Tyler finishes his Year of Many Movies with an exhaustive, subjective, heartfelt Top 50 Movies of the Year.
If it feels harder, that’s because it is. 2018 feels, finally, like the trash year Twitter has made the last three years out to be.
Everything feels impossibly weighted, as if choices as minor as what movie you will watch today take on greater meaning and importance as crucial coping mechanisms against the terror and corruption of modern life.
Not that film is there to be the escape that thirsty audiences crave. The movies on this list are mostly there because of their cathartic, sincere emotional impact — many of those impacts being minor key or outright depressing at first glance.
But for me, this year was about experiencing perspective. Watching more films made by non-Americans. Non-white men. Non-men. Every single film a grasp for some perspective different than my own.
So the movies here on this list are largely ordered by the degree to which they presented perspectives I had not yet seen in cinema before. To that, I give them credit here. If nothing else, you should try to see all of these movies. You might like some of them. At the very least, you will come away with something new.
P.S. It deserves to be said that this year has been one of the best years for movies this century. Any movie in the Top 15 would’ve been a Movie of the Year contender in any of the last four years. Just stellar work.
50. The Third Murder
dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda
A murder mystery that sneaks up on you with its themes of inconsistent memory, the fragile nature of reality and the malleability of the truth in the hands of attorneys, Kore-Eda’s other movie this year proves him an able, if passingly excellent, chameleon in bringing his lofty philosophical ideals to a well-worn genre.
49. The Endless
dir. Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
While it struggles with the no-budget sci-fi finale problem of “oh wait, this needs to look like a Hollywood movie and we have zero money, Benson and Moorhead keep their wits about them and develop a snarling, Lovecraftian freak-out story about returning to painful memories. Those relationships recall less kooky science fiction ideas, and make the film a fitting follow-up to their (still) best film, Spring.
dir. Coralie Fargeat
Behind Melinda Lutz’s vengefully delicious performance and Robrecht Hayvaert’s lush, dripping-with-saturation cinematography, Coralie Fargeat cleverly upends the revenge tale and turns the eye candy into the most terrifying image on screen. An unsparing, brutal take on the genre that doesn’t let up once it gets going, this would be a great double bill with another feature a little further down on this list.
47. Hotel Artemis
dir. Drew Pearce
The prevalence of former wrestlers in Hollywood should come as no surprise. That Dave Bautista would turn out to be the wrestler who could bring the most pathos to a role is certainly a surprise. He and Jodie Foster carry this sometimes clumsy Smokin’ Aces-style actioner, which has some fun takes on the health care industry amid its energetic violence. Jeff Goldblum! Sterling K. Brown! Brian Tyree Henry! Jenny Slate?! Charlie Day?! FATHER JOHN MISTY?!!?
dir. Valeska Grisebach
As the men of a German construction crew fritter away in Bulgaria, most aware but blithely disinterested in local antipathy towards them, Reinhard Neumann’s silent, rail-thin hanger-on turns into something of a whitehat. Grisebach isn’t exactly enamored with dissecting the Western proper, instead using the Cowboys vs. Indians trope in a contemporary setting to illustrate how prejudice has existed through time, in the way we tell stories.
45. The Little Stranger
dir. Lenny Abrahamson
A neat little trick of a movie that only gradually reveals itself through the excellence of Domnhall Gleeson’s restrained performance (hint, toxic masculinity is a character). Much more than a generic haunted house story, and only lightly interested in jump scares or scary monsters, Abrahamson proves himself a nifty horror-adjacent filmmaker in the wake of his flirt with Oscardom.
44. Support the Girls
dir. Andrew Bujalski
The fitting, out-with-a-whimper end of mumblecore is both a blessing in the outright (yay, no more movies like Hannah Takes the Stairs!) and in the subtle, as Andrew Bujalski’s work has proved. His minimally-seen Computer Chess is a Pynchonian farce, and Support The Girls, with the ample help of the amazing Regina Hall and Haley Lu Richardson, is his bounciest, most poignant work yet. An anti-capitalist manifesto for those who care about their friends more than their politics.
dir. Armando Iannucci
Anybody hoping for the insult-a-minute laughs of Veep or The Thick of It was probably disappointed by the star-studded Stalin. Yet the movie betrays a growth by Iannucci into a far more exciting filmmaker, not just a writer. Concerned with facts and drama, Iannucci allows the laughs to flow from the beleaguered faces of the all-stars he gives lines to (Michael Palin is aces, but then again so is pretty much everybody) instead of hogging the laughs for the writer. A mature version of his bone-dry satire.
42. 22 July
dir. Paul Greengrass
Is Greengrass the most subtle, tactful auteur of the terror years? Absolutely not. Yet that doesn’t mean that his take on the horrific Utøya massacre loses any of its punch, especially in the wake of rising nationalist violence in Europe. His choice to mirror the actions of the survivors and the assailant in the aftermath of the attack is controversial, but illustrates the permanent damage done by one person’s selfish, unforgivable actions.
41. Leave No Trace
dir. Debra Granik
In a way, Debra Granik’s latest about the forgotten on the fringes of society could play a great double bill with the movie listed just ahead of it. Apart from beautiful, wounded performances from dads (this time Ben Foster, that indie utility player extraordinaire) and star-making performances from youngsters (Thomasin MacKenzie, destined for blockbusters), Granik concerns herself with the development of found families as the only possible solution to the crush of modern life.