These were the best movies of 2018 – New York Post

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The Post’s Sara Stewart and Johnny Oleksinski take turns ranking their top 10 films of 2018
This year’s best films wrestled mightily with questions of identity and belonging in a year when our culture did the same. Awkward laughter is more on tap here than belly laughs, though I’ll give an honorable mention to the slightly bro-y but hilarious “Deadpool 2” for its skewering of comic book movies, approximately 86 more of which are set for release next year.
Can “excruciating” function as a compliment? “Eighth Grade,” director Bo Burnham’s debut film, makes a good case for it. His humane portrait of the endearing but gawky Kayla (Elsie Fisher) in her last week of middle school might have you suffering adolescent flashbacks, it’s so real.
Still, white-knuckling through Kayla’s attempts at socializing was my favorite cinematic experience of the year.

Close on its heels was the deliciously scary “Hereditary,” starring Toni Collette as matriarch of an unwittingly occult-linked family, and a raft of nightmare-inducing imagery. The trailer alone — which includes a man on fire and a girl snipping the head off a dead pigeon — freaked out a theater full of kids when mistakenly shown before “Peter Rabbit.” Oops!
Joaquin Phoenix is post-traumatic stress disorder incarnate in the bleak, pulsating “You Were Never Really Here,” about a tormented hit man tasked with rescuing an abducted girl. Also in traumatized men, “Leave No Trace” features a heartbreaking performance by Ben Foster as a homeless war vet trying to raise a teen daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) off the grid in the Pacific Northwest.
Two of the year’s funniest films are also the ones that best called out racism and classism. The raucous “Sorry to Bother You” stars Lakeith Stanfield as a telemarketer who climbs the corporate ladder using “white voice.” And police brutality and gentrification are at the heart of “Blindspotting,” in which an ex-con (Daveed Diggs) tries to get through his last days of parole trouble-free.

Ethan Hawke makes the leap to greatness in the somber, smart “First Reformed,” playing a small-town priest coping with alcoholism, loss and a jarring wake-up call to climate change that leaves him — and us, in the wild final act — deeply shaken. Equally rattling is “Three Identical Strangers,” a documentary about New York triplets who discovered one another as young men, and gradually learned the secret behind their adoptions.
Still a bit of a secret in the US, the brilliant British actress Olivia Colman plays a monarch like you’ve never seen in “The Favourite,” a wonderfully weird dramedy about the sickly Queen Anne and two noblewomen (Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone) viciously vying for her affections. And for the year’s most surprising standout performance, former rodeo rider Brady Jandreau expertly plays a fictionalized version of himself in docudrama “The Rider,” about a South Dakota cowboy’s rehab after a head injury. A star is born, indeed.

In a happy reversal from years past, many of the best films of 2018 were seen or buzzed about by mainstream moviegoers, not just snobs. And, as for the movies you haven’t watched yet — get to it!
My favorite was Spike Lee’s jolting “BlacKkKansman.” The story of a black police officer infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan, the drama jumped between hilarity and horror with abandon, leaving viewers gut-punched as they walked out.
“A Star Is Born” got me into some trouble with the Little Monsters. Although I gave the film four stars, Lady Gaga’s fans were furious I’d written two years earlier that their goddess didn’t have the acting chops to play the part. Turns out I was wrong. Her performance as a waitress-turned-pop sensation is brilliant, as is that of her co-star and director, Bradley Cooper.
Almost as furry as Cooper’s rock star is Paddington Bear, whose heartwarming sequel “Paddington 2” had adults wringing tears out of their shirts. Even better than the first one, the family film showcased the second act of Hugh Grant’s career as a devilishly funny character actor.

Not so funny, for once, was “Office” star John Krasinski, who did a bang-up job directing and starring in the surprise hit “A Quiet Place.” A science-fiction horror film, it harked back to the thrills of M. Night Shyamalan’s heyday.
I went into two big movies with small expectations this year — “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and “Crazy Rich Asians” — and left elated. “Spider-Verse” broke new ground with cutting-edge animation, but not at the expense of humor. And “Crazy Rich Asians” brought the romantic comedy back to life.
No best-of list would be complete without some costumes. For that, we have “The Favourite,” a sexy dramedy starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone about two vicious women vying for the affection of Queen Anne. And there’s “Colette,” a fascinating film starring Keira Knightley as an author, who wrote a popular series of French books while her hubby took all the credit.

Finally, not doing boffo box office, but easily enjoyed by anybody, are two true stories: “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” in which Melissa McCarthy does career-best work as a writer who forges celebrity letters to make a buck, and “Green Book,” about a black pianist and white Italian chauffeur’s journey through the 1960s Deep South. See them.


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