2018 movies

Top 50 Films of 2018 by Keith LaFountaine

2018 has been written off by some as a bad year for film. Quite the contrary in my view; not only as 2018 been an impressive year for film, it’s been a year of important films. However, with that comes the truth that the market has been flooded with too many movies to watch. Between the hundreds of films theatrically released, the 100+ Netflix Original films released online, and the independent films that went straight to Video On Demand (VOD), cinephiles like myself felt as though we were drowning in stuff to watch.

I managed to watch 90 films released in 2018. That excludes films that premiered in 2017 (like You Were Never Really Here and First Reformed) and some films which never came to my state (like Suspiria and If Beale Street Could Talk).

So, without further ado, here are the top 50 films of 2018.


50. DUMPLIN’

written by KRISTIN HAHN || directed by ANNE FLETCHER

Rated PG-13 || 110 MIN || Released 7 December 2018

“Willowdean, the plus-size teenage daughter of a former beauty queen, signs up for her mom's Miss Teen Bluebonnet pageant as a protest that escalates when other contestants follow her footsteps, revolutionizing the pageant and their small Texas town.”


49. OUTLAW KING

written by BATHSHEBA DORAN, DAVID MACKENZIE & JAMES MacINNES || directed by DAVID MACKENZIE

Rated R || 121 MIN || Released 9 November 2018

“A true David vs. Goliath story of how the 14th century Scottish 'Outlaw King' Robert the Bruce used cunning and bravery to defeat the much larger and better equipped occupying English army.”


48. HALLOWEEN

written by JEFF FRADLEY, DANNY McBRIDE & DAVID GORDON GREEN || directed by DAVID GORDON GREEN

Rated R || 106 MIN || Released 19 October 2018

“Laurie Strode confronts her long-time foe Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.”


47. DEADPOOL 2

written by RHETT REESE, PAUL WERNICK & RYAN REYNOLDS || directed by DAVID LEITCH

Rated R || 119 MIN || Released 18 May 2018

“Foul-mouthed mutant mercenary Wade Wilson brings together a team of fellow mutant rogues to protect a young boy with supernatural abilities from the brutal, time-traveling cyborg, Cable.”


46. SET IT UP

written by KATIE SILBERMAN || directed by CLAIRE SCANLON

Rated TV-14 || 105 MIN || Released 15 June 2018

“Two corporate executive assistants hatch a plan to match-make their two bosses.”


45. GAME NIGHT

written by MARK PEREZ || directed by JOHN FRANCIS DALEY & JONATHAN GOLDSTEIN

Rated R || 100 MIN || Released 23 February 2018

“A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves entangled in a real-life mystery when the shady brother of one of them is seemingly kidnapped by dangerous gangsters.”


44. CALIBRE

written & directed by MATT PALMER

Rated TV-MA || 101 MIN || Released 29 June 2018

“A shocking deed turned their weekend trip into a nightmare. Now their only hope is to swallow their paranoia and act normal.”


43. BIRD BOX

written by ERIC HEISSERER || directed by SUSANNE BIER

Rated R || 124 MIN || Released 21 December 2018

“Five years after an ominous unseen presence drives most of society to suicide, a mother and her two children make a desperate bid to reach safety.”


42. HOLD THE DARK

written by MACON BLAIR || directed by JEREMY SAULNIER

Rated TV-MA || 125 MIN || Released 28 September 2018

“After the deaths of three children suspected to be killed by wolves, writer Russell Core is hired by the parents of a missing six-year-old boy to track down and locate their son in the Alaskan wilderness.”


41. THE NIGHT EATS THE WORLD

written by JÉRÉMIE GUEZ, GUILLAUME LEMANS & DOMINIQUE ROCHER || directed by DOMINIQUE ROCHER

Rated TV-14 || 93 MIN || Released 13 July 2018

“The morning after a party, a young man wakes up to find Paris invaded by zombies.”


40. FIRST MATCH

written and directed by OLIVIA NEWMAN

Rated TV-MA || 102 MIN || Released 30 March 2018

“Hardened by years in foster care, a teenage girl from Brooklyn's Brownsville neighborhood decides that joining the boys wrestling team is the only way back to her estranged father.”


39. BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE

written and directed by DREW GODDARD

Rated R || 141 MIN || Released 12 October 2018

“Circa 1969, several strangers, most with a secret to bury, meet by chance at Lake Tahoe's El Royale, a rundown hotel with a dark past. Over the course of one night, everyone will show their true colors - before everything goes to hell.”


