The 10 best films of 2018

Look­ing to catch up with some of the year’s best movies over the hol­i­days? Add these to the queue.



Daveed Diggs co-wrote and stars as Collin, freshly out on pro­ba­tion and re­turned to the Bay Area of Cal­i­for­nia, which like most ur­ban cen­tres has seen a lot of its poorer cit­i­zens— people of colour, mostly—priced out. His friend­ship with Miles (Rafael Casal) is breezy but dan­ger­ous; the lat­ter is white and quick to be of­fended, but it’s not him the cops will shoot. Oak­land is 10 years more gen­tri­fied than in Barry Jenk­ins’ Medicine for Me­lan­choly, which more sub­tly threaded in class, race and dis­place­ment; Blindspot­ting feels like an ex­pan­sion on those themes, a kin­dred spirit. There’s a dan­ger lurk­ing at its edges that keeps you en­thralled, then shaken. (Don’t worry, Hamil­ton nerds: Diggs raps for you).

Can You Ever For­give Me?

Marielle Heller, Melissa McCarthy, Ni­cole Holofcener: Imag­ine what Ocean’s 8 could’ve been with a team like this. Any­way Can You Ever For­give Me? is out­stand­ing on its own as a quiet char­ac­ter piece, an aching ru­mi­na­tion on lone­li­ness that has no place for McCarthy’s trade­mark phys­i­cal com­edy, leav­ing us with her sharp in­ten­sity and in­her­ent lik­a­bil­ity. That is more than enough. It shows New York as it prob­a­bly ac­tu­ally is to live in most of the time: Grey, slushy, nights spent drink­ing alone in dingy bars. Richard E. Grant has al­ready won awards as Lee Is­rael’s side­kick Jack Hock, who helped—and hin­dered—Is­rael’s lit­er­ary forgery scam.

Eighth Grade

One of the least likely people lit­er­ally on earth—straight white com­edy bro Bo Burn­ham—pulls off the sur­prise of the year with a com­ing-of-age story about a self-aware, achingly shy teen named Kayla. She makes daily ad­vice videos for YouTube but at school barely speaks. In an at­tempt to be more out­go­ing, she at­tends a pool party, makes new friends at the mall and starts be­ing mean to her dad. Burn­ham puts her in typ­i­cal teen-movie sce­nar­ios over and over, and re­solves them atyp­i­cally ev­ery sin­gle time. There’s a scene with an older boy in a car that per­fectly demon­strates the grey area of sex­ual co­er­cion—you’ll never ask “why didn’t she just leave?” again—and ri­vals anything in A Quiet Place.

Hearts Beat Loud

The pro­lific and ter­rific screen­writer Wil­liam Gold­man, who died this year, once wrote that au­di­ences liked to see people do­ing things in the movies: Don’t have a great thief talk about crack­ing a safe, have him crack a safe. (More suc­cinctly: Show, don’t tell.) Such is the case of Hearts Beat Loud, a tiny, care­fully crafted story about a father (Nick Of­fer­man) and teen daugh­ter (Kiersey Cle­mons) who end up mak­ing the tit­u­lar song to­gether on a whim. He puts it on Spo­tify with­out telling her, hop­ing she’ll want to be in a band in­stead of go­ing to med school. (She doesn’t.) The scene of them record­ing it, about 20 minutes in, locks in the feel­ing evoked through­out this beauti-

ful gem, rolling in sad­ness, ex­plo­ration, loss, joy and hope. Di­rec­tor Brett Ha­ley, whose last sim­i­larly gen­tle, good-hearted movie was 2015’s I’ll See You in My Dreams, gets ter­rific, nu­anced per­for­mances out of his leads as well as Toni Col­lette, Ted Dan­son and Sasha Lane.

Leave No Trace

In a year of as­ton­ish­ing break­through per­for­mances by young ac­tors—Fisher in Eighth Grade, Cle­mons in Hearts Beat Loud, He­lena Howard in Made­line’s Made­line— the 18-yearold New Zealan­der Thomasin McKenzie has the most to do with the least amount of words. In Leave No Trace (all hail the re­turn of De­bra Granik!), she plays Tom, liv­ing il­le­gally in an Ore­gon park with her PTSD-af­flicted Dad (Ben Fos­ter). Their re­la­tion­ship, po­ten­tially icky in an­other di­rec­tor’s hands, is so loving and sin­gu­lar that you ac­tu­ally want them to suc­ceed in this un­sus­tain­able life­style, even if you know they can’t.


