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Posted by dancecho (60 posts) -

Unoriginal opening sentence wherein I express the belief that 2018 was a pretty good year for cinema, but not as great as 2017. Standard-issue follow-up statement relaying how this overwhelming number of good films made it difficult to narrow down my favorite titles into a manageable list of 20. Vaguely patronizing mention of the self-imposed "rule" that was applied during the creation of said list ("Must be titles that had a theatrical or VOD release in the U.S. during 2018"). Paragraph closes with a bit of whinging about how I've not yet seen A STAR IS BORN, THE FAVOURITE, SHOPLIFTERS, or SUSPIRIA and am thus unable to factor them into the list below.

My list in video form:

20. YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

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what it's about: A traumatized veteran tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, his nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening.

what it's "really" about: Your trauma doesn't have to define you.

standout moment: Joe takes out guards through the brothel, seen through security footage, scored by Rosie & The Originals' "Angel Baby."

19. FIRST REFORMED

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what it's about: A minister of a small congregation in upstate New York grapples with mounting despair brought on by tragedy, worldly concerns, and a tormented past.

what it's "really" about: Climate change is "complicated."

standout moment: Floating couple.

18. BURNING

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what it's about: Jong-su bumps into a girl who used to live in the same neighborhood as him, who asks him to look after her cat while on a trip to Africa. When back, she introduces Ben, a mysterious guy she met there, whom confesses to Jong-su his secret hobby.

what it's "really" about: Class warfare.

standout moment: Haemi's dance during sunset.

17. A QUIET PLACE

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what it's about: In a post-apocalyptic world, a family is forced to live in silence while hiding from monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing.

what it's "really" about: The horrors of parenthood.

standout moment: The mom tries to not make any noise while giving birth in a bathtub.

16. ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE

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what it's about: A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven at Christmas, forcing Anna and her friends to fight, slash, and sing their way to survival, facing the undead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones.

what it's "really" about: Being a teenager is hard, even during the apocalypse.

standout moment: It's cheating to say all the musical numbers, so I'll go with the encounter with a zombie snowman.

15. THE WORLD IS YOURS

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what it's about: A small-time dealer dreams of another life but can't afford it. To escape, he must accept one last job involving Spain, drugs, the Illuminati, and his overbearing mother.

what it's "really" about: It's never too late to stop being a mama's boy.

standout moment: Toto's "Africa" sung by a group of Scottish drunks.

14. BODIED

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what it's about: A progressive graduate student finds success and sparks outrage when his interest in battle rap as a thesis subject becomes a competitive obsession.

what it's "really" about: No matter how noble your intentions are, don't be an asshole about it.

standout moment: "Haha, white people."

13. UPGRADE

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what it's about: Set in the near-future, technology controls nearly all aspects of life. But when Grey, a self-identified technophobe, has his world turned upside down, his only hope for revenge is an experimental computer chip implant called Stem.

what it's "really" about: Hey Alexa, set a reminder to never trust computers.

standout moment: The first time Stem takes over and fights for Grey.

12. HEREDITARY

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what it's about: After the family matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begins to unravel dark secrets.

what it's "really" about: Your family will be the death of you.

standout moment: Mom blows up at her son during family dinner.

11. LOWLIFE

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what it's about: The sordid lives of an addict, an ex-con, and a luchador collide when an organ harvesting caper goes very, very wrong.

what it's "really" about: Don't judge a book by its cover, or a man by the swastika tattoo on his face. You don't know his struggle.

standout moment: The luchador leaves his legacy.

10. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR

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what it's about: The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

what it's "really" about: Always aim for the head.

standout moment: The ending. Duh. Let's all bask in it before it gets undone in 2019.

9. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT

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what it's about: Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong.

what it's "really" about: One day, Tom Cruise will die filming one of these movies.

standout moment: Agent Walker reloads his arms.

8. FIRST MAN

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what it's about: A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the moon.

what it's "really" about: The moon is good place to have a cry.

standout moment: The crater.

7. MANDY

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what it's about: The enchanted lives of a couple in a secluded forest are brutally shattered by a nightmarish hippie cult and their demon-biker henchmen, propelling a man into a spiraling, surreal rampage of vengeance.

what it's "really" about: Rage Cage is the best Cage.

standout moment: Chainsaw duel.

6. ANNIHILATION

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what it's about: A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition into a mysterious zone where the laws of nature don't apply.

what it's "really" about: Death is the road to awe.

standout moment: The mutant bear.

5. REVENGE

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what it's about: Never take your mistress on an annual guys' getaway, especially one devoted to hunting, a violent lesson for three wealthy married men.

what it's "really" about: Guys, don't take "bros before hoes" so seriously.

standout moment: The circular chase.

