Best Movies of 2018 So Far
Here we are—halfway through the year—and you better recognize!
The movies below have stood the test of time for a solid six months or perhaps fewer. Nonetheless, they are still the very best of 2018 has had to offer thus far. Are you ready for my top 18 of 2018 up to this point? You damn right you are. I’ll shut up now.
SUMMER OF ’84
A group of teenage friends playing detective in search of a serial killer that could be living next door sounds like an adventure, but what’s underneath is what excites the most. Directors RKSS gave us a top-notch throwback. In it, suspense is brilliantly built upon suspicion. The childlike perspective doesn’t stop this from going to darker places. Its perturbing mood and tone is meant to make you uncomfortable. Its finesse, unpredictability, and attitude is intoxicating, a stirring standout with a killer vibe.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a legal legend with an incredible intellect to slowly lay down the foundation to put sexual discrimination on the map and in the minds of those in the highest of power. Directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen have put together an eloquent documentary that gets insightful and personal, and you can’t help but relish in the time you get to spend with the Notorious one. It’s a dashing discovery of her perseverance, her gift of getting people to listen, and her power that should never be underestimated.
Writers/stars Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal let their voices be heard loud and clear in a film where absurdity and aggression make a crackerjack combo. It’s a stupefying story of racial politics, a changing culture, and an overall nervousness of being in your own skin. That’s a lot to say for this incautious buddy comedy, but director Carlos Lopez Estrada’s vision is potent and has the perfect two guys to give it to us straight. They are double trouble, and while Casal is fantastic, it’s Diggs that turns each written word on its head, exercising intensity and empathy that stems from the prejudice streets he walks on.
A topflight true crime thriller about one insane heist that’s simply too inconceivable to make up. Director Bart Layton draws out the perfect crime scenario, placing a spectacular cast, Barry Keoghan and Evan Peters being the standouts, right next to the real-life participants who actually did the damn thing. It provides a wildly different, but magnetic kind of viewing experience. One that is cleverly orchestrated, immensely entertaining, and makes you sweat in worry knowing there’s no way they could possibly get away with it.
A QUIET PLACE
John Krasinski brings brilliance to the simplicity of storytelling. He uses startling sound and deafening silence to make this a heart-racing, emotionally exhausting creature feature. The small cast is spectacular, especially Emily Blunt, expressing everything humanly possible while remaining silent. Feeding off the fear of being heard takes this terrific thriller to unbelievably unprecedented heights. We may have a new horror classic on our hands here.
ISLE OF DOGS
With an amazing voice cast, director Wes Anderson has shaped a dazzling animated story about man’s best friend. His patented perfection to detail is entrancing, as is his narrative of gullibility and hysteria. The unmistakable imagery and refined waggery, in conjunction with incredulous imagination, puts this superb stop-motion adventure in a league all of its own.
YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE
Joaquin Phoenix is astonishing as a hired-killer with a hammer who balances himself on the edge of ending it all. Director Lynne Ramsay is rigorous in her uncompromising film where beauty is buried in the brutality of our suffering, unlikely hero. Their joint effort forms this into an exceptional, yet excruciating viewing experience. Try keeping up with a tortured soul haunted by trauma. Its intensity and danger rings out even in the faint of whispers.
The less you know the better when it comes to this hellish family horror tale that’s dizzying in its disturbance. No matter how nuts it gets, the tingling of terror is a constant throughout. Toni Collette and Alex Wolff are magnificent in Ari Aster’s debut feature about the atrocities of death and being devoured by guilt and grief. The slow burn of suffering is astonishing, serving up the unexpected while rattling the nerves.
Charlize Theron is marvelous in Jason Reitman’s motherhood meltdown, revealing an emotionally raw and physical perception of what it truly takes to raise a child on a daily basis. There’s nothing typical in this dynamite dramedy where humor is hidden in misery, the acting is fearless, and the direction and writing is sharp, puncturing holes in the illusion of only having joy in bringing up a family. It’s provocative by providing eye-opening authenticity that movies are simply scared to show. The fact of the matter is being a mom is a messy business, and now we’re finally getting the admirable, afflicting attitude that comes with it.
