After seeing many of the movies released from January to June 2018, I have compiled a list of my top 10 movies from the first half of the year.
One of the most ambitious films of the year, directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Chadwick Boseman, Black Panther has been at the center of Oscars conversations since its premiere in February. We could see this addition to the MCU be the first superhero movie nominated for Best Picture, but the new popular film category at the Oscars may decrease its chances to do so. From the first glimpse of Wakanda, I recognized the immense power of this film with its sweeping African visuals juxtaposed with its Kendrick Lamar-helmed soundtrack. Give me Winston Duke, Chadwick Boseman, and Michael B. Jordan fighting each other in water on the edge of a cliff and Lupita N’yongo, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, and Angela Bassett running the world any day.
A Quiet Place
We didn’t really know what a John Krasinski sci-fi horror film would look like, but he served us well with A Quiet Place, starring himself and Emily Blunt, his actual wife. After aliens have invaded the planet, the humans must remain quiet so they do not lure the predators that can find you via their hypersensitive hearing ability. While the family has adjusted their life to minimize the sound they make, I stayed rigid in my seat, barely even breathing in tune with the film. Blunt’s scream as she gives birth and the predator’s arm reaches toward her, as seen in the trailer, lifted me out of my body and solidified her Oscar campaign.
You put Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen, and Candice Bergen in a movie together and you expect me to do what? Not love it? Book Club gave us some of our favorite women reading Fifty Shades of Grey together while they figure out their relationships with each other and the men in their lives. Plus, Candice Bergen had sex with Richard Dreyfuss in a backseat, Mary Steenburgen put Viagra in Craig T. Nelson’s drink, Jane Fonda rekindles a flame with Don Johnson, and Andy Garcia caused all of us to drool for the first time this summer when Diane Keaton picked him up (he did it a second time while he was on Cher’s arm in Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again). I would let these women insult me to my dying day, so seeing them continue to embrace their sexuality had me on Cloud 80.
Natalie Portman fighting a version of herself inside an iridescent electromagnetic field? Gina Rodriguez being an absolute badass? Jennifer Jason Leigh playing a shady psychologist? Tessa Thompson allowing us to revel in her onscreen presence in yet another movie this year? Oscar Isaac existing? I was buying a ticket to this movie before the book was ever written. Annihilation requires your full attention throughout, with details slowly unraveling and leaving time for you to process what you have just seen. While it was released by Netflix internationally, I’m glad I was able to experience this movie in the theater where the visual effects could be greater than life itself, much like the phenomenon within this story.
The newest Jason Reitman/Diablo Cody feature starring Charlize Theron and Mackenzie Davis, Tully shows us a touching and almost tragic story of motherhood. This film takes a step toward telling a story that we often don’t see onscreen: the truth. As Theron’s character Marlo gives life to her children, she loses her own essence of vitality that once existed in her and manifests itself in her night nanny Tully, who appears like a conjuring of Marlo’s cries. Marlo and Tully show you the experience of a mother working to maintain some semblance of sanity in a reality bound by childcare, and I marveled at the power of this script, these actresses, and the empathy they exhibit toward the women in all of our lives.
Love, Simon is the sweet, white, gay romantic comedy we’ve been waiting for all these years after living for our queens falling for the Straight White Men of yesteryear. Madam Meg Ryan, I will always love you. Dame Julia Roberts, never change. Queen Diane Keaton, keep ruling. Yes, we can say this was yet another LGBTQ+ movie about an attractive white boy that focused primarily, if not only, on the G of the group, but we can have this movie and others. I want to see rom-coms about all people, and, let’s be honest, that kiss on the ferris wheel had us all crying in the theater. Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel as Simon’s parents had us all crying, too. (We stan an unproblematic white woman who only wants us to apply for the Capital One Venture card and tells us that we get to exhale now!) That soundtrack featuring Troye Sivan, Bleachers, The 1975, Normani, and Khalid did not hurt either. “Love Lies” is one of my favorite songs of the year, and Love, Simon blessed us with that.
Avengers: Infinity War
As the 19th installment in the MCU, Avengers: Infinity War already had an audience. They just had to live up the hype, and they did just that. The Russo brothers brought the entire team of superheroes together to fight Thanos, whose mission was to gather the six infinity stones (gems) we’ve seen over the last 18 movies and place them in his specially-designed infinity gauntlet (fancy, golden glove). Thanos’ goal? Wipe out half of all existence on Earth (collect jewels). In these 156 minutes of humor, melancholy, and imaginative battles, Marvel fans got what they wanted (a giant, purple Titan making a name for himself as a bejeweled style icon) and have been fully prepared for Avengers 4 and the end of Phase III. I love these characters, and I will follow them where they lead me. It also never hurts to have a bearded Chris Evans enter from the shadows. After all, Chris Evans + Beard = Porn in IMAX.
I love seeing Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett’s sexual chemistry on the big screen, especially when they’re pulling off a heist alongside what I hope will be a Best Supporting Actress run for Anne Hathaway. The ensemble cast, also featuring Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Awkwafina, Mindy Kaling, and Sarah Paulson, moved easily around the Met Gala as they worked their criminal magic to steal a $150 million Cartier necklace from the neck of Anne Hathaway’s dazzling Daphne Kluger. The comic flair of the film carries a rhythm that makes the film flash by you before you realize it’s coming to an end. You don’t learn much about each of the characters, and their purpose in the film seems only to serve the heist, but, in living in the moment of the film, I just wanted to see them succeed. I love to see women win, especially when Rihanna is playing a hacker and Cate Blanchett continues to rule my life.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
I didn’t think I would be crying over Mr. Rogers in the summer of 2018, but here we are. Mr. Rogers was a staple of PBS for decades, and his kindness left a mark on multiple generations. This Morgan Neville documentary about Fred Rogers showcased his efforts to bridge the divides between different classes of people. In its essence, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? reminds us of Mr. Rogers’ innate goodness whose love for children and education even took him to battle for public television funding in Congress. Mr. Rogers, I would love to be your neighbor.
Pixar never ceases to amaze me. I admit that I’m a Disney apologist, but Holly Hunter voicing one of the best female animated characters is exactly my brand. After waiting 14 years for the sequel to The Incredibles, the film that brought us “‘Greater good?’ I am your wife. I am the greatest good you are ever gonna get!”, we finally took a second trip to the retrofuturistic world of Metroville. The Parr family has to fight a new villain who hopes to turn the world against supers while Jack-Jack’s powers intensify. Jack-Jack’s fight with the raccoon has already won next year’s MTV Movie Award for Best Fight. Of course, the original film will always be the best and it helped forge the wave of superhero films in which we now live. This billion dollar franchise is just…incredible. (Yell at me if you want. I’m not sorry.)
With the film festivals beginning now, we have fully entered awards season. I am looking forward to many of them, so start going to the movies so you can see the best movies of the year!
AMC Theatres’ A-List program offers you the chance to see 3 movies each week for $19.95 + tax per month, so you can see all of the movies you want (even in IMAX, 3D, etc.) for that low price. I am an A-List member after years of being an AMC Stubs Premiere member, and it is definitely worth it. (I am not sponsored by AMC, but, if they want me to be one, I’m here!)