I started this tradition in 2015, writing out an alternative Top 10 list or a runner-up list, because the year was so strong and I had a hard time leaving some of the films off my list. Then I decided that I would make it an annual tradition. Basically, this is my #11- #20 of my Best Films of the year. My actual Top 10 will be released next, so this list can be used to pick and choose your own Top 10 list, based on the 20 films I listed. If you don’t like one of the films in my Top 10, you can swap it out with any one of these in your mind.
Don’t worry I don’t mind, I love all these films.
So, let’s look at the films I loved in 2018 that just missed my Top 10.
#20 A Quiet Place (Paramount Pictures)
I love a good horror movie and 2018 had a couple decent ones, but the best was easily this chiller about a family who are being terrorized by some alien like creatures, who will find you if you make even the slightest bit of sound. A superb opening scene sets the stage for what is to come, and the scares never let up. Making the wise choice to show as little of the monsters as possible allows this film to be tense throughout, and scary when you finally do see the creatures. The characters may have had to be quiet, but the audiences were screaming from fear throughout!
#19 Paddington 2 (StudioCanal/AmazonPrime)
I find myself still amazed that Paddington the first was such a great movie and now I find myself even more stunned that Paddington 2, is actually even better! Anchored by a superb performance from Hugh Grant as the flamboyant baddie, Paddington 2 captures the warmth and magic of part 1 and some how elevates it higher. The camera work here is the stuff of wonder, with shots like the prison cafeteria and the prison escape being feasts for the eyes. Somehow they were able to raise this to the level of movie art! Many laughs and action-packed moments will make Paddington 2 more than an easy watch for parents as well.
#18 Ready Player One (Warner Bros.)
I am calling it now: this film will only get better with age, the same way Minority Report and A.I. from Spielberg did. This is Spielberg’s take on the ever-growing video game-like world we are running towards. Even more so this is the director’s statement on a world where nostalgia is everything and nothing ever dies anymore. The film’s usage of the VR-like gaming and the ease at which we are all connected through video games these days, will surely only become more and more brilliant as we get deeper and deeper into technological advancement. Ready Player One is as big and beautiful as all Spielberg’s films, and has plenty of moments that will pop your eyes (the Shining scene!!) the way Jurassic Park and E.T. did in decades past. It may not be top-shelf Spielberg, but it is damn good Spielberg!
#17 Blockers (Universal Pictures)
As a WWE fan, I have found it both stunning and wonderful how well John Cena has transitioned into a fine actor. He seems to especially nail it in comedies, like this bust your gut, laugh-filled wonder. Blockers takes the oh so typical male sex comedy and flips the script, letting the ladies finally have a shot at the dirty talk and raunchy humor. The results are a refreshing spin on a dying breed of film. And it is the supporting work from Cena and Leslie Mann that really pushes this comedy to the top level, with both giving great hammy performances. No movie in 2018 made me laugh harder and I hope we see more like this and Girls Trip…let the women do their thing!
#16 First Man (Universal)
From a filmmaking stand point, I am not sure there was a better film this year than First Man, the story of the Apollo 11 moon landing. What held it back, was that you really don’t connect with the characters on screen. Still, this is a true feast for the eyes and ears. Ryan Gosling gives a great, underrated performance as Neil Armstrong, the leader of the moon mission. And with the year’s best score pounding in the background, director Damien Chazelle treats us to some stunning visual shots, none more breathtaking than the moon landing itself, which both ends up beautiful and terrifying, with the big black nothingness all around you. This in every way is true film making greatness, I just wish that we felt something more for the characters on their epic journey.
#15 The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Netflix)
It always pains me when I can’t find room for a Coen Brothers film on my Top 10 list, but a surge at the end of the year bumped it off my list. Still, this collection of short stories is every bit in the vein of classic Coen films and every bit as wonderful. The Ballad is six very different tales, that when put together as a whole, mange to tackle everything that I love about western movies, gun slinging, bank robbing, side show freaks, gold digging, war with Natives and stage coach riding. Each entry is its own tale, all of which mange to be fascinating as well as a total blast to watch. Something tells me this film will age well for me, but for now it must sit at #15 of 2018.
#14 If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna Pictures)
It is well known that I didn’t love Barry Jenkins’ last project Moonlight as much as most critics did (it should do very well on decades’ best lists at the end of 2019). However, his follow-up, the wonderful tale of the power of love, If Beale Street Could Talk, really connected with me. I loved the story of a young black couple who are so deeply in love with each other and planning a future together, even as the world around them is going to toss every obstacle in their way. Managing to bring up themes of inner-city politics, police corruption, family expectations, and the fairness of the judicial system, Beale Street rises to the level of excellence. Still, this is at its core a story about love and how the truest love, can overcome just about anything. It is powerful stuff.
#13 The Favourite (Fox Searchlight)
This delicious comedy caught me off guard. I had no knowledge of what it was about going in, only that it was a period piece, which I am not ever a fan of. I wasn’t expecting it to be one of the funniest films of the year. Taking place during the early 18th century in England, with a frail Queen Anne (a superb Olivia Colman) in power and a war with the French in the background, this delightfully nasty tale looks at Anne’s secret affairs with her close friend Lady Sarah (excellent Rachel Weisz). Sarah’s world is turned upside down when a new servant, Abigail (Emma Stone, sensational as always) catches the eye of the queen. The ensuing war between the two ladies, is just a joy in all its evilness! Great costume work makes this a pretty film to look at as well!
#12 Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Fox Searchlight)
Nothing I have seen from Melissa McCarthy prepared me for the brilliance of her performance in this film. McCarthy is just stealing the show every second she is on screen in a role that would have netted her an Oscar win any other year. It helps that she has a fantastic and fascinating screenplay to work from, telling the story of an author who starts to forge the works of other authors, to help her make ends meet in her struggling life. Come for the shock that is McCarthy’s acting and stay for a story that will keep you invested from front to back.
#11 The Wife (Silver Reel)
When The Wife finally got bumped off my Top 10 list, I experienced a moment of serious sadness. I was really rooting for it, because it is such a great story, and I wanted to gush and gush about it. But I am going rave about it anyway! Let’s start with the story, a superb tale about a famous author who is about to be rewarded for his life’s work with the Nobel Prize. At his side is his loyal wife, who must deal with all the fame and praise her husband gets, while she is overlooked. Glenn Close plays said wife in a performance for the ages, my personal fav female performance of the year. In a career full of brilliant work, across all mediums, I believe this to be her very best. The story takes an excellent twist that I was not expecting at all, and that just adds depth to Close’s perfect performance. I will never ever have a tie on my Top 10 list, as I just refuse, but I can honestly say this was the first time I ever considered one. So, you can just assume The Wife was really in my Top 10 and go see it based on that.