If 2018 will be remembered for anything, from "Black Panther" and "Crazy Rich Asians" to "Mission: Impossible – Fallout" and "Halloween," audiences were treated to exceptionally smart, technically proficient , visually rich exercises in action, romance, horror and other genres whose mass appeal usually makes them immune to questions of sophistication and aesthetic taste.
A top-10 list for 2018 could easily include all those titles, with "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "A Star is Born". Similarly, in a year when four documentaries shattered the $ 10 million dollar ceiling, one could create a top 10 of nonfiction films alone: To "RBG," "Will not Be My Neighbor ?," "Three Identical Strangers" and "Free Just, "just add" Dark Money, "" Shirkers, "" Minding the Gap, "" Bisbee '17, "" Saving Brinton "and" American Animals, "and boom – you have some of the very best movies of the year .
Love for the little indies that you could love: the winsome comedies "Juliet, Naked," "Hearts Beat Loud" and "Private Life"; the psychological sports drama "Borg vs. McEnroe "; the revisionist Westerns "Damsel" and "The Sisters Brothers"; "The Death of Stalin" and "Cold War," one to flawlessly executed Soviet-era satire, the other to flawlessly executed Soviet-era love story. Two undershorts portraits of heroism, "Journey's End" and "First Man," would be the list of my favorites of 2018.
All by way of saying: an official-final-no-backsies list was not easy to come up with. But here it is.
1. "Rome" Alfonso Cuarón's portrait of his youth in 1970s Mexico City managed to be intimate and epic, minutely observed and monumental, tender and exacting at the same time. Filmed in black and white – photo album in black and white – storytelling than poetry .
2. "If Beale Street Could Talk" Barry Jenkins adapts the James Baldwin novel in a style that transcends plot to the fragility and fierce power of love. A beautiful woman with a beautiful belly and a brunette, a woman with a passion and a sense of love.
3. "The Rider" Brady Jandreau, a real-life cowboy living in South Dakota, is the charismatic star of this mesmerizing film, in which director Chloe Zhao redefines the American Western as something both mythical and mundane. Following Jandreau as a debutitating brain injury while riding, the movie becomes a meditation on purpose, identity, landscape and human frailty, set against the magnificent backdrop of the Badlands. Although Zhao puts Jandreau and his family into a lightly fictionalized narrative, "The Rider" possesses the authenticity of documentary, with the result being a style best described as grounded grandeur.
4. "First Reformed" From Paul Schrader ("Raging Bull," "Taxi Driver") comes a film that could be called the summa of his career, including spiritual crisis, alienation, oppressive self-discipline and sudden, violent release. Ethan Hawke delivers a masterful performance as a troubled pastor of a semirural church, where he endures physical and psychic breakdowns that are terrifying and cathartic. Rigorous, austere, punctuated by bizarre and lurid touches, "First Reformed" marked the return of a master.
5. "BlacKkKlansman" Outrageous, audacious, funny and caustic, Spike Lee's adaptation of the real-life story of Ron Stallworth bursts with the energy and distinctive cinematic language He has developed over 30-year career. The movie is not perfect – there are moments of excess and indulgence that have often bedeviled the filmmaker. But the sum of the parts is undeniably powerful, as the story grows beyond itself to become both a potent polemic and heartbreaking elegy.
6. "Green Book" In many ways, this fact-based story of a player in the early 1960s, feels like a throwback: As a buddy road comedy set amid noxious and violent racism, it could easily have been a patronizing "feel good" portrayal of white redemption and little else. Instead, this wildly entertaining film is about characters, played in marvelous performances by Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen, who quickly outgrow their trope-ish outlines to become fully inhabited and unforgettable individuals.
7. "Eighth Grade" We've seen this movie before: Awkward teen comes of age, and mean, well-meaning but clueless parents and her own crippling angst. But writer-director Bo Burnham, collaborating with actress Elsie Fisher, turns out to be a painful and vicariously mortifying, sure, but also deeply compassionate and respectful of a young heroine whose anxieties are outstripped only by her own dazzling self -belief.
8. "Tully" Charlize Theron will be remembered at the time for her spot-on portrayal of a mother battling what looks like postpartum depression but winds up being her own ambivalence. This strange chamber piece – co-starring the terrific Mackenzie Davis
9. "Blindspotting" Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal wrote a rap on a musical and cultural ferment of Oakland, Calif., Ultimately creating a bold, emotional and cultural appropriation. The movie, which Diggs and Casal also starred in, felt attuned to our times in ways both sobering and exhilarating.
10. "A Quiet Place" The first true breakout hit of 2018 was a fabulous contradiction: a good old-fashioned horror movie that broke new ground in the use of sound; a genre exercise that was called back to the elegance and purity of silent filmmaking; a heartwarming tale of family featuring a bracingly badass wife and mom (Emily Blunt). Directed by and starring John Krasinski, this film proved to be dominated by reboots, spinoffs and endless franchises based on preexisting material, originality is not dead. It just speaks very, very softly.