The best films of 2018
Movies are more important than you might think — they’re a reflection of our society and culture, and in the future, they’ll serve as markers for who we were at the time. 2018 was a truly historic year for film; “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Searching” and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” proved that film studios don’t need to fear casting Asian actors in leading roles, stories ranging from legendary (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) to lesser-known (“BlacKkKlansman”) were told and we saw never-ending franchises stumble (“Solo: A Star Wars Story”) and soar (“Mission: Impossible — Fallout”).
That being said, now that 2018 is over, it’s time to take a look back at the best of the best from this past year.
‘A Star is Born’
A tale nearly as old as time, “A Star is Born” has been told in the past (by the likes of Hollywood legends like Judy Garland nonetheless), but this film, which took several years to produce, was truly a special one. Between star Bradley Cooper’s strong directorial debut, a performance by Lady Gaga that is sure to sweep up awards and a soundtrack that peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, Warner Brothers reached the pinnacle of film with this one.
After quickly becoming a fan favorite in “Captain America: Civil War,” it was no surprise that “Black Panther” was a financial success, but it also proved to be the best Marvel-produced film of the franchise. The film took advantage of a strong cast that not only uses current favorites such as Chadwick Boseman and Danai Gurira, but also tried-and-true talent of Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker — a quality that helped make it believable despite being a sci-fi-esque superhero tale. Similarly, a compelling and sympathetic villain offered one of the strongest takeaways that Marvel has ever offered.
‘A Quiet Place’
An astonishingly simple film, “A Quiet Place” tells a unique story that’s scary without being over the top, sad without being utterly devastating and hopeful without being overly confident. Emily Blunt, a true acting juggernaut, easily became one of the most relatable characters in this year’s slew of films, and a brilliant script and sharp direction from John Krasinski rounded out the film.
A true story, “BlacKkKlansman” brings Spike Lee’s signature twist to history, telling one of the most important stories you’ve never heard. In a time when racial tensions are running high (the film was released on the anniversary of the riots in Charleston, South Carolina), films like this are important to remind us of what’s really at stake. Knockout performances from the entire cast and a script that truly strikes your heart with fear, “BlacKkKlansman” offers an imperative story on par with 2017’s “The Post.”
We all remember those horrible middle school days, which is why “Eighth Grade” is so poignant. Written and directed by comedian Bo Burnham, the film follows Kayla as she navigates through a social media-infested, post-Y2K world with strict societal expectations. The script and Elsie Fisher’s tour de force performance made this one of the year’s strongest and most pertinent films.
‘Crazy Rich Asians’
Perhaps the most beautiful film of the year, “Crazy Rich Asians” has so much more to offer than just it’s stunning visuals. A modernized and fresh take on a fairly cliche storyline, the film breaks from traditional rom-com format and focuses on so much more than just the love between the two main characters, but also on the lives of the people around them (which allowed for Michelle Yeoh to knock it out of the park).
The trailer alone will give even a cynic chills. Utterly unrealistic transformations from Christian Bale, Sam Rockwell, Amy Adams and more prove that this film isn’t one to be overlooked, and better yet, it tells another story that we need to hear. Vice President Dick Cheney was a stronger politician and a trickier man than many of us ever realized, and this film captures that perfectly without bowing to one side of the political spectrum or the other — a difficult feat in today’s world.
A hysterical and unique tale, “The Favourite” takes a goofy comedy trope and elevates it be setting it in 18th century England with powerhouses of Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz taking the leads. Where it gets truly special, however, is in its examination of love, family and mental health in a way that’s clever and not annoyingly in your face.
A feel-good story at its heart, “Green Book” is based on a true story, making it that much more inspiring. Friendship transcending all is an important lesson for all of us, and watching Mahershala Ali do the teaching is simple with his no-nonsense performance. Also of note is Viggo Mortensen’s comedic performance, rounding out the film into one that can be enjoyed by all.
‘If Beale Street Could Talk’
There’s never a bad time for a James Baldwin story, but it packs a bigger punch when director Barry Jenkins takes the helm, proving that, just like with “Moonlight,” a dramatic tale about black individuals can be told with such finesse that even the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences cannot overlook it. As if that weren’t enough, Regina King’s performance has been widely lauded since the movie began production.
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Free Memorial Day screening of “They Shall Not Grow Old” is one-off event before the Vilar Performing Arts Center’s summer series kicks off next month.