Mooreviews’ Top 10 Films of 2018

It’s been quite the year for film and, honestly, I would even say that it’s been one of the best in a while. There were so many strong films for the year and making this top 10 list was actually tough and competitive. However, the time has come to not only look back on the year as a whole, but to see what films were my favorites of year.

BUT FIRST… five very worthy honorable mentions:

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse

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Avengers: Infinity War

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Mirai

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The Favourite

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Searching

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*These films are not in any particular order, but are all just nominations for my best picture awards that will be announced later*

The Old Man and the Gun

Even just taking away the fact that The Old Man and the Gun being the last film for the legendary Robert Redford, this is film is truly just great on its own. Telling the “mostly true” story of Forrest Tucker (Redford), a man who escaped from San Quentin at the age of 70 and is now on escaping the grasp of an officer, John Hunt (Casey Affleck), The Old Man and the Gun is a film that has a little bit of everything. There’s an excellently developed romance between Tucker and Sissy Spacek’s Jewel, the thrill of the on-going chase between Tucker and Hunt, and the continuous interest in why Tucker continues to rob banks at his age.

Frankly, I find Tucker to be one of the most interesting characters that I’ve seen this year as his genuine love of the chase not only feels unique, but is captured in an amazing way by Redford. When he goes back to kiss Jewel and we see how every reacts in a positive way to Tucker when talking about his past crimes, I felt like I was slowly falling in love with his personality and didn’t see him much as a criminal. It really says something about Tucker; he’s the kind of guy that isn’t out to hurt anyone and just wants to keeping doing what he’s doing because he just genuinely loves it. Outside of Redford, the film is also filled with excellent performances from veteran actors, like Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, and Danny Glover.

It’s impossible to say that this isn’t a perfect ending for Redford’s incredible career and The Old Man and the Gun probably deserves a Best Picture nomination just on this fact alone. However, the film is just great on its own and brings a fun, old style that feels refreshing to see on-screen and has everything to make any moviegoer find something they love in Forrest Tucker.

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Can You Ever Forgive Me?

This film is undoubtedly one of the best of year as it not only has truly standout performances from Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant, but contains one of the most interesting biopic tales told in 2018. McCarthy’s portrayal of Lee Israel, a down on her luck writer that begins to forge letters from prominent writers to make money, is unbelievable and before Can You Ever Forgive Me? I would have never said that McCarthy was capable of delivering such incredible wit. Each line she delivers made me crack a smile and as a whole I slowly became more fascinated by Israel’s story.

In the final moments of the film, McCarthy delivers a small monologue that goes into why she didn’t regret any of her actions. When she said that she felt that it was the best work that she had done in years, I actually felt what she was saying and it came off very genuinely thanks to McCarthy’s performance. Grant also matches McCarthy’s dark wit as her friend, Jack Hock, and delivers a performance that has some emotional moments that sticks with its viewers.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? completely made me rethink how I felt about McCarthy as an actress and brought a story that wasn’t aware of before to the forefront of my mind. The story of Lee Israel is incredibly important and without McCarthy’s career defining performance, it probably wouldn’t have been done right.

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Upgrade

Upgrade is a film that I haven’t stopped thinking about even after seeing it months ago. It lived up to all the expectations that it set and showed why Leigh Whannel and Blumhouse Productions are forces to be reckoned with. The interactions between Stem and Gray, played by Logan-Marshall Green, are absolutely fantastic and grow into something so incredibly sinister. The film is almost like watching a darker superhero story and Whannel’s ability to include some brutal kills and some incredibly well –choreographed action sequences is uncanny.

Nothing, however, compares to Green’s performance in Upgrade as his ability to be charming, emotionally drained, and determined to down-right amazing. His dedication to bringing both the depressed emotions of Gray losing his wife and becoming paralyzed and the robotically powerful fighting brought on by STEM is absolutely the highlight of this film. Frankly, if I could, I would give Green any and every award that I could for his dedication for this film and his performance in Upgrade is undoubtedly one of the most underrated of the year.

As a whole, Upgrade is an incredibly well-made film from start to finish and has an ending that leaves plenty of emotional weight in its viewers. Also, if you came off disappointed by Venom and want a dark, Jekyll and Hyde superhero story, you have to see Upgrade.

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Bad Times at the El Royale

Drew Goddard has crafted an incredibly exciting and fun thriller full of mystery and twists and turns with Bad Times at the El Royale. His use of music and conversation to almost hypnotize viewers only to shock them the next was something that constantly drew me into the film more and more. The entire cast is incredible and you only learn about them slowly so that when you see a small twist in their personality or their back story, it truly comes off as shocking.

The setting of the El Royale is also incredibly fascinating to look at and the fun 50s aesthetics turns dark once Chris Hemsworth’s Billy Lee enters the picture. Really, all the performances in Bad Times at the El Royale are amazing and there’s especially excellent performances from Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, and Cynthia Erivo. Honestly, the film is exactly what anyone wants in a mystery and constantly hooks its viewers to see what happens next.

It’s crazy to me that Bad Times at the El Royale went a little under the radar as it’s full of everything that could easily hook anyone. The best thing I can say about the film is that if you haven’t seen it, you NEED to watch it.

