It’s finally on, MoviefiedNYC‘s Ten Best Movies of 2018. It was certainly a fun year at the movies with excellent superhero blockbusters like Black Panther, scary movies like A Quiet Place, and wonderfully delightful animated adventures like The Incredibles 2! Yet we have to confess, that this year ultimately ended as a relatively uninspiring year at the movies, nothing were really to champion (though one of us did see Bohemian Rhapsody five times). There were a lot of movies to see in 2018 and we tried to see them all—impossible! Here are the Ten Best of 2018 as seen by Myrna Duarte and John David West.
John David West
Director Hirokazu Koreeda has created one of the most completely moving and satisfying films of 2018 with Shoplifters. One can’t help but root for this group of misfits who commit petty crime and hide secrets from each other. Koreeda effectively shows characters who are layered with clear moral imperfections but above all its the love that this chosen family has for each other that makes this film so special.
A stand out at this year’s New York Film Festival, Alfonzo Cuarón film is an artful love letter to his childhood in the early 1970s Mexico City neighborhood of Roma. Shot in beautiful black and white–with Cuarón as the cinematographer, Roma rests in the viewer’s memory as a languid visual poem. Why is this seemingly slow film with minimal action so high on my list? After a second viewing, I was still moved by the film’s beauty and experiential effect.
- The Favourite
The Favourite is a perfect blend of a compelling script, a haunting score, and wonderful performances–notably by Rachel Weiss and Olivia Coleman. It’s another gorgeous film that is a delight to look at. It’s lush set decorations and its limited color with a use of blacks, whites, navy-blue, and occasional red accents—The Favourite almost feels like a black-and-white film. Director Yorgos Lanthimos continues to impress with each film he releases.
- Cold War
Another foreign film sits near the top of my list. Once again director, Paweł Pawlikowski (Ida) has brought to the screen a story shot in breath taking black-and-white with moments that are transcendent. The story is compelling and Joanna Kulig’s performance is worth noting, she’s an actor who I’m sure we will see more of in the future.
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse is one of this year’s most entertaining and thrilling movies. This gorgeous animated feature has a rich blend of action, comedy, and is one of the most emotionally moving films of the year.
- Happy as Lazzaro
I’m a sucker for magical realism. This new Italian movie feels like old an Italian classic, that is until mid-way through with it takes a sharp modern turn. Lazzaro (Adriano Tardiolo) is a young peasant who simpleminded or is he just so good that he is taken advantage of by the other sharecroppers in a small village?
- Eighth Grade
Director and writer Bo Burnham effectively captures the painfully awkward teen years and the realities of social media’s influence on today’s teens self worth and identity.
- If Beale Street Could Talk
Barry Jenkins’ follow up to Moonlight is a complicated love story that is both painful for the viewer to experience yet a delight for the eyes to watch.
- The Death of Stalin
The title sounds more like a bleak, cold-war tragedy but this Stalin is a hilarious, farcical romp that feels alarmingly current.
- A Star is Born
Bradley Cooper, acts, writes, and directs the fourth incarnation of A Star is Born and makes the viewer feel like they are spying on the burgeoning relationship between he and a struggling musician effectively played by an newcomer by the name of Lady Gaga. This version of A Star is Born is one of the most evenly balanced to date.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Isle of Dogs
You were Never Really Here
Jane Fonda in Five Acts
Myrna E. Duarte
1. Minding the Gap
Cinematographer and Director Bing Liu’s Minding the Gap feels both heartbreaking and uplifting. Liu takes us on a journey, that at times is loose, almost rambling arriving to end that wraps things up cathartic-ally for his main characters. Minding the Gap left me feeling cautiously hopeful.
2. The Favourite
Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite is sumptuous and massively entertaining. Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone deliver some of the best performances of the year. Cinematographer Robbie Ryan use of a wide-angle lens takes us to world with a touch of Alice in Wonderland strangeness, part dream and part nightmare.
Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma is as ambitious as the 2013 Oscar-winning Gravity but deeply more personal. Inspired by his childhood, class struggles and the politics of Mexico in the 70’s, as writer, director, cinematographer and editor he delivers a stunning and soulful film.
4. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is funny and heartwarming, full of family love, it takes a character we know all too well and makes him new again. Dynamic and visually amazing movie that feels like a comic book come to life.
5. Eighth Grade
Eighth Grade is brilliantly empathetic, uncompromisingly honest and a downright scary coming-of-age film. A radiant debut for the writer/director Bo Burnham and a wonderful showcase for actress Elsie Fisher.
Spike Lee has always been one of the most passionate filmmakers out there and BlacKkKlansman is one of his strongest work in years. As director and co-writer of this dark comedy he ignites the screen with his words and images drawing parallels between events from the ’70s and the horrible resurgence of racism today. Lee, though with some trepidation, leaves us with the possibility of hope.
7. A Simple Favor
Wrapped in cheeky French pop, frozen gin martinis and pant suits that give me life, director Paul Feig delivers a delicious stylized noir. This sexy female-driven thriller has a stand out performance from Blake Lively sinking her teeth into a wonderfully naughty role.
Alex Garland’s Annihilation is an intelligent film with a mind-bender of a plot that is unafraid to ask the big questions. Its excellent acting, and beautiful visuals–thanks to Production Designer Mark Digby and Cinematographer Rob Hardy–deliver a dazzling alien world.
9. Death of Stalin
Death of Stalin strikes a wonderful balance between bright political satire and goofy satire. Packed with very entertaining performances this film is funny, in the brightest ways. Armando Iannucci is a thrillingly and inventive political satirist.
10. Bohemian Rhapsody
Bohemian Rhapsody might be a by the numbers biopic but the music sequences in this drama are electrifying. Rami Malek is thoughtful and magnetic as Freddie Mercury. Malek belts out one hit song after another in a tribute worthy of Queen’s status in the rock and roll pantheon.
My very honorable mentions:
Black Panther – Wakanda Forever!, A Star is Born, A Quiet Place, Isle of Dogs and Nicholas Hoult in The Favourite – I know it’s not a movie, I just couldn’t resist! Widows.