38. HEARTS BEAT LOUD

written by BRETT HALEY & MARC BASCH || directed by BRETT HALEY

Rated PG-13 || 97 MIN || Released 8 June 2018

“A father and daughter form an unlikely songwriting duo in the summer before she leaves for college.”


37. A SIMPLE FAVOR

written by JESSICA SHARZER || directed by PAUL FEIG

Rated R || 117 MIN || Released 14 September 2018

Stephanie is a single mother with a parenting vlog who befriends Emily, a secretive upper-class woman who has a child at the same elementary school. When Emily goes missing, Stephanie takes it upon herself to investigate.


36. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR

written by CHRISTOPHER MARKUS & STEPHEN McFEELY || directed by ANTHONY RUSSO & JOE RUSSO

Rated PG-13 || 149 MIN || Released 27 April 2018

“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.”


35. ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

written by CHRIS McKENNA, ERIK SOMMERS, PAUL RUDD, ANDREW BARRER & GABRIEL FERRARI || directed by PEYTON REED

Rated PG-13 || 118 MIN || Released 6 July 2018

“As Scott Lang balances being both a Super Hero and a father, Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past.”


34. ISLE OF DOGS

written and directed by WES ANDERSON

Rated PG-13 || 101 MIN || Released 13 April 2018

“Set in Japan, Isle of Dogs follows a boy's odyssey in search of his lost dog.”


33. THE BLEEDING EDGE

written by KIRBY DICK & AMY ZIERING || directed by KIRBY DICK

Rated TV-14 || 99 MIN || Released 27 July 2018

“A look at the unforeseen consequences of advanced technological devices used in the medical field.”


32. APOSTLE

written and directed by GARETH EVANS

Rated TV-MA || 130 MIN || Released 12 October 2018

“In 1905, a drifter on a dangerous mission to rescue his kidnapped sister tangles with a sinister religious cult on an isolated island.”


31. LOVE, SIMON

written by ELIZABETH BERGER & ISAAC APTAKER || directed by GREG BERLANTI

Rated PG-13 || 110 MIN || Released 16 March 2018

“Simon Spier keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends and all of his classmates: he's gay. When that secret is threatened, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity.”


30. BLACK PANTHER

written by RYAN COOGLER & JOE ROBERT COLE || directed by RYAN COOGLER

Rated PG-13 || 134 MIN || Released 16 February 2018

“T'Challa, heir to the hidden but advanced kingdom of Wakanda, must step forward to lead his people into a new future and must confront a challenger from his country's past.”


29. CRAZY RICH ASIANS

written by PETER CHIARELLI & ADELE LIM || directed by JON M. CHU

Rated PG-13 || 120 MIN || Released 15 August 2018

“This contemporary romantic comedy, based on a global bestseller, follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu to Singapore to meet her boyfriend's family.”


28. RBG

written and directed by JULIE COHEN & BETSY WEST

Rated PG || 98 MIN || Released 14 September 2018

“The exceptional life and career of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has developed a breathtaking legal legacy while becoming an unexpected pop culture icon.”


27. THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS

written and directed by ETHAN COHEN & JOEL COHEN

Rated R || 133 MIN || Released 9 November 2018

“An anthology film comprising six stories, each dealing with a different aspect of life in the Old West.”


26. SHIRKERS

written and directed by SANDI TAN

Not Rated || 96 MIN || Released 26 October 2018

“A woman explores the events surrounding a film she and her friends began making with a mysterious stranger decades ago.”


25. LEAVE NO TRACE

written by DEBRA GRANIK & ANNE ROSELLINI || directed by DEBRA GRANIK

Rated PG || 109 MIN || Released 29 June 2018

“A father and his thirteen year-old daughter are living an ideal existence in a vast urban park in Portland, Oregon, when a small mistake derails their lives forever.”


24. UNSANE

written by JONATHAN BERNSTEIN & JAMES GREER || directed by STEVEN SODERBERGH

Rated R || 98 MIN || Released 23 March 2018

“A young woman is involuntarily committed to a mental institution, where she is confronted by her greatest fear--but is it real or a product of her delusion?”


23. THE NIGHT COMES FOR US

written and directed by TIMO TJAHJANTO

Not Rated || 121 MIN || Released 19 October 2018

“Ito, a gangland enforcer, is caught amidst a treacherous and violent insurrection within his Triad crime family upon his return home from a stint abroad.”


