If there is anything that should be said about 2018 when it comes to films, it was underwhelming, but still oddly fascinating. 2018 wasn’t the strongest year for film as a lot of disappointments appeared and there just seems to be a lot of films that just didn’t quite pack the punch compared to previous years. Even with that in mind, there was a lot to appreciate in terms of what 2018 had to offer for movies, especially when it came to animation and indie films. 2018 had a decent amount of films that were definitely worth looking back on fondly, starting with.
10. First Man
Knowing Damien Chazelle’s work with previous masterpieces with Whiplash and La La Land, there was a lot of hype behind his next film First Man. The downside is while a solid movie, First Man does not come close to the brilliance of his previous two works. Possibly due to limitations on story with it being a biopic, Chazelle’s creativity isn’t as prevalent here as it was in his previous works. However, it doesn’t say that it is a bad movie, in fact, it is still rather refreshing to see Chazelle create something completely different compared to his other movies. Not to mention, the film is still very well crafted with a great Ryan Gosling performance, very subtle moments, a great old classic filmmaking aesthetic and ending that is pretty breath taking to say the least. It may not be as brilliance as his other works, but it still has a lot of great craftsmanship.
9. Ralph Breaks the Internet
While mixed by many fans of the original film, Wreck-It Ralph 2 does a great job of progressing from the first movie in some neat ways. It may feel a little excessive at points and also has some contradictions to the first film, but what really makes this movie special are its characters and world building. Both have been expanded upon big time with more creative worlds and a character element that adds to the ultimate theme of the movie being about letting go, which is was told in a very smart way especially for a kids movie. This sequel also retains the fun and excitement with a lot of neat crossover moments and an outstanding musical number that parodies Disney so well that it is hands down one of the best movie moments of 2018. Ralph Breaks the Internet is a very good progression from a great first movie and is a good reassurance to Disney making decent sequels.
8. A Star Is Born
Without a doubt the main Oscar contender here, A Star is Born is a simple but super effective movie. For a directorial debut by Bradley Cooper, the film is a very well made film with great cinematography, a decent script and also some excellent sound design. What really carry through the movie that makes it even better are the performances. Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliot and especially Lady Gaga are all phenomenal in their roles being all so incredibly believable in not just their characters but also the relationships with one another. Also ends on a note that is so powerful, it’s the moment that could give Lady Gaga an Oscar win, and as weird as that sounds, it is totally justified given how good this film is.
One of the darkest and most disturbing films released in the entirety of 2018. Hereditary works in the same vein of other modern horror films as it’s not so much about generic horror but true real life nightmares that come to haunt people psychologically. This movie deals with the rough themes of loss and regret in the harshest of ways, but given the film is meant to be a true testament of horror, it is super effective with being a horror film. Add in some excellent craft with cinematography, editing and production design that is amazing especially for a debut film and also some all-around incredible performances, Hereditary is a terrifying horror experience that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
This is the type of Science Fiction film that doesn’t come too often, but when it does, it becomes engraved in our memories. Annihilation is an experience to witness being both an intelligent science fiction film that doesn’t rely on spectacle and instead relies on fascinating ideas about alternate dimensions and fear. Also much like many of the moments in Hereditary, Annihilation contains one of the most intense sequences of any movie in 2018 with the bear sequence which is without a doubt a masterwork of craftsmanship in terms of great movie moments. Annihilation may have been over looked by some, but for those who did witness it; it was definitely an experience worth remembering.
5. Incredibles 2
It may not have the sophistication of the first one nor does it excel at being a game changer in animation, but it is Incredibles 2 and it is so much fun. Incredibles 2 while had some missed opportunities in the story department, still makes up for it for having some already great characters return again and being just an all-around well-crafted animated work from legend Brad Bird. It progresses things fairly well from the first and also just manages to be exciting with great animation and a fantastic score that the first Incredibles was known for so well. Incredibles 2 isn’t quite on the level of Incredible as the first, but its entertainment factor alone makes it one of the most fun to be had in a movie all year.
4. Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Fred Rogers was one of the most charismatic and polite people you could ever think of. This documentary showcases his love and kindness he offered to the world in a very honest and respectful way to Mr. Rogers. It discussed his life and his passion about helping children understanding the complexity of emotions in very genuine ways, just as Fred Rogers himself was. A genuinely good person who cared about everyone and didn’t discriminate, not to mention this film has one of the most powerful and subtle ending ever to be seen in a documentary. It’s a beautiful movie for this best of the year list.
3. Isle of Dogs
Wes Anderson certainly has become an auteur within the past decade, but seeing him come back to animation after so long is glorious to witness. While Isle of Dogs isn’t as masterfully put together and as tightly written as Fantastic Mr. Fox was, it still showcases a lot of what Wes did for the animation industry in some ingenious ways. Not only is it an animated movie that isn’t afraid to be more adult and not kid oriented, but it does an incredible job justifying why stop motion animation is such a beautifully unique style and should never be ignored. Add in some good characters and an outstanding musically score, Isle of Dogs is a movie that reassures you that great original films like this exist in the animation world.
2. Sorry to Bother You
More movies need to be like Sorry to Bother You. There has not been a movie quite as weirdly unique as this one right here and its all the more reason to praise it as such. Sorry to Bother You is such a well-crafted work from Boots Reilly but is also elevated by being unlike anything else out right now. It’s so visually refreshing and stylized and has one of the most off guard yet actually fitting and distinctive plot twists to ever be seen in recent memory. The movie is funny, creative and just a breath of fresh air to see, and definitely will be remember as one of the finest movies of 2018.
1. Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse
This is the kind of movie that everyone needs to look out for every year, one that not only excels at what it does so incredibly well but is a game changer in film in general. Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse is a love letter not just Spider-Man but to almost anything worthwhile when it comes to the medium of film. It is a love letter to comic books, diversity, creativity and most importantly, animation. This movie is cold hard proof that animation is a medium that deserves to be respected and can be utilize to make something that has all the emotions and character that not even half of most live action films can do. In a world where Disney Remakes and movies like Venom are perceived as more adult and mature because of them being live action despite not being that at all, here’s a movie that truly is mature in its story and themes and should be noted as that despite being animated. Into The Spider-Verse is funny, heartfelt, imaginative and just about everything people should want in a movie in general. If you haven’t witness the mastery of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, you are missing out on something special. It is a film that you should not have a problem with, especially because “it’s a cartoon”.
Honorable Mentions: Tully, Avengers Infinity War, Upgrade, Searching, If Beale Street Could Talk, and Mandy