Monday, December 31, 2018

Top 10 Films of 2018

I’ve never announced my picks this early, but the year is over tonight and, for probably the first time ever, I feel like I’ve actually seen almost all the movies I want to see - 200 exactly, in fact. There are still a few I need to catch in the next few weeks which are now or will soon be available to stream - namely “Annihilation,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” and I’m sure I’ll need to watch a few technical contenders once Oscar nominations are announced. As a result, I’m saving my official AFT Awards for early February, with just a list of my personal favorites. Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments and share what you enjoyed best this year. Most of all, please see these films!

Runners-up: Green Book, The Favourite, Capernaum, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Black Panther, Free Solo, Shirkers, Dark Money, If Beale Street Could Talk, Breath, First Match, Disobedience, Ralph Breaks the Internet, and Boundaries,.

Note: Thoroughbreds was released theatrically in 2018 but was included on my list last year - don’t miss this superb thriller featuring excellent performances from Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy.

The Top 10 Films of 2018

#10: Colette

This wasn’t the only film this year about a female author whose husband took credit for her work, but it was easily the most colorful and energetic. Keira Knightley infused so much personality into the title character, who channeled her creativity into storytelling that influenced a nation. The costumes and scenery complement Knightley’s wonderful performance greatly.

#9: Jonathan

Fresh off his baby-faced driving debut, Ansel Elgort impressed in a dual role in this low-key Tribeca entry, playing twin brothers who share the same body and awaken separately. A concept that could have been dismissed as absurd works magnificently here, as the relationship between these two brothers who meet only via video footage each morning or evening is just as complex and affecting as any sibling dynamic.

Some may dismiss it as a stoner comedy, but seeing this film at Sundance demonstrated its simple inventiveness, following bored high school dropouts trying to get through the banality of their lives. Augustine Frizzell’s feature directorial debut is hilarious in a way that many comedies aren’t, crafting its humor out of the situations that arise merely from its characters being themselves.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead completely dominates this under-appreciated comedy from Tribeca about a young woman trying to make it in stand-up comedy. The rhythm that anchors the sets performed by Winstead’s Nina is matched by the film that surrounds her, immersing this young adult in the real world that will eventually force her to get serious.

The notion of a legendary musician disappearing into obscurity under mysterious circumstances is nothing new, but this highly enjoyable comedy found a way to make it feel fresh, from Chris O’Dowd’s hopeless fanatic to the sweet romance that forms between Rose Byrne’s apathetic protagonist and the omnipresent Ethan Hawke’s faded rocker.

#5: Widows

Steve McQueen’s follow-up to “12 Years a Slave” didn’t wow audiences for some reason. This complex film is equal parts social commentary and action movie, featuring a formidable cast. Elizabeth Debicki is particularly fantastic, and Daniel Kaluuya and Brian Tyree Henry both excel at playing villains with their own layered motivations.

There’s still an outside shot that “Winter’s Bone” director Debra Granik could end up with an Oscar nomination for this quiet but marvelously effective portrait of a father and daughter trying to live away from civilization. Ben Foster is typically terrific, and Thomasin McKenzie is a true discovery.

One of two fantastic movies from Lebanon released in 2018, this film, which was Oscar-nominated for Best Foreign Film last year, deals not with children but with adults who can’t find a way to get along. Its examination of cultural barriers and the dangerous power of hatred is exemplified tremendously through this story centered on two people representative of larger communities.

Actress Jordana Spiro’s feature directorial debut is a powerful portrait of youthful maturity and adversity in the face of problematic circumstances. Young actresses Dominique Fishback and Tatum Marilyn Hall act much more than their age in this extremely affecting and very human drama.

This documentary-thriller hybrid is a truly unique specimen. It’s equally suspenseful and hilarious, and the interspersion of actors and the real-life people they’re playing is both seamless and dizzying. This is no ordinary heist movie, but rather an exceptional instance of defying genre that proves to be completely fascinating.

What to expect here at Movies With Abe in early 2019:

January 1st: Golden Globe winner predictions
January 7th: Detailed predictions for each Oscar category January 22nd: Oscar nominations reactions and analysis January 23rd: Screen Actors Guild winner predictions January 25th: Sundance Film Festival coverage from Park City, UT February: The 12th Annual AFT Film Awards, my choices for the best in film from 2018 in 20+ categories

Occasional reviews of 2018 stragglers and 2019 releases will also be here frequently, and visit for regular pilot and episodic reviews!

Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!

No comments: