Gavin's Top 10 Movies of 2018

December 18, 2018

First thing's first, you have to start with Honorable Mentions and there was a lot this year.  These are movies that were really, really good but they just weren't good enough to get into my Top 10 of 2018.

- First Reformed
- Avengers: Infinity War
- Eighth Grade
- Three Perfect Strangers
- BlacKKKlansman

Now...onto the best of the best...

10 Bohemian Rhapsody

I know that many articles have been written about the fictitious nature of this movie.  The surviving band members weren’t thrilled with the way it turned out and disputed the way certain events actually transpired.  That is bound to happen with every single “based on a true story” film that’s ever been made.  That’s why you see BASED on a true story way more often than ACTUALLY a true story.  However, the movie is effective.  It’s emotional, thrilling, and one of the best “band” films ever made.  The final fifteen minutes gets a little self-indulgent but never ceases to be impressive with such an accurate recreation of the Live Aid performance.  Plus, Rami Malek gives a performance that was one of the best of the year.  Impressive for a movie that had director Bryan Singer fired from it.


9. Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse

When trailers for this comic book movie spun their way online, not a single person was excited about it.  Spider-man fatigue is a real thing and there are too many film versions floating around out there.  Not to mention the fact that the new animation style made it look like VOD trash; the stuff of Netflix fodder.  But not only is this the best Spider-man movie ever made but it’s one of the best superhero films ever made.  This a true “ripped-from-the-comic-book-pages” film in tone, look, story, and action.  This is overshot everyone’s expectations and managed to be touching, exciting, and hilarious all at once.


8. A Star is Born

I know I’m gonna catch flack for putting this so far down on the list but I feel like this is where it deserves to be.  Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut is damn impressive and Lady Gaga’s performance is one that will probably win her the Oscar.  The story was made to feel as fresh as possible despite being told several times now and the music is chart-topping magic.  What’s not getting the notice that is deserved is the supporting cast — Sam Elliot also gives one of his best performances and Cooper’s choice to cast stand-up comics like Dave Chappelle, Andrew Dice Clay, and Eddie Griffin in serious roles was inspired and satisfying.  


7.  Black Panther

You gotta give it to Disney and Marvel that they never rest on their laurels.  They could easily make the same action film over and over and hire the same color-by-numbers teams to do it but they don’t; and that’s never been more obvious than this.  Director Ryan Coogler made one of his best films and showed us why this character waited till 2018 for his own film — we were finally ready for it.  This was way more than a superhero flick; this was a political and socially conscious film that challenged us as an audience to forget our expectations and embrace how this genre can have something important to say even while fitting into an existing narrative.


6. Green Book

There was a time where the same kind of movie would always win Best Picture.  They were feel good.  They were nostalgic.  They covered a social issue.  Green Book is one of those movies.  It’s a totally enjoyable film in every way and if this was the 1990s it would probably win the top prize standing on its head.  But we’ve come to expect more from cinema in recent years.  This type of crowd-pleaser doesn’t push any buttons or get aggressive on any front; it’s the kind of movie you can see with your mom and not get twitchy in your seat.  Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali give wonderful performances that feel earnest and warm and director Peter Farrelly gives the best film of his career, but considering that consists of Dumb & Dumber and There’s Something About Mary, that might be because we didn’t he had this ilk in him.


5.  Mary Poppins Returns

There’s no doubt about it, Mary Poppins Returns had the worst marketing that I’ve certainly seen in the last ten years but perhaps ever.  Not a single trailer or poster made this look like a quality film that was worth your time.  I went into it with that on my mind and expected to waste my time and leave shaking my head at another awful Hollywood reboot.  However, there is something magical about this film and I had a tear linger on my eyelid from the beginning to till the end.  Almost everything about it felt special and touching and I was so glad to see it.  It’s visually impressive and the songs are mostly amazing.  Director Rob Marshall doesn’t always make great films but when he does, he knocks it out of the park.


4.  The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

I’ve been a fan of The Cohen Brothers for a long, long time.  I’ve enjoyed their comedies, their thrillers, their absurdities, and their esoteric films as well.  The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is all of that rolled into one.  I’m thrilled that Netflix let them make this movie when no one else seemed to have faith in it.  I wish I could have seen it on the big screen though since the anthology story structure makes it easy to pause and walk away from it to resume another time, which is no way to watch a movie.  The cast is all amazing with Tom Waits giving the best of the best performances.  Every shot of the film looks like a gorgeous painting and it deserves nominations for that.  Some have complained they didn’t understand the last story but, to me, that’s just a valid reason to watch it again and again…which I did.


3.  Won’t You Be My Neighbor

I didn’t grow up with Mr. Rogers on in my house.  I was a Sesame Street kid and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood never caught my eye so there was no nostalgia in my love of this documentary for me.  But this was not only one of the best documentaries of the last decade but it was one of the most important films of 2018.  Won’t You Be My Neighbor should be essential viewing for every single American right now.  When it seems like there isn’t much keeping up from killing each other and social media has fertilized a culture of self-hating and hating each other, Fred Rogers’ words are more important to hear than they ever were.  Not only does this film allow you to hear Rogers’ incredible life but understand why he said and did what he did.  Try not to cry; I dare you.


2.  Hereditary

I’ll fight anyone who says this wasn’t an amazing movie.  Horror movies are one of the most personal genres out there because what scares you may not scare me.  But Hereditary wasn’t made to be a scary movie, it was made to be a disturbing movie.  First time director and writer Ari Aster created a world filled with tragedy, savagery, and mystery that is bitingly tense and compelling from the opening shot to the closing.  Toni Collette gives a performance that screams to be awarded and Aster has solidified himself as one of horror’s best artists.  This isn’t a movie that should be watched too many times because it’s that effective but it’s a masterpiece in every sense of the word.


1.  Vice

Political movies are usually something worth paying attention to but they can often be dull, tedious, and hard to follow.  Vice tells a story that’s colossal in scale but in a way that never bores, slows down, or loses its audience.  Writer/Director Adam McKay has come so far from the days of Anchorman and Step Brothers.  He wowed everyone with The Big Short but Vice is one of the titles he’ll be remembered for.  The entire ensemble gives incredible performances but Christian Bale slaughters every scene he’s in with his portrayal of Vice President Dick Cheney that is flawless.  Bale is completely unrecognizable and pulls back his usual intensity to convey this nightmarish villain from American history in a way that’s staggering and bold.