Overall, 2018 was a pretty darned good year in film. There were a few dogs, to be sure, but there were also a whole heck of a lot of solidly good films. From perfectly enjoyable ‘based on a true story’ films like “The Catcher Was a Spy” and “First Man,” to pretty good comedies like “Blockers” and “Game Night.” Even this year’s much bemoaned Star Wars film, “Solo” was, to my thinking, a perfectly enjoyable Science Fiction adventure film. It was a good year. Picking my top 10 was pretty tough. I mean, for crying out loud, there was a Coen Brothers movie and a Wes Anderson movie this year. Jeez.
- The Endless: The guys behind one of my favorite films of 2015, “Spring,” returned with a follow-up to their film “Resolution.” A very different take on cults and creepy compounds. This goes to some wild places. Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (who star in and direct the film) are filmmakers to watch, for sure.
- Let the Corpses Tan: Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani are making the movies we were promised with the trailers of so many Italian genre films of the 1970s. Style over substance? Oh, yes. Absolutely. But there’s just so danged much style, and it’s so slick, sexy, strange, grotesque, and fun to watch. It also lacks the rampant misogyny of so many of those Italian films.
- Sweet County: Australia has a dark and storied history, and this film dips into some of that horror. Racial injustice, hatreds, and brutal violence. It’s a tough watch, but a great film.
- One Cut of the Dead: I don’t know how I can make you watch this film, but I want to. Don’t read about it. Don’t look at anyone’s review. Don’t even try to figure out what it’s about. Just watch it. Also, you’ve got to give it time. You’ll be tempted to abandon it in the beginning, but don’t. Stick around. It’s worth it.
- Heavy Trip: While this will hardly make me a fan of Death Metal, this movie about a band of Finnish outsiders looking to get a gig in Norway is funny and charming, and uplifting in the weirdest ways. It left me with a pretty big smile.
- Ballad of Buster Scruggs: The Coen Brothers did an anthology of Western shorts. So, yeah. That was great.
- BlacKKKlansman: A movie that manages to be hysterically funny and enraging at the same time, this movie about facing off against white supremacists in the early 1970s couldn’t feel much more timely. The script is great and the performances are top notch. There’s what I felt was a misstep at the very end of the movie, but otherwise, it’s a near perfect movie.
- Isle of Dogs: I’m a sucker for Wes Anderson’s particular brand of artificiality, and when he dives into the world of stop motion, it’s just that much better.
- Paddington 2: Paddington was far more charming than I had anticipated. It was one of those movies with a troubled production, that took forever to come out. You know it’s gonna be bad, and then…it turns out to be pretty great. How rare is that? No less rare than a sequel that is even better than the first, and that’s what we’ve got here.
- Mandy: Look, I am who I am. I like what I like. This movie speaks to me. It ain’t for everyone. Panos Cosmatos taps into a piece of my essential mental make up.
Best Score: Mandy by Jóhann Jóhannsson
Best Director: Wes Anderson for Isle of Dogs
Best Actress: Keira Knightley for Colette
Best Actor: Sam Neill for Sweet Country
Best Supporting Actress: Awkwafina for Crazy Rich Asians
Best Supporting Actor: Hugh Grant for Paddington 2
I’m not going to do a ‘worst of’ list this year. There were a few dogs, like the anime Godzilla that came out, and Ready Player One. Oh, gosh. And Red Sparrow. Yikes. But blah. It was a pretty good year, overall.
You should definitely check out a few that didn’t make my list, like Cold Skin, Sorry to Bother You, and Eighth Grade.
As always, there were a few I missed that I expect might have had a chance at my top 10, like Susperia and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
A good year.