Year in review: My favorite movies of 2018

Although it sort of seemed like 2018 didn’t have as many “big” movies as years past, I ended up having no trouble putting together a list of my favorite films from last year. The past few years, I’ve done a top 5, but I just couldn’t bring myself to cut the list off or even relegate some of these films to an “honorable mention,” so here’s my top 7!

As a side note, a decent number of my favorite films this year also ended up under-performing at the box office, which makes me a little sad, because I wish more people had seen them. Regardless, they’re still special to me!

7. Annihilation

“Annihilation” is a very weird movie. Parts of it don’t necessarily make sense, and if you’re looking for a happy, neatly wrapped up ending, you won’t find it here. However, I promise you this film is utterly fascinating, and one of the best sci-fi films I’ve seen in a long time. Following a group of researchers who venture inside an anomaly known as “The Shimmer,” “Annihilation” is creepy, mysterious, and thought-provoking.

6. Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Not many franchises manage to keep raising the bar six movies in, but Tom Cruise and Co. have done it again. “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” was the best straight-up action movie I’ve watched in years, and it’s a thrilling ride that deserved to be seen on the big screen. Plus, it was fun to see Henry Cavill deviate from his superhero persona and play the villain.

5. Bumblebee

Michael Bay’s Transformers haven’t really been celebrated by critics (or a lot of geeks). That might be why “Bumblebee” didn’t generate as much buzz as some of the other movies released around the holidays. However, that’s a real shame, because this really is a lovely, character-driven film. The friendship between the robot Bumblebee and grieving teenager Charlie feels special and authentic. I loved everything about this movie.

4. Solo: A Star Wars Story

Many articles have already been written about “Solo’s” box office performance, and I don’t really want to dwell on that here. It is fair to say that “Solo” is probably the weakest of the Disney era Star Wars films (I thought “The Force Awakens,” “Rogue One,” and “The Last Jedi” were all stellar, and all three show up in my top 5 Star Wars films). Still, “Solo” is a very fun, swashbuckling adventure, and it’s a shame more people didn’t give it a chance. Emilia Clarke’s nuanced femme fatale, Qi’ra, is actually now one of my all-time favorite Star Wars characters.

3. First Man

“First Man” is a very special film. It gives us an intimate portrait of the first man on the moon — Neil Armstrong. It has all the awe-inspiring scenes you’d expect from a movie about astronauts: rockets blasting off into space, the stark surface of the moon, etc. But I appreciated that this film didn’t shy away from the quieter moments, letting Ryan Gosling’s lovingly crafted performance shine through.

2. Avengers: Infinity War

After 10 years of build-up, “Avengers: Infinity War” finally arrived in theaters in 2018 as an epic cinematic event. It was an awesome experience — and a genuine thrill — to see all my favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe characters together in one film. This movie was worth the wait, and definitely lived up to the hype, particularly the arrival of the MCU’s ultimate “big bad,” Thanos.

I only have one small complaint about it (and it’s the reason this film just barely missed landing in the No. 1 slot on my best of the year list). As a cinematic experience, this movie was a 10 out of 10 stars on opening night, but in the months since it has dipped just a little to 8/10.

As I was sitting in the theater on opening night, seeing Thanos snap his fingers — and characters actually disappear — was a shocking gut-punch. Yet after the dust settled (still too soon for that joke?), the ending lost a little of its narrative power. We know that pretty much all the characters who disappeared are going to come back, and I’m afraid the ending of “Infinity War” may eventually feel like a cop-out.

Still, who knows what will happen in “Endgame” this year, and regardless, “Infinity War” was a true joy to watch for this superhero-loving fangirl.

1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

It’s been a long time since I was surprised by the movie that ended up as No. 1 on my best of the year list. Usually I can kinda predict before the year even starts which movie will be my favorite. However, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” surprised me in a wonderfully magical way, and I just love it so much.

The animation is colorful and unique, and while I was watching this movie I genuinely felt like I was seeing something completely new. I fell in love with the characters, particularly Miles Morales, who I’d been wanting to see on the big screen for a while. This movie had plenty of hilarious moments, but it also had some powerful emotional moments as well.

While I don’t buy as many DVDs as I used to, this movie is definitely one I want to own so I can watch it again and again and again.

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