The first half of 2018 has flown by and with it has come some of the best films in recent memory. Normally, lists like this would be saved for the end of the year. Don’t worry, the end-of-year best and worst lists are still coming to Talkies Network but for now, as we enter July, we thought it would be a good time to rank the best this year has offered so far. So, enough with the introduction. Read on to see our picks for the ten best films of 2018… so far!
Made on a budget of $3-$5 million, Leigh Whannell’s Upgrade is a film no one saw coming. The film follows a future that is both grim and fascinating and centers on Grey, a man who spends his days fixing up old muscle cars while his devoted wife works for a tech company. A trip in their self-driving car goes terribly — and suspiciously — awry, leaving Asha dead and Grey a quadriplegic. He, however, gets a chance at a rejuvenation when the head of a rival tech company offers to install a super-intelligent device called Stem, which would reanimate his shattered body. From there, the audience watches an action-packed and brutal story that is full of twists, emotion and body-horror imagery. Logan Marshall-Green is engaging and believable in the role of Grey and writer/director Whannell deserves top points for the imaginative story. The film just opened in Canada, so if you are looking for a unique film to watch this weekend I think you can find it in Upgrade.
9. Love, Simon
Very rarely will you hear people saying, “I needed this film” with a serious tone. Sure, filmmaking has always paralleled real life, but never has it been done like this before. The teen romance sub-genre of the romantic comedy is one that is not uncommon and usually follows a series of standard coming-of-age tropes that end with the two protagonists securing their relationship. Love, Simon is a different coming-of-age story. It may be a film that treads on familiar waters with its formulaic plot, but the message, along with superb performances, a fantastic soundtrack and its dedication to equality elevate this film above other romantic comedies. It is a film that opens the door for more LGBTQ stories to be told and celebrates self-awareness. Once again, the John-Hughes high school vibe is on full display and Love, Simon represents a long awaited, successful milestone for inclusion and diversity in the film industry.
8. Deadpool 2
Deadpool 2 has some pacing issues and occasional script problems, but it is an entertaining sequel that builds on everything audiences loved about the original film. There is not much to say about Reynolds performance, as he embodies the role of Deadpool. He is Deadpool, in very much the same way that Robert Downey Jr. is Ironman or Hugh Jackman is Wolverine. Josh Brolin, the new king of superhero movies, knocks it out of the park with his performance as the time traveling mutant Cable. Atlanta’s Zazie Beetz gives audiences a charming portrayal of the mercenary Domino and makes the character one of the most surprising breakout performances of the movie. Deadpool’s meta-humor was always one of the character’s strongest selling points and in that aspect of the franchise this film does not disappoint as it is loaded with references to pop-culture and other superhero films that is sure to bring out a lot of laughs from the audience. But seriously, how great was baby legs Deadpool?
7. Paddington 2
2015’s Paddington was an unexpected release for 2018. The film about an adorable bear from Peru coming to live with a lovable English family proved to be one of the best films of that year and is remembered for its light-hearted fun and terrific performances. Paddington 2 will be remembered as one of the great “feel-good” movies of the year. Not only does it keep everything you loved about the first film, but it successfully ventures into a new direction that will have you smiling from beginning to end. It takes risks but never manages to lose sight of its emotional core that will translate well with parents while still making children happy. Filled with wonderful performances, slapstick comedy and a mature story, Paddington 2 honors its protagonist’s rich history with a sweet-natured adventure that is purely enjoyable for all ages.
6. You Were Never Really Here
Lynne Ramsay absolutely knocked it out of the park with You Were Never Really Here. A thriller complete with a this-goes-all-the-way-to-the-top conspiracy, the film centers on Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) who is a military veteran and former FBI agent that now specializes in rescuing trafficked girls – and ensuring their captors are disposed of in the most brutal fashion possible. Phoenix is incredible in the role as Joe is thrust into a twisted and complicated world that brings out a truly primitive performance from Phoenix. It is a story filled with detours and dark fantasy moments that leave one on edge throughout the film’s runtime. There are brutal moments but mostly from a distance, creating a sense of awe and mystery as we see Joe confront the demons of past and present. Above all else, this underrated classic confirms writer-director Lynne Ramsay as one of modern cinema’s most unique — and uncompromising — voices.
