2018 has come to a close. With the announcement of the Oscar nominations Tuesday morning, awards season is wrapping up, and the time has come to definitively honor the best of the year. It may not have been as strong a year as times past, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t without some exceptionally strong work. See below for Film Sentinel‘s picks for the best of 2018.
In BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee returns to form by adapting Ron Stallworth’s memoir which chronicled his amazing story infiltrating the Klu Klux Klan as a black man. The film is an incendiary, sardonically hilarious musing on bigotry and hatred. It also features some astute observations on film’s questionable history with race, and manages to evoke affection for the medium all the same.
9. If Beale Street Could Talk
Following up his universally acclaimed Best Picture winner Moonlight from 2016, Barry Jenkins proves his directorial prowess showcased there wasn’t just a fluke in his adaptation of James Baldwin’s classic novel If Beale Street Could Talk. A tale of unwavering love in the face of hardship, Jenkins’ romance tackles black courtship and incarceration with an alluring jazz score by Nicholas Britell.
Ryan Coogler’s adaptation of the Marvel comic isn’t only one of the biggest, most unexpected blockbuster events in recent memory, it’s an earth-shattering moment of empowerment for the black community, and an excellent superhero film at that. With meaningful social subtext, culturally accurate and dazzling costume design, as well as thrilling action, this is one of the best comic adaptations of all time.
7. First Man
After two occasions of competing at the Academy Awards with two of the best movies of the decade, Damien Chazelle’s third major film doesn’t quite hit that same chord of incredible, but First Man is still a first-rate, artful and moving representation of Neal Armstrong’s life. Highlighting the moon landing as the massive achievement for mankind that it is, this film deserves more recognition.
John Krasinski’s first major hit as a director is going to go down as one of the most surprising success stories of 2018. In A Quiet Place, the filmmaker revealed himself as a full-blown master of terror with this innovative horror flick featuring alien creatures that hunt by sound. By minimizing dialogue and turning even the tiniest of sounds into a source of tension, A Quiet Place is endlessly inventive.
5. A Star is Born
Who would of thought that the third remake of a Hollywood classic could be this good? Bradley Cooper’s debut as a director proved three things: first, that the man boasts tremendous talent behind the camera. Second, that he is capable of enormous range as an actor. And third, that pop stars don’t always make bad movie stars – Lady Gaga’s jaw-dropping performance as Ally Maine demands the gold.
Roma is acclaimed film director Alfonso Cuarón’s long-time passion project: a semi-autobiographical account of a middle-class housekeeper’s life in 1970s Mexico. Shot in delicate black-and-white, filled with gorgeous imagery, and set against the backdrop of the Mexican Dirty War, Cuarón’s soul-stirring look at femininity and perseverance in the face of adversity is a masterpiece.
One of the most disturbing films in years, and easily one of the most terrifying horror movies of all time is Hereditary. The first feature from Ari Aster, the film is a stupefying debut, and is as audacious and blood-curdling as it is sophisticated. An exploration of relationships and family, Hereditary stirs up everyday fears of the subconscious to epic proportions, and culminates in one horrific ride.
2. First Reformed
First Reformed is one of the slept-on, astounding masterworks of 2018. Starring Ethan Hawke as a divorced pastor and caretaker of the historical First Reformed Church in Snowbridge, New York, Paul Schrader’s film examines the crisis of faith in the presence of climate change, and traces Reverand Toller’s alarming psychological unraveling in the fashion of Schrader’s classic Taxi Driver.
🏆 1. Annihilation
Far and above the best of 2018, and hardly anyone even saw it. With one sci-fi masterpiece already under his belt, Alex Garland has managed to one-up himself with this ambiguous and visually mesmerizing work of art. Starring Natalie Portman as a cellular biology professor investigating a zone infected by an alien infection, Annihilation represents the height of both film and science fiction.
- Mission: Impossible – Fallout
- Sorry to Bother You
- The Hate U Give
- Crazy Rich Asians
- Leave No Trace
(Some other good picks)
- Eighth Grade
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
- Bohemian Rhapsody
- Green Book