This year has been a very good one for films, but it seems that Hollywood has been slacking on originality; in 2018 we have seen more sequels and remakes than ever before. Nonetheless, some of them were still quite worthwhile, and there were also a handful of phenomenal originals. Some films on this list may not be for everyone, but I found them to be quite fun to watch in the theater even if they weren’t life-changing — and as debate over the upcoming Oscars heats up, I think it’s important to keep those “fun” films in mind. From big-budget Summer blockbusters to small-budget indie films, here are what I believe to be the best films of 2018.
10. Upgrade : Although it does have some elements from Robocop (1987) and Terminator (1984), this is one of the most original films I have seen in a while. This is sci-fi at its best, with a great lead by Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus). Upgrade is about a mechanic who gets paralyzed in a robbery attempt that also kills his wife. A reclusive scientist offers some of his own Artificial Intelligence tech to help the mechanic get revenge on the men who killed his wife and left him for dead. I know this premise wasn’t that original, but it had some really cool ideas nonetheless. Upgrade was directed by Leigh Whannell, who wrote Saw, and The Conjuring films. As his directorial debut, this was a very good effort and I would love to see more films from him in the future.
9. Hereditary : This film was truly shocking and disturbing; I found myself fully creeped out by it at multiple points, and it takes a whole lot to do that to me. How this film managed to get so far under my skin I have no idea, but new-comer director Ari Aster has crafted one hell of a horror film and will have you sleeping with the lights on for days after viewing. Hereditary tells the story of a family who, after a relative’s death, begins to be haunted by the bizarre things in their house that seem to have followed their family line. The word ‘frightening’ doesn’t even begin to describe this brilliant film.
8. A Quiet Place : Another horror movie for the records. This film came out of nowhere and became one of the year’s best, breaking box office records — it netted $50 million in its first weekend, the most for any original horror film. A Quiet Place stars John Krasinski (The Office) and Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins) as a husband a wife with three children trying to survive an alien invasion. Krasinski not only acted in but also directed the film — no mean feat, especially considering how excellent it was. A Quiet Place will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final scene. A sequel was greenlit almost immediately after the film’s opening, and it has huge franchise potential if subsequent ones can live up to this original.
7. Incredibles 2 : It’s been 14 years since the last Incredibles film was released back in 2004. I rarely watch cartoon films in the theater and missed the opportunity when the first Incredibles came out, but when I finally saw it on DVD I was very pleasantly surprised. I didn’t make the same mistake with Incredibles 2, and it was just as awesome as I’d hoped; in an age where mediocre sequels are the norm for Hollywood, they finally made a sequel that was wholly worthwhile.
6. BlacKkKlansman : When this film was released, I didn’t go see it right away. The film’s director Spike Lee’s past films always have had some sort of controversy surrounding them, and I’ve been dubious about their quality. BlacKkKlansman is no exception in terms of the controversy, but Lee adds some really good humor to tone down the serious subject matter, making for a fundamentally good film. I certainly didn’t expect this film to be as great as it was; it proves that Lee has a lot of great films left in him. All he needed was the right material to make one good comeback.
5. The Hate U Give : This film boasts some really strong performances, especially Amandla Stenberg who plays Starr, a young black woman who sees her long-time friend get brutally murdered by a white police officer in her neighborhood after a party. This film is not easy to watch no matter what your background, race, or nationality. The Hate U Give will stick with you long after you have seen it, and stir up some real emotions about our present-day society.
4. Avengers: Infinity War : This was easily the biggest film to come out last year, grossing over $2 billion in worldwide sales. As with the other sequels on this list, Infinity War did not disappoint. I am not going to go into detail about this one for risk of spoilers (if you haven’t seen them already), but I can assure you that when you see it you will be as enthralled I was.
3.Widows : I am a sucker for heist films, so of course Widows is on my list. It has an all-star cast performing an exciting tale — four widows, complete strangers, must band together to tackle the debts left by their husband’s criminal activities. Director Steve Mcqueen (12 Years a Slave) directs this film from a script by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), doing an excellent job at keeping the suspense going with each twist and turn. I am looking forward to the next film by Mr. Mcqueen, who has proved himself with only two major films to his credit.
2. Black Panther : Black Panther was the most anticipated comic book film last year, and ended up being the top-grossing film in America (with over $700 million in sales!). Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, must lead his people out of Wakanda after an old enemy resurfaces. Black Panther is also the first time in a while that we’ve had a major superhero film starring a person of color, which is super exciting for many. Black Panther has won numerous awards already, including two Screen Actors Guild Awards and two BET awards.
1. Green Book : A film about friendship and love and music, Green Book is a film set in the 1960s about a Russian bouncer who gets the job of driving an African-American classical pianist around the Jim Crowe-infested deep south. The two leads, Viggo Mortensen (Lord of the Rings) and Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), give individually powerful performances as well as having really good chemistry together on screen. This film is incredibly emotional and will stick with you long after seeing it.
What were your top films of 2018? What are you looking forward to in 2019? Feel free to leave comments below!