Mr. Reed’s Metaphysical Neighborhood Presents the Best (and Worst) Films of 2018

[For an explanation of my blog-post title, check out my “best of” list from 2013.]

Below, you will find lists of my favorite films of the year, divided by documentary (nonfiction) and narrative (fiction) formats. Not all the movies mentioned have received a significant release in 2018, though many of them did; the others may still be making the festival rounds, or may have only been released abroad, or only online (something evermore common, so almost not worth mentioning). Where I have previously written reviews of a movie (whether for Film Festival Today or Hammer to Nail), the title of that movie is hyperlinked to my original review. In the case of the one film among my Top 20 choices which I did not review, I include a brief capsule description of it, here (and link to its distributor’s website). Where, in the “honorable mentions” section, I have not reviewed a film, I have hyperlinked the title to the movie’s IMDb page.

If there are films that you saw and loved this year which are not included in my list, then it is possible that either I did not see them, or liked them but not enough to include among my favorites. I also may have seen them and, well, not been any kind of fan. If you have questions about any omissions, feel free to comment and/or send me a note. What separates the “Top 10” from the “runners-up” (i.e., 11-20) is very little. If you’re in my Top 20, in other words, then I sincerely enjoyed you.

For anyone paying attention to the ratings (out of 4 stars) I gave at Film Festival Today(we do not rate films at Hammer to Nail), you may notice that it (rarely) doesn’t all add up: a (very) few films that I rated extremely high – let’s say 4 out of 4 – only end up, now, among my honorable mentions, whereas another with, perhaps, just 3½ stars, ends up among my Top 20. This happens because time is a great editor of opinion, and over the course of the year, some films may diminish in my estimation, while others may rise. Ready Player One is a terrific example of a movie that I loved when I saw it at SXSW (one risk of seeing a movie at a festival is that you may inadvertently rate the experience of watching a film in that environment over the quality of the actual work), but now think was a hell of a lot of fun, but just OK. I am not going to go back and change my original review rating, however.

Overall, it was an excellent year for both fiction and documentary films, especially if one looked outside mainstream commercial cinema, though there were big films I liked a lot, as well. I found much to admire in a variety of genres and styles. Anything that took chances with story, form and tone caught my eye, though it also had to synthesize its various elements into a cohesive cinematic tapestry, however odd the pattern. And so, time to list. Enjoy! At two later points, in January and/or February, I will publish other “best of 2018” lists, for acting and technical/artistic achievements.

TOP 10 NARRATIVES (in alphabetical order):

TOP 10 DOCUMENTARIES (in alphabetical order):

10 NARRATIVE RUNNERS-UP (in alphabetical order):

  • Black Panther (Ryan Coogler)
  • Border (Ali Abbasi – Based on a short story by John Ajvide Lindqvist (who wrote the novel Let the Right One, itself turned into a great film), this film gives us a twisted fantasy where nothing is quite what it seems, and that’s all for the best. Protagonist Tina, with her scarred skin, beady eyes, excessive hair and bad teeth, is seen as an odd duck (or ugly duckling) by all, yet her ability to smell fear and discomfort makes her an ideal customs official. And then, one day, she meets a man just like her, and nothing is thereafter the same. Great performances and crazy plot twists make this a delightful arthouse horror-cum-fairytale-cum-thriller.
  • The Captain (Robert Schwentke)
  • Monsters and Men (Reinaldo Marcus Green)
  • Night Comes On (Jordana Spiro)
  • Shoplifters (Hirokazu Koreeda)
  • Summer 1993 (Carla Simón)
  • The Swan (Ása Helga Hjörleifsdótirr)
  • 3 Faces (Jafar Panahi)
  • We the Animals (Jeremiah Zagar)

10 DOCUMENTARY RUNNERS-UP (in alphabetical order):

In addition to all of the above feature-length films, I’d like to also mention two short documentaries, one released by the UK newspaper The Guardian‘s documentary group, entitled Black Sheep (Ed Perkins), and the other as aNew York Times‘ Op-Doc, entitled Earthrise (Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee). The first is a profound examination of how one young man overcame the racism of his home town, while the second revisits the Apollo 8 mission. Both are beautifully assembled and phenomenal examples of the craft.

HONORABLE MENTIONS (in alphabetical order):

WORST MOVIES OF THE YEAR (in alphabetical order):

Happy New Year, and may 2019 bring you all the cinematic joy you want and need!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.