2018 brought so many great films to the table. Not only did we get two major blockbuster films that represented both people of color and people from the Asian community, but we also got some great female empowerment movies as well. Then of course sprinkle in some musicals, superhero films, and some surprises from Netflix, and it was such an interesting year for movies. I started out the year with quite the list of ones I was eager to see, and I am proud to report that I got to see pretty much all of them and more! However, of all the movies I saw, some stood out above the rest. So here it is, the ten movies I loved the best from the past year:
10. A Quiet Place
This movie came out towards the beginning of the year, but I think it has stayed with a lot of movie goers since then, and will hopefully be able to have a place in this year’s Oscar race. For those who may not have seen it, A Quiet Place takes place in an apocalyptic world where alien creatures that attack and eat humans have taken over Earth. People who have survived the initial attacks have learned that the creatures are blind, and can only find their prey if they can hear them. This causes a problem for the Abbot family when they find out they are expecting a child. After already losing one child to the creatures, Evelyn and Lee will protect their family at all costs, but how long can they lead this lifestyle in fear and silence?
This movie was outstanding, mostly in the fact that there was almost no dialogue, but it still manages to keep you engaged the entire time. The fact that a film can draw you in and keep you interested on the basis of the actors’ chemistry and physical performances alone says a lot. We have seen this idea a few times before, such as in a famous episode of Buffy where everyone in Sunnydale’s voice is taken away. It is a great way to let sound and music help tell a truly terrifying horror story. But what makes this film stand out is the performances, and its story of family. I was invested in every member of this family from the get go, and loved how they each had their place in the narrative. Not to mention we got to see real life couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt together in John’s directorial debut. And of course the movie displayed an astonishing performance by newcomer Millicent Simmonds. If you didn’t get to check this one out yet, I highly recommend it!
9. A Simple Favor
I was not sure what I was going to think of this movie going into it, but I have to say as a graphic designer, I was definitely drawn in by their advertisements and marketing campaign. Since the plot of the film focuses around Anna Kendrick’s character looking for her missing friend Emily, centering the campaign around just asking what happened Emily without much other context was such a great way to draw the audience into the spirit of the film, yet not give too much away about all of the various twists and turns the film takes. That being said, the film its self was also just so much fun. It took a popular genre, the missing mysterious rich woman, and just had fun with it. You could tell the movie did not take its self too seriously, but just serious enough that it drew you in and got you super invested in the mystery and characters. It also did a great job of taking two types of women we often see portrayed in film, the work obsessed mom who isn’t involved enough in her child’s life, and the stay at home mom who may be too involved, and played off of those stereotypes to its advantage, giving them a nice satirical spin. If you are looking for a fun mystery, with great performances, I definitely recommend checking this one out!
8. Deadpool 2
It is rare that I like a sequel more than the original, but this was definitely the case with the latest Deadpool movie. And don’t get me wrong, I still love the first one, but that one was tasked with being the “origin story”, telling us how Wade became Deadpool. And while it was still a great story, this movie was able to just jump right in, no back story necessary. On its surface, Deadpool 2 is a fun action movie with unlimited hilarious one-liners and fun new characters. And it of course keeps its fun commentary and spin on the superhero genre, making sure to change it up as much as possible. But ultimately, it is a story about loss, revenge, and growth. All three of our main characters have lost something, whether it be a loved one or their innocence and sense of identity, and are trying to enact revenge in order to make this loss less hard to deal with. But ultimately as the movie shows us, our pain can never be fixed by revenge, but by finding others who understand you and can help you learn how to move on. And that is pretty deep for a movie with more blood and cursing than an episode of Game of Thrones.
7. To All of the Boys I’ve Loved Before
I am going to be honest, when I started making this list back at the beginning of the year, I never thought a Netflix teen romance would even be on my radar let alone this list. But when I started hearing about this movie, and saw the advertisements for it, I was pretty excited to check it out. If you are unfamiliar with the plot, To All of the Boy I’ve Loved Before tells the story of Laura Jean, a shy middle child who never tries to step outside of her comfort zone. But when a box of unsent letters to all of the boys she has ever had feelings for are suddenly sent out, she must face her fears and become more involved in her social life than ever before. What sounds like a simple plot turns into a great examination of our expectations when it comes to love and relationships, and how life rarely turns out how we expect. Not to mention the breakout cast is spectacular, and features a diverse cast with unique family dynamics we don’t often get to see portrayed on screen. If you have a Netflix account, I highly suggest checking this movie out, especially because it was just announced it will be getting a sequel, which I am beyond excited to see.
6. A Star is Born
I have been excited about this remake of the classic film A Star is Born since it was announced Bradley Cooper would be directing and starting in it. Then when I heard Lady Gaga was also starring and writing new music for the soundtrack, I got even more interested to see what they would both do with this story that has already been retold quite a few times. I saw it the day it came out, and have been listening to the soundtrack ever since. Lady Gaga was amazing in the role of Ally, and Bradley Cooper surprised me so much with his singing abilities. It is rare that I see movies now that I know I will want to revisit again and again, but this is definitely one of them. Between the soundtrack, stellar cast, and just all around great storytelling, A Star is Born has something for everyone. But be warned, it will make you cry, and go on an emotional roller coaster ride.
