The 10 Best Movies of 2018

You shouldn’t be surprised by this list. As a loyal FilmJabber reader, I expect that you’ve absorbed every word of every review and article I’ve written this year, engrossed by my unmatched sophistication and wit.

As a loyal FilmJabber reader, you also surely haven’t skipped past this introductory section like 99.86% of other people on the Internet might, because introductory paragraphs to Top 10 Lists are perhaps some of the most pointless and least-read text ever committed to the [virtual] page.

So here we are, looking back on the year’s best films, celebrating the greatest of filmmaking and the most entertaining of experiences, mindful that so many other movies were left off of this list because, alas, there can be only 10 and people who squeeze in ties or honorary mentions to override that rule of physics are simply too eyerollingly nice to do the only thing the reader asks: to select 10–and only 10–movies.

As I do every year and throughout every year, I typically view movies through a simple prism that is too complex for your artsy film critic or movie snob who is probably listing Roma as their #1 film because that’s the cool thing to do, to understand:

  1. Would I watch the movie again?
  2. Would I recommend the movie to my friends, who will judge and disparage me if I steer them wrong?
  3. Did I find the movie entertaining, a.k.a. did I manage to not be bored by said movie?

I don’t stick to this prism all the time. Every year there are movies I enjoyed that I wouldn’t recommend to friends (Mandy is a good example, and no, I’m also not one of those counter-culture critics who will list Mandy as their #1 film just because they were thrilled to see Nicolas Cage in a movie that doesn’t absolutely suck for a change), or movies that I’d recommend wholeheartedly but, realistically, will not revisit too frequently.

As a result, this is one of the weirder Top 10 movie lists I’ve compiled in quite some time. It’s not that the movies are weird, but the blend of genres speak to my general disappointment by the year-end award contenders that others are loving because they were told to love them by the buzz machines set in motion months ago (or, yes, they just loved them and I didn’t). I have dramas, horror movie, action flicks, and even a documentary, and I’m not one of those obnoxious people who usually put a lot of documentaries in their Top 10 lists just to make themselves feel more sophisticated and piss off their readers who probably want to watch Skyscraper before investing 90 minutes of their time into a movie about some artist in Albania.

So without further ado, here are my ten favorite, and in turn, the ten best movies of 2018:

10. Hereditary

Despite sitting next to two “horror-loving” friends who giggled out of boredom while watching it, I found Hereditary a pleasant viewing experience, which features Toni Collette chomping scenery, a creepy little girl who loses her head, and Gabriel Byrne looking utterly confused as to why he was cast in this movie. The story isn’t as unique as first appears, but Hereditary is an intense, alluring nightmare throughout.

If you’re wondering, and you probably aren’t, this one stole the place of A Quiet Place, which landed just outside the Top 10.

9. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Comic book movies, as entertaining as they continue to be, rarely blow me out of the water. Black Panther was a blast, but it’s an action movie that lacks great action. The Avengers: Infinity War was surprisingly intense, but it’s half a film. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, on the other hand, is an injected dose of awesomeness, a refreshingly fun, energetic and downright silly film that works on almost every level. Even the animation is spectacular and unique, a true testament to the level of detail that was put into this crazy delight.

8. The Endless

You probably haven’t heard of this low-budget sci-fi thriller about two brothers who escaped an alien death cult when they were younger and return only to discover that the cult may not be full of shit after all. But The Endless was so good I watched it twice in one weekend, a rarity for me. The filmmakers, who also star in the film, won’t win any acting awards, but the plot is absolutely absorbing. If you’re looking for a twisty, unpredictable sci-fi thriller, look no further.

7. Annihilation

A few years ago, Alex Garland gave us Ex Machina and I gave it the highest possible honor a movie could receive: I rated it as the #1 movie of 2014. Garland blushed, I heard. Needless to say, his follow-up, Annihilation, had lofty shoes to fill… and on a first viewing, it certainly didn’t. But upon reflection and probably more importantly a re-watch, it is clear that Annihilation is another beautifully crafted and highly intelligent sci-fi film that deserves much more recognition than it has received up until this point. At least it’s being honored here. I’m sure Garland is blushing once again. It’s okay, Alex. It’s okay.

6. Leave No Trace

I laughed hard, literally to the point of crying, during one scene of Leave No Trace. The movie is a serious, contemplative drama about a teenage girl (played splendidly by newcomer Thomasin McKenzie) and her restless father who seems most at peace when living in a tent in the woods, because Walmart is just so damned overwhelming, you know, but even upon a re-watch that one scene, which you’ll hopefully identify when you watch this movie (I know you haven’t!), had me cracking up.

Leave No Trace is a gorgeously filmed, beautifully acted movie that deserves to be seen. Okay, let’s move into the top five…

5. If Beale Street Could Talk

So there’s this guy named Barry Jenkins who a couple years ago made this little movie called Moonlight, which won an Oscar and which still probably hasn’t been watched by the majority of moviegoers. Don’t make the same mistake twice, as Jenkins’ follow-up is nearly–emphasis on nearly–as good, an absolutely stunning piece of filmmaking to watch and more importantly experience.

4. Free Solo

Here we go. I’m that chump putting a documentary in my Top 10. I’m sure I’ve done it before, but it’s a rare event. Free Solo, which follows a psychopath who thinks it’s a fun idea to climb El Capitan without ropes when he could stay home with his cute girlfriend instead, is one of the most exhilarating documentaries you’ll ever see. My butt literally started sweating during moments of this film. My wife, who is scared of heights, walked out before even getting to the gulp-inducing climax, which features some of the most breathtaking filmwork you’ll ever see.

3. Mission: Impossible – Fallout

I’m also that dude who puts action movies in my top ten, because I am way too cool to fill this list with good-but-overblown dramas that critics like a lot more than everyone else (looking at you, Roma). Mission: Impossible – Fallout is a masterclass of an action film, a high-grade thriller that absolutely begs to be seen on the big screen. And to the people who hate Tom Cruise: get over it. He hasn’t jumped on a couch in over 10 years; watch him jump out of a high-altitude airplane instead.

2. Eighth Grade

My in-laws watched Eighth Grade and didn’t get it, but sometimes I don’t get them, you know. This movie, which I thought for certain was written and directed by a woman until I found it was somehow made by a dude named Bo Burnham, is pitch-perfect, an utterly believable, funny, and at times horrifying snapshot of a week in the life of a teenage girl. Young Elsie Fisher is amazing, and that’s all I have to say about that.

1. Blindspotting

Here we are. The best movie of 2018. And yes, it’s a movie you haven’t heard of. Damned critics, you’re probably saying. Why couldn’t his #1 film been something like Mary Poppins or Deadpool 2 or something, you know, people have seen?

Blindspotting is one of the most entertaining movies you’ll see all year, a funny and searing satire of race, class, and most importantly hipsters. Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, who spent years writing this movie before also starring in it, clearly poured their heart, soul, rage, and love onto the screen for all of us to witness.

It’s a crime if you don’t watch it.

And yes, I used a photo of Black Panther to throw you off.

See a full list of the best and worst movies I watched this year.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Movies, Top 10 Movie Lists