Mike’s Top Ten Films of 2018
1. Roma (2018) R
Two-time Oscar winner (Gravity, 2013) Alfonso Cuaron brings us a tale of a family in transition in the early 1970s in Mexico City. Based on Cuaron’s own childhood the center of the film is a live-in maid named Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) as she tends to a large family. Roma is a beautiful film, shot in glorious black and white. Aparicio is brilliant as the maid who would do anything to make sure the children she cares for are loved and safe. The film takes place over a year as the marriage of the husband and wife falls apart. Cleo tries to make the lives of the children as normal as possible, but she is dealing with a dead-beat boyfriend and a ton of other problems. This was a passion project for Cuaron, and it shows on the screen. This is one of the best films of the year and a shoo-in for a ton of Oscar nominations.
2. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018) PG-13
The exploration of the life of the beloved PBS staple Fred Rogers. This is a loving look at the life of the soft-spoken Mr. Rogers who shaped children’s lives for generations. The film explores how he started his legendary Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and how he developed that series. I will warn you that you are going to cry at least once during this moving film. He wasn’t a perfect man, but man did we need him and his outlook on the world. We still do.
3. Spider-Man Into the Spiderverse (2018) PG
Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) has been bitten by a radioactive spider and has become Spider-Man. When alternate universe Spider-people start showing up, they decide to team up and save the world from Kingpin (Liev Schreiber). Not only is this one of the best animated films of the year, it’s one of the best overall films of the year. The storyline is highly creative, and the movie is hilarious. I loved all the ‘Spider-People’ especially Peter B. Parker voiced by Jake Johnson, a sort of sad sack Spider-Man, Gwen Stacy, ‘Spider-Woman’ voiced by Hailee Steinfeld and Spider-Ham a ‘Spider-Pig[ voiced by John Mulaney. The ending is satisfying, and I can’t wait to see the spinoffs that they will be doing.
4. Eighth Grade (2018) R
Kayla (Elsie Fisher) is all about blending into the woodwork so that she doesn’t stand out. All Kayla wants to do is survive the last week of the eighth grade so she can start high school on a clean slate. Life has decided that Kayla should come out of the shadows. Kayla decides to give advice on how to navigate life through a series of YouTube videos. I loved this film, and Elsie Fisher is a delight to watch on the screen. Her performance is heartfelt and beautiful and writer/director Bo Burnham treats her with a loving touch. The film is filled with wonderful moments about an awkward kid trying just to survive one last week of school. This is a film that everyone will enjoy going into the last week of eighth grade with Kayla.
5. The Favourite (2018) R
In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne. Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) and a new servant, Abigail (Emma Stone) vie for the attention of the Queen. While Colman, Weisz, and Stone give Oscar-worthy performances, I would like to single out Nicholas Hoult as a snarky Earl who uses any means necessary to obtain power. Hoult’s wisecracks and put-downs are the best part of the film, and there is an incredible outdoor scene with Emma Stone that will have you laughing out loud. The makeup, the sets, and the costumes are simply breathtaking. This tale of two women who battle over who can gain the affection and ear of the Queen is brilliant. Think Dangerous Liaisons with a touch of a lesbian War of the Roses.
6. Paddington 2 (2017) PG
Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw), who is happily living with the Brown family (Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville), picks up a series of odd jobs around the neighborhood to buy the perfect present for Aunt Lucy’s (voiced by Imelda Staunton) 100th birthday party. I loved the first Paddington film and found it fun and delightful. I am happy to say that this movie is even better than the first. The CGI special effects are breathtaking, as the film has a number of close-ups of Paddington that show fantastic detail. The movie is full of funny scenes, and I love how Paddington is so nice and polite that he even wins over hardened criminals to his way of positively looking at life. Paddington 2 is a film that the whole family can love and enjoy. We all need a little Paddington in our lives. Be sure to stay through the credits as there is a wonderful surprise at the end.
7. A Star Is Born R
A legendary musician, Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) takes a young singer (Lady Gaga) under his wing and guides her to becoming a star, all the while his career beings to suffer due to his drinking. This is a fantastic movie with an excellent soundtrack (some of the songs were written by Cooper and of course, Lady Gaga). I highly recommend going out and buying the music to this film because there isn’t a bad song in the bunch. Bradley Cooper not only co-wrote the film and stars in it, but he also directed the film and did an incredible job. I had doubts about Lady Gaga in the role, but she knocks it out of the park with a multi-level performance that will bring you to tears. Cooper is perfect as the weathered music star whose career has seen better times. I can’t recommend this film more. Go see this magical film but bring a tissue or two.
8. If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) R
A newly engaged and pregnant woman (Tish Rivers) in Harlem struggles to prove that her fiancé (Stephan James) is innocent of a crime. This emotional and stunning film is one of the best films of the year. Rivers and James give outstanding performances but the performance of Regina King, as James’s character’s mother is the best thing about this film. Although set in the 1970s, this film could easily be set in 2018, and its message would be the same. This is a magical film that everyone should see.
9. Black Panther (2018) PG-13
After the events of Captain America: Civil War, King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to his country only to be challenged by a rival faction. Now T’Challa as the Black Panther teams up with C.I.A. agent Ross (Martin Freeman) to try and defeat the evil Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and keep his countrymen free. This is a groundbreaking superhero movie because it doesn’t focus on the action sequences (though they are incredible) but focuses on the people and their back stories. The film feels extraordinarily personal and close up. You get to know why the heroes and villains become who they are now and why they are so driven. Michael B. Jordan’s character, Erik Killmonger, is the best Marvel villain ever. His backstory is exceptional and riveting. He is a character whom you hate, but you also understand why he does what he does. What I loved about this film is how many female characters kick butt. Letitia Wright, as the younger sister of T’Challa, steals every scene that she is in as the smart but snarky woman who is the brains behind the technology that T’Challa uses as Black Panther. I loved the humor in this film, which feels real and personable. This is one of the best Marvel films out there, but it’s also one of the best films of the year. Be sure and stay through all the credits as there are two bonus scenes.
10. A Quiet Place (2018) PG-13
A family of four is forced to live in silence while hiding from horrible creatures that hunt by sound. John Krasinski, who co-wrote the script and directed the film, has brought us one of the best horror films of the past ten years. The film is almost a silent film, as the family mostly communicates with sign language. Krasinski builds the tension throughout, making it far scarier than most jump-out-of-the-dark horror films. I loved the camera work in this movie, as it’s always giving us exciting angles and continually moving. The creatures in the movie are horrific and scary. The whole cast, which includes Krasinski’s wife, Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds, and Cade Woodward, are brilliant in this film, with Blunt and Simmonds standing out. At my screening, the crowd was quiet, and one person told me that they didn’t eat their popcorn because they were scared the creatures would get them. Don’t miss out on this unique movie-going experience.
Honorable Mention: Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Crazy Rich Asians, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, BlackKkKlansman, Shoplifters, Private Life, Annihilation, Mission Impossible: Fallout, Leave No Trace, Sorry to Bother You, First Reformed, The Rider, You Were Never Really Here, The Great Buster, The Guilty, Blaze, Pick of the Litter, RBG, Lilyana, Blindspotting, Mary Poppins Returns, Thoroughbreds, Love Simon, Isle of Dogs, Blockers, Lean of Pete, The Rider, Tully, Once Upon a Deadpool, Hearts Beat Loud, Ant Man and the Wasp, Three Identical Strangers, Puzzle, A Simple Favor