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Wildlife

Paul Dano’s first directorial outing was easily the most emotionally connective films of the year. Seeing the destruction of a family after the father-figure (Jake Gyllenhaal) loses his job and leaves his family to fight Minnesota wildfires is truly heartbreaking. It’s slow-building and reaches a strong climax, like a strong fire, and is shot beautifully thanks to Dano’s superb direction. I loved how he constantly kept the camera hanging and then would slowly turn it to reveal something happening just off-screen and his use of keep conversations off-screen so that we can see the reactions of those listening.

There’s also some great performances by Ex Oxenbould and Carey Mulligan as a mother and son dealing with the departure of a loved one. There’s so much to appreciate from Oxenbould’s performance as a son trying to keep his family together as well as Mulligan, a mother who feels lost by the situation she’s in. This has easily been one of the best stories I’ve seen of a family coming out of the “nuclear family” era.

It truly blows my mind that Wildlife isn’t getting the acclaim it deserves for performances, direction, or, well, pretty much anything. It’s an incredible directorial debut for Paul Dano and it captures the same kind of excellent subtlety that Dano, himself, brings to each of his roles.

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Game Night

Game Night is truly not just a great comedy because it’s absolutely hilarious, it’s also a great film because of John-Francis Daley’s direction. From the duration shot of the group trying to play keep away from security and the quick cuts between Kyle Chandler’s Brooks fighting off burglars and the group eating cheese, you can immediately tell that there was some special care to not be just another comedy.

Not to mention, the cast is all equally perfect and there are not real weak players in this game. Each “couple” has some great moments that each showcase how hilarious they can truly be. Game Night also blends different genre’s together with some moments of horror, comedy, and action. Even seeing the film a few times since my original viewing in theaters, I just can’t get enough of this film and still laugh every single time.

There’s even some cool uses of board game settings that still blow my mind with how good they look. As a whole, Game Night was easily one of my favorites of the year and it’s a film that makes me crave a watch even at this very moment.

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Night is Short, Walk On Girl

This was easily one of the most creatively vibrant films I’ve ever seen and I know what you’re thinking: “But Tom, you gave Mirai a better score than Night is Short, Walk on Girl. How could that not make the top 10 over Night is Short.” While this is true, as I thought back on both films, I frankly just loved how crazy and wild Night is Short is. There’s just so much creativity put into this film that I just fell in love with when I saw it.

Seeing Otome and Senpai go through incredibly crazy adventures was both amazing and hilarious all at the same time. There’s also some really fun side characters that pop in and out of the story that add some more hilarious moments to the film. Not to mention, the unique color palette really makes it a film that is deserving of word: unique.

Frankly, not enough people talk about Night is Short, Walk on Girl and it really deserves more love. Many probably don’t know the name Masaaki Yuasa, but after watching Night is Short, he’ll surely become someone you’ll want to see more from.

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If Beale Street Could Talk

There’s no doubt that Barry Jenkins is becoming one of the best up and coming filmmakers and If Beale Street Could Talk shows exactly why. His ability to create impactful emotion and make you feel like you are looking through the eyes of a black person in a time and area of brutal racial discrimination just can’t be matched. His use of solo face shots to showcase the reactions and facial emotions of his characters is incredibly effective and really makes you feel something.

Not to mention, there is a slew of strong performances from the entire cast. The best, though, comes from the film’s leads as both Stephan James and Kiki Layne, in her first feature film, captures the viewers’ attention and makes them feel their love for one another as well as their struggles. Jenkins is also very effective in using his side characters to also capture the viewers’ attention while not taking away from his leads.

Jenkin’s adaptation of the acclaimed James Baldwin novel is a true swell of emotion and a strong set of performances to boot. Frankly, I was worried at first that the Golden Globe nominations would set the film up with hype that it could live up to, but after to seeing it, I don’t even know why I was worried.

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The Strangers: Prey at Night

Man, oh man do I love this movie. I would even go as far as to say that this was the best horror film of the year as it’s not necessarily a direct sequel to 2008 slow-burn original, but rather a reimaging of The Strangers as an 80’s slasher. Prey at Night doesn’t feel like it’s full of tropes, for the most part, and keeps the stalking nature of the Strangers.

From the incredible end sequence on the bridge and the amazing fight sequence between Lewis Pullman’s Luke and the Man in the Mask at the pool, there are so many memorable moments Prey at Night brings. It also brings some incredibly suspenseful sequences and a strong “final girl” performance from Bailee Madison.

There’s honestly so much more I can say about Prey at Night, but instead of saying too much, I’m just going to suggest that you see it for yourself.

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The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give was easily one of the most socially relevant and powerful films of 2018. It’s discussions on police brutality and targeting as well as the complex struggles of culture are fascinating to watch. All of this is on full display by Amanda Stenberg as Starr Carter and her character’s complex frustrations easily make her one of the most realistic of the year. The film gives special spotlights on not only her struggles with losing two friends to shootings, but how this all plays out with both the black community she lives in and the whiter school that she attends.

It’s a film that sticks with you and I actually appreciated how the film focused on the idea of hate spreading. It’s something that’s incredibly relevant and that is a legitimately issue that people are currently facing. I also appreciated how it sort of answers its dilemma of hate and offers something that people can think about even after they’ve left the theater.

The film based on the novel of the same name by Angie Thomas is truly powerful and makes its viewers think. It’s only tough to watch because everything in it feels so real and it’s the reason that it is so good.

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