It is well known and well noted that I was underwhelmed with cinema in 2018. Coming off a year bursting at the seams with Lady Birds and Phantom Threads, the most recent indie favs felt especially showy and lame. Granted, I have not seen The Wife.
There were things I didn’t connect with but can appreciate (Support the Girls, Madeline’s Madeline), and there were things that made me question if movies should exist (White Boy Rick, Vice). However, there were also things I liked. Loved, even! And while nothing shook my worldview and changed my life like Call Me By Your Name and The Florida Project did, I laughed out loud when Aquaman said “ass whooping.”
“I love the cinema experience.” -Tom Cruise
The best film of 2018 is the Mission: Impossible – Fallout trailer. While the movie itself didn’t land as high on my list, it is also functionally flawless. It’s perfectly sexy and show stopping, and is a figurehead for the impossibly lavish action repertoire of 2018. I already dropped an Aquaman joke, but let it be known the movie wherein Patrick Wilson becomes “Ocean Master” and Amber Heard rides into battle on an orca is the best superhero movie of the year. She and Jason Momoa go to Sicily and Momoa says “andiamo!” for Christ’s sake.
But you already knew these things. What you might not know, or be refusing to accept, is that Solo: A Star Wars Story was fun, sexy, stylish, and one of the best movies of 2018. I wrote a whole hill for me to die on. Don’t let me go up there alone!
“Change My Mind” -One Direction
I didn’t like The Lobster (2015) and I didn’t like The Killing of the Sacred Deer (2017). I also didn’t like La La Land (2016) or Bird Man (2014) or The Help (2011). Imagine my surprise when Yorgos Lanthimos’ newest project, starring Emma Stone, became my favorite movie of the year! The Favourite is a pitch-perfect dark comedy featuring some of the best performances and production design in recent memory. It was incredibly cathartic to go into my first screening with an Ally Maine “here we go” mentality and be blindsided by adoring the damn thing.
At the beginning of 2018, if there was anything I hated more than La La Land it was cinematic gimmicks. Which, I suppose, is also the foundation for La La Land (Ryan Gosling REALLY played the piano!). Anyway, when Steven Soderbergh had the nerve to tell me he was making a movie called Unsane, shot on an iPhone, I seized up. Until it clicked: Steven Soderbergh is good at making movies. And, indeed, Unsane was good. Claire Foy hot, etc.
“Women.” – Renata Klein, Big Little Lies (2017)
The Favourite and Unsane could also easily fit in this subcategory, as they both touch on the horror and necessary cunning of womanhood. However, the movie that best accomplished those tasks this year was Widows. A slow burning, heart wrenching, satisfying thriller about race, wealth, and women in America. Its underperformance was a tragedy.
The best part of Widows was Elizabeth Debicki, who was also the best part of my fourth favorite movie of the year, The Tale! Another under-appreciated masterpiece, I literally can’t say anything about it without spoiling it. It ripped my heart from my body and I haven’t been the same since. Also, Laura Dern is in it. Proceed with caution!
Despite their enraging awards season erasure, 2018 saw a lot of good movies by female filmmakers, The Tale included. Other favorites of mine include Shrikers, a Netflix documentary, and Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which I found to be both the most honest and most heartbreaking movie of the year. Femme creators have a knack for capturing the tiring familiarity and fleeting joy of everyday life.
“How great.” -Halsey in A Star Is Born
The best part of movies last year, indisputably, was the music. Again, and I can’t stress this enough, no curated series of sounds will ever be better than Jonny Greenwood’s Phantom Thread score. However, to come even remotely close is 2018’s crowning glory. If anyone wants to listen to me cover Lady Gaga’s cover of “La Vie En Rose,” I didn’t learn the words for nothing!
- First Man
- A Star Is Born
- Solo: A Star Wars Story
- If Beale Street Could Talk
- You Were Never Really Here
- Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
- The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
- Can You Ever Forgive Me?
- The Old Man & the Gun
- Black Panther
- Isle of Dogs
- Mission: Impossible – Fallout