Ben Pearson’s Top 10 Movies of 2018 So Far

Sorry to Bother You trailer

5. Sorry to Bother You

Artist/activist/musician Boots Riley delivers one of the most creative social satires I’ve ever seen with Sorry to Bother You, his unforgettable directorial debut. The film is audacious, energetic, and arguably bites off a bit more than it can chew, but there are images from this movie that are forever seared into my brain, and I can promise you the hard turn it takes three quarters of the way through is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. In fact, there’s a lot in this movie that you’ve never seen before. Lakeith Stanfield plays a telemarketer who unlocks the ability to speak with his “white voice” to become a superstar in his field, hoping to move up the corporate ladder and secure a meeting with the coked-out company CEO (Armie Hammer). That’s the one sentence description, but no description can really do this film justice – you simply have to see it for yourself. And even if you think you’re ready for the weirdness this movie has to offer, you’re not ready. Sorry to Bother You blasts into theaters on July 6, 2018.

4. Black Panther

Ryan Coogler’s superhero drama had a ridiculous amount of pressure on it before it came out, but since just about every aspect of the movie was executed at a high level, it fully deserved to be the cultural behemoth it became. Just introducing Michael B. Jordan’s angry, conflicted, and instantly-iconic Erik Killmonger would have been enough to make this movie notable in the pantheon of Marvel movie villains, but there’s so much more here than just the relationship between its villain and hero (Chadwick Boseman). The beaming city of Wakanda, the wonderful banter between Black Panther and his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), watching arguably the best cast of the year share the screen together, its inventive use of technology…the list goes on. Yes, there’s some shaky CGI during the climax. But in no world does that small flaw offset the thrilling, moving, and intensely personal aspects of one of Marvel Studios’ very best films.

Annihilation ending

3. Annihilation

I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time recently (I was waiting for an opportunity to see it in a theater), and now having finally seen that, I feel like I have a better grasp of what writer/director Alex Garland was trying to do with Annihilation. Both films reach into the viewer’s subconscious and poke around, trying to connect on a primordial plane that most movies don’t dare visit. Natalie Portman leads an excellent cast of women into The Shimmer, a mysterious bubble that threatens to slowly engulf humanity, and revelations both personal and professional abound along the way. The production design here is incredible, crafting a world that feels off-kilter and alien while still being barely tethered to reality. (Remember that mutant bear? If you’ve seen this movie, you’ll never forget it.) Annihilation elicited a response in me unlike any other of 2018 so far, and if you’re on its wavelength by the time it arrives at its go-for-broke ending, you’re in for one hell of a ride.

Toni Collette Hereditary interview

2. Hereditary

I haven’t been as deeply unsettled at the ending of a movie since 2011’s Kill List, another film that left me sitting in the theater disturbed and shaken to my core. Ari Aster’s Hereditary feels confident and controlled enough to be his tenth feature, but it’s somehow his first full-length movie. This one builds dread from its opening seconds and literally keeps building it until the final credits; in between, we’re treated to a towering, award-worthy performance by Toni Collette as a family matriarch trying to process the death of her mother and keep her family together as some supernatural shit starts to happen to them. It’s an examination of grief and loss wrapped in a tapestry of horror, but dear readers, I was not prepared for what happens here. If you’re looking for jump scares, look elsewhere – this movie traffics in sinister looks, slow realizations, and heightened moments that are profoundly upsetting. Aster has an extremely promising career ahead of him.

Searching international trailer

1. Searching

The premise of Searching is simple: John Cho plays a father trying to find his missing teenage daughter, and the entirety of the movie unfolds across computer screens. That sounds like a gimmick, and maybe it would be if it were in lesser hands. But thanks to co-writer/director Aneesh Chaganty, the format is just the framework for a classic detective story updated into a modern setting. Execution is key for a story like this, and Searching is executed at the absolute highest level. And for a movie that theoretically adds an extra layer of distance between its characters and the audience, it’s also surprisingly emotional. You care about these characters even while watching them on screens – possibly even more than you would characters in a traditional movie, because they’re reflective of how we live our own lives across multiple screens every day. This movie rules, and I’m excited for you all to see it. Searching arrives in theaters on August 3, 2018.

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