4. THOROUGHBREDS

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what it's about: Two upper-class teenage girls in suburban Connecticut rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. Together, they hatch a plan to solve both of their problems, no matter what the cost.

what it's "really" about:The Technique.

standout moment: "You have a creepy friend."

3. PADDINGTON 2

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what it's about: Paddington, now happily settled with the Brown family and a popular member of the local community, picks up a series of odd jobs to buy the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy's 100th birthday, only for the gift to be stolen.

what it's "really" about: Prison reformation.

standout moment: Window cleaning.

2. EIGHTH GRADE

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what it's about: An introverted teenage girl tries to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth grade year before leaving to start high school.

what it's "really" about: The horrors of being in middle school. The horrors of all your insecurities and anxieties being amplified by social media. The horrors of raising a teenage daughter.

standout moment: "Do I make you sad?"

1. SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

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what it's about: Miles Morales becomes the Spider-Man of his reality and crosses paths with his counterparts from other dimensions to stop a threat to all reality.

what it's "really" about: Anyone can be Spider-Man.

standout moment: Miles dons his official Spider-Man costume for the first time and swings through New York.

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#1 Edited by Damenco (43 posts) -

Really very good selection!

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#2 Posted by dancecho (60 posts) -

@damenco: Thanks! What movies did you like from 2018?

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#3 Posted by FrostyRyan (2860 posts) -

That's not Hereditary's standout moment and you know it :p

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#4 Posted by soulcake (2512 posts) -

Pretty good selection, definitely need to see more movies in 2019.

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#5 Posted by wjb (2155 posts) -

Great list, still need to see most of the films from the last four months of 2018 (RIP Moviepass). My top 3 (atm) would be MI: Fallout, Thoroughbreds, and Blindspotting.

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#6 Posted by cikame (2611 posts) -

I vote MI: Fallout, as the only 2018 film i watched.

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#7 Posted by TrulyAlive (1177 posts) -

The movies on your list that I've seen, I generally really liked. A few I still need to catch (Spider-Verse, Burning, Revenge) but we definitely had a little crossover. I've copied my list below which I originally posted along with a bunch of video game and music opinions here:

The movies of 2018 increasingly felt like they were trying to wear me down but at the end of the day, there were ten movies that more than stand up to any Top Ten list I’ve ever done. The kids movies certainly let me down a little this year but the following ten simply blew me away: https://killpop.art.blog/2019/01/01/the-best-stuff-of-2018/

#10 – You Were Never Really Here

You Were Never Really Here is the follow up to We Need To Talk About Kevin from director Lynne Ramsay. So to say it’s nasty would be an understatement. What is surprising about her current movie is just how restrained it is. Ramsay is a master film-maker who has a concrete understanding of just what she needs to show but in this movie, what is most impactful is how little violence you physically see and how much you absolutely feel. It’s a masterful piece of internal film-making out of a plot that in just about anybody else’s hands would feel like trite thriller-nonsense and easily stands up pretty tall in her back-catalogue.

#9 – American Animals

Let’s get this out of the way up-front: American Animals is a true story of an art heist that is presented as 70% narrative reconstruction and 30% talking heads documentary that showcases the subjects of the narrative in real life, today. It’s an unconventional format that seems more akin to a TV special than it does to a movie but it works shockingly well here. It’s an aloof and fun movie that doesn’t shy away from the consequences of the lunacy it courts and leaves viewers with more questions than answers. I loved it.

#8 – Sorry To Bother You

As somebody who has worked in cold-calling in order to make ends meet in the past, I feel almost like the ideal audience for a movie like Sorry To Bother You. This is certainly a movie in which racial politics play a significant part but it soon transcends those politics and replaces them with altogether more universal politics. And then it replaces those politics with some truly bonkers ideas that have to be seen to be believed. It’s smart, funny, shocking and crazy in equal measure and I daren’t say any more for fear of ruining one of the best twists in recent memory. Check it out.

#7 – Widows

Viola Davis is about all that you need to say to me to get me onboard a movie and Widowscontinues her trend of being increasingly awesome with every role. She’s raw and broken in more ways than are immediately apparent but every new unveiling of tragedy only adds more authenticity to a performance that is as layered as it is agonising to watch. She’s hardcore but it clearly doesn’t come to her (or any of her cohorts) naturally. Widows is considerably deeper than it needs to be but it never feels like a lecture and finds director Steve McQueen back at the top of his game in hugely entertaining fashion.

