I have to be honest making this list might have been the hardest year for me to choose a top 20. The reason wasn’t because of the lack of films but the other way around. After watching over a 100 new released this year, making this list was something so difficult that I ended up with almost has many honourable mentions then movies on my list.
It’s also important to note that four films would have made it on the list had they have wide released. Those four films are Claire Dennis’ High Life starring Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche, Max Minghella’s Teen Spirit starring Elle Fanning, Wanuri Kahiu’s Rafiki and finally Anthony Maras’s Hotel Mumbai starring Dev Patel and Armie Hammer. So be on the lookout when they finally come to your theatres because they are totally worth it.
(Please note that this list will be in alphabetical order)
A Quiet Place
Directed by John Kravinski
It’s weird that for the second year in a row a horror film ends up on my list when I use to refuse to even attempt to watch them. I think it’s fair to say that just like Get Out last year, A Quiet Place is different than most horror film. Those types of horror films that step out of the norm of what we can expect from them are always welcome and I hope to become the norm. I can think of a handful of director that led that wave of change and I would include John Krasinski in that list.
A Quiet Place could have easily failed when you look at it, a film without almost any dialogue could have gone so wrong. But the way this film was not only shot but also edited it just elevated the product to another level. I don’t think I have ever been a theatre where not only no one was speaking but people were holding their breath because we just wanted to live into that world that was created in front of us.
A Quiet Place was special, it was something that I didn’t expect to like and yet I walked away in love. It’s probably a movie that I won’t rewatch all the time because of how much of a scary cat I am but it’s a film that I will for sure remember for a long time.
Directed by Spike Lee
Blackkklansman had one of my favourite endings of the year. I know some people didn’t really enjoy it and found that Spike Lee maybe did too much with it but for me, it just simply made the film so much better. It wasn’t too much, it made me cry and it was so telling of the movie we had just watched.
Spike Lee has always been one of my favourite directors; he’s one that when I see his films I know it’s a Spike Lee film. Some shots in this were so him that I couldn’t help but smile. He’s one that has such a distinct voice and I can’t help but love it. Is Blackkklansman his best film? No, but it’s up there. His style mixes so well with the incredible story that is presented to us. The fact that this is all based on something that happened really blows my mind.
I think that Blackkklansman is that film we needed this year. Some of the jokes were clearly written because of the climate we live in. I remember the joke about how someone like David Duke would never be into office and you can’t help but laugh and yet… Look at who’s The President. It’s a movie that is often on the nose with its political joke but I never found them too much and instead really enjoyed them.
Directed by Ryan Coogler
I am not the biggest Marvel fan, some films I do really enjoy but I often find that they are more of the same all the time. Well that all changed with Black Panther. Ryan Coogler is one of these directors that with the few movies he has directed has been able to establish himself as one of the best emerging directors in Hollywood right now.
Black Panther is one of those films that somehow I preferred the villain to the hero but maybe that is just about how good Michael B. Jordan was in the role. You can totally see how he immersed himself in the role and he is able to create one of the best villains since The Joker in the Nolan Batman Trilogy.
Black Panther does follow the typical superheroes movie template but somehow that never bothered me. It had everything I wanted really, a villain that I liked, a hero that was likeable and a story that was captivating.
Directed by Wash Westmoreland
Colette isn’t perfect, it’s a little too long really but that doesn’t matter because the performance that Keira Knightley gives is so magnetic that it just makes your heart swell and happy. This little thing just proves how great of an actress she really is. She is able to make the most of everything that she gets, even when it’s something that shouldn’t work, she just dominates.
Colette has these little details that made me so happy. Because it’s set in France, it’s a little bit weird that everyone has an English accent, but they simply correct that by having her write in French. This makes it looks like they are all speaking French, we are simply hearing it in English even if they are speaking French. This little detail corrected for me a big problem I had with the movie at the beginning.
Colette is as feminist as it gets. It explores the life of a woman who had everything taken away by the men she loved. It’s an interesting look at one of the most beloved French writer and how she had to fight for everything that we now know about her.
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
Not even two minutes into The Favourite I knew that it was going to end up on this list. Hell, at that point I even knew it was going to take up the top spot. And it did. In my opinion, Yorgos Lanthimos is one of the most interesting directors working right now. The Favourite proves how great he is. This may be his most accessible film yet but it’s still very much a Yorgos Lanthimos film.
I’m a sucker for period pieces and one that mixes its story with such a distinct voice simply elevates the film. When you mixed that with great acting, you’ve got a killer movie. The three leads are flawless in this. But it’s really Olivia Coleman that takes the cake. Stone and Weisz both create amazing characters; Coleman proves that she is one of the great actresses working right now with her take on Queen Anne. Able to showcases her emotions with very little words and making us relate to a character that could have been very closed off.
