Top 10 films of 2018!

Yes, it is that time once again when I look through my spreadsheet of all films that I have watched in 2018 and make this bonkers list of my favorite 10 films. Now you might be asking yourself, “but wait, I don’t ever remember reading John’s top 10 list in years past”, to which I reply: No, no you have not.
In fact this is the first time I have ever truly taken the time and compiled a top 10 list!
I will keep my descriptions/ synopsis for each movie brief, because there is a link at the bottom of each post will take you to the podcast episode that has the full review on it.

So sit back, relax, and take a spin through the wild range of movies from 2018!

#10. Anna and the Apocalypse: Directed by John McPhail
Synopsis / description: Take two movie genres that I love: Musicals and zombies, then add a dash of the holiday spirit, and boom, you get this madcap adventure of high schoolers singing, dancing and defending themselves against a zombie outbreak. I had an absolute blast while watching this movie, and my appreciation for it deepened after I did more research about the short film that inspired it, and the tragic loss that took away the original writer/ director much too early. Great musical performances by Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Ben Wiggins, with choreography by Sarah Swire. This film is going to become a holiday tradition in my house every year. John McPhail and his team created a must see holiday classic.
Link to review: About To Review – Episode #139 (December)
-> IMDB link

#9. Revenge: Directed by Coralie Fargeat
Synopsis / description: This film is a brutal, bloody, and breathtaking film about trauma, survival, and vindication. Jaw dropping cinematography the likes of which should be compared to “Lawrence of Arabia” are just one highlight of this film which knocked my socks off. Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz gives a stunning performance as “Jen” whose quest for revenge is one of the most satisfying (and gruesome) experiences that I have ever watched. Both director Coralie Fargeat and Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz are very high on my radar for any of their future projects.
Link to review: About To Review – Episode #109 (May)
-> IMDB link

#8. Searching: Directed by Aneesh Chaganty
Synopsis / description: I see a lot of movies every year, usually over 300, which is why I relish in the experience when something hits me like “Searching” did. I will get to John Cho’s stellar performance in a moment, but I first have to talk about director Aneesh Chaganty’s cinematic and editing wizardy that he pulled off for this film. If you did not know already, this film takes place entirely from “alternative camera views”, AKA: cell phones, laptops, TV screens, etc. This could easily feel like a gimmick in the hands of someone less talented, but my goodness, Anneesh absolutely crushes it. Now, onto John Cho, who has been flexing his dramatic muscles in recent years, but none of them compare to the depth, passion, and fear that he emotes in this film while he searches for his missing daughter. Absolutely powerful, career defining performance.
Link to review: About To Review – Episode #123 (August) 
-> IMDB link

#7. Mission: Impossible – Fallout: Directed by Christopher McQuarrie

Synopsis / description: If I ever hear someone say that “an action move is just an action movie”, I will immediately show them “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” so that I can educate them on just how amazing an action movie can be. This is the sixth film in the Mission: Impossible franchise, and if I have said it once, I said it 100 times: Tom Cruise is a madman, but in the absolute best way. On this mission he is joined once again by Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, and Rebecca Ferguson, and welcomes Henry Cavill and Angela Bassett to the franchise. From the opening scene to the 30 minute climactic set piece that this films ends with, I was literally on the edge of my seat. The cinematography and editing speak for themselves, but it does not only rely on those, like other action movies do. The actors all give 100% and their investment to this film is evident.
Link to review: About To Review – Episode #118 (July)
-> IMDB link

#6. Black Panther: Directed by Ryan Coogler
Synopsis / description: This is the film on this list that needs the least introduction. But if you are one of 5 people in the world who have not seen this film yet, here is a description. This film tells the story of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), the newly crowned King of Wakanda and heir to the Black Panther lineage as he struggles with internal and external power dynamics in the vibrant and gorgeous land of Wakanda. Flanked by some of the powerful female performances of the year as well. Yes, the CGI is a bit of a mess sometimes, but that does not take away from the layered storytelling and compelling performances that are on full display from start to finish. Another key highlight that I hope gets more attention is the phenomenal costume work that Ruth E. Carter created for this fully realized fictional world of Wakanda. From traditional fabrics, true to life tribal designs, and brilliant color work, I was amazed the entire time in the dedication and care she showed in that process.
Link to review: About To Review – Episode #95 (February) 
-> IMDB link

