Michael’s Favorite Films of 2018

Here's a list of some of the 2018 (going with wide release year rather than fest release year, generally) films I really enjoyed, and of course, there are plenty of acclaimed 2018 films I haven't seen yet.

You can also see our full film-viewing diary.

It goes without saying, but this is just based on my interests and isn't any kind of objective assessment of "best" or anything. I very, very heavily weigh message, commentary, and subtext over anything else when I'm watching films, so most of these were winners in those areas. A few popcorn rides managed to sneak onto the list as well. There are quite a few fest indies I loved this year as well, but I'm only including films that are basically now available.

If you'd like to hear the podcast version of this list (and more about what we liked and didn't like this year, you can also check out our visit with the Department of Tangents!


1. (tie) Suspiria - This was just so much of a perfect movie for me. I'm going to be intentionally vague, but many, many layers of sociopolitical commentary with interesting and complex historical perspective. Nothing spoon fed or expository. Insanely unsettling, but in a way that was not misanthropic at all. Great, timeless performances with none of the unrelenting hyperventilation or whisper histrionics that seem to be the trend these days. It's super rare that I experience the joy of discomfort in a horror film, and this one did it. Haters called it pretentious, but it's smart and it has an extremely complex, carefully built subtext. That's not pretension.

1. (tie) Sorry to Bother You - Perfect social satire. No one gets out unscathed - it's even critical of its heroes. Surprised me every step of the way. Saw it three times in the theater and was captivated every time. Just an absolutely singular, inimitable film. Very hard to talk about or describe. Just watch it. Can't wait for more from Boots Riley.

3. You Were Never Really Here - A completely forgettable story and script turned into a masterful film because of Lynne Ramsay's direction, claustrophobic cinematography and editing, and unbelievable score and sound design. Real when it needs to be; surreal when it needs to be.


4. Black Panther - I've seen maybe 5 or 6 of the MCU movies and have found them all to be super dull and pointless. While Black Panther does eventually waste my time with the obligatory 30-minute lightning fight, the rest of the movie is an exploration of two ideologies with the same ultimate goal and a reconciliation at the end in which both win. It's impossible not to see the intentional parallels in this film to the civil rights movement, and it's wonderful to see a superhero film that is actually about something.

5. Mandy - Look, it's barely a movie so much as it's a two-hour, flashing-red, pulsing-lows trance, but I loved it. I think it probably only works theatrically. I'm definitely a Nic Cage fan (and went back and watched a bunch of his films that I had missed and enjoyed many of them). I didn't care at all for Black Rainbow, but I think this one does that thing, but better.

6. Blackkklansman - If you accept that it's really not a true story at all, this movie is fun, sad, hilarious, disturbing, and in the end, gut-punching.

7. Won't You Be My Neighbor? - I'm guessing it will win the Academy Award for best doc. You can't watch this and not be moved. It's physically impossible, and I'm a heartless sociopath usually.

8. Isle of Dogs - I'm 50/50 on Wes Anderson, but this one was just so lush with production and cinematography/editing, that I loved it even if it felt a little superficial and young-targeted.

9. The Guilty - A really well-crafted contained film. The entire thing takes place in two rooms of a police dispatch center, with most of the action taking place via phone calls. Very impressive, twisty (though I did see it all coming) thriller with a lot of heart and existential dread cleverly shot and acted to keep those limitations from feeling confining.

10. Upgrade - This is effectively a lost straight-to-video 90s Cannon film with a better script and a (slightly) bigger budget. It's unapologetically what it intends to be, and it really scratched an itch for me.

11. Solo - Fun space western. Not Harrison Ford, but not as not Harrison Ford as I would have expected. I have zero love for the newer trilogy, but these one-offs are right up my alley. This is not as powerful and meaningful as Rogue One, but it's a great ride.

12. Cam - Although it feels a little rickety in a few spots of the writing, I love the intention of the film and the social complexities it's trying to address. We looked at many of the same themes (the self-fracture caused by performative identify and the imposition of vapidity and disposability by the masses) in Clickbait. I loved the performances and the movie looked great.

13. Butterfly Kisses - I'm not particularly a fan of found footage films. There are a few I like, but Butterfly Kisses stands out as the most interesting take I've seen. It has a neat creepypasta-type urban legend monster tracked by two college kids. Their footage is then found by a filmmaker who is trying to get to the bottom of it. And finally, his story is being documented by another filmmaker trying to determine if he invented the whole thing or if it's real. I know meta films, including meta-found, have been done to death, but this one does it to life! Really fun and really interesting commentary on found footage and journalism.