#6 – Bodied

I’ve always believed that satire can do tremendous things so it’s with no hesitation that I call Bodied simultaneously the most offensive and the most woke film of 2018. It’s basically my personal belief system rolled up into a movie. It’s not necessarily the disgusting shit anyone ever says but the intent behind it and although Bodied is chock-full of passive bigotry…that’s kind of the point. It’s a movie about racism being inherent to Battle Rapping as an art-form and that there are consequences to producing such art. On top of all these heavy topics, though, it’s also the funniest (and the most surprisingly stylish) movie of the year and I am constantly amazed that it was released by fucking YouTube of all companies. Fucking YouTube!

#5 – Annihilation

I read the original novel Annihilation in a single sitting on a plane and couldn’t quite fathom what it was I’d just read. A few months later I had just about reconciled what I thought the plot was when the film adaptation was released only to find that the plot was somehow entirely different. There is no movie this year that made me work harder ad I’m pretty sure it would have been the same way if I hadn’t read the book beforehand. It’s a movie of incomparable beauty and horror, often all rolled up together. It’s a medley of melancholy and almost entirely devoid of nonsense and I still can’t believe it was hung out to dry so drastically. If you’ve not already seen it, take the time but be ready to do some thinking in the process.

#4 – Bad Times at the El Royale

Bad Times at the El Royale is a big movie. It’s got a large very talented ensemble cast who all get their moments and the twists came fast and furious fairly early on. And they don’t stop. It’s great.

I’ve seen a lot of criticism of Bad Times… saying that it’s too clever for it’s own good but I just don’t see it. The twists all felt totally rational to me and the topsy-turvy nature of the plot shifting and shaking left me suitably entertained. I physically laughed out loud out of shock more times in this movie than I did for every other movie of the year combined. Couple that generally batshit crazy script with an aesthetic that screams nostalgia and some whip-sharp dialogue that left me in absolute awe of the craft on display…Bad Times at the El Royale is just a damn good time at the movies.

#3 – Mission: Impossible – Fallout

I’m not sure if Fallout will go down in history as my favourite Mission: Impossible film but it is certainly the most Mission: Impossible film and I’m still astounded that they’re making these beautiful slices of madness. Considering how concerned I was when Chris McQuarrie was announced as a returning director, a first for the series, he and longtime star/producer/amateur daredevil Tom Cruise managed to find an entirely new voice with which to produce the latest instalment and truly push everything to the max. There was shit in this movie that made me gasp in horror because it’s all just so much and I’ve probably watched this movie more than any other this year. It’s tremendous and as far as Mission: Impossible movies go, I genuinely don’t think it can be topped.

#2 – A Quiet Place

Few movies set up their rules as effectively as A Quiet Place and fewer still commit to those rules. It’s a harsh inhospitable world and we learn this very quickly. What perhaps surprises me the most about A Quiet Place is that it took this long for it to be made. A horror movie in which sound is the monster? Effectively a silent film, writer/director/star John Krasinski does such a good job of letting action do the talking that you never feel like you need dialogue. In fact, if I have one qualm it’s that a few Sign Language sequences are subtitled and they really don’t need to be. The characters and the world tell you all you need to. And regardless of what anybody tells you, A Quiet Place is legitimately scary.

#1 – Apostle

Am I literally the only fucking person on the planet to see Apostle? It’s such a great movie! With a not entirely subtle environmental message, some trippy ass horror imagery, brutal action, character interactions that almost always end gnarly, beautiful Welsh scenery and a very pissed-off looking Dan Stevens, I honestly don’t know what more anybody needs! It’s like The Wicker Man but far more grotesque and violent. Bringing the sort of choreography that worked so well for him in The Raid movies, director Gareth Evans does a tremendous job of breaking up the moments of static glaring with genuinely punchy violence. The movie operates with a ruthless effectiveness building up pressure and then releasing before building up even nastier and crueller turns for its characters, who almost all happen to be total dicks. I might be inflating my opinion of this movie a little because nobody else has seen it but honestly, it’s the movie I came out of more breathless and stunned than any other this year. Sometimes that’s exactly what I need.

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#8 Posted by dancecho (60 posts) -

@frostyryan: Well I didn't want to get too spoilery. :P

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#9 Posted by dancecho (60 posts) -

@wjb: BLINDSPOTTING is great! It barely missed the cut, so it's in my #21-25 range.

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#10 Posted by dancecho (60 posts) -

@trulyalive: Good list! I really need to see WIDOWS. I have seen APOSTLE and liked it, but wasn't too high on it. I just want THE RAID 3.

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#11 Posted by Deo_Brando (53 posts) -

The Bird box. It`s so interesting