Hey, everyone, it’s been a while! I’ve taken about a one month break on the site to focus on a couple of other things, but I’m back and I intend to write a little more frequently. Anyways, 2018 is over halfway done already, and I thought it would be fun to do a top 10 list for the best movies of the year so far. This is just my opinion, and I have yet to see a lot of smaller (and therefore harder to find) releases that have made it on a lot of other lists.
Surprisingly, I think major tent-pole blockbusters were really good! Usually, the smaller movies tend to take up space on these lists, but I was really happy with the big budget experiences we got this year. There were some huge missteps such as “Solo,” but for the most part, 2018 is turning out to be a great year for movies. Hopefully this isn’t the end of a good run. I’ll call this though: If “The Meg” doesn’t win every Oscar ever including Best Picture of All Time (of course), I will riot. All I want is Jason Statham punching a giant shark in the teeth. If the Hollywood gods can give me that, I’m all set.
Alright, before we start I have some honorable mentions that couldn’t quite make it on the list:
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Isle of Dogs
Okay, here we go:
10. Ready Player One
As I said in my review, “Ready Player One” is a return to form for director Steven Spielberg, who reminds us why he’s one of the most technically gifted filmmakers ever. While I had minor problems such as the rushed romantic subplot, I quickly dismissed them because I had so much fun watching this. I know pop culture references don’t make a movie, but Spielberg paid close attention to every detail and sprinkled in some great references wherever he could. At its core, “Ready Player One” is pure, classic fun with some metaphorical subtext in the name of other Spielberg classics like “Jurassic Park,” and sometimes that does make a movie.
This is the kind of 80s late night action movie they just don’t make anymore because that kind of genre gets a cheesy reputation. However, Upgrade twists that familiar genre on its head with a thought provoking sci-fi flick that can best be described as “John Wick” meets “Robocop” meets “Black Mirror.” The action was surprisingly comedic since the main character played by Logan Marshall-Green has to pretend like he’s surprised that he’s doing all these action stunts while he’s doing them. I know it’s a little weird to picture that in your head, but that’s all the more reason to watch the movie. Like there’s a dude with a gun *literally in his hand* and he stores bullets in his forearm and it’s amazing. It’s nice to see director Leigh Whannel continue to make great low-budget genre films like he did with the Saw franchise.
This movie is so out there yet grounded, but I expected nothing less from director Alex Garland, who helmed “Ex Machina.” I think these are the types of sci-fi films that really stand out in a sea of CGI-filled, giant-world-ending-beam-in-the-sky smorgasbords. It’s intelligently crafted, visually impressive, and nerve-wracking to the point where I was on the edge of my seat throughout. The entire cast is excellent, but Natalie Portman especially does a really great job. I thought about this movie for at least a week after I saw it. It’s one of those endings you just have to think a lot about because it could mean different things depending on how you look at it. Though many people didn’t see it and it didn’t make back its $40 million production budget, I think people will eventually start talking about this movie in the coming years.
Out of all the movies on this list, this is the best example of a movie that’s boosted by a single performance. Toni Collette’s performance in this horror debut by Ari Aster is absolutely incredible and should easily garner her an Oscar nomination. I can’t see anyone else pulling this off, and this movie would have been nothing without her. This movie actually kept me up for days, but it’s more than your average scary movie with typical jump scares. This is a movie that gets under your skin with its messages about family, and I don’t want to reveal too much for people who haven’t seen it. I was also led in to believe one thing from the trailers, but the movie around the halfway point turned in another direction and really got me. Aster directs the movie with clear visual attention and upon re-watch, I noticed he carefully placed things in the corner of the movie with just enough focus to peak your interest before he took it away. This kind of attention to detail really kept my eyes open throughout.
6. Deadpool 2
Ryan Reynolds is amazing, period. I could watch him play Deadpool for at least three more movies. “Deadpool 2” wisely continues the superhero meta jokes and fourth-wall-breaking that made the first movie so great. It combines its hilarious script (partly written by Reynolds himself) with director David Leitch’s signature fast-paced action that made “John Wick” fun. I was wondering how they would pull off Josh Brolin as Cable considering he also played Thanos in “Avengers: Infinity War,” but they smartly leaned in on it with the ad campaign. Speaking of the trailers, they were a total misdirection of the movie, and I loved it. 2018 is becoming a great year for superhero movies, and this is just the first one on this list.
