With the Academy Awards right around the corner, what better time to rattle off the ten best films of 2018. This was a good year for horror films with two films being in my top ten, but without further ado, here I go. Keep in mind, I have not seen every film released but these are the films that I have seen that had an impact on me.
10) BlacKkKlansman – Spike Lee’s blisteringly observant and often funny true story about a Ron Stallworth’s infiltration into the Colorado chapter of the KKK. The catch? Ron Stallworth is a black man. John David Washington as Stallworth and Adam Driver as his Jewish partner are a perfect team in Lee’s telling of this incredible true story about a man who duped the KKK and David Duke. To this day Duke has a hard time believing he was conned by not only a black man but a Jewish person, as well. The overall arch of this story left me with a smile on my face seeing how foolish Duke and his minions really were and still are.
9) The Yellow Birds – While everyone was moaning and wailing about star Alden Ehrenreich’s performance in Solo, The Yellow Birds slipped underneath everyone’s radar, just about. While I had no problem with Ron Howard’s Solo or Ehrenreich’s performance in that film, The Yellow Birds is Ehrenreich’s best acting to date. Playing a soldier with PTSD, he returns home as the only one who knows how his friend died in Iraq. Ehrenreich, Jennifer Aniston and Toni Collette (what a year she is having) lead a cast in a film that will grab you by your soul and squeeze. Ehrenreich’s performance shows that most of us (myself included) will never have any idea just how much agony our soldiers go through with PTSD. Powerful, moving and tragic.
8) Black Panther – People can scream that this film has only received the accolades because of the identity politics that have accompanied this film since it opened. But, for me, it did not matter who the cast was or what the color of their skin was. Black Panther was a blast. Chadwick Boseman as the title character hits a grand slam as the title character and Ryan Coogler shows why he is a director to keep an eye on. He is a relative newcomer but shows with only a couple of feature films under his belt, that he knows how to create human stories and how to tell them; superheros or otherwise.
7)The Mule – Clint Eastwood returns to acting in this rather bizarre but engrossing true story about a 90 year old man, fallen on hard times who gets the job of transporting drugs from the cartels in Central America to their suppliers in the states. Eastwood shows he still has it, even at his real age of 88. The story, itself, is quite amazing, deftly handled by Eastwood’s able direction and Sam Dolnick’s adaptation of a New York Times Magazine article by Nick Schenk, entitled “The Sinaloa Cartel’s 90-Year Old Drug Mule”. What is more impressive is how successful this 90 year old man was as a drug mule. With Eastwood in the lead, you believe it.
6) Incredibles 2 – It has been fourteen years since The Incredibles was released. Brad Bird’s sequel is every bit as entertaining and fun as its predecessor. Still fresh, funny and very sweet, Incredibles 2 is perfect family fun. If you loved the original, then you will have a blast with Incredibles 2. This film is everything a sequel should be.
5) Hereditary – One of the two horror films on this list is Hereditary. While a lot of people scoffed and mocked this film, it is a truly original and terrifying piece of horror lore but these films are only as good as the characters are interesting and writer/director Ari Aster has created a terrific ensemble cast of characters. Led by Toni Collette as a mother uncovering a horrifying secret buried within her family’s history, she gives one of the best performances of the year. She balances madness and grief in a truly shocking story of personal suffering and mental illness and how it affects the family. But the last thirty minutes when all of the story lines come together, is just petrifying. There are things you will see that you cannot unsee or forget. This is a psychological horror film that delivers.
4) Chappaquiddick – Based on the true story of Ted Kennedy and his handling of a horrible accident involving the death of one of his staffers, Chappaquiddick is a gripping and intelligent drama. It is about the cover up that ensued after Ted Kennedy drove his car off of a bridge on the Chappaquiddick River killing, Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara). I was surprised this film was even made, to be honest. The Kennedy family has always been lionized by Hollywood and Washington DC, but this film is as brutally honest as any documentary I have ever seen on the Kennedys or the Chappaquiddick incident. No one in the Kennedy family looks very good after you see this film. Quite the opposite, really. Jason Clarke is spot on as the younger Ted Kennedy.
3) A Quiet Place – This is the second horror film that has made my top ten list of 2018. Usually, on any given year, the genre is lucky to have one on the list. 2018 was the year of some very good horror films and while Hereditary was more psychologically driven, A Quiet Place is sheer terror the old fashioned way. It is about a family living in the middle of the woods that are terrorized by creatures that respond to sound. One sound and these creatures hone in on you with disastrous results. Actor, director and writer John Krasinsky (along with other writers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck) creates a believable scenario even down to the last detail. How do you live when one sound could cost you your life and lives of the people around you? Masterfully directed and acted by John Krasinsky and Emily Blunt (Krasinsky’s real life wife) as the pregnant mother who gives birth at the very worst time. Nerve shattering and harrowing from start to finish.
2) Widows – This is a film I just recently saw On Demand, as I had missed it at the theaters. Boy, am I glad to have finally seen this one. Widows has been trashed by a lot of the general viewing audience but the critics have loved it. I loved it, too. This film has been compared to Michael Mann’s Heat but Widows is its own creation. Writer and director Steve McQueen (along with Gillian Flynn and Lynda La Plante helping with the script) creates a masterful mixture of crime, politics and a little more crime to this spellbinding and captivating film. Viola Davis leads a crew of widows who try to rip off five million dollars, while avoiding the cops, the local politicians and the local gangs. Richly textured with deeply distinguished characters, these are the kinds of films we crave. It has action in it, but Widows is a character study first and it is a tremendous achievement. Not for everyone, I understand, but if you loved Heat, I think you will love Widows as much as I did. Both are crime classics.
- Mission Impossible: Fallout – I am sorry but Mission Impossible: Fallout was simply, hands down, the most unbridled fun I had at the movies all year long. As if he needed to convince anyone any further, Tom Cruise, love him or hate him, is the consummate entertainer. You can tell in every scene, he strives to entertain and entertain he does. This is a franchise that has only gotten better with each new installment. With a run time of almost two and half hours, it is chock full of some of the best action sequences I have ever seen. Throw in some very good bad guys and you have the best film of the year. My only reservation is that they are shooting two more of these films, back to back for release in 2020 and 2021. I don’t know how they can top themselves. Of course, I have said that with the last two Mission Impossible films and here we are at number one. Regardless, I am all in for the next two films.
There you have it. You can read all of my full length reviews for each of these films on movieslackers.com. Thank you one and all for visiting the little site that could here at movieslackers.com. Keep checking back for more reviews. Enjoy and have a blessed 2019!