Here are the best movies of 2018 (so far) – AZCentral

Every year around this time I come up with a list of the 10 best films of the year — so far.
It’s a fun little exercise in the middle of blockbuster season, a reminder of the good movies that have come out along with the promise of awards-worthy fare to come. Typically you write these things up with the realization that a good half of them are going to get knocked out by the time the best-of list for the whole year comes around.
If that’s the case this year, I can’t wait for the second half, because there have been some really good movies in theaters so far in 2018. I’ve assembled my top 10 in the usual fashion, which is to say the order really depends on the day. This day, this list.
Bring on awards season.
Wes Anderson rounds up a typically stellar cast (Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Greta Gerwig, etc.) for his return to animated films. A trumped-up virus lands dogs on a literal garbage island; a boy defiantly goes there in search of his dog. Amazing to look at and really funny. The contemporary politics are just a bonus. Also, see my interview with Anderson.
Speaking of contemporary politics. … Yes, Armando Iannucci’s dark comedy is about the events following Josef Stalin’s death and the battle to replace him. But the absurdity and lack of coherent leadership couldn’t be more relevant. Plus, it’s hilarious. Who knew Steve Buscemi would make such a great Nikita Khrushchev?  Not even Buscemi — see my interview with him. I also spoke with Iannucci
Not a silent movie, certainly — every sound in it is way too important than that — but director and star John Krasinski does an awful lot with very little dialogue. He has to; in his film, monsters have taken over the world. They’re blind, but they have super hearing. He has moved his wife and kids to a remote location, but as we learn quickly, nowhere is safe. And his wife, played by Krasinski’s real-life wife, Emily Blunt, is pregnant. The last shot in the film, which involves Blunt, is one for the ages. See my interview with her, in which she discusses it in a spoiler-free way.
Lots of folks believe one of the reasons Morgan Neville’s documentary about Fred Rogers has struck a chord with so many is because we are desperate for decency. That’s doubtless true, and this movie, courtesy of the long-time host of the popular children’s shows, certainly delivers on the decency front. But it’s also just good, period. I also interviewed Neville, who was himself surprised at the depths he was able to find. 
Joaquin Phoenix is terrific, as usual, in Lynne Ramsay’s brutal, unforgiving film about a veteran who finds missing girls and, often as not, metes out his own form of justice. With a hammer. Ramsay takes us back and forth in time, into reality and out, as Phoenix’s character tries to process the world around him. It’s harrowing and really good.
Chloe Zhao takes elements of the real-life story of a rodeo cowboy who is seriously injured, putting his already shaky finances and his strained relationship in jeopardy, and turns it into a lightly fictionalized film that is incredibly moving. A lot of that has to do with the non-professional cast, including Brady Jandreau, the cowboy, who is magnetic and at times heartbreaking.
Jeff Garland, the director behind “Ex Machina,” is making some of the most-intriguing movies of anyone working. This is no exception. Based on the book by Jeff VanderMeer, it stars Natalie Portman as a scientist who heads with a team into a weird area called the “Shimmer” that doesn’t seem to follow the laws of science. Her husband (Oscar Isaac) is the only person who has ever returned. But he is … different. It’s weird, it’s beautiful, it’s mind-bending. See also my interview with Garland.
Ryan Coogler’s film is, yes, a superhero movie that’s part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Don’t hold that against it. Not only is it the best Marvel movie ever made, it’s one of the most-inclusive, satisfying and thrilling movies in memory. Chadwick Boseman is good as the title character, the king of Wakanda. Michael B. Jordan is even better as the man who wants to take the throne from him, a true revolutionary who wants to start a race war. One of the many great things about the film is Coogler’s world-building. Wakanda doesn’t need the typical white saviors that worm their way into these kinds of movies so often — it’s advanced far beyond that kind of thing. Coogler’s world-building is inspiring, so much so I practically cried when “All the Stars” played over the closing credits. (Oh, and the soundtrack is great, too.)
As disturbing a movie as you’ll see. By the way, that’s a compliment. Toni Collette is Oscar-worthy brilliant as an artist who suffers great tragedy and, while recovering, learns a little more about her late mother than maybe was ideal. From the opening frames (the words of a newspaper obituary), director Ari Aster, in a tremendous feature debut, ratchets up the tension and the dread. The ending is just insane. What a ride.
Paul Schrader’s film features a terrific performance from Ethan Hawke as a minister suffering from a crisis of faith, which understates the case considerably. Schrader offers lots of questions and few easy answers as Hawke’s character tries to council an environmental activist who doesn’t think his wife (Amanda Seyfried) should have the child she’s pregnant with, because of the state of the world. The minister has to rethink his values and his faith; thanks to Schrader’s writing and direction, we do, too. See also my interview with Schrader, which he did twice after I lost the first one. He’s nothing if not thorough.
Reach Goodykoontz at [email protected]. Facebook: Twitter: @goodyk.
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