2018 was certainly an interesting year for movies. Whilst not as impressive as 2017, which remains one of the most impressive years for films in general, 2018 still managed to surprise many, with a high amount of pleasant surprises and disappointments.
One thing that we don’t yet know, though, is which of the great 2018 films will become popular enough to continue to be discovered as the years go by, and so, it’s time to list some of the best films of 2018, in the hopes of giving some of the lesser known films a boost. Without further ado, here are ten of the best films released in 2018 that deserve to be nominated for best picture.
1. Love, Simon
Starting with what will more than likely be the most controversial choice on this list, Love, Simon came out early in the year. Directed by Greg Berlanti, the film is a throwback high school comedy drama with one difference, the lead character, Simon, is gay. Whilst it may not be the most well made film of the year, I do think that Love, Simon is an important one.
It is a warm, surprisingly fresh comedy that really manages to go beyond the call of duty with the representation of modern schooling, and it seems to be managing to surprise people just as much with its representations as it is with the burst of emotions people are receiving from it.
It’s such a neatly controlled film, and given that the Oscars seem intent on trying to choose films that reflect current times, whilst also being good, Love, Simon seems like an obvious choice. It’s charming, it’s entertaining, but most of all it’s important, and it is more than likely to be the defining high school film of recent years.
2. The Tale
From Jennifer Fox comes a haunting true story of truly despicable and saddening events, the story of a young girl groomed by a family. For a director to tell a harsh true story is one thing, but what makes this film all the more stunning and brave is the fact that the story being told is the story of the director’s own experience.
Telling an intimate autobiographical story is always so difficult to get right, and few filmmakers ever manage to tell their own story in a way that doesn’t feel biased or on the nose, and so to see Fox confidently tell such a brutal story is a huge thing, and likely one that has literally never been done before in cinema.
As times progresses, cinema, as an art form, is becoming more and more ambitious. The Oscars are focused on celebrating the progression of film as art, and so it makes a whole lot of sense that Fox’s brave, troubling story is given the backing of the industry.
Actors becoming directors typically has a very good track record with the Oscars, from Kevin Costner winning best picture for Dances With Wolves (1990) to Clint Eastwood winning best picture twice (once for Million Dollar Baby, once for Unforgiven), so it would make perfect sense if the latest debut from a Hollywood star, Jonah Hill, were to be the next actor turned director to win best picture.
Whilst many will argue that, if anyone, Bradley Cooper will take the prize this year for the same reason due to A Star Is Born, they may not be wrong, but Mid90s feels far more personal, and is also much more refreshing than Cooper’s retelling of a story so well known in Hollywood it has almost become a key component of it.
The film is filled with great, tender performances from many great up and coming actors, it even uses many non-actors for the sake of keeping the skateboarding sequences as authentic as possible. The Academy may not love it nearly as much as audiences seem to, they may lack the connection that many have to the time that Hill’s film captures so effortlessly and so beautifully, but one thing remains certain, Hill’s film is one of the most heartfelt of the year, and whilst it may become muddled from time to time in terms of ideologies (it seems to be unsure about where it stands morally with the characters and their actions for the majority of the runtime, even occasionally taking opposing sides), there is no denying the gradual emotional power that it holds.
4. Thunder Road
Okay, admittedly the Academy do not seem all too interested in focusing on those who have placed the most effort into making their vision become a reality (as far as cinema is concerned, anyway.), however, if Thunder Road is ignored any longer people will probably start to riot in the streets.
Holding within it the finest male performance of the entire year, the most poignant script and the best child performance, too, Thunder Road is the constantly riveting, constantly beautiful story of a man trying to piece his life together, but tragically failing most of the time.
Coming from Jim Cummings, who has been making short films for years now (Thunder Road being one of them), the film really feels as if it is coming from one person, due to the extremely personal story, the excellent performance from Cummings himself and just the way in which the story flows make it so clear that there is so much passion behind the scenes.
Cummings, who wrote, directed and starred in the film, is one of the most promising directors to come out of the woodwork this year, and many are eagerly awaiting his next film, hoping for something equally emotional and personal, as Thunder Road is, without a doubt one of the most touching films of 2018.
5. Eighth Grade
Bo Burnham is known for being a jack of all trades, from making music on YouTube, writing and starring in a TV series, writing and performing musical standup specials to now writing and directing his feature film debut at the still very young age of 28. This is really quite impressive to almost anyone, and Bo has been making his way up the ladder for around a decade now, so seeing it finally come together in his feature debut, Eighth Grade, was quite incredibly rewarding, and to see that the film was a great success made it even more enjoyable.
Eighth Grade is another middle/high school movie about how school is for teenagers in the modern day, taking the cliches from the classic high school movies of the 1970’s and 1980’s and bending them to fit into the mould of the 21st century. It’s a surprisingly harsh film, seemingly focusing on the negative side of modern technology and the ways in which it can cause a great deal of social anxiety for many, something that the target audience for the movie are likely experiencing right now.
The film couldn’t come at a more necessary time, seeing as currently anxiety and depression seem to be literally everywhere, especially in the young, and seeing as Bo was constantly pushing to have screenings without age restrictions on them for the sake of showing this quite accurate representation of modern school life.
If the Academy can understand this film from the perspective of someone going through the experiences in the film, I think that they will understand that Burnham’s film is important, and does deserve a good amount of recognition.