#10 – Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – I am not a fan of documentary in general because I know film is a manipulative media. That being said, I think this film about the legacy of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is something special. It doesn’t preach about how to be a better person, it simply shows how one person’s never-ending effort to be a better person can be an inspiration to everyone. Yes, human beings can be despicable, but we can also be generous, kind and helpful to one another. Negativity may get more attention, but I think that’s because it is anomalous to our basic, socially co-operative nature which we take for granted. This is a movie about love, and I love it.
#9 – First Reformed – Paul Schrader delivers one of the most subtle and damning critiques of the intersection of religion, politics and marketing I’ve ever seen. It is slow and quiet but very strong and Ethan Hawke gives one of his best ever performances.
#8 – Paddington 2 – An absolute delight and a rare instance of a sequel being as good as its predecessor, if not better. Both of the Paddington movies are far, far better than they needed to be and it’s that kind of exceeding of expectations that I always hope to see in any art form. Like the aforementioned Won’t You Be My Neighbor? it is a movie about kindness and generosity of spirit which we seem to take for granted so often that we forget how good we can be.
#7 – Widows – A terrific cast and a wonderfully complex story that builds a tale of social stratification around a heist plot. If you like heist movies, it delivers. If you like social commentary, it delivers. If you like strong, charismatic performances, it really delivers. Great entertainment.
#6 – Tully – I really loved this movie for its core concept of the importance of remembering yourself, as well as how it depicts motherhood as an endless series of tests. The script is really sharp and the performances by Charlize Theron and Mackenzie Davis are really interesting.
#5 – The Death of Stalin – This merciless send-up of power and ego is so apt for our times, but it is also simply hilarious in the way it depicts the insane grab for power by members of the political elite in the wake of a brutal dictator’s death. The cast is absolutely superb, especially Steve Buscemi and Jason Isaacs, who practically steals the show.
#4 – 8th Grade – I loved this movie for a lot of reasons. I thought they did such a great job of capturing the insecurities of being 13 that I totally identified with the main character despite our generational and gender differences. It’s a hysterical and uncomfortable look at how being 13 sucks, no matter what time you live in.
#3 – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – Arguably the best Spider-Man movie ever made, the film captures the soul of the character somewhat ironically by giving us six different Spider-people, only one of whom is Peter Parker. I loved the movie for its fresh animation and its wonderful characterizations, but mostly for how it democratizes the idea of being a super-hero. It wasn’t fate or destiny that Peter Parker was bitten – it could have been anybody. What matters is how you deal with that power. I found it charming, funny and inspirational in a way that no other Spider-Man movie has been since the second Tobey Maguire film (with Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus).
#2 – Sorry to Bother You – A scathing critique of capitalism that is also highly creative and highly hilarious. Its budgetary constraints are noticeable in places but forgivable considering how brilliant the writing and overall concept are. This could well be the most original movie I’ve seen all year and is very nearly my favourite movie of 2018 for its jokes, its intelligence and its scrappy positivity. I cannot recommend it enough.
#1 – A Quiet Place – This won my heart for its intriguing premise and elegant execution. I love high-budget, high-concept genre films when done right and this one is really different. The use of sound in the film is brilliant and it is one of the most suspenseful movies I’ve ever seen, but there is also tremendous heart in the picture too with one scene in particular that actually brought tears to my eyes – virtually unheard-of in a horror film. Bravo to John Krasinski and everyone involved. You win.