Ethan Anderton's Top 10 Movies Of 2018

While most of 2018 has brought pure madness around the world, we can take solace in the fact that this year also brought us plenty of great movies. Though I'll admit that I didn't see nearly as many as I wanted, I still found myself wowed over and over again by a wide variety of cinema, from some of the year's biggest blockbusters to the most beautiful, elegant dramas.

So without further adieu, let's get into my Top 10 Films of 2018.

Before we begin, I'd like to call attention to a handful of Honorable Mentions that almost made this list, but didn't quite make the cut. From the bottom up, the films that didn't quite make the top 10 were The Favourite, You Were Never Really Here, A Star Is Born, The Death of Stalin and Widows. So if those didn't end up on my list, which ones did? Let's find out.

Ethan Anderton's Top 10 Films of 2018

10. Avengers: Infinity War

How can I not include one of my favorite cinematic experiences of 2018 in my Top 10 Films of 2018? Beyond that, this is a movie I have revisited several times since being released on home video, and it is chock full of all-time great blockbuster moments, regardless of whether or not there's disagreement among the /Film group as we try to narrow down the best moments on film this year. But I digress.

Directors Anthony & Joe Russo crafted this film as a highly anticipated culmination of nearly two dozen superhero movies, and it's a crowning achievement that it works so well. The meeting of superheroes who have never crossed each other's paths before, the extraordinary action, the surprising emotion of it all, the seasoned actors who have all become comfortable in their respective roles, and the gutpunch of an ending all combine to create what is one of the most thrilling blockbusters of the past 20 years.

9. Game Night

You can call me crazy all you like, but this comedy stuck with me all year, and I've introduced it to countless friend and family members simply because it's so raucously hilarious. But on top of being funny, what's truly impressive is how writers and directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein bridge a suspenseful thriller with the laugh out loud comedy. And let's not forget that this is one of the most stylish, expertly shot, and perfectly edited studio comedies in recent memory.

What makes all of this work is one of the best ensemble casts of the year. Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan all make for an outstanding group of friends who make you feel like you're part of the group. But the real gem among them all is Jesse Plemons in one of those rare comedic roles that is so good that it deserves an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. It's just a shame comedies get largely ignored when it comes to awards season.

8. Annihilation

There were plenty of great horror movies this year, but none of them made me feel as unsettled and haunted as Annihilation. Here's a movie that takes an otherworldly high concept and turns it into a chilling visceral experience that will stick in your mind long after the credits have rolled. Whether it's the stirring sound of the bear hybrid creature with the screams of humans in place of a roar, or the mesmerizing floral fate of Tessa Thompson, there are so many moments in this movie that evoke every possible emotion your mind and body can handle.

However, for me, Annihilation lands on this list thanks to the afflicting ending, one that ties everything together and subtly lays out the real threat that humanity faces: ourselves. Annihilation is about self-destruction in a variety of forms, and each of our main character succumbs to their own whims and weaknesses. If you need any further convincing about the depths and greatness that lies in this sci-fi thriller, our own Chris Evangelista wrote the perfect spoiler review of the movie breaking it all down.

7. First Man

When a movie like Apollo 13 has already chronicled the dangers and life-saving problem-solving that came with the innovative space travel of the 1960s and 1970s, how do you do justice to the mission that came before it when landing on the moon became something achievable? Director Damien Chazelle makes the drama less about human achievement and this time in history and more about one man. But this isn't just a movie about the stress and risk a man takes when he's trying to venture to a place from which he may not return.

Neil Armstrong will be remembered long after we're gone for being the first man on the moon, but this time in his life that unfolds on this screen is about so much more than his achievement in the space program. It's about the connection, or lack thereof, that he had with his family. It's how he shut himself off from the world, and the only way he could really let go of all the pain and grief his own family tragedy was to get as far away from them as possible. It all leads to one beautiful moment that you would think is simply the landing of the moon, but it's so much more than that, and you'll never think of that moment in history the same again.

6. Mission: Impossible - Fallout

While Avengers: Infinity War offered a satisfying culmination of epic superhero action, director Christopher McQuarrie and star Tom Cruise deliver something completely different and even more exhilarating. Most film franchise start to lose their steam once they reach a sixth installment, but the Mission: Impossible franchise only seems to be getting stronger as Tom Cruise seems to be willing to do almost anything and everything to make the action of this film series more and more rousing.

From fast-paced and meticulously choreographed fight sequences to never-ending and breathtaking chase sequences through the streets of Paris and the mountains of Kashmir (actually New Zealand), this movie lives up to the acclaim of being a non-stop thrill ride. It's a bullet-train of seemingly effortless action with a compelling plot weaved throughout that has plenty of fun twists and turns that are the trademark of the Mission: Impossible movies. This is the kind of movie that big screens were made for.

