Okay, here is the list. The Top 30 best movies of the year. It was a really good year in movies too as, after I had narrowed my list down, I had 38 films to choose from and it was really tough to cut off some of the bottom of the list. There were some films that are now in the honorable mentions that I wanted in the Top 30.
There were also some in the 20s that I would have guessed would have been higher up the list, but had slipped down. That was because there were some great films that moved up the list.
Remember, as I said with the worst list, my original star ratings are tossed out for the final list. They help me choose the films at first, but after that, they do not matter. The thing is film is subjective and sometimes a movie, on retrospect and reflection, become better or worse from my initial thought.
Again, it depends on if I had seen a specific movie. There are some new films such as Stan & Ollie or If Beale Street Could Talk that I haven’t seen yet. They’ll probably wind up on next year’s Best 2018 in 19 list.
Honorable Mentions: Vice, Teen Titans Go to the Movies, Roma, RBG, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Other Side of the Wind, A Simple Favor, Blockers, Bumblebee
Top 30 Best Films of 2018
#30. Tag. I fought to keep this one on the list because I really enjoyed it. I loved the premise of a group of friends playing a game of tag and the heights that they take it to keep playing. It was creative and funny and I wanted it in the Top 30.
#29. Love, Simon. Another one that held on to the list from the onslaught of those films dropped is this great coming of age story of a young gay boy finding a way to come out of the closet. It is funny, touching and remarkably creative. A wonderful coming of age film.
#28. Incredibles 2. The is one that slipped way down the list from where I thought it might be, but as I compiled it, there were films that I just wanted to be higher than this one. It is still great and one of the best animated films of the year from Pixar. The Jack-Jack vs. the raccoon scene is one of the year’s best.
#27. Creed II. This is another one that I would have guessed ended higher than it did. I loved it and thought it was a worthy sequel to Creed. I loved the inclusion of the Drago family and I loved how the film gave them personality outside of Russian killers. Creed II was a great film.
#26. Blackkklansman. It is a running theme of movies in the twenties that I would have thought would rank higher. I loved Blackkklansman a lot and found Spike Lee’s new film to be funny, poignant and full of important messages. Just goes to show how good of a year in cinema is was.
#25. Paddington 2. Paddington returns for more fun. In the original, I thought there was no way Paddington would be a good movie and then it turned out great. I thought that the sequel had no chance of being a good sequel and it was great. I should stop underestimating the goodness of Paddington.
#24. Overlord. This is a film that, on original score, was a little lower than some, but, in retrospect, really raises its stock. I really enjoyed this film and its creativity and its use of Nazis and Zombies in ways that we hadn’t seen before. It knew exactly what kind of film it was and that is important.
#23. Deadpool 2. I think my memories of this was damaged by Once Upon A Deadpool because I liked this a lot, and it wound up lower than I expected. The new film highlighted the weaker parts of this movie and put them in the front of my brain. The rated R version is a good movie.
#22. Instant Family. One of the bigger surprises of the year, I went to Instant Family expecting something like Daddy’s Home. but I got a film with much more heart, humor and with something to say about adoption. Way better than I thought it would be.
#21. First Man. People were divisive over First Man for some reason. Some thought they should have had more about the moon landing, but I found this biopic about Neil Armstrong to be extremely compelling as it was. Claire Foy was amazing in her supporting role.
#20. A Star is Born. Another one that has dropped down the list but that I loved when I first saw it. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are great together with amazing chemistry and there is fantastic musical performances.
#19. The Hate U Give. Just a fabulous film about a really important topic told in a dramatic manner. Based on a classic novel, The Hate U Give speaks to the racial problems in the country in a real and vital way. From this movie, Amandla Stenberg is a actress to keep your eyes on.
#18. American Animals. Based on a true story, American Animals tells us about four friends who attempt one of the audacious art thefts ever by stealing expensive and rare books from a library. The interactions between the four men are truly some of the best of the year.
#17. Game Night. I actually left this off and thought about it when William Bibbiani mentioned it on his Critically Acclaimed podcast. I thought this was unbelievably funny and featured great performances from Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams. I’m glad I was listening to that show because this belongs on my list.
#16. Eighth Grade. Bo Burnham’s directorial debut was one of the most real films of the year. I have seen students exactly like the characters in this movie in my job as a middle school teacher. It was amazingly realistic. And the scene in the back of the car was one of the most anxiety-filled scenes of the year.
#15. Bad Times at the El Royale. Another that I thought might make my top ten, but wound up outside it, I loved this film. It had great performances from Chris Hemsworth, Jeff Bridges and our Batman and Robin Award for Rotteness winner for Worst Actress Dakota Johnson (for Fifty Shades Freed) which goes to show you how material can change an actor’s performance.
#14. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. This is the Coen Brothers new film and it has a series of Western shorts that are remarkably entertaining and fun. The six stories are all very different, but all share that ironic end that the Coen Brothers are so well known for. This is a great watch on Netflix.
#13. Can You Ever Forgive Me? Melissa McCarthy in the true story of former writer Lee Israel, who wound up selling letters, supposedly from famous authors and celebrities, that she forged. McCarthy is great in this role, but the film is nearly stolen by Richard E. Grant. Their chemistry was tremendous and made you really root for these two despite their criminal enterprise.