5. The Greatest Showman
I know some people had a problem with this movie given that it made P.T. Barnum, a man who did some pretty horrible things in his life, into a hero of a musical film. But if you just look at this movie for what it is, an obviously unhistorically accurate portrayal of the man who invented the circus, it is just a lot of fun. The soundtrack in my opinion is one of the things that makes this movie a delight for both fans of and people who don’t really like musicals. The songs are very well written and catchy, but are not completely plot driven, making them fun to listen to on their own. It is just un uplifting, feel good movie with a simple message: you can do whatever you put your mind to, no matter what anyone else tells you. And honestly, I think we need more feel good films like this in today’s world. Plus I mean, who didn’t want to see Zac Efron return to his singing roots, and with Zendaya no less!
Widows is a story of four women who lead very different lifestyles and are all brought together by the deaths of their husbands. When they find out their spouses died while working together on a robbery job, these now widows are left to clean up the mess, and pay back the debt their husbands acquired in their line of work. There were so many things I loved about this movie. Not only did it have awesome and incredibly strong female leads, but it also had a well executed heist plot that had me on the edge of my seat the entire movie. It also offered an extremely talented and diverse cast, along side a story that was able to say a lot in its most subtle moments. If you haven’t seen the film yet, keep your eye out for one of my favorite scenes in which two characters are driving from a poorer area of town to a higher class area. It is such a unique shot in that you can still hear the character’s conversation while the car is in motion, but you can’t see them, you are only able to look at the people and areas they are driving past. It is such smart and unique scenes and stylistic choices like this that made this movie stand out amongst the many action films we saw this year. Also Viola Davis is in the starring role, so you know it has to be good!
3. Love, Simon
Love, Simon is just an all around feel good movie, something I think we could all use a little more of in our lives. But, it was also incredibly smart and respectful of both its genre and subject matter. It takes what could be just another conventional teen romance story and turns it around to inspire conversation and show us a heartfelt coming out story. The movie focuses around Simon, a typical teen boy with a seemingly perfect life and family. He does well in school, has a great group of friends, and loving parents. But he is also hiding the fact that he is gay. So when another boy from his school anonymously comes out on a blog, the two begin writing to each other under false names. When a nerdy boy at school finds out about Simon’s secret romance, he uses the information to blackmail Simon into getting him a date with his friend, causing Simon to have to make some big decisions in order to keep his secret.
Many aspects of this story are ones we have seen play out in romantic comedies before, but what makes this movie different is that it calls out the problems with these storylines. For example, when Simon’s friends find out he has been messing with their dating lives, they tell him how wrong it is no matter the fact that he was being blackmailed, and that they wish he felt like he could have talked to them. The movie treats Simon like a typical starring lead of a romance film, which we have not seen a lot in stories involving an LBGT protagonist. I loved how this movie gave a fresh spin on the teen romance, and that it gave us a great LBGT lead character in a major blockbuster film. These types of stories are definitely ones we need to be seeing more of.
2. Crazy Rich Asians
It was so hard for me to choose whether Crazy Rich Asians was going to get the first or second spot on my list this year, because I loved it just as much as my number one pick. From the amazing cast, to the fresh take on a rom-com, to just the absolute fun of the cinematography and directing, this movie was amazing on all fronts. Based on the best selling novel by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians gives us a look into the elite lives of the rich families in Singapore, and what happens when a seemingly ordinary girl from America is thrown into that world. The way this movie introduces us to various aspects of Asian culture, and combines it with well known romantic film tropes, is so well done and makes it such a unique addition to the genre. Not to mention that the cast is so lovable, and hilarious, it is just a feel good movie through and through. If you haven’t seen this one yet, make sure to check it out ASAP because it truly was one of the year’s biggest highlights in movies.
1. Black Panther
I do not think I can express enough how much I love Black Panther. I went into this movie not knowing anything about it other than that I had seen a brief appearance from the character in a previous Marvel film. When I finally saw the movie though after hearing all the hype surrounding it, I can honestly say I was blown away. Not only did we finally get to see a superhero movie centered around a black community, but we also got to see a culture that is not normally shown in large block buster films being celebrated. Not only that, but despite the movie being about the Black Panther, the breakout stars of the film, and most beloved characters from it, were all women. The cast is made up almost entirely of strong and talented women of color, and does a great job of showing some bad ass women in roles we don’t often see portrayed on screen.
I have to say my favorite character was Shuri, a princess who is also Wakanda’s leading expert in all things science and technology. It is rare we get to see a princess with not only agency but also great intelligence, not to mention a woman in a role involving technology period. Shuri along with many of the other central female characters in the film were such a great examples of what we should be doing with women in movies, and I hope they inspire future film makers to follow their lead. The story was also so well done, and I think that Kilmonger may be one of the best villains I have seen in a superhero film yet. I could go on and on about all of the things I loved about this movie, but bottom line, everyone should see it, as it truly has something for everyone, even if you are not a fan of the superhero genre. If you haven’t seen it yet, it is on Netflix, so stop what you are doing and go check it out!
Well there you have it! My favorite films from 2018. I hope that you got some good recommendations from this list, along with seeing some of your favorites represented as well. And let me know in the comments if you agree with my picks, or what your favorite films of the year were!