HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!
Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas holiday and may 2019 bring you much joy, success and wonderful moments!
Well, it’s time for the obligatory Top 10 Films of 2018. Since there are still plenty of 2018 movies I have not seen yet, I should preface this post with the fact that I haven’t seen Roma, Cold War (seeing it tomorrow!), First Reformed, BlacKKKlansman, They Shall Not Grow Old, etc. which could easily alter my current Top 10. It goes without saying of course, that it’s my list, and there’s no formula as to how I pick them, it’s all based on instinct. Films are so personal that there’s no top 10 list is ever the same from person to person, so naturally there is no right or wrong list.
Well without further ado, here we go…
Top 10 Films of 2018
(In alphabetical order)
1. A Star Is Born (review)
This film swept me off my feet. Yes it’s the fourth adaptation but it’s actually the first one I’ve ever seen (yes, really!) and so it felt fresh to me. I was floored by the performances of Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga and their palpable chemistry together. It was an emotional love story that stuck with me long after the end credits, and that’s a testament to Cooper’s excellent directing (his debut no less) as well as the wonderful original songs that add so much to the movie. As I set to make my own romantic drama of my own, I so admire to see such an emotionally-rich love story portrayed on screen.
2. Black Panther (review)
Wakanda Forever! What a phenomenal movie that happens to be a superhero film… in fact, Black Panther transcend the comic-book action movie genre and no surprise that it’s become the first of its kind to generate Oscar buzz! Chadwick Boseman led the excellent ensemble cast in a glorious journey of a man-who-would-be-king and faces an enemy worthy that matched his strength. Love all the strong, bad-ass women in this movie and appreciate that Ryan Coogler gives them a chance to shine. It’s a movie I could watch over and over, and always find something new thing to marvel at.
3. Green Book (review)
I didn’t realize this movie has proven to be quite divisive. I actually overheard a critic during a screening of another film talking about this movie in such a negative way, saying that the movie told a fascinating black man but focuses on the white guy instead. I actually didn’t see that way and actually think the movie offers a balanced view of how the two lives of Dr. Don Shirley and his chosen driver Tony Lip intersect and changed both of their lives forever. I love Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen’s performances, perhaps one of my favorite cinematic pairing ever. I think it’s interesting that one’s upbringing might view this film differently. As a woman of color and a US immigrant, I see this as a beautiful story of friendship set during the dark times in American South ripe with racial discrimination.
4. Leave No Trace (review)
I am so glad I was able to see this movie during MSPIFF before it was released publicly… AND got to chat with its writer/director Debra Granik. It’s a beautiful, restrained and graceful film about a father & daughter going ‘off the grid’ that makes you contemplate about how we approach life and our social culture. I love the quiet intensity of its leads Ben Foster and newcomer Thomasin McKenzie. I was in awe by the gorgeous, ethereal setting of the Oregon forest as the leads set off on a harrowing journey. It also boasts an ending that packs an emotional wallop without much words spoken.
5. Mission Impossible: Fallout (review)
It’s rare that a huge studio franchise actually gets better and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Tom Cruise never seems to age and despite his broken ankle (which you can actually witness in the movie itself!), he still delivers one of the most fun action movie that thrills from start to finish. Heck, he even hired Superman himself Henry Cavill who’s ironically much better here as a villain than as a Kryptonian hero. Glad that Rebecca Ferguson is back here reprising her role, and we’ve got yet another compelling female character thanks to Vanessa Kirby. I sure hope Cruise and writer/director Christopher McQuarrie continue to work together as it proves to be a fruitful collaboration.
6. Paddington 2 (review)
I just adore this English bear, voiced so perfectly by Ben Whishaw, and his adopted family. I love how unabashedly sweet, wholesome and charming this movie is, boasted by a delightful cast including a hilariously-smarmy Hugh Grant as a washed out actor. Brendan Gleeson also provides such fun comic relief as the cleverly-named ‘Knuckles’ McGinty (classic!) I didn’t grow up with the children stories by Michael Bond, but I can’t get enough of Paddington’s adventure and its heartwarming message… ‘if we’re kind and polite the world will be right.’
