Out of 100 films I’ve seen from the year 2018, this is it, the ten best anybody on Earth had to offer, plus some honorable mentions. Indies, studio dramas, tentpoles, they’re all here…this is no Geeks Who Drink list of only comic book adventures or Cinephilia tome of only foreign efforts and documentaries, this is a smorgasbord of everything moviedom gave us over the last twelve months.
The Honorable Mentions
That’s right. The follow up to 2016’s Potter spinoff is one of the better entries in the Wizarding World franchise and a tremendous exercise in atmosphere over plotting. Convoluted though it is, Grindelwald is chock-full of magic, dread, mystery, and cute little (or big) magical creatures that make the continuing adventures of Newt Scamander and friends a charming good time. Bonus points for wicked cinematography, visual effects worth the trouble, plus Johnny Depp playing up his current skeevy reputation and delivering his best performance in a decade.
Maybe I should have seen it on the big screen. Regardless, Roma is a visual masterpiece of 70’s mis-en-scene, including near-unparalleled black-and-white photography and a sense of place that could only come from memory. Alfonso Cuaron’s return to Mexico is rooted in love and a subtle, keen eye for capturing the turbulence wrought by social inequity and a caste system, all of it playing in the background like a living, breathing, rioting neighborhood. Yalitza Aparicio is an absolute find and Roma is an ode to remembering the woman she portrays.
Jason Reitman’s return to greatness is punctuated by a career-best performance by Charlize Theron and a script by Diablo Cody that is all wit without sacrificing that grimy reality of everyday motherhood. This is a funny, sad, moving study of postpartum depression and mid-life crises, elevated by Theron and terrific scene partner Mackenzie Davis as the young, free-spirited babysitter who saves her life. Ron Livingston is warmly oblivious as the workaholic husband who also cares, and their relationship is both very real and undoubtedly surprising. Tully avoids easy answers or easy villains and is possibly the most underrated film of the year.
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