2018 was a banner movie year, with an abundance of exceptional films spanning multiple genres. The Reelness’ Ten Best Movies of 2018 includes thrillers, horror/sci-fi, dramas, a comedy, a documentary, a musical, a foreign language film, and a romance – a surprising amount of genre diversity! And a special shout out to Lucas Hedges, for having TWO films on this year’s list. And he’s only 22!
#10 Ben is Back
America’s exploding opioid crisis takes center stage in this riveting family drama from Peter Hedges, starring his son Lucas as a drug addict who’s fled his rehab center to make a surprise visit home on Christmas Eve – with disastrous results. Hedges gives a powerful performance, as does Julia Roberts as his emotionally-conflicted mother, who sees up-close the life her addict son had been living.
A few days ago, Oscar-winner Natalie Portman’s Vox Lux made our 10 Worst Films of 2018, and now she’s back on our 10 best list, in the year’s best sci-fi thriller/horror, about female soldiers entering a mysterious “shimmer,” a horrifying, otherworldly occurrence that is spreading in a remote swamp. The film’s super creepy monsters, trippy visual effects and haunting score make this adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s 2014 novel a standout.
Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin star in this harrowing true story of Tami Oldham and Richard Sharp, who in 1983, while sailing from Tahiti to San Diego, were stranded at sea following one of the worst hurricanes in recorded history. A cleverly-constructed story keeps the suspense moving. And then there’s that gut punch of an ending – wow.
At first glance, you might think this sequel to 2015’s exceptionally good Sicariowon’t measure up without the amazing Emily Blunt (we did!), but another Taylor Sheridan-written film makes our Top 10 list for a 4th year in a row with this enthralling tale about Mexican drug cartels trafficking terrorists across the U.S. border. James Brolin and Benicio del Toro return, joined by Isabela Moner (as the drug cartel leader’s mouthy daughter), keeping us on the edge of our seats for the full two hours of this nail-biter.
The year’s best foreign language film is a bizarre fantasy film from Sweden, about Tina, an unattractive, unconventional looking customs agent who, due at least partly to a life of bullying, finds herself more at ease with wild animals than people and has an uncanny, rat-like ability to literally sniff out criminal activity. Border is one of the most unusual, uncomfortable films you will see all year, as it explores gender identity, the classic concepts of beauty and Norse mythology in a way that you will never forget.
The year’s best documentary is about the late Fred Rogers, the beloved child psychologist turned children’s television star from 1968 to 2001, who died in 2003 from stomach cancer. Archival interviews with Rogers, television show footage, and interviews with cast and family members show how this unlikely cardigan sweater-wearing Presbyterian minister became such an unlikely and beloved icon. Keep the hankies handy – you WILL cry.
This Deadpool sequel, with Ryan Reynolds reprising his role as the foul-mouthed, snark-filled Marvel Comics anti-hero, does something most comedies don’t do – it surpasses the well done 2016 original with an even funnier, more creative story, making it by far the best comedy of 2018. The X-Force of rogue mutants is hysterical – especially Domino, who may wield the best superpower of all. Do not miss the script-flipping closing scenes a few minutes into the credits.
Based on author Garrard Conley’s memoir, an Arkansas teen’s ultra-religious parents send him to a controversial, church-supported, gay conversion camp after he is outed as being gay. Lucas Hedges delivers another powerhouse performance as the young man whose emotionally torturous and abusive journey in this “camp” leads to an unintended result — true self-discovery, with an equally compelling performance from Nicole Kidman as his well-intentioned mother.
Charlie Plummer stars in this shocking and powerful heartbreaker about Charley, a teenage boy living on the fringes of society after his father, his last remaining family member, dies unexpectedly. Alone, Charley attaches himself to an aging racehorse, naively embarking on a journey across America’s western frontier in search of a new home. Beautiful cinematography, a heart-wrenching performance by Plummer and a fresh story free of clichés makes this compelling story a one of a kind.
This third remake of the original 1937 film stars Bradley Cooper as a superstar entertainer who discovers and helps shape the career of a talented young aspiring singer/songwriter (Lady Gaga), just as his own shining star is starting to fade. A clever, modernized take on the classic story, rousing career-defining performances by both Cooper and Gaga, and a heartfelt, flawless soundtrack, make this an instant classic.