The Favourite uses its humour in a way that makes you laugh so much that you don’t realize how uncomfortable you are until the very end. Lanthimos knows how to do an ending that stays with you and this film is no different. It can feel like too much but it just sums up the film perfectly and it slaps you so hard that you can’t forget it.
I have been hyping this film so much, so much so that I talked Andres into coming with me to go and watched it. I could have been so disappointed because I was so hyped for it but not only did it live up to my expectations, it surpassed it. I know that this will be a film that I will watch over and over again and I urge you to do the same.
The Hate U Give
Directed by George Tillman Jr.
The Hate U Give was probably the film I cried the most during this year. I just couldn’t stop. I had read the book, I knew what was coming and yet I still couldn’t help myself but cry. And that is a testament to the film itself. It’s one of those films that just hit you so hard because it’s so real. It shows you things that are actually happening right now in this world. It’s so real that it hurts but it’s also good that it does.
The Hate U Give is one of those films that is helped by its cast. The script is solid but it’s also sometimes a little weak but the cast just makes it work so well. Lead by a really strong Amandla Stenberg and a supporting cast that just gives everything they have. The only two actors for me that felt out of place were Common as Starr’s uncle and Isa Rae as a Black Lives Matter activist.
The Hate U Give is an important film, a film that needs to be out there. It has some very poignant segment, where you think that it will end in a good way until you realize that this film is trying to stay true to the world and then, everything goes wrong. It’s a film that stayed with still stays and me.
Hearts Beat Loud
Directed by Brett Haley
Hearts Beat Loud was one of the nicest surprises this year. It was so cute, so nice and such good fun. It’s a little film that might have gone under your radar but it’s a cute little musical about family and love that just proves that these types of happy films are not done often enough. And this was a welcome surprise.
Starring a very strong Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons, the film just bleeds love and you can feel with every second that passes. It’s so nice to see movies like this are still made. Where the drama isn’t over the top and instead just feels so real. It doesn’t need to shock to be great, it just needs to be real.
Hearts Beat Loud is cute, with a killer soundtrack and performances that just elevates it to something else. It’s this little film that will make you feel good and forget your problem for just a little time and that is exactly what I wanted.
If Beale Street Could Talk
Directed by Barry Jenkins
Moonlight was my favourite film the year it came out so it’s no surprise to see If Beale Street Could Talk on this list. Barry Jenkins is one of those directors that know how to not only write movies but also directs them with such a passion that the love can be felt pouring off the screen. Beale Street bleeds love; even from the trailer, you can see that. Just like Moonlight, it feels like a Barry Jenkins film, the man just knows how to do a good movie.
I’ve never read the James Baldwin book the movie is based upon but even without that, I felt so connected to the movie. It might not be on the same level of Moonlight but you can’t compare the two because it’s unfair to compare something so special to a masterpiece like Moonlight. But that doesn’t take away from the film, I still have to rewatch it but I know I will feel the same even after my second viewing because even months after watching Beale Street it’s still stuck in my head.
If Beale Street Could Talk is all about love and how the world is often set against minorities. It’s all about love and even if sometimes love seems like enough, it’s not and that is the cruel world we live in. But even in the cruel world that Barry Jenkins create, the love between the main characters makes this gloom-ish world a little bit more bearable.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Directed by Morgan Neville
I have never seen an episode of Mr. Rogers. I grew up in a French household and so Mr. Rogers was never a program we watched. So I went into this documentary with no expectations and no idea of what to expect. And boy was It wonderful. It’s one of those films that made me miss a man that I had never seen before and that is something. It was just full of love and it was wonderful.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is this little piece of art that deserves to be seen by everyone. A love letter to a man that just wanted to make the world a better place. It’s a film that makes you fall in love with Mr. Rogers and then at the last second hits you with so many emotions that you walk away like a damn mess.
This documentary is not flashy, it’s down to heart and just talks about a man that wanted to tell kids that they deserved love. He was a good man and this documentary did him justice. It’s something that kids and adult should watch in the world of today to remind ourselves of what Mr. Rogers was all about and maybe we should start seeing the world through his eyes once again.
Directed by Greg Berlanti
Love, Simon made me cry from beginning to end. At first, tears of happiness that I was finally watching a YA movie about a gay teenager, then tears of sadness as Simon’s world started grumbling down and finally just pure tears as his parents gave the speeches that every closeted teenager wish they got. Love, Simon was important, is important and will forever be important.
When Love, Simon first got released, I said that this movie was going to save lives. And I stand by that statement. I believe that this film was not only ground-breaking but also so damn important. Love, Simon touched me; I made my friends and my family because I just wanted them to feel what I felt when I was myself in the closet. I remember sitting with my mother after she watched it and she just hugged me to tell me it was all okay.
