Most film critics, cinephiles, and movie aficionados will publish their year-end lists at the end of December or first week of January (like normal people). However, I give myself an extra buffer, as awards season tends to keep these movies swirling around in our minds for another two months, culminating in the Academy Awards ceremony in late February/early March. This buffer allows me to catch up on movies I never got around to, as well as see what the Hollywood elitists deem as “important cinema.” Oftentimes, they nail some movies perfectly. Other times, they completely miss the mark, which is another reason to save my “best of” lists until we get close to the Oscars.
This year, 12 of my 19 favorite films received some sort of recognition from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is a little bit higher than the past few years. However, some of them only stood out because of one or two elements; The Wife received a single nomination for Glenn Close as Best Actress, A Quiet Place garnered only one nomination for Best Sound Editing. So on and so forth.
I’m supportive of the Academy’s recent endeavor to include the films that audiences loved on a large scale, because it shows a consciousness that dry period art pieces or slow films that only boast one or two fantastic performances are NOT the only existing examples of “great” cinema. Don’t get me wrong, Roma is a fantastic film and a big win for Netflix (earning 10 Oscar nominations in total), and The Favourite likewise deserves most of its nominations (also 10) for its exquisite production design, cast, and quirky story.
But films like Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody have drawn criticism for their award nominations, especially after both of their surprising wins at the Golden Globes for Best Comedy and Best Drama, respectively. Elitist critics claim that both movies are too vanilla; Green Book is too clean of a film to dwell on racism, and Bohemian Rhapsody doesn’t make its central biography of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury gay or controversial enough (historical inaccuracies aside). This is all hogwash. Though I didn’t enjoy Bohemian Rhapsody as much as my friends who are major Queen fans, it’s still a solid film with some very poignant messages beneath the surface about tortured artists. Plus, Rami Malek dominates in his role as Mercury. And Green Book is the type of film that people need right now, as we’re constantly made aware that racism certainly isn’t dead. The comedy/drama film highlights the identity crisis of a black male (played by Mahershala Ali) in the 1960s, and aptly shows how those same sentiments apply to today’s world just as much, especially when casual, institutionalized racism is virtually everywhere in some form. Some have pointed out that Viggo Mortensen’s character receives too easy of a pass for being casually racist, but to that I ask, what does he deserve then? Does Mortensen’s character Tony deserve a prison sentence or something worse? Should his family leave him? Last time I checked, his views change by the time the credits roll in a feel-good, classic (and yes, cliche) turn-of-events. I often wonder if some critics have seen the same movie. Or are they too worried about liking a movie that doesn’t seem “progressive” enough.
Here’s the kicker: both Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book have received the highest audience ratings out of all 8 Oscar nominees for Best Picture. The Queen biopic has 88% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an A rating from Cinemascore, while Green Book has a substantially high audience rating of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes (no Cinemascore has been established yet). These are the movies that audiences actively seek and enjoy; these are the movies that America has chosen to embrace. Though neither necessarily boast sophisticated mise-en-scene or the eccentric styles of high art films (like Cuaron’s Roma or even Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born), they both have qualities that deserve recognition by the biggest awards show for cinema.
Within all this debate, who knows? Black Panther might just sneak in a win for Best Picture. It’s the only “popular film” that elitist critics and audiences seem to mildly agree on.
Without further ado, read on for the movies, performances, and moments that I particularly loved from 2018, and please comment your favorites! Next week I will publish a breakdown of the Oscar nominees in most categories.
My favorite lead actors of 2018:
Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody
Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born
Christian Bale in Vice
Ryan Gosling in First Man
Ethan Hawke in First Reformed
My favorite lead actresses of 2018:
Rosamund Pike in A Private War
Charlize Theron in Tully
Carey Mulligan in Wildlife
Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Toni Collette in Hereditary
My favorite supporting actors of 2018:
Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Timothee Chalamet in Beautiful Boy
Daniel Kaluuya in Widows
Mahershala Ali in Green Book
Chris Hemsworth in Bad Times at the El Royale
My favorite supporting actresses of 2018:
Marina de Tavira in Roma
Emma Stone in The Favourite
Sarah Adler in The Cakemaker
Amy Adams in Vice
Claire Foy in First Man
Most Memorable Movie Moments of 2018:
“For Those That Follow” Video from Annihilation
Lena Fights Herself from Annihilation
The Snap in Avengers: Infinity War
The Diner Scene in Beautiful Boy
Live Aid Concert from Bohemian Rhapsody
“Now We’re Talking” in Cold War
The Moon Landing in First Man
The Flooded Basement in A Quiet Place
The Shining in Ready Player One
Cleo Gives Birth in Roma
Tully Quits in Tully
The Fake Ending in Vice
Driving Through Chicago in Widows
Throwing the Nobel Prize Out the Window in The Wife
Think of Someone You Love in Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
My worst movies of 2018 (haters gonna hate):
The 15:17 to Paris
Sorry to Bother You
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Hereditary (Toni Collette is the only saving grace of this movie)