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by Jason F. Koenigsberg

Finally, after much consideration, my long awaited Best Movies of 2018 list. One of the first times ever most of the films chosen for this list were released back in the Spring and not one film was released in December. This holiday season brought a very lacking selection of serious awards contenders. Usually, the last two months of any year brings about the best films that the year has to offer. For 2018 that was not the case. In fact, only one film made the cut and it was granted a very limited theatrical release in November and then went straight to Netflix. Never before has that happened for my Best of the Year list. I decided to make a top 11 this year because there were truly 11 outstanding films and I wanted to give you one more than most typical critics. A lot of the themes have already been touched up in my Movie Trends of 2018 article so I will do my best not to repeat myself. So without any further ado, here are my Best films of 2018.

11. Eighth Grade (directed by Bo Burnham)

One of the most realistic and touching movies of the year. It had that neorealist quality that made it seem like you are not watching actors, but real people experiencing real life. A very unique coming of age movie that captures simple moments about growing up that everyone has experienced and allows you to relive them.

10. The Death of Stalin (directed by Armando Iannucci)

Seldom has death been this funny. A movie that Mel Brooks would be proud of. The only truly irreverent, incendiary and truly hilarious comedy of the year. This is the movie I laughed out loud in more than anything else during the entire year.

9. Suspiria (Directed by Luca Guadagnino)

One of the best surprises that flew under the radar was Luca Guadagnino’s follow up to his Oscar darling from last year Call Me By Your Name, a remake of a Giallo horror classic that was very different and poignant than the original Suspiria directed by the legendary Dario Argento. A scary, beautiful and powerful Cold War metaphor about the scars of World War II with one of the best performances from Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton who will be criminally ignored in the Best Supporting Actress category with one of the finest performances of the year.

8. Annihilation (directed by Alex Garland)

One of the most ambitious films of the year and one of the most thought-provoking science fiction films of recent years, Annihilation debuted back in February of last year and remained in my thoughts all year. The studio had little faith in it but Alex Garland made a film every bit as spectacular and awe-inspiring as his previous film Ex Machina (2015).

7. Won’t You Be My Neighbor (directed by Morgan Neville)

The Best documentary of the year was one of the most relevant social commentaries about our society and how we all should strive to raise better children and be better adults. One of the most heartwarming films of the year and one of the strongest indictments of our current political climate.

6. A Quiet Place (directed by John Krasinski)

The most memorable theater experience of 2018 was a brilliant and moving horror film. A Quiet Place is an exercise in intense and brutal terror, as well as a love story about family, and does as much for your fear in the theater as it will your imagination once you leave and walk back to your car in the dark. 

5. Roma (directed by Alfonso Cuaron)

This was the film released in November only briefly because two weeks later it was streaming on Netflix. A tribute to all of the hardworking women, single moms and the workers that are often faceless doing jobs that white first world citizens would consider beneath them. The best empathy generator since 2016’s Best Picture Moonlight. Cuaron took heavily from Almodovar and Fellini and made a personal masterwork.

4. First Reformed (directed by Paul Schrader)

Possibly the best performance of Ethan Hawke’s career and one of the most personal and confident of writer/director Paul Schrader, First Reformed is a challenging film about a tortured soul, but also a testament of the power of love, and a film that makes us question why religious leaders are not getting involved in the issue of climate change when they could make an impact on saving our planet and not just blindly allowing politicians to set the rules that could lead to our Armageddon.

3. Blackkklansman (directed by Spike Lee)

One of the most politically and racially charged movies of the year that tells the stranger than fiction true story of a black police officer who infiltrated the KKK. Sadly more relevant than it should be about race relations and how our current leadership is moving our country back to the Nixon era. This is something ALL Americans should see so they can reflect on where our country currently stands and what they can do to improve our current racial schism that divides us. 

2. The Hate U Give (directed by George Tillman Jr.)

This movie is an outcry. An absolute whirlwind of emotions and a Readers Digest education on white privilege and ignorance to how millions of African-Americans live. The Hate U Give (an acronym for T.H.UG.) is a bold movie, unafraid to push buttons and say things most other movies would not. One of the best films of the year and hopefully the more people see it, the more it can open up discussions about how we can improve our lives so that we do not turn on the news to see another young black man die at the hands of the police. 

1. Hereditary (directed by Ari Aster)

The best film of 2018 is a horror movie that could have been made any time during the past several decades. But it took decades of lesser horror films for the genre to mature to make this brilliant and harrowing film about who we are and where we come from and how we cannot change our DNA and that horror may be embedded in us no matter what. Usually, this spot is reserved for a more socially conscious film about our current status as a society but Hereditary is so great it eclipsed the best socially relevant films of 2018. The best part of Hereditary is what it says about family. How we inadvertently hurt the ones we love so much and how horrible and hopeless we can feel from the people closest to us. Families suffer for the sins of their parents and grandparents and it is a vicious cycle that is very tough to break. Few horror films also serve as such a profound cry for help to remind us that we need to love and cherish those closest to us.

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