Ben Pearson’s Top 10 Movies of 2018 So Far

Top 10 Movies of 2018 So Far

We’ve crossed the halfway mark of 2018, so each day this week, a different member of Team /Film will be counting down his or her favorite films of the year so far. Some of these movies have only played at festivals, but as long as they have release dates slated for sometime this year, they’re fair game for our lists. Find out how two horror movies, two superhero films, a few wildly inventive indies, and more stack up in my ranking below.

ant-man and the wasp tv spots

10. Ant-Man and the Wasp

There’s no question that Avengers: Infinity War is a more impressive, more substantial, and more important movie in the grand scheme of Marvel Studios’ ongoing saga. But Ant-Man and the Wasp is a functional superhero film that also happens to be one of the year’s best comedies, and comedies are often unfairly dismissed on lists like these. Writers either forget or ignore how difficult it is to craft a solid joke (or 30) in the middle of an action-based story, and Ant-Man and the Wasp makes it look easy. From Michael Pena’s scene-stealing delivery to Paul Rudd’s one-liners, nearly every joke in this movie works, and achieving such a high ratio is enough to earn director Peyton Reed, his writers, and the actors superhero status of their own. (Pro tip: give Evangeline Lilly and Michelle Pfeiffer even more to do next time!)

9. Paddington 2

2018 has mostly been a burning hellscape, with each successive week bringing heart-sinking new revelations or feelings of helplessness so overwhelming they threaten to break even the strongest among us. So when I say we need movies like Paddington 2 right now, it’s not hyperbole – this kind-hearted story is a salve on the psychic wounds we’re all suffering. It’s escapism into a fictional world full of lovely characters with pure intentions and a desire to help one another, a world where people can actually be inspired to do the right thing. That feels increasingly impossible in the real world with every cursory glance at the news, but movies like this have the power to buoy spirits and re-energize us in times like these. It won’t be enough just to watch this film – we obviously need to take concrete action to make things better – but in this mentally exhausting era, Paddington 2 shines as a vital beacon of positivity. (Plus, Hugh Grant has the time of his life playing a villain, and it’s just delightful to watch.)

A Quiet Place writers

8. A Quiet Place

John Krasinski directed a couple of features in years past, but A Quiet Place turned him from “Jim from The Office” into “Hollywood’s hottest filmmaker.” He earned that distinction with this monster surprise hit, a film that weaponizes sound itself and managed to bring the din of multiplexes down to complete silence. That’s a feat worthy of praise, and Krasinski’s air-tight direction, emotional acting performance, and effective work as a writer all coalesce into one of the year’s most impressive movies. It moved the needle in terms of representation for deaf people on screen (always cool to see), and its young stars brought a level of emotion that seemed beyond their years. Still, Krasinski’s best decision was to cast his real-life wife Emily Blunt opposite him – she carries some of the film’s most harrowing scenes like a champion. If Oscar voters actually considered the performances in films like this instead of just singling it out for technical achievements, Blunt would earn an acting nomination for her work here. But there’s another horror film later on this list whose female lead seems to have a legit shot at an Academy Award.

7. Lizzie

I caught this one at Sundance, where it earned something of a mixed response. But Lizzie worked for me on multiple levels: as a period piece revenge thriller, sure, but also as an eye-opening experience that made me think long and hard about all the stories we were told as we grew up. The one thing you probably know about Lizzie Borden is that she murdered her parents, right? This movie tells the story from Lizzie’s point of view, turning her from the monster that history books often present her as into a righteous heroine whose actions are extreme but understandable. Stars Chloe Sevigny and Kristen Stewart are both spectacular here, delivering some of the most memorable performances of the year, and the film serves as a post-Weinstein primal scream for anyone who feels the crushing weight of oppression. Lizzie is slated to hit theaters on September 14, 2018.

Blindspotting review

6. Blindspotting

Hamilton star Daveed Diggs delivers a jaw-dropping performance in this hard-hitting, emotional, and frequently hilarious drama. The story is about a guy trying to navigate the streets of Oakland with three days left on his parole, and he’s forced to grapple with the notion that his relationship with his volatile best friend may be the thing that sends him back to jail. This movie has a lot on its mind – it’s an exploration of racial trauma (Diggs’ character sees a cop shoot an unarmed black man in the streets) and themes like identity and perception, all while including stylistic flourishes in which the cast members freestyle rap some of its dialogue. It’s a movie that perfectly speaks to the times we’re living in right now, and thanks to the power of its performances, it lands its messages in a big way. Blindspotting hits theaters on July 20, 2018.

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