It's officially the halfway point of the year, and it's fun to look back on the movies we've already seen so far, and debate between them. This list is my attempt to be a bit more objective than personal, choosing the ten films that I believe to the best we’ve seen this year, though some are more personally favorable for myself. That list of favorites will come at the end of this year along with a few other special top ten lists, but the challenge at admitting a film you love is not as well-made as another is always a trial that exhumes new perspectives, which is what resides before me today. Answering the question, if the rest of the year was absent of new films, what movies would I place as the best ten films for someone to sit down and watch? Those ten films reside below:
10. Love, Simon
Though a bit unoriginal for never escaping the tropes of the teenage rom-com that we all love to loathe for its inability to be remotely realistic, “Love, Simon” uses those tropes to normalize a subject matter that still faces its own stifles on-screen and in society. Providing a well-directed and well-acted glimpse at a young kid facing the hardships of coming out and falling in love for the first time. It’s a heartwarming venture for any of us apart of the LGBTQ community to watch, as well as one that may allow others to see sexual orientation in a more relaxed view, though I’m highly doubtful.
9. Black Panther
I know, I know, I know, Wakanda forever right?? I know, but I promised objective ranking to the best of my ability and though this film will most likely rank higher on my top ten favorites list at the end of this year, “Black Panther” still has a gaping hole within its storytelling. T’Challa is a figure whose arch is almost non-existent, his hardships are underplayed, and he never feels challenged. He’s the crack to be found in the film’s mural of excellence because the unique taste of Ryan Coogler and the sheer visual identity of the film provides an MCU film with more bite than bark, which is something we don’t see often.
8. You Were Never Really Here
A film that may not excite near as much as the last two entries, but one that is warranted of its high praise from film festivals. Maintaining both a unique visual taste and intricately messaged and formatted screenplay from Lynn Ramsey, “You Were Never Really Here” isn’t exactly the 2018 version of “Taxi Driver,” but it's technical, and genius performance from Joaquin Phoenix gives it a slight edge over the rest of 2018’s film library. I can’t say what message Ramsey is trying to drive home, or if she’s even driving one home, which is what makes “You Were Never Really Here” feel so fixating. It’s like a puzzle you still try to figure out, well after the credits begin to roll.
7. A Quiet Place
Comedians directing horror seems to be in high gear as of late, and it’s reaping big rewards, making me quite excited to see how McBride and Fradley’s “Halloween” turns out. Krasinski set forth a tough act to follow up though with “A Quiet Place,” a film that is as thrilling as it is fun. It has some standard usages of expositions and some plot holes that keep this film from feeling as scary as it is thrilling. Feeding off of fabulous sound design, great acting, and phenomenal direction, “A Quiet Place” may not be as scary as others, but is so enchantingly atmospheric that it's hard to ignore.
6. Incredibles 2
The most recently released film of this bunch, Pixar’s smashing sequel is not only a box office juggernaut but one made with high quality. Fourteen years removed from its predecessor, it delivers a film that doesn’t feel as dated as you'd expect. Providing a coordinated societal message that was homegrown in the original, while providing some exceptional animation. Its superhero plot is quite easy to figure out though, something that probably should have been as clever as some of it's more powerful messages on fatherhood and the empowerment of women. Despite that, “Incredibles 2” delivers on all of our expectations but isn’t quite the impeccable superhero film that the first film was.
5. Paddington 2
A film that has been overshadowed by the phenomenal year of filmmaking that 2018 has been thus far, “Paddington 2” is a child-targeted film that remains smart with its jokes, and it's cuteness, and child-friendly messages are nothing short of exceptional. It’s not quite the fresh story that the first film was, but it's 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and near four-star rating from us showcases that this little bear has far more bite than you’d expect. I would love to have some marmalade with this Blu-ray, please.
Original, hypnotic, and incredibly intricate with its storytelling, “Annihilation” is easily one of 2018’s best. It’s stylistic direction from Alex Garland, and a unique all-women group of heroes delivers a lot of perspectives on the mutations of humanity that are equally riveting to the masterful worldbuilding. Though the film slows itself down for unnecessary exposition, “Annihilation” has to for some audience members to get what’s going on. It’s not a box office juggernaut, but it's another successor of the sci-fi boom which focuses on savvy audiences who relish in the challenges of the story while being endlessly satisfied with cinematic brilliance.
3. Avengers: Infinity War
Though my review for this points out a multitude of flaws, the sheer magnitude of this film forces it to become a force worth reckoning with. I can’t say that my personal subjectivity didn’t play a factor in reviewing the film, which is the whole point of a review, but this list delivers its spot at number three for its incredible achievement of balancing a multitude of branching storylines. Offering action with that of drama, levity with emotional torment, while introducing fans of this heroic universe to it's best villain yet, one that is brought to life with an exceptional performance from Josh Brolin. It’s not near as flawless as the two films that rank above it, but its enormity of storytelling is something historic to see.
2. Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Powerfully heartwarming and heart-wrenching is Morgan Neville’s in-depth look at, what his son describes as “the second coming of Christ,” Mr. Rogers. It delivers a multitude of urgent messages for a country divided by ideologies, reminding us of the power of love and how every relationship stems from the lack of it or the amount of it. Few documentaries get noticed by average moviegoers; this is one worth seeing. Providing an intimate look at a man who represented the best of what we can be, leadership that seems to be in short supply these days.
It’s hard to believe this film is Ari Aster’s first feature, especially since it's a masterpiece of horror filmmaking. It’s chillingly disturbing and discusses a hefty subject of mental illness which can be both terrifying and saddening, something the film balances between. Walking between the lines of horror and drama in which this film can evoke a deep level of emotion as well as lingering with its haunting imagery. Not to mention the immaculate performances from Toni Collette and others who provide another level of excellence to a film already manifested as something of rare perfection. It’s creepy, dramatic, intricately written, masterfully directed, and wholly original, what more could you want from a 2018 film?