I watch movies to escape reality. That’s not to same my existence is somehow incomplete. On the contrary, life is good and I’m thankful for that. However, the cinema is my freedom from all the negativity that exists out there in the world whether it be on the news, social media or sometimes, nasty human interactions. For what it’s worth, I love humanity. There are a lot of beautiful people out there and these 10 films are proof of that.

And so now without further ado, here are 10 reasons why going to the theater still means so much to me.

1. Eighth Grade44827309_267320247265981_1195049237741431097_n

Directed by Bo Burnham – Starring Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson, Jake Ryan.

The fact that 27 year old, male Bo Burnham has so perfectly captured the angst of a 13-year-old girl is a miraculous talent. Eighth Grade depicts the utter authenticity of real life. Kayla’s existence is made up of seemingly minor associations with other people. She scores an invitation to a pool party thanks to the wishes of a well-meaning mom of the popular girl Kennedy (Catherine Oliviere). What should be an enjoyable event is a minefield of social interactions with which to navigate. There are a lot of cringey moments in Kayla’s navigation of junior high. Her odyssey is merely the commonalities of life with which we have all experienced in some form. If you haven’t, then consider yourself lucky. For the rest of us, Eighth Grade is so real it hurts.

2.  Blindspotting

Directed by Carlos López Estrada – Starring Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar, Jasmine Cephas Jones.

Blindspotting is a thoughtful reflection on the changing population of a city. That diversity is something to celebrate. Yet the disparate points of view that can lead to conflict. The changing landscape a society of transplants can have a major effect on a region. The drama can be serious when dealing with weighty topics but it also maintains a sense of humor as well. The social commentary is surprisingly lighthearted at times. Other times it is as grim as a heart attack. It’s always incredibly entertaining. Blindspotting gets it right. It understands the city of Oakland. It appreciates the human condition. It gets the very fabric of humanity.

3.  Green Book

Directed by Peter Farrelly – Starring Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Sebastian Maniscalco.

What really sets Green Book apart is the utter sincerity in detailing the lives of two very contradictory people. Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen imbue their characters with such depth that we embrace them as fully formed people. These larger than life personalities couldn’t be more different from each other. Little details are presented that help us understand where these individuals have been and how they’ve changed. Their friendship with each other develops organically in a way that makes sense. Each man gained from knowing the other. At heart, the story unfolds like an authentic portrait of two unlikely souls that became friends. The film is emotionally satisfying with a lot of heart.

4.  Roma

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón – Starring Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey, Carlos Peralta.

Roma is such a thoughtfully filmed project. The day to day developments of Cleo’s life are detailed. It seems deceptively mundane, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Uniting all of these artistic elements is leading lady Yalitza Aparicio who is an indigenous Mixtec woman. She gives an utterly authentic performance. There’s a reason why she is so genuine. I’m told, with the exception of Marina de Tavira, the actress who plays the family matriarch, Cuarón used an entire cast of non-actors. It’s risky, but the gamble pays off. He makes a lot of stylish decisions in this beautiful record of his youth. Roma is the very story of humanity and as such, it moved me.

5.  Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Directed by Marielle Heller – Starring Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells, Ben Falcone.

As a personality, Lee Israel is a grouchy, curmudgeonly presence. Yet her animosity towards people has a way of endearing herself to the audience as well. She does have a very close friend. He is Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant), her drinking buddy of questionable character. He becomes an accomplice in her dirty dealings. Together these frequenters of bars form a duo of misfits united in an “us against the world” duo that is heartbreakingly poignant. Lee is rather cold to Jack, and that’s before he makes a serious mistake that will have dire emotional consequences. Yet these two need each other’s friendship if only to make life bearable. It is their chemistry that elevates Can You Ever Forgive Me? from something very good into something pretty great.

6.  The Favourite

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos – Starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult.

The Favourite exaggerates what makes period pieces so fitfully entertaining. The fantasy becomes an artistic work of art. There’s a lot of idiosyncratic details. Sarah and Abigail shoot pigeons. A splatter of blood unexpectedly covers Sarah’s face after Abigail hits one dead on. Queen Anne keeps 17 rabbits as pets symbolically representing each one of her children that didn’t survive due to various maladies. Lady Marlborough’s choreographed dance scene with her companion at the ball is a riot for its anachronistic dance moves. It’s a fabulous spectacle lit with candles. Ok, I’ll admit this presentation is about as historically accurate as Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Yet for my money….it’s just as funny.