5. Vice

One could argue that it's far too soon for a movie to delve into the maddening sins of the George W. Bush administration. But with all the nonsense that's happening in the political world today, there's no better time to recall the corruption and asinine behavior of our nation's politicians, especially when we're not paying attention.

Director Adam McKay injects Vice with the satirical sensibilities he's been honing since his early days at Saturday Night Live and executed in a surprisingly intellectual way in The Big Short. Anchored by a lead performance from Christian Bale that almost makes Dick Cheney seem human, the film slowly reveals the monster who used his presidential candidate partner as a puppet who was none the wiser, all while reminding us that these are the kinds of things that happened when we're paying more attention to the spectacle of gossip, the trash of reality TV and more. That might seem hypocritical coming from the man who gave us movies like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of  Ricky Bobby, but being complicit in distractions in pop culture doesn't negate the point he's trying to make After all, it's possible to to still pay close attention to what's happening in our world while still enjoying the fruits of entertainment.

4. BlacKkKlansman

Director Spike Lee has tackled racism in nearly all of his movies, but there has never been such a desperate and necessary time to not only remember the racist history of the United States of America. There's also never been a better time to point out how stupid, hateful and ludicrous the Ku Klux Klan is, as well as those who share even a modicum of their beliefs when it comes to race.

BlacKkKlansman not only tells the captivating true story of a black detective infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan by becoming one of their members, but it also shows just how gullible and embarrassing these people are. Of course, this is a Spike Lee movie, so no matter how much victory there seems to be, this movie still comes with an infuriating ending that reminds us that America's racist history is still America's racist present day. Real news footage of racist assholes and a president who emboldens them makes the preceding story feel like a lost cause, but it's also an eye-opening call to action that maybe some people need to heed during this contentious time in the world.

3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Up until this year, there had been three big screen version of Spider-Man, and having one more seemed like unnecessary overkill. But producers Phil Lord & Chris Miller teamed with directors Rodney Rothman, Peter Ramsey and Bob Persichetti to give us not only the most satisfying iteration of the webslinger yet, but one of the most innovative, vibrant and rich superhero movies ever made.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse stands out from the rest of the Spider-Man movies in plenty of ways, but first and foremost, it's the stunning and transfixing animation style. The film looks unlike any other animated movie before it, and the result is a movie that perfectly replicates the art of comic books while also elevating it. But more importantly, it elevates the idea of the superhero, and puts the power in the hands of anybody who feels compelled to wear the mask. By making Spider-Man a half-black, half-Latino kids from Brooklyn, and surrounding him with a hilarious and refreshing variety of fellow Spider-People (and a pig), we get something new and exciting that speaks to anyone and everyone. It's a milestone achievement in animation, superhero movies, storytelling and more. And it's damn funny to boot.

2. Roma

Whenever director Alfonso Cuaron makes a movie, make sure you pay attention. We're talking about a filmmaker that not only knows how to tell a moving story, but he knows how to shoot it in the most beautiful, elegant way possible. Whether it's putting the camera in the middle of heart-pounding action in Children of Men, or weaving it through the vastness of space, he lets the story unfold in a way that keeps our eyes glued to the screen. And he does it so smoothly and effortlessly with Roma, but that's only one part of what makes this one of the best movies of 2018.

Roma focuses on a well-off family in Mexico City with a special focus on their maid Cleo as they live their life in the backdrop of a tumultuous time in Mexican history, with protests and government sanctioned violence taking to the streets. While this "Dirty War" rages on, this family deals with battles of their own, each revealing the strong women who keep this family grounded while the men surrounding them create nothing but problems. It's all presented in a beautiful way with soothing shots that pan across the household of Cleo's family employer, the bustling streets of Mexico City, and more. Truly every single setting in this film is shot in such a captivating fashion that you can't help but marvel at it all. But it never gets in the way of the story and only helps us focus more on these characters and the hardships they endure.

1. If Beale Street Could Talk

Moonlight already let Barry Jenkins tell a story with fierce passion, but with If Beale Street Could Talk, he crafts a romance that is both harrowing and hopeful, tragic but full of love. It's the kind of story that is all too common for people who live on the metaphorical Beale Streets of the world, and it tugs relentlessly on your heart strings while also making you feel the pure love that blossoms during these trying times.Composer Nicholas Britell's evocative score seeps into every frame of If Beale Street Could Talk, helping the movie unfold as what feels like a stream of memories from the various characters of Beale Street. It's strengthened by some of the best performances of the year, including Stephan James and KiKi Layne as Tish and Fonnie, each saying more with the way that they look at each other than words ever could. Even the supporting performances from the likes of Regina King, Colman Domingo, Aunjanue Ellis, and Michael Beach are worth writing home about. Everything about this movie is perfection.