Favorite Films of 2018

Last year I listed my top 5 films that came out before 2017 and then my top 5 of 2017, but I found that my favorites this year didn’t follow a similar pattern at all.  In fact, there are only two pre-2018 movies that I thought was worth mentioning in this post, but I loved them way too much to leave either of them out.

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Divines (2016)
Director: Houda Benyamina
Starring: Oulaya Amamra

This is a French-Qatari film that you can hopefully still find on Netflix, and if you can, you should all watch it immediately.  It follows a teenage girl, Dounia, played by the incomparable Oulaya Amamra, living in a Romani suburb outside Paris, who hustles for money alongside her best friend.  This film is raw and desperate and heartbreaking and beautifully shot and beautifully acted and it just destroyed me.  Go watch it.

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I, Tonya (2017)
Director: Craig Gillespie
Starring: Margot Robbie, Allison Janney

A fictionalized account of the life and career of former U.S. figure skater Tonya Harding.  I was dreading watching this, to be completely honest; I was positive that it wasn’t going to be for me as I tend to really dislike sports movies.  But it’s easily in my top 3 of the year.  I thought the fusion of fact and fiction was inspired, it hit all the right comedic beats but still proved to be something much heavier than I was expecting.  Margot Robbie gives the performance of her career; that scene where she’s crying while fixing her makeup is something I just felt in my bones.  This is one I watched twice and I loved it even more the second time.

Now, onto all of the fantastic films of 2018:

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9. A Quiet Place
Director: John Krasinski
Starring: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt

This masterfully creepy horror film could have been much further up my list, but I thought the emotional climax came too soon and the film ended too abruptly and I’ve felt vaguely dissatisfied with the lost potential ever since.  But still, this is horror done right as far as I’m concerned: relying more on primal fear than gore, with an undeniable emotional core that doesn’t verge too heavily into corny territory.  This fully deserved all of its accolades as far as I’m concerned.

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8. Eighth Grade
Director: Bo Burnham
Starring: Elsie Fisher

This pared down comedy/drama about middle school is one of the most emotionally honest things I have ever watched.  Emotionally honest to a fault, even; I was also That Quiet Girl all through school and this film hit a bit closer to home than I’d have liked.  In a lot of ways it’s a paint-by-numbers coming of age drama, so don’t go into this expecting any innovations for the genre, but it’s one of the best-acted renditions of this story I have ever seen.  If the stupidly talented 15-year-old Elsie Fisher isn’t nominated for an Oscar I will be very upset indeed.

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7. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again
Director: Ol Parker
Starring: Lily James, Amanda Seyfried

Listen.  I don’t want to hear it.  I know I have a ~dark and edgy~ reputation to uphold but don’t care.  Lily James is a ray of sunshine and ABBA has been a constant source of joy in my life since childhood.  I loved every moment of this dumb movie.  And it is FAR superior to its predecessor, imo.

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6. Calibre
Director: Matt Palmer
Starring: Jack Lowden, Martin McCann

This thriller follows two friends who go on a hunting trip in Scotland and end up shooting and killing a child by accident; it then deals with the psychological ramifications as they attempt to get away with what they’ve done.  This film is a train wreck you can’t look away from, which is one of the highest compliments I can give something.  This is just a wonderfully tense melodrama-turned-revenge-saga, and Lowden’s incredibly moving performance provides the required amount of pathos.

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5. Mary Queen of Scots
Director: Josie Rourke
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie

This is probably the only film on this list that got panned by critics and audiences alike, and in a way, I kind of get it.  The trailer is misleading as hell (Margot Robbie is barely in it), the pacing is… not great, the screenplay lucks out in being elevated by superb performances.  But I don’t really care about any of that, to be completely honest: I found this riveting.  I’m someone who tends to veer toward all things indie and art-house, so I understand the compulsion to contrast this to The Favourite in order to tear it down, but sometimes a good old fashioned period biopic is all you need.  This got the job done, as far as I was concerned.  It was flawed but I loved it.  And – I say this as a HUGE fan – I firmly believe that this is Saoirse Ronan’s best performance yet.

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4. Widows
Director: Steve McQueen
Starring: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki

When four men are killed while attempting to pull off an armed robbery, their widows join together to pull of a heist of their own.  This is probably the best premise of any film I have seen all year (maybe ever?), and thankfully the film itself lived up.  (Also – this was the only film Colin Farrell was in ALL YEAR, you guys.  I had to rest all of my hopes on this.)  I was expecting an action movie and got a character study instead, and I am perfectly happy with that.  The performances were truly exceptional across the board, but Elizabeth Debicki and Daniel Kaluuya really stood out to me.  Why this isn’t getting more awards season attention is beyond me.

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3. American Animals
Director: Bart Layton
Starring: Barry Keoghan, Evan Peters

Based on a true story, American Animals is a sort of dark comedy about a 2004 library heist, in which four students attempted to steal an Audubon book valued at several million dollars from a rare books collection.  In a sort of documentary style, interviews with the real people portrayed are interspersed throughout the film, though the events themselves are performed by their fictional counterparts, who are the film’s emotional anchors as well as the main players (Barry Keoghan stands out, as he always does).  I’ve watched this film twice and both times I was so, so impressed by the creative liberties it takes to tell this story in a way that engages its audience; the first time I watched this I couldn’t make sense of which elements were real and which were fictionalized, and I loved it all the more for that.  This is storytelling done right.

