The concept of telling a story from the perspective of electronic devices is something that has been seen before. With “Searching,” director Aneesh Chaganty provides the most compelling take on the technique. “Searching” is an ambitious feat of screenwriting and filmmaking which pays off, creating a captivating mystery unfolding before viewers eyes.
- “Ocean’s 8”
It was a bold move to pull a gender flip on one of the biggest heist franchises, especially after the failures of similar attempts at gender recasting in recent years. “Ocean’s 8” created its own space, looked at the concept from a slightly different lens and pulled together a star studded cast.
- “Solo: A Star Wars Story”
If you are a highly knowledgeable fan of the Star Wars series and its lesser-known plotlines and character arcs, “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is almost a perfect movie. If your understanding doesn’t go further than the movies themselves, then “Solo” offers up a different side of the galaxy far, far away that may be a refreshing experience. Be ready for some wild rides, love between a human and a droid, and one hell of a Donald Glover performance.
- “The Favourite”
The story of an ailing queen and those trying to siphon her power is a visual feast for the eyes with beautiful cinematography. The new film from director Yorgos Lanthimos focuses on the women of the story with excellent performances from Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman and Emma Stone. This 1700s period comedy manages to connect head on with a modern audience.
- “Mission Impossible – Fallout”
In a year of so many tentpole movies, this flew a little under the radar. Writer and director Christopher McQuarrie took a franchise that already had good roots and brought it to what might be its maximum potential.
- “Molly’s Game”
This movie brought us an incredibly cool character who is made even cooler by the fact that Molly Bloom is a real person. It features some fabulous acting from Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba and excellently-paced writing from Aaron Sorkin.
- “Crazy Rich Asians”
The first all-asian cast for a major Hollywood release in 25 years bears a lot of baggage. But, “Crazy Rich Asians” managed to shine, amuse and succeed at the box office.
A horror film about the ramifications old family secrets can have on the new generation. Toni Collette stars as a mother who recently lost her mother, a death which unveils some ancestral secrets. The movie delivers on the scare factor, but also hits hard with emotional trauma.
- “First Man”
Damien Chazelle, the story of the first moon landing, Claire Foy and Ryan Gosling easily make this an “Oscar-bait” movie. Still, it provides a unique take on the path to success that isn’t as pretty as we like to think.
This movie is weird in all the right ways. Described by many as a sort of spiritual successor to the cult classic “Heathers,” this movie is violent, dark, witty, and unnerving in all of the right amounts and places.
- “Ready Player One”
When a virtual reality world is more popular than actual life, the creator of such an escape is on par with deities. But when the creator of this escape dies, he offers up his entire fortune to the best player of his game. How do you find the hidden gems in a virtual world? “Ready Player One” offers an answer hopefully worth sufficing.
- “Isle of Dogs”
Wes Anderson mixes stop-motion animation, Japanese culture and a dystopian future in which dogs are no longer man’s best friend to create his latest film “Isle of Dogs.” A visual masterpiece, the dedication to the intricacies of even the smallest detail is noticeable. With dogs uniting under a common good coupled with a city fighting a conspiracy, this film is guaranteed to keep you watching — and laughing and thinking and gazing — to the very last second.
- “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before”
This Netflix-original romantic comedy, based on the teen novel of the same name, follows the story of hopeless romantic Lara Jean as her secret love letters find themselves in the hands of her past crushes. This film is not revolutionary in terms of writing or plot, but it is a lovely rom-com with a strong female Asian-American lead that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy.
- “Sorry to Bother You”
A leftist absurdist comedy directed by a rapper with no prior film credits was one of the most critically acclaimed movies of the year. “Sorry to Bother You” didn’t hold back, and used insanity and hyperbole to cast a light on the failings of capitalism in a thought-provoking way.
- “A Simple Favor”
A thriller/drama film about two women becoming friends and then one disappearing may not sound like the next Paul Feig movie, but it was and it’s surprisingly great. There’s an air of weirdness and quirkiness to this film that makes it stand out a bit and keeps it from feeling like “Gone Girl 2.”
- “The Hate U Give”
This film is a cathartic and honest depiction of code-switching in modern black America and the police brutality that plagues the community. It reminds us that Black Lives Matter is more than just the names we know from the hashtags, it’s about all of us who are still living too. “The Hate U Give” is funny, heartwarming, empowering and an excellent tool for empathy.
- “Avengers: Infinity War”
How do you cap off 18 movies spanning an entire decade? With a three hour long movie. “Infinity War” managed to capture the storylines of over 70 characters in one movie and ended with honestly one of the most heart-wrenching and memorable scenes in cinema history.
- “Incredibles 2”
It had been 14 long years, but finally the sequel to the ever-popular Incredibles landed and it did not disappoint! The work from Brad Bird saw the return of seamless animation with a simple yet chair-grasping plot, showing the timeless effect of the quirky family that we know and love. Kudos to Pixar for making a film, that appeals not just to kids but also to adults filled with nostalgia.
- “Black Panther”
“Black Panther” managed to bring a relatively unknown Marvel character into superhero stardom. With an unbeatable cast and a hip-hop heavy soundtrack, “Black Panther” was an important cultural moment as well as a stellar movie.
- “Eighth Grade”
Actor, writer and comedian Bo Burnham directed this coming-of-age film that follows the life of an eighth-grade girl as she attempts to decode the social scene of her middle school. The film is wrought with second-hand embarrassment, realistically reflecting the ways in which everyone remembers their naive middle-school self.
- “A Star is Born”
“A Star is Born” is a story that has been told many times in Hollywood with the most recent version marking the fourth incarnation. Bradley Cooper stepped into the role of director for the first time bringing a fresh take to the recycled tale and an honest look at the current music industry. Cooper and Lady Gaga shine as they bring the heartbreaking love story to life.
Director Alex Garland set a high bar for himself with his directorial debut “Ex Machina” back in 2014. He followed up that success this year with “Annihilation,” a fresh, vivid and beautiful science fiction film that confuses as much as it entices. The all-female cast, headed by Natalie Portman, delivers amazing performances as they guide us through the terrifying and tense journey they take into the unknown.
- “Love, Simon”
“Love, Simon” is a wonderful John Hughes type movie for modern times. An adaption of a young adult novel, it’s one of those rare cases where the film actually elevates the original work. The film is heartwarming, laugh-out-loud funny and a rom-com that dares to contain actual emotional depth.
Adam Driver and John David Washington star as two undercover police officers infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan in this new Spike Lee joint. Excellent performances and exploration of nuanced subjects revolving around race and police brutality, coupled with a sleek ’70s aesthetic and soundtrack, make this film a stand-out from this year. It’s a serious yet clever and witty take on the classic buddy cop film and earns its place in Lee’s filmography.
- “A Quiet Place”
Even if you are not a huge fan of horror, there is so much good stuff going on in this film that it is worth seeing. There is not a single lackluster performance in this film, even from the younger actors. The film explores some interesting and creative territory in a unique way and adds in multiple twists on the genre to prevent it from falling into the pitfalls of cliche horror.