#5. If Beale Street Could Talk: Directed by Barry Jenkins
Synopsis / description: Barry Jenkins does it again. Based on the 1974 book of the same name by James Baldwin, this film is a dramatic love story of “Tish” (Kiki Layne) and “Fonny”‘s (Stephan James) relationship through incredibly hard times. Fonny is unjustifiably imprisoned all while Tish finds out she is pregnant with their child. To say that the female performances of Kiki Layne and Teyonah Parris in this film are stunning is the biggest understatement of the year, and they all are led by a show stopping Regina King (Sharon). Jenkins’ ability to perpetually show us just enough in the scenes to want more goes to show his mastery of film, and also the trust he has in the performances, but also the audience. A master class in cinematography and filmmaking.
Link to review: Upcoming
-> IMDB link

#4. Eighth Grade: Directed by Bo Burnham
Synopsis / description: In what is easily the most authentic, and also most gut wrenching film of the year, you find the star making performance of Elsie Fisher, and first time director Bo Burnham. Every single person can find a way to relate to the main protagonist “Kayla” (Fisher) as she is trying to find her path in school, family, and life. The phrase “right time and right place” could not fit more perfectly to describe this film, as Fisher was the perfect age to show the awkwardness, fragility, and doubt that all of us felt during our formative teenage years. I was fortunate to sit down with director Bo Burnaham and actor Elsie Fisher when they were here in Seattle During SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival), and it was the highlight of the interviews I did this year.
Link to review: About To Review – Episode #117 (July)
Link to interview: About To Interview – Episode #22 (July)
-> IMDB link

#3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Synopsis / description: Flat out, you have never seen a Spider-Man movie like this, and frankly, you have probably never seen an animated movie like this before. This visual masterpiece combines several animation styles, tones, and techniques to give us the endearing story of Mile Morales (Shameik Moore), a young multi-ethnic kid who learns he has fantastic powers during a run in with the “real” Spider-Man. The cast is all over the place, from Oscar award winning Mahershala Ali, to Lily Tomlin, Nicolas Cage, Hailee Steinfeld, Jake Johnson, and Brian Tyree Henry, and they all work effortless together. Rarely do you get a “kids” movie that hits on as many levels as well as this film does: Family, faith, trust, friendship, humor, and sadness are all wrapped in this beautiful package.
Link to review: About To Review – Episode #140 (December)
-> IMDB link

#2. Won’t You Be My Neighbor: Directed by Morgan Neville
Synopsis / description: The man, the myth, and our friendly neighbor Fred Rogers is the focus of this wonderful documentary. From the humble beginnings of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” in 1968 all the way through the end of his life, we get to see and know a man who helped raise so many of us both in our childhood and adulthood alike. There are some people who believe that documentaries need to have a nitty gritty underbelly to show the “real person”. This documentary, masterfully crafted by Morgan Neville shows us that sometimes there are no skeletons in the closet, not dark underside, just a pure and honest soul which was Fred Rogers. Chock full of a lifetime of archival footage, this film brought me to tears more than once, and I will continue to go back and learn something new from each time I re-watch it. We did not deserve Fred Rogers, he was as perfect of a person that we will ever have. Morgan Neville visited Seattle during SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival) and I was fortunate enough to sit with him and talk about this amazing film. Click the link below to listen.
Link to review: About To Review – Episode #112 (June)
Link to interview: About To Interview – Episode #18 (June)
-> IMDB link

#1. Blindspotting: Directed by Carlos Lopez Estrada
Synopsis / description: A powerful, poignant, and authentic story of two life long friends who are trying to survive and prosper while they are continually facing racism, classism, gentrification, and stereotypes in their hometown of Oakland. True friends Daveed Diggs (Colin) and Rafael Casal (Miles) wrote this screenplay based on their real life experiences, which combined with Carlos Lopez Estrada’s beautiful vision and direction give us the best film of the year. There are scenes that made me cry, scenes that made me angry, and scenes that made my palms sweaty on more than occasion. Janina Gavankar and Jasmine Cephas Jones play opposite Diggs and Casal and provide us with yet another perspective in this tense, emotional, and in parts hilarious film. Again, I was fortunate to sit down with the director of this film when he was in Seattle for SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival). I was very impressed with Estrada’s ability to take such deeply personal story and provide us a narrative focus that contained all the nuance of Diggs and Casal’s life experiences.
Link to review: About To Review – Episode #118 (July)
Link to interview: About To Interview – Episode #23 (July)
-> IMDB link

Whew, there it is, the best in film of 2018! This was truly an incredible year in film and I am so grateful for all of the opportunities that have been provided to me through the year.
Thank you so much to you, my amazing readers and listeners! Without your support it truly would not be the same. I hope you all have a wonderful new year, and remember to tune in every Wednesday for new episodes!

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