7.  Love, Simon

Directed by Greg Berlanti – Starring Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel, Katherine Langford.

The portrait of a gay youth has been tackled before. What makes this production so groundbreaking the manner in which this idea is presented. This is a coming-of-age tale reimagined in the style of a John Hughes’ film from the 1980s. The awkwardness of adolescence is universal and that is the part that will ring true for all audiences. It’s surprising how natural everything plays out. Director Greg Berlanti keeps the atmosphere lighthearted and comedic. The screenplay never feels like it has any ulterior motive other than to entertain. It’s merely another well-written teen romantic comedy, but from a slightly different perspective.

8.  Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie – Starring Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg.

The saga is jam-packed with spectacle and each set piece is so breathtaking, it could be the climax of any drama. The great thing is that there are a lot. August Walker and Ethan Hunt go toe to toe with a combatant The high contrast, brightly lit altercation of raw fist punching testosterone is a demonstration of broken tile and smashing mirrors that rain down like glitter on the bloody participants. There is a choreographed art to this scene whose precision equals the most graceful ballet. Director McQuarrie piles exhibition on top of extravaganza in a ridiculously over-the-top display. By now the obligatory Tom Cruise running scene has become fan service but it gives the people what they want and what we want is to be entertained. Simply put, Mission: Impossible – Fallout delivers that in abundance.

9.  Sorry to Bother You

Directed by Boots Riley – Starring Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick.

Writer/ director Boots Riley’s satirizes social media, race, class, poverty, television, and rap music in brilliant ways that often have different interpretations. The production is so adventurous and so gloriously bizarre that it won me over. There’s an off-kilter sensibility that influences the narrative that makes this instantly feel like a cult classic that should play at midnight screenings. Despite a chaotic fantasy that careens wildly from political satire into science fiction, this movie remains fun and witty in a lively way that boldly announces its presence. Its freewheeling bonkers mentality is simply too audacious to ignore.

10. Game Night

Directed by John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein – Starring Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan.

Game Night is an increasingly outrageous but good-natured, comedy. That amiable spirit goes a long way into having us embrace these characters into our hearts. We care about them. This group of friends gets together for a night of fun. Things spiral out of control from there. This develops into a murder mystery party which keeps begging the question. “Is this real or just pretend?” Occasionally things get violent, hence the R rating. Most of it is played for chuckles. Getting sucked into the blade of a jet engine is more Wile E. Coyote vs. the Road Runner than Tarantino. The carefully calibrated silliness never lets up. It’s a hilarious delight from beginning to end.

Just Barely Missed the Top 10

11. Black Panther

12. The Death of Stalin

13. A Star is Born

14. The Hate U Give

15. Incredibles 2

16. Paddington 2

17. Beast

18. First Man

19. Hereditary

20. Bohemian Rhapsody


Worst of the Year

I avoid bad movies. There are so many great ones I still have yet to see. If I have any reason to think I won’t enjoy it, I’ll skip it. The number of titles that appear on this list each year is kind of arbitrary. I saw a lot of films I wouldn’t recommend in 2018, but few that I truly loathed. Time is precious. These movies wasted my time.

1. The Meg
2. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
3. Blockers

13 Responses to “MY TOP 10 MOVIES FOR 2018”

  1. Have not published my list yet, but I do have Blindspotting in it as well. Really loved that film and the climax is really powerful. Have not seen Love, Simon yet and I’ve heard a lot of good things about this and have seen it appear in some other lists as well.

    From the ones you didn’t like I actually enjoyed your number 1 and 3.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Aw shucks, no love for Annihilation? (Fingers crossed for the good news that you maybe did not get to see it. . . ha!) That movie was such a head trip for me. Absolutely had a blast.

    Aside from this unconscionable omission, an otherwise intriguing and agreeable Top Ten! 😉

    Happy New Year Mark!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Aaron DeLoria Says:

    Some similar picks on my list, I actually put Blindspotting at #1. Really like your take on it. Great site!


  4. Good stuff Mark! We do share a few on our lists. Really glad to see M:I – Fallout on there. Not seeing it on enough lists.


    • I have it on my list as well Keith and you might be happy to hear that in the Dutch movie blogosphere, it was the movie that was chosen as the best one (based on giving scores to all the top 10 lists and adding it all up), just beating out Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Call Me By Your Name.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a “popcorn” film which sometimes doesn’t get as much gravitas as serious drama but it was as great and exciting as any action blockbuster I saw all year.

      Liked by 1 person

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