22. HEREDITARY

written and directed by ARI ASTER

Rated R || 127 MIN || Released 8 June 2018

“After the family matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begin to unravel dark secrets.”


21. MANDY

written by PANOS COSMATOS & AARON STEWART-AHN || directed by PANOS COSMATOS

Not Rated || 121 MIN || Released 14 September 2018

“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.”


20. SAY HER NAME: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF SANDRA BLAND

written and directed by KATE DAVIS & DAVID HEILBRONER

Rated TV-MA || 105 MIN || Released 9 November 2018

“An investigation into what happened to activist Sandra Bland, who died in police custody after a routine traffic stop.”


19. SEARCHING

written by ANEESH CHAGANTY & SEV OHANIAN || directed by ANEESH CHAGANTY

Rated PG-13 || 102 MIN || Released 31 August 2018

“After his 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a desperate father breaks into her laptop to look for clues to find her.”


18. INCREDIBLES 2

written and directed by BRAD BIRD

Rated PG || 118 MIN || Released 15 June 2018

“Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for the kids while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world.”


17. A QUIET PLACE

written by BRYAN WOODS, SCOTT BECK & JOHN KRASINSKI || directed by JOHN KRASINSKI

Rated PG-13 || 90 MIN || 6 April 2018

“In a post-apocalyptic world, a family is forced to live in silence while hiding from monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing.”


16. THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER

written and directed by SARA COLANGELO

Rated R || 96 MIN || Released 12 October 2018

“A kindergarten teacher in New York becomes obsessed with one of her students whom she believes is a child prodigy.”


15. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT

written and directed by CHRISTOPHER McQUARRIE

Rated PG-13 || 147 MIN || Released 27 July 2018

“Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong.”


14. ANNIHILATION

written and directed by ALEX GARLAND

Rated R || 115 MIN || Released 23 February 2018

“A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition into a mysterious zone where the laws of nature don't apply.”


13. THEY’LL LOVE ME WHEN I’M DEAD

written and directed by MORGAN NEVILLE

Rated TV-MA || 98 MIN || Released 2 November 2018

“In the final fifteen years of the life of legendary director Orson Welles he pins his Hollywood comeback hopes on a film, The Other Side of the Wind, in itself a film about an aging film director trying to finish his last great movie.”


12. PRIVATE LIFE

written and directed by TAMARA JENKINS

Rated R || 123 MIN || Released 5 October 2018

“An author is undergoing multiple fertility therapies to get pregnant, putting her relationship with her husband on edge.”


11. EIGHTH GRADE

written and directed by BO BURNHAM

Rated R || 93 MIN || Released 3 August 2018

“An introverted teenage girl tries to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth grade year before leaving to start high school.”


10. FIRST MAN

written by JOSH SINGER || directed by DAMIEN CHAZELLE

Rated PG-13 || 141 MIN || Released 12 October 2018

“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 on July 20, 1969.”


9. WIDOWS

written by GILLIAN FLYNN & STEVE McQUEEN || directed by STEVE McQUEEN

Rated R || 129 MIN || Released 16 November 2018

“Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands' criminal activities, take fate into their own hands, and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.”


8. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND

written by OJA KODAR & ORSON WELLES || directed by ORSON WELLES

Rated R || 122 MIN || Released 2 November 2018

“A Hollywood director emerges from semi-exile with plans to complete work on an innovative motion picture.”


7. SORRY TO BOTHER YOU

written and directed by BOOTS RILEY

Rated R || 111 MIN || Released 13 July 2018

“In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a universe of greed.”


6. A STAR IS BORN

written by ERIC ROTH, BRADLEY COOPER & WILL FETTERS || directed by BRADLEY COOPER

Rated R || 136 MIN || Released 5 October 2018

“A musician helps a young singer find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.”


5. THUNDER ROAD

written and directed by JIM CUMMINGS

Not Rated || 92 MIN || Released 30 October 2018

“A police officer faces a personal meltdown following a divorce and the death of his mother.”


4. BLACKKKLANSMAN

written by CHARLIE WACHTEL, DAVID RABINOWITZ, KEVIN WILLMOTT & SPIKE LEE || directed by SPIKE LEE

Rated R || 135 MIN || Released 10 August 2018

“Ron Stallworth, an African American police officer from Colorado Springs, CO, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan branch with the help of a Jewish surrogate who eventually becomes its leader. Based on actual events.”


3. THE FAVOURITE

written by DEBORAH DAVIS & TONY McNAMARA || directed by YORGOS LANTHIMOS

Rated R || 119 MIN || 21 December 2018

“In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend, Lady Sarah, governs the country in her stead. When a new servant, Abigail, arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.”