5. Game Night
It’s been a while since I’ve seen a comedy this smart and hilarious. Maybe I’m in the minority on this because I haven’t heard much talk about this movie, but I loved “Game Night.” Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, and everyone else in the movie is really funny, and I really liked how each main character played an integral role. Everyone was clearly having a fun time with the movie. I also really liked how certain shots were framed from a bird’s eye view that almost made the certain scenes in the movie feel like the audience was playing a board game, and that distinguished this movie from similar comedies. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about.
4. Black Panther
“Black Panther” was showered with both critical and financial success, and it deserves it. At its core, the film is a family drama about acceptance and shielding yourself off from the rest of the world. In that sense, it answers what it means to truly be a hero. Chadwick Boseman’s King T’Challa is unlike any other Marvel Cinematic Universe character since he’s a king with almost unlimited power in his area. However, like Iron Man, we see him stripped of his power and he has to earn his right as the protector of his nation. Black Panther also has one of the best MCU villains ever in Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger, who presents a believable side of the coin that challenges Wakanda’s reclusive nature and ultimately changes the country in the end.
3. Incredibles 2
Fourteen years is a long time, but “Incredibles 2” was worth the wait. This movie did a great job of balancing the fun superhero scenes with the family dynamic. Moreover, it challenged the concepts of heroism and more importantly parental gender dynamics. Mr. Incredible essentially switches roles with Elastigirl, and this allows him to truly appreciate his wife in the end. I don’t think it’s as good as the first one, but then again the first one is my favorite Pixar movie behind “Finding Nemo” so I don’t think it had a chance. I really like how fleshed out this world is. I’m guessing it’s in an alternate 1970s because of all the old TVs and the lack of cell phones. However, some modern computers exist so it could be later. That wouldn’t make much sense though since Bob and Helen Parr were heroes before they got banned in the late 1940s so the 70s would put it 30 years after that. That’s a tangent and maybe a topic for another day, but bottom line is “Incredibles 2” is a really fun animated movie. It’s Pixar, we kind of already knew that.
2. Avengers: Infinity War
Ten years and eighteen movies of buildup totally paid off big time. It might be premature to put this up so high considering it’s a part 1 of 2, but I was blown away by this movie. I thought it was genius to make Thanos the main character because this is after all his story. Josh Brolin is the best part of the film and truly is the hero of his own twisted story. Thanos is not just the best villain in all of the MCU so far, he’s up there with the greatest cinematic villains ever in my opinion. Interestingly like “Incredibles 2,” this also challenged the notion of what it means to be a hero, but I think “Infinity War” goes a step further by examining the major flaws in these heroes we’ve learned about through this cinematic web. I go into a lot more detail on how “Infinity War” deconstructed the superhero myth so if you want to read more on that, here you go. It’s also one of the most shocking endings ever in a superhero movie even if it’s going to be undone in the sequel.
1. A Quiet Place
At the top spot, I’m putting “A Quiet Place” simply because of how much it relies on the film medium to work. This couldn’t have been a book or anything else because it uses sound in unique situations and asks audiences to pay close attention visually. Director John Krasinski has come a long way from being Jim in “The Office,” and this movie shows promise that he could be a modern day John Carpenter in the making. This movie was terrifying right up to the end and established a believable world explained through the eyes of this isolated family. This movie also had one of the most tense scenes I’ve seen in a horror movie. Emily Blunt particularly stands out and gives a nail-biting performance. I really like it when a movie is able to get so much exposition out of the way without it feeling like it’s an obligatory exposition scene. It makes me want to go back and analyze certain scenes to find theories about the film. I read that Paramount is supposedly working on a sequel so we’ll see where it goes, but I’m perfectly fine with just this.
So those are my top 10 movies of the year so far! What do you think about this list, and what is your favorite movie of the year so far? Do you think I should change anything? Please feel free to let me know in the comments section! Thanks 🙂