The Best Movies of 2018 So Far – Top New Films This Year – Town & Country

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There’s more to come but these are sure to wow… for now.
These are the must-see films to check off your list before the end of the year.
Director Marielle Heller’s enchanting, witty film follows down-on-her-luck biographer Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) as she turns to forgery—specifically faking and selling letters from the likes of Dorothy Parker and Noël Coward—to survive in an almost unrecognizable 1990s Manhattan. Part heist film and part buddy comedy (Israel’s partner in crime is played by the brilliant Richard E. Grant), this charmer, written by Nicole Holofcener, features some of 2018’s most enjoyable bad behavior.
The idea that power is the ultimate aphrodisiac is front and center in this side-splitting period piece from director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster). The power in question is that assigned to the closest companion Olivia Colman’s Queen Anne, a position long inhabited by Rachel Weisz’s deliciously devious Lady Sarah but which seems like it could be up for grabs after the arrival in court of Emma Stone’s upstart Abigail. This is without a doubt a beautiful film—with stupendous production design and gorgeous costumes—but most importantly it’s one that’s very funny and incredibly well made.
Spike Lee’s latest looks at the true story of a Colorado policeman—in fact, the first African-American officer in Colorado Springs—who, in the 1970s, set out to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. The film, featuring a breakout performance from John David Washington, and stellar support from Laura Harrier and Adam Driver, is both wickedly funny and poignant, and the final few minutes are among the most moving we saw this year on screen.
Kayla Day hasn’t had the most spectacular year. But now that she’s in the final week of eighth grade, the 13-year-old (Elsie Fisher)—a painfully shy kid who’s attempting to find her voice by posting awkward YouTube videos—is hoping things are about to get better. Of course, as anyone who has been a teenager can tell you, that could take a while. Luckily, the middle ground makes for a sweet, smart movie from director Bo Burnham that offers an unforgettable rendering—food courts, bad birthday parties, embarrassing parents, and all—of the youth of today.
Based on James Baldwin’s 1974 novel of the same name, Barry Jenkins’s follow up to his Oscar-winning Moonlight is a quiet but fiery love story that makes an outsized impression. Fonny (Stephan James) and Tish (KiKi Layne) are a young couple who are expecting their first child when he’s accused of a crime he didn’t commit and she and her family pour everything they have into exonerating him. Outstanding performances from Regina King and Layne add to the movie’s undeniable spark.
If this movie from director Tamara Jenkins isn’t the year’s greatest love story, it’s at least the finest depiction of what it’s like to be married. Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti star as a New York couple hoping to have a child and, when options seem limited, find themselves investigating some very unusual possibilities. It’s a smart, warm-hearted look at a very difficult situation, and features very fine performances from both leads as well as the criminally underrated Molly Shannon.
Director Chloé Zhao’s intimate, haunting portrait of a cowboy looking for meaning after suffering a terribly injury feels so real in part because it stars an actual former cowboy, Brady Jandreau, and features his real-life family and friends in supporting roles. The film took home top honors for its director—the Art Cinema Award—when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and won the Best Feature prize at the 2018 Gotham Awards. It also won Zhao her next big gig: helming a movie for Marvel.
The hubbub over whether this, the latest from director Alfonso Cuarón, should be seen in a theater or at home (it’s a Netflix release) tells you at least one thing about this look into life in 1970s Mexico City: it’s something beautiful to behold. But this semi-autobiographical story, took home the Golden Lion from the Venice Film Festival, is more than just good-looking. It’s a touching, at times overwhelming, story about a family whose strength is found in unexpected places. As far as where to watch it goes, however, we’re going to suggest a third option: try both
The fourth time was most certainly a charm for this story, which got its third remake care of director (and star) Bradley Cooper this year. Featuring a pitch-perfect Lady Gaga as a young woman taken under the wing of a musical superstar, the film offers not only a big love story but also a standout supporting performance from Sam Elliott and some of the year’s most unforgettable music. (Indeed, T&C staffers have been singing bits of one especially catchy number, “Shallow,” in the office since the film’s October release date.)
This adaptation of Meg Wolitzer’s novel—about a prize-winning author and his complicated, fascinating relationship with his family—made the case this year that a movie didn’t have to be big or flashy to make a statement. It asks big questions about marriage, legacy, and what we give ourselves permission to do, and for a movie with no special effects to speak of, it never lacks fireworks. That’s thanks in large part to a sharp script and memorable turns from Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce.


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