#12. Sorry to Bother You. This was the biggest WTF movie of the year. I came out of this shocked and amazed at what this film accomplished and out of my mind that the movie went there. Another one that I would have liked to put higher, but I just didn’t. It is going to have to settle with being just outside the Top 10. This had great work from Lakeith Stanfield.
#11. Green Book. Another one that I would have absolutely said would make the Top 10, but now ends at number eleven. Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali are amazing together as a pianist and his driver on tour in the south during the Civil Rights movement. The film was a feel good film and some people felt that they should have done more about the dark hatred in the south. I am trying to judge the film by what it is, not what it should have been and Green Book is an awesome movie.
#10. Ant Man & the Wasp. Another entertaining rendition with Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne. The pair are trying to save Hope’s mother Janet from the Quantum Realm and they are having conflict with the villain Ghost, who wants the Quantum Realm for other reasons. Features a great post credit scene that helps set up Avengers: Endgame.
#9. Mission Impossible: Fallout. The Mission Impossible movies just keep bringing the action and the excitement. This film even left in the scene where Tom Cruise, doing his own stunts, really injured his foot. Mission Impossible keeps ramping up the action to a breakneck pace and a high energy finale.
#8. Mary Poppins Returns. I loved everything about the Mary Poppins sequel. The music, the story, Emily Blunt, the rest of the cast, the dances. It was magical. I did not think this was necessarily needed but it was certainly welcomed.
#7. Black Panther. Marvel’s cultural hit that made more money domestically than any movie this year (even more than Infinity War). The movie has a chance to be nominated for an Oscar in Best Picture too. Black Panther was an important movie in many ways for Marvel and for a section of the movie going public that had not seen itself represented in a significant way on the big screen before. Certainly not in a lead character/big budget way.
#6. Searching. John Cho is masterful here as a father whose daughter has disappeared and he goes through her computer trying to find clues on her social media accounts to where she has gone. For a film that you see only though the camera on a computer screen, this is one of the most tension filled movies of the year.
#5. A Quiet Place. Shhhh. My movie theater was nearly dead silent during this movie because it felt that if you made any noise, you would regret it. A Quiet Place is tense, anxiety-ridden and I haven’t had quite an experience like it in the movies before. John Krasinski directs and stars in the movie and does a fantastic job.
#4. Bohemian Rhapsody. This is another film that people criticized for what it wasn’t. Some wanted this to be more of a darker look at the life of Freddie Mercury and his sexual orientation and when that was not the focus of the movie, they complained. Instead, I loved the movie for the awesome music and the fun look at one of the best films of all time. Maybe there is another movie some day to satisfy the ones who want darkness, but for me, this rocked me. And Rami Malek completely transformed into Freddie Mercury. I hope the Academy recognizes his performance.
#3. Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse. The best animated movie of the year, and perhaps the best animated movie of the last several years. Miles Morales is brought forth in this Sony animated film and it is good. The animation is like art. The background is so beautiful and stunning, but that is not the only thing. It has a fantastic story with great characters that have relationships that you care about and a villain that you can understand. There are surprises and twists. There is Spider-Ham and Spider-man Noir, for goodness sake. Great voice cast. Animation unlike anything you have ever seen before. Capturing the perfect essence of Spider-man. A heartbreaking Stan Lee cameo. There is so much here that makes this one of, if not THE, best Spider-man movie ever.
#2. Won’t You Be My Neighbor. I have never been affected by a movie so much. Especially from a documentary of a man who is so good of a person as Fred Rogers. There was no surprise twist. There was no shine thrown at Mr. Rogers. And yet, I am crying in the car on the way home. Never before did that happen. I think part of it was that I wished that we had someone like Fred Rogers in the world today. The world desperately needs Fred Rogers today and we will never have another. The bravery and the balls of this man was on display every episode. The scenes of him in Congress arguing for money for PBS is just amazing and it is difficult to believe, in our world of partisan politics, it was even possible. Won’t You Be My Neighbor does everything beautifully and it makes me long for days past.
#1. Avengers: Infinity War. A decade of MCU films led to this point and Marvel Studios had the guts to do something unexpected. It killed off half of the universe and ended the movie with Thanos victorious and living on a planet as Farmer Thanos, retired and raising crops. What? I can still remember the gasps from the crowd as characters such as Black Panther, Bucky, and Spider-man (in the most emotional moment of the whole movie) went to dust. But there was more to this than just that. You got a great interaction between Thor and his “sweet rabbit” Rocket. The scene where Thor talks about what he has lost shows the strength of Chris Hemsworth as an actor and how much he understands this character. We get a return of Captain America in a kick ass fashion. Tony Stark and Stephen Strange banter than was anything but playful. Gamora’s surprise death at her father’s hands. The return of the Red Skull. There are just so many moments in Infinity War that makes this an epic worthy of ten years lead up with 19 movies that we may never see anything like it again. At least, until April 26, 2019.
I admire your dedication to creating a top 30 list. More people need to see American Animals, it was such a bizzare, brilliant bit of filmmaking.
Yes, it was great. The problem was I had to actively search it out (I think it was on iTunes). It never came to any theaters in my area and that makes it tough for a lot of average people outside of NY, LA or maybe Chicago to see it.