HOT SUMMER NIGHTS
This drug-dealing love story is electric, full of innocence, violence and cockiness. Director Elijah Bynum’s coming-of-age film is set in a sweltering, seductive summer that reaps discovery, humor, and suspense. Set in 1991, it sizzles in its atmosphere, dripping vivid, vibrant vibes of being young and rabid. Timothee Chalamet is dynamite as a teen who’s too smart for his own good, and Maika Monroe is perfect as one helluva a heartbreaker.
MINDING THE GAP
An unexpectedly beautiful and stirring doc about three young men who share a love of skateboarding that becomes their way to heal from their pasts, even if only for a moment. In his stunning first feature, director Bing Liu captures compelling stories in a crumbling Illinois city where family abuse leaves an incredibly lasting impression that must be forgiven. The friendships and relationships that are explored are complicated with no easy answers; but that’s how life is and this immense, intimate journey is them figuring it out.
Love her or hate her, she’s a ball-buster for human rights. In this sensational, enthralling doc, we get to see the woman behind the press conferences, along with the fighting for justice that is her life. Her personal challenges are barely touched, but there’s no mistaking that her hell-raising, while shocking back in the day, has brought tremendous change.
AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR
Ten years in the making, the Russo brothers deliver a nonstop, mesmerizing movie stacked with superheroes battling the biggest and baddest villain in the universe. There’s colossal consequences in this epic event and extinguishing every emotion in your body is its endgame. Practically every beloved character gets their laughs and licks, some more than others; but as Thanos, it’s Josh Brolin who overshadows them all in his almighty performance, commanding every second he’s on screen. The MCU approaches unprecedented territory in this superior superhero spectacle destined to leave you in a state of shock. We have a year to gather ourselves before it happens all over again.
HEARTS BEAT LOUD
Director Brett Haley’s resounding father/daughter musical dramedy plays sensational, sweet-natured sounds for the heart. Nick Offerman & Kiersey Clemons are tremendous together, striking a chord with their family dynamics while simultaneously touching the soul. It’s funny, innocuous and honestly affectionate, and together they make beautiful music for us all to hear and see.
WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
We are enlightened by director Neville’s terrific & timely doc about a television pioneer who gave his life to embolden childhood education while rocking one colorful sweater after another. Being shocking doesn’t seem like Rogers’ style, but he absolutely was for his time. Children were able to understand what it meant to be accepting & kind w/ each episode when he walked through the door. He had such a pure heart, & it’s refreshing to see a person have such a genuine understanding of kids & knew love (or lack thereof) could make a world of difference in their lives. In all of our lives. This touching, thoughtful 94 minutes will make most smile, a lot cry, & have us all wanting to be better humans.
A strange, stunning sci-fi film meant to be seen more than once. Director Alex Garland can’t stop pushing the boundaries of this genre with this gorgeous gift about humanity’s own self-destruction and the constant change with no cure. Natalie Portman is phenomenal as a wife/biologist fighting the unknown, personally seeking answers in hope of being cleansed. Thought-provoking, disturbing and ambitious as hell, there’s no easy explanation to prepare you for this exceptional extraterrestrial mystery.
Director Kay Cannon is calling the shots in this untamed, progressive teen comedy with a fresh perspective of ladies laying down the law. The excellent cast deserves major praise with their impeccable timing and slapstick comedy. What’s more, through the grossed-out gags that shock and one-line zingers that sting, it’s poignant and reasonably reflective on the intricate relationship between a parent and child.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is changing the game and making history with this triumphant, distinctive tale about the flaws of humankind that is thoughtfully told with a racial conscience. Chadwick Boseman is extraordinary as the King of Wakanda and Michael B. Jordan has an unlimited amount of swag as Killmonger.
Their machismo is no match for their amazing female co-stars, conquering with undeniable confidence by bringing their own style of badassness to the big screen. There’s mesmerizing beauty within the entire production, easily allowing the culture, music and setting to leave you breathless. Director Ryan Coogler has created a world that is astonishing, yet not as foreign as we may believe.
“Nature Boy” Brandon Vick is the resident film critic of the SoBros Network, and star of Brandon’s Box Office In Your Mouth. Follow him on Twitter@SirBrandonV and be sure to search #VicksFlicks for all of his latest movie reviews.