Love, Simon isn’t perfect. It falls very often in the YA romantic comedy trope but its heart is so in the right place that it’s so easy to forgive it. Greg Berlanti is capable of showcasing his own emotions as a gay man and that just elevates the film so much. Love, Simon was so important and will forever be in my heart, I simply wish that it was released much earlier than 2018.
Mamma Mia Here We Go Again!
Directed by Ol Parker
I saw Mamma Mia Here We Go Again! seven times in theatres, the most of any movies this year and I bought the DVD as soon as it came out. I just can’t stop watching it. I loved the first one but this one just elevates everything I loved and corrected everything I hated. Yes, it’s super cheesy and having Cher playing Meryl Streep’s mom makes no sense. But I don’t care really because it was just wonderful.
Mamma Mia Here We Go Again! should not have been this good and yet it was. We always knew ABBA’s songs were good but the premise and acting of the movie elevated them. The flashbacks were never overused and instead were filled with fun and great song. Yes, those flashbacks didn’t always make sense with the information that we were given in the first one but that doesn’t matter because you have a character that was created just so that Cher could sing Fernando and that’s awesome.
Mamma Mia Here We Go Again! is just pure fun from beginning to end and I wish more movies were like that because it was just good non-stop fun.
Mary Poppins Returns
Directed by Rob Marshall
Mary Poppins Returns will never be able to live up to the original and that not with faults of trying. But it’s hard to live up to such a perfect film. And so it does the next best thing really. It’s good, not perfect but it’s still so much better then it should be.
That’s mostly because of Emily Blunt and the performance that she gives in the titular role. I remember walking out and telling Andres that she had been born for this role. She gave such a good performance, never trying to be Julie Andres but also being the Mary Poppins that we love so much.
Musicals are always a soft spot for me. They can be a hit or miss but all I need is good music, good performance and a somewhat decent plot. And that’s what this film gave me. It was maybe the most fun I’ve had watching a film all year. People were cheering on as the film progressed, we were all engrossed in it and the performances transported us back to Cherry Tree Lane.
Mission Impossible: Fallout
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie
I have watched every single Mission Impossible film, I think that some of them are much better then others but none are ever going to touch Fallout. Not because it’s flawless but because it was such a surprise and elevated the whole franchise to another level. It has long been established that Tom Cruise is insane but my god did he take it to another level with this film.
My favourite thing was the little noise people made when he did something crazy. The scream we all made when he jumped and clearly broke his ankle and yet kept going. Tom Cruise is another level, but I have to give it to the rest of the cast who also had to try and match whatever he was doing. Especially Henry Cavill who gave his best performance since The Man from U.N.C.L.E in my opinion.
Mission Impossible: Fallout was this surprise for me this summer. I knew I was going to enjoy it, but I didn’t think I was going to love it this much. I remember having such a great time but also stressing out so much. The action was better than ever but it wasn’t just about that. The story was also on point, blending all the movies together in such a beautiful way, bringing the past, present and future all together in a way that I never thought it was possible.
Monsters and Men
Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green
Monsters and Men was a complete surprise. It wasn’t even on my watchlist until the very last second where I decided to go and give it a go. And boy was it good. John David Washington gave an amazing performance in Blackkklansman but to me, his performance in this film was just perfect. Anthony Ramos and Kelvin Harrison Jr. showcase their talents in such a way that makes your heart skip a beat. It’s a movie with so much talent that you can’t help but feel engrossed in the story.
The way Monsters and Men tells the story is unique and instead of trying to connect everything by the end, it just ends up being parts of someone’s lives we are watching. The way the story changes between one and another is unique and made my heart swell, the way the camera moves and the story is told is so unique that it elevates the film.
It’s a hard film to watch, it deals with a subject that we don’t want to talk about. A lot of films have tackled it this year but in my opinion, Monsters and Men did it the best way. It was a hard film to watch but an important one.
Directed by Paul King
I have to be honest and say that prior to this year I had no intention of watching any of the Paddington’s films. It wasn’t because I thought they were bad but because I simply thought that I wasn’t the target audience for it. But boy was I wrong. I watched the first Paddington right before being able to watch the second one and both time I was left floored by the films. Not only did I cry but also for Paddington 2, I ended up crying with a bunch of adults in a theatre.
Paddington 2 is one of those films that use every little detail that was given at the beginning in order to solve its plot at the end. The first Paddington had done it but with this film, it’s just knocked out of the park. It’s little things like Paddington cleaning windows or even the different activities that they have picked up. It’s these little things that make my writers heart burst.
Paddington 2 wears its heart on its sleeve. If the first one was about finding a home, this one is about finding tour path and believing in yourself. I rewatched this for the first time a few nights ago and even if I knew what was happening I couldn’t help but laugh, smile and cry. Had you told me that this film was going to be on this list, I would have laughed. But now my answer is, and will always be, that Paddington 2 is a masterpiece and deserves the world.
