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The 10 Best Films of 2018

By The Pajiba Staff | Film | December 31, 2018 |

By The Pajiba Staff | Film | December 31, 2018 |


Below are what we here at Pajiba believe to be the “best” films of the year, based largely on the traditional criteria used to determine what is best. But there were a lot of fantastic movies in 2018, and by adjusting our criteria, any of the films on the year’s best comfort movies list, or the best comfort movies (for crazy people), the best indie films of the year, or the year’s best documentaries could have qualified for this list. In other words, if this list of the 10 best doesn’t suit you, check out one of the other lists.

Here, however, is what those who review films on this site determined to be the best of the year.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? — You can almost smell the cheap whiskey in the air and feel the cloying warmth of the dive bar where Lee Israel and Jack Hock share sordid stories and barbed banter. On paper, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a biopic based on Israel’s scandalous memoir of her infamous grift. But in execution, it’s a full-bodied intoxication, enveloping its audience in the sights and sounds of a New York experience both squalid yet enviable. Alive with fittingly “caustic wit,” this comedy-rich caper gives us the delicious thrill of feeling like a co-conspirator in a delightfully clever crime. — Kristy Puchko

Eighth Grade — Every middle-school kid should see Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade. Not before they enter, because I don’t think most middle-school kids would understand until they’ve had a taste of that medicine. And not because it provides any of the answers one needs to traverse middle school. But because Eighth Grade will make them understand in very specific ways that they are not alone in their misery. That these three horrible years are the price we pay to grow up, to find ourselves, and to figure ourselves out. It’s about building back our confidence by having our self-esteem completely stripped away, and rewiring and relearning and reprogramming ourselves to be adults, because everything we thought we knew about becoming an adult was completely fucking wrong. Burnham’s film puts you right back into the hell that was eighth grade, where you moon over the popular kid, where you game plan every day only to see that plan fall to pieces, where you carry on imagined conversations as rehearsals for the conversations that you want to have but never do. The movie feels like a documentary to so many of our young lives. — Dustin Rowles

AnnihilationAnnihilation is certainly one of the most divisive films of the year so far, and I passionately adore it, how it pairs questions about love, guilt, and regret and how they intersect with images that are simultaneously fractured and regimented, chaotic and designed. A bear that screams in a woman’s voice; a bunch of flowers growing in the shape of a person; a life form that mimics our actions without necessarily understanding their intent — I can’t stop thinking about it. Although I refuse to believe that Alex Garland truly only read the book once (there are too many hints at the rest of the content of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy for me to really believe him), I respect the hell out of the movie he put together. Annihilation haunts me, and I mean that in a good way. — Roxana Hadadi

Blindspotting — I have been telling, and will continue to tell, literally every single person I know that they need to see Blindspotting. To hear it. To talk about it and to understand it. There aren’t enough superlatives I can throw at this film. It’s funny and tense, honest and insightful, and painfully prescient. At the end of the day, this movie awed me. Blindspotting is not only a deeply funny and poignant film but, and I mean this with no sense of hyperbole whatsoever, Blindspotting is also almost certainly the most important movie that will come out this year, maybe even this decade. Because in the decade it took Diggs and Casal to write it, it’s funny and sad how far we’ve come, yet what little progress we have to show for it. — Seth Freilich

Black Panther — It’s not amazing “for a superhero movie” and it’s not amazing “for a black movie” or any of that shit. It’s amazing because it’s a beautiful, meticulously created, gorgeously shot, incredibly detailed, terrifically acted, brilliantly directed movie. It’s funny and exciting and wondrous to look at. And that it is all of those things, with a virtually all-black cast save for Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue and Martin Freeman as CIA agent Everett Ross, and that is an achievement because no one has ever given this type of movie a chance to even exist before. Never mind to completely cut loose. Marvel appears to have given director Ryan Coogler full rein to create a vision of his own, and that vision is utterly breathtaking. — TK Burton

You Were Never Really Here — This is Lunne Ramsay’s film through and through. Her direction - part punk rock, part 70’s arthouse - teeters precariously on the verge of nightmare and makes you feel like you’ve fallen into a hallucination. It’s hard to recommend this film to everyone, as singularly excellent as it is, because it’s a story of scars and depravity that’s hard for even seasoned film-goers to stomach. Yet, for those prepared for the journey, this is an immensely rewarding experience that truly lingers in your mind. Harrowing but not without hope, expertly directed and helmed by one of the year’s great performances, You Were Never Really Here will stick with you for a very long time. — Kayleigh Donaldson

Support the Girls — Over the course of the film, Maci, Danyelle, and Lisa become distinct portraits of female resilience, one choosing cheerfulness, one ever no-nonsense, one caring so intensely it might burn her down. These are women we recognize. Sisters we know. In a pitch-perfect ending, they gather together for stolen cocktails, squatting atop a roof, looking out onto a sprawling asphalt maze of commerce, and seeking their future. We don’t know what that’ll be. But there’s a comfort in knowing they’ll go there together. And so Support The Girls becomes a film about a family, who stands together, laughs together, drinks together, and—when the situation calls for it—howls into the din of a sun-drenched highway together. — Kristy Puchko

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — I want to live inside of Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. I want to simultaneously wallpaper my brain with this thing, and erase all memory of it so I can watch it again for the very first time. And look, I know I’m an easy target for a movie like this, given that it ticks basically all of my boxes (comic book characters? animation? Nic Cage?). But when I say that the hype on this one is real, I don’t simply mean that it will live up to your expectations — I mean that it will surpass them. This movie is more than the sum of every Spider-person, easter egg, clever nod or surprise cameo in it. Its charm is in the confident balance it strikes between all those things and the story that drives it, the technical genius of the animation, that bangin’ soundtrack, and the message it leaves you with. — Tori Preston

Sorry to Bother YouSorry To Bother You is everything I could have hoped for, and so much more. It deserves every breath of hype it’s received. But it also benefits from a more or less cold viewing, of walking in knowing only the barest bones of the plot and being ready for anything. I kept trying to think of how to describe it: It’s like David Lynch, only more political. David Cronenberg, but funnier. Mike Judge, but dreamier. Michel Gondry, but with a message. It’s like so many things you’ve seen, almost — yet it’s wholly singular. This film is inventive and absurdist, filled with pointed condemnation and something awfully close to hope, and for all the stylistic flairs and thoughtful messages, it stays rooted in characters that could have been caricatures if not for the specificity with which they were drawn. Some films are allegories wrapped in a plot; Sorry To Bother You is an honest story, wrapped in the trappings of allegory. And it is a joy to unravel. — Tori Preston

If Beale Street Could Talk — The story If Beale Street Could Talk has to tell wears no rose-colored glasses. It’s a stiff drink of truth. A truth too unbearable to be real when it was written 40 years ago. That truth hasn’t evolved in the decades since is a cruelty beyond measure. Laced with images of men behind bars, working in the fields long after slavery was abolished, or thrust against cop cars surrounded by cops with contemptuous grins a picture begins to form that slavery never ended. It evolved but it did not change. Though the film is rooted in truth, that truth is a nightmare. A swirling camera (James Laxton), gorgeous etherial light, haunting darks, and seamless editing (Joi McMillion and Nat Sanders) feel like a dream. Meandering at times, laser-focused at others, the visual exploration of space allows the audience to picture what might have been in a just world. It’s impossible to understate the pure artistry of what Barry Jenkins and his crew have created.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

Header Image Source: Sony