5. Avengers: Infinity War
This movie has the makings of one of the best Marvel films, even superhero films for that matter in terms purely associated with the hype and magnitude of the personalities brought together into one film. While some aspects fall short, Avengers: Infinity War brings together ten years of storytelling from the Marvel Cinematic Universe make this film THE quintessential Marvel movie. Execution of this proved to be the x-factor in where this movie would be placed amongst the greats of the MCU catalogue and its subsequent quality rating. Overall, this film provides great entertainment value in its rich action, emotion, and subtle comedy. Fantastic musical score and visuals complement the entertainment significance for superhero fans and casual viewers alike. Ten years of Marvel Cinema helped to alleviate the imbalances in character performances and interactions, still resulting in an enthralling superhero cinematic experience.
Annihilation is a film that deserves to be seen in theatres. It is a shame that international film-goers will see the film first on Netflix but that will not take away from the fact that Alex Garland’s second directorial effort is a film that does not get released often. A high-concept sci-fi horror that joins the likes of Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival, Annihilation creates a unique and visionary world that will leave viewers contemplating what they saw for days to come. Featuring phenomenal performances, visceral gene ecstasies and challenging themes, Annihilation is a journey that, while not easy to discuss, will linger in our thoughts and go down as one of the best sci-fi films in recent memory. For my American and Canadian readers, I hope you took advantage of the opportunity to see this film in cinemas.
3. Black Panther
Black Panther went above-and-beyond the calling of a superhero film. It joins the likes of The Dark Knight, Logan, and Wonder Woman as something that is more than just a comic book movie. It wonderfully blends genres to deliver a fully developed plot with complex characters as well as Marvel Studios’ best cinematic villain since Loki. The slow build leads into an incredibly powerful, emotionally relevant and thought-provoking feature that solidifies Ryan Coogler as one of the best directors working today. Every frame is infused with soul and charisma with Coogler evoking a very human feel to the story. Black Panther elevates the superhero genre to thrilling new heights while telling a fantastic standalone story that will go down as one of the greatest comic book movies of all-time.
2. Incredibles 2
To anyone who had this mindset, doubting Incredibles 2 was immensely foolish. Brad Bird is one of the best filmmakers working in the industry today and this film not only reaffirms this notion, but it is also yet another demonstration of why Pixar is THE leader in Hollywood animation. This movie has the makings of one of the best Pixar films, even superhero films for that matter. Was the wait worth it? I think so. Apart from Toy Story 3, this is the only film to recapture the same magic as its predecessor after such a long time between productions. Overall, this film provides great entertainment value in its rich action, emotion, and subtle comedy. Fantastic musical score and animation complement the entertainment significance for die-hard fans of the original and the casual viewer.
1. A Quiet Place
It would seem that, in today’s era of filmmaking, the unlikeliest of people create something so fascinating that fans remained shocked for days to come. Emotionally-driven and terrifyingly captivating, John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place is a classic from start to finish. He is able to build a world where all seems lost while still honing in on what makes the film special; parents looking to protect their children at all costs. It features incredible sound design, fantastic performances and nail-biting tension and with the genre experiencing a renaissance, A Quiet Place embodies the zenith of the high-concept horror film. And remember, if they hear, they hunt you.
Honourable Mentions: Won’t You Be My Neighbour?, Isle of Dogs, Ready Player One, Blockers and Hereditary
That’s our list! Don’t think some films should be on this list? Let us know what your favourite films of 2018 are in the comments down below! And to our Canadian viewers, happy Canada Day from the Talkies Network team!