With long-awaited sequels finally seeing the light of day, amazing comic and book adaptations, Marvel’s ten-year plan coming to fruition, and a few other fun surprises, 2018 was an amazing year in film. Even though I saw a huge number of new movies this year, I rarely left the theater disappointed (that’s not to say there weren’t a few clunkers though). To be honest, it was quite a struggle to narrow it down to just ten… But I did it! Without further ado, here are my favorite films of 2018:
Number 10: Isle of Dogs
Wes Anderson’s newest work is also my favorite of his. It has the same wonderfully bizarre stop-motion animation style that I loved in Fantastic Mr. Fox, and an awesome cast of voice actors that totally embody the characters, world, and overall vibe that we’ve come to expect from a Wes Anderson film. There’s also a ton of touching moments and emotional beats that’ll hit especially hard for anyone who’s ever been close to one of man’s best friends.
Number 9: Instant Family
Instant Family isn’t as funny as the other comedies on my list (although it still has plenty of laughs), but it’s an incredibly sweet and heartfelt film about, well, family. Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabela Moner and the rest of the main cast are all terrific, each making sure you feel the impact of every moment, be it hilarious or emotional. While it isn’t the laugh-a-minute comedy I thought it was going to be, Instant Family is a movie I’ll probably end up watching every year during the holidays from now on.
Number 8: Deadpool 2
2018 was an incredible year for superhero movies thanks to a few films on my list (and one that just missed the cut), the first of which is Deadpool 2. It’s another stellar outing for Ryan Reynolds’ comedic anti-hero, and builds on everything I loved from from the first. The sequel’s bigger world, more varied cast (including Zazie Beetz’ lucky mutant Domino and Josh Brolin’s time-traveling Cable), and stronger action sequences make it smarter, funnier, and overall a little better than its already fantastic predecessor.
Number 7: Game Night
Game Night is one of my favorite comedies in years. It has a unique premise, snappy dialogue, surprisingly elaborate set pieces, and a tremendous cast (including the likes of Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, and Jesse Plemons) that elevates everything even further thanks to their pitch perfect timing and chemistry. I had extremely high, borderline unreasonable expectations going into Game Night, and it met them at every turn.
Read my full review of Game Night here.
Number 6: A Quiet Place
Horror films have been getting more intense and intelligent in the past few years, and A Quiet Place is one of the first movies I’d point to as an example. John Krasinki practically weaponizes sound in his horror debut, making it so effective that I, and the majority of the audience I saw it with on opening night, were constantly holding our breath in fear. Even though it’s only Krasinki’s first time directing horror, I see the potential of a master of the genre in him.
Number 5: Christopher Robin
Christopher Robin has so much heart, whimsy, and nostalgia that it’s kind of ridiculous. The story may be a little formulaic, but that did little to keep me from loving it, especially when considering its timeless message. And thanks to the wonderful special effects, talented cast (on camera and voice actors), and genuine vibe, Christopher Robin is my feel-good movie of the year.
Number 4: Incredibles 2
The Incredibles returned after almost a decade and a half away, and it was like they never left. Incredibles 2 is on Parr (heh) with the original, expanding its world with even more creative characters and superhero satire. Not only that, but watching Bob struggle as a stay at home dad is somehow just as entertaining as Helen’s super heroics. In all honesty, I’m not sure I can wait another 14 years for Incredibles 3.
Number 3: Annihilation
Writer-Director Alex Garland blew me away with Ex Machina in 2015 (seriously, go watch Ex Machina, it’s so good!) and it’s only taken him three years to do it again. Annihilation boasts a stellar cast, an ominous and unnerving atmosphere, and answers just enough questions to keep its audience satisfied while maintaining the overwhelming sense of mystery throughout the entire runtime. It also has the most terrifying scene in any movie this year, one that stayed with me long after I left the theater. If you’re a fan of sci-fi, you owe it to yourself to watch Annihilation (and Ex Machina!) if you haven’t already.
Listen to our Annihilation podcast episode here.
Number 2: Avengers: Infinity War
Marvel and Disney have spent the last decade making blockbuster juggernauts out of classic comic book characters like Captain America and Iron Man, and it was all leading up to this. Avengers: Infinity War is a fantastic culmination of everything that makes the series great. Easy-to-love characters, huge laughs, jaw-dropping action sequences, and the introduction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s best villain place Infinity War above any of its 17 predecessors, and among the very best superhero films ever made.
Number 1: Mandy
Mandy is a bizarre, brutal, unsettling film that definitely isn’t for everyone, but it’s undoubtedly my favorite of 2018. It starts out as a visually engrossing, psychedelic drama focused on a couple’s relationship, building up the world and characters before taking a sharp turn into the territory of a gnarly, grindhouse-style revenge-thriller. The tonal shift is jarring, in a good way, and allows Nicolas Cage to give an absolutely phenomenal performance that ranges from calm, contemplative, and compassionate to downright bloodthirsty. In addition to Cage, Andrea Riseborough is fantastic as the title character, and Linus Roache portrays his villain so well that my skin crawled every time he and his acolytes were on screen. Mandy is definitely an acquired taste, but I urge those of you who have a relatively strong constitution and are looking for something truly unique to give it a try. Don’t say I didn’t warn you though…
Listen to our bonus Mandy podcast episode here.