You’ll be able to see Felic­ity Jones as Ruth Bader Gins­burg soon enough, pro­vided you can re­mem­ber the bor­ing ti­tle On the Ba­sis of Sex, but first you should visit with the real RBG. (Be­tween this, Won’t You Be My Neigh­bor?, Gen­er­a­tion Wealth, Three Iden­ti­cal Strangers and Whit­ney, it’s been an as­ton­ish­ing year for docs.) We fol­low Gins­burg through her daily work­outs, read­ings, writ­ings and a whole bunch of other ac­tiv­i­ties that will make you feel like the shit­bag you are. The cult of Gins­burg is ex­plored—the lady is amused but does not par­tic­i­pate—as is her re­la­tion­ship with her hus­band Marty (ex­cel­lent), daugh­ter Jane (less so) and fel­low jus­tice An­tonin Scalia (com­pli­cated). It also tracks her pol­i­tics through her time on the bench, land­ing nearly at to­day when she is a rare beam of hope for women. Jus­tice Bader Gins­burg dis­sents!

Sorry to Bother You

On top of its ex­cel­lent hook—a Black man uses his “white voice” to climb the ranks at his call-cen­tre job—rests a sci-fi hy­brid too out-there to give away. Boots Ri­ley man­ages to hold all the reins and make the thing work some­how: Cas­sius (Lakeith Stan­field, Dar­ius from At­lanta) is liv­ing in his un­cle’s garage with his girl­friend Detroit (Tessa Thomp­son, for­ever swoon) and be­hind on ev­ery­thing. But once he takes the white-voice tip from his co­worker (Danny Glover), ev­ery­thing changes. Like Blindspot­ting, Sorry To Bother You is set in Oak­land, but where the films cross in class study they di­verge wildly in form and ex­e­cu­tion, to be­wil­der­ing, thrilling ef­fect.

A Star is Born

So when I’m all choked up and I can’t find the words Ev­ery time we say good­bye, baby, it hurts When the sun goes down And the band won’t play I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber us this way


There are some movies in which you’d ex­pect to be smacked in the face by a twist—this post­par­tum de­pres­sion drama writ­ten by Di­ablo Cody and di­rected by Ja­son Reit­man is cer­tainly not one. But Tully, this cre­ative team’s third ex­cel­lent film to­gether, is con­sis­tently sur­pris­ing, from Marlo’s (Char­l­ize Theron) out­sized re­ac­tions to her rich brother’s life­style and judg­men­tal school of­fi­cials to the third-act re­veal that will leave you pulling apart the whole thing look­ing for a hole. There isn’t one. Theron and Macken­zie Davis, as Tully, have gone mostly un­her­alded for their deft duet, but Theron’s hag­gard sharp­ness and Davis’ en­dear­ing warmth com­bine to pro­vide the re­la­tion­ship both women need. Try to go in un­spoiled, then turn around and go right back.


Wi­d­ows was ballsy be­fore it even showed up: You know up­front that all the men, in­clud­ing a fa­mous one (Liam Nee­son), die in the be­gin­ning. (Note to Hol­ly­wood: Start more films like this.) Fol­low­ing Steve McQueen’s bru­tal, sober­ing Academy Award win­ner 12 Years A Slave, this looked to be a com­plete 180: A fun, flashy, fem­i­nist heist movie. In­stead McQueen uses it—via Vi­ola Davis as Nee­son’s widow, stuck with his debt to a ma­jor crim­i­nal—as a way to dis­cuss race, class and per­ceived gen­der roles in mod­ern-day Chicago, a place with some of Amer­ica’s most af­flu­ent res­i­dents as well some of its worst gun vi­o­lence. The heist is rather be­side the point.

Tied for 11: Creed II, If Beale Street Could Talk, The Mise­d­u­ca­tion of Cameron Post, Won’t You Be My Neigh­bor?

Kiersey Cle­mons and Nick Of­fer­man make sweet jams in Hearts Beat Loud.

Stan­field an­swers his call­ing in Sorry to Bother You.

Cooper and Gaga sing their way to the Os­cars.

Nee­son and Davis share a rare mo­ment of lev­ity inWi­d­ows.

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