Please note that this is not a Top 10 Best Films of 2018 list. Rather, this is a list of the best films I watched in 2018, as in it doesn’t have to have aired in 2018 to make it, only that I had to have finished it in 2018.
I have been doing the March of the Movies block for two years now (with the third coming two months from now). Despite this, as well as some emergence of film reviews/analyses for the blog, I have yet to compile any formal list of the films I had seen in any given year. The fact that you are reading this post is a sign of change.
According to my Letterboxd profile, I watched 132 films in 2018 (including shorts and comedy stand-up specials). This, as anyone can gather, is FAR more material to work with than the puny 24 anime series I watched throughout the course of the same year. Even so, it wasn’t very difficult to narrow down potential choices, as while I watched a lot of good films, great films were still a little harder to procure. With that, allow me to present the inaugural, and hopefully annual, top 10 list of films I saw in 2018.
(Quick note: The text accompanying each film on the list will be shorter than normal. I’d rather the attached mini-reviews/posts do most of the talking (if anyone is that curious).)
10. Kurenai no Buta (Porco Rosso)
The Studio Ghibli film that no one ever seems to mention is my favorite by them thus far. Rather than Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke, my favorite Ghibli film features a pig in a beaten red plane.
It has that magic that everyone claims every Studio Ghibli film has, except to me, this is the only one that has come close to that. Perhaps it’s its worldly themes that are presented in a less ambiguous way, but I really enjoyed the historical significance that vaguely represents the film.
The characters are fun, the action is enjoyable, and a tenderness linger all throughout that never got dull to me. I’m pretty contrarian when it comes to Ghibli’s works; Porco Rosso makes me want to give the studio every other chance.
9. The Florida Project
A24 produces a lot of good fucking movies. Between this, Lady Bird, Eighth Grade, The Lobster, Swiss Army Man, Moonlight, and Ex Machina, it’s a pretty dependable production company for the film industry.
I had heard good things about this film and some “eh” things about this film prior to watching it myself. On a whim, I rented it from my local movie rental store, which turned out to be a good decision. I adore its balancing act of childhood wonder and the painful reality of adulthood. A really pitiful, magical picture.
The ending is a little iffy, but the majority is engrossing and moving, and features a cast of child actors who seem generally genuine… which is amazing. Writing is absolutely on point, with the acting backing that up to a good degree. It’s on the heavier side in terms of underlying messages, but it’s a gripping one all the same.
8. Evangelions 1.0-3.0 (Reboot Franchise)
Yeah, I’m putting three films in one spot. They’re all so good and within the same universe that I figured I may as well snag them together.
What surprised me the most about these three films, rebooted from the Neon Genesis Evangelion series from the ’90s, was the third film in particular, the one everyone through a shitfest over. I adore it. I love that the film is breaking expectations and turning everything upside-down. That always seemed like the point of the parent series to me. Part of the charm of this franchise is that the creators either know full well of what they’re doing or they’re clueless and throwing whatever comes to mind and seeing what sticks.
Outside of that, it was nice to see the writers recreate the franchise and not take up so much wasted space in the form of drawn-out episodes. It’s cleaner, more focused, and easier to grasp than the original series—things that may or may not be flaws to hardcore fans. I thought the films were great, and watching all three to close out 2018’s March of the Movies was a terrific choice on my part. Looking forward to the fourth movie, assuming it ever comes out (It’s coming out, right?).
7. Paths of Glory
Is it sad that whenever I think of this film I think of the huge rant I posted with the accompanying review about war? That’s really all this film does for me: reminds me how much I fucking hate war.
Aside from that, this film has two things I’ve never been totally familiar with: Kirk Douglas and Stanley Kubrick. Douglas is considered one of the most famous and respected actors Hollywood has ever seen; Kubrick is considered one of the greatest film directors of all time. I have seen Douglas in one film (besides this one), a film about vikings that was kind of campy. I have seen two Kubrick films (besides this one), and neither impressed me to the expectations set upon his reputation. Paths of Glory gave me both of these men in great fashion, and made me respect both of their crafts.
Emotional, tragic, disgusting, captivating. All of these and more can describe the scope of this film. The terrors of war and power and fascism are on full display, things that make me sick to my stomach. The final scene, albeit a little cheesy, is one I will never forget.
Also, I hate war.
6. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
A lot of people love this movie (like me). A lot of people hate this movie (like the top reviews on letterboxd). It all seems to come down to the problematic script and the way it generalizes harrowing topics of today’s political atmosphere. Is it dark humor? Or is the director really just that vapid? A tricky question with no stable answer.
I, for one, saw the political messages and took out a staunch non-violence stance from this. “Hate begets more hate” or “Violence begets more violence.” What I came out of this film thinking was that I should stop being such a snarky asshole. I should start identifying the things that are important to me and give people a chance. I needed to stop letting politics get in the way of seeing people for who they are: people.
For that, I applauded this movie greatly, and even now I still applaud it. Since then, however, I’ve felt the need to rewatch this. I feel a second viewing would be good to really hammer down any lingering doubts that may have risen from the complaints of others. I still adore this film and love the performances within it, but the writing is definitely something that needs a more thorough analysis. And hey, maybe the intrigue of doubt is what makes this so compelling!
This is a puzzle. A fun one.
I like Villeneuve a lot. He’s likely my favorite film director today. I’ve enjoyed all of his films, even if I haven’t loved them.
This one’s a puzzle. A fun one.
I like Villeneuve quite a bit. He’s probably my favorite film director today. I’ve liked all of his films, even if they weren’t all amazing.
Here is a puzzle. A fun one.
I enjoy Villeneuve a lot. He’s my favorite film director currently. I’ve swooned over all of his films, even if they aren’t swoon-worthy.
Here is a problem. A fun one.
I enjoy blueberries a lot. They’re probably my favorite arachnid today. I’ve finished all over his films, even if my day wasn’t done.
4. Call Me By Your Name
This is so god damn romantic, I don’t even care that I’m not attracted to either of them.
I have little social life and my real-world experiences are limited and likely dull. Even so, experiencing Call Me By Your Name was like a callback to my youthful days of worrying about what others thought of me and my demeanor. It made me remember the lazy days hanging out with my girlfriend at the time, bored and with all the time in the world. All we had was each other.
It’s so sensual. Every other shot is like the film is calling out to one’s primal urges. Even more than that, there’s so much feeling to this picture. It brings to life everything onscreen, as though one can wholly appreciate nature, humanity, architecture, and the amazing feats we all take for granted on a daily basis. It’s amazing. This film’s amazing.
This should’ve won best picture, damn it. This or Blade Runner 2049. God damn it all.
A rather recent edition to my viewing collection, Blindspotting is a really wholesome picture about police brutality and institutional racism. For the kids.
I don’t really want to get into the specifics here, as I feel my blog is more of a safe space from politics (as long as they agree with mine!!!), but it definitely gave a moving depiction of what it’s like from one perspective. I found the film’s focus on comedy slightly jarring, especially considering how movie is and can get. Even so, it does little to tarnish the film’s overall message and the performance by the stars—both of whom are great.
So long as the heavy political tones don’t alienate those reading, I would highly recommend giving this one a… shot. Hrmm. A watch. Yeah.
2. The Rider
Yes! Yes, yes, yes! Such a surprising hit. So fucking intriguing both within and outside the context of the film. It’s astounding.
This film right here… has actors, who have never acted in a film before, playing fictional representations of themselves. These characters are the real people, playing in a fictional world that they actually embody in real life. It’s so mind-bending but amazing at the same time and I love it. Such a wonderful film.
I only knew this film existed because my theater decided to play it randomly one weekend when I decided to check what was playing. I saw good ratings for it and it seemed intriguing. I gave it a chance. Such a sudden encounter with a great film comes once every so very often.
Despite never acting before, the actors did a good job. Despite not knowing anything by this director, I found myself immersed almost immediately. Cinematography is great and the mood is always a little tense. One grows to love these characters and empathize with their situation. It’s great, just watch it. I don’t care if you’re afraid of horses, go!
1. Children of Men
I don’t even really know what to say about this other than I loved it and it made me feel like it’s important. I’m just not 100% sure why or how it conveyed this to me. It’s almost like God decided I should find it important and there it was.
Something to do with humanity, and fighting, and empathy. Something. I don’t know. I need to rewatch this eventually. But even when hesitant, I know this film is phenomenal. That’s why it’s number one. Give it a watch.
The rating for these films and all others can be found on Letterboxd.