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
ROMA might just be the most beautiful film I have seen all year. Some of the shots of this film I will talk about forever. It’s just something that everyone needs to watch. Yes, it’s not the typical film most mainstream audiences want to watch and I think that is why it’s on Netflix and not theatres but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch it. Because it’s just so damn good.
We already knew Cuarón was a good director. We’ve known for a while really but with this film he just confirms everything. It’s a film that is a love letter to his family, to his city and it shows. Some of the symbolism in this film took me a second viewing to get but it just shows how much went through this film. The main actress, Yalitza Aparicio, a first-time actress who only took the job because she had to wait for her exam results, gives one of the most nuanced and beautiful performances of the year.
ROMA is one of the best films I have seen ever. It’s just so pure and so perfect that I think everyone needs to see it. It’s one of those films that just shows how much love there is in the world and just proves that Cuarón is a forced to be reckoned with.
Directed by Aneesh Chaganty
Searching could have easily been style over substance but somehow the gimmick of seeing the film through a computer never felt that way. I usually proud myself in being able to guess the plot twits but somehow I never was able to guess the insane last act of the movie. Andres and I were able to watch this in a sold-out show and reactions of the crowd, and ours, just showed how engrossed in the film we really were.
John Cho deserves more recognition for this. He shined bright and carried the whole film on his back. He was so good in this film and I truly believe this was his best performance to date. The other actors are also amazing but they never arrive at the same level as Cho.
What I think makes Searching so special is when you get the chance to rewatch it. Because it’s not only full of clues for what happened but also a side story that you don’t see on the first viewing. That thing alone shows the dedication that was put into creating that film.
PS: Rewatch the film and just look at the other movie hidden in the film and believe me you’ll have a totally different experience.
Sorry To Bother You
Directed by Boots Riley
As soon as the first trailer for Sorry to Bother You dropped, I thought that I knew what I was in for. Turns out, I was completely wrong. Sorry to Bother You is political, surreal and all around weird. All of that never takes away from being an amazing film. What Boots Riley created is unique and you can tell when you are watching it that it’s a Boots Riley film, something that is so amazing for a debut feature.
Sorry to Bother You provides a unique point of view of what America is like now. But it never feels like it’s shoving it down our throats, instead, it just shows us how insane we have gotten in our culture and our need for money. Hell, even its main protagonist name is a play on that concept.
Lead by a fantastic Lakeith Standfield, Sorry to Bother You is fast paced and never stops to let you breathe, something that I love. And then, it hits you with its final twist and again you are shocked because all of a sudden you are in a new film. It’s so interesting what is done and how it’s done. Something that I wish more movies did and elevated Sorry to Bother You to something else completely.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman
Oh My God, this was amazing. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse just proved that when you do a comic book movie right, it works perfectly. From the first trailer, we knew that this film was going to be great to look at but man did it excel all my expectations. From beginning to end, this film was a joy to watch. It was just something that proved how comic book films can still be originals.
The animation of this film was something out of this world. And you know that more films are going to come out looking like this but nothing will be able to touch this one. It feels like we are watching a comic book. It was the point of it but that doesn’t mean that we can’t repeat it. It’s like watching a comic book and as someone who has spent my entire life reading them, I always found myself wishing that was possible. And I finally got my wish.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is almost flawless. Yes, the story has some problem but the way it’s all executed makes it so much better. It deserves all the praise it’s getting and so much more.
Directed by Steve McQueen
Widows has my favourite one-shot of all year. And that is saying something because so many where amazing. But what Steve McQueen and Gillian Flynn did with this shot was storytelling at it’s best. I don’t know if it was in the script or not, I haven’t been able to take the time and search for the answer, but the shot was Colin Farrel’s character is in luxurious car and he is travelling from a poor neighbourhood to his rich section of town in manners of minutes is phenomenal. Not because of the dialogue, but because it’s all set outside the car, we only hear the dialogue and when you superimpose that on the visuals, it just makes for a perfect shot.
That is exactly what Widows is all about. Yes, it’s mainstream. Yes, it’s very different from anything else McQueen has done. But it doesn’t feel like a big budget film, it instead feels like the same films that he always makes with just a little bit more money. The goal of the characters in this film is to pull a heist, but the heist is the least important thing in the whole movie. Yes, we want to see it but we are given such rich characters that we can just live in their world forever.
It’s just these types of films that make my heart go boom boom and it makes me so happy to see McQueen do it. The acting to the directing is phenomenal but I think what takes the cake, at least for me, is the script that Flynn penned that is just so strong and that never really falters under the great hands of McQueen.
Burning, Mid90s, Annihilation, Eight Grade, Crazy Rich Asians, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Game Night, A Fantastic Woman, Ocean’s Eight, Creed II, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs Support the Girls, Vox Lux, Incredibles 2.