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2. Thoroughbreds
Director: Cory Finley
Starring: Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin

A privileged teenage girl enlists her friend’s help to try to kill her stepfather in this beautifully shot dark comedy.  This film is visually stunning, twisted, hilarious, tense, and deliciously melodramatic.  The climactic scene is one of the most interesting shots I have ever seen and it will forever be seared into my brain.  Both leading women give performances that are utterly unforgettable – I couldn’t even choose which of them is stronger.  Anton Yelchin’s tragically inert character gives the film an even more macabre undertone, given the actor’s untimely death before it was released.  Everything just comes together to form something striking and dynamic and haunting.

I so desperately wanted this to be my film of the year, a spot it held until I went to the movies again yesterday.  So now, of course, it just has to be:

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1. The Favourite
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone

Yorgos Lanthimos is my favorite director; I don’t know how to explain the strong connection I feel to his brand of insanity, but I have been simultaneously amused, disturbed, and deeply moved by something in Alps, The Lobster, and The Killing of a Sacred Deer (I have not yet seen Dogtooth in its entirety).  So to say I had high hopes for The Favourite is an understatement, but it managed to exceed my expectations.  It’s not even my first or second favorite film by Lanthimos and it still blows this year’s competition out of the water.  Blending absurd humor with a story that is, at its core, deeply sad, The Favourite is a captivating and unconventional film about love and power, that gives us three of the best written female characters of 2018 cinema.  It’s fresh, it’s funny, it’s oddly unsettling, and it deserves all of the hype and more.  And if anyone can figure out a way for me to marry Rachel Weisz, do kindly let me know.

So, there we have it.  What was your favorite film of 2018?

32 thoughts on “Favorite Films of 2018

  1. Reading your thoughts about movies always highlights how very too rarely I watch any. Parts of it is living in a tiny town that only shows the biggest blockbusters in English, part of it is simple laziness. (my favourite of the movies I did watch this year is definitely Lady Bird btw)

    Liked by 2 people

    • I so feel your pain, a lot of my friends live in big cities and they’re always telling me to go see some indie movie and I’m like thanks, I intend to but that’s not out for another month here. I had to drive to a city an hour away to see The Favourite yesterday which is a testament to my devotion to Yorgos Lanthimos, because going to the city on New Years weekend is hell.

      I LOVED Lady Bird! Saoirse Ronan is such a queen.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This list 👌🏼 I must see Widows, The Favourite, and Calibre as soon as possible.

    I haven’t really been keeping track of movies this year (I need to get better at doing so), but off the top of my head, my favourites have probably been Annihilation and A Quiet Place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • YES YOU MUST! I am so confident that you will love all three of those. Also, you need to watch The Killing of a Sacred Deer along with The Favourite so I can get your Definitive Yorgos Ranking, which is very important.

      I was also hopeless at keeping track of the movies I watch, but Letterboxd has been a lifesaver. I still haven’t watched Annihilation but I think I should read the book first!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Challenge accepted!

        I’m very intrigued to see how you get on with both the book and the film of Annihilation, as they’re quite different. Overall, I preferred the film, because it’s visually stunning, and I felt a stronger emotional connection to be characters, but there are parts of both versions that have really haunted me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I hadn’t ever considered reading Annihilation because I just kind of accepted it wouldn’t be for me, but Sarah talking about it yesterday convinced me to give it a try, so I’ll definitely try to get to that at some point this year!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I cannot BELIEVE I have not watched Thoroughbreds yet…one of my 2019 resolutions needs to be to watch more movies. I think I watched like 11 movies in total this entire year??? So many of these films on your list sound incredible; I really need to up my film game.

    Also The Favourite……was so weird. I’m still not totally sure how I Feel about it – I definitely enjoyed it and it was very memorable, but maybe I was expecting something less…episodic? I don’t know.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Omg only 11!!! There is nothing to do in Vermont AS YOU KNOW lol so usually when I leave the house I go to the movies.

      God I just love Yorgos’s style of weirdness so much. I didn’t actually think The Favourite was that weird though because compared to all of his other films it’s actually quite… tame? But for whatever reason I just really connect with his weird style of humor and absurdist storytelling.

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      • I went to see The Favourite with my best friend after convincing her it was going to be great, and I could feel her giving me A Look throughout the movie lmao like I could tell she was thinking “What the hell have you gotten me into, Hadeer?” the entire time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • ASJKLDSJF OK FAIR………. I’ve been thinking about The Favourite in relation to his other films and therefore came to the conclusion that it really wasn’t all that weird, but for the Casual Movie Watcher who doesn’t like artsy shit….. yeah ok it was pretty absurd.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Okay now I definitely need to see Eighth Grade and Thoroughbreds. I’m excited to see The Favourite as well! ALSO when you started your top books post with a Mamma Mia quote I was like “I bet Mamma Mia 2 will be on her top movie post.” I still somehow haven’t seen it OOPS.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ahhh you NEED to see Eighth Grade and Thoroughbreds, both wrecked me in totally different ways and I think you’ll love them both?? Omg I actually didn’t do that on purpose (I just constantly have ABBA playing on a loop in my head) and I was actually debating whether I should include Mamma Mia in this post because it’s SO #offbrand… but I can’t help it, I adore it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • You have my sympathy, it took ages for The Favourite to come anywhere near me and even then I ended up having to drive an hour away. So worth the wait, though! I hope you enjoy Thoroughbreds too, I thought it was absolutely brilliant.

      Liked by 1 person

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