Wakanda forever! 'American Animals,' 'Black Panther,' lead the best movies of 2018 so far

June 19, 2018

 

We’re six months into 2018 and that can only mean one thing folks: it’s time to release my list for the best movies of the year so far. I’ve logged just over 80 films on my viewing list for the year, and from that I have put together my picks for how 2018’s shaped out so far.

 

This was a-lot harder than I anticipated.

‘American Animals’

This film premiered at Sundance back in January and quickly picked up steam. I can see why. It tells the story of four college friends (Evan Peters, Blake Jenner, Barry Kroghan, and Jared Abrahamson) who plan to steal priceless Audubon books from their school’s library, supposedly worth in excess of $12 million dollars. Along the way, Director Bart Layton layers his true story with real testimonies and interviews from the guys who lived this. Not only that, but he incorporates them into the movie as well. Blending dramatization with documentary-style filmmaking so ceaselessly. “American Animals” is an exhilarating roller coaster of emotions and tension. A film that comes with real consequences, and honest answers.

‘Annihilation’   

If Alex Garland had anything left to say after his breathtaking “Ex Machina” he lays out all his cards in the audience dividing “Annihilation.” I say that because the film tackles serious issues about the cancer that consumes our world, in very particular ways, with a narrative focus that doesn’t spoon feed you all the focal points. We don’t deserve filmmakers like Garland, a director who’s films expand your mind, rather than exploit them.  

‘Black Panther’

 

The best Marvel film since “Winter Soldier” - Ryan Coogler’s introduction into the MCU couldn’t have come at a better time. A superhero movie that’s rooted in the real world, featuring dazzling visuals, and the most engrossing villain on screen in years. That’d be Michael B. Jordan and let’s start his supporting actor campaign right now. Wakanda forever!

‘Sorry To Bother You’

Boots Riley has been known for his slick rhymes and hip-hop beats, but in “Sorry to Bother You” he makes the leap to directing in the most bonkers film to be released yet this year. It features ‘Get Out’s” Lakeith Stanfield as an African-American trying to make it in a white-dominated workplace. It’s savvy racial satire, that exploits everything wrong with our culture in the best ways possible. It’ll make your head spin.

‘Eighth Grade’

 

The breakthrough performance of the year will be Elsie Fisher for her work as Kayla in Bo Burnham’s directorial debut ‘Eighth Grade,’ a film the manages to tap into those awkward years of middle school, without being melodramatic. You’ll likely watch this movie and think to yourself: ‘Is this me?’ Gucci!

‘Relaxer’

 

The kind of weird and trippy movie that I wish Hollywood would make more of, “Relaxer” is Michigan native’s Joel Portrykus’s latest shock-value flick to hit the silver screen. He’s also got his muse, Joshua Burge, along for the wild ride. I was fortunate enough to catch a screening of this at a film festival and haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It’s a bizarre film, that sees Burge’s character staying glued to his couch while he plays Pac-Man until the turn of the century (the film takes place in 1999). I can’t speak for everyone, but this film was just strange enough for me that it worked.

‘Love, Simon’

It’s a shame this movie didn’t attract a bigger audience while in theaters. Not only was “Love, Simon” the first major studio release that centered around a high schooler named Simon (played with so much affection by Nick Robinson) coming to terms with his sexuality and realizing he’s gay, but it was also a very down to earth teenage coming-of-age flick. I know the film has a small following, and hopefully it breaks out and becomes the defining movie of its kind on DVD. Don’t worry, the world loves you too, Simon.

‘Hereditary’

 

The less that’s said about just how freaking crazy Asi Aster’s new horror masterpiece is, the better. It gives me the chills just thinking about it. This isn’t the feel good family movie of the year.

‘The Guilty’

Taking a page or two from Halle Berry’s “The Call” playbook, “The Guilty,” a Danish thriller, is better than that film. Manily because it allows our imaginations to do all the work for us, as we watch emergency dispatcher Asger (Jakob Cedergren) attempt to solve a kidnapping while on the phone with the victim. This is a dense and taunt ride, that has a few twisted surprises hidden up its sleeve, that I guarantee you won’t see coming.

‘The Death of Stalin’

If you want to see a political farce done at the highest bar: check out “The Death of Stalin”

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

Hot Summer Nights - the new Timothee Chalamet starrer that has a rockin’ soundtrack and a killer romance.

 

The Perfect Bid - a documentary about how Ted Slauson managed to get the correct bid on “The Price is Right.”

 

Lean On Pete - a road trip odyssey about a boy (Charlie Plummer) and the bond he has with a local race horse.

 

Borg vs McEnroe - Shia LaBeouf shines in his best performance to date as the enraged tennis player and the matchup that defined the sport.

 

A Quiet Place - John Krasinski's white knuckle thriller about monsters that took over the world and pounce if they hear one silver of noise. Leave the sun chips at home.

 

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