TV movie, it was kinetic, emotional, humane filmmaking of the highest order and I think Lana Wachowski is treasure to planet Earth. Whatever she does next might save the world.

 

Happy 2019!

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