In honor of the 91st Academy Awards, I wanted to celebrate by listing my personal ten favorite movies of the past year. The Best Picture Nominees are always contentiously debated (among film snobs at least), and this year was no different. For some reason, only 9 of a maximum 10 were give a nod even though there are obviously so many great movies to take the last spot. Black Panther did break the blockbuster barrier, Roma is a unique entry, somehow Vice ended up on there even though it’s not even a great picture.
With film being the subjective medium that it is, it’s tough to criticize anyone’s personal favorites (but seriously, Vice?). And with that caveat, here’s what my list of Best Picture Nominees from 2018 would be, in order of release date. I’ll leave a quick-and-dirty summary and sentence review for each, but I strongly recommend searching these out and watching them for yourself.
1. Thoroughbreds (3/9) Two disaffected youths plot a familial murder. The score and acting work in perfect tandem to create an uncomfortable feeling that lasts the entire movie, in the best way. Gets better as the movie goes on until its fascinating conclusion. Made me an immediate fan of Olivia Cooke.
2. Isle of Dogs (4/13) A kid goes to an isle of dogs, saves Japan. The animation is incredible, especially scenes with close-ups on action, I don’t get how they have the patience to do it. Also, a very humorous and interesting story.
3. The Rider (4/13) A rider can’t ride anymore, but wants to. It is slow and simple, in a contemplative way. Beautifully made, well acted, and you really feel the pain of the characters and believe the authenticity.
4. Hearts Beat Loud (6/8) Classic sentimental father-daughter coming-of-age tale. The music is top-notch. Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons are both on their A game. Strongly recommended if you need a good cry.
5. Eighth Grade (8/3) A girl navigates the horrors of eighth grade. This movie felt more realistic than any other movie I’ve seen. It seemed so honest and true-to-life. Actors flubbed sentences like real people would, and Elsie Fisher plays Kayla perfectly. Josh Hamilton is also great as her dad.
6. Searching (8/31) A dad is searching for his daughter. Every scene is viewed through a computer screen. The intimate connection to technology, and how it speaks to the way we communicate (or don’t), add so much depth to an already entertaining thriller.
7. Free Solo (9/28) A man with no amygdala response climbs a giant cliff without any safety equipment. The entire documentary makes your heart beat out of your chest, especially once he starts his final ascent. The film crew is just as dedicated to climbing, and it shows.
8. Spider Man into the Spider-Verse (12/14) A bunch of Spider Men (Spider People?) discover there’s more than one Spider-Verse. This is literally a perfect animated movie. Animation style, voice acting, story, action, everything just works on every level.
9. If Beale Street Could Talk (12/14) Beale Street would have a lot to say about the power of love, and the racial discrimination in our criminal justice system. Another nearly perfect film experience, an emotional roller coaster that feels so important without needing to tell you how important it is to see. I hope this wins at least a few awards on Sunday.
10. Cold War (12/21) Two musicians who shouldn’t be together really want to be, and one of them is a talented singer. I watched Cold War over a month ago and it still brings up emotions whenever I so much as think about it. And it’s not even 90 minutes long (that’s like watching just one episode of Game of Thrones!) so there’s no excuse to take the time to watch it.