2017 was a tough act to follow for original films, but 2018 so far has held up pretty well. Horror has continued its comeback, superhero movies are only getting better, and more diversity (looking at you, Black Panther), and originality are definitely not lacking.
It's safe to say at least a few of these movies will be on my end-of-the-year list as well; they were just that good.
And let's be clear on one thing. These movies are my favorites so far. Best movie lists are always subjective and I'm sure some of you will be mad if I don't include a movie you thought was the best. But feel free to tell me how I am wrong ...
Here is my list in alphabetical order (some minor spoilers below):
The follow-up to Alex Garland's incredible directorial debut Ex Machina takes on sci-fi in a way only Garland can produce. Based on the best-selling book series, the movie adaption has a mind of its own, and as a fan of the book, I was pleased with the differences. The book could not be adapted, so Garland's decisions to change some details made it more desirable. Each time you watch, the film gets better as you notice things you wouldn't be paying attention to the first go-around. Is it a metaphor for life? For cancer? For depression? Maybe all three. What makes this one of the best is the craftiness of the final 20 to 30 minutes where the cinematography, score, and Natalie Portman's performance are put front and center, giving you an ending that will surely be debated for years to come.
A Quiet Place
John Kraskinski can direct! As I said in the opening, horror is solidifying its comeback as a must-see genre. Say goodbye (mostly) to the Paranormal Activity-level of possession flicks, and hello to a new era of Hitchcock-type suspense that will actually scare you. Your experience watching this movie may entirely depend on the audience surrounding you, as it is entirely told without oral speech, but with amazing sound effects. Your patience — along with the characters' — will be tested to see how well you do in a silent world for 90 minutes.
Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan through three films (Fruitvale Station, Creed) have established themselves as one of the most elite director-actor pairings in Hollywood history. But outside of Fruitvale and Creed, Black Panther may be the most important movie ever made, and it lives up to all hype. It is now the highest-grossing Marvel movie in the U.S. (yes, even more than Avengers: Infinity War) with $699.8 million to date. It broke records left and right, and also appeals to a wider audience of people who can connect with the characters on a personal level. People of color are now represented as lead characters with interesting backgrounds in the biggest movie franchise of all time. It's something that should have been done decades ago. Michael B. Jordan has now given us an ultimately great villain in Killmonger, and the triple-threat of female characters Shuri, Okoye, and Nakia (Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, and Lupita Nyong'O, respectively) are all elite in their own ways. Add in a stellar cinematography from Rachel Morrison, the first woman to receive an Oscar nod in that category, for Mudbound, and a soundtrack curated by Kendrick Lamar, and you get maybe the best superhero movie ever.
Death of Stalin
Armando Iannucci has somehow found a way to turn an unfunny topic into something you will laugh hysterically at. View this movie as a Russian version of HBO's Veep, which Iannucci created. It's a bunch of bumbling political idiots playing off one another, but this time the events actually took place. This is easily the best comedy of 2018 so far, and you can bet to see this nominated for an Oscar for Adapted Screenplay next year.
How many of you remember what life was like transitioning from middle/grade school into high school? This film, written and directed by first-timer Bo Burnham, will hit all of the feelings as you watch/fall in love with Elsie Fisher's Kayla. The writing of her character, even from a male perspective, was so precise, you would think it was all ad-libbed. It wowed audiences at Sundance and Phoenix Film Festival, and when it releases nationwide on July 13, you will understand why. It's so relatable you will think you're watching the events happen live.
The 14-year wait is over, and the movie did not disappoint. As any sequel should do, it builds on the original story by developing the Parr family, adding in a worthy villain, and making it timely. This movie is the rare sequel that waits a long time for its release and actually is great, maybe even better than the first. This Incredible sequel is not only great by Pixar standards, but deserves consideration as one of the best superhero movies.
This is the first major-studio film to have an LGBTQ character as its lead. That in and of itself is remarkable, but the film is also good without that historic fact. The film follows title character Simon through his life in high school as he comes to the realization he is gay, and the events that result in his coming out story before he is ready to tell everyone. It's a movie I recommend having tissues ready for, because the water works will flow.
There is a reason this movie (which was released in the U.S. on January 12) is still at 100 percent on review site Rotten Tomatoes. It's an amazing sequel to an equally great film released in 2014. This movie will also make you cry and wonder why people aren't nicer to one another. If a marmalade-loving bear can come to the realization not to judge someone on looks, why can't humans? "If we're kind and polite, the world will be right." Paddington 2 could not have come out at a more important time, reminding us to be kind to one another ... or you know, "Be best."
Of all the films on this list, I am most surprised this one made the cut based on my reaction to the trailers. After leaving the theater, I can confidently say it's one of the most unusual films of the past 10 years. Pairing two immensely talented actors in Charlize Theron and Mackenzie Davis was a terrific decision, and Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman are at their best since 2007's Juno. There is a third-act twist you'll never see coming, and saying any more will ruin the film for you. You'll remember this movie for years to come.
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Won't You Be My Neighbor?
If you want to learn a lesson and also bawl your eyes out, then boy, do I have a recommendation for you. It's a crime against humanity that Fred Rogers is no longer with us, but in his show, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, and now this documentary, he lives on forever. The world would honestly and sincerely be in a much better place right now if we had Mr. Rogers with us. This is more than just a film; it's an experience everyone needs to be a part of.
What was your favorite of the year from January to June? Tweet me @DillonReedRose.