2. THE TALE

written and directed by JENNIFER FOX

Rated TV-MA || 114 MIN || Released 26 May 2018

“A woman filming a documentary on childhood rape victims starts to question the nature of her childhood relationship with her riding instructor and running coach.”


1. ROMA

written and directed by ALFONSO CUARÓN

Rated R || 135 MIN || Released 21 November 2018

“A story that chronicles a year in the life of a middle-class family's maid in Mexico City in the early 1970s.”

"The Favourite" Shows Yorgos Lanthimos At His Most Cunning and Accessible by Keith LaFountaine

Yorgos Lanthimos loves to make his audience uncomfortable. If there was any doubt of this, one needs only to look how he starts his films -- Dogtooth begins with a scene depicting explicit sexual intercourse; The Lobster opens with a scene of a woman shooting a donkey; The Killing of a Sacred Deer begins with a real beating heart filling the screen for an extended period of time. By throwing his audience off, and by upending their equilibrium, Lanthimos is able to retain control over their cinematic experience.

The Favourite's opening is rather tame in comparison to the others, but it does catch you off guard. Its odd opening credits, spaced out in a way that is both pleasing to the eye and visually jarring, immediately cutting to a luscious opening shot of the Queen's extravagant bedroom throws you for a loop. In comparison to his other films, this cut may seem relatively normal, but Lanthimos is still toying with us. Much like he does throughout the entire film, Lanthimos is setting up chess pieces for us in the smallest ways.

The Favourite follows two women in the early 18th century — Lady Sarah (played by Rachel Weisz) and Abigail (played by Emma Stone) — and their attempts to win the affection of the ailing Queen Sarah. Both women go to extreme lengths to cement their status as the Queen’s confidant and lover, resulting in everything from political maneuvering to attempted murder.

The Favourite.jpg

It is important to say that The Favourite is easily Lanthimos's most accessible film. The Greek director has been anything except straightforward when it comes to filmmaking, and while he retains the ambiguity and distinct artistry that helps set his work apart from other films, The Favourite isn't obtuse. It has a very straightforward story, distinct characters, and a linear narrative.

Still, when the credits rolled people in my theater were confused. A few let out an audible "What?" while others just shook their heads in disbelief. So, even in his most accessible film, Lanthimos manages to remain an enigma.

To me, though, The Favourite is unique, but not difficult to decipher. While Dogtooth played with odd ideas of language and meaning, and while The Lobster did its best to be anything but understandable, Lanthimos is telling a very clear story of power and control here. The battle to be Queen Anne's "favorite" leads to an interesting discussion of what power is — more importantly, it’s a discussion of what attaining power leads to, especially for those who are not ready to wield it. So while Lanthimos utilizes his trademark visual abstraction and dour narrative ambiguity at the end of the film, its underlying meaning is surprisingly straightforward.

The Favourite 2.jpg

Complementing the narrative of this film is the dizzying visual style. By utilizing fish-eye lenses, distinctly luscious production design, and gorgeous, naturalistic lighting The Favourite sets itself apart from other period pieces. It feels distinctly modern while simultaneously reveling in its period-piece aesthetic. This dynamic visual style calls back to the decadence of Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon while keeping a foot firmly placed in the modern era.

Furthermore, the script is a triumph. Written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, The Favourite is equal parts funny and chilling. Some of the most memorable lines of the year come from this film; words are thrust around like spears, and each character has their own unique speaking style. Abigail balances regal speech with modern cussing, tossing around f-bombs while alone. Lady Sarah’s arrogant attitude and “tough-love” dialogue inform a genuine affection for Queen Anne, even if her well-meaning intentions are soured by her brusqueness.

To put it simply, The Favourite is a triumph. Lush production design, beautiful cinematography, hilarious and powerful performances, and razor-sharp dialogue all help contribute to the success of this film. Lanthimos's direction is the cherry on top -- the unique flavor to this delectable sundae.

I'd hazard a guess that even if you disliked Lanthimos's previous projects, you will like this one. More importantly, though, its discussion of power and servitude is one that is oddly resonate to our current political situation, and it is a film that is worth analyzing even after we move into the new year.


The Favourite 3.jpg

“THE FAVOURITE” ★★★★★

written by DEBORAH DAVIS & TONY McNAMARA || directed by YORGOS LANTHIMOS

Rated R || 119 MIN || Released 21 December 2018