7. The Rider
It’s another film I saw during MSPIFF on the big screen. It’s a sophomore feature by writer/director Chloé Zhao, starring newcomer Brady Jandreau in his breakout role. It’s an understated yet powerful character study of a man in the aftermath of a tragic riding accident. I deeply feel for his character (also named Brady) as he contemplates his life after he loses the one thing that gives him a sense of purpose. It’s an astute and exquisite piece of work from the Chinese filmmaker and not surprisingly, Marvel honcho Kevin Feige has hired her to do a movie based on the Eternals comics. I sure hope she gets to make more films in Hollywood.
8. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
If there’s one movie I didn’t think I’d watch, let alone end up on my Best list, it’d be this one. I honestly didn’t know much about this movie at all, it’s my hubby who was excited about it when the trailer was first released. I saw it on a morning advanced screening in a packed theater and was absolutely enthralled by its stunning animation and the story of Miles Morales and his fellow super-heroes/heroines. Apparently SONY has moved to patent its inventive animation technology that honors its comic book origin with thought balloon, written sound effects, etc. The voice cast is great, heck it’s even got Nic Cage as the Spider-man Noir. This movie is so full of energy, hilarious and heartwarming moments, all which made it one of the most gratifying superhero movies even in a year crowded with movies in that genre.
I mentioned in my Golden Globes post that the lack of love for this movie and its leading lady Viola Davis an egregious snub. Yes it’s marketed as a heist thriller and it certainly has all the workings of the genre but oh, it’s SO much more! Just because the film has a more commercial appeal than Steve McQueen‘s previous work doesn’t mean it’s less substantial. Right from the titillating opening sequence–Davis making out with Liam Neeson in bed–the taut script (co-written by McQueen and Gillian Flynn) interweaves intrigue, action and social commentary in a slow-burn but captivating manner. I’ve always admired Davis as an actress but here she easily steals the screen even amongst a stellar, award-winning cast.
10. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (review)
I didn’t grow up watching Mr. Rogers so I’m only vaguely familiar with the subject of this documentary. But after seeing this film, I totally understand why he’s such a beloved figure to both kids and adults alike. I’m truly inspired by Fred Rogers, the person behind the tv persona in the iconic cardigan. It proves that kindness and compassion never goes out of style and will never fail to inspire. I’m glad filmmaker Morgan Neville finally introduced ‘America’s favorite neighbor’ to new audiences, especially in a time where there’s so much division and negativity all around us.
15 Honorable Mentions
(in alphabetical order)
Some of the movies here I like very, very much and I have actually enjoyed more than the ones on my main top 10. Some I appreciate but I don’t really feel like watching it again.
- Annihilation (review)
- Ant-Man and The Wasp
- Avengers Infinity War – Part I (review)
- Can You Ever Forgive Me
- Crazy Rich Asians (review)
- Death of Stalin
- The Favourite
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
- If Beale Street Could Talk
- Mamma Mia Here We Go Again
Mary Queen of Scots
Mary Poppins Returns
- Ralph Breaks The Internet (review)
WORST FILMS (I saw in 2018):
- A Wrinkle In Time (review)
Beautiful visuals and the lead young actress is great, but ultimately the movie is a huge letdown.
Though I like seeing David Oyelowo in a comedy, the story is so vapid. What a waste of a strong cast!
- The Little Mermaid (Netflix)
The story intrigued me but the production looks cheap and the acting is simply atrocious! The lead actor (who was decent in the Narnia movie) looked bored the entire time.
Dodged the bullet:
Fifty Shades Freed, Venom, Life Itself, Robin Hood, anything with Gerard Butler in it released in the past 2 years.
Best Series I saw in 2018:
- Altered Carbon
(check out my in-depth commentary of the show)
- The Crown Season 1
- Daredevil Season 3
(check out my top 10 reasons why I LOVE it)
- The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (season 1)
Top 5 New-To-Me Movies I saw in 2018:
- Brief Encounter
- The Big Sick
- Crazy Stupid Love
- The Man Who Invented Christmas