I'm IMDb's Senior Film Editor and, though I haven't seen every film 2018 had to offer (like THE MULE) I have seen a LOT of films. This list has changed over the year, as it should, as movies have surfaced, risen up, and fallen off the list. Just outside of this 25 include titles such as LEAVE NO TRACE, SHOPLIFTERS, RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET, INFINITY WAR, BOOK CLUB (really! quite sweet) and WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? -- by Keith Simanton
Arnaud’s THE SISTER BROTHERS has the heart of LONESOME DOVE, the brains, guts, grime, and grit of UNFORGIVEN, and the backdrops of Sergio Leone (much of the film was shot in Spain and Romania). John C. Reilly once again crafts a nuanced role from what could have been a bone-head "star" part, playing the decent foil to the once-again excellent, crazed, Joaquin Phoenix, as the hired-guns Eli and Charlie Sister, respectively. They're killers staked to a bygone world, one that is barbaric and unreasoning. They're hired to kill Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed's characters, two partners who provide a counterpoint as the civilized and unrealistic team, the way of the future, which bears its own concomitant terrors.
Most quotable screenplay of the year, from Davis & McNamara, with three of the best performances of the year. It's also the ultimate expression of themes that Lanthimos has been exploring for years, particularly the establishment of arbitrary rules and the power structure behind them that must obeyed.
No film reminded me of what our current film isn't as this one. There's nothing like it. These characters feel as real as rain, with stories true as those of your oldest friends, unvarnished, funny, uncomfortable, and the most human.
Clean, sharp, and a throwback to silent films, showing you what's happening because "monologuing" isn't an option. Why do I have a feeling that an ALIENS-like offering is next? I welcome the inevitability with open arms.
Makes you want to smoke too much, drink too much, stay up to a gray dawn in a seedy club, travel to exotic, seedier countries, wreck your life for love, shake it off, pick the sad confetti and cocktail napkins off of your suit, and do it all again.
Three-fourths of this movie are one of my favorite movies of the year. The last fourth betrays everything that came before it (and I'm not referring to the big dramatic moment) taking this film down several pegs. But nearly everything else in this big movie, particularly Lady Gaga, is excellent. Kudos to Cooper.
This film reminds us that mature decency and common sense (versus youthful, naive, carte blanche whatever acceptance) matters. One can't really ask more from a film. Two of the best realizations of characters this year.
Chazelle & Gosling are heads-down, in shirt-sleeves, for the excellent FIRST MAN, about a breed of men, stoic, driven, emotionally walled-off, who fought two wars, got us to the moon, and raised two generations. They employ great restraint in the telling, putting us always in the pilot’s seat with Armstrong, eschewing easy emotional cues. Justin Hurwitz's, score docks magnificently with cinematographer Linus Sandgren and Chazelle’s visuals, often tight, fogged, and isolated views of what, in another director's hands would be great vistas, the expanse of the earth and space. The film, straight-backed, solemn, about a very real marriage as well, lacks the approach-ability as a result, earning our respect, as those men did, while remaining distant and inscrutable. That, in itself, is a dangerous choice and laudable for a filmmaker.
Chu gives us the best comedy of the year. Best date-night movie of the year. Introduced us to Henry Golding (and me to the wonderful Awkwafina and Gemma Chan). A grand and imposing turn by the stately Michelle Yeoh. Most of all it features humorously observed, universal themes of family, wealth (and what it amplifies in some people), tradition, class, & culture.
More than just a pulse-raising, sometimes gasp-inducing film about climbing without ropes. It’s about Alex Honnold whose internal makeup is just not like most people (like another subject this year, Fred Rogers). Directors E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin give us the background to start to understand a different breed and what propels someone like Honnold to risk everything for perfection.
This film proves the greatness of Steve McQueen, taking a straight-up genre pic and turning it into an exciting, emotionally-involving heist flick. Viola Davis is ferocious & all business. Eizabeth Debicki does what she does best, turning what could have been a one-note role into a remarkable one. This film is why the Academy opened up the Best Picture category.
Publicist hype labeled this film as "jaw-dropping." That's publicist speak, Pete Travers hyperbole employed carelessly. Except in this case. This film is jaw-dropping. And not only that, it contemplates huge themes such as the methods of science and nature vs. nurture.
I went to SOLO with great reluctance. It was thus much to my great surprise that I enjoyed it so much, much more than any of the most recent lugubrious, po-faced STAR WARS efforts, save the first nostalgia-sopped half of FORCE AWAKENS. SOLO achieves lilt and lift by its superb casting of Ehrenreich, Glover, Clarke, and Harrelson. It also creates a rogue’s world of bandits and thieves, only flirting with the solemnity that has doped up the others. Entertaining all around.
The audience in Venice watching BALLAD burst into spontaneous applause twice, once in each of the first two segments. The first time for a surprising bit during a showdown between Buster Scruggs (Tim Blake Nelson, better than he’s ever been) and Clancy Brown. The second was for a line of dialogue delivered by James Franco, in a movie packed with Coen wit. There’s two nods to TRUE GRIT (“Grandma Turner” and the Midnight Caller get a mention) and many allusions to other Westerns and the evolution of the genre over the years. It's a celebration of a genre we don’t even get to see anymore. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
This first time documentary effort by Bing Liu is this year's BOYHOOD. It's a time-capsule wherein youth, hope, and the clouds of future disappointment reside. Emotionally resonant and Liu's camerawork is starkly gorgeous.
Contains two of the year’s most powerful performances. Chalamet continues to astound as a lying, broken son, caught up in his own youth, brilliance, and incandescent flameout, while Carell nails the helpless bewilderment & impotent rage of the father of an addict.
Coogler makes the most non-Marvel movie in the MCU with a political and social statement. This film, however, is a force of nature, a perfect culmination of many roads leading to a perfect moment in time.
Aces first feature by Caldwell & Earl. Part RIDE IN THE WHIRLWIND, part Duncan Jones’s MOON, with a DYI feel that lends it even more authenticity. The young leading lady, Sophie Thatcher, is magnificent. Strong yet vulnerable, petulant yet steely. A star.
Not since LOST IN LA MANCHA have I seen anything so heartbreaking as this behind-the-scenes expose of a Peter Sellers/Peter Medak film that was shot but then shelved in 1973. GHOST ups the ante over LA MANCHA, however, by having the man at the center of the matter, Medak, directing, narrating, exorcising the guilt over a truly insane shoot, and laying to rest his animosity